Celebrating Oma’s birthday in Santa Fe

We were excited to be able to stop on the way home in Santa Fe, where my mom has a house. We weren’t sure she would be feeling well enough to meet us there, but she was. She had just turned 70 a few days before so we were excited to welcome her with lots of birthday cards!

Happy birthday Oma!
Kids were so happy to see Oma
Me too!

We didn’t do a whole lot while we were in Santa Fe. Lots of hanging out at home, escaping the cold. We did get out once as a family to walk around town and eat some brunch outdoors (brrrr but gotta stay safe even if Oma has had her vaccine!)

All bundled and masked up in town

Mike and I also went on a number of walks around town, which is so charming! We got some snow, but luckily only a dusting instead of the 4-6 inches predicted.

We aren’t in Baja anymore, Campy!
Charming scenery on a stroll
Oooh that was a cold little hike up this hill above Santa Fe

We got some chocolates and champagne to celebrate Valentine’s Day and enjoyed some time by the fire!

Escape from Baja

After we saw the whales we spent the rest of the day driving north up to San Felipe. The first half of the drive was on a narrow road that makes your heart leap every time you pass a truck, but eventually we got on a newer road with big shoulders.

We found a campsite in San Felipe and appropriately had tacos for dinner. We have eaten a LOT of tacos on this trip, both made by us and at street stalls. Kids are downright sick of them by now.

We didn’t have time to do much other than catch up on school and work and then eat and go to bed, but our last night in Baja gave us a good sunset at least!

The next morning we left just before dawn (I’m the early riser driver of the family) and drove a couple of hours to Mexicali to cross the border. That was a bit of a nightmare circling around all over town following detour signs, but eventually we found the right place and waited about an hour in traffic. The border itself was easy- we had a lovely customs agent who asked us a few questions, did a cursory check around the rig and sent us on our way.

Back in the US our first stop was in and out burger which the kids had been begging for since we went to one on our way out. We then drove for a gazillion more hours through the desert and the mountains. We stopped to grab Thai take out for dinner and then eventually got to a campground after dark. I got to wake up the next morning for a work call at 8am which I took outside in 20 degree weather. My hands were about to fall off as I typed. But gotta get the work done!

Then we just drove a few more hours and after brunch at the Waffle House (another not-in-Wisconsin favorite of our kiddos) we made it to my moms place in Santa Fe. She wasn’t getting in til the next day so we used the chance to catch up on work and school.

Top 5 camping beaches in Baja

By Caroline Niebauer

Here are our five favorite camping beaches in Baja!

5. Cabo Pulmo (Playa el Arbolito) we stayed in Cabo pulmo for 2 nights. The first at Playa el Arbolito. It was so pretty but really windy. My mom the twins and I sat at the beach and I watercolored. The second night we went to a different beach just north of Cabo Pulmo town and it was made out of stones, not sand. We had fun painting rocks and sliding down the steep rock hill.

Tide pools in El Arbolito
Pebble beach at Cabo Pulmo

4. Papas Fernandez is an with amazing beach camping in Gonzaga Bay. We were there for 1 night it was amazing. The water was not so cold and there were tons of shells and they were cool. We played in the waves and looked in the tide pools after dark.

Coming back from playing in the waves at Papa Fernandez

3. Coyote beach in Bahia Concepcion was beautiful. We stayed for 2 nights. It had amazing views, and we went snorkeling, but the water was freezing. Mom and dad went on a hike on the hills above the beach. We had s’mores with some local friends at the next campground- they were really good.

Our palapa at El Coyote
Toes in the water with dad

2. Cerritos Beach near Todos Santos is a beautiful beach with big waves and beautiful views. We stayed there for three nights at a boondocking campsite beside Cerritos Beach Inn. It was on a bluff overlooking the waves. While we were there we met up with some friends and swam in their pool because the ocean was too cold.

Cerritos Beach- you can’t tell but we are up on a hill above the beach
One of the few places we could have a campfire because there was lots of driftwood

1. El requison this place is a beautiful camping spot we stayed here for 1 night. It is a sand spot that connects the land to a small island at low tide. The first night we found tons of clams that we boiled and ate the twins, and I did not like them, so my dad ate most of them. The second night we went to a little beach next door- Playa La Perla which was so pretty too!

Beach at El Requison
Playa La Perla- a small pretty cove. We were the only ones there!

Honorable mention we did not camp at this beach so it could not be on the regular list but it was still amazing it was the beach at San Jose del Cabo the water was a bit cold but we still played in the waves

Beach in San Jose Del Cabo- no camping here. Only fancy (but empty) hotels.

Gray whales in Guerrero Negro

By Maddy

After Mulege, it was a fairly quick drive to the pacific coast where we camped at Ojo de Liebre, a very flat sandy area on a bay where gray whales come to mate and to give birth to babies.

Sunset from our campsite. You could see the whales in the distance

Early the next morning we headed out to go see the whales. It was a really amazing experience. I came here 20 years ago on spring break during college and I remember how awesome it was, so I was excited to bring the family. It did not disappoint!

We stopped at the visitors center to get our tickets and then headed out with our captain Luis.

