(CNN) -- There's nothing like starting vacation with a traffic jam. After waiting for an hour to get into Mexico, we had yet another delay at the mad border crossing at Tijuana; one of our two-van caravan was waved to a "secondary" inspection. The van was searched briefly and we were on our way.
The access road to Mexico 1, also known as the Transpeninsular, climbs a hill running parallel to the border fence. To the south, many run-down shacks crowd the road. To the north, vast brown earth stretches for miles on the U.S. side.
To escape a gray and soggy El Niño winter in Atlanta, we were on our way to Baja California, searching for adventure in the dry desert heat. The week-long trip was also planned as a reunion of friends from all over the country. Setting out from San Diego, we had a sizable crew of eleven.
Our intention was to work our way down the Pacific coast of the peninsula, stopping near Ensenada, then San Quintin, with a southern terminus at Guerrero Negro. Guerrero Negro is also the southern terminus for the majority of California gray whales that migrate annually down the coast from the Bering Sea. From there, we planned on spending two days on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) before heading back to San Diego.