On Monday night, 10 pm I get a text message from Cameron Steele asking if I would like to ride a helicopter to Baja and back, to spend Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday with about 50 off road racing greats and their families so I can talk a little about the missions during this televised tour Cameron created and sold the idea to CBS Sports. Oh, and everything is covered, just bring a backpack lightly loaded!
Well, the first thing was to get my wife Elizabeth’s (Baja Angel) okay and then send emails to my customers I had lined up for this week… everything worked out. Baja Angel (Elizabeth) is the most awesome wife (and camper)… many of you have met her and know this already. I am so lucky to have her in my life the past nearly 10 years!
Cameron found out about me from Kevin Ward (‘Slider’), who was a producer for Dust to Glory, and a Baja racer. Cameron asked Kevin if he knew anyone who knew about the missions… Cameron promotes Baja off road racing and motorcycle riding with his ‘Rip to Cabo’ annual event and CBS Sports coverage of races, when he isn’t in his Trophy Truck. His wife Heidi is also a racer (she has her own truck). Cameron wanted to promote Baja as more than a race destination, so this was his idea to include wives and children and learn more about Baja history on a summer vacation trip.
Cameron bought 20 copies of our mission book (The Old Missions of Baja & Alta California) so that one would be in each truck on the run… I guess it was cool to get one of the authors to also be there?!
I actually met Cameron at the Off Road Expo about 10 years ago, but we met again at his shop in San Juan Capistrano a month ago… following his attempt to drive his Raptor to Mission Santa María (he texted me from Baja Cactus for data). Some casual talk about the tour came up, and I actually thought maybe it would happen next year.
As I type this, the day after I flew over 200 miles in a helicopter from Mission San Fernando back to El Cajon, following 3 days of riding with Baja 1000 racers in their Ford Raptors and in a new Jeep JK from San Vicente to near San Fernando via Punta San Carlos, I am still ‘abuzz’ with what I just experienced.
The biggest thrill was being so welcomed and receiving such hospitality from everyone on the tour. I did so little as time was cut short because of how rough the terrain was and how much time it takes to keep 15 trucks and nearly 50 people moving along and getting camera shots and interviews… plus a couple of mechanical issues.
They are going all the way to Cabo on a 6 day tour and I never heard how it was going to happen. I just saw the itinerary notes for the three days I was with them. Perhaps the details are on the Desert Assassins Facebook page? I have been too busy chilling, working, and spending time with Baja Angel since last night when I got home, to do more than what I have posted here.
I think I will just post photos without a lot of captioning… but please feel free to ask about anything you see or what I may know about the trip. I will leave most names unmentioned, as I don’t have permission except from Cameron to share what I experienced, and I really don’t want to get anyone’s name wrong… as everything happened pretty fast. I will say several people who race and have won races were there as well as off road specialty people, Monster Energy, Fox Shocks, etc. There were at least three cameramen (all young guys), and maybe more as part of the production team creating the action shots for the TV show. +Actually I will be surprised if I make any of the cuts, as talking about the missions is hardly ‘sports’ related, right?
* I did get a couple of minutes air time in the TV show, after all. See/hear me at Minutes 5:40 and 9:37: https://youtu.be/gio1kxBoPoc
This group of photos was taken Tuesday afternoon, June 24:
Let’s take a helicopter ride with Jim McCoy, to San Vicente, Baja California.
Mission Santo Domingo
We left Shipwrecks and Cuatro Casas and returned to Hwy. 1 for a dozen miles to the well signed road east 5 miles to the second Dominican founded California mission, Santo Domingo (August 30, 1775) and the second site where extensive ruins have been preserved from the construction dating back to 1798.
The helicopter landed high up on the hill over-looking the mission. Here is where I gave my first ‘lecture’ on a mission and some mission and El Camino Real details. I hope I didn’t flub up too badly… I have not been on TV talking about the missions before… Maybe I won’t even make the final cut?
The members of the tour told me after I did fine and they learned a lot from my short talk. Cool!
The sun was behind the big hill west of the mission, so we didn’t have great illumination for pictures.
“David Kier, your guide to the missions” promo shot. Yes, I ‘got baja’! It was sure a blast to be invited by Cameron to join the tour for three of the days. I flew in with the helicopter and returned on it.
Santa María Beach, San Quintín.
We arrive at the Hotel Misión Santa María at San Quintín by sundown Tuesday June 24.
We enjoy dinner, check Internet (I post a note on Baja Nomad), and Cameron has all 50 of us each introduce ourselves after diner.
Day 2 begins on the next page…