All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
MEXICO/CALIFORNIA
May 2016
 2 of 5
MEXICO/CALIFORNIA
May 2016
 2 of 5
Heading east we pass through miles of a massive rock garden, as if carefully designed by a landscape architect.   Here and there lizards are scattered among the boulders. Soon the terrain becomes bleached and barren.   It’s this diversity of topography that makes Baja so distinctive ― it seems that every few hours we’re in a different desert. We descend to the Sea of Cortez and arrive at a fishing village where we’ll be spending the night. Kevin, who is a most friendly and engaging sort of fellow, pulls off a culinary coup for our hungry little group.  First, he strikes up an enthusiastic conversation with a sports fisherman, which results in pounds of yellow-tail being handed to Kevin.  Then he gets the cook at our motel to prepare the fresh-caught fish for us.  We’re expecting something plain, but instead we are served the most delicious fish tacos, and in vast quantities (I estimate two to three thousand).  Finally, the bill comes, and it’s ridiculously small (we make up for it in tips).   A truly memorable meal, and the best non-herping highlight of the trip. That night Ron and I hike a canyon, but if there are snakes, we don’t find them.  Don and Kevin are cruising the roads, not doing much better, but at least they come up with something for their efforts, and it’s a lifer for me and Ron. So far we’ve been traveling on highways, narrow strips of pavement with no shoulders, often bordered by drop- offs just inches from the edge.  No place to pull off, and no room to move over when passing trucks drift from their lane.  So it’s a relief when we set out the next day on a dirt road which we have almost to ourselves.   Don and Kevin speed ahead, like drivers in the Baja 1000 (appropriate, since we’re actually on the route of that race).  Ron and I trail behind, like drivers in the Active Adult 55+ (appropriate, since we’re definitely on the route of that race). Once more the landscape changes, this time becoming creosote flats and cactus.     Occasionally border guard lizards stop us and ask for ID (wait, I might be confused about that).      Over a rise and around a bend the coast comes into view again, so we make a side trip to explore a cove and wander the beach.        By the dunes we discover Zebra-tails.  Till now I’ve seen this species only in washes far from the sea; it’s a little strange finding them practically on the shoreline. We continue towards the ranch that will be our home for the next few days.  Along the way the desert transitions again, first to a forest of cactus and flowering shrubs . . .     . . . then a desolate volcanic field . . .        . . . ending in a combination of the two as we reach our destination.   We settle in for a brief siesta, scarf down some dinner, then head back out to cruise for cows.   Did I say cows?  I meant to say snakes.
Baja California Brush Lizard Urosaurus nigricaudus
Baja California Collared Lizard Crotaphytus vestigium
Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake Phyllorhynchus decurtatus
Desert Iguana Dipsosaurus dorsalis
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus