The End of the Road
Rancho San Gregorio is nestled in a canyon on the western slope of the Peninsular Ranges within the Vizcaino Desert and the Valle de los Cirios, a designated biological reserve on the Baja California peninsula. We drove from San Diego in what seemed like an eternity packed like sardines into a van with too many people and too many bags, with food, water and supplies. The road was more than a little rough and after many hours of being cramped up and tossed about , the road eventually came to an end, and our destination was before us.
After the jubilation of being free from the confines of the van, a feeling of uneasiness washed over me as I tried to get a feel for the surroundings and wrap my mind around what I was doing here in the middle of nowhere, literally at the end of the road.
The bags were being unloaded from the van, and we were told to pick a spot for sleeping. We could sleep indoors or outdoors, our choice. I decided that the indoor option was preferable to me, so I headed in that direction with a few of my colleagues. We dropped our bags on the concrete floor of our new living quarters and there was a moment of silence as we all gazed upward realizing that our indoor option did not have a roof. I started to laugh but I
was alone. My fellow “indoor” colleagues were not amused, and it could have just been fatigue from the long rough ride, or it could have been that we weren’t informed of what to expect, except on the day before departure ,there was a post about being prepared for roughing it a little. I figured we were here now, so we might as well make the best of it, because heaven knows, we couldn’t walk our way back to, well anywhere.
We lugged our cots back to our sleeping quarters from the shed. It was mid-June so the temperature was hot during the day, but at night, it got cold. We were told to bring a summer weight sleeping bag, but they just weren’t warm enough. Luckily, there were a few heavy duty sleeping bags available for those of us that were not equipped to withstand the desert night. I tried to be brave and declined the use of the heavy sleeping bag when Meghan first offered it to me. Thankfully, she had more sense than me and she left the bag at the end of my cot, just in case.
I think a full 2 minutes went by before I was grabbing that bag and ducking inside teeth shivering. I had always wondered how someone froze to death in the desert when I watched old westerns, but I have a complete and
thorough understanding of it now.
As the night settled in, so began the sorrowful bellowing of the cattle that didn’t stop until the rooster crowed. Shivering in my borrowed bag, looking up at the stars on that clear desert night, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into. And yet, there was a feeling of peace.