The Daily Gusketeer

Baja Trek's daily blog.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sweat Lodge Ceremony, Full Moon Drumming & Hot Springs Soaking Trek

A traditional Lakota Inipi ceremony will be lead by Veteran Sun Dancer and Tokala Warrior, Joshua Mack. If you are being called to come together in a good way, to purify, lift up your prayers and intentions, share and heal, then answer the call.

The ceremony will be followed with a Full Moon drumming circle!

This will be a drug and alcohol free event, as to honor the Lakota tradition, the Canyon and ourselves in being totally present in our experience. Sweat, surrender, soak and sing! A’ho Mitakuya Oyasin! (We Are All Related).

This experience is a combination celebration, ceremony and Baja Trek.

If you have never been to Guadalupe Canyon Oasis it is truly amazing.

Day 1- Trek & Soak

We'll meet at the border if you are coming on the Gus the Beach Bus and drive east through the back country into northern Baja California.

On the way, we'll stop for supplies and a few tasty tacos in one of the smaller towns we meet on our journey. Then we'll head east on through the high desert chaparral and through some of the most awe inspiring rock gardens found on the west coast. The beauty alone will be enough to make us stop and gaze out over the majestic valley floor thousands of feet below before descending into what appears to be a whole other world.

Our experience continues as we turn from the pavement onto the road-less-traveled. The mid afternoon's warm sun will find us driving over the ancient dry lake bed of Laguna Salada. The dry lake bed is cradled for 60 miles to the west by the Pine tree-covered Sierra de Juarez mountains and the craggy peaks of the Sierra de Los Cucapah range to the east. After a final slow crawl up the rugged dirt road that leads to the hot springs, we'll sit down to a great dinner next to the campfire and soak our weary bones in the geo thermal hot springs.

Day 2- Drum, Sweat and Soak

December 10th is a full moon so bring your drum and celebrate with us while we beat to the earth's glory.

The new sweat lodge at the hot springs has not been used yet. This seems like the perfect opportunity to celebrate, purify, share and heal the energies that have come together to create such a unique place on this planet that we share.

We will greet our beautiful morning in the Canyon with breakfast and a soak. We will then gather at the Lodge to prepare the Sacred Circle and Fire, dress the Lodge and sit around the Fire for teachings, sharing and intentions, and making of prayer ties. We will crawl into Lodge before dark and come out into the evening, re-birthed, to share in a Wopila Feast, followed by a Full Moon Drumming Circle to launch our Love, Joy and Gratitude to Canyon de Guadalupe and her Ancestors!

Afterward, the hot springs will be patiently awaiting our presence to assist us in processing and integrating all of the beautiful gifts and experiences that we have shared.

Please understand that this will take a group effort to accomplish all that needs to be done for this ceremony to take place, and that each one of us will get out of the experience precisely what we put into it. In giving is receiving. It is also traditional to bring a small gift for the Fire Tender and anyone else you may care to share with. A pouch of Tobacco wrapped in a red cloth is traditional, but anything that comes from the heart is a beautiful way to show your gratitude to the Fire Tender for their hard work and focus.

There is no charge for the ceremony itself. Any Love-Donations will go toward to the costs of firewood, tools, blankets, and all that is needed to facilitate ceremony.

What to bring:
Loose tobacco for prayer ties and gifting
Two towels
Clothing must be 100% cotton
Men - sweat shorts
Women - a sarong or sundress
A great attitude, open heart, desire to help and willingness to surrender.

***If you have any surplus blankets to donate to the Lodge it would be greatly appreciated!***

Day 3- Mud Baths?

After a morning soak and a big Baja breakfast we'll begin our slow crawl back to civilization. We'll take our time and slide through a few smaller villages to sample the food and experience a bit of local culture.

Back at the border, we'll wave goodbye to our new friends, swap contact info and long for the next adventure. See you soon, amigos!

"My favourite thing is to go where I've never been." ~ Diane Arbus

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recycled Cooking Oil Powers UD Bus Fleet

Transportation at the University of Delaware recently became more environmentally friendly. That’s because the campus bus fleet is now using biodiesel to fuel its buses.

Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from renewable resources such as vegetable oil or soy oil.

