The Widowmaker:

Here is my view from inside TW’s Tacoma as we come down the Widowmaker, a cliff-like rocky grade. I named it in 1999, after Baja Mur and I were tossed onto the rocks, leaving our blood upon them. I was on a quad and Mur was on a motorcycle. It inspired me to make my very first web page:
After Tom and I reached the bottom, I walked back to see the others come down.
Here comes Debbie and Miriam.
Then, Ed and Phil…
Finally, it is Rudy and Ken. We are now just a mile from the mission. The bog and some steep dips are between the Widowmaker and the mission.

The bog is dry! In 2010, it was 2 feet deep and the biggest challenge of that trip (as well was pulling Neal Johns up the Widowmaker and past the divide)!

Mission ahead!

When we finally reached the mission, 6 hours and 14.3 miles since leaving Santa Ynez, the sun had just gone behind the mountain. I took a bunch of photos at the mission while the others trickled in:

The smaller building served as a warehouse and the padre’s house.



We gathered first at the mission and it was breezy so Phil took a walk down to the camping area by the palms, east of the mission and reported that was a better location for our camp and his cooking. Phil is a chef and owner of Bon Temps Creole Café in San Luis Obispo, CA. We are fed like royalty, right there on the King’s Highway in Baja California.

Around the campfire, Rudy told us the Bunda story. [I may get in trouble, since they said “What happens at Mission Santa María, stays at Mission Santa María”!]


Debbie takes this photo of our camp in the morning.

My photos of camp, followed by the morning photos at the mission…

High five!
Arroyo Santa María, next to our camp, drops into a big canyon just two miles east of here, flows under a big bridge on Highway 5, and reaches the Sea of Cortez by Punta Final.
I wait for the sun to rise enough to illuminate the mission.

I am so happy to return to this mission, my favorite mission location in Baja California. The drive here is a favorite of my wife’s, as well. Elizabeth’s first time here was in 2007:

Once we pack up camp and load our 4x4s, we take a short ride east, turn around, climb the steep drop-off, park, and hike to a viewpoint of the arroyo and oasis below.


David Kier in his happy place!
Ed, Phil, Debbie, Rudy, and Ken.
Debbie photographs the men of Mission Santa María 2022, and her Jeep. L to R: Rudy, Ed, Phil, David, Ken, Tom.
Selfie stick photo from Miriam’s camera.
Rudy takes this photo before we drive on. L to R: Phil, Debbie, David, Miriam, Ken, Tom, Ed.

Now we have the very tough drive returning to civilization…

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