January 2017 - A Fresh Baja Bound Article

You Can Always Go Deeper South In Baja

Here is the link to this super helpful monthly newsletter all about Baja:  Baja Bound

There’s an old saying where I come from: You can take the girl out of the south but you can never take the south out of the girl. That is a statement that hit close to home on this last epic trip through Baja. It was like out of nowhere my childhood memories kicked in and every which way I turned I was looking for a taste of home…a link back to my wily youth spent running wild in the mountains of Tennessee. Baja never, ever fails to deliver and she certainly didn’t this time around either. Here’s what I found in my quest for a taste of the Deep South…in the Deep South.

Ette's Pie Shop

The Best Pie Ever - Ette’s Pie Shop – Loreto

This quaint pie shop tucked into a strip mall on a main road leading into Loreto was something that really shocked me to my core when I spotted it on a drive-by one fine afternoon. Homemade, American-style pies in a dusty little Mexican village? Unheard of! I blazed in, tastebuds on fire, ready to try everything and was stopped dead in my tracks at the scene I had waltzed into. Local farmers were sitting quietly chatting at a gingham cloth-covered table enjoying a steaming cup of coffee while hardcore expats formed a line to load up on fresh baked muffins, cakes and pies every which way you can imagine. I hopped in line and went into a frenzy ordering a whole apple pie, two superb chicken pot pies, a hot and sticky cinnamon roll and a mess of chewy cookies. This is the kind of place that makes the upcoming holidays palatable if you plan on spending it in Baja. You make the turkey and dressing, they got the pumpkin pie! Just don’t forget the nieve.


Biscuits and Gravy – Cerritos Beach Inn – El Pescadero

This new beachfront hotel in Cerritos was a terrific surprise. News of their opening caught my eye in The Baja Western Onion, the online newsletter that shares all the news that's fit to print about happenings in the Todos Santos area, but what made my eyes pop out of my head was the headliner – "Southern Style Biscuits and Gravy served daily." Now this was something (besides surfing) to race off to Cerritos Beach for. We parked at the beach club and just walked down with the doggies so we could get them good and worn out before strolling into their outdoor dining area. Not to worry though, we were the first early birds and the dogs just flopped down anyhow, exhausted from the beach run. The views from the perch on the hilltop were never ending over the Pacific and when piping hot biscuits smothered in sausage gravy came out with a pair of over medium fried eggs, I just lost it. It was if my Granddad had put on an apron in the back kitchen and got to it. After chowing down, we toured around the adorable new hotel (extremely pet friendly) with a gorgeous weaving swimming pool and bar in the courtyard. It’s likely the most affordable beachfront spot in all of Cerritos and with the new season about to start, I am hoping the menu gets expanded to add on some fried green tomatoes with white pepper gravy.

El Corazon

A Baby Herb Garden – El Corazón Café – Loreto Bay

I love this coffee shop. Literally every year when we get ready to head down to Baja for a chunk of the high season, I wait anxiously until we hit Loreto Bay and cruise right on over to this adorable café to check in on what’s new. Usually a lot is happening. Well, as much as can be going on in the tiny seaside frontier land known as Loreto Bay. The first thing to be discussed with the super friendly staff is the little garden out front. Did it survive the sweltering summer? Next up is always what’s new on the menu? Last season they finally started serving cold beer. The conversation then turns to will there be any neat new pop up restaurants taking over at night later in the high season, as they are only open for breakfast and lunch? The Wi-Fi runs fast, the vibe borders on ecstatic because all the snow birds are finally making their way down as winter hits the northern parts of the US and Canada, and the Sea of Cortez is a mere few steps away making an early morning coffee walk that much more enjoyable.

