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Old 05-30-2012, 07:19 PM   #46
Malindi OP
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May 25, 2012 - The ride today was rather dull, mostly highway and then we hit Scottsdale. After battling about 10 miles of washboard, dust and heat, we arrived at my friend Stephen's house. It is in the desert, half an hour from civilization and absolutely beautiful and serene. We intended to spend a few days here but stayed five. In that time we caught up with all the chores deferred to quieter times. We'd also shipped some tires, but by the time the tires were on, numerous other items were fixed, cleaned up and installed.

In the evenings, we enjoyed the absolute silence of the surroundings.



Stephen is a motorcycle aficionado, to say the least, and his workshop is testimony to that.



My list of bike chores was short. Set valves, change oil, change tire, remove dead bugs. Jan's included a fork seal replacement, electrical changes, throttle linkage issues and replacing the broken side stand. That was before we found the cracked exhaust.



All in all, it got fixed, but we certainly needed our time. One of Stephen's specialties is designing aftermarket parts for old BMWs and Jan's bike was fitted with production series #1 of the new Toastertan fork brace.



Scottsdale and its surroundings are beautiful, both by nature and by design. Vast areas of widely spaced low-slung houses embedded in the desert, accessible in a lot of cases only by dirt roads. There are no highway billboards, cell towers and McDonalds signs. Cell towers are hidden in fake Saguaro cactus along the roads and store fronts are tucked behind native greenery, well out of sight. We didn't see a single high rise or office tower.

The next major stop is San Diego before we disappear into "Cartel Country", as Stephen calls it.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:44 PM   #47
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June 2, 2012 - We crossed into Mexico this AM with not a care in the world and made it to San Felipe, on the Baja coast. We were expecting some hassles in Tijuana when crossing, but to our surprise, there was no border to speak of. We simply rode between some dilapidated buildings (surely this was not the border?) and suddenly we found ourselves on a highway of sorts. A few turns later we were on our way to Ensenada.

We were glad to be off the few surface streets in Tijuana we took, providing us with an eyelevel view of despair all around. Not since the dark days of communism have I been in a place that felt so dead and heartless. Debris and people piled up against two or three layers of high walls frosted with barbed wire that would give the old Iron Curtain a run for its money. A few days earlier, we had run into countless border patrol vehicles on the US side when we crossed from Scottsdale to Yuma and onwards to San Diego. It felt a bit like a siege or large military occupation force.

San Felipe is a typical ho-hum tourist town, now devoid of Gringos as the season is over and the heat steadily increases, burning away all but the last American dollars from the mostly empty restaurants on the boulevard.



A few sleepy locals hang around and even the odd vendor hasn't given up targeting the mostly disinterested long-term Gringo residents or the occasional tourists like ourselves.



One of the most notable events of the first day in Mexico was the incessant buzzing of high-powered all-terrain race monsters plowing through loose sand at amazing speed. Onlookers, fuel pit stops and support vehicles clogged the road around Ensenada. We were convinced we'd arrived in the middle of the Baja 1000, a notorious off-road race, but we were told this was standard weekend fare. Overhead, four or more helicopters buzzed around and two of them actually landed in a regular gas station to fill up, drawing a crowd. Now we know where all those narco dollars go.



The cost of the suspension on this car is probably more than the total cost of my bike.



Jan's bike continued to entertain with esoteric problems. Here it is taking a rest.



Our environment is an incredibly comfortable one, with all the trappings, including WiFi and a hammock.



Of course, things went far too easy on day one and some research led us to the realization that the Mexican border, at least in Tijuana, is self-serve. In other words, if you don't stop and chase around for the right stamps and paperwork, you're on your own. Luckily we got sent in the right direction and the next day we rode to the Mexicali crossing, three hours away from San Felipe, and corrected everything. No longer illegal aliens in Mexico, we're currently relaxing the throttle and will be slowing down the travel pace drastically as of now.
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Malindi screwed with this post 06-06-2012 at 06:49 PM
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:56 PM   #48
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You guys are doing it right!

Taking your time and hitting all the best places and awesome views. I've been through many of the places you are travelling, and your great photos and ride report make me want to go back. Very inspiring!

Moab has been one of my favorite places to ride for over 8 years, but with their outrageous motel prices, my friends and I are choosing to spend our travel dollars here in Colorado. I think MOAB wants to be the new Telluride(Colorado) of Utah. Too bad!

