Memorial Day 2017: A Baja Beach Family Camp Trip

Hello Amigos,
Our 3-year-old grandson was ready for his first Baja trip and camping weekend. His parents have been to Shell Island multiple times before his birth and were ready for him to experience the beauty and wonder that this barrier island beach has to offer.

Because they no longer had a 4WD truck, it was necessary to make it all work in my Tacoma. Now, there was no room for any gear inside the cab, so everything had to go in the 5 ft. bed of my 4 door 2010 Tacoma TRD Off Road 4×4. Costco has some neat, stackable storage tubs, so I got some and they worked great for both family’s gear and food… along with two ice chests, a table and chairs, and a 6-gallon water bottle.

We spent the night (Thursday) at their La Mesa home, as it is halfway to the border from ours and we had to repack and then load up in the morning.

We were on the road before 5:30 Friday morning and the 3-year-old was wonderful the entire trip, and border wait, too. We crossed at Tecate, mostly to avoid the construction delays at Calexico, where I normally cross for San Felipe or further south trips. We got the red light at Tecate, as we were loaded up real high in the truck. The inspector just asked if we had certain items, and that included beer, lol! I told him that Tecate was where the best beer was made and we would be silly not to buy only Mexican beer.

The drive was uneventful and we made a few stops, including the typical break near the sand dunes, halfway to San Felipe from Mexicali.

When we got to the Pemex just north of town, we discovered one of the boxes had dropped off the truck!!! OMG… we thought it was the food box (bread, cereal, etc.). The only thought as to where was hitting some bumps at the stop, 60 miles back north… so from 10:30-12:30 was a 120-mile round-trip only to NOT find the box.

We simply went to the supermarket in San Felipe and duplicated as best we could what was in the ‘food’ box (pots, pans, plates, silverware included).

We got to the salt flat that surrounds Shell Island and it had water on it from the big, new moon high tide… we had wanted to beat to get to our spot. Some squishy mud four wheeling got us to the beach and then the two-mile drive to our favorite camping spot was a race to pass the place where the high tide touched the sand dunes and blocks passage.

We got through, just barely! The box that fell off was NOT the food box, it was one with our floating chairs and beach stuff… So we had extra food now!


Where is Shell Island? Km. 26, south of San Felipe…

The next days all had near perfect weather and no wind above a nice breeze.

Our grandson had a great experience and it was great fun.

On a very sour note, his father was hit by a stingray while crossing the water between sand bars, far out during low tide Sunday morning. His wife ran the half mile to where Baja Angel and I were, in camp relaxing. I drove my Tacoma way out on the sand bars to ambulance him back to camp, as walking was impossible.

There may be no pain as severe as a stingray’s, and it cut deep with lots of blood. I applied tea tree oil first to kill any bad bacteria and then began the hot water applications as he laid in agony, for several hours.

By Sunday evening, the hot water soaking had greatly relieved the pain enough for him to move about. The wound was bandaged with Neosporin and taped well. The next day (Monday) he was well enough to help take down camp and help me load the truck.

We got into San Felipe about 11 am Monday and got the truck washed (U.S. border does not want loads of dirt on your vehicle). We had fruit cups and French fries while waiting for the wash. After the wash, we went to the Malecon for fish tacos.

The drive north began about 1 pm. There was about a 15-minute wait at the military checkpoint, 30 miles north.

The border wait at Tecate began for us at 5:21 pm yesterday and it was 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach the border crossing. Nice lady inspector, no secondary.

Tuesday 11 am update: The doctor said he needs no stitches, and prescribed an antibiotic and said to keep wound unwrapped and let it dry out. All is well!

Some Shell Island photos….

Shade is the first thing that needs to be set up, on Shell Island!
Looking south, the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) is on the left. The long Percebu lagoon is on the right.
Elizabeth sets up the kitchen area. A room with a view!
We each have a tent and a sun shade.
The tide is going out as the sun goes down.
The next morning, at low tide. Some of the greatest tide changes occur in the upper Gulf of California. Generally around 20 vertical feet between high and low tides.
Josh naps with his son.
Elizabeth gets some reading in.
My favorite get-away-from-civilization beach!
High tide was just a few inches from our camp. The way it has been for the 40 years I have been camping here.
Fun time in the lagoon. Nice calm, warm water is great for kids.
If I were a submarine!
Nothing better!
Shell Island 2017
I love sand!
Anderson does, too!
One of Shell Island’s local residents. I think it is a Desert Iguana?
My Tacoma was built for this place!
One last look south.
One last look north.

Thanks for spending the weekend with us!