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Post #7: How far is that lighthouse?

February 16, 2020

Turns out, a long way. After waking to a stunning orange sunrise over the sea, followed by a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, we set out to a lighthouse we could see around a curving spit of beach to the north. Not knowing how tall the lighthouse was, it was hard to estimate its distance. Walking on soft sand is not easy (and the foot I broke years ago during a motorcycle accident began hurting) and we realized about two and a half miles in that we weren’t halfway there and it was time to turn around. Turns out, a long way. After waking to a stunning orange sunrise over the sea, followed by a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, we set out to a lighthouse we could see around a curving spit of beach to the north. Not knowing how tall the lighthouse was, it was hard to estimate its distance. Walking on soft sand is not easy (and the foot I broke years ago during a motorcycle accident began hurting) and we realized about two and a half miles in that we weren’t halfway there and it was time to turn around.

Photo credit: ponshared
On the way to the lighthouse, we found this boat didn't make it through the last storm
Startled to find a luxury inn in the middle of the deserted beach

But along the beach we discovered a luxury inn, of all things, with a gate on the beach that we tried to open stealthily but were met instead with much squeaking. Not hearing savage dogs or gunshots, we walked into the stunning courtyard. In this bone dry, desolate and hard-to-get-to place, seeing a luxury inn (with a pool!) was almost hard to comprehend (we later learned it was available only to rent the entire property, as for a wedding). We walked softly, listening for anyone around (it seemed completely empty), peaked into rooms, wandered around and found bathrooms. We thanked the absent owners for providing us with a flush toilet, running water and soap. Luxury truly is a matter of perspective.

We returned to camp and decided to move along to the Next Amazing Place. One great thing about how we camp is that we can break it down and leave in less than two minutes. On this day, we only had to stow the table and chairs and the stove. We four-wheel-drove off the little sandy clearing into the dry wash and back to the main road, which was a washboard dirt affair with a rattle-imposed 15 mph speed limit, toward Cabo Pulmo. After several hours, including a long stretch of washboard, we turned into an old abandoned RV campground right on the beach (another hurricane victim?) that had a few long-time campers parked anyway, but we drove through it because we thought we saw a trail that led behind a rocky point.  

After passing a bus-camper (with the name “Strayhound” along with a painting of a sprinting mutt), and the remains of a building (we later explored it and learned it had been a one-room schoolhouse overlooking the sea), we continued driving up the sandy trail.

A colorful mandala and some mathematical formulas
With that view, I'm not sure how the teacher could keep students from daydreaming

There were a number of soft spots so we used 4wd and eventually found an incredibly beautiful remote spot to camp, invisible from the beach campground. A couple of rocks under the tires leveled us and we marveled (not for the first time on this trip) at our luck in finding such a place. 

Smooth, colorful pebbles of all sizes

Where the last campground was all about the sandy beach, this one had a rocky curving beach with colorful pebbles from fist to fingernail size along with crashing surf, bookended by two tall rocky outcroppings a half-mile apart. 

The first outcropping beckoned and we walked to it and started climbing, as excited as little kids, scrambling up the steep rocks.

The view from the top was breathtaking, with yet another curving rocky beach on the other side, where the old campground was visible. On our side, only crashing surf.

We stayed at the top taking pictures and tried to avoid being blown off the peak, watching pelicans far below. The 360 degree view was spectacular.

We passed horses grazing freely without any fences
Cabo Pulmo's sand streets felt like something out of the Old West

Finally, we picked our way down, went back to the truck and got a backpack full of jackets, hats, and headlights for a trek into what was described as a small village with a restaurant or two. We figured we owed ourselves a local experience. Twenty minutes later, we found the place and walked along the single sandy road through the town until it turned toward the sea.

The view from our table

At the end, we found a small covered outdoor restaurant with several people, some of whom seemed disappointed to have come to the tiny town for its famed snorkeling only to find it too windy (which it had been for many days). Undisappointed, we ordered beer, soup and fish tacos. While the food was fine, the view from the open palapa-like seating area was amazing, with surf breaking a few feet away. In a few years or with the next hurricane, the land the restaurant was sitting on would clearly be washed away—as much of the coast already had from a 2018 hurricane. Cabo Pulmo seemed to be living on borrowed time.

Hidden among the boulders on the way back to our campsite, we came upon this memorial. A sailor lost at sea?

A slow stroll back along the pebble beach (with every hue and shape possible) brought us back home where the wind was still howling, rocking the truck with the gusts. I was glad (not for the first time) that we weren’t in a tent. I was worried less that the wind would knock over our 6,000 pound vehicle than I was about how we were going to brush our teeth in the gusts, in the dark.

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