La Esquina

My Granny’s Oatmeal – La Esquina - Todos Santos

Everyone knows that Todos Santos is more of a hipster enclave than anywhere else in Baja, so it’s not surprising that I found a swoon worthy bowl of oats at the most popular breakfast haunt in town, La Esquina. They caught onto the avocado toast, gluten–free dance before anyone else in town and everything is ordered at the always busy counter and served in little nooks in a huge tropical garden. Late afternoon and nighttime brings on live music, drinks, art shows, and jewelry showcases. With fast and free Wi-Fi, it’s the perfect spot to drift away an afternoon, but, back to the oatmeal that became an addiction after one wee bite. With the addition of chopped apples, slivered nuts, butter, cinnamon, and sugar, it was a bona fide warm oatmeal cookie for breakfast right out of my Granny’s kitchen. Thankfully, they serve breakfast all day long. Make sure you browse the bulletin board while waiting on your food – you might just find a cheap rental that will entice you to stay a season.

Back in Mexico - Sea of Cortez Love


Scooted down to Baja for a quick sailboat relocation assessment. 

Good news.  I am in.  There is no body of water that you can drive to with your dogs that looks and feels like the Sea of Cortez.  None.  It's a jaunt across the border and a days drive down the peninsula. 

Time to move the boat from MRD, truly.  This is an epic year full of change, so why not go back to the beginning in a way.  I learned to sail here alone.  And, it always snatches my breath away every single time - 16 years later...so it really only makes sense.  MDR does not do that for me anymore - life is just too short...

Breaking the Heat in Baja


Here is the latest from Baja Bound.

When May rolls around the corner down South, it brings two things – the cheer of Cinco de Mayo and start of major heat waves across the peninsula. Most of the snowbirds have either left or begun their migration back north by early summer, but for those that stick around, there are still loads of fun things to do to snap the escalating temps and bring the chill factor back down. Here are three that are certain to keep you entertained.

Hotel Punta Pescadero – North of Los Barriles

When is the last time you’ve gotten wrapped up in a mega ping-pong competition? It’s been decades for me, but when I go, I go hard. The seaside escape that is Hotel Punta Pescadero is quite literally the most enchanting place to get a fierce game going. It goes a little something like this. Stroll into the bar area. Have the staff toss on some kickin’ mariachi music. Order up a few blended margaritas. Take in the epic cliff side view over the Sea of Cortez. Order up some grilled fish tacos. Proceed to dominate the table with your partner in crime. Things get saucy as the game gets more intense. Ping-pong balls launch into the restaurant. The battle continues as the margaritas keep flowing. Sassiness reigns supreme. Order more tacos because the battle has now been going for three hours and shows no sign of stopping. Take a dip in the pool to cool off. And, if you decided to not head back to your own in-town rental, feel free to secure a cozy room onsite. There is always snorkeling on their private beach, an elegant dinner under the stars, chillin’ in the reading library, live music and more ping-pong to keep you occupied. Just be careful, the 15km dirt road that leads here from Los Barriles is a true switchback Baja adventure - one experts write books about. The road to championship ping-pong never looked so good!


Awesome side note: I stayed here once and needed a haircut immediately. The front desk gave me a phone number and the stylist from town came right to my secluded room within a few hours, set me up on the balcony overlooking the ocean and chopped away. Impeccable customer service on demand.

Chez Laura – Todos Santos

Sometimes, it just takes a very, very chilled glass of white wine on a sweltering day to make one feel reborn. This semi-hidden French restaurant and tropical oasis is just the place to find your soul again. It’s simply an oasis of calm – low music, concrete counters at the bar, and a wonderful staff waiting to pour for you, feed you and bring you back down to earth from your surfing expeditions. Steaming bowls of creamy mushroom soup blew our collective minds while the house made pate and chicken liver mousse was on another level. You just don’t expect this kind of food in a tiny Mexican village, but when you find it, you go back. Again and again. Especially when the preparation of the Baked Alaska is a total tableside showstopper that draws the eyes of every table around. I don’t even like this type of sweet, but this version was like no other icy/hot concoction I’ve ever had, especially in 90-degree weather. Just remember to bring cash – that’s all they take. Run like a true French countryside proprietor would.

Awesome side note: You know a place is amazing when the owner drags all of his friends in and shares red wine all day and makes you feel at home – his French home – every step of your meal.


