The early morning light found National Geographic Venture off the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains just south of Loreto on the Baja peninsula. Warm oranges, purples, and earth tones sprang to life as the sun rose. Cameras clicked and whirred, and we were all mesmerized by the beauty of this area.

Repositioning to Isla Carmen, National Geographic Venture offered both kayaking and a Zodiac cruise to guests. One lucky group on a Zodiac spotted a whale shark and took some images. Kayakers explored the bay in quiet solitude or in small groups. We snorkeled after lunch in the clear waters of the bay and then weighed anchor and went in search of marine mammals.

Ralph Lee Hopkins had just started his recap entitled “The White Cliffs of Baja” when the staff snuck in the lounge dressed in orange shirts, with blue bandanas, Tilley hats, and nametags that read “Nailed it!” – one of Ralph’s favorite phrases. Recap turned into a retirement celebration for Ralph, as staff told stories and gave accounts of his many adventures and escapades over the years, some dating back to the 1990s! In the end, Ralph was able to give his recap just before dinner in spite of being sidetracked by the large celebration! What a true professional. Here’s wishing Ralph a happy retirement!