October 25, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Diving in the Desert

I have long held the stereotypical image in my head of Baja California being one long peninsula of dry, arid desert. That stereotype was shattered last spring, when I drove through emerald green fields and hiked through lush canyons on my trip to Mike's Sky Ranch. This weekend, that stereotype further crumbled with a visit to the oasis of Guadalupe Canyon.

The long, dry, hot and dusty drive there certainly fed the expectations of arid desolation. Upon arrival, however, I felt like we'd arrived at the beach. Groves of palm trees shaded the white sand underfoot. Pools, hot tubs and palapas dotted the landscape. The only thing missing was the ocean. Instead, boulder-strewn mountains rose up on either side. Far above, a long, thin finger of rock jutted out, vaguely resembling an outline of the Virgin of Guadalupe, hence the canyon's name.

Despite its remoteness, this hidden oasis serves as a desirable getaway for those in the know. Consequently, the weekend rate for a mostly primitive camp site can exceed $300 for holiday weekends. This visit, however, we took advantage of a free stay in exchange for four hours of work cleaning up the canyon. We hit the trail early on Saturday morning, five adults and four teenagers equipped with a bucket of paint, trash bags—and a bag of snorkeling gear. I carried the latter on my back.

In the canyon above the camp sites, several waterfalls feed swimming holes. We set up shop at the first of these. While the others started picking up beer bottles, soda cans and other trash, I donned my wetsuit and snorkeling gear and jumped in the water. Here I was, in the middle of the desert, working underwater like I do almost every day of the week. I spent the next couple of hours pulling trash out of the pool and clearing out an overabundance of swamp grass. While the others sweated in the heat, painting over graffiti and filling their trash bags, I got to work in the cool mountain spring water.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the hot tubs. From all I'd heard about Guadalupe Canyon, my expectations were high. But the lushness of the canyon and luxury of the mineral springs far exceeded them. I can't wait till I return with my Total Escape pals in December, when we'll have the added treat of a meteor shower to entertain us.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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October Columns:

10/31: Halloween's History
10/30: Good GDP, Still No Jobs
10/29: Disaster
10/27: Ash Monday
10/26: En Fuego
10/25: Diving in the Desert
10/24: Dead Car Canyon
10/23: Reflections
10/21: Le Métro
10/20: Pain
10/17: Jury Duty
10/15: Labor Pains
10/14: The Business of Losing
10/13: Owls and Jobs
10/12: Hooked
10/11: The "S" in SUV
10/9: Flee the City
10/8: Sore Losers
10/5: Turkeys
10/4: It's Not the Economy, Stupid
10/2: Focus
10/1: Twenty Years
Previous months in The Archive

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