Farmers Market – Loreto

This market adventure is not a place you just happen upon. You hear about it around town, but to find it, you need to know which side road you are taking from the highway (look for the taco truck on the north east side of town and turn west – the market is on the west side of the Highway 1). However, once you get out and wander about, you won’t regret it. This weekend market has the best local fruit, veggies, and meats that you simply will not find in the Loreto supermarkets. It’s like the sun just shines harder and better on the local bounty. Think beets (with enormous greens still attached), lovely asparagus, piles of thick spinach, stacks of nopales, juicy tomatoes. All the things you need for a feast are right at the market, even locally made cheeses that melt into the most legendary quesadillas imaginable. But, the best part of the whole market is the set up of little tin-can vendors whipping out puffy gorditas, thick tamales and bowls of just made pozole. This is truly where I developed not only a gordita obsession, but also a for real watching gorditas get made obsession. The process is so simple – make up the batter off the back of a dusty pick up truck, hand-slap together little balls of dough, fry in a giant vat of oil, slice a hole in the top and stuff with all kinds of delicious items – the creamed chilies being a mega fan favorite. One gordita is enough for a full meal if you stuff them like I do, but the wait is so long – just grab three at the start. Trust me, you will want them all.


Awesome side note: You will most definitely see everyone that you have met in town at this market (waiters, hotel concierge, cashiers). All you have to do is warmly greet them, ask them what they think the best thing to eat is at the market and suddenly you have the inside edge from the locals who know best. Hello goat stew galore!

Visit the Hotel Punta Pescadero website

Visit the Chez Laura Facebook page

Guaranteed Good Baja Grub

  FullSizeRender-4Here's the latest from Baja Bound.

I simply cannot wait until the season is upon us for the annual Baja migration to begin.

My stomach and her demands are governed by a different compass - one that leads me down forgotten backroads, through dark alleys and into overlooked street side cafes. The real reason that I adore Baja so much is that it has just one main road, the one that spits you out in Cabo once you have made trails through the most spirited land many tend to ignore – you know it as the infamous Highway 1. There are always guarantees for my taste buds up and down the entire peninsula and I never have to stray that far to find them. Here are a few pit stops along Highway 1 that will get you amped for your next Baja adventure.


Starting at the top of the craggy peninsula, we work our way down...bite- by-bite! Now, this isn't your regular dime store pozole. Nope, this is some kind of fresher than fresh concoction that will blow your mind and demands a slam-on-the-breaks reaction. The secret to a good bowl of pozole? First comes the butcher – he preps some fresh pork, boils it down with piles of bones to make some flavorful stock and then, simply gets to it - ultimately making a long simmering pot of the best dressed soup you will find in all of Baja. Why is it so otherworldly?  Is it because the meat man is onsite? Is it because the morning air is so chilly and the steam rising from a bowl is worth crying over? Is it because the locals happily explain to you exactly how one should dress a bowl of red joy? I think it’s because in the pot next to the pozole is a giant selection of steaming tamales. When you mix these two epicurean delights together, you have a road trip that just hit Mach 10. 


San Ignacio to me represents life after the desert blues. When you hit this oasis full of super green palm trees, you know that you are on the verge of landing where you are ultimately headed. It’s a lovely place to park your wheels, wander about the town square, and just take a load off from cranking so hard. Perched on the corner just across from the towering church is a wee food truck whipping out snacks (antojitos) that set you up for the next power blast south. Cheese stuffed tortillas are rolled up, charred a bit and then, dunked in fiery salsa. Coupling them with a piping hot cup of coffee might seem like a weird match, but no road trip in Mexico is complete without a few slugs of Armando's food Nescafe. Don’t miss the gooey chile relleno – my dog, Minka, was caught salivating tendrils of drool to the ground when that treat was being griddled up.


