The Cortez Chronicles


In search of solitude in a raging world . . .

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Baja, 1972

A Grandmother's Dairy

June 17 - July 8, 1972




As late as 1968 the federal highway system of Baja California, Mexico consisted of over 800 miles of unimproved road1, with only a few hundred miles of pavement. Due to the primitive roads, most of the peninsula had remained remote and inaccessible for many decades into the 20th century; but by the 70ís conditions were finally beginning to change. Progress was at first painstakingly slow, and in 1972 there were still over 300 miles2 of unimproved road.

This 1972 trans-peninsular journey is a second for two of the families who participated. They had undergone their first ordeal five years earlier without benefit of experience or adequate road information, and although the first attempt was successful thanks in large part to beginners' luck, they were compelled to drive some 14 hours per day and were left with no time for relaxation or exploration, barely managing to return to the US, exhausted and two days late. Now thoroughly in love with the peninsula, they immediately began planning for a second trip, providing more appropriately for breakdown, lost time, and other contingencies; and after several misfires managed to achieve their goal in this trip.

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The Happy Campers
Carl (Truckadero)
    Children: Curtis, 9; Todd, 7
    Vehicle: 1947 Dodge Weapons Carrier (The Beast)
         US Army vintage - Mileage: 300,000

Elva, grandmother and author of this dairy

Larry (Fish) - Larrys
    Children: Eric, 8; Veroncia, 4; Doug, 2
    Vehicle: 1967 International Scout

Gene (Sea Biscuit) - Chesleys
    Children: Darla, 9; Lyle, 7; Bryan, 5
    Vehicle #1: Early 60ís vintage VW Bus
    Vehicle #2: Late 50ís vintage VW Sand Buggy

Myra (Bluebird), a spunky single lady
    Vehicle: 1970 GMC Jimmy

Boats In Drydock - San Felipe, 1972


The Journey

The following pages are a grandmotherís dairy of their odyssey, its successes and its tribulations.





1For city slickers, an unimproved road is one that has been forged only by the wheels of the vehicles driving on it, one that has never seen a bulldozer or road grader.

2Today, most Baja roads are paved and well maintained, although a few are in serious disrepair. In such cases, driving can sometimes be as challenging and laborious on these roads as it was before they ever saw their first blade, even today contributing to the remoteness and mystique of certain areas of the peninsula.



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L. Elva Fox & Larry K. Fox

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