Writing Down the Baja Highway


Baja California.

The name alone conjures up visions of remote beaches, rolling hills and nameless dirt roads.

John Minch and Thomas Leslie have been succumbing to the allure of the area for the past 30 years. But the two Saddleback College professors don’t just visit Baja; they study it, documenting the plant and animal life and mapping out the geological formations of the Mexican peninsula.

And now they’ve taken their years of travel and research and turned it into “The Baja Highway,” a 233-page book described as a “geology and biology field guide for the Baja traveler.”


The comprehensive book, which is filled with previously unpublished information, covers all the major routes through Baja.

“Chances are,” says Leslie, “if you’re driving down a road and you see a rock or a tree, it’s in there.”

Written for the average traveler, the book is loaded with descriptions and illustrations of plants, animals and geological formations. There’s also a wealth of historical information.

Stop at kilometer marker 164 on the road from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas, for example, and open the book to learn about the small mountain village of El Triunfo, which was established in 1862 with the discovery of silver and gold: “This town was the center of a major silver mining operation after 1862. A side trip to the main mines can be taken on the first road to the right after you enter town and you cross the bridge.”


“The Baja Highway” ($19.95) is published by John Minch and Associates Inc., a San Juan Capistrano-based environmental consulting firm owned by Minch, who teaches geology. (Leslie, who teaches biology, is a partner.)

To purchase the book, call the company at (714) 496-3080.

Literary Magazine: A course in which students will produce Orange Coast College’s literary magazine, Orange Coast Review, will be offered by the English department in January.

The class, taught by author and writing instructor Raymond Obstfeld, will show students how to critically evaluate and select poetry, fiction and essays that are submitted to the magazine. They will also design, produce and distribute the publication.


Spring semester classes begin Jan. 21. For registration information, call (714) 432-5772.

North Signing: Former National Security Council aide Oliver L. North will sign copies of his new book, “Under Fire: An American Story,” from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Bookplace, 5769 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road, Anaheim Hills.

More Signings: Around-the-world bicyclist Sally Vantress (“Seeing Myself, Seeing the World”) will sign from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Fahrenheit 451, 540 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. . . . Theodore Taylor (“The Weirdo”) will sign from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Reading Rhinoceros, 24000 Alicia Parkway, Mission Viejo. . . . Mike Blake (“The Incomplete Book of Baseball Superstitions, Rituals and Oddities” and “The Minor Leagues: A Celebration of the Little Show”) will sign from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Brentano’s in the Brea Mall. He also will sign from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday at B. Dalton Bookseller in the City Mall, Orange. . . . Marilyn Wallace (“The Single Stone”), Linda Grant (“Love Nor Money”) and Margaret Lucke (“A Relative Stranger”) will sign from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Book Carnival, 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange. . . . Sharon Loeschen (“The Secrets of Satir”) will sign at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church, 1259 Victoria St., Costa Mesa.

Laguna Poets: Poet Jim Bershad will read at 8 tonight at the Laguna Poets meeting in the Laguna Beach Public Library, 363 Glenneyre St. $3.


Children’s Books: Children’s book author and illustrator Lou Alpert (“Emma Giggled”) will do a demonstration and talk on children’s books at 3:30 p.m. Monday at the Seal Beach Public Library, 707 Electric Ave. She also will speak at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Stanton Public Library, 7850 Katella Ave.

Alta Reading: Poet Terry Kennedy will read at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Alta Coffee House & Roasting Company, 506 31st St., Newport Beach. Free.

Book Talk: Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” will be discussed at the Let’s Talk Books meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Newport Center Library, 856 San Clemente Drive. Free.