In this case, the homegrown biodiesel is made by undergraduate engineering students who recycle used cooking oil with a donated biodiesel processor.

The processor is capable of recycling 130-150 gallons of cooking oil per batch to produce 100 gallons of biodiesel fuel.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Trekkers to Swim with Whale Sharks on the upcoming Beach Express Trek

Trekkers to Swim with Whale Sharks on the upcoming Beach Express Trek

It's that special time of year when Baja Trekkers gather from around the world to visit and swim with the gentle Whale Shark. Only in the area for a certain time each year, this years adventure finds us in Bahia de Los Angeles camping on the beach under the stars anticipating this once in a lifetime experience .

Although measuring up to 41 feet, the Whale Shark poses no threat to swimmers and often allows people to hitch a ride on their massive backs. Known as "Pez Dama" in Baja California because it looks like a large domino it is , in fact, more like a whale than a shark due to it's ability to eat plankton It is currently listed as a threatened species.

Our Beach Express Trek is August 20th. Get on!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Adventures of The Love Bucket a 1966 VW Bus & the Baja Trek scout crew

It was that time of year again, Independence Day or so we were told. Well you're probably thinking what does that have to do with much of anything in the land of Baja Trek. You see, everyone else was out grilling and watching fireworks while we were out working. It wasn't a bad job. Searching for new cool spots in Baja California never is unless you are subjected to breakdowns, being stuck in the sand or lost for hours on roads that are not even on the map.

We took the opportunity of the long weekend to boogie down the Pacific coast
in search of cool new camping spots. We found many including a wind surfer's mecca and some pretty friendly folk in a remote fishing village 100 miles from the nearest town.

In any case, you don't want to read my blah blah. Here's the video that Steve made of the ride in.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Baja Revisited
Baja Revisited Baja beach camp

Recently a close friend and I embarked on a two-week road trip that took us from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, the tip of Baja California, Mexico.

We’d been discussing such a trip for weeks on end. We fantasized about the uncrowded waves we would score and delicious seafood we would eat in abundance. The two of us recounted several stories from past trips we had taken in Mexico and about how great those experiences had been. Stories about friendly, laid-back locals, fun, uncrowded surf, and hanging out on the beach sipping on cold cervezas.

Despite all the good times we’d had in the past visiting Baja, we were still quite apprehensive to take such a trip and visit our infamous neighbors to the south. After all, living in San Diego, there’s no shortage of horror stories about what happens in Mexico: everything from tales of bribery and drugs being planted on tourists to stories about decapitations and how children's freshly killed carcasses are used to smuggle drugs across the border.

These days the stories are predominantly linked to the recent activity with the drug cartels. You read these stories and hear them on the local news, but mostly you hear seemingly exaggerated accounts of what goes on – through acquaintances, whose sources are unknown. Regardless of your level of skepticism, it’s difficult to not feel a little "sketched out" when thinking about traveling across the border these days.

So after serious consideration on driving into Baja, which neither of us had done in at least four years, I began to do some research. Mostly reading articles and threads on online forums. What I found out did not surprise me; however, it did enlighten the subject. Here are a few key points that I found reassuring:

First, the majority of cartel-related crime takes place in the border cities. This meant as soon as we were out of T.J we would be fine.

Second, among those crimes, those involved almost always were either members of the cartels or government officials or family members of either. Good for us we don’t fall into any of those groups.

Third, and probably the most astonishing (or not), is that the American media over-dramatizes what’s taking place in Mexico. The stretching of facts and the lack of journalistic integrity do not portray an accurate picture of the situation there. Furthermore, both the L.A Times and the Union-Tribune are notorious for re-printing old stories and embellishing the truth about cartel-related news. Presumably their reason could be competition over tourist dollars – cause if they're not spending that money in Mexico, they're spending it here.

So after much thought we decided to go for it. We loaded up my buddy’s old Volkswagen Vanagon with surfboards and camping supplies. We bought our Mexican insurance and picked up our recommended tourist visas.