Once you blast over the final bit of desolate desert in mid-Baja, you finally hit the Sea of Cortez and it’s as if the skies have opened up and all hope in humanity is restored; time for a chilly margarita, a dip in the “pool” (which is what the bathwater warm ocean feels like) and a big platter of seafood. Turns out the former owner of this tidy seaside shack died recently and left his joint to his former employee, who took the initiative to make some improvements with his wife. They live onsite in their RV with dogs and babies galore. What impresses me most is just the sweet vibe of the place. Soft music, delicious fish, really fair prices, someone constantly sweeping and arranging tables to look just so, and the killer view of the ocean sprinkled with sailboats gone rogue. This is the spot that makes me want to make like some Americans perched on the beach in the RV setups have done and go full expat. Lobster with fresh lemons on a daily basis, anyone?


Call me crazy, but the folks who crafted up Flora Farms must have drank some kind of freaky genius Kool-Aid because for me to make it a point to drive there no matter where I am camped in lower Baja is just straight up impressive. My favorite spot to kick back is at the bar (of course, the restaurant is wonderful too) where the bartenders take the cocktail game seriously and the service has a little more low-key beach feeling to it. This is the area where you will catch the family of the owners gabbing it up with the in-the-know Cabo locals who dub this their local hangout. This is also where you will tuck into some killer food while lounging way longer than you ever expected. My usual go to is very cold Prosecco, while snacking on dense chunks of nutty housemade bread (still warm, mind you). Minka obsesses at the turtle pond, kids swarm the garden, my man slings back a jalapeno-laced margarita and I just transport myself to one of the onsite culinary cottages that fringe the grounds and imagine living a simple life on an organic farm in Mexico. Get on Flora’s email list straight away for updates on movie nights in the park, special Sunday brunches, cool cooking workshops and other news about what is quite possibly my favorite spot in all of Baja. Just don’t tell anyone about it, it’s already packed enough – EXCEPT at the bar!



Pozole Stop - Located in San Vicente on the north side of town and directly in front of a butcher shop on the west side of the Highway.

Loncheria La Mision Kadakaama – Located just across from the church in the San Ignacio town square.

Armando's – On the beach at Santispac

Flora Farms – San Jose del Cabo - Visit the Flora Farms website

Best Baja Bites - Right Now - A Photo Expose

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From just harvested oysters in a roadside shack perched above the Sea of Cortez to Spanish style pan con tomato (perfectly charred) on a cobble stone street tucked away in an old mining town, Baja and all her food never disappoints me.  

We (me, the man, and the dog) have been on a long leisurely trip down this way for the past few weeks and still have one more week to go - filming a few passion projects as we go.  And, of course, you know my real reason for coming is the food, the drink and the sun.  It just so happens we can self appoint ourselves on some projects as we enjoy all three!

Lobster ravioli drenched in the lightest, butteriest, most mouthwatering cream ever; freakishly refreshing cocktails with homemade bitters at Flora Farms; never-to-be-beaten omelette's bathed in poblano cream; tiny personal pizzas that sing out our names every time we pass the wood fired oven down main street in Loreto; pop up taco bars in Todos Santos where they dunk the tortillas in pork fat before frying them; guacamole of the gods for breakfast up in wine valley; crispy yet soft at the same time chimichangas; homemade biscuits stuffed with breakfast goodies at a dirt road coffee shop pumping out techno music at 9 am; baby bay scallops simmered away in a thyme and wine reduction served oceanside with barrels of hand slapped tortillas; butter soaked cracked crab for breakfast near Gypsy Beach; gooey chile rellenos nestled into warm tomato sauce with a coconut flecked margarita for lunch; and late night foil bags full of baked potatoes with handfuls of cheese, corn, mushrooms and a myriad of salsas to top it of - even the last bite is still steaming.

What's crazy about this round up is it's barely even touched the surface of what my poor tummy has inhaled over the past 15 days.  I have hit a point where lettuce sounds good.  Just lettuce.   :)  

But, the journey must continue...

