The Russian Valley was settled by the “Milk Drinkers” who came here from Russia to escape persecution. They found a fertile valley with a stream and hot springs. They terraced the hills and planted crops and then when the Mexican Revolution changed the governmental land freedoms and practices, they left for the USA. The valley is now on the outskirts of a town called Guadalupe and the area is filled with wineries. The terraces are growing beautiful rows of grape vines, bordered by olive trees. La Cetta and Domecq are the major producers here, with a few smaller vineyards around them.
We exited the highway and followed the dirt road as the hot springs book indicated. When we crossed the dry wash and headed for a dead-end canyon we encountered three kids, three dogs and a quad with a wagon tied to the back. I remembered my rule from Europe travel times- ALWAYS ASK A KID- and I invoked that rule now. True to form, the kids knew exactly where the “cascada” and the “agua caliente” were located and they waved their arms about and gave me clear directions (in Español). We turned around and headed the direction they had indicated. After a few sandy washes, and long fence line roads, we came to a governmental gauging station and a small house. An abuela in a housedress came out and told us (in Español) that the hot springs were through her gate and up the road to a parking area. Then 20 minutes walking up the creek. Dark was falling quickly and we wanted to get settled so we decided to park it once the sand was too deep to let Alta pass.
In the morning Mike and the two big dogs went to find the hot springs, while Mango and I huddled in bed sipping coffee and preparing this blog post. Then it happened. A tiny little spill of coffee on the MacBook!! Oh no! Quick, wipe it up….. more on this later (and if you are in Southern California, we need your help)
When Mike got back we enjoyed our usual breakfast and waited for the sun to warm the canyon. Then we took off for a hike to the hot springs with the dogs. It was a beautiful day and the canyon offered some fantastic views. One of our “old” guidebooks mentioned that the caves above us held Indian artifacts. Another book referenced the importance of this water source to the Russians previously and the vineyards presently. The hike was great, but the hot water was much further than the 20 minutes Abuela had indicated. We found several unimproved pools which blended various temperatures of cold creek water, with slightly sulfurous hot water. No area was more than thigh deep. All the pool bottoms were mud with grassy edges and an abundance of cow pies. I had no idea that cows could be so appreciative of hot springs!
We pulled out of the valley and headed toward the nearby village of Guadalupe. This is not related to recent post about Cañon de Guadalupe, as we are now on the other side of the peninsula. This village is centered around the Russian heritage and history. We found a terrific family farm that had delicious home canned olives, oils and tepenades as well as fresh cheeses, wines and home cooked Russian meals. We ordered a meal and savored the historic flavor.
After this side trip, we were back on highway 1 and zooming through the bustling port city of Ensenada. Two huge cruise ships in the harbor marked the return to civilization for us. And time to start looking for computer repair places!
We ran out to the far edge of the bay to look at La Bufadora. Then back tracked a short distance to find a campground. Playa La Jolla offered hot showers, privacy, toilets with seats and a wide open camping area for just $12USD. So here we are camped. We will stay while we ponder the technology related decision before us.