The trip was nothing short of awesome – aside from some pretty brutal "topes" and the starter dying in the van, we encountered no problems. We did not even have to bribe any cops. I can honestly say I felt totally safe the whole trip. Our van was searched several times (pretty much at every checkpoint). This is simply protocol, as the government is actually trying to do something about the cartels. The federales were kind, happy people to deal with and it was actually a nice break to get out, stretch your legs and talk to someone else.

The roads were not perfect but really not bad at all. They’re currently being upgraded to a four-lane system. Completion is expected sometime in 2013, and the progress can be seen best between La Paz and Todos Santos – that highway is as good as anything in the states.

We had a great trip and did exactly what we planned. We surfed uncrowded waves, ate plenty of amazing seafood, and of course drank a few cervezas. We were happy to spend our tourist dollars in a well-deserving place. Businesses are struggling down there; where most of them depend on tourists, this was sad to see.

Mexico is not the horrible place the media makes it out to be. Travel there is still safe regardless of the current "threat level color."

But this article isn’t about how you should go to Baja and spend a little time and money – even though you should. The point is that anywhere you go in the world, whether it be Mexico, Paris or just down the street, you should always keep your head on a swivel, always be mindful of possible dangers. And second, learn to think critically – don’t always take someone else's word as the end-all truth.

Go out and find your own truth!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Landscape Photographer Steve Sieren shoots Gus Adventures!

Check out some of the latest pics from our newest friend Steve Sieren, who came on board Gus through one of our shuttle trips to the best Baja hot springs up at Guadalupe Canyon Oasis!

We're honored to have Steve on board. His photos make us all melt inside. We're looking forward to having him come on a few more trips to help us document our madcap adventures and the beautiful wilderness landscapes of northern Baja California.

Also don't miss out on his feel-good video of some quality Baja Trek-style bus-surfing action.

And you can visit Steve's photography website to see more beautiful shots of Western landscapes in Calfornia, Baja and beyond!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Historical Wanderlust

Check out this cool interactive map depicting 23 epic journeys from times now past!

Especially check out Jack Kerouac trail where he veers South into Mexico:

"Behind us lay the whole of America and everything Dean and I had previously known about life, and life on the road. We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Todos Santos is an artsy oasis in Mexico's Baja California

Most travel guidebooks, and many been-there-done-that travelers, will tell you that Todos Santos, a little artist enclave on the Pacific Coast of lower Baja, is "a lot like Taos."

On a spring-break visit, I chatted with artist Margaret Woodall, who was lazily daubing at a canvas in the shaded courtyard of a Todos Santos gallery during the town's second annual artist-studio tour.

"I came to Todos Santos 15 years ago from Taos, because Todos Santos reminded me of Taos back then," said Woodall, a slim, tanned grandmother who lived a good while in the famed New Mexican art colony, although she's originally from Kentucky.

She's a confirmed convert to Todos Santos, a town of about 5,000 people 45 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. "I like the ocean here. The mountains are the same, but there's no snow!"

And this sun-warmed courtyard, with its coral-pink wall festooned with longhorn cattle horns and framed by banana-tree leaves and cactus, was just the kind of place to get creative juices flowing.

Woodall's works on the gallery wall included a painting of pangas — the local fishing skiffs — on a beach at nearby Point Lobos. It's a subject we saw repeated at Galeria de Todos Santos, a short walk away through quiet, narrow streets of historical adobe buildings draped in purple bougainvillea.

There we met Erick Ochoa, a young Mexico City native, educated as an architect, who makes his living as an artist here.

He showed off a painting in progress, focused on the figure of a Mexican fisherman next to his beached panga. Ochoa's Edward Hopper-style use of light and shadow brought the subject to vivid life.

Taos is known for the quality of its high-desert light — the town's website devotes a whole link to the topic — and fans give Todos Santos similar plaudits.

"In summer, when it can be very hot, there are amazing cloud formations, and everything is bright — in Technicolor!" Ochoa said. "For an artist, there's everything you need here."

The same is true for art lovers. Twenty-seven local artists — about an even mix of Latino and Anglo names — welcomed visitors during the studio tour, which happens in March. A weeklong annual arts festival is in February. Galleries are everywhere, especially in the old-town blocks just uphill from the oasis ravine that cradled our little hotel, Casa Bentley.