Grey whale skeleton

We took the boat out about 15 minutes, seeing whales spouting on all sides the whole way out. Once we were in the center of the action we waited and three huge whales came and basically played around boat. They swam next to us, under the boat and around and around. They came up next to the boat again and again, and we all enjoyed reaching out to pet them. Not sure where else in the world you can get so close to these amazing creatures. They were small compared to the blue whale we saw in Loreto but still massive!!

We also got to see a baby whale swimming alongside a mama, but didn’t get close enough to pet it.

They encouraged us to pet the whales. We all got the chance. So amazing!!
A flipper close up
Breaching in the distance

Meeting friends in Mulege

By Maddy

After a few days in Bahia Conception, where one is fully cut off from cell service, we needed to find some internet so we could celebrate Omas 70th birthday with a zoom party! Luckily my brother Brian and his family could bake her a cake and be with her in person.

So we stayed in Mulege, the town just north of Bahia Conception. we had visited it on our way down but not stayed there. It is a beautiful little town in an oasis on the coast. Lots of palm trees and a river flowing through.

I had connected with some RVing families through Facebook who were just starting their Baja journey as we were finishing ours. We weren’t sure if our timing would line up to connect but we were lucky to hear from them as we were pulling into town so we stayed at the same hotel/RV Park as them. It was a cute place with a freezing pool and lots of areas to eat or work or just hang out.

The two families had lots of kids ages 4-12. Our kids made friends with theirs very quickly and started many many hours of tag and hide and seek and other outdoor games. It was so fun to see them get some friend time. We also really enjoyed getting to know the parents and trading travel stories and tips for Baja over margaritas and chips! Meeting travel friends has been rare this trip, given the lack of tourism during Covid, but we are glad we have had a few opportunities and everyone seemed good about staying outdoors and using masks.

Digging for clams!

By Julian

In Bahia Conception, we stayed at a beach called El Requison.

We drove up in the RV, then I quickly went outside to see the new bench. Well I was playing in the sand my dad came back and said we were digging for clams!!

I was super Excited I’ve never done for clams before so I ran across the beach to where mom was. Then I thought an old lady that found like 20 of the clans I was so excited to get started!! So the first thing I did was go right next to mom and search for clams by digging in the sand. So then I didn’t find any for 10 minutes, so I went to where dad was dad said this was the jackpot area I did for a little while but I got kind of impatient so I went to where mom was Then I saw a big clam!! So I decided to dig for more I found a lot of baby clams that we couldn’t keep because they were Tiny. So I went back over to where dad was and I found like three big clams so I was excited I dug for a little while longer and I eventually found one more clam. But then Caroline and Mimi came rushing over they said there are so many clams!!! So I hurried over And just like they said I found like 10 clams in the first five seconds.

Dad cooked the clams for dinner. We didn’t really like them but he did. We had so many we couldn’t cook them all so we shared some with other campers nearby.

We moved the second night to a beach close by called Playa La Perla. It was so cute and we were the only campers there. We set up our cabana like a little house.

Mimi and dad playing chess in the cabana

Encounter with a Blue Whale

Loreto is probably a quarter of the way up the peninsula on the Sea of Cortez and normally is a pretty touristy location with beautiful sea views and like many other towns in Baja had it’s origin as a mission town.  It also has a marine park off it’s shores consisting of 4 islands.  We were lucky enough to take a boat ride around one of them, Isle de Coronado, it was one of the most amazing marine boat tours we have ever taken.  The boat was easy to procure just walking down to the harbor we had boat captains offering rides.  We started at 10am not expecting too much, after a 40 minute boat ride we approached Coronado and saw a turtle then another then some stingrays and then more sting rays.  The stingrays are known for jumping out of the water in the area but it is the wrong time of year for this behavior. They seemed to be all over the place in the azure blue shallows.  We spied some dolphins off in the distance and headed that direction and all of a sudden they were all over the place hundreds of dolphins jumping out of the water and playing in the wake of the boat.  The kids were screaming with joy and just couldn’t believe it.  After a half an hour playing with the dolphins we headed around the island and observed some sea lions. 

We were flabbergasted with the abundance with the marine life and then our boat driver turned to us and said do you want to go see a blue whale??  We were like sure, but I thought to myself something got lost in translation, maybe a gray whale.  We headed out to see where another boat was sitting idle and waited for the whale…   All of a sudden there is this huge loud whooooshhh of air and we see this massive whale surface, it was enormous!  We puttered the boat over and stayed about 1000 feet away and watched the whale surface and breath 8-9 times and then dove, showing it’s tale.  We sat in rapt attention for probably 40 minutes as the creature dove and surfaced several times, likely feeding on krill.  It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen on the ocean, we were in the presence of the largest species to ever exist on the earth!  After our encounter we saw a blue footed boobie and hung out on a small beach for an hour or so before heading back to Loreto. We had more ceviche strolled along the malecon and walked to the mission but basically couldn’t stop talking about the blue whale.

Watching the Blue Whale spout

The Puppies!

By Julian

While we were staying in Todos Santos, our friends invited us with them to volunteer at a dog rescue.

