It was a cold night in the cabin. I slept in my sleeping bag wearing my riding gear to stay warm though and had a pretty good night. I woke up to another beautiful morning and took a little walk around to see what Laguna Hanson looked like in daylight and snapped a few pics.
Laguna Hanson is a small lake in the mountains at an elevation of about 5,000 feet. There were lots of ducks in the lake in the morning.
There are a lot of big pine trees - different than what I had seen elsewhere in Baja
I planned to continue on the dirt road up to Rumorosa, which would be about forty miles of dirt, and then head east on MEX-2 toward Mexicali to cross back into the US. From there Iíd have about a seven hour slab ride back to Sierra Vista.
Once again, I wasnít sure how scenic the dirt ride to Rumorosa would be, but like just about everywhere else it turned out to be a really nice ride through the mountains. There was frost on the ground when I got up so I bundled up and put the heated gloves on, but didnít really think Iíd need to plug them in because they're pretty warm anyway and I wouldnít be going that fast. Wrong! It was darn cold out there - and Iím used to riding year-round in Maine winters. About a mile up the road I stopped to wire them up and it was total quiet, just like the night before, then I heard a pack of coyotes howling not too far away. It may have only been two or three, but it sounded like more. It was nice to listen to early in the morning up in the mountains with nobody around - I just hoped they werenít moto chasers!
The puddles were frozen
The heated gloves warmed my hands up quickly and it was a really nice ride up to Rumorosa.
The dirt road continued along at about 5,000 feet elevation
It's always reassuring to know you're headed in the right direction
Jut before Rumorosa I passed this - no idea what it was
When I reached MEX-2 I had about fifty miles to go to pass through Mexicali to the border, and I was pretty sure all the good stuff was behind me, but I was very pleasantly surprised again. Baja is awesome!
Just east of Rumorosa MEX-2 becomes a beautiful highway that winds up through mountains and then down onto the dry lake bed where the Laguna Salada road heads in toward Canyon de Guadalupe. This highway was beautiful and the views were spectacular. Through the mountainous area the highway is actually divided so that the east and west lanes take completely different routes through the mountains and each direction has two lanes so thereís no getting stuck behind slower traffic. It was awesome!
Shortly after coming down out of the mountains I came to a Federal Policia checkpoint. One car and two officers with automatic weapons standing in the road, but they just politely waved me through without stopping.
The turnoff to Canyon de Guadalupe where I spent the first night . . . I had come full circle
Closer to Mexicali I came to a toll booth. I only passed through two tolls while in Baja, both were near Mexicali. This one was staffed by a very nice young lady who spoke a few words of English. She told me the toll was twenty pesos. Perfect! Other than a few coins, the only Mexican money I had left was a 20-peso bill, which I was more than happy to part with at this point.
I made it through Mexicali to the border crossing area no problem, but there was a long line of cars, and I had apparently missed a sign for a much faster lane that allowed motorcycles. As I was sitting in three lanes of traffic about a tenth of a mile from the checkpoint (barely moving) a guy in a car next to me kept telling me to get in the far left lane, but I couldnít because there was a concrete barrier so I just kept creeping along with traffic. A couple minutes later the same guy was standing next to me telling me to split the lanes and move ahead. Iím not sure what he did with his car, and I donít know if he was US or Mexican - he spoke English with a heavy accent. He asked me if it was my first time crossing the border there, and I said yes, then he told me I should have taken the far left lane for bikes and it was OK to split the lanes and move up to the front, but the cars were packed in pretty tight and there was only about a foot between them. But, he was out there directing traffic and making a path for me and with his help I was able to move all the way up through the line to the front and over to the left lane where I was then next in line to go through. I was amazed that he did all that just to help some stranger on a bike. I crossed through without any difficulty, and even the US border guy was asking me about my bike and telling me about the upcoming Baja 250 race. Iím telling you, everyone in and around Baja loves bikes!
And so . . . I was back in the good old U.S. of A., land of credit cards, and I stopped at the first gas station I saw because I was just about out! The next stop was back at the Subway restaurant where I had lunch on Monday before heading into Baja. I had a sandwich, called my brother to let him know I should be back in Sierra Vista around 7:00-8:00 pm, then hit the road again.
I made it back to Sierra Vista around 7:30 pm after another long day on the road. It was a great trip, and it was great to be back.
If you recall, at the beginning of this ride report I said that opinions on riding Baja were split pretty much right down the middle. There were those who said Mexico is too dangerous, donít even consider going there, especially by yourself - the drug cartels will kill you, there are banditos, crooked cops, scary military checkpoints everywhere, federali ís will get you and lock you up forever, etc., etc. Then there were those who said Baja is a wonderful place full of friendly people, donít do anything stupid and youíll be fine. And that what I noticed during my research was that the naysayers were typically people who had never been to Baja, and those who said it was a wonderful place full of friendly people were the ones who had actually been there.
Well, Iím happy to have joined the group who has been there and can tell you that Baja is a wonderful place full of friendly people, donít do anything stupid and youíll be fine. I didnít encounter any banditos or crooked cops, the military checkpoints certainly werenít scary, and the federaliís just politely waved me right on by.
I had also said that I planned a three-day loop around northern Baja to get a feel for what Baja was really like, what the people were like, and what the roads were like.
Hereís a brief summary of what I learned about Baja in my short trip around Baja North.
There's nothing scary about Baja.
Baja is a beautiful and diverse place full of beaches and mountains.
Dual sport riding is fantastic in Baja.
Itís really a pretty big area, and not very populated.
Speaking Spanish would be helpful, but youíll be OK even if you donít (just remember: ďgaso, campo, and taco!)
Everyone in Baja seems to love bikes, even the soldiers at the military checkpoints.
Everyone was friendly and helpful, more so than just about anywhere Iíve been.
If you've been thinking about going to Baja - do your homework just like you would for any other adventure, then . . . just do it!