Welcoming the Casa Bentley's guests are elaborately carved wooden gates, with sun and moon figures commemorating a 1991 solar eclipse, by artist Charles Stewart, another Taos expatriate who is credited as a founder of the Todos Santos artist community in the 1980s. (He died in April.)

Through the gates we met the hotel's builder and proprietor, Bob Bentley, a retired professor of geology from Central Washington University and a walking, breathing combination of Papa Hemingway (he has the white beard and straw hat) and John Steinbeck (he has the big poodle and the storytelling gene).

With a cup of coffee at a table beneath his wide-spreading rubber tree, "Doc" Bentley, 77, told us of the town's growing reputation among what he calls the "woo-woo" crowd, which fancies this a center of everything from magnetic healing to magical powers. "Lots of folks from Sedona find their way here," he said, referencing Arizona's center of New Age spiritualism.

That aura was encouraged by Mexican tourism authorities' official designation in 2006 of Todos Santos as a "Pueblo Magico," or "magical village," a designation given to some 40 towns across Mexico based on their natural beauty, cultural riches or historical significance.

But Bentley says it's the climate that makes the place perfect.

Nearby mountains, the Sierra de la Laguna ("essentially a fragment of uptilted rocks from out in the Sea of Cortez," our ever-the-geologist host explained), shield the area from summer's superheated weather systems that feed northward up Baja to as far as California's Death Valley.

"We have a little microclimate here — it's really pleasant, day after day. And there isn't any rain," said Bentley, noting that the last bad hurricane was in 1996.

The climate drew him to retire here after spending 15 years of off-and-on visits overseeing the construction of his hotel, which started with an adobe farmhouse dating to the mid-19th century. Additional structures are of local red amphibolite rock, along with polished inlays from Bentley's father's trove of 30,000 agates, jaspers, turquoise and other semiprecious stones collected during a lifetime in eastern Oregon, where Bentley grew up.

Modeled in part after a castle in Portugal, the hotel has a tiled pool fed by a waterfall, multilevel patios, an elaborate fountain, a grove of century-old mango trees and quirky touches such as the large palm tree growing up through the roof of our bathroom.

The town gets an occasional tour bus up from Cabo San Lucas. There are one or two tacky T-shirt shops and a Coldwell Banker real-estate office. But unlike more populous parts of Baja, Walmart has yet to make its way here, and drunken college students on spring break tend to stay in Cabo.

You'll find a dozen decent restaurants and cafes within walking distance around downtown. A local fish shop and an open-air kitchen at Casa Bentley let us concoct our own delectable shrimp tacos one night, a reminder that this is a coastal town.

But Todos Santos isn't right on the ocean. From our inn, my daughter and I walked 25 minutes to the beach, along a narrow, dusty track past horse pastures and a pen of friendly goats who poked their heads through wire to get scratched (yes, that spot, just at the base of the horn). A temperature in the 70s and cooling breezes made it a fun outing rather than a hot trudge.

The town's setback from the ocean, a small interceding lagoon, and an abrupt seafloor drop-off that creates treacherous surf unsuitable for swimming add up to a mostly undeveloped and beautifully wild beach. Blue water thunders ashore on a broad swath of caramel sand. A sign says it's a turtle-nesting area.

Only a few local families dotted the beach. A man played bucking bronco with his kids. Someone flew a kite. Wide expanses of empty beach beckoned the footloose.

It was the kind of scene that would inspire artists, no matter where they came from.

And, oh, by the way: I've never been to Taos. Maybe I'll visit someday.

I hear it's a bit like Todos Santos.



Todos Santos (meaning "all saints") is on the Pacific shore, about 45 miles north of Cabo San Lucas on the southern Baja California peninsula, considered one of the safest places to travel in Mexico these days. Established as a part-time religious mission and farming community in the early 1700s, Todos Santos evolved by the 1990s into a colony for artists from across Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.

GETTING THERE: Most visitors fly into Los Cabos International Airport near San Jose del Cabo, about a 90-minute drive by rental car from Todos Santos. Or you can take a taxi from the airport to the Aguila bus station in San Jose del Cabo (about $17 U.S. for up to four) and catch an intercity bus to Todos Santos (about $12.50 U.S. per person). Intercity buses are modern, clean and efficient, with service about once an hour between towns on the southern peninsula.

