Monday, 24 March 2008 – San Quintin to Ensenada
The advantage of staying last night in San Quintin was that we could have a lie in – well, some of the others did as I woke up at the usual time and had a chat with Angie via Windows Messenger. It was about 11:00 when we finally left for the 115 mile journey to Ensenada. There was not much going on on MEX1, so I started browsing the AAA Baja California Guide and discovered the opportunity for two side trips: one turning east at San Telmo de Abajo would take us towards Meling Ranch and then to the Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Martir, the other turning west 6.2 miles north of San Vicente and leading to the coast at Puerto San Isidro.
By the time I had spotted these side trips we appeared to have already passed the turning at San Telmo, so had to do a U-turn (a ‘Uwee’) and drive some 7 km back. It would take much too long to make both side trips in full so we decided to drive east until 12:30, noting potential stops for the way back. We found a nice place for a plant stop at 12:29 ad found Echinocereus maritimus (in flower) Myrtillocactus cholla (in flower and fruit), Pachycereus gummosus, Mammillaria sp. (dioica or blossfeldiana?) and Opuntia and Cylindropuntia sp. A first on this trip was to find Bergerocactus emoryi in bud and in flower. It seems to rely on vegetative propagation, as only few plants had buds and only two or three were flowering. On the succulent side, the place was awash with Agave shawii, very large single headed plants or multiheaded plants with smaller heads. And Eunice was in heaven as Dudleya were everywhere, D. brittonii was massive here and snow white, but there was also a smaller plant with cylindrical, mainly green leaves that we later found in greater numbers at the next stop.
I noted yesterday that the area we were passing through seemed to be past its peak in terms of field flowers. Here, farther north, I estimate that it was roughly at its peak.
We made several more shortish stops on the way back to MEX1 an, hidden between the shrubs, grass and wild flowers, found a few Ferocactus, some in flower (yellow). They looked to me as though they may be the southern extreme of F. cylindraceus that tomorrow we should see in great numbers along MEX3 around Valle de Trinidad and again the next day, as we drive through the Anza Borrega Desert Park in the USA.
We found the next turn off, this time west, without difficulty and again were treated to new, photogenic scenery. Tarmac ran out at Ejido Eréndira, and rather than proceed at 15 km per hour, it seemed better to devote more time to plant stops on the way back to MEX1. There was an impressive Bergerocactus emoryi hanging down a rockface. Walking along the road, we could photograph Echinocereus maritimus, Mammillaria sp. and P. gummosus, but the stars of the show were the Dudleya. Here they were large green rosettes clinging to the rock face.
We made a few more brief stops on the way back to MEX1, and drove over a few rattlesnakes, that unwisely crossed the road as we were heading back. I think it was Ian’s way of getting even with the rattlers for scaring the wits out of him yesterday at the E. lindsayi stop.
Back on MEX1 it didn’t take long before we reached the outskirts of Ensenada and battled through traffic, anxiously looking for road names to get to the hotel district. After some negotiating and haggling about price, we’re in the Desert Inn / Hotel La Pinta – one in the chain that we had missed out so far. For Alain,: from the balcony on our second floor I can just about see the huge flag on the Malecon, a couple of blocks away. Eunice is in her element as she has discovered a Starbucks near by, although still too far to walk for American custom. Hope she brings the car back in one piece 🙂
Tomorrow will be our last day in Mexico, so not a bad thing that I’m down to my last 70 pesos (c. GBP 3.50), but well up in the group kitty.