RVers pay good money to make their rigs sell-sufficient and with that independence, they are able to park most anyplace and still have all the conveniences of home. Everyone has their list of favorite places to park for the night but I thought I'd found the ideal one on the Baja Peninsula. Perched atop a number of the mountains are a string of microwave towers reaching from the US border to the tip. Using solar power, they provide communication and TV without having to string wire or bury cables.

Each of the towers has a name with a sign by the road leading to it. They are usually some saint like Micronta Santa Luis or Micronta St. Jorge but one evening we came across Micronta Almejas. Any tower named after clams just had to be a great place to camp so we drove up the rocky road leading to the tower. It was perched on a level spot with a fantastic view out over the Pacific ocean so I turned the rig around and we settled in for the evening.

After dinner, we opened lawn chairs to enjoy the evening as the red ball of the sun sank into the Pacific. Frigate birds soared by on quiet wings, a couple coyotes began to yammer to one another far down the ridge and an Osprey carried his last fish of the day to its nest high up in the tower. Just as darkness fell, we saw a bat flit by. After enjoying the cool night air for a while, we finally retired to bed. With the windows open to let the cool evening air waft in, we drifted into the deep sleep that comes with nothing but night sounds to disturb you.

I was suddenly jolted awake by the loud snap of an electronic relay closing then heard a grinding sound like the starter on an old Buick. It cranked for a few seconds then came the chuff, chuff, chuff of an engine being cranked through compression. For a few seconds I thought that someone might have parked by us and was starting their engine until I realized it was coming from inside the concrete block building at the base of the tower. I looked at my watch; it was exactly midnight.

Chuff, chuff, chug, chug; then it began trying to come to life. Blut, blut, chuff, chuff, blut, blat; it kept grinding and trying. Finally Blut, Blut, Blat, Blat, BLAT BLAT BLAT BLAT! The single cylider diesel engine directed it's wrath at us through an unmuffled two-inch pipe sticking through the wall not six feet from where we were parked. After it warmed up and hit a steady beat, the barking exhaust became louder when a load was applied.

We closed the window on that side but that did very little good. After about ten minutes of listening to the little engine hammer away, I decided that there was nothing to do but leave if we wanted to get any sleep so I made my way to the cab. Then I realized that our chairs were still open behind the rig so I put on my shoes and went after them. Just as I had them stowed on the hooks, the little engine suddenly chuffed to a stop and all was quiet. It took at least an hour to get back to sleep.

I found out later that the engine drove a generator to provide power if the solar batteries discharged to a certain point and that it automatically started and ran for fifteen minutes each night at midnight. If it failed to start, a signal was sent to the main office and they sent out a repairman to fix whatever was wrong.

So if you are ever on Baja and looking for a place to boondock for the night, you might consider one of the microwave towers but just be aware that you will get a rather noisy call at midnight.

Links to other Baja stories:
When Pigs Fly
The Cow That Ate Baja
Going Tubeless
Speedy Gonzales
The Baja Bunch
The Baja Van
Los Cabos [Free Book]

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Copyright 2000 by Jim Foreman