ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 06-08-2012, 08:10 PM   #1
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
Short trip to Baja in April 2012

At the end of March I had a window open up for a trip to Baja and it would be my last chance to go for a long time. Benjava was pretty excited to go and made time in his schedule to be able to do it. We had already been reading Baja ride reports thinking we were going to be able to go in January but I bagged that trip because I didnít want to ride in the cold and also one report suggested that the entire ride south that time of year would be essentially riding into the sun low on the southern horizon. Early April seemed perfect. Thanks to everyone who posted ride reports and advice it was invaluable.

I got my Baja motorcycle insurance from AAA; not advisable. Benjava got his through CostCo and I think it was less than half of what I paid. So much for trying to make it easy on myself.

I road my F650GS and Benjava was on his newer KLR with all new bags and accessories. I carried an extra three liters of gas and the same amount of water but had no need for either the entire time. We took minimalist camping gear but stayed in hotels the whole time because I was on vacation and didnít mind springing for a hot shower and a bed.

We left from the SF Bay Area on Sunday April 1st, 2012. 500 miles from my house to La Mesa straight down I5. Not a very exciting ride. We went straight through LA on I5 and had some slow downs but not too bad on a Sunday afternoon. We stayed at the Motel 6 in La Mesa. Standard Motel 6 quality and only 33 miles to Tecate. Lots of reports mentioned crossing at Tecate and I have to agree it is a hassle free crossing in both directions (more on that below).

Hereís a summary of how the logistics ended up:
  • Sunday: Bay Area to La Mesa; Motel 6 (30 miles from Tecate)
  • Monday: La Mesa to San Felipe via Tecate then Ensenada then San Felipa via Mex 3 and the south on Mex 5. Stayed at El Capitan hotel
  • Tuesday: Easy ride from San Felipe to Gonzaga Bay. Stayed at Alfonsinas resort
  • Wednesday: Longer day. Alfonsinaís past Cocoís corner over to Mex 1 and then north to El Rosario. Included some exploring near Catavina and driving out to Punta Baja near El Rosario
  • Thursday: El Rosario to Santo Tomas with a long side trip to Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Martir. The one hotel in Santo Tomas is expensive, not very nice and we both got stomach discomfort from the restaurant. Not recommended.
  • Friday: Santo Tomas back tracked to Puerto San Isidro along the coast; La Bufadora near Ensenada and then all the way back to La Mesa via Mex 3 and Tecate.
  • Saturday: La Mesa to SF Bay Area. This time we skooched around LA to the east and had no traffic slow downs at all.
The whole trip was almost exactly 2000 miles which means almost 1000 miles in Mexico. We didnít do nearly as much off pavement exploring as we had originally planned but it was still a great trip and very informative for my first real trip to Mexico and a good learning experience about travel in Baja. Iíd say all the roads are in way better condition than advertised on my very out of date AAA Baja map. The gravel roads were in pretty good shape; similar to the roads we had ridden in Death Valley in November.
OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:14 PM   #2
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
Now here’s way more information than necessary.

Here’s my update on the crossing for anyone wanting too much detail.

Here is an explanation of the border crossing at Tecate as of 2-Apr-12. As you cross the border you will drive under a canopy where there are some cameras and a lift gate. In the attached image the canopy is the brown square-ish structure to the right of the red INM initials. As you are sitting under the canopy, look directly to your right; that is where you will go in the front door and the first office inside to get your tourist card (Multiple Immigration Form (FMM)). After you pause for a second the gate should open and you can proceed into the country.

The green line I've draw takes you around the block because the first street on the right is one-way (or just do a quick illegal right and park by the red P). If you look at the image you can see some parking near the corner you just went around (red P). This area was coned off for parking and there is a guy there (most of the time), he directed us to park our bikes inside the cones right by the corner. Go into the office and get your tourist card. The procedure probably varies slightly but we showed him our passports and he gave us a slip of paper; now you have to pay. Go back out the front door (you will be looking at the canopy you passed under earlier). Make an immediate left on the sidewalk and go about 30 feet to the tiny windows labeled Banjercito; it functions as the cashier. $25 or 295pesoes. He will stamp the paper slip and you take it back to the INM office. Then fill out the form and he'll give you the small portion with a stamp on your card or passport.