LODGING: We stayed at Casa Bentley, one of Baja's better bargains. Get past the dusty, unprepossessing street out front and you'll find a lovingly nurtured compound resembling a small stone castle, built by a retired geology professor. Five suites range from $80 to $130 per night, April to December, and $110 to $170, January to April.

Hotel California, on the town's main drag, is the best-known lodging, thanks to the thoroughly debunked (see yet persistent urban legend that it inspired the Eagles song of the same name — a rumor that helped make Todos Santos famous. It's a beautiful, 1950s-era hotel in its own right, lavishly renovated in the early 2000s. Spring prices range from $80 to $150.

The year-old Hotel Guaycura is the newest on the boutique hotel scene, in a 19th-century brick building in the center of the old-town gallery district. Spring rates from $195 to $500 per night.



By Brian J. Cantwell (c) 2011, The Seattle Times.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Helping the Homeless in San Diego

Helping the Homeless in San Diego

Helping the homeless in San Diego,, is an organization based in the San Diego area. Comprised of a group of friends, and friends of friends, they get together on the 1st Saturday of every month. Together they distribute clothes, supplies, personal items, and food and drinks to the homeless in San Diego. The group is not associated or affiliated with any groups or organizations. Just friends and neighbors helping friends and neighbors!

Isn't that the way it's suppose to be?

According to the 1st goal of the organization is to help the homeless community in San Diego. The 2nd goal is to add positive energy and love into the world and into our lives at the same time. So give a shout if you have something that can help out another.

You can check them out here:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

“A beautiful bowl of glory”: Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando on beans, trade, and the tortilla project

(via The Ethicurian)

Steve Sando (right) with Félix Martinez Gomez and his family, near Cuicatlan, Oaxaca. They grow chilhuacle chiles, essential to so many Oaxacan dishes but rare now thanks to several years of disturbed weather patterns.

International trade can wreak havoc on small farmers and the global food culture: impoverishing peasants, destroying old ways of cooking, and reducing biodiversity. Now and then, however, international trade can have the opposite effect, building up farmers instead of rolling over them, preserving heritage foods instead of flooding the fields with a few varieties from big agribusiness.

Rancho Gordo's Xoxoc Project (pronounced 'sho-shoc,' a word derived from the prickly pear cactus called xoconostle) is one of these rare positive stories about how trade can help small farmers and food artisans. (Grist writer Tom Philpott has some excellent pieces, such as this one, about the negative effects of trade on Mexican farmers and Mexican society.)

Gabriel Cortés Garcia and Yunuén Carrillo Quiroz, founders of Xoxoc

The collaboration with the already established Xoxoc company started when Steve Sando, the founder and owner of the Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food company, was on one of his frequent trips to Mexico. Always looking for interesting heirloom beans to plant in California and sell to his devoted customers (who include me), one of his contacts told him that he should meet with the Xoxoc collaborative. Sando’s contact was right: Xoxoc led him to interesting beans like Zarco, from Quanajuato, and Ayocote Morado, from Hildago. But he realized that his plan to bring beans back as seed for planting in California wasn’t the best approach — importing beans directly from the Mexican farmers would be better. That way, the farmers could get a good price for their crop and continue to plant heirloom varieties, and his company would get a reliable supply of the beans in the near term. As the project matured, Rancho Gordo added new products to the Xoxoc Project line, including omega-3 rich chia seeds, a Mexican oregano that he calls “oregano indio.” (Although it is probably not related to European oregano, as I explained in a post for Mental Masala.)

The most recent initiative from Rancho Gordo is the tortilla project. Rancho Gordo buys dried heirloom corn from the bean farmers involved in the Xoxoc project, imports it, then has the La Palma tortillaria in San Francisco’s Mission District make fresh tortillas to sell at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and the Rancho Gordo store in Napa. I've tried them several times and they are delicious -- full of corn flavor, lacking that unappetizing chemical aroma emitted by so many commercial brands. And it feels good to be supporting small farmers and heirloom corn varieties.

