Blind date in Baja. Part 2.

We find pieces of wood on our way back to camp and build our evening fire. I talk about trying to go across again in the morning. It seems like the wind is finally going to give us a break. The evening is very calm as we share some wine and watch the fire burn down into embers.

Morning arrives bright and clear with no wind. We decide to go for it. We take down the tent, roll up the sleeping bags and pack everything into waterproof bags. Then we relay it down to the boats and load them. It is amazing how much stuff we can haul in these boats. When everything is stowed we shove off and a small breeze begins to ripple the bay.

Beyond the island we visited two day ago, during our first attempt, there are two more. We decide to go as far as the outermost island and then see what the conditions are like. If the winds stay mild we will continue on. If not, well, maybe some other time. At least the islands offer security if the wind comes up. Beyond the last island it will possibly be a four or five mile paddle before we reach land.

It is amazing how quickly we are past the first island. Looking back, we can see where the bus is parked and also the point of rocks where we had our close call when Lenore got blown over. Back then, that was the outer limit. Now look at us!

The wind has increased as we arrive at the outermost island. We paddle into the lee of the island and pull up to it's boulder strewn shore. I hop off my Ski and open the hatches on both boats to check for any incoming water. If we decide to continue on across it will take us several hours and that is a long time for a small leak. Both boats are bone dry. We decide to continue. I seal the hatches down tight.

We smear suntan stuff on our noses and pull our hats down tight. We set out.

The wind seems surprisingly strong as we clear the lee of the island but I believe it is because of the compression of the wind as it wraps around the island. Away from the island it should be less. On out, the wind will do one of three things. Get better, get worse, or stay the same. Two of these we can deal with for sure.

I tell Lenore what a friend once told me about crossing a large body of water by kayak. "The first three hundred yards you are leaving. The last three hundred yards you are arriving. The rest of the time you just sit there and paddle."

The wind is still from the north. We want to go east so I tell Lenore about trajectories and point out a feature on the distant mountain range that we will aim for; a white outcropping in that vast panorama of rock. If we can hold our own against that mark we will arrive up wind of the cove I spotted last night. Then we will have an easy down wind ride to find it.

The whole vista, off in the distance, is a series of alluvial fans spread out from the craggy range of mountains with long slopping ledges easing into the bay. What the shore might be, whether rock or sand, we can't see from this distance.

I glance back to the last island we have left and I'm surprised to find that we have not gone very far. The wind has picked up even more and we are expending our energy, one for one. One stroke for the far shore and one for correcting against the wind. We are going to have to point a bit more off the wind if we are ever going to cover any distance. That is okay with me but I don't want Lenore to get too parallel to the waves. I have noticed that every now and then a breaking wave comes rolling along. I tell her to aim a bit to the right of the white scar.

Well, now I am thinking; should we turn around and go back or should we keep hacking away at it? I realize, once again, how I get stuck with an idea once my mind is made up. I realize it isn't just me out here. What if she flips again. It's too far to tow anybody today. The white caps are becoming more frequent and the wind seems to just hang in there, strong and steady. Looking back, it now looks like we are about halfway between the last island and the far shore. We press on.

I holler over and say that I think I can make out individual cactus. We haven't spoken in a while, too busy just dealing with the situation. We are in sort of a hypnotic state until one of those breaking waves comes hissing along. I have stayed up wind of Lenore in order to be able to get to her fast if she needs help. When I go through a breaking wave I watch out of the corner of my eye to see how she fares with it. It is getting so rough that at times we plunge out of sight of each other, both in different troughs. Sometimes I see her ride up the face of a wave with the front half of her boat completely in the air. She crashes down the other side and sometimes has to fight the boat's attempt to weather vane and turn off of the wind. Without a rudder on that boat she has her hands full.

