Of Time, Tide and Trucks

Jul 16, 2020 by The Old Gringo

With COVID 19 and the City of Peñasco all but locked up tight, there is really nothing to say that hasn’t already been reported. In mid-June the city opened back up with the caveat that if there was a spike in cases, Mayor Kiki Munroe would shut ‘er back down again. So, keeping that information in mind, I decided to tell you a tale that took place way back in 1978. It is absolutely true, but please note that names have been changed to protect the stupid…

It was Memorial Day weekend in May of 1978. Me and two of my friends decided to spend the holiday at our favorite beach, Sandy Beach, in our favorite town, Puerto Peñasco. As was our practice back then, we loaded up our four-wheel drive trucks with everything we thought we would need for a four-day excursion to paradise. Things like beer (lots) steaks (a bunch) tents, sleeping bags and other accouterments that would make Sandy Beach our home away from home for the duration.

Once across the border, we stopped at Vasquez’ store in Sonoyta to stock up on Tequila and more beer (one can never have ‘too much’ beer, or Tequila for that matter, don’t ya know?) and headed south to paradise.

At that time, the road to Rocky Point from Sonoyta was not the lovely, high speed affair that it is today.  For purposes of comparison, if you saw videos of the road to Baghdad after the bombing during Operation Desert Storm, it was sort of like that…only a little worse. In other words, it was an ADVENTURE!!!  (Remember that word, because we will refer to it again!).

After driving for three hours (that’s right campers, three friggin’ hours on Death Race 2000’s road…) we arrived at our destination and made camp. Then, almost immediately, went to The Reef (pre WRECKED AT THE) for a cold beer, as if we didn’t have enough! Then we started a fire and burned some steaks, made baked potatoes and drank beer…and tequila…a lot…finally falling into a dazed stupor on the sand, not in our tents.  Such was our idea of “fun” then.

Waking the next morning and feeling like little men with horned Viking helmets were running around our eyes and our mouths tasting like year old unwashed gym socks, we decided to take a swim to clear our heads. My friends, Mel and Robert recovered better than I did, but by afternoon, we were all ambulatory again…ahhh youth!

Before we repeated the procedures that we perfected on the previous evening, we discussed doing some surf casting when the tide went out. We decided to get up at 6 a.m. to catch the low tide and drive out to the surf line to fish. It seemed like a good idea at the time. That evening pretty much went as the previous one, with the exception that I made it to my tent and sleeping bag (I cannot say what Mel and Robert did).

Some fool actually set an alarm clock to wake us at 6 a.m. (as discussed the previous evening), and, zombie-like, we rose from the dead and drove Mel’s ‘68 Ford Bronco out to the surf line for a day…or a half day, or an hour, or a half hour…of angling.  The tide had not quite gone out fully, so we parked the Bronco as close to the water as we could, knowing it would recede yet still more.

We cast our lures into the water for what, it seemed to me, was a decade or so, with no results.  The sun rose higher in the sky. It got warmer, we had a few beers and shots. We cast our lures…had a few more beers and a few more shots. By about 8 a.m. the tide had gone all the way out…we, also, were “all the way out.”

Finally, Mel face planted in the sand. Fishing was now officially over. Robert and I carried him to the Bronco intending to take him back to our camp to sleep it off. That’s when we found out that Mel had lost his truck keys.  Search as we might we could not find them!

Now, if you know Peñasco, you know that a lot of beach is exposed when the tide goes all the way out.  At this point we were quite a way from our camp. Robert and I threw one of Mel’s arms over each of our shoulders and carry/dragged our friend back to camp. By the time we got there, both of us were exhausted. We got Mel into his tent (which had not been slept in since we arrived) and decided to catch a short nap before taking my truck out to the Bronco and towing it back to camp.  Our original plan was, worse case, to hot wire it if the keys were not found (you could do that with those old trucks back then). That was our original plan.

Robert and I fell sound asleep, only waking when we heard Mel screaming incoherently. Peering out of our respective tents to find out what the commotion was, we saw Mel standing at the water’s edge, which was waaayy closer than it had been the last time either me or Robert had seen it, yelling something about “my truck!!!” and pointing out into the Sea of Cortez.

Following Mel’s pointing, we observed Mel’s 1968 Ford Bronco, or, rather, the roof of Mel’s 1968 Ford Bronco sitting majestically in the sea as the tide rolled in, over, around and through it!

The rest of the story is predictable. The tidal exchange in the Sea of Cortez at Puerto Peñasco is around 26 feet at the extremes. Mel’s Bronco was fully submerged for six hours, until the tide changed, and we were able to tow it back above the high tide mark.

The conversation around the fire that evening was lively.  Especially because so many other campers wanted to see Mel’s Bronco and hear the story. So, Mel became a very reluctant celebrity for the rest of the weekend. We learned many lessons that weekend. I can’t remember what they all were, but one was that we decided right then that we would never drive a vehicle out onto the hard pan to fish…ever again.

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