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Shhhhh! I Have the Secret Ingredient in PERFECT Baja Fish Tacos

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It ain't the salsas, that's for sure)

I never would have believed it if I hadn't been there myself.  I mean, when does one ever get so lucky to witness first hand the fresh mix-up of Baja fish taco batter - actually like front row witness?  I can tell you - NOT MANY.   The little mama running this joint was pouring and churning a slew of ingredients all by heart and I'm sure years of experience - she had no idea my obsession as she spooned in the ingredients...she even did a 2nd batch, so I have real confirmation of what it takes to make the perfect Baja fish taco.

Now, I've been going to Baja for years and there is not one taco in the US that can compare.  I used to think it was the flour.  Maybe it was came from some special batch like how you need Lily White for proper skillet cornbread down South.  Then, I wondered was it the ratio?  Was it just a specific amount of Mexican beer that only the Baja ladies had mastered?  Now, I know the seafood is way fresher than most of the BS we have in the states (Gulf Wild - I can't wait til you rule the world and shake the fishing industry on its ass) - but man, there had to be something else entirely. 

And, then I saw her do it.  TWICE!  As I fiddled with my camera (ie - full recon on the DL), I witnessed this fine lady squirt in a boatload of yellow mustard.  Plain old French's.  OMG.  What a revelation.  Never would I have thought that childhood saffron jar of tangy mustard would be responsible for half my adult life's infatuation.  Where I come from, yellow mustard is for hot dogs, cheeseburgers, corn dogs - easy things like that.  Not the most perfect tacos the world has ever known. 

I know this because I look for those tacos high and low at home and in my travels and I know others do to.  I read the blogs, I get the updates.  We haven't managed to perfect them yet, and trust me I try to find them once a week.  In fact, most fish tacos are obliterated and really disgraced, if you ask me. 

But, these....these are the kind you yelp out as a dying wish.  Just give me a batch of Baja fish tacos with ALL the fixin's and I'll die a happy girl.  But, they better be made with mustard.

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Eastern Exposure, Daily Flo Shakedowns & Corazon de Tierra


The amount of things that shake down daily on this floating home is just insane. 

I try to keep up with it all - and make good food, drink good spirits, and create good things all around.  Sadly though - this blog is the last thing on my mind as I try to get through the day.  Not that I don't think about posting daily - I do.  It's just that finding the time is becoming harder and harder. I gotta change that though - and it's gonna start right now!  Because I use this site as a tool to help me remember where I was at what point in life...PLUS, it's an amazing foodie reference for me when I want to revisit, or share, or link someone up with lots of intel from my fave places around the globe.

First off - a MST update.  I've been working my bootie off on a handful of new shows that we (Fatcake) are developing.  We have driven to TX and back doing shoots for our fishing family show; we've got 5 more deals on top of that one that just literally got done making their way through legal - and I love each and every one of these shows like mad.  It's just FREAKY how long it all takes, though.  From idea, to devo, to shoot, to pitch, to contract to actual deal done - like a freakin YEAR!  On each and every show.  We're staying super positive though and just knowing that doing what we really dig, with peeps we super believe it - well it's going to pay off.  And, I suppose through all of this, my ultimate goal is simply freedom. 

Freedom to work on what I want, to develop what I love, to conspire with folks I laugh with, and to really be a part of the worlds bigger picture through creative endeavors.  Pretty simple, eh?

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That all said - Baja. 

As we've been planning on taking the airstream down this winter and the aftermath of Odile keeps getting shared - it seems less likely we will make our way down for any extended amount of time.  I told Kuba yesterday that it would a damn shame if we didn't at least get a few weeks down in Southern Baja before the holidays, so we might try to make that happen.  The Dept. of Tourism in TJ released a statement that said 'if you go to Baja right now, you are doing a disservice to the residents.'  There is very little water, food, and fuel up and down the peninsula so just stand by a minute and let things marinate a bit for the locals.  I can honor that, as much as I want to be in the truck rolling down come Nov. 1.  I'm going to just keep my eyes peeled on the super helpful Baja forums (Baja Nomad), the national news (which is so stale and out-of-date it's sad), and my peeps on the ground there to see what our real plan can become in the next 6 weeks or so.

