Dear Baja Buffs,

Behind his back, I call David “the new Erle Stanley Gardner.” His love for Baja shares the same dedicated clarity and eagerness to share it as did Uncle Erle’s. I am fortunate enough to have been one of those recipients in both cases. Erle shared it with his books. David shares it with his Viva Baja adventures.

I have reached a stage in life in which there is more to look back upon than forward to. It is not depressing. What I have to look back upon was so filled with adventure, learning and beauty that nothing in my limited future could surpass it. There are very few places in the world that I did not explore during my exciting years as a nationally syndicated travel columnist after selling Desert Magazine, but of all the places in the world, Baja stands alone. Not just because it was more isolated in those days (places like Yap and Zamboanga were isolated, too), but because there is a spiritual quality about Baja that seeps into the very soul of those who respond to it. Everyone doesn’t., but you who are here at David’s Viva Baja event tonight know exactly what I mean.. We Baja buffs share a space foreign to superficial types unaware of the peninsulas unique nature, mysterious history, and tantalizing lore.

During my early days of exploring the desert, I found that the public can be induced to respect such backcountry areas as Baja — not by rules and regimentation, but by education. And the education begins by making its history exciting and adventurous. When someone goes looking for a lost treasure, for instance, they are forced to thoroughly research the area. They aren’t just spinning wheels over meaningless, empty land. With knowledge, comes respect. You all who participate in David’s Viva Baja are doing your part to insure a secure future for Baja. I salute you and would love to be sharing this evening with you

Sometimes when you are out there trampling through dry, rock-studded arroyos or watching the moon rise above a cardon forest, send a thought to me. I’ll be sharing it with you in spirit.

Choral Pepper