1965: Mexicali to Bahía San Luis Gonzaga, by Jeep
1966: Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, by Jeep
At 8 1/2, Baja was already a special place to me! Here I am at the base of a cardón cactus, somewhere beyond El Rosario.
My dad and the panga owner who took us fishing at Cabo San Lucas.
Hook up off Cabo!
My first dorado!!!
The following are some photos from 1967 to 1999 of trips into Baja, as well as Baja and Parker 400 off road races.
A small group of campers at Agua de Chale (Nuevo Mazatlan). My dad’s white Jeep Wagoneer is in the center as is my school principal’s VW who joined us.
Here I am (age 10) with a school friend (Shawn Grover) at Nuevo Mazatlan.
Mom, Dad, Shawn and I, at Nuevo Mazatlan in 1967. Some trips we could back the trailer right into the cabana, this time the sand was too deep.
1967: Mexicali to Bahia de los Angeles
A couple months before I turn 10, at the gold ore mill ruins of Dick Daggett over-looking Arroyo Calamajué.
Campo Nuevo Mazatlan 1966-69
Before today’s forest of trees were planted, shade was provided by large cabanas on the beach. Built of ocotillo by Luis Castellanos Moreno. The tree planting began about 1970. See http://vivabaja.com/nm
Fishing was awesome at a small bay 1 1/2 miles north of Nuevo Mazatlan. Around 1970, a new tourist campo was established there and it was named ‘Bahia Santa Maria’. Vacation homes were constructed on leased lots and that idea spread along almost the entire coast south of San Felipe over the next 30 years.
Blown way into the lagoon and salt flat just north of the bay during the ’67 hurricane. It never reached the sea again, and slowly was dismantled over the next 15 years.
Jeep won’t start! Mom in a classic pose.
After returning to the Wagoneer from a walk to the shrimp boat, it wouldn’t start! Some people with Jeep pick ups were camping just south of Nuevo Mazatlan, so I walked a couple miles to get my parents some help, before the tide came in!
Jump ahead to 1972. Dad gets a Chevy Suburban 4×4 and we tow a dune buggy to Baja.
San Pedro Mártir Observatory, Oct. 1972
November 1972, dad and two dentist co-workers travel to the tip.
The three dentists traveled first to Nuevo Mazatlan, then Gonzaga Bay, then L.A. Bay, then Mission San Borja, then San Ignacio, reached the new pavement coming north past Santa Rosalia, went to Punta Chivato, Mulegé, Loreto, Cabo San Lucas and back to La Paz where they took the ferry to the mainland.
The new Baja highway, under construction 1973
Ramon Villalejo holds a beautiful dorado (dolphinfish/ mahi-mahi) caught by my mom, Lynn Kier.
Nuevo Mazatlan, August 1973
1973 Baja 1000
Here is Parnelli Jones, winner of the ’63 Indy 500, ’70 & ’73 Baja 500, and the ’71 & ’72 Mexican/ Baja 1000). I was lucky to be by his trailer when he zoomed in from pre-running in his ‘Big Oly’ Bronco, the day before the race.
My first (no parents) Baja Trip, on Spring Break, 1974
This waterhole is 15 miles north of Gonzaga Bay and just west of the road. At 16, this was during my first trip to Baja without my parents, traveling with a friend (Pat Goforth).
July 1974 SCORE’S FIRST BAJA RACE ‘The Baja Internacional’
My mother and I traveled in my dune buggy to Mike’s Sky Rancho after a stop in Ensenada the day before the race. At Mike’s, on race day, I noted the times when racers arrived at the checkpoint. See my 20 photos and more of the first SCORE Baja race: https://vivabaja.com/1974-score-baja-internacional/
April 1975 Spring Break
New buggy passes old, on the southern route out from El Mármol. This was my second (Easter vacation) one week Baja trip, at 17 with a school friend (Mike Clancy) and two other vehicles that joined us. I began leading Baja tours then!
1975 SCORE Baja Internacional (‘Baja 500’)
At Valle Trinidad checkpoint, world speed record holder and founder of SCORE, Mickey Thompson pulls up in his Chevy LUV truck with a rear/ bed mounted 454 V-8 engine. It utilized an Oldsmobile front wheel drive installed on the back.
Here’s Mickey Thompson who was racing with his co-driver son, Danny (examining the wheel).
BAJA 300, Aug. ’75, in Santo Tomás
Before becoming a famous Toyota racer, Ivan Stewart was winning in buggies. Here, Ivan just crossed the finish line.
This was great… a racer broke down near a ranch and borrowed a horse to finish, in his helmet and fire suit!
1975 BAJA 1000, SCORE’S FIRST 1000
Here’s Parnelli Jones in his new racing Chevy Blazer 2WD ‘funny car’. This is at Valle Trinidad. After the racers passed through, I relocated at the sulfur mine (south of San Felipe) to watch them on the return loop, the next morning.
In my Jeep Cherokee Chief, going from Valle Trinidad to San Felipe (on the old road, east of Diablo Dry Lake).
June 1976 (to Loreto, L.A. Bay, and more) High School Graduation Trip
Baja Off-Road Races in 1977
Shell Island, March 1978 in my Subaru 4×4
June 1978, near Picacho del Diablo
After watching the Baja 500, near Mike’s Sky Rancho, I got my Subaru through to the Observatory road then drove up to the top. Here at 9,280′ the view is awesome! Photo by my friend, Jon LaFrance
June 1978 Baja Internacional (‘500’)
Near Nuevo Junction, my friend Jon LaFrance captures an exciting moment for German car mechanic Wally Schwaia, in his racer.