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Meanwhile - enjoy the pix from breakfast and dinner at one of my fave Baja wine country restaurants - Corazon de Tierra.  Now that is still an escapade that's easily doable since it's just about 3.5 hrs from my front door.  When I have a restaurant (and mark my words, I will someday) - it will be all about lighting and early AM Eastern Exposure and then the stunning evening Western Exposure.  Just like on the Flo (we have North, South, East and West exposure) - it makes every room in the house usuable all the time and full of light and sunbeams. 

Next up (for me solo) is a trip to the Philippines this week, a place to which I've never been.  I just wanna yoga, eat green, get a billion massages and really just grab a fresh sheet of paper and start anew for all the ideas that need to get done for the early 2015 roll out. 

These are exciting times and a good cup of coffee in the morning, with my dog resting in a ray of soft light, and the masts clanking in the light breeze are all that's needed to get the day going up in here.

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When Life Hits Mach 10, Keep Eating


When it gets this crazy, it's time to just step back, take a breather and remember all the dirt roads out there somewhere, waiting to be explored and raged down.

Got a lot going on - new shows, big budgets, upcoming trips (hello Philippines), just got back from a cross country expedition to Texas for a show super close to my heart, and really wanting to kick it on back and plan my winter escape!

Delighted the new Ryan Adams album is out; LOVED Otto's in Fredericksburg, TX; over-the-moon daylight savings time is on the horizon; and really beyond happy that the construction in the marina will end in a few months.  It's beena long hectic summer and it's time for SOUP again.

One meal at a time - especially if it's from La Picazon in LTO, Baja - mst

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Just Back from Rancho La Puerta - A Wonderland...

Rancho La Puerta - Fun, Food and Fitness

**From the latest Baja Bound.  Just got back from a great trip down there and literally, I need about 2 weeks of this program to really get life back on track :)

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Border towns are not generally known as sanctuaries for harried travellers, but in the case of award- winning destination resort/spa Rancho la Puerta, the typical conceptions about these usually dusty towns  are simply thrown to the wind. Here are a few enticing ways to experience this age-old wonderland just across the border in Tecate. No matter which path you choose, there will be no regrets...only visions of future bookings for much longer amounts of time!

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1. Afternoon Cooking Workshop at La Cocina Que Canta Cooking School - Price: $95 per person

A few times a week, Executive Chef Denise Roa offers up a cooking demonstration on the grounds of the cooking school, and if you can grab a slot at the Salsa y Salsa class, you will be in for a super treat. Mixing fresh, homemade salsas with the spirit of super sassy salsa dance lessons is brilliant, especially if you’ve sampled a little sangria during the al fresco cooking demos. The class includes lots of good wines, a feast of good food (imagine giant vats of fresh caught  seafood paella made with quinoa, piles of char-grilled vegetables, and just picked strawberry studded field green salads), and hours of dance lessons with the house dance sensation, Manuel. Everyone is fueled by the good food, the setting sun, and the light buzz and the infectious charm of this splendid pairing – salsa and salsa, indeed. This class alone will inspire students to return to Mexico time and time again – much like the visitors at the ranch do year after year. It’s a soul pilgrimage not to be missed.

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2. Saturdays at the Ranch at La Cocina Que Canta Cooking School - Price: $300 per person; 7:30 am – 8 pm

