The Blue Bomber is Beautiful again!
She’s back to her original Blue Star splendor.
BLUE BOMBER BAJA ADVENTURE
I haven’t posted about my recent adventures. So here I go. It all started back in March. Jason and I had plans to go to La Paz, Mexico to pick up our Vanagon, the Blue Bomber (See previous post for my solo trip to Mexico). We would spend a week moseying up the Baja Peninsula toward home, or so we thought. Plans changed.
Our drive time was reduced to four days instead of seven. No complaining, however, because the drive time was cut short for good reasons. We had an unexpected trip to Nevis beforehand, and we had plans to watch Cass run at Indoor Nationals in New Mexico, at the end of the trip. Like I said, nothing to complain about, it just rushed our Baja adventure a bit. Still, between time on the road, we managed to squeeze in a lot of sun, sand, sunsets, and sunrises.
But before I tell you about the trip, I’ll give you a peek into the last few weeks. We were like rock stars (rock stars who fly in the cheap seats). I have never been on so many flights in such a short amount of time. Eleven flights (counting layovers). And the two weeks before we left, Jason and I had Covid (twice in a row). Twenty days, gone. That being said, flying seemed a little less stressful after having Covid. Vaccinated, masked, and with a natural immunity boost, I was ready to travel.
DAY 1: BAJA ROADTRIP
We got four hours of sleep the night before we flew to Mexico. Then after a two-hour car ride to La Paz, we were ready to see the Blue Bomber. A giant gate opened and there she was, late afternoon sun glimmering across the new Blue Star blue. I took her in, she was perfect.
But she didn’t sound perfect.
The owner of Live the Van Life had set the mood. Started her up and had her purring as he opened the gate, but she wasn’t purring, she was clinking. I couldn’t digest her beauty. We needed to drive the 1989 Vanagon 1,700 miles across the desert and over mountains in time to make Cass’ final indoor college track meet. Something wasn’t right. My stomach turned.
They had fixed the crunched grill and done work inside the dashboard. The conclusion, something must be touching the fan. They loaned us a Vanagon from Peace Vans, so we could check into our Airbnb and grab tacos and margaritas while we waited.
It was just a bump in the road. Or was it?
The fan had bit the dust and a new one would have to be sent from the States. Being stuck in Mexico would be fine, except that, I wanted to get to see Cass run in his track meet. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. @livethevanlife problem solved. They would take a fan from one of their vans the next day. Other than a late start, we would be back on the road.
While we waited, we hiked and soaked in La Paz. Enjoying great food, wine, and coffee, and by noon the next day, we were on our way to discover the Baja!
DAY 2: BAJA ROADTRIP
I guess I wasn’t really sure what to expect during our trip. I had read a couple of blogs, and seen Instagram posts, but we didn’t have any specific expectations, other than we wanted to camp on the beach and drink margaritas.
Though I’m a lake and forest kind-of-gal, I appreciate different environments, and the Baja is different. There are festive towns and beaches of course, but when you drive you find expanses of desert and pure nothingness. That’s until you look closer.
Delicate purple flowers scatter the desert floor. Strange bending Dr. Seuss towers sprout up from the ground, each with their own tiny leaf-like growths protruding from the tall trunks. There were forests of Giant cardon cactus, arms reaching to the sky, and delicately sculpted rock formations. The drive was dreamy (and the new stereo didn’t hurt).
As the day grew long, we admired shadows and painted hues of grey across the mountains and realized that it was getting late. Everyone insisted (in person and in blogs), that we should not drive at night. After our late start, we knew it would be tight making it to Bahia Concepcion.
But we did, barely. Our second night in Baja would be spent on a beach, just as we’d hoped. After passing one waterfront camp with little tiki huts (that was calling our name), we continued north in search of a beach that we’d read about. “Don’t drive at night,” rang in our heads. We never found the mystery campground, but after pulling down to the water and weaving through a beach filled with RV’s, we made our way to a secluded spot by the sea. We were surrounded by sand, shells, and salt water. We backed in, opened the back hatch, pulled out snacks and wine, and watched the sun go down.