Done.

On the same corner you bikes are parked there is a money changing place with the exchange rate in red lighted numbers. The rates at these places were consistently better than what I got through Bank of America so you might as well change some money. About 12 pesos to the dollar.

I purchased a Telcel SIM card for my phone at an OXXO. You can't miss them, they look like the Mexican version of a Circle K. The SIM was 150 pesos and came with 50 pesos. The woman in the store made a phone call and registered it for me. I then got more credit just by paying the cashier and giving her my new cell number; you'll get a text message telling you it went through (*133# to check you current credit status). The Telcel coverage was exactly the same as the AT&T phone coverage we had with us...so if you have AT&T you might not need to bother getting a phone. You will probably have cheaper calling locally in Mexico but calling the US via Telcel and AT&T was about the same, 99cents per minute.

Coming back into the U.S.
Another post described out to get to the front of the line coming back. The green arrow on the image to the right of the area where you came into Mexico shows the barriers you can drive through. When you are coming back up Mex 3, if you follow the sign to San Diego it takes you waaaay off to the east of this area, with limited signage. This takes you to the U.S./Mexican fence where you get into the big line of vehicles pointing west along the fence. The alternate route for motorcycles is to just keep on the road that brings you into the city; you'll remember the park you jogged around when you were heading out of town (about four blocks south of the INM office. You come back on this same road (Ortiz Rubio). Instead of following the signs to the right (east) to San Diego just keep going straight on Otiz Rubio until you get to the white cement barriers (and/or black barrels) and squeeze through (plenty of room) and cut in front of the first friendly driver. You'll be about the 6th person in line at U.S. customs. About 2 minutes per car when we were there.

OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:21 PM   #3
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
This is a good time to mention something about the photography on this trip. It's a mix of pictures from Ben's camera and two different camera phones I carried with me. I'm hell on electronics and break lots of cameras. Yes, I'm the guy who took a camera phone on an African Safari. That said, the pics aren't too spectacular but you'll get the idea.
OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
I assumed weíd just ride directly across the border after we left to hotel and meet at the first intersection after the crossing; but Benjava was nervous and super excited and wanted to stop just before the border to get his mental shit together. As described above it the whole process was so easy I think it was sort of anti-climatic for Ben. He just kinda had a look on his face the whole time like, ďIsnít there something more?Ē. I think the stress of not speaking any Spanish went away pretty quick. But he was very disappointed he wasnít able to interact with people more and talk to everyone he saw.

We headed out on Mex3 towards Ensenada. Nice ride, very good roads.

This is a crazy looking Eco resort on Mex3 near the heart of the wine country. You actually stay in those little cabanas on the hill.

OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:24 PM   #5
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
We had lunch in Ensenada. We just randomly stopped at a roadside taco stand which already had several people eating at it. We followed this formula during the trip and had good luck with it and ate a lot of good food. It was our first real interaction in Mexico and it was very positive. We were having trouble understanding what the meats were listed on the menu and they gave us a plate full of all the different styles just to try before we ordered. Thatís hospitality!

OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:26 PM   #6
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
We hit a lot of traffic and missed a turn in Ensenada. Nice to take a tour of the city but every other traffic light was broken and traffic was slow. We continued on Mex 3 east to the gulf coast. Again the road was perfect and the scenery was not what most people would think of as Mexico. Rolling hills and farmland, mostly grazing cattle.

Throughout the trip we were stopped at six or seven military check points. At three they made us open our bags and show them we werenít carrying any weapons.

San Felipe was totally unexpected for me. First it was flat and there were tons of American vacationers down there; apparently for the fishing. We stayed right down town at the hotel El Capitan. Pretty cheap but clean and the parking seemed pretty good right outside our window. I think it was about $30 U.S.


OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:28 PM   #7
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
The road south of San Felipe to Puertocitas is pretty boring but itís interesting to see how many houses there are lining the beach for about 40 miles. Puertocitas is exactly as the city implies. Quite an outpost but there is a Pemex and a couple of places to stay if needed.

Not much to look at...


But then there's this too:

OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:30 PM   #8
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
From Puertocitas south to Gonzaga Bay the coast line gets more and more beautiful. The road is now a superhighway until about 10 miles before Gonzaga Bay. They are working on that section of road right now and it wonít be long before itís all paved.

OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:33 PM   #9
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
We stayed at Alfonsinas ($60 per night). Okay room but Gonzaga Bay it a really nice location. It was a very short day of riding and we got there around lunch time. We just relaxed and really felt like we were on vacation in Mexico. The food is great, the scenery is great, and it’s just a very relaxing place to hang out. We essentially just sat and took it all in. Ben had been having some nagging shoulder pain for quite a few months and said that on the I5 stretch to San Diego it had pretty much gone away. And now setting back distressing with absolutely nothing to do but take in the scenery and relax we really were on vacation for everything.

We talked a bit about how not long ago, before the highway reached this far these people were really trying to get away from the world. Many of those original people are probably gone now that paved roads and civilization are knocking on their door.

We had lunch, dinner, and breakfast at Alfonsina’s and while quite pricey they were very good and exactly what we needed. The Camarones la Plancha were excellent as were the shrimp juevos rancheros. I think Alfonsina’s is a bit overrated but as I said the location is amazing. If you want to save some money I’d suggest skipping Alfonsina’s and heading a couple miles down the road and camping under some Palapas with the same scenery.

Not much to do but watch the birds fish and the fish jump.


Ben got up early to watch the sunrise. I slept.



OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:35 PM   #10
GalacticGS
1200 GS Rider
 
GalacticGS's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2006
Location: Camas, WA
Oddometer: 2,047
Nice explanation of the Tecate border crossing...

__________________
Larry
2006 R1200GS; 2009 Husaberg Rally 570; 2011 Husaberg FE570
www.galacticgs.com
"Speak to me of summer, long winters longer than time can remember;
Setting up of other roads, travel on in old accustomed ways."
GalacticGS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:35 PM   #11
Roaddawg
In Training
 
Roaddawg's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2008
Oddometer: 24
Right Up My Alley!

I look forward to your report. Just subscribed. A friend and I are contemplating a trip down south. Your report will be invaluable!! . I will perhaps PM you. I live in the Bay Area and would jump at the opportunity to pick your brain. I want to do the trip on my 1200RT but I wonder how well it would fare down south. I am encouraged when you write you didn't do as much off road riding as you thought you would. Thanks again for all the information.
Roaddawg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:36 PM   #12
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
Wednesday morning we headed down the gravel road past Coco’s Corner over to Mex1 and north. It really is a shame that road is getting paved over because that was some amazing riding from Gonzaga to Mex1. Check out the cactus and scenery; not to mention just a fun riding surface. I’m not sure I understand the attraction to Coco’s Corner but we did stop and have a drink and Ben adjusted a slight rubbing sound coming from the frontend of his KLR.


I wish I had seen the documentary “Dust to Glory” before I had gone on the trip. We saw lots of evidence of the various baja races but it would have had a bit more relevance if I’d seen the movie first.
There were “llantera” (tire repair) places everywhere. I was pretty optimistic that if you shredded a tire these places might have something that would fit your bike until you could get to a town with more services; Ben wasn’t so optimistic.







OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:46 PM   #13
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
Wednesday when we were eating burritos from the mini-mart in San Ignacio Ben noticed the chummer my F650 had broken off and jammed in my wheel. Apparently, this a right of passage for F650GS bikes if they are still intact when they go to Baja they come off while they are there. Something about the license plate holder hitting them on Vados (dips in the road). Our original plan was to stay at Rancho San Ignacio near Catavina and then go exploring on some off-pavement trails down to the coast that started just north of there. I wouldnít recommend the rooms at Rancho San Ignacio; they are pretty disgusting. Youíd definitely want to sleep inside your sleeping bag if you could stand the musty smell. Camping would be the preferred way to stay there. I had hoped to explore the jeep trails heading west towards the coast. When we got to the trail head the entrance turned out to be deep, narrow two-track sand trails. I blasted out a mile or so but it was clear Benjava wasnít going to like it on his KLR. It would have been an adventure but it would have been a lot of work and it was hard to tell how far the deep sand went. It looked like there was a better entrance a few more miles up the road. Rather than back track in the middle of the day to Catavina and Rancho San Ignacio I suggested we just bag it and start heading north.

Mex 1 heading North was amazing. It got higher and higher and following a ridge line for a long way as we got closer to El Rosario and into the river valley. Spectacular views the whole time. Mex 1 through there is very narrow and the trucks drive crazy fast; but there wasnít all that much traffic, perhaps it Easter weekend had something to do with less trucks but more cars. We stayed at Mama Espinosas in El Rosario. We were lucky to get a room; lots of travelers for Easter weekend. The scenery around El Rosario is very nice. After checking into the hotel we drove out to Punta Baja on a nicely improved dirt road and got some nice views of the pacific crashing into the coast. It was cold out there on the point and I didnít envy the fisherman camped there. We ate dinner and breakfast at Mamaís restaurant and both were very good.




Punta Baja






Because we love our bikes, here's another.



OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:48 PM   #14
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
Before dinner I had to make another repair to my bike. I had stuck a Cee Baileyís plex headlight guard onto my F650 before leaving. It wasnít quite formed to the headlight and one of the stickers didnít quite reach. So regularly I would push on that side of the headlight trying to get it to stick. I ended up pushing that side of the headline brace out and my headlight fell back into the plastic. After removing a million screws holding on the plastic I realized tiny plastic snap piece had broken and I ended up just duct taping it back together for the remainder of the trip.



We thought we were going to take the road into the center of the peninsula and go to the observatory within the Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro. Most of the way in we decided to stop at the Meling Ranch ranch for some lunch and they informed us that motorcycles of all kinds are turned back at the gates. They are worried about people air pollution at the observatory. Also the road is now paved very nicely all the way from Mex 1 to the tippy top in anticipation of the need to haul a new lens up to the observatory. Itís a very nice road. Beware though, there are a lot of blind corners and while there isnít a lot of traffic there is enough. I was leading on the way in and came around a few corners with vehicles dead center in the middle of the narrow road. It was a nice diversion but we were disappointed we couldnít get into the observatory and we went a bit further but turned around at a nice overlook.


Benjava in Baja
OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 08:51 PM   #15
OccRider OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Oddometer: 45
I had the crazy idea we should head further north and stay near Santo Tomas because on the map it looked of reasonable size and I figured it would have some hotels. Wrong. The one campground had some loud music celebration going and the hotel sucked. We decided to eat at the hotel restaurant which ended up being a mistake we realized in the morning.

Friday morning we had classic Montezumaís Revenge. Lucky for me mine started early in the morning and I was able to get most of the discomfort out of my system during the two hours before we took off. Unfortunately Benís hit harder on the ride. This really ended up throwing off our day.

We backtracked to what I think was one of the coolest areas we were in, the dirt road coastline north of San Isidro. I donít have many good pictures of it but itís very nice. They Easter weekend had brought a lot of campers in and along with is some porta-potties on trailers which we were glad to use. The stomach discomfort for Ben was probably at its peak as we headed inland up a steep, rocky rutted section. After a bit w decided this was not the day for thirty more miles of that. Iíd highly recommended that loop out to the Pacific. It really makes me want to go back and do the coastal road from Punta Santa Rosalillita north and then east to Catavina. From other ride reports it sounds epic.


San Isidro area






Nice to have them around when there are too many people to just use the bushes when Montezuma attacks.
OccRider is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 08:46 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014