Over 30 years ago, in a moment of impulsive insanity, my partner and his best friend walked off into the Vizcaino Desert in Baja, California.
For three days they walked without map or compass. They had only the water they could carry and two blankets, boiling in the sun during the day and freezing at night.
They realized that you can’t explore the desert on foot. That’s how the dream to return with transportation (specifically, a motorcycle) was born.
Last winter, the dream became reality. This time, I was the best friend.
The Vizcaino Peninsula is the point of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean, just about halfway down Baja California’s western coastline.
The guidebooks warned us that the road through the desert was very bad: dusty and heavy with deep washboard. We were undeterred and left early from Guerrero Negro with a plan to stay in the only town with a hotel, Bahia Tortuga, for a few days, allowing us to explore some of the side roads into the desert including the one that goes all the way to the point of the peninsula.
The first 50 kilometres or so were paved and flew by. First, we passed huge installations of greenhouses, then a section of desert filled with surprisingly verdant desert plants and, finally, the salt flats that stretched north as far as we could see.
Guerrero Negro has huge salt-processing plants that mine and ship salt all over the world.
Once we got off the pavement, most of the plants disappeared. All that was left were odd scrubby bushes, infrequent cacti and small clumps of desert flowers by the roadside. The landscape was taken over by the desert itself in varying shades of dusty-brown and tan.
About 20 kilometres beyond the pavement, we pulled off to eat and stretch. The washboard and sand, though manageable, had still been a riding challenge.
The young man from 30 years ago was standing silent and still and gazing out over the desert.
“It’s not every day a life dream comes true, is it?” I asked quietly.
“No. But today is one of those days.”
We stayed four nights in Bahia Tortuga, rode dirt roads through the desert to the north and south and to the west, all the way to the point. The people we met shared their faith and their stories, as well as their coffee and langostina (clawless lobsters).
I’ve got lots of dreams I’ve had over the years, but only a few are as old or held as much strength, both in the drive and in the realization, as this one for my partner.
Over the years, we all devise and pursue a lot of dreams. As we grow and mature, I think we let too many of them go, replacing them with more-practical pursuits.
There are a few that cannot be let go of: they live in our psyches until they fight their way to the surface, demanding fulfillment. And, just sometimes, the older they are and the longer they wait, the sweeter they are when realized.
Such was this motorcycle trip in the Vazcaino.