Yes, all that nothingness was something. Something unforgettable, just like the adventure itself.
DAY 3: BAJA ROADTRIP
Is it bad that we slept better in the Blue Bomber than in our nice warm bed at home? Maybe it was the freedom of the road, or the sound of the rolling water on the beach, or the hint of salt in the air. Who knows, but whatever it was, we slept like we were young again. Meaning we slept through the night. And then, woke up in heaven.
We watched the sun come up, took a million pictures, ate yogurt and granola, and then hit the road. It was my turn to drive. It felt good to be behind the wheel. I was at home.
We had planned to have lunch in San Ignacio, an oasis off the highway, but we stopped earlier to eat, so by the time reached the turn-off to the tiny town, we nearly cruised on by. From the main road, you would never dream that there would be an oasis. We took the exit and stopped a mile in. Do we have the time? How could we not stop at an oasis? We moved in the direction of the oasis and pulled into a small town square with colorful shops and a tall stone church at one end. We were glad we stopped.
Our next possible stop was Guerrero Negro. There was supposed to be whale watching. Did we have time for whale watching? We didn’t think so, there was a long day of driving ahead. We skipped whale watching but drove into town to check it out. I’m not sure we really ever made it to the town, or if there really is one, but the part we saw had us turning a 180 in search of the perfect beach in Bahia de Los Angeles. Or at least we hoped.
And we found it. There were a few other campers but it felt like we were alone. Tall grass surrounded the Blue Bomber, making our spot extra cozy. We walked the beach and met some of our neighbors. One young man was on a motorcycle; he’d come from Canada. There was a retired couple from Arizona. Another man simply waved hello while we petted his dog that sniffed at our feet. After our stroll, we pulled out snacks and a bottle of wine. Day three, was a wrap.
DAY 4: BAJA ROADTRIP
We woke as the sun lit up the van. Peering out the windows (that have no coverings), we watched our second beachside sunrise. The weather called for another stroll up the beach and, for Jason, a dip in the icy waters of the bay, before we packed up in search of coffee and wifi.
We found them both at Campo Archelon, along with avocado toast that had me drooling. Jason checked work emails and with our stomachs full we went in search of our next beach. Day four was a shorter drive, but we had a few van issues slow us down, and once we arrived at the beaches near San Felipe, we couldn’t find a good place to spend the night. Two campsites that had come with recommendations, didn’t allow automobiles on the beach. We turned around and drove south and found a campsite right on the water, however, we were sandwiched between two RV’s. We didn’t like it, but we made due, reminding one another to look straight out the back hatch and enjoy the view. The bottle of wine helped too.
The remainder of our trip wouldn’t take long. The drive from San Felipe to Palm Springs was about five hours depending on the border crossing. We loaded up our things and headed north. During our drive, we noticed a camera icon on our iOverlander app. Salt Flats.
The salt flats were interesting and a great photo op. But it wasn’t long until we were on the road again. My parents would be waiting for us in Palm Springs. I felt like a horse nearing the barn, I was ready to get to my parent’s house, and to have the Blue Bomber halfway home.
We breezed across the border. Partly, because of good timing, and partly because Jason directed me into the Sentri lane. We don’t have a Senti pass, but the guards took pity on us and let us through. For some reason it felt good to be back in the United States, that is until a rock smacked my front windshield. Seriously, all those miles in Mexico, and then boom, a chip in the window of my nice new van. I took a deep breath. After 23 years with one van, I should know better. It wouldn’t be the last chip.
There was a quick stop at the Salton Sea for lunch and then to my parents for a very happy, happy hour.
