The name Baja California has always reached out and captured my imagination. I read everything I could about the land south of the border.
Everything suggested remoteness, isolation and challenge! At the same time, it sounded very romantic and somewhat mystical.
Finally, one October morning, I gazed out the window of my mini art gallery in San Jose, California and watched the traffic drift endlessly by on East Santa Clara Street. Almost hypnotized by the passing parade, I began to daydream.
Suddenly, I felt an urge to rush outdoors and sketch and paint mountains, the sea and most of all, the desert. Baja California was the place I wanted to go.
Opportunity knocked when my friends Bill and Hazel Fox asked me to do a painting of a mission to benefit a Mexican orphanage.
They were about to leave for Mexico and asked me to accompany them. I immediately accepted their invitation. While making travel plans, I suggested we drive down the newly completed transpeninsular highway N. 1 and then cross over to the mainland of Mexico by ferry. This would give me a wonderful opportunity to explore and to sketch Baja California’s landscape and the decaying mission ruins.
We drove south on El Camino Real, the coast highway, to San Diego and crossed the border at Tijuana. From there, we continued traveling the long, thousand-mile road to Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of the peninsula.[two_first]
The scenery is an artist’s delight. The land abounds with subject matter to sketch and paint and the roads lead to many interesting places. Most of the primitive region is still vast and empty, unmarred by modern urban ugliness. The coastline is long and offers many splendid vistas of the sea and beaches, while the desert provides a variety of abundant cactus.
The old missions reflect some of Baja California’s historical past and deserve to be better known. Perhaps that is one reason why I am fascinated with them.
The mountains also satisfied my craving to seek out the unknown and to wander off to find something interesting to paint. The rugged ranges seem to never end and that is one of the peninsula’s charms.