I first met Steve a few years ago during the infamous Carlo Petrini dust-up in San Francisco (covered by Bonnie at the Ethicurean) and I run into him here and there in the Bay Area at farmers markets, the Eat Real Festival in Oakland, and at his store in Napa. I wanted to learn more about the Xoxoc Project, so I asked Steve some questions via email.

Where do your Mexican farmer-partners live, and what's the terrain like there?

They live in an ex-hacienda in the state of Hidalgo. The closest town is called Chapantongo, not too far from Ixmiquilpan. The land has been ruined by hundreds of years of cattle grazing, and the only thing that seems to grow now are the cactus paddles and their fruit. The locals have a long tradition of making things out of the fruit. Xoxoc took it a step further and made a commercial venture.

The xoconostle look like prickly pears (or tunas) but the seeds are all in the center instead of throughout and the 'meat' is very sour; you wouldn't eat it raw. But it's an essential ingredient in dishes like mole de olla [a spicy meat stew] and certain salsas.

. . . Read more . . .

Monday, April 4, 2011

Carless Los Angeles

A dreamy, photoshopped Los Angeles devoid of cars -- a beautiful and impossible fantasy:

Running on Empty from Ross Ching on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New "Artificial Leaf": Next Step In a New Energy Source

One of the most exciting new sources of energy that scientists are developing is based on nature's own process of photosynthesis. All plants store energy by using the sun's rays to change certain molecules into other forms. This is (very loosely speaking) like splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen: when oxygen and hydrogen are put back together, they release energy. The problem is, most methods of splitting water are expensive and slow.

But Scientists all over the place have been working on catalysts that can split water using sunlight for a while now, but until recently, they've all been using expensive elements like platinum. Now, MIT claims that they've created a paper-thing solar cell that uses a cheap catalyst to split water. The genius of this setup is:
  • It is cheap and efficient
  • The catalyst is stable and lasts far longer than earlier attempts
  • It can be used in any type of water, and would produce clean drinking water once the hydrogen and oxygen are put back together
In other words, this kind of energy source could be used anywhere in the world, by anybody. Any time I've read about it, the topic of using it in third-world scenarios always comes up, but it can also be scaled up for wider use.

The team haven't released their findings in a peer-reviewed journal yet, so the full story is still unknown. And there's still one major problem: no-one has yet built a safe, cheap hydrogen fuel cell to make use of all that hydrogen. But it's still an exciting step forwards!

If you want to get more pumped about what this technology could do for the world, check out this video featuring Dan Nocera, one of the lead researchers on this project at MIT.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bill Gates on the Future of Energy

TED Talks always give you something to think about, but today we wanted to share this one featuring Bill Gates discussing his work on new energy sources.
"And so, we need energy miracles. Now, when I use the term miracle, I don't mean something that's impossible. The microprocessor is a miracle. The personal computer is a miracle. The internet and its services are a miracle. So, the people here have participated in the creation of many miracles. Usually, we don't have a deadline, where you have to get the miracle by a certain date. Usually, you just kind of stand by, and some come along, some don't. This is a case where we actually have to drive full speed and get a miracle in a pretty tight timeline."
We at Baja Trek tend to feel that the most urgent problem is to reduce energy usage rather than find new energy sources, but realistically, we'll need to do both. So it was exciting when he spoke about the work being done to use the dangerous and, at the moment, useless waste materials put out by nuclear power plants to create even more power. The machine that would accomplish this is called a traveling-wave reactor, and it sounds pretty swell.

We're particularly excited about this idea after having watched Into Eternity, a fascinating, sad, bizarre, Kubrick-esque documentary about a Finnish project to bury spent nuclear waste miles below ground and keep it there for the 100,000 years it takes for such materials to become non-radioactive. Watch the trailer below!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Government by the People!

Most of the time, we try not to get too political, but you'll have to bear with this exception cause it's something we really care about!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Baja adventurer and burro near end of journey

Baja adventurer and burro near end of journey

Reposted from the San Diego Union - Tribune

Friday, March 4, 2011 at 5:23 p.m.

Burro explorer

Burro explorer

Burro explorer

- Graham Mackintosh

El Cajon's Mike Youghusband, his burro, Don-Kay, and stray dog, Solo, take a break during their long trek of the Baja Peninsula. Photo by Graham Mackintosh.

