BAJA: once you’ve spent time on her arid shores, she is a difficult place to forget. This is a guest post from fellow Baja devotee, Leona Grunow. Who, just like me, has been so captivated by the region that she had to show it to her young son as soon as possible. What follows is her Baja family vacation story, which indicates a devoutness that has and will undoubtedly span generations in the Grunow family.
Family Vacation in the Wild West by Leona Grunow
The thing I look forward to in the middle of summer is the grand vacation we get to take in the Fall. Every year for the past 5 years, we take a trip to Baja California.
“I call it the Wild West.”
Baja gives you a glimpse of what California may have looked like before millions of people inhabited its coastline. The Mexico 1 is a small, two lane highway from the US/Mexico border all the way to Los Cabos. The road is filled with potholes, people driving slow speeds in old, dusty cars, humongous semi trucks that seem as if they might run you off the road, and long stretches of pavement with no gas stations, or anything else for that matter. In Baja, you need common sense and a fairly decent Spanish vocabulary to survive. If your missing the common sense from too much tequila, you’ll learn quickly when you find yourself in a situation that would seem easily solvable in the states, but here, could take hours or mean life and death. My husband has been traveling this highway for the last 20 years and he could tell you story after story that may seem unbelievable in our modern times. Call me crazy, but I love the adventure in that. Time moves slower and it’s refreshing and connecting and most times, educational.
The other reason I love traveling in Baja is the people. The cultural differences give perspective on the way I live my life. Some things I’ve learned from my Mexican friends: family is the most important thing in life; raising a child is easier with family close by; almost everything can be repaired; having less often spurs creativity; live in the present; celebrate life with music, dancing, and laughter; tacos can be eaten for breakfast. I also really enjoy meeting the people who choose to make Baja their vacation destination or their permanent home. Especially the people who choose to be in remote places: to camp, to explore, to surf uncrowded waves, to observe the night sky without light pollution, and who take peace in the fact that nothing will be fulfilled spontaneously.
Baja is a little piece of heaven for surfers who crave waves with no one but your camping mates in the lineup, if you know where to look. So this year, we chose to introduce our two year old to the wonder that is Baja and bring him camping with us for the first time. We made sure to do a dry run on our property since our son, Lincoln had never camped before. He was thrilled with the tent set up and the fact that we were sleeping in the tent for the night. It took him a little longer than normal to fall asleep, but he slept very well and was excited when he woke in the morning. I, on the other hand, am a light sleeper and couldn’t sleep with the sound of synthetic sleeping bag fiber rustling in my ear. I was glad that was pointed out before the trip and we were able to bring regular blankets in lieu of sleeping bags. We camped for 10 days and 9 (really long) nights. Despite the sleep deprivation, which I think happens whether you have a kiddo or not, it was (for lack of better description) the best thing ever!!! We got to wake up every morning to the sound of the ocean, watch the sunrise and the birds fly.
Lincoln was playing in the sand 5 minutes after wake up time. He loved our makeshift kitchen and watching the flames on the stove. He loved being naked all day and not taking showers. He loved fishing and playing in the tide pools. He found shells and crabs, and dead jellyfish that washed up on the beach. He helped make fires. He hiked through sand dunes and found a secret beach. He played fetch with our dog. He explored. He was wild and free. It’s been three weeks since we’ve returned and he is still playing fishing and hunting and making fires.
A few things that I thought were essential when traveling to remote places with a two year old:
- his favorite toys, snacks, and books;
- a very creative and imaginative mind;
- the willingness to go with the flow;
- and another couple or friends who are good with kids and can help out if needed.
And really that’s it.
The thought of the trip seemed incredibly daunting, but during the trip we were pleasantly surprised at how easygoing and not stressful it actually was. So, in conclusion, I would highly recommend anyone take their little one camping. Yes, you will be very tired. Yes, sometimes it was chaos. But life can do that to you anywhere.
“Might as well have it be on a beach in the middle of nowhere with a beer in your hand.”