My Ski is a wash deck boat and the deck is definitely being washed. I am not concerned about my safety. If I get knocked off, I just get back on. But the clothes I am wearing for protection from the sun are wet all the time and with this wind, I am getting cold. Also my hands are feeling numb from gripping the paddle too hard. I shift my hands on the paddle and loosen up. I glance at Lenore and holler "Fifteen more minutes". I don't really believe it but she looks like she could use some good news. Actually it will probably be another half hour at the minimum. We grind on.

I keep hoping the wind will slacken as we near the shore but it looks like we are going to have to fight it all the way. We are somewhat south of the white scar but still north of the cove, I believe. I think I can see it's point.

I tell Lenore about one of my favorite scenes in the movie "Never Cry Wolf". It's the one where the bush pilot is flying Tyler into the wilds and Tyler is having a white knuckle time of it. The pilot turns to Tyler, as the engine conks out and says, "You know what's wrong with the world now a days? Boredom, Tyler. Boredom!" Then he crawls out of the airplane to reach the valve to switch fuel tanks.

That phrase becomes our touch stone.

I think I can definitely see the point of the cove to the south of us but the waves are still so high that I don't want Lenore to turn off the wind and end up parallel to the waves. That or running with the waves. I know how that can trip you up if you are in one situation for quite a while and then change directions and have a whole new feel and response from the boat. Several times, in the Otter, I have almost thrown myself over, reacting to the unexpected moves. The Ski is different, it loves to surf and go down wind but I don't want her to chance it until we are within swimming distance of the shore.

"Fifteen more minutes, Lenore!"

She glares at me but this time it looks like we are definitely arriving. As we arrive I find the shore line to be one long unbroken sweep of stones, cactus and wind. I would like to get out and kiss the ground but instead tell Lenore to head off, down wind. We will drift south and aim for the point.

I hold my paddle blade straight up in the wind, like a sail, and it blows me along but Lenore's boat just mush's along. She has to keep correcting to try and get it to go straight down wind. It keeps broaching and turning cross wise to the wind because of the waves. Finally she settles for just being blown along side ways. She is tired and I am cold but the shoreline is uninviting.

I sail on ahead and arrive at the point only to find that it is a false point. It is just a break in the shore line but farther on, maybe a quarter mile, I see what looks like the true point of the cove. I coast on down to it and find it to also be just another break in a basically straight shoreline. Farther on I see another point.

I am beginning to wonder if I really did see a cove over here. I sure didn't think it was this far south. Looking over my shoulder I see Lenore just bobbing along, quite a distance back. I think about hollering "Fifteen more minutes!" but I decide to not press my luck, besides, I can't remember if the fillet knife is in her boat or mine.

As I arrive at the next point a huge flock of sea gulls and pelicans tear off into the sky. A cove!!

There is a fish camp with several boats pulled up on the beach. Two dogs standing there barking at me.

I pull into shore, beach the boat and open the front hatch to get my camera. I want to photograph Lenore's arrival upon this foreign soil. I scramble up over the berm hardly able to walk. How long have we been sitting in those boats?

As Lenore arrives at the point I take some photos and tell her to keep on going, on into the cove, and past the fish camp to the inner side of the cove. I then jump back in my boat and follow her.

We find a nice spot and paddle into shore. We get off the boats and drag them a bit up onto the shore, stagger on up the beach and collapse in the sand.

Wow! Was that a trip or what?

The cove is flat and calm, sheltered from the wind. Just beautiful!. The beach is composed of millions and millions of broken pieces of shell. Above the surf line is a barrier of brush.

After an hour I can finally get up and start unloading the boats. I clear a space large enough for the tent and begin setting up camp. Lenore just lies there. She has had enough "Boredom" for one day!

As the sun goes down we gather driftwood for the fire. Soon the moon rises. Each night the moon has been more and more full. It is almost full tonight.

After dinner we are sitting by the fire when, out of the darkness, we hear the sound of approaching footsteps.

"Buenas noches!"

"Buenas noches."

"Mucho viento."


"Mucho viento! Lots of wind!"