This six-acre organic farm and cooking school is a dream-like mecca for like-minded foodies (it means “the kitchen that sings”). It’s the light-dappled farm you fantasize of having, but just can’t for lack of time, energy or money. No worries, though, Executive Chef Denise Roa has you  covered so you can day play in her best dream ever come alive. If you are a guest at the ranch for the week, you will be able to a la carte sign up for cooking classes with visiting chefs, take part in hands on fresh ingredient workshops, enjoy exquisite farm to table dinners, and partake in leisurely farm tours...but if you only have one day available out of your normal life in the US, you can hop on a bus in San Diego on a Saturday morning and spend the next 12 hours eating, inspiring, hiking, cooking, photographing, exercising, laughing and becoming a ranch warrior. Once you pass through receptions doors, you are given a spa locker to dump your stuff and can immediately join up with others for a big healthy breakfast. The typical Saturday could include a 4 mile hike through steep canyons, a dip in the hot tub, a therapeutic massage or facial, a relaxing tai chi class, a pole dance learning session, a bit of reading under the massive shade tree, a plunge into the pool, a cooking lesson at the farm and a bit of that amazing tinted wine from Valle de Guadalupe – all before you hop back on the bus cross the border and head home. The days are jammed full of activities – but only if you want them to be. Make a Saturday at the Ranch Day 1 in your new life plan – which for me is figure out how to live the ranch life every day, no matter where I’m at in the world.

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3. Full Week Immersion – Saturday to Saturday - Price starts at $3650, all meals included

Most folks commit to this 7-night/8-day program for the simple reason that it’s literally a guarantee. The bottom line is, if you take the plethora of exercise classes (over 50 choices are on offer per day), eat the farm fresh meals (no meat or dairy are allowed), join a few of the workshops (think photography and writing), rock the morning hikes (the 7-mile switchback trail to Mt Kuchumaa is a killer way to see the sunrise), and stay off your phone and computer as much as possible (there are only a handful of wi-fi hotspots on the grounds)...well, you will leave the ranch a new person. Weight loss, new friends, fresh ideas, and stronger habits will have you skipping to the bus to head back across the border to San Diego (the USA pit stop where all pickups and drop offs happen) as a super sparkly version of the bedraggled person you probably were before you arrived in paradise. Most everyone is an early bird and hits the hay in their charming casita (call ahead to make sure the front desk leaves your fireplace ready to be lit) right after the evening bingo game or jazz quartet show. And what really blew me away was that the  place was packed to capacity, yet outside of meals and classes, you barely see a soul - the tree soaked grounds are just that spacious. Plan on walking miles and miles a day and they even include a handy pedometer in your welcome package – so you can rack up the steps to wellness and stay mega inspired to keep on moving. There’s also a lovely new wine bar & coffeehouse - local artists showcase their wares there and you can purchase a whole new dining room set complete with stemware before you depart (Sure! Add it to my room bill!). The cozy, and often visited wine bar, features all local Baja vino; just don’t let the tasting derail you from a week of brand new beginnings! The Ranch also recently started offering mini breaks – 3 or 4-day retreats starting mid-week for those who can’t scoot away for a full week. Prices start at $1850.

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Visit the Rancho La Puerta website

36 Hours in Baja - A Journal of Sorts (From Baja Bound)

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Baja on the Cheap - A 36 Hour Getaway

Per usual, my adventure in Baja began and ended with food. 36 hours before, I’d crossed the border – with no real destination in mind, not much coin in my pocket, and just a short bit of time to explore new spots. It was just an internal craving I was trying to fill...because let’s face it - a day and a half isn’t much time when there’s so much to see. There's always another dirt road to tear down and one more snack to chomp on.

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Hours 1 - 3 Make way across Tecate border and revel in how lush the wine valley is looking. Start moseying south. Contemplate stopping for some wine tastings, but knowing that we’re gonna want to get south of Ensenada, forgo all and make haste for the sea. Hour 3 – Restaurant Atotonilco and La Costa, Popotla Rustic side roads are always full of surprises and the bumpy ride into the magical fishing village of Popotla is no exception. From the freeway, you’d never expect that just over the hill, a mere click south of Baja Studios, is a miniscule fishing community that rivals anything you’d find in the Med. There is so much fresh seafood being slung around that it would take days to really sample it all, so it’s nice to start with a bit of vibrant clam ceviche. Clams the size of your hand that is, hand carved, sauced and limed to order. For next to nothing ($2). Even better is a restaurant that serves tiny crab legs as a free appetizer complete with a smooth stone and wooden board for crushing. The lobster is grilled and drenched in butter and one order is enough to fill two people, especially when a frosty cold michelada is involved. The whole area can be overwhelming, because the items floating around from stall to stall in the market are simply mind-altering in their enormity. From glistening fish to spider crab the size of a small dog to shark fin to rows of exotic looking clams, this stop is a genuine must happen on all future visits to Baja. I am stunned it took me 15 years to finally make that right turn off Highway 1. Total spent - $20 Popotla Baja Popotla Baja