El Cajon’s Mike Younghusband is nearing the end of his incredible walk of the Baja Peninsula with his burro named Don-Kay.

Younghusband, 61 and a former El Cajon police officer, has walked over 1,000 miles and has less than 50 miles remaining to reach Cabo San Lucas, his final destination. He left Hernan Ibanez Bracamontes’ Rancho Ojai in Tecate on Oct. 1 with Don-Kay, a 4-year-old burro he purchased from Bracamontes, and his two pet dogs, Rusty and Max. But the road proved to be too dangerous for his pets and he sent them home with legendary Baja traveler Graham Mackintosh.

“I can hardly believe I passed the 1,000-mile mark,” Younghusband said in a recent e-mail prior to reaching Todos Santos. “I’m still healthy and excited to get there.”

Younghusband plans to check in at the police station in Cabo to document his arrival in Cabo San Lucas. Mackintosh said he hopes to join his friend at Cabo. Mackintosh said some of Younghusband’s family members are going to take a cruise to Cabo San Lucas and plan to be there when the adventurer arrives in mid-March.

Part-way through his trip, Younghusband picked up a stray dog he called Solo, a female dog who has stayed with him and Don-Kay through some tough going.

“I have a lot of stories that will blow you away and can’t wait to share them,” he said. “They had a parade for me when I got to Lopez Mateos, talk about humbling.”

Mackintosh has stayed in touch with Younghusband throughout his journey. He has visited him on a couple of occasions when he was in Baja doing lectures or delivering books that chronicled his own adventures on the Peninsula and its islands. Mackintosh followed his progress from Younghusband’s daily reports via his SPOT device. Also, the members of have been instrumental in Younghusband’s safe journey to this point. At one stage members of the Website’s forum page helped rescue Younghusband, Don-Kay and Solo from death’s door when they ran out of water. At other times, BajaNomad members met up with Younghusband and shared food and drink with him.

Mackintosh isn’t surprised his friend stuck out his hike to the end.

“I was pretty convinced it was do or die for him,” Mackintosh said. “He spent a lot of time and money and made a big commitment to this. He met so many great people on, many wonderful people who helped him and continue to help him.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mexico Moves Towards New Energy Sources

Although Mexico has been one of the top three exporters of oil to the United States for some time, its output peaked a few years back and oil production in this country has been in a steady decline since then. Fortunately, this situation seems to have kick-started programs to investigate new sources of energy. Check out this post from the blog, Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Mexico. Number 10 sounded like a particularly promising one:
10) Solar Mexico. Solar Mexico is a private initiative that works with the Mexican Foundation for Rural Development and is sustained through private donations from Mexico, the United States, and others. The mission is to supply renewable sources of energy to poor, rural families and improve their quality of life in ways that are socially and environmentally beneficial, this includes items such as solar ovens, battery-less flashlights, and solar water distillers.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Radio Green Earth

We here at Gus HQ are in love with podcasts, espcially awesome public broadcasting shows like Radiolab or This American Life. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to survive another long trip without them. That's why we were excited when our recent trekker Robert turned us on to this NPR show: Radio Green Earth. Here's how they describe themselves:
Radio Green Earth is a weekly radio program produced for Public Radio focusing on the environment. You hear the latest environmental news and from the experts on subjects like alternative energy, green buildings, energy efficiency, endangered species, protecting the environment, the Everglades restoration, water conservation, and much more. We inform you about the technologies, products, and practices you can employ to become greener in every area of your organization, business, and your life.
It's always so satisfying to hear about productive ways to lead greener lives, rather than just to hear about problems without solutions. You can catch the show every Saturday at 5 pm on WXEL 90.7 FM, NPR’s West Palm Beach affiliate, or download their podcasts for free from iTunes (iTunes link). Let us know if you hear anything you like!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Internet as a Human Right

If you're reading this, you probably have a feel for how powerful the internet can be. Besides all the pictures of cats and naked people, it can directly improve people's lives: children can use it to learn; small businesses can use it to grow; individuals and groups can use it to make connections with other people; even revolutions can use it as a rallying point and a call to action.