"Oh! Si!"

"Mucho frio!"

"Oh! Yes it is cold. Mucho viento, mucho frio!"

They sit down by our fire.

Lenore can pick up what they are saying much better than I. She speaks several languages other than English.

The older guy is named Jorge and he is twenty two years old. The younger one is named Enrico and he is sixteen. Jorge has had English in school. He asks, "What are you names?"

I say "Ron".

They sit there looking into the fire. "Ron. Ron. Oh! Ronrico. RonRICO Oh! Si! RonRICO! And her?"


"Hmmm? Lenore. Lenora. Oh! LeeNORa. LeeNORa. Si! Buenas noches! Mucho viento. Mucho frio!"

Then Jorge picks up a stick and squashes a scorpion that has crawled out of a piece of wood I had collected earlier and just tossed on the fire!

Lenore and Jorge continue to talk. I watch for more scorpions.

Jorge and Enrico work with their uncle going out for fish and also shells. They sell their catch over in Mulege. They tell us that later in the year, when the wind becomes more dependable, the will move around the peninsula to the Sea of Cortez side and fish over there. The wind has been a problem for them too.

The moon rises higher into the wondrous Mexican sky. Good fire. Good company. We share some wine, mystery all around us. Finally Jorge and Enrico fade off into the night and we crawl into our waiting tent.

In the morning, just before light re-enters the sky, we hear the outboards start and Jorge singing as they motor out into the dawn.

Looking out the open tent flap, while the coffee water heats, I watch two Eared Grebs paddle along the shore line. Two Dowitchers are poking around amongst the broken shells and now and then pelicans wheel and crash into the surface of the cove. We are all involved with breakfast.

After breakfast we lounge around and read, stripping off more clothes as the sun rises. When it gets quite warm I tell Lenore about something I learned. Prell Concentrate. It "suds' in salt water. I have a tube of it. Soon we are bathing in the cove.

In the early afternoon I ask Lenore if she would like to go for a hike. I have been looking at a canyon through the binoculars, maybe a mile inland, that looks interesting. We pack some fruit, a canteen of water, my camera and head out.

We pick our way through a small forest of cactus and brush. We find a dry wash and follow that. Birds flick on ahead of us. Our footsteps sound like we are chewing grape nuts. Other than that, it is silent. Now and then I catch a glimpse of the canyon up ahead.

We finally arrive at the base of the mountains and head into a small canyon. It twists and turns along and shortly we come to a man-made barrier fence made out of interwoven branches. What a surprise after seeing no sign of human activity during our entire walk. It must be a barrier to keep cows either in, or out. We climb through the fence and continue on.

Soon the sand and gravel floor of the canyon starts showing a trace of moisture. A little further on a tiny stream appears. Here and there are small clumps of flowering shrubs with humming birds darting between the flowers. What a surprise. The canyon bends and suddenly it totally changes. Ordinary stone and rock has become sculpture!

There are varying shades of brown, tan and pink sandstone, smoothed into gentle sweeps and odd curves. Twisting around a convoluted bend we are brought to a halt by an eight foot wall sandstone ledge with just a trickle of water sliding down it's moss covered center. It is the end of the trail. We sit on the gravel, lean against the stone, eat apples and listen to the silence. What an unexpected oasis in the midst of this harsh Mexican countryside.

Finally we get up, backtrack a short distance and search for a way around the ledge. We succeed and move on, higher up the canyon.

The canyon changes again. It widens. We rise higher into the mountains and enter a small valley. We stop and look around and then hear a faint cow bell off in the distance. How enchanting and magical. We decide to try going back down a different way; up the side of the valley and possibly back down to the mouth of the canyon from a different direction.

As we clear the valley we come out on a promontory that gives us a view of the cove we are camped in, the bay and way off, the islands in the distance and beyond them, the mainland where Coyote Camp and the bus is parked.