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Hour 7 – Jing Cheng Restaurant, South Ensenada Before we left LA, we’d been on an Asian kick and I’d become obsessed with rice paper fried spring rolls. Why not try them for a light snack in Baja? It was just a baby pit stop to satiate the mind. How good are the rolls? Turns out, mighty fine. Wonderfully light, they were doled out in a paper bag that had circles of grease spread here and there just so...and though there was no fish sauce to dip them in, you just didn’t need it. Those treats were inhaled in less than 30 seconds. Total spent - $1

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Hour 10 – El Molino Viejo (The Old Mill), San Quintín It’s unreal that I’ve never eaten at this old-school waterfront restaurant in San Quintín bay. We’d ended up at the Old Mill Hotel on the make for a cheap room ($37 cash) and rounded the corner from the simple hotel to find a throbbing bar and restaurant on the bay front. How in the heck do all these people find these hidden gems? It’s not like there’s a paved path to the front door. Nope, that would be a 3-mile dirt road, full of skull jarring potholes. After we checked in, secured extra blankets (no heat in these rooms) and played with the beautiful house doggie, we were simply on the lookout for a good glass of vino. Never did we expect to find it (and it was the delicious house wine, no less – Piccolo Roganto). We also found a refreshing Caesar salad, a giant pile of seafood pasta and a killer queso dip to go with this said wine. The edge of the road burned off with the first sip of red wine and the mariachi singer revved up to take that edge off a little bit more. It wasn’t until we’d stuffed our faces that we realized they crafted up homemade bread – you just have to ask for it. Don’t you know we secured a loaf and polished if off for dessert! Gluttony at it’s finest. Total spent – $42 El Molino San Quintin Baja El Molino San Quintin Baja

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Hour 25 – Loncheria Elena, just North of San Quintin A big breakfast was on…and this time not just a frosty Red Bull and chile tamale. This roadside loncheria was packed with in-the-know truckers, political associates, and local families when we strolled in and grabbed a primo spot. Oh, how quickly steaming coffee made it’s way to our table and just as quick rolled out probably the best breakfast I’ve experienced in all of Baja. Perfect chiliquiles, just made hand-slapped tortillas, piles of tiny limes, cooked down pinto beans and slippery divorced eggs with hand cut fries. Every bite elicited a moan, every stranger tossed a smile our way, and our coffee cup never stopped filling up. Plus, they have free fast wifi. This pint size spot does some dang good business. Total spent - $8

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Hour 30 – Hijos del Sushi, Ensenada Never would I have wandered by this tiny sushi restaurant much less stopped in, but fate slipped up under me. Literally. We were Tecate border bound and just weaving through the hectic traffic of Ensenada when a food delivery driver on a motorcycle pounded up under the back of my truck. He wasn’t paying attention – racing about on his way back from a delivery – and just rammed my bumper. I was delighted to see he worked for a sushi restaurant because I’d been aching to try some fried rice in Mexico! Once we followed him back to his homebase, we stood by for the insurance folks to pop over...and of course we were starving so we ate. Perfect pork gyoza, flavorful veggie fried rice and juicy limes with salt were on tap for lunch when the insurance representatives arrived. We chopsticked up gyoza after gyoza. The food was just so unexpectedly delicious we ordered another full round. And, with our insurance paperwork in order and satisfied bellies, we crossed the border just before hour 36 hit. Total spent - $18 Hijos del Sushi Ensenada Hijos del Sushi Ensenada