14 October 2018

Flying a Small Plane to Baja California

I owned a small plane for many years.

A 1958 Cessna 175.

Bought it used in West Africa in 1982.
I learned to fly there.

Flying over the jungles of Liberia.
Serious "bush" flying.

And that - is another story.

But it brings us to to Baja.
It's relevant.

Because - the best parts of Baja are visited by small plane.
And I kept that plane from Africa.

Flew it to Switzerland when I worked there.
Then brought it along when we moved to New Mexico.

(My company, Pan Am, said I could bring a 'vehicle'.
They probably didn't expect it to be a plane.)

Where's Baja?
Not everyone knows.

Baja California is not in California.
It's in Mexico.

It's the long lean peninsula off the western coast of Mexico.

Below California.
Thus the name "Baja".

"Lower" California.
But not part of the US.

(Of course, that doesn't bother us.
We're from New Mexico. 

Which - is not in Mexico.)

Mulege. The landing strip is to the left. See it?

Baja is remote and beautiful.

Not Cabo San Lucas, down at the far end.
Not Ensenada, up near San Diego.

But the thousand or so kilometers in between.

The Fish Whisperer?

 It's a dry, dramatic, desert peninsula.
Amazing coastline and craggy mountains.

Wonderful for flying.

And the water is the perfect temperature.

There's wildlife:

Birds. Dolphins. Reptiles. Fish. Whales. Corals.

Amazing plants.
Ocean life.

With hardly anyone around.

It's not real easy to get to some parts of Baja without a small plane. 

So one time, Stan and I flew down to a tiny airstrip over Christmas.
I'd been there before, and wanted to show it to him.

Yep -  that's the runway. To the left. 

We'd brought our tent and a couple of sleeping bags.

Stan always brings his guitar. Even to the beach. In a very small plane.

We set up camp on the beach, under a straw palapa umbrella.

About 100 yards from the airplane.

It was parked on the sandy airstrip.

This was the view from our tent.

There's not much around.

But there was a place nearby that sold fish tacos and cold beer.

That'll do.

For Christmas, they made pumpkin tamales.


View of our 'home' from an early morning swim in the sea.

Landing at Punta Chivato. Nearby. Easier than at San Francisquito.

When my kids were small, we'd pack them into the back of the plane. 

Mikey and Erik, collecting shells at Punta Chivato.

Head for Baja.

We could make it in a day from Albuquerque.

Crossing the border into Mexico at Nogales.
(You had to stop at both sides of the border to clear customs.)

Kilian and Trish

The beach was calm and shallow.

Perfect for small children.

Someday, they'll finish paving the road.

Maybe they have already.

The place may become wildly popular.

Another Cabo San Lucas.
High-rise hotels. Hip bars. Mega malls.

Who knows?

I'm just glad I had the opportunity to experience it - for many years - like this.

Welcome to Baja.


  1. Hi Trish,

    I just read, with great enjoyment, your Baja post. The photos put me back in the (then) sleepy fishing village of San Felipe in 1976, when my boyfriend and I spent spring break camped on the beach outside of town in a parachute silk serving as a poor student's tent.

    We would walk out into the clear, turquoise water for a quarter mile and it was below our knees, and warm! In the evenings we'd drive into town, eat fish tacos from a street vendor, then go into the bar and drink cerveza or tequila (a thrill for me, since they didn't care I was under 21) until the inevitable brawl started and the police kicked everyone out for 30 minutes or so.

    We'd drive back to the beach late, and once found our "tent" blown halfway down the beach in a sandstorm, in the dark. We had sand in places where I didn't know I had places!

    It was a crazy, wonderful week of sparkling water, warm sun, night skies bursting with stars, and enough humorous village characters to populate a Steinbeck novel.

    Thanks for the walk down that memory lane!

    Hasta luego,

    1. How cool is that? And I remember a few of those sandstorms - uncomfortable when you're living in a tent!