Winding our way down we find a trail, then lose it only to find it again. As we come out onto the dry stream bed once again, we are treated to an air show of three Prairie Falcons fighting over their territory. They make spectacular dives, loops, high "G" turns during which we can hear the wind rip through their feathers! The sun moves on and so must we but, what a special afternoon this has been.

Back in camp the evening arrives quickly and with it, a chill in the air. We fix a hasty dinner and move into the tent. My little candle light hangs from the ceiling and we read and talk and sip orange spice tea laced with Cointreau. The Cointreau was another surprise that Lenore brought out of her pack several nights ago. It was a Christmas gift to us from Kevin

While we are sitting there enjoying the hot drink a small mouse runs into view and then races away. Soon it is back again and again it races away. It returns and each time it builds up courage and comes closer. We can see it's bright inquisitive eyes and feel it's nervous energy. I decide to make sure all the food is packed away inside the mouse proof fiberglass boats.

In the morning we wake to the sound of Jorge singing and the motors fading away. When the sun is quite high we swim and sun and go beach combing.

I find the head of a hammerhead shark and the carcass of a sting ray. The ray's tail is about three feet long and half way down it's length is the stinger. Not a stinger in the sense of a bee or wasp stinger. This stinger is a barbed ivory spike four inches long. I pull it loose and keep it for a tooth pick.

Back in camp I show Lenore my new found treasures. It's hard to tell what thoughts are passing through her mind. I knew there were sharks and rays in the Baja waters, but she didn't. In talking about it we both believe kayaking in Baja is safer than driving to work on the freeway.

In the late afternoon Jorge returns. I walk over to his camp to see if I can buy any fish.

"Pescado, Jorge?"

"Si." He walks over to a large wooden box and removes the lid. Inside are many fish, packed in ice. He pulls out two but I convince him that one is enough. I tell him that we have "no frio" in which to store the fish.

He takes my fish down to the shore and proceeds to clean it. The sea gulls and pelicans arrive expectantly. Jorge leaves the head on as a handle with which I can easily carry the fish. I offer Jorge money but he is offended. I act more offended and he finally accepts. We shake hands and I walk back along the beach to Lenore with fish in hand, feeling like the great white hunter. "Look what I got!"

As we cook our fish the most spectacular sunset unfolds in the evening sky. I keep taking photos, then more and more photos as it increases in splendor. As we are applauding for an encore we turn to find the full moon above the ragged mountain range behind us.

Wow! It is our last night on this side of the bay, weather permitting. We will be heading back to Coyote Camp tomorrow.

At first light we rise to the "Jorge alarm clock", fix coffee and commence packing. There is no "viento". We want to get an early start anyway, just in case. As it turns out, we have a completely boring mirror flat crossing. It is totally enjoyable. We even stop in the middle of the bay and take pictures of each other paddling, trading the camera back and forth.

Upon reaching the other side of the bay we paddle south a ways to check out an interesting looking cove with palm trees growing right along the shore. Lenore dabbles along, looking down through the crystal clear water at the marine life. After checking out the palm tree lined beach I catch up with her and we paddle back to our favorite little cove we had spent several days at earlier. No one is there so we stay and sun and swim and enjoy the afternoon. Later we decide to continue on to Coyote Camp though, rather than unpack everything here only to have to reload the whole process again in the morning.

In the late afternoon we move out and head for Coyote Camp and the bus. On the way we decide to make a beer run after we dump our gear off at the bus. We arrive at camp, unload into the bus and set out in the boats once again. I think there is a "tienda" a couple coves to the north.

We finally find it but it is a lot farther than I had thought. All together I think we made a six mile round trip beer run via kayak.

Lenore enjoyed it and I marvel at how her kayaking ability has grown in these few short weeks. We paddle along side each other during our return trip, both of us wish we were just starting out rather than having to start the drive north tomorrow. Both of us are getting quite brown, Lenore especially; she can really take the sun.

