Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Camping at the Colorado River

I have been going camping at Picacho State Park on the California side of the Colorado River for a few years now with my boss and others from work. It is a great place but you have to drive over an 18 mile dirt road from the I-8 near the border of Arizona to get there. This weekend I went with Blayne, Julie, Rosie, Wendy & Jim.

Normally we ride in Blayne's boat that he keeps in storage here, but Jim brought his new ski boat. He was eager to get his boat in the water and we took Blayne for a pull on his single ski. This water is great for skiing because the river flow keeps the chop down and you can get some very glassy conditions. Blayne can really get some deep carves.

This river's sand banks shift all time and sometimes they are in different spots each time we come. We were pulling Blayne far upriver and we hit a shallow sand bar going about 30 miles an hour. We came to a pretty abrupt stop and Blayne almost ran into the back of the boat. We were stuck pretty good in about a foot of water. Normally it is fairly easy to push the boat off into deeper water but this time it took about 10 people and a ranger boat to help pull us off the sand.

The days at the river are so relaxing and fun. We set up a spot on a sand bar and spend the day relaxing in the sun and taking turns on the boat, skiing, wakeboarding or getting pulled on innertubes. It is fun as well to get dropped off up river and have a nice float back down on inflatable rafts with a couple of beers.

As the sun starts to set, we go back to our camping spot and eat dinner, drink and chat around the fire. Each trip, we also have a night hike up to the arch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Sailing to the Coronado Islands, Mexico

Julie has a friend who belongs to the yacht club down at San Diego Harbor and she invited a group of us to go sailing with them this weekend to the Coronado Islands south of San Diego. They are four small rocky islands in Mexican waters off the coast of Rosarito. I had been there before in 1995 for the last ocean dive of my scuba certification.

It was my first time on a sailing yacht. We had a nice wind behind us and we traveled the 13 miles to the islands in straight line. Normally I get seasick fairly easily in medium size fishing and diving boats, but I was fine on the sailboat. I think it is because sailboats have a heavy keel which sets them deeper in the water so there is less bobbing on the surface.

We anchored in the tiny bay of South Coronado Island. There are a couple of buildings on the barren hill that houses a Mexican Navy garrison. On the shore of the bay is an old group of pylons that used to hold a casino from the days of Prohibition.

The captain and I went snorkeling around the yacht. The water was very cold but it was a beautiful sunny day. We had a nice lunch and relaxed in the sun until it was time for us to raise anchor and head back to San Diego.

The sail back was more exciting because we had to tack back and forth against the wind. I really enjoyed riding in the boat that was sailing at a sharp angle to the water. The return journey took allot longer and it was dark before we reached the harbor. It was cool to see the lights of San Diego bright against the dark ocean. I was allowed to steer the yacht for awhile as we were coming into the harbor. It was a great day.

Tuesday, May 09, 2000

Algodones Sand Dunes in Imperial County, CA

Jeremy and I went to the Algodones Sand Dunes off of Interstate 8 at Gray's Well, CA about a half hour's drive from the Arizona border. This huge dune field is one of the locations where they filmed Star Wars scenes for Luke's planet, Tatooine.

The dunes here are beautiful with big bowls and high ridges. We went for long rides on ATV Quads. It is a surreal experience being surrounded by hills of sand as far as the eye can see.

During the heat of the day, we ended up swimming in the canal that carries water from the Colorado River to the large farms of Imperial County.