The RV stopped, I realized we were here. We got out of the RV and walked about two blocks. Then I saw them PUPPIES!!!!!! They were so cute. All of the kids started putting their hands through the fence through the fence and patting them. Then we listened to all of the rules. After we listened to the rules we went into the double gate because if the puppies were to go out they probably wouldn’t be able to catch them!

Then they opened the door! But we saw the big dogs first because the door to the puppies was inside where the Adult dogs are. We pet adult dogs for a little while then Caroline ( my sister ) volunteered to pick up The dog poop and then we went into puppy area!

I was so excited. Caroline asked Brynn ( our guide/friend ) Is the puppies have names she told us she had forgotten them so we could call them what ever want! I picked up the one that had licked me on the arm it was a beautiful white dog so I would call her cupcake! Cupcake was so cute! Then Brynn told us that we were going to hold up signs for donors with puppies and take a picture. The first few were my friend Ezra and Caroline then it was me And Ezra Then it was Soren ( my friend) And Mimi (my sister ). so we took a lot of photos they were super cool. We were donors too so I made a sign for us!

So a lot later we were almost finally done with the photos there was only A few left. Then we realized all of the puppies were asleep in their bed so cute! So we took the last pictures with the puppies in their bed asleep

When it was time to play with the big dogs for a little while So I mostly played with this one dog Lucy, Lucy was the owner of the dog shelter dog she was really cute! When I played with the other dogs for a little while one was a golden retriever but I don’t know the other one it was a beautiful black dog but I New it was not a chocolate lab because it had a really long Snout. Then we went out of the dog Shelter and we walked back to the RV because our friends place was on the way me and Ezra had a chat about books (Harry Potter).

a baby turtle adventure

by Mirabelle

Our story begins on a beach, the 30th of January, and the sun was going down so it was the perfect time for baby turtles to swim into the ocean. It had to be this time because baby turtles can damage or even lose their eyesight from the sun. When it was sunset, our friends (and volunteers) came out of the turtle greenhouse. The greenhouse was to keep the temperature just right so that the turtles were 50% male 50% female, because the temperature of the sand determines the gender of the turtles, but I’m getting off topic. When our friends came out they had baskets of baby turtles! Wow, they were so cute we all immediately crowded around the fence they were in front of, as the volunteers gave a talk about how we were not allowed to touch the turtle because the oils on our hands are dangerous to them.

When the sun was going down we were allowed in the greenhouse so we could “adopt a nest” (which is donating to the organization so we could help a nest). We ended up picking nest 212 of Green Ridley Turtles, by the time we finished adopting our turtles it was almost time to let the babies go. As we were about to head down the beach I got handed the bucket of three baby turtles! They were so cute when I brought them to the water to go in the ocean and hopefully live a good life and come to the beach once again to lay their eggs. As the turtles inched their way to the ocean the waves kept pushing them back up the beach, we cheered them on anyway. We named them Ricky, Thunder, and Ranch. Ranch is the first to finally get swept out to sea but everyone else was not far behind. Once all the turtles were in the ocean we headed back into the RV, and then to bed. This was an amazing experience that I definitely loved and would recommend to anyone.

holding newborn turtles
Our friends Brynn, Chris, Soren, and Ezra spent months volunteering with the turtle nursery. They gave a talk about the turtles.
Our adopted nest
turtle release
Go, little guy, go!

turtle release at sunset

Los Cabos

We arrived in San Jose del Cabo the sleepy brother to Cabo San Lucas on a Monday afternoon and checked into our Airbnb a lovely 4 bedroom house a block and a half off the beach. We had paid for the pool to be heated and it was quite amazing. I think the first couple days we did nothing but pool time and beach time, it was good to be away from each other in a way you can’t in the RV. It was good for Maddy to catch up on work after being out of cell range for a few days.

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The two towns on the very end of the Baja Peninsula are collectively known as Los Cabos or the Cape and were by far the most populated areas that we stayed near. Normally these towns would be bustling with activity and tourist but these are not normal times. We stayed away from activities with lots of people which meant lots of beach walks especially at sunset. Quite amazingly there were very few people on the beach which makes for great sunset photos.  About 3-4 days into our stay we decided we could all use more time at the house and extended to a week and a half. Below is a description of most of our activities:

We took a day trip to Cabo San Lucas by car to take a boat ride out to what’s known as the Arch located at the furthest point on the Baja Peninsula also known as lands end. 

We did horseback ride on the beach one day, was quite lovely but we all had sore butts.

One night we went to the art festival in the downtown area of San Jose del Cabo.  We wandered around and looked at art and got street food near the mission until we were convinced by the kids to eat Italian food at an outdoor restaurant.

We also had new friends over that were volunteering in Todos Santos to our pool one day. We had some lovely beach days and the kids played in the surf until someone told us it was dangerous at low tide due to riptides. Once of the days I took Julie to the beach and we spotted a whale in the surf, literally 10 feet off the shore. We were amazed that we saw a whale that close in (sorry no picture).

Beach all to ourselves!
Nothing better than burying a sister
Got out the hoverboards one afternoon!