July 13, 1997: Catavina

We arrived at Catavina, having spent the night of July 12 in Ensenada. Apparently July 12th is a some kind of noisy holiday in Mexico. I was dead tired and fell asleep early. Everyone described all kinds of fireworks and firecrackers being set off. I slept through all of it.

South of Ensenada the Transpeninsular Highway contracts to two lanes and it’s about all there is — a ribbon of asphalt running the length of Baja California. I was excited just to be on vacation, and even more excited to be going somewhere I’d never been before. We rolled through agricultural areas, small towns and desert, finally entering a national park near the northern end of the boulder field — apparently long ago an earthquake had tipped one of three huge lakes, which then drained into the next one and so on, depositing an enormous number of huge boulders. A marvel to behold. We kept our eyes peeled for Boojum trees, which look like they’re straight out of Dr. Suess.

This campground had EXCELLENT food, some of the best I’d ever tasted. We feasted!

Note the foil-bubble-wrap sun protectors on my Campmobile — bungeed to the OUTSIDE of the vehicle. Keep the sun and heat out as much as possible.

Catavina shade

Breakdown along the Transpeninsular Highway
Our party consisted of Robert Hoover and his wife June, driving a 1965 VW Bus; their son Robert, driving a Chevy truck; The Canadian couple whose names escape me at the moment (this is 2012, the trip was in 1997… took me a while to get around to writing it up), driving a 1973 VW Bus, Jack and his teenage half-brother (what was his name?) driving another 1973 VW Bus; and finally myself driving my 1976 VW Campmobile.

Here we seen Brian (that’s the name of the male Canadian and of Jacks’ brother!) and his bus broken down not too far south of where we’d stayed Sunday night, Catavina (lovely place). This is the desert in July and it was hot. We should have had their bus towed back to the US at this point. Brian’s ongoing mechanical troubles was a negative event during our trip. His bus had a dual carb setup, which was never sold in Mexico, so expecting to find parts or service was unlikely. At this juncture, Jack tuned the dual carbs by ear, which was good enough for us to move down the road to a highway construction staging area, flat with gravel. There we waited for the engine to cool down so that we could reset Brian’s valves, see if that helped. When in doubt, begin with a basic tune-up.

Broken Down
During the time we were sitting by the side of the road, I parked my bus in a kind of v-shape next to Jack’s bus and then put a silver deep-shade tarp over the roofs, made a reasonably comfortable spot.

Brian and the ice cream man / mechanic
We did not encounter the “Green Angels” that day. The guy in the green car was selling popsicles. He climbed over Robert Hoover to get at Brian’s engine… he used a spark plug with a car battery to make a weld. His fix worked. You just cannot make stuff like this up.

The Younger Robert scouted a place to camp for the night a few kilometers south.



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