Our Love of Dry Bags

Our time visiting the Baja Peninsula is quickly coming to a close and today we spent the day loading up the Mazda5 for our return to the United States. As we rounded up everyone’s possessions and negotiated about unnecessary baggage (how many shells, rocks, and sticks do we really need to take back with us?) we were reminded of how much we love dry bags.

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Our love affair with these wonderfully adaptable, completely packable, waterproof bags started way back when Five of Hearts was a baby. We were looking for a bag to store dirty cloth diapers in when we went camping or traveling, and didn’t have immediate access to laundry facilities. Using a dry bag became the perfect solution as it kept both the wetness and odor completely sealed inside until we could run the diapers through a washing machine.

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When we starting traveling full time and were in need of extra space in our overcrowded minivan we turned to dry bags again to store items on the back of our hitch platform. The dry bags easily clip to the supports of the hitch platform and keep everything bone dry, even after driving miles in rainstorms. At about the same time we realized that a mini dry bag was the perfect solution to keeping our cooler from becoming a watery mess. We just put the ice right inside the dry bag and when it melts the water stays in the bag instead of drenching our food.

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Another one of our favorite uses for dry bags is as food storage containers. When camping and traveling we load all of our food into dry bags. They work great to protect food from wet conditions while camping. You can put the bags down on the soggy ground and not worry about ending up with damp or dirty bags. Dry bags also keep our food safe from insects, many of which we have encountered here in Mexico, but have never made it into our food thanks to the tight seal and impenetrable plastic of dry bags.

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We could honestly go on for paragraphs about all the ways that we use dry bags. They are great for transporting wet bathing suits and sand toys as well as cameras, tablets, and wallets while at the beach or out in a boat. The best part is that a decent dry bag doesn’t have to break the bank. There are some really fancy versions out there with straps and extra features. However, we usually pay no more than $20 for a large bag and they last a really long time, just be careful not to drag them over rough surfaces as it will puncture the material. You can find dry bags at almost any sporting gear store or large box store. So, if you are in need of a great waterproof storage bag for any reason the Fives definitely recommend checking out dry bags and hopefully you will fall in love just like we did.

Tide Pool Picture Party

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A hermit crab dragging a shell across a dry stretch of rock.

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A colony of snails just above the low tide mark.

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Five Ball and High Five “going fishing” with some long strands of seaweed.

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A green anemone

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An anemone out of the water and buried in shells and sand to keep it from drying out.

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Trying to get to the bottom of string of bubbles in a sandy tide pool.

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Watching large crabs poke their heads out of “Crab Cave.”

Two In One Day!

Since we have started traveling Five of Hearts has kept the Tooth Fairy busy visiting us in a variety of locations. So far teeth have been collected from tents, hotel rooms, and rentals spanning from the Atlantic Maritimes to the American Southwest.

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However, once we arrived in Mexico we were all surprised to discover that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t make house calls south of the border. Instead she sends her helper Ratoncito, a small mouse, to collect the teeth. In La Paz Five of Hearts had the privilege of discovering the coins that Ratoncito left under her pillow after she lost a bottom tooth. However, she could never have imagined that here in Bahia Asuncion she would lose two top teeth in the same day (no bumps, bangs, or dentist assistance involved). I guess Ratoncito was pretty impressed because instead of coins under her head this morning she found paper money! 

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The Wonder of Whales: A Visit to Ojo de Liebre

DSC02812-picsayOjo de Liebre Lagoon, the ending point for thousands of gray whales who just completed the longest migration on the planet, is a magical place. Even days after our visit, our minds are still trying to process all that we saw and experienced. It was truly a privilege to spend a few hours with these magnificent creatures, and each one of us has been changed by our extraordinary morning in the lagoon.

Adult Gray Whale - Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Mexico

Adult Gray Whale – Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Mexico

Five Spice:

When we first decided to travel the Baja Peninsula last August incorporating the gray whale migration in with our trip and the kid’s homeschool became a top priority. However, we really wanted to make sure that we visited with these magnificent creatures in the right way. We didn’t want to take part in a large whale watching tour or feel in any way like we were exploiting the whales. Especially since we are talking about mothers and their new babies that need space and respect. So, we spent many hours on the Internet trying to find a guide that offered tours that would fit our desires and needs as a family with young children. We were really excited when we came across Shari Bondy who has been leading boat tours into the lagoon at Ojo de Liebre for over 20 years. Shari and her daughter Sirena are experts when it comes to gray whales and their behavior. Most importantly they do an excellent job of respecting the whales while leading really intimate trips into the lagoon. They provide excellent information that they have gained from their many years of observing California gray whales from up close. Shari and Sirena were both very comfortable guiding a tour with children and they made our kids a top priority when it came to experiencing the whales. I will always hold a special memory of being the only boat in sight while a mother whale choose to come over and introduce her baby to our children. We couldn’t have hoped for a better experience!

