adventure memoir book

The Seventy Thousand Dollar Outhouse

More Paddling Adventures from the Author of the Idling Bulldozer

An Excerpt from Chapter Nine, Part II, "Along the Baja Peninsula"

"We were told that the trip to our launch point would take as much as 3.5 hours.  I couldn’t imagine why it would take so long, as 3.5 hours on Baja Highway 1 would take us halfway back to La Paz.  We left Loreto the way I had entered two days before, up through the mountain switchbacks, though this time in daylight and at a much slower speed.  As soon as we got to the top of the mountain the van slowed, signaled a left turn and headed East onto a dirt road.  

"Now dirt roads are common in Florida, so I had some idea of what to expect.  They are usually maintained by scraping down the ridges that develop with a road grader, as the road is used.  At home this is done several times a year, but I had no idea when this road was last maintained.  At first, the road was straight but badly rutted, with a washboard surface caused by use and lack of maintenance.  The driver would speed up, the van would rattle and shake as if to destroy itself, then he’d slow way down to maneuver around a rock or a washout, the van rocking wildly back and forth, before picking up speed again.  At first it was funny, but soon we were all holding on, wedging ourselves into our seats to avoid being thrown against windows and seat backs.  It was like this for at least an hour.  Then, as we got closer to the coast, the switchbacks started as we descended down one mountain, and up and over the next.

"We were continuing along roads at the edge of cliffs, with shear drop-offs to valleys sometimes hundreds of feet below.  Our driver maintained his pattern of speeding up where he could, then slowing or suddenly breaking when he had to creep around a boulder, or slowly drivethrough a wash out.  Everywhere there were dry arroyos (riverbeds), sometimes with a concrete spillway that would, hopefully prevent the road from washing out in a flood.  There were no bridges.  The road would lead through the arroyo, as we crossed to the other side.  

"After two hours of this, we rounded a turn, high on a switch back.  Below I could see a beach and some buildings and, of all things, a sign advertising an RV park.  There were even two small RV’s on the otherwise empty sand, inside a fenced area, but no amenities that I could see, not even an outhouse.  How had these vehicles even gotten in here without shaking apart?  I breathed a sigh of relief as we descended, believing that this must be where we would launch, but we drove by, continuing up the mountain on the other side.  Then the seemingly impossible happened; the road got worse.

"As I leaned against my window, looking at the edge of the road and the fall to the valley below, the edge seemed to disappear.  Somehow the van stayed on track as it crept up the next mountain, clinging to the road.  The edge of the switchback was nothing but loose rubble, the van’s tires sending stones flying into the deep chasm.  I watched as the wheels somehow bridged a washout at the edge of the road.  I was frightened.  A future report on the evening news at home flashed trough my mind:

“A local man was one of four American tourists and a Canadian, along with their Mexican driver and guide, who were killed today when the van in which they were riding careened off a mountain road in a remote part of the Baja Peninsula.”

The Road to Loreto Beach

The Seventy Thousand Dollar Outhouse, along with The Idling Bulldozer, my first book, can be purchased  online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, my publisher, Austin Macauluey, and in person at The Vero Beach Book Center, or your local bookstore.

new (second) book by Donald D. Yackel