However, the internet remains today the realm of the privileged. There have been many philanthropic projects that have tried to get computer and internet access out to those who don't have it, but handing someone a computer is much easier than ensuring they have the infrastructure to make full use of it.

That's why we were excited to read that is raising money to start buying some of the unused satellites that are already orbiting the earth, move them over areas without connectivity, and provide a free internet connection to the people below.

The group is working on other projects, too. You can read more about this particular one at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Somos todos Bajanautas!

Practice your Spanish and learn about Baja's wilderness areas at the same time! Check out this awesome blog (albeit a couple of years past its prime?) by and for Baja-lovers (or shall we say, "Baja-nautas"!):

They've got all kinds of things listed in there, from why we shouldn't litter plastic, to what's behind the mystery gate in Punta China. They've even got video footage of swimming with the whale sharks in Bahia!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nature in HD

Check out this cool perspective on the recent Sandy River flood up in Oregon by Tyler Malay and Alexandra Erickson "Nature’s torrent rendered beautiful with a Canon 60d and Canon 7d…"

Source: Open Culture

Also, this is a neat little collection of timelapses shot by Mike Flores in Baja California:

Baja California Timelapses from Mike Flores on Vimeo.

Source: Thanks, Armando!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Backpacker's Guide to Mexico's Michoacán Coast

While living in the neighbouring state of Jalisco for a couple of years, I was lucky enough to discover some of the hidden treasures in Michoacán - majestic colonial mountain towns, beautiful little villages, and some of my favourite beaches in the country. That's why I was excited to come across this incredibly in-depth guide, called Backpacking the Coast of Michoacán.

This site has photos, maps, tips, and every other piece of information you could possibly want if you were heading to the area. The author is clearly very familiar with the subject, and he even describes some of the recent political history of some sites. So head down there, take some photos, and report back!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baja Trek's Vegetarian Pozole Recipe

Photo Credit: Eliza Wilmott
I'm posting this recipe by popular request from our recent trekkers! As I always say, the beauty is in the garnishes... Enjoy!

Vegetarian Pozole (serves 20)

Soup base:
-4 pounds cooked hominy
-2 cans pinto beans (or other kinds!)
-8 quarts water (with 2 vegetable bouillon cubes)
-1 whole head garlic
-1 whole onion, sliced
-4-8 dried red chilies (pasilla, ancho, guajillo, or any combination)
-4 Tbsp olive oil
-2 tsp oregano
-Two 14-oz cans of chopped tomatoes
-coriander, cumin, salt & pepper to taste

-2 red onions, chopped
-1 pound radishes, sliced
-1 head of cabbage
-60 tostadas
-½ cup dried oregano
-½ cup chile pequin
-10 limes in wedges
-1/2 lb cotija cheese (or queso fresco)

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in the bottom of a large pot.
Add the water/broth as well as the hominy, pinto beans, chile peppers (remove seeds and stems when soft) and tomatoes and simmer for 2 hours in large pot.
Add oregano and other spices and cook another hour.
Prepare garnishes. Serve soup in individual bowls & invite guests to add their own garnishes.

Excellent with freshly-picked mussels and grilled cheese sandwiches on the side!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Upcoming Trek: Jan 29 - Feb 6 Whale Scouter

Quit your jobs! Take vacation! Dig the sunscreen out of the closet! It's time for that once-a-year chance to see the migrating California Gray Whales at their breeding grounds in sunny Baja California!

Join us on board the bus for our 9-day Whale Scouter Trek.  We're going South along the Pacific coast as far as Laguna Ojo de Liebre, about halfway down the peninsula. It's a famous whale-watching spot, and with good reason!  Along the way, we'll make stops at some of our favorite beaches and towns, get our fill of fish tacos, and cook up some delicious camp meals too.  From bonfires to starry night skies, we can pretty much guarantee that you won't want to go home when the trip is up.

To sign up, just fill out a booking form here:

Hope to see you on board!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Travel Film Archive

"See the world the way it was" at the Travel Film Archive's Youtube channel. They've got all kinds of excellent old videos from around the world, including ones from as far back as the 1920's. Check out Mexico - This Land of Ours, from 1947. Be careful though, it might make you wish you had a time machine and could see all of these places while they were still a little more undiscovered...