Aves - Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Mexico

Aves – Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Mexico

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Five of Hearts:
Ojo de Liebre was a great place. It had protected land that was nice to look at, and camping site #10, where we spent the night, had a great view of the ocean. We saw birds, so many of them that they looked like a big cloud in the sky.

It was cool driving through the salt flats on the way and learning about how they make salt. It was also nice that there were no hotels, houses, or anything that was city-like around the lagoon. It was windy during the day, but at night it calmed down.

It was great to walk to the dock when it was high tide. We could see the whale boats we would ride in the next morning and look down and see plants in the water below. There was water running to the ocean when we walked to the dock and cool rocks and plants around it.

It was cool sleeping in a palapa, which kept the wind out. When you walked around the sand was all squishy and shells were pushed into mounds. There was a nice crescent moon that night.

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Five Ball:
We got in a boat and it took a long time. We then saw mama and baby whales and stopped the boat. Then the captain held me over the side of the boat so I could touch a whale. I can’t describe what it felt like, but it was like a soft material, smooth like a balloon. It was exciting and kind of weird, and it is something I would do again. The baby whale kept trying to reach up and play with me.  I think the whale was thinking, “Oh my gosh, a human just touched me!” Touching the whale was my favorite part of the whole trip.

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High Five:
I got sprayed by whale. I was eating my muffin in the bottom of the boat, and then it sprayed me. It was huge, huge, huge! It was so funny. I said, “AAAHHH” to the mama. I saw the baby, and it was so cute.

 

Five String:
I went to the whale watch expecting a one-sided experience, taking in the beauty of the whales while not giving anything in return. However, I could not have imagined how reciprocal our visit would turn out to be.

Gray Whale Baby and Mom - Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Mexico

Gray Whale Baby and Mom – Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Mexico

It is truly an act of generosity on the part of the whales that so many of them embrace the human visitors out in the lagoon. In the same place where whalers almost hunted them to extinction over 150 years ago, mother whales now lift their babies to peek at the people inside the boats instead of trying to smash the vessels to pieces. If the roles were reversed and some species had almost wiped out mankind, I doubt we would be so forgiving.

I was astonished at how much curiosity the baby whales showed towards the people in the boat, especially  the younger Fives. Seeing a young whale is thrilling for humans, and I am convinced seeing young humans is equally interesting to whales. As excited as our kids were to tell us they touched a whale, I can imagine the baby whales excitedly telling their mothers, “Mom, I touched a human!”

Of course, it is not all play for the baby whales. We were able to see “Swimming School” in action, where mothers have their young ones swim against the incoming tide to increase their endurance. Just as our kids need some play time after working hard in school, interacting with the boats seemed to be the leisure time of choice for the baby whales.

I can’t help but wonder how much of a mother’s eagerness to have her baby play with the human visitors is tied to her knowledge of the long, dangerous migration to come. As the whales swim for 20 hours a day to make it to the north coast of Alaska to feed, dodging huge shipping barges and ambushes from pods of killer whales, things must seem bleak. The memories of happiness and wonder in the Ojo de Liebre lagoon and the visits with the strange human visitors there might just help the babies keep their faith in the beauty and wonder that life can offer as well.

Dipping Our Toes in the Pacific

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This past Sunday we made our first acquaintance with the Pacific Ocean. The previous day had been stormy and we were met with massive waves, which we took as a very boisterous hello. We are all thrilled to be back living on the ocean, walking barefoot through the sand, and gazing out at the sea from our new rental house. From our front patio we can watch whales as they travel northward and can once again spend our afternoon exploring tide pools and climbing rocks on the oceans edge. Needless to say we are so glad that we decided to travel to the Pacific Coast of the Baja Peninsula and can’t wait to explore more of Bahia Asuncion throughout the month!

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