Once back in Coyote Camp, we walk over to the little restaurant across the highway. We feel and look like seasoned travelers with our tans, our peeling noses and our salt stained clothes. All our washing of clothes and bodies has been in salt water. Our fresh water we used for cooking and drinking only.

After dinner we return to the bus and in the early morning we leave. Heading north we arrive at the town of Santa Rosilia. Previous times I have roared right through unless I needed gas. The town has a rough look to it. It used to be a copper mining town and the highway winds through the remaining factory and slag heaps.

This time Lenore happened to be looking through a tourist guide we had with us and read about the town. Two items caught her eye. First, a church designed by Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. It was built in Belgium out of metal plate and shipped to Santa Rosalia in 1880. It was the first pre-fab building ever built. The second item is a French Bakery. We take the turn off into the main part of town.

The interesting and beautiful church is open but the bakery is closed. After walking the streets of the town, we come upon one of the best fish taco stands either of us have ever experienced

After Santa Rosalia we settle down to some serious driving. We want to go as far as Guerreo Negro and return to the lagoon but, when we finally get there, the wind is blowing and it is cool out, so we press on. We stop at a PEMEX station for gas. There are a couple of cars ahead of us. Things are going slowly but when it is our turn, I see the reason. The power must be off because they are hand pumping the gas into each tank. While I am getting mine, three huge motor homes pull in behind us. It looks like it is going to be a long evening for the operator of this station.

Farther north we catch a glimpse of the Pacific and what looks like a possible cove that might offer shelter from the wind. We try a gravel road that leads off in the general direction. After several miles we come out onto the cove and into motor home heaven. Here they are, cheek by jowl! Not our idea of camping. We turn around and, heading back to the highway we see another cove off to the left and a marginal rut heading towards it. I look at Lenore and say, "Boredom Lenore. Boredom!"

Off we go, banging and bouncing through the brush. Several times we come around a bend and find a large boggy spot in the middle of the trail. One place is exceptionally note worthy. I find myself sort of standing up while driving across it as if I could somehow levitate us through. Standing up and whistling at the same time. I could feel the tires sinking out of sight and the motor lugging down to the no go point but, at the last moment, dry ground reappears and we make it. Close! So close.

Finally we come to a fence across the road. The tire tracks we have been following continue but the fence remains. We get out and take a look. There is no gate, no cut wires. The fence looks like it has been there for years yet the tire tracks look recent. Ah! These Mexicans and their magic trucks! We crawl through the fence and hike over a rise and can see the lagoon but it is too far to drag the boats. We return to the bus, turn around and repeat the hair raising ride back to the highway.

Farther up the highway we come to a small settlement that has a tienda. Inside the store we find refried beans, avocado and eggs. We ask about tortillas and the woman points across the road towards a small hut.

I walk over to it and knock on the screen door. I see someone moving around inside and the door opens a crack.

"Tortillas, Senorita, por favor?"

"Si. Cuantas?"

I count on my fingers; uno, dos, tres, cuantro, cinco, seis.." Seis. Por favor".

"Si." Soon she lifts the sixth one off the stove. Talk about fresh. She wraps them in paper and I hold out a hand full of change. She takes forty pesos.

"Buenos dias Senorita. Adios."

"Adios. Gracias."

I hop back into the bus, hand Lenore my prize package of tortillas and tell her about my linguistic feat. She is proud of me but points out that older women are called Senora, not Senorita. Oh well, maybe she was flattered!

Farther up the road we see a sign. El Tomal. A road heads towards the Pacific. Why not?

This time we are successful and arrive upon a beautiful panorama of the Pacific with huge surf washing upon the beach. We find a place to park and go for a walk. Around the bend we find a fish camp and along the beach, a whole new variety of shells. They are quite different than those we found on the Sea of Cortez side. I tell Lenore that if she doesn't stop collecting shells her plane will be unable to get off the ground. The plane. That is something neither one of us have wanted to think about.

