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Old 03-12-2012, 10:14 PM   #61
peekay OP
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Hmm, good point Sunday Rider, I think the SpotWalla dates are simply meta-data for display but I will go ahead and update the end date again just in case! Thanks!
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:33 PM   #62
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At this point of the trip, I was still staying with my friend Dani in Aptos, near Santa Cruz.

Highway 1 by the Pacific coast is a "must ride" and I've been looking forward to the trip to Big Sur through Monterey and Carmel. I packed my cameras, turned on the helmet cam, and was promptly rewarded by… fog. And more fog!!


Highway 1 near Big Sur

The normally picturesque coastline was barely visible. Such are the breaks, I guess!!!

The next day I took the bike to Ted's BeemerShop for service. I decided to switch the stock tires for TKC80s and replace the chain with DIDs. I also splurged for a GS-911 diagnostic tool and bought a couple tie-downs.



Some TLC at the BeemerShop

I'd highly recommend the BeemerShop should you find yourself needing service in Northern California!

At this point in the trip, six weeks had passed since I left Toronto, and I wasn't even in Mexico yet. It was time to get south of the border.

I hit the superslab to Los Angeles then continued on to San Diego. The ride was mostly boring and full of traffic (lane-splitting is your friend). I didn't bother to put on my helmet cam, and promptly regretted it: riding down Hwy 101, a pod of whales swam by the shore. I couldn't believe it!!

I arrived in San Diego and checked into the Holiday Inn Express in Otay Mesa. Turns out there's a small border crossing here. I'm so close to Mexico I can clearly see Tijuana from my hotel room window.

I walked to the border to check it out.


Almost there... US/Mexico border at Otay Mesa

Most people tell you to avoid the busy San Ysidro border (just five miles away on I-5) and many riders recommend riding 40 miles east to the Tecate border. But there was hardly any traffic in Otay Mesa; Since I was already there, I thought it would be silly for me to detour all the way to Tecate.

The bi-lingual English - Spanish signs at the border were very helpful.


A modern day Rosetta Stone
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:57 PM   #63
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Enter Mexico

The next morning, I crossed into Mexico.

Well, I planned to take lots of pictures, etc., but it didn't work out that way. Honestly, I was pretty nervous crossing into Mexico. I didn't know what to expect.

I took a deep breath, started the bike and left the Holiday Inn parking lot for the short ride to the border. I expected a big line-up but there was no one in front of me. At the check-point, the remote-controlled gate raised before I even got there, giving me the green light to pass.

I continued on forward, my eyes looking for the Mexican Immigration building. I saw a sign for "Aduana" (Customs) but not for Immigration. I rode a bit further before realizing I had passed it. I was now on the main road leaving the border. There was no turning back.

I wasn't ready. Just like that -- not five minutes after leaving the Holiday Inn parking lot -- I was riding in Mexico. I didn't even stop at the border!

No one asked to see my passport. No one inspected the bike. I just rode through without speaking to anyone. No US border agents. No Mexican border agents.

My mind was racing as I followed the road signs to the coastal highway. I had completed my import permit online, but wasn't I supposed to get my passport stamped at the border? It's too late now, I'll just have to sort it out later.

I had been dreaming of making this trip for years. Riding through Tijuana, the reality of being in Mexico on my bike was starting to hit me. My first destination was a picturesque beach town called La Misión. It was a quick 90-minute ride from the border, on MEX-1 about 25 miles before Ensenada. I was happy to pull up to a nice hotel and restaurant called Poco Cielo.


Arriving at Poco Cielo, La Misíon

A nice hotel by the beach so close to San Diego, I knew during check-in that the room rate was going to break my daily budget. I didn't care!! I admit, after hearing/reading all the horror stories in the news about Mexico, I was a bit stressed out. I was relieved to find this "little heaven" and was determined to stay there for the night.

The receptionist spoke pretty good English and showed me various rooms throughout the property at different price points. Reality came back and I asked for the cheapest room available.

The receptionist called the owner and I could hear her telling the owner (in Spanish) that I had ridden from Canada. I was asked to wait "¡un momentito por favor!"

Cheryl, the owner, came out to greet me, and she's a fellow Canadian! It was my lucky day. Since it was a weekday, the hotel wasn't full, and Cheryl very generously upgraded me to one of the best rooms available for a great price.

After check-in my first order of business is to get some food and more importantly, cerveza, so I made a bee-line to the hotel restaurant.



First meal in Mexico, but I already finished the beer before remembering to take a picture.

Finally, after mas cervezas, I was able to relax. I've traveled to dozens of countries all around the world, and I was in Mexico City only a few months prior to this trip, but still I allowed the media reports about Mexico to unnerve me. The plan was to "ride through Mexico as fast as possible".

I took a stroll to enjoy the nearby views. At last, I was in beautiful Mexico.



La Misíon, Baja
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:29 PM   #64
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Great Trip!

Just catching up with your trip now, so far looks like a great trip. Nice pictures and great story so far. Nice bike too.
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Old 03-13-2012, 05:35 PM   #65
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Great pictures and write up. Some post card photos for sure.

More, More......
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:59 PM   #66
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I'm really enjoying this report and the amazing photos. Keep it up!
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:46 PM   #67
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After a good night's rest in La Misíon, I rode to Ensenada.

I didn't get my "tourist card" at the border, and read conflicting info about getting one in Ensenada. The internet is full of stories about people being fined in Ensenada, being sent back to the Tijuana border, etc. I started to worry.