Ride Safe,

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Old 06-07-2012, 03:44 AM   #49
AlpineGuerrilla
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Well written and interesting ride report with good pictures. I'm in!

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Originally Posted by Malindi View Post
We were glad to be off the few surface streets in Tijuana we took, providing us with an eyelevel view of despair all around. Not since the dark days of communism have I been in a place that felt so dead and heartless.
May I ask where you are from? Or what you did in that time and place? As I'm generally interested in that part of the world, you caught me with mentioning that in passing.
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Old 06-07-2012, 06:22 AM   #50
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fun

Love watching the bikes!
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:05 AM   #51
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Well written and interesting ride report with good pictures. I'm in!


May I ask where you are from? Or what you did in that time and place? As I'm generally interested in that part of the world, you caught me with mentioning that in passing.
I'm originally from Montreal, but lived in various part of Europe for 20 odd years. I've lived in Vancouver since 1993 and still experience it as if it was the first day I arrived there. When the wall fell, I was in Europe and just before and after, my parents rented out part of our house to European Union invitees from various ex-communist countries, mainly university professors and reformist (and not so reformist) government officials. Countless evenings and pictures taken from the "other side" were a real eye opener. Our favorite part was always taking a newly arrived official to the supermarket. After the shock of the abundance of food, fresh fruit and veggies, they could never get over the fact there was a whole isle with nothing but dog food. It sure put life in perspective.
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Old 06-10-2012, 11:00 PM   #52
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June 8, 2012 - We peeled ourselves away from the comforts of San Felipe and were ready to tackle some dirt roads leading part way down the east side of Baja along the coast. Our destination for the day was Puertocito. But things didn't turn out that way.

Road information is completely unreliable in this part of the world as we found out later. Where we were told the road was "gravel, but graded and ok for a passenger car", we were in fact guided by a construction crew through some of the worst of it. But more on that later.

From San Felipe, the road to Puertocito is paved but potholed. Long-lost hopes of the "American Dream", Mexican style, are reflected in forests of "for sale" signs, both for houses or "beachfront resort land" lining the road to Puertocito. Since we haven't seen a single river in a week or so, I wonder how one even gets water to most of this place.

Our hopes of finding a place to stay in Puertocito evaporated minutes after arriving. The place was deserted, not a single soul to be seen, even after riding up along the bay and back. The gas station was abandoned and everything was covered in fine layer of sand. Even Chernobyl had more character. We pushed on towards Gonzuaga.

Past Puertocito, the brand new road snakes along the coast and makes for great riding.



Twenty or so miles before Gonzuaga, the road abruptly ends and dumps you unceremoniously in the desert, ending a quiet slumber and constant engine hum. After some adjustment, we motor on, but then a detour routes us into uncharted waters. We're off track and the GPS shows no roads or tracks at all. Half an hour later, I flag down a pickup truck and confirm we're actually on the right track to Gonzuaga.

We run into a construction site in full operation and after some hesitation continue on. The sand gets deeper and we are rooster tailing sand as we crawl ahead. After deciding this certainly cannot be correct, a pickup truck with two construction workers shows up, guiding us through. We plow through some more sand and end up at the top of a bluff after carefully avoiding rumbling old and battered Caterpillar equipment. A short but very steep "brake-plus-sliding" drop puts us on level ground and onto more of the old gravel road. We are again reassured we are minutes from Gonzuaga. Even Uri Geller couldn't levitate a car through all this.

Out of nowhere a military check point appears and after the now standard questions and answers, we see the Gonzuaga gas station in the distance. It's closed, as usual.

The one and only place to stay is Alfonsino's and their price was not even in the hemisphere of acceptability. We decided to buy some water and push through, an additional 58 kilometers of what is rumored to be the worst of the track, back to real pavement.

Somewhere along the way on a flat spot, Jan decided to repair a failing handgrip.



Onwards we went and stopped a few hours later at Coco's Corner, a known spot along the way run by a Mexican guy who is a double leg amputee. It's amazing how he gets around. In the 22 years he's been here, he has managed to collect eight telephone book-sized volumes of names of passersby. A veritable institution in this part of the world and a de-rigueur stop for two-wheelers.



A recent entry catalogued the travels of a guy who is traveling on foot to the end of Mexico. It took him nine days to walk from San Felipe, pulling five gallons of water and his belongings. This just to prove the point that no matter how crazy you think your trip is, there is always someone who has one up on you.

It reminds me of the time I was in Pakistan in 2006, when I ran into an American woman, traveling solo, who had been walking around the world for ten years, solo, with barely any possessions on her. Years ago I read about a guy who cycled from Sweden to the foot of mount Everest, climbed to the top, and cycled back home.

The end of the pavement was in sight as Jan pulled over to mention he'd forgotten his camera at Coco's. With the sun setting rapidly, turning back was not an option and we pushed on.

Nightfall saw us arrive in Bahia de Los Angeles, a town devoid of all merit safe for lots of beaches and deep blue water.



The hotel pool is occupied by the local seagulls, but for $40/night we are not going to complain after a long day in the saddle. Tomorrow Jan gets to ride back to Coco's to pick up his forgotten camera while I chase an electrical Gremlin on my motorcycle.
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:15 AM   #53
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Ah, to return to Mexico Lindo where the lodging is $5 a day and the scenery stunningly lovely.

That sure was a nice shot you took of the coast with the islands offshore. I didn't see any boats & thought there would be a good deal around there. I guess not.
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:38 PM   #54
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Well Malindi, you wanted ADV and that is what you got, ADV!

Looks awesome so far. Once you hit the mainland the scenery will change, it will not feel so Mad Max any more.

Keep it on two wheels
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:56 PM   #55
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Ah, to return to Mexico Lindo where the lodging is $5 a day and the scenery stunningly lovely.
Well, we're close. We're in a $12 dollar place in Loreto, A/C and WiFi included.

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That sure was a nice shot you took of the coast with the islands offshore. I didn't see any boats & thought there would be a good deal around there. I guess not.
5 boats so far on the entire coast. Pleasure craft that is. Not a single non-Mexican biker spotted in a few weeks either. Weird. Loreto (we just got here) is dead, zero tourists and the restaurant guy was bemoaning his fate.
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Old 06-12-2012, 07:01 AM   #56
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Weird. Loreto (we just got here) is dead, zero tourists and the restaurant guy was bemoaning his fate.
Is it tourism drop off or seasonal variations he's moaning about? I really had no idea that many tourists ran the east coast of Baja.
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:50 PM   #57
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June 13, 2012 - From Bahia de Los Angeles, we made two more stops before we rolled into La Paz, from where we are taking the ferry to Mazatlan. Our first stop was in Santa Rosalia, where we were entertained by a live arrest right in front of our hotel, a fire just next to our hotel involving multiple fire trucks, and the posting of a police watch for the night with our bikes which were securely locked up around an electricity pole.

Earlier in the evening, we had our first police experience as we noticed being followed, very overtly, by a uniformed Policia de Santa Rosalia while we took a stroll through town. Despite all this, the night passed uneventfully and the next day we pressed on to Loreto. The road at this point was a bit more reliable and the scenery was perfect.



It was a nice change from the monotone cactus theme from earlier days.



Loreto was deserted. Even the malecon was empty at night with nary a local to be seen. Earlier in the day my headlight failed and I got to enjoy some sunshine while I tried to figure out how the previous owner had wired certain things. In 2006 I had only a few problems, but this time I've had to dig into the spare parts box once or twice already. Here I was, juggling a wiring diagram along with a voltmeter.

La Paz has a bit more life to it after a string of relatively monotone towns with pretty beaches. Finally the big camera saw some daylight again.



The malecon in La Paz is more than a few miles long it seems and lined with coconut trees.



Even the hotel had a bit more character and I gladly accepted an invite to park the bike behind closed doors for the night.



Tomorrow we're off to Mazatlan and will continue south along the coast, dipping inland for places such as Morelia and Oaxaca.
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:51 PM   #58
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Is it tourism drop off or seasonal variations he's moaning about? I really had no idea that many tourists ran the east coast of Baja.
Tourism drop off, very seriously so.
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:24 PM   #59
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Great ride report, looking forward to more! Safe Travels. -Subscribed
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:55 PM   #60
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Great ride report, looking forward to more! Safe Travels. -Subscribed
Thanks! Don't forget the slideshow page. Lots more pics there, as well as pics from an earlier trip this year to Thailand.
http://www.nohorizons.net/2012/slideshows.html
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