Two Mexicans come walking down the beach. They stop and ask if I have a spark plug wrench. I do and go dig it out of my tool box. They look at it and say it is too large. They have a 1984 Chevy Blazer, two miles north, stalled on a bluff above the beach. The Blazer spark plugs are smaller size than what has been used for years. I am unable to help them.

They tell me that their uncle lives at the fish camp and he will probably show up this evening and help them out.

Evening arrives and Lenore does some magic with the avocados, beans, onions, eggs and tortillas. After a fine dinner the wind and a night chill settles in and we call it a night.

In the morning, after coffee, we hike around a bit and the guys we met the night before come driving up. It was fouled plugs and after cleaning them, their uncle gave them a jump start. They tell us that some fishermen have just brought in a load of shrimp. We walk over to the fish camp and take a look. The shrimp are about three inches long with super long antenna, or feelers. They sell us half a kilo for five dollars and we carry them in a plastic bag back to our camp. I get out my porcelain wash basin while Lenore gets salt water from the ocean and we dump them in. They are moving around and look happy.

The guys in the fish camp had told us about a dead whale beached about one mile north. We go for a hike to see it. While we meander along the beach the shore birds scurry on ahead of us. We talk philosophy.

I have always thought about "things"; the meaning of life, where we came from, where we are going and does it really make any difference to the rest of the universe. Sort of a free-lance thinker. Lenore has been through the whole structured route and has the discipline to be organized in her thinking. It is fun to share some of my thoughts and get a professional response to them. I am really surprised to find that there isn't any "one best" way to think, the latest "state of the art" so to speak. Lenore compares the process to Art where one is continuously finding new ways to express "it". None being the "only" way. There are no "final" answers.

We walk on, sharing our thoughts as well as the sights and sounds. We find the whale or rather, what is left of it. It is pretty far gone with gaping holes in the skin draped over large curving bones. It reminds me of a stage prop made of paper mashie and chicken wire.

We retrace our steps. The birds retrace theirs. The surf removes all trace of us being there. Philosophy. What does it all mean? We don't know but, meanwhile, this is really nice.

Back at the bus we pack our shells and drive our load of shrimp gently back to the highway. Lenore drives for a while. I try to count the shrimp. As nearly as I can tell, we each have forty four to eat, apiece! But they are hard to count. The buggers won't hold still.

Since we had a lazy start on the day, evening soon approaches. We are nearing the area of the huge boulders where I found my cow skull. I would like to camp for the night in this bizarre landscape. Looking at the map I discover it is call, "Las Virgines"! At our age, what a laugh!

We try several side roads and it takes a few before we find our spot. The place looks like the back side of the moon or, maybe Mars. We go for a walk and explore around some but it is cooling off fast with the setting of the sun so we return and hole up in the bus with the shrimp. Lenore puts the water on to boil. I open a couple cervezas. I'm not too sure I will like eating them.

During the drive the shrimp have given up the ghost. This will make it a lot easier to cook them. Lenore drops a handful of them into the boiling water. I have a swallow of beer. As they hit the boiling water they change from a sort of transparent yellow into a beautiful pink. Lenore fishes out six for me and six for her. I take another swallow of beer. She shows me how to pull off the tail and the back body shell, then the front half and the legs. I take another swallow of beer.

What the heck. I give 'em a try. I end up with some weird looking pieces with shell and gut mixed in but it doesn't taste too bad. With another swallow of beer I try again.

By my second serving, I am definitely getting the hang of it. They are tasty little buggers. Forty of so later, I am a pro. As Lenore is scooping the last of them into the boiling water she gives a yelp! One shrimp is still alive and kicking! It lays there in the bottom of my wash basin glaring at us. Wow! He is the only one out of over eighty that has survived!

Neither of us can drop him into the boiling water so after dinner we put him out with the remains of his companions. Boy! He must think humans are barbaric! I'm sorry but hey, why do they have to taste so good?