Next stop…New Mexico
BLUE BOMBER ROADTRIP ON HOLD
When we were in Albuquerque for the NCAA Indoor National Track Meet the weather reports from California were not good. Snow, floods, and one atmospheric river after another. (If you read about my roadtrip from Seattle to Mexico you might remember that the van does not have traction tires.) I was worried, so I made reservations to fly back to Seattle from my parent’s place with plans to come back to California to get the Blue Bomber when the weather was better.
I chilled with my parents for a couple of days. Morning runs, grapefruit straight off the tree, baked goods, cheese and crackers, and a lot of good wine, and then flew back to Seattle.
While in Seattle, I made it to a Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament game! My daughter, her boyfriend, and I watched some amazing basketball at the Seattle Regionals! We cheered extra loud for Hailey Vanlith (my husband’s from Cashmere, WA) and stared wide-eyed at Caitlin Clark. Loved every minute! Such inspiring athletes and teams.
WEST COAST ROADTRIP: DAY 1
I flew down to get the Blue Bomber at the end of March. I was itching to get her home. I had a short visit with my parents again. Toasted with a few tiny glasses of Mario’s Chianti, chatted late into the night and again all morning. Then I loaded up the van and headed to L.A to hang out with my friend Kirsten. The weather was questionable and reports didn’t look good either. What the hell! Thirty minutes into the drive rain pelted the van (I’m from Seattle so I’m used to rain, but seriously), and then gusts of wind jerked my rig from side to side. (There’s a lot of surface area to catch.) I held on tight, nothing new as a seasoned Vanagon traveler but not what I had in mind in southern California.
I kept my eye on the time and pulled over just east of L.A. Cass was running hurdles at 3:00pm in the Texas Relays. I grabbed water and a snack and stared at my phone as times came up on the screen. He ran a PR, and I bit my nails until the final heat ran. He made it into the finals. Yay! Back on the road through another hour of dumping rain and I made it to Venice Beach in time for dinner and a walk on the canals with Kirsten.
WEST COAST ROADTRIP: DAY 2
After spending a couple of hours talking to ESPN, Xfinity, and SlingTV trying to figure out how to watch Cass in the finals (with no good answer), I left L.A. to venture north hoping Jason could find a solution. I was on a mission to make it to Ukiah (where our cousins live) for a baseball game.
It wasn’t easy, I hit traffic out in nowhere, stopped for too long to FaceTime with Jason to watch Cass’ race (that was delayed), and then hit 5:00pm traffic through San Francisco, but I made it to the game by the 4th quarter. Just in time to watch Luke belt a ball over the shortstop. Then came a stop at the best bakery in the world Schats Bakery & Cafe, time on the basketball court where I lost to Zach in PIG (I’m blaming that on the hours of driving), and a full evening of wine, watching more women’s basketball and solving all of life’s problems. Or maybe just chatting.
WEST COAST ROADTRIP: DAY 3
As it was April 1st the day that I left Ukiah, Zach sent Jason a picture of us chaining up the van to tow it. My first trip through Ukiah 23 years ago it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, but this time it was. The Blue Bomber started right up and I was on my way to…somewhere in Oregon. But first came the Redwoods and the Avenue of the Giants. I didn’t have much time, but I have to say, they never disappoint.
I had issues with my windshield wiper but coerced some workers to loan me a wrench and I was set for more rain, I just need a place to spend the night. I devoured my Schat’s Bakery sandwich in Trinidad and then found my way to Cape Blanco State Park for a quick stroll, dinner in the van, some fretting over the weather, and finally a restless night’s sleep.
WEST COAST ROADTRIP: DAY 4
I woke early. It was cold and I had a long day on the road, but I stopped to check out a lighthouse on the point. It brought back childhood memories. I’m not certain if it was the same lighthouse from inside my head, from when we took a trip up the coast when I was 8, but it didn’t matter, it brought it all back. I sat in the early morning dark and cherished sweet memories. Then I hopped out of the van and took a few more pictures before I hit the road. The journey north was blustery and beautiful, but I skirted a majority of the bad weather and made it back to Seattle before dark.
The Blue Bomber was home.
*visit my Instagram for more photos*