Saturday, December 8, 2012

FLASHBACK... Baja California 1

Craters of the moon!

AFTER a slight detour into Okotoks to fix a sticking brake caliper, the rest of the drive south was rather uneventful.

Anyone having done I 15 south from Alberta knows that until you reach the Bitter root mountains south of Great Falls, the road can be desolate and boring.

Once driving through the range, following the Missouri river and on into Idaho over the Monida Pass, things become far more interesting and actually very scenic.

Sunrise first day.
THE Santa Anna winds picked up as I drove across Utah into Nevada and especially in California.  I took care to park whenever possible facing south, with the sole intention of keeping my door from being ripped out of my hands and off the hinges.  There were reports that winds were reaching gusts of 100 mph across the Mojave.

My fuel mileage suffered tremendously averaging less than 10 mpg and sometimes only half that.
I waste little time to get out and ride
BY the time I reached SO Cal, things eased up somewhat and once into Baja proper, it was once again bearable.  Tijuana is a huge, sprawling metropolis, most famous for cheap booze, underground tunnels into the US and crime.  I never linger in TJ, preferring on most occasions to cross inland at the Tecate crossing.

Ensenada is a pretty port city, the northern terminus of many cruise lines, and a sometimes Universal Studios set.  The Visa free tourist zone runs from Ensenada across Baja Norte to San Felipe, at least on paper, you'll need an entry visa to continue south of here.

Brit couple traveling the world.
I stay south on the trans Peninsular Highway number 1.  Driving through small towns bisected via the major route, its a whole 'nother world out there.

Detour for gas and you are on dirt roads, choked with dust during the warmer months.  Traffic can be intimidating with vehicles driving along side the road and across your path at odd angles.  Cars, buses and trucks abound in the Norte but once you head inland, fewer vehicles will be found.
Typical Baja track
ALMOST always I stop around Cativina, where massive house sized boulders are favorites for climbers and explorers.  There is a very good if little used trailer/RV park right in town on the West side.  Fuel stops can be dicey, so I always keep the tanks full and Jerry cans besides.

As you cross the 'border' into Baja Sur, chances are your papers (and Visa) will be asked for and you will be required to have a 'soak' from a spray tank on someones back to 'detox' the underside of your vehicle.  I'm sure the fine mist is only an excuse to collect a few pesos!

Dry riverbed, but water is just below the surface
THIS trip, the crossing agent, told me I couldn't bring apples that were in my fridge across with me, but after helping himself to a Canadian Macintosh, he let me keep the rest.

Military checkpoints are far less numerous than my first forays south, mostly quick and efficient after a few questions.  Rarely have I been detained longer than minutes.  The road surface is generally good, but shoulders are typically non existent and you have to be careful not to drop a wheel over the side.
You meet all kinds, three French girls and an American
I reached Playa Los Cocos late night after a very long trip fighting the wind and road.  Fortunately the moon was out and I pulled off to the side of the beach and sacked out for the remainder of the night.

It wasn't till the following morning that I set up my camp at palapa number 8, where I would spend the next 7 weeks.

I love this part of North America!

It is still vast, sparse and somehow, magical to me.  Since the first time I rode the length of the peninsula, I have returned over a dozen times. 

Now that I live on the east coast of Canada, I'm not sure when I will be next there, but perhaps, on one of my Phoenix trips, I can make the journey across the border once again.
Palapa numero Ocho
IN the mornings, the gentle and warm water of Bahia Conception laps the sand within feet of my rig.  I am at the south end of the Bay, famous for it's seclusion, yet within yards of the highway, and accessible to many great beaches. If there was a stable source of fresh water and power supplied, this place would be full of luxury hotels.

As it is, between Mulege to the north and Loreto to the south, aside from a few fishing camps and ejidos, there is virtually nothing but sand sea and sun!

The Cortez
THE attraction to me is the warmth, the seclusion and the friendly natives, including the regulars that have been coming here for years.  Harold and Judy, Ron and Marilyn and my sister and her husband.

Then of course there is the riding!

Riding the myriad of back trails and roads can be thrilling, peaceful and never dull.  Its a welcome change from the forested Rockies of western Canada and the tight off road regulations of my former home in Alberta.

Chores don't stay at home
AS I settle in for my fall visit, chores don't stop.

Trips into Mulege for groceries, dealing with beach vendors, prepping the bike, scoping out the next ride.  There is always something to do.  Maybe a paddle around to the next cove at Escondido or Santispec, or over to Berthes for lunch.  With power only supplied by your own generator or battery, I spend many a lazy hour catching up on my writing or reading.  Berthe's or Ann's will gladly exchange pocket books.

If you've ever wanted to live on the beach or trade  some of your overtime for down time... Baja is a definite must see destination.

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