Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim... (Endure and persevere; someday this pain will be of use to you...) --Ovid, Elegy XI *Bear with me...this is an attempt, however long and circuitous and overanalytical, to make sense of an adventure ride that went sideways, and to prevent it from happening again. If this information ends up being of use to me or anyone else, it was worth it. Heck, it was worth it anyway.* Ever since hearing of a co-worker's adventures riding in Baja, I'd wanted to head south on the DR650s. I was envisioning endless blue ocean and white beaches, fish tacos, and copious beer under a palm-leaf palapa with my sweetheart. We'd packed tools, supplies, food and clothes carefully, gotten Mexican insurance from Baja Bound, photocopied maps and important documents, secured our passports, prepped the bikes with fresh knobbies and oil, and loaded everything into the truck in the pouring rain for the long trip south. The weather in Oakland was less than tropical as T and I, my sweetie and riding partner, loaded the truck. A couple of days spending Christmas with my family made us even more eager to head out into the desert for some beauty, adventure and solitude. Especially solitude. I'd made reservations for the first couple of nights at a hot springs campground recommended by a couple of folks I know and trust—it seemed to be far enough south of the border to be safe, as well as a beautiful and peaceful spot on the edge of the desert. When morning broke on the 26th, though, it was iron grey, miserably cold, and pissing rain. I groaned and turned over, unable to will myself to get up for another half an hour to face loading the truck in yet another downpour. We dropped our Christmas clothes and extra gear at my folks' house, then continued south to my uncle's ranch (can't get there before 10, he's never awake before then, of course), where we unloaded and staged. Finally, it's time to unload and ride! My uncle's place, Escondido I'd taped over our ignitions and gas tanks, but got some water in my tank anyhow; the bike sputtered and bucked and died until I cleared the float bowl, and finally, we were off. Essentially, the morning was consumed by small delays, and our start time was later than planned. Hwy 94 to Tecate was nice and twisty, but slower than expected, and heavy with traffic. On our knobbies and loaded with camping gear, it took time. In Tecate, it took a bit longer to show our passports, get our tourist cards signed off and paid for, and get on the road than I'd hoped for—you park, go into the immigration office, fill out your forms, parade out to the cashier in the conveniently-located booth outside to pay your $25, then back into the office where the stern official stamps your cards, and off you go. The immigration officer was curious about us, and asked lots of questions. Then, shaking a little with anticipation, we were off in the rundown streets of Tecate, out onto the road, and onto the Mexican highway. It was T's first international border crossing by motorcycle. The weather, too, was pretty cold, and we hadn't taken time for more than snacks all day. Up on the Sierra Juarez plateau in the village of Rumorosa, we stopped for gas and downed energy bars in the freezing wind, and I was glad I'd taken the time to put on those heated grips on both bikes. We fascinated a local ranching couple, who got out of their pickup to chat with us. We learned that their son was a motocross racer, and they asked how far we'd come, wished us luck, and snapped photos of us, posing with Mama. We were small-time motorcycle stars already! The afternoon was getting long, now. But Rumorosa was unappealing as well as cold, and I didn't want to take the time for a meal, which would force us to ride in the dark down the notoriously dangerous section of Mexico's Highway 2D that twists like a coiled snake down the steep escarpment of Baja's Sierra Juarez mountains. And after all, I'd read plenty about getting as far south of the riskier Baja border zone as possible before dark. These winter days are so short! So, we chewed our cold, stiff energy bars in the Pemex gas station parking lot, shivered, laughed, and swung stiff legs over cold saddles. After a bit of confusion at the tollbooth, demonstrating once again that bureaucracy is confusing and arbitrary in any language, the barrier was raised, we were over the tooth-shaking topes (think rumble strips on steroids, and a big thing to watch out for in Baja), and on to the scenic highway. It was pretty exhilarating zooming down the canyon, lit up with warning signs—Curva Peligrosa!—and an almost-full moon was rising over the ruddy, tumbled granite boulders of the mountain range. The knobbies hummed around the turns. The air warmed as the road flattened out into low desert at last, the soldiers at the military checkpoint on the road waved us through, and our turnoff onto the dirt road towards Cañon Guadalupe and the hot springs was well marked, wide and flat, although marked private on both sides for the first stretch. Still, after a couple of miles of standing up over washboard, it was time to stop and check in. Never ride at night in Baja, they say. And yet here we were.