As I rode into town, there were big signs pointing the way to Customs and Immigration near the port area. I parked the bike, and 15 minutes later my paperwork was done! The immigration official couldn't be more helpful. It's easy to worry about nothing.



Flag at half-staff

The town center in Ensenada is easy to spot (just look for the huge flag). As I walked around town, the flag was lowered to half-staff: 1000 miles to the east, terror had struck. Armed narcos attacked a casino in Monterrey and massacred 52 people.

I checked into Motel America. It was cheap and the courtyard-style parking hid the bike from the main road. Plus it was across the street from a police station.



Basic accommodations at Motel America

Later I checked out Hussong's cantina, home of the margarita. Lots of locals do frequent here, though it is a tourist trap (with a second location in Las Vegas). I expected a bunch of drunk rowdy guys, but most of the patrons were groups of women just having a good time.


Lasso show at Hussong's

It was here in October 1941 that the first margarita was poured. Legend has it, Hussong's bartender invented the drink for Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German ambassador to Mexico at the time.


Martin pouring a Margarita

There's taqueria next door to Hussong's (called Mexico Lindo) which has some really yummy tacos. I think I ate every other meal there.

I didn't stay in Ensenada for long. The plan was to ride east to San Felipe and then head south along the coast via the dirt roads there.



Up the hill from Ensenada

Coming out of the city are some small mountain ranges. Not to mention, junk yards!

There are many "questionable" cars in Baja. Some have Californian plates with expired tags from years ago. Some have stickers denoting that they are in the process of being legalized ("nationalized") into Mexico. Many others have no license plates at all. The cops don't seem to care either way.



Where the cars come to die

On the road to San Felipe, two riders on big BMW 1200GS bikes were heading the opposite way, towards Ensenada. We waved, and I stopped further down the road to take some pictures. Meanwhile the two riders did a u-turn and joined me.

Fernando and Osvaldo are from Querétaro, a city in central Mexico. They told me that they rode to San Felipe that morning, but was told that the dirt road conditions further south were very poor. So they decided to ride back to Ensenada and take the (mostly paved) western route instead.

They were going to ride to the Observatory and invited me to come along, but I wanted to press on to San Felipe. Fernando gave me his business card and told me about some great riding around his city. I had never heard of Querétaro but made a mental note to check it out on Google.


Osvaldo and Fernando gearing up to go

Closer to San Felipe, slowly the flat desert replaced the barren mountains. The sun was strong and it was a harsh ride. I began to worry about overheating the engine (after the coolant incident) but the bike's temperature remained normal, and thankfully San Felipe was only about 3 hours away.



Cutting through Baja

Arriving in San Felipe, the town was deserted. The mid-afternoon sun was oppressive; everyone stayed indoors.


All quiet in San Felipe

I looked for Hacienda de Jesus but by mistake ended up at a different motel nearby. It was cheap, clean and most importantly, had AC!!


Done for the day

I saw palm trees and was happy to stay.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:56 PM   #68
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Great stuff,

I will be keeping an eye on this one, we are planning for Baja in the fall and Victoria to Ushuaia fall 2013. Must get tripod.

I am thinking Manfrotto, but must be light fold compact and not cost $400.00 +.

Ride on and have fun.
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Old 03-23-2012, 04:02 PM   #69
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Nice, how much weight are you running on the F650GS and are those tubeless tyres?
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:05 PM   #70
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Wow, impressive and exciting....I was riveted about your border crossing and glad in turned out OK. Great pics and your a good story teller. Keep it up eh!
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:36 AM   #71
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Any updates

Waz up?? I miss something here?
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:03 PM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadcapDen View Post
Waz up?? I miss something here?
The updates are few and very good, so we have to keep hanging in for the next morsel.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:02 PM   #73
EmilianoXR650L
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Saludos !!!!!

Estaremos pendientes de tu ruta ...... queremos mas fotos !!!!!!!!
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:25 AM   #74
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C'Mon Peekay, we need another installment it has been 2 months since your last one. There must be at least 3 pages of posts to catch up..

Hope all is well with you.
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Old 05-31-2012, 04:12 PM   #75
peekay OP
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The Baja Incident Part I: Prelude

(Prelude)

It was August, and the Baja desert in August is very, very (very!) hot.

My original "plan" (dream) was to solo ride around the world. First stage, Canada to Argentina (just like that.) Then ride through Africa from Cape Town to Egypt. Naturally, Europe, Russia and Mongolia would be next; or maybe Iran, Pakistan and India?

Then there's Southeast Asia, and no RTW would be complete without Australia and perhaps New Zealand.

Finally, (in this dream), I would ship the bike to Alaska, then finish the trip heading east -- triumphant -- Ewan & Charley style. Really, it's all very simple.

The bank account said otherwise.

Being a gadget freak, however, contemplating a solo trip through so many remote & desolate places was my excuse to acquire a satellite phone. I researched different systems and selected an Iridium 9555.



Iridium 9555 (photo courtesy Iridium, LLC)

These phones are rather expensive. After more research I opted for a refurbished unit from Outfitter Satellite. The phone arrived like new and I was happy to save $$$.

Anyway, back to San Felipe and the searing Baja desert.

My Iridium phone doesn't have internet connectivity but can send SMS text messages to email addresses. The nerd that I am, I decided to spend an extra day in San Felipe to program a Twitter "gateway" so I can send "tweets" (and Facebook status updates) using the phone.




Now I can tweet from my satphone. I could be useful, say, during emergencies. (cue dramatic foreshadowing music)

Part II tonight...
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