In the morning I look for him, but he is gone. Who knows where he went. It's a long way to the ocean but in the land of Las Virgines, anything is possible, no?

We make coffee, eat some fruit and settle into some serious driving. I want to get us within goal post distance of the San Diego airport. Lenore's flight leaves at noon tomorrow.

By evening we are north of Ensenada and thirty miles south of the border. We watch for a place to park for the night and finally find a nice grassy meadow, high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. I park close to the edge for the view. We watch the sun set, fix dinner and talk about the trip. After dark the wind comes back up and there is a chill in the air so we go to bed.

Sometime during the night I wake to dreams of being blown over the edge. The wind is a lot stronger and the bus is being buffeted around. Finally I can't stand it any longer, climb in front, and drive about a block inland. The wind is less and the edge is not so menacing. Now we can sleep.

Morning brings another beautiful clear day. We have coffee and the last of Lenore's banana cake. Every day she would bring out another surprise from her pack. Wine, champagne, Cointreau, various baked goodies. Today we are eating the last of it. We also use the last of our stateside water to make our coffee. Even the last of our pesos are going into the toll booths.

We only have the border crossing ahead of us. It is hard to estimate how long that will take. Last year it took me several hours but that was during the New Year's rush. It should go quicker this time. We are clean, meaning we have no fruit, plants or drugs but I wonder about the cow skull lying in the cockpit of the Sea Otter. Is it legal to take it across the border?

We arrive at the border and find the line to be only a couple of blocks along. A border guard is walking down through the line chatting with the travelers at random. He walks toward us and looks at the kayaks. I open my window. "Where did you go? How long were you gone? Do you have any plants or fruit?" He moves on and we move forward.

Finally it is our turn.

"What is your citizenship? Any fruit or plants? Where did you go? How long were you gone? What did you bring back?"

"Ah, two tans and a pair of huaraches." Gulp!

"Would you get out and open the side door of the bus? What is under there?"

He points to the "basement" under the sleeping area. I lift the plywood cover and tell him "Clothes, tent, tools".


I hop back into the bus and he writes something down on a piece of yellow paper. He tucks it under my windshield wiper blade.

"I want you to drive over to the secondary inspection area to have the kayaks checked."

Oh god. Why didn't I confess about the cow skull. Now we've had it.

I start the bus and angle my way through the traffic to the covered area, shut off the engine and wait. After a while an officer walks up. I hop out of the bus.

"Where have you been? How long were you gone? What did you bring back.......?

My last chance to confess.

"Err.. Two tans and a pair of huaraches." I hold my grin.

He pulls the note from beneath my wiper and reads it. He looks up at the kayaks and begins to walk the length of the bus. When he gets to the back he reaches up and taps the Sea Otter twice.

"Okay. Have a nice day."

Whew! As we drive away I tell Lenore that I was almost ready to cut and run, wondering how far I would get before the bullets and dogs cut me down. Paranoia!

I still don't know if dead cow heads are illegal.

Soon, too soon, we come to the San Diego Airport exit. We drive to the Delta arrival / departure area and find a place to park. Lenore crawls into the back of the bus to change clothes and finish packing. We have about one hour left before her flight.

I get out my camera and set it on automatic and take a photo of us standing by the bus. We have run out of words but not out of feelings. Neither one of us want to cry.

I tell her that I will walk her to the departure area, that there is still time. She says she rather I didn't. It is tough enough. I put the camera away and she picks up her pack and hand bag. One last hug and she leaves, winding her way through the cars in the parking lot. Soon I can only see her straw hat.  Then, for an instant, I see her up on the sidewalk and then she goes through the smoked glass doors. She didn't look back.

I get back in the bus and sit there. Finally I start it and head out of the parking lot and back onto the freeway. I am amazed at how empty the bus feels.

During the next few years Lenore and I see each other a couple of times
but end up going our separate ways.

Click here to continue to next story.

Return to blabberon