EL PARRAL Canyon, Jan. 1979
A couple weeks after finding the ‘lost road’ from the sulfur mine to Valle Chico, I returned to head south and see Matomí canyon for the first time.
My worst stuck… Arroyo Matomí
Driving from Tomas Dowling’s lower ranch (now gone) to the upper ranch (by the waterfall), was this water crossing. I made it across, but was blocked ahead by high water. This happened on the return crossing, and the water was rising!
Pre-running the 1979 Baja 1000 course:
I am pre-running the Baja 1000 course I am to be driving in the race soon after this trip. My first section is San Matias Pass to El Crucero. Alas, we broke down before I got behind the wheel!
Baja 1000, Nov. 1979
Here I am pre-running a week before the race. This was the first time SCORE ran the 1000 to La Paz. We broke down, but I was a happy 22-year-old co-driver. Driver Skip Ylhainen in the #2 seat.
SCORE Parker 400, 1980 & ’81
I was the pit captain here for the Los Campeones Racing Team, at the Turtle Mountains in the California desert.
Mickey Thompson, Parker 400
Mickey breaks down near my pit in his monster V-8 sprint car-like, off road racer. I think that was the world’s tallest shock absorber on each back wheel. Mickey and his wife were murdered sometime after this race in a mysterious, unsolved crime.
Shell Island 1980
Parral Canyon about 1981
Before SCORE started using this pass, it was almost unknown… a ‘lost’ road between the sulfur mine and Valle Chico! I am driving my second Subaru, a 1980 4×4 wagon.
David & Dad at Rancho Santa Ynez 1982
The Baja trips we had together were always wonderful. I really miss that man!
Variety Beach (Laguna Manuela) 1983
My dad and I were exhausted from the best surf fishing we had ever experienced.
Mom at Variety Beach
Nice size yellow fin croaker and corbina were the main take, halibut too! Nearby rocks provided all the calico bass you could want. ‘Whistler’ gave me the name he used for this beach north of Laguna Manuela.
Cocktail Hour at Gonzaga Bay 1983
Coming home from Laguna Manuela, we made camp on the beach near Punta Final. My parents knew how to make camping fun as the champagne was always on ice!
Punta San Francisquito 1983
A most beautiful beach with clear water. We are camping on the far end of the beach from the fly-in resort. Whales sang at night and dolphins and mantas played at day.
I often would spend several days just enjoying ‘the Baja feeling’ on this magnificent beach beginning in 1978. Above photo was probably in ’83 or ’84.
Baja Honeymoon 1985 (I met her in Baja in 1984 at a Mexico West Club/ Tom & Shirley Miller camping event)
One of our camps at El Requesón, Bahía Concepción. Previous camps were at San Antonio del Mar and La Gringa…
El Requesón’s palapa to sea distance was not TOO great!!!
We saw this road heading off, and took it to a great beach (Punta Conejo).
Santiago Zoo (in 1985)
Cabo San Lucas… the tip of the Baja peninsula. Soon after the honeymoon, work, two babies and divorce would postpone Baja vacations… only a couple of exceptions from ’88 to ’99.
Bringing My Babies to Baja, 1991
Chris and Sarah, south of San Felipe.
Christopher on the Sea of Cortez. Our 4WD Subaru is in the background.
Sarah enjoying sand, sea, friends, and family.
Next year, 1992, a work friend invited us to his Baja home at Campo La Joya
Mission Santa Maria, May 1999
I always wanted to get to see this, and thanks to my new Internet amigo, BajaMur, I did!
This was so cool, to be in the nearly impossible to reach mission of Santa Maria de los Angeles. The rest of the story is at http://vivabaja.com/missionsm.
Flying Over Mission Santa Maria (May, 1999)
The road from Rancho Santa Ynez was built over several years. In this shot, the steep ‘Widowmaker’ grade is seen dropping down to the palm lined arroyo, 1 mile from the mission.
Just a couple days after riding to the mission, on a quad, Doug Bowles takes BajaMur and I on a recon! The ruins are on that light colored area in the center, above the palms. See http://vivabaja.com/missionsm
End of the road…
About 2 miles east of Mission Santa Maria, the bulldozed road being built to Gonzaga from Santa Ynez, ends on the ridge above the canyon. An old Indian trail continues on, down into the canyon. The Camino Real coming up to the mission from the southeast intersects the bulldozed road just below the photo. Additional photos from this trip are in the next album, link below…
David K… points the way!
This is a real fun cartoon from Bernie Swaim’s book ‘Bouncing Around Baja’ in the chapter about me called ‘The Baja Connection’. I am very honored!!! I hope this sampling of my older photos was of some interest. I am always available to answer questions about my Baja adventures or ones that you may seek. Find me on the Baja Nomad Forums at forums.bajanomad.com/ or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The next set of photos (1999-2004 trips): 1999 – 2004 Baja Trip Photo Albums (28 albums)
MORE VIVA BAJA/ DAVID KIER TRIP PHOTOS (scroll down the page): https://vivabaja.com
Do you have my books (Baja Mission History): https://oldmissions.com
In March 2022, I return to Baja, with friends!: