5 weeks in baja

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by gsstampeder, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. gsstampeder

    gsstampeder Long timer

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    Riding my bike down the Baja had been my dream from the day I bought my bike. Trying to make this dream a reality was always a struggle. Always one thing or another came in the way. Every summer I would plan to do it in the Fall, and by Fall I would always end up postponing it to the Spring. Then Spring would roll around and I would have to wait again til Fall....It became a vicious circle of me never getting to the point where I could actually DO the trip. I wasn't sure either if I should be thinking about such a trip alone. I had some (read: a bit) experience riding dirt and even a few rocky trails....but would that be enough experience to prep me for the Baja? I had read lots of RR's and something about doing this trip solo had me intrigued.
    I had a lot of personal.....stuff I was dealing with and thought perhaps the whole solo experience was just the ticket to get my life figured out. Or even just figure how to get it back on track. Or if nothing else, just to get away from the mess I was leaving behind.....

    Now was the time....this year was different. I had the time-no job. I had the finances-sold my house. And then.... g/f....well things kinda took a turn for the not-so-good just as I was planning to leave. Shit....

    Now, this year, this time, there was nothing stopping me....just kinda bummed not to be meeting my g/f along the way.
    But I was going....I had to.

    My plan was to ship my bike to Tucson and fly down and begin my adventure from there. My son lives in Newport Beach so I figured I'd ride out and spend some time visiting him before heading south into Baja.
    I left Ottawa, and it's four feet of snow, on Dec. 15th. I wasn't scheduled to return until Jan. 20th. Should give me enough time to explore Baja?!?
    I'd never spent more then 4 days riding consecutively, so I wasn't even sure how I was going to handle this much time on the bike. I knew (or thought I did) that Baja riding was going to be much different then anything I had ever ridden before. Little did I know how different. And five weeks? Really?

    My plan was....well I had no plan. I wasn't sure even how far south I was going to get. I knew there were some places that I really wanted to see....Gonzaga, Bay of LA, Punta San Franciquito, Bay of Turtles and....I have a buddy with a rather nice place (palace) in Cabo, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do the drive from Loreto to La Paz. Too much highway. Although, judging from my maps and research, I thought that from La Paz to Cabo could also be lotsa fun. All I really knew was I wouldn't know until it was time to know...? huh?.
    I'd ride til I got tired and if I needed a break, I'd stop and take one. I had driven down Mex 1, several times, but never on my bike. And this trip was more about avoiding Mex 1 - as much as possible. I was looking for dirt. Lotsa dirt! And beaches. Lotsa beaches!
    Never really figured the rocks and sand into the equation.....Yeah, I knew Baja - Right!:wink:

    I had shipped my bike to a fellow Baja adventurer. Frank, from zmw's in Tucson, handled everything for me in getting my bike ready the day I arrived. He helped me pick-up the bike from the shippers warehouse, put new tires on. Gave me some good Baja maps, heck he even picked me up at the airport! Whatta guy!:clap

    So there I was, finally on my bike, all geared up and ready to go.....but it was already 4PM, it would be dark soon and I hate riding after dark, especially when I don't know the area. But I had to get a start. I was itchin to go. And so made tracks for California. I got as far as I could that day/nite before finally getting a hotel in bum-fuk-nowhere. I would get an early start in the morning and reach Newport Beach by afternoon. Perfect!

    Frank had suggested to take Highway 8 to the coast. Said it was more interesting then the #10 highway. Told me about the dateshakes in Dateland. I set my gps to Dateland and started out the following morning. I finally made it to Dateland and pulled off the highway in search of a dateshake.
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Hmmm...did Frank forget to tell me something about 'Dateland'?
    #1
  2. gsstampeder

    gsstampeder Long timer

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    Ater spending a few days visting my son I was finally ready to get south. Baja was waiting. And so was I. I decided to drive out to Palm Springs and take the highway south from there to 'see' the Salton Sea. Don't ask why. I just thought it would be interesting to see this sea. I pulled into Palm Springs and decided to take a look around, still had lotsa time before I needed to be in El Centro, so I'd have some lunch and stretch the legs. During lunch I thought about staying in Palm Springs and riding out to Joshua Tree.
    Is there really a tree named Joshua?:1drink
    But I'm anxious to get into Baja. So I decide to get riding. I could always swing by this way after and see this tree named Joshua....So I get to my bike and immediately notice my back tire is flat. Ahhhh crap! A flat this early in my trip? My bike is parked near main st. And it's pretty busy, and i'm all geared up in my Charlie suit looking like I just landed from the moon. I think some smartass even asked me where my spaceship was parked:rofl But anyways, I get to checking my tire loooking for obvious signs of puncture and found none. So I pull out my airpump and start filling the tire. I get it filled to the point that I can now here the air leaking out. Crap again! I figure to fill it reeeeeeal full and dart to a bike shop. And I do. There was one not too far away, but then again, is anything really far away in Palm Springs? So after changing the tube and reinstalling the tire I'm set to go, but dammit, it's already 4PM. Might better just spend the nite in Palm Springs. Palm Springs is nasty expensive. But oh well, it's all part of the fun. I just wish fun wouldn't cost so much.....so early!
    Well, one nite turned into two nites, what with all the hot sun and pools and ice cold beers and then the effect it was having on me and my pasty white Canadian...soul. So I stayed two nites. Big Deal I was not on any stinkin schedule. What's another day? I woke up early the next day and by mid afternoon i was ready to start packing for El Centro. I can make it to El Centro in a coupla hours, no sense rushing.

    I pull into El Centro and find one of those $40/nite hotels and call it a day. I wake up early the next day and get my bike packed and ride around the corner to get a coffee. When.....what's that I smell? Ahh Crap - coolant. Sure enough, I check the weep hole and it's leaking. And it's Monday. Isn't Monday a universal holiday for bike shops? I did manage to find an open shop in San Diego, so back I go. $400 dollars and 4 1/2 hours later I'm out the door. Except by now it is 'already 4PM....guess I'm staying in San Diego tonite. San Diego is another nasty expensive town. But I check into a room and check the weather report back in Ottawa and suddenly I feel really good about being in San Diego.:lol3
    Next day I am up and packed and ready to ride.....in the rain? This trip is definitely starting on a weird note. Cold and wet in San Diego? Furtunately it dries up fast and I'm in Tecate by 10 AM and in 'the bank' in line paying for my tourist card after which I pull out some American pesos and try and convert to Mexican dollars. Nope....the teller told me I needed to go to 'the bank'. Huh? I was in 'the bank'???....I left.
    Welcome to Mexico - land of the confused gringo!

    But alast, finally...here I was in Mexico. Riding the Baja on my bike, c/w new waterpump, and doing so by myself. It felt great. I made tracks for Ensenada, which I really had no plans to see. Ask me why, no wait don't ask please. I'd rather forget that nite!
    Except for the detour into san Diego...my plan was to highball it to San Felipe and then let the Baja happen as it might...But now I was riding to Ensenada on wet roads and it was cold. Dam cold...well cold for baja. By the time I hit Ensenada I was having second thoughts about getting to san Felipe. I was cold and the clouds looked threatening. And it was windy. Very windy. But after lunch at some sidestand in which I ate two of something. I had no idea what I was eating...but boy, was it good! Now, I was ready to ride again. So it was off to San Felipe. Did I mention the wind yet? I took the #3 across the mountains to san Felipe and I had stopped to take a picture...my battery recharged itself?...and while stopped, the freakin wind knocked my bike over! It was windy! And my nice clean shiny bike was on it's side...getting all dirty. And scratched!
    Dust storm in the valley
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    #2
  3. Michhub

    Michhub Major Medical

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    :lurk This sounds interesting...
    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    you got the right idea.. a great way to get your life figured out by riding the 2 wheeled therapist and some sole helmet time.. :thumb

    :lurk
    #4
  5. Jman955i

    Jman955i Falls Down A Lot

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    :lurk :lurk in
    #5
  6. Bgunn

    Bgunn Mucha distancia

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    This sounds like a working formula.....:clap
    #6
  7. Roguester

    Roguester Adventurer

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    OH! very nice start. I'll be along for the...adventure.
    #7
  8. xymotic

    xymotic Long timer

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    :lurk
    #8
  9. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    :lurk
    #9
  10. gsstampeder

    gsstampeder Long timer

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    As I came down to sea level the clouds were now only in my rear view mirrors. Nothin but blue skies and warmer temps. Ahhh Baja....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Riding in to San felipe I met up with two guys on KLR's. They were here from Germany to explore Baja and had no plans-no schedule.....sounds familiar. We got a coupla rooms at a cheap hotel and cleaned up before heading out for beers and grub, and of course, to exchange stories. Both of these guys were experienced riders and had travelled lots. I showed them my map and told them my points of interest. They just looked at each other and said 'Yah, dats gud, we go too'' So we would rode together to Gonzaga the next day.
    Thomas and Dietmar...
    [​IMG][/IMG][​IMG][/IMG]
    riding down the gravel road on our way to Gonzaga, I kinda thought to myself, 'I was expecting a much rougher ride'. Hmmmm....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Did I mention that I found the charger for my camera? And I would have taken more pics on the road to Gonzaga....but my hands were shaking too much. The road definitely got rougher and tougher. I eventually tried the sand along the side and after, ummmm, some getting used to...I was able to buzz along quite comfortably. Well at least I thought so....:dunno
    We made it to Gonzaga and were treated with some cold beers and fish tacos. Mmmmm fish tacos.
    And woke to this
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Neither of the Germans had heard of ADVrider:huh and knew nothing of Coco's corner.:eek1 I showed them where it was on my map and told them that's where I was heading. I didn't want to slow these guys down and wanted to give them the opportunity to bolt and go on there own. I was enjoying their company but wanted to give them an out as well.
    We continued on the next day to Coco's
    and tougher terrain....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    until finally reaching Coco's for a cold coke
    Coco you got some place here...
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    [​IMG][/IMG]
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    We left Coco's with a new appreciation for life and the good fortunes we enjoy. Thx Coco! It was now on to Bay of LA. I had not heard much about this town, other then it was worth the drive. Even tho after a short (?) time past Coco's we hit slab all the way to B of LA.
    Pulled into town and went for food first then a room. I was somehow expecting more. Everything so far had been so stunning visually and I just didn't get that feel from this town. But hey, we found a room we could fit all three bikes in and it was....right on the beach. And it was also....
    Feliz Navidad.....eve?
    So we bought one of those awful Christmas beers and had a toast.
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Christmas morning, and I DO mean morning I awoke to the sounds of Mexican music played loudly on a cheap stereo just outside my room. I thought Ok, it must be time to get up. But wait, it's still dark....it was about 5AM!!!
    These locals enjoyed their music for a coupla more hours before finally heading....off to bed I suspect.

    Merry Christmas everyone!
    The stereophonics....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Our room.....or as I liked to call it. Villa B.L.A.
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Christmas morning we stocked up on Gatorade and cookies for our drive. It was off to Punta San Franciquito today.
    Lotsa dirt!:clap
    And perhaps some sand:evil
    #10
  11. IdeaWife

    IdeaWife Been here awhile

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    In! :clap



    :lurk
    #11
  12. gsstampeder

    gsstampeder Long timer

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    Christmas Day in Baja, no waking up to the smell of fresh coffee, or the sounds of Xmas carols, (well, at least not any of the carols I recognize) and certainly no exchanging of gifts, you had nobody to exchange with..... It is definitely a strange feeling to sit and stare out at the ocean while you know your family are waking to a very normal snowy xmas morning. Your thoughts can drift from melancholy and solitude to excitement for what lies ahead.

    Once i was on the road it was easier to not think about everything...and everyone I had left behind. I was in Baja now and had this to think about....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    and this....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    We stopped on route to detour out to san Rafael. Met our host, Pancho, who had lived in his home on the beach for 25 years. Made us coffee, showed us around, some trees he had planted 10-15 years earlier. Amazing!
    He had so little, or so it seemed, yet he lived with such contentment.
    Pancho's home...Yes it was windy!
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Cheers Pancho...and Feliz Navidad
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    We left Pancho's and got back on track to San Francisquito. I had heard conflicting stories from, 'there was nothing left there', to 'it had been bought out and it was being renovated'. Renovations in Baja? But we decided that we would check it out. So off we went.
    The road started to get a bit more difficult as well
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    and there were critters...
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    We made it to Francisquito for lunch....the place has some palapas to camp in and a beautiful beach....and some good food. But nobody is in a hurry to do anything here. Mind you it was Christmas....it just didn't feel like it.
    We ordered lunch and waited for about an hour for some fish tacos, mmmmfish tacos.
    Punta San Francisquito....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    and lunch....mmmmm
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    followed by a quick nap (I swear the Germans slipped that mag under my hand whilst I was sleeping)
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    After my nap.....we decided we would try and get to Guerro Negro that nite.:lol3 It was still early in the day,and the Germans had no cash left and needed a bank. So we set out for El Arco and the highway...
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    We were looking for our turn in the 'road' and somehow missed it. Ahh crap....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    and the sun was setting fast. We had rode down one path that quickly turned to deep sand and I couldn't handle it worth shit. My tires were set too firm and my bike was too heavy and....oh yeah, I didn't know how to ride deep sand. I 'heard' and the German's 'confirmed' that it is easier to go fast and get your weight back and just let the bike ride the sand. Yeah right....I clipped a cactus tree so hard I had cactus juice splattered everywhere. Sorry no pics, maybe the Germans have one. And it was only my pannier that made contact....but the fuckin thing exploded on contact. Saw it the next day and it looked like someone took a chainsaw to it.:rofl
    Eventually we ran out of daylight and decided to camp next to a dead fallen cactus tree. One that had died long before the one I had just murdered.
    We set camp and got a fire going quickly, it was starting to get a bit cool too
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    And 'cool' it got....in the morning we had frost on our bikes. And a gorgeous dessert sunrise to greet our new day...
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    #12
  13. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

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    I'm in!
    I love Baja--riding there is indeed cleansing for the soul.
    :lurk
    #13
  14. TomN

    TomN Long timer

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    Good stuff
    #14
  15. BHW

    BHW Long timer

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    Can't wait for more.
    #15
  16. danceswithcages

    danceswithcages Been here awhile

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    Spending 3 weeks in December riding Baja. Really enjoying your RR!
    :lurk :lurk :lurk
    #16
  17. gsstampeder

    gsstampeder Long timer

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    We woke up cold and hungry. I had the fire going in record time. Those old cactus trees burn real good. And fast. The Germans were a little more prepared then I, with and my gatorade and cookies, they had Tortillas and Nutella....I was jealous and they could tell, and soon they were sharing some nutella tortillas with me in exchange for a few vanilla cookies. Life was good. Well it was good in the Baja, but not so much at home. And travelling with my new friends was not giving me the time to do much soul searching. But there was still lotsa trip left.....Lots.
    We had driven more then we had thought we would and gas was becoming a real issue. We thought we'd have enough to reach at least the highway, but not much more. There was a ranch a short distance from san Francisquito that had a gas for sale sign and we thought it best to circle back and buy a gallon each. Good decision.
    We found the ranch and rode up to a closed gate. We sat there parked like a bunch noobs that we were until we realized....ain't nobody comin out to open it for us. So we opened (and shut) it ourselves and rode up to the ranch. Oscar the owner greeted us with a handshake and a smile. Asked us how much gas we needed. We told him a gallon each and he set one of his....? guys to siphon 3 gallons from his truck. He then took us for a tour of his ranch. Quite impressive really, he grew oranges from funneling the rain water from the hills behind his house and he made coal for cooking as well bricks for his new house. We chatted while the gas was being 'pumped' and told him of our nite in the dessert. He then shouted something to somewhere inside his house and the next thing you know his wife is bringing out a plate of food. Are you kidding? I love you Oscar! We then paid for our gas and before leaving he poured us a shot of good tequilla and gave us directions how to reach the highway ih a day.:1drink
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    And off we went. Fresh gas, good food, a shot of tequilla and a new friend.
    Thx Oscar!
    Funny how Fox Media and the likes never report on stories like this from Mexico isn't it. Before I left for this trip all I heard was how risky this trip would be...so unsafe in Mexico now. Too bad the majority feel this way and don't know the truth...then again:wink:
    Another lil sidebar here. Before leaving Gonzaga, I had parked at the super-mini across from the Pemex station and ran in to get some....cookies and gatorade and I was getting back on my bike when i thought i felt something fall from me. I did a quick look and saw nothing so proceeded to put my helmet and gloves back on. I was just ready to turn the key when a kid from the millitary truck parked next to me jumps out and runs over beside me, he reaches down and picks up my money clip. Really? 10 seconds from now I would have been driving away...broke, if not for the 'honest kid' parked next to me. Yeah, he was military...but the fact is he saw it and did the right thing. There was at least 4000+ pesos in the clip. I sat there for a minute collecting myself and started to pull some money out (it wasn't easy with so many bills folded up) when I saw him shaking his head and waving 'no.' Really?
    That still blows me away!

    Leaving Oscar's
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    So much damn fun
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Now I don't have a lot of dirt experience but I can tell you travelling 60-70 mph down a road like this is just unbelievably fun
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    and it just goes on and on and....
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    There was a nasty rough road as you approached the highway....or there was this just off to the side. I liked it down here way better.
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    We finally hit the pavement and booted it to Guerro Negro. We found a cheap hotel and I secured the bike:clap
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    and then we hit the supermarket for some meat to BBQ. Turns out while I was off checking emails Thomas, bless his soul, had found us a grill to cook on. I tell ya, these Germans are thrifty as all hell. And cheap too:evil
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Perhaps not the cleanest grill I've cooked on but it kinda helped disguise the taste of the green wood we were using for coals. If only we'd known earlier. I'm sure Oscar would have given us some real cooking coal:freaky
    [​IMG][/IMG]
    Guess who's steak is who's?
    Tomorrow we hit the Pacific coast....
    #17
  18. Rob.G

    Rob.G Mostly Harmless

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    Sounds like a great trip!

    Rob
    #18
  19. Odysseus

    Odysseus Stoic Philosopher

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    Thanks for taking us along!
    #19
  20. gsstampeder

    gsstampeder Long timer

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    It was a great trip!
    And I'm only too happy to share it with others.
    I know I have sat back and read my share of RR's from Baja and enjoyed them all. Each RR seems to bring out a whole new adventure. Even if the same shit happens, only to another adv seeker. Their adventure is their own to live and interpret as they see it unfold. Baja does that...at least to me. Cause it definitely is a land of adventure.

    I actually ended up leaving my bike in Tucson, and all indications point to me heading back for a few more weeks.

    Sadly, things did not turn out well upon my return.
    So I may need more 'cleansing' and I can't think of a better place then Baja. Which is why I am pushing to get this RR finished.

    So I can go and live another!:1drink
    #20