Boojum Buddies

Approximately four years ago, a good buddy of mine (Ron McGinnis) and I started visiting Baja California. We usually go about once a year and spend our time off-roading in Ron’s 4WD vehicle (originally a Hummer H2 and for the past two trips, a Hummer H1). This trip has become an important part of my calendar that I look forward to – a chance to relax in the company of a great friend in one of the most beautiful and unique places I have ever been to. We now call ourselves the “Boojum Buddies” after the strange boojum (cirio) trees that are found only in Baja. We even have a domain name and Web site ( that we plan someday to use to introduce people to Baja (a good retirement task).

Last week was our 2007 Baja trip and it brought, amongst the usual experiences, a real epiphany. Mike’s Sky Ranch is a popular stop in Northern Baja for dirt bikers, ATV drivers, and other off-roaders. You really need to have such vehicles to even get there. While at Mike’s there was a group of experienced bikers who expressed amazement that Ron and I had been to some locales without backup or other vehicles. Sure, we had been places that if we broke down, it would pose a major problem. It made me think of James Kim of CNET who got lost with his family in Oregon (James ultimately died and his family was rescued) and Jim Gray of Microsoft (with whom I have/had a slight acquaintance) who is still missing on his sailboat. Several days later while Ron and I were visiting cave paintings near Catavina, I slipped on a rock and broke my foot (though I didn’t know it until I got back to San Francisco). We were close to town (and I didn’t require any immediate medical attention), but it could have been much worse. The broken foot (now in a cast) has forced me to cancel upcoming classes in Pakistan and Hong Kong since my physician has forbidden me to travel.

It’s clear to me now that with its beauties, Baja also has its dangers. The wildness of Baja is enticing to us fragile visitors. We plan to return to Baja, but will certainly now rethink where we go, the supplies we take, and the communications networks we establish with our families while we’re gone. We owe that to each other since we’re Boojum Buddies.

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