January 2004 .........
Puerto Penasco Mexico: Puerto Penasco is reached by going through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to Lukeville AZ, known as "Gringo Pass". It's 62 miles from the border to Puerto Penasco, also called Rocky Point. Be sure and have Mexican Insurance. We insure our coach with Progressive through Farm and City in Iowa, called them and they told us who to call. Some people bought the insurance in Gila Bend AZ before crossing the border, either way works fine. The highway to PP is good, it was paved by the US Army Corps of Engineers during WWII, when concern about Japan blocking the US West Coast led to an alternative Pacific port along the Gulf of California. On US maps it's called the Gulf of California, but in Mexico it's called the Sea of Cortez. It was created 10 to 15 million years ago when the earth ripped open along the San Andreas Fault. The separation of land formed a new peninsula, the Colorado river washed the dirt from the Grand Canyon down into the peninsula. Because of this the upper third of the gulf is only 300 ft at it's deepest. Because the water is so shallow the temperature varies by 33 degrees and the salt content is much higher than normal, and tide can vary as much as 28 feet. Because of these conditions, there is a higher number of species found here that are not found anywhere else in the world. The town is definitely third world, few roads are paved, and fairly nice adobe houses sit side by side with plywood shacks. Lots of trash and dogs around, the dogs sleep in the street and you just drive around them because they won't move. Small open air eating establishments and bakery's line the dirt roads. There is one modern grocery store that has a bakery, we bought fresh tortillas , made with lard, they are wonderful with butter, cinnamon and sugar, heated up in the microwave. We went to PP with a Newmar caravan of 75 units. Stayed at Playa Bonita RV Park, on the beach, and close to the hotel where we ate. After the rally was over we moved to another park, The Reef, it's not close to anything, wasn't full and we parked right on the water. The people at PP are very friendly, at no time did we feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. The most interesting place we visited was CIDO (pronounced SADO) and stands for Inter-Cultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans. It's a major field station in the Upper Gulf of California, used by many US and Mexican researchers, grad students and scientists. The program monitors weather conditions, the distribution and abundance of intertidal organisms, beached marine mammals, and other unusual phenomena. It's open to the public twice a week and they offer a talk that is very interesting. They talked about the fact that whales were believed to be land mammals, that have overtime adapted to sea life. Some whales still have hip sockets and shoulder blades. Female fin whales grow to about 85 feet and blue whales over 100 feet. Whales eat the smallest stuff in the ocean. Gulpers, a type of whale go through the water with their mouths open, take in about 300 tons of water, then the water is forced out through things that look like palm branches. The food is trapped and the whale eats what they caught.