A Few Days Solo in Baja

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by kobukan, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. azcagiva

    azcagiva new orange flavor

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,159
    Location:
    Camp Verde, AZ
    Great report. I have always wanted to check out the hot springs, looks like I will next time I am down there.

    Thanks for taking the time to do the report.

    -John
    #41
  2. BajaJim

    BajaJim Dirt Research

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    128
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    Kokuban,

    I know the old man at Ramona's. He is her husband. And I know Ramona, from 35 years ago and also more recently.

    Their place was the only place to get gas in that area when riding from San Diego to Mike's and beyond.

    One day when separated from my riding buddies during a thunderstorm, I sat with Ramona and her husband under their "balcony". Another time they asked us in and we watch Ramona's daughter pluck the feathers from a chicken and prepare it for dinner.

    God bless Ramona and her husband. They are not young and I hope they are still alive.

    It sounds like you had a great trip. More power to you. Continue!

    Jim
    #42
  3. kobukan

    kobukan almost gnarly

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,712
    Location:
    Saco ME
    This is a great example of the downside of not speaking the language. I found I could get by just fine under normal circumstances looking for the usual everyday things like food, gas and camping. In fact, I joked with people after the trip that I got by on three words; "gaso, campo, and taco." There's a great deal of truth to that, but if you want to converse with the locals or find yourself in an unusual situation, as I was that evening, it get's much more difficult, if not impossible.

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UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif][if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} </style> <![endif]--> That evening, Wednesday 2/22/12 was a &#8220;new moon&#8221; - meaning there was no moon in the sky, making it the darkest of nights! That didn't help! I'm sure my encounter with the old gentleman, who was probably Ramona's husband, would have been very different if I spoke the language. I've heard nothing but great things about the two of them.
    #43
  4. Pantah

    Pantah Red Sox Nation

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,366
    Location:
    India Wharf
    Wow - You are pretty good at this adventure stuff! :thumb

    I like your travel kit. Mine is similar, but I don't have a hard case for my tools, spares and such. I put my camp gear in one wolfman bag, and clothing in the other. My rear duffel has the tent poles, tools, spares and maybe my jacket liner. Not really a good combo. I have my little doodads, extra gloves, camera etc in a tank bag. I like your set-up better. Not sure my tale plate would hold a pelican, though. I'll look into it. Obviously, my Wolfan bags are stuffed alot taller than yours. Sort of clumsy travelling.

    Great report. Hope you get to make another trip out there before it gets too hot.
    #44
  5. kobukan

    kobukan almost gnarly

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,712
    Location:
    Saco ME
    Actually, I usually don't use a rear hard case, but this bike came with one. I didn't think I'd like it and almost removed it without even trying it, but I decided to give it a try since it was there and I ended up loving it. It's rugged, waterproof, lockable, holds quite a bit of stuff and is easy to access. On my bikes back in Maine I use an additional dry bag on the rear instead of the hard case - not as neat, but it works. I'm a big fan of tank bags - have them on all my bikes except the DR650's. I use a small Wolfman Enduro tank bag on my DR350, but when I tried putting it on the 650 there just didn't seem to be enough room for it. Seemed a little odd, but it just didn't work for me. The stuff I'd usually put in the tank bag fit just fine in my jacket pockets.
    #45
  6. manshoon

    manshoon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    335
    Location:
    Pnw
    Great ride report and very detailed. Sounds like a fun time to be down in Baja. What was the outside temps during the day riding ? I was wondering how cold it got at night also. Thanks for sharing your experience down there.
    #46
  7. kobukan

    kobukan almost gnarly

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,712
    Location:
    Saco ME
    It was a cold night in the cabin. I slept in my sleeping bag wearing my riding gear to stay warm though and had a pretty good night. I woke up to another beautiful morning and took a little walk around to see what Laguna Hanson looked like in daylight and snapped a few pics. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Laguna Hanson is a small lake in the mountains at an elevation of about 5,000 feet. There were lots of ducks in the lake in the morning.
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    There are a lot of big pine trees - different than what I had seen elsewhere in Baja
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    Solar power
    [​IMG]

    I planned to continue on the dirt road up to Rumorosa, which would be about forty miles of dirt, and then head east on MEX-2 toward Mexicali to cross back into the US. From there I’d have about a seven hour slab ride back to Sierra Vista.

    Once again, I wasn’t sure how scenic the dirt ride to Rumorosa would be, but like just about everywhere else it turned out to be a really nice ride through the mountains. There was frost on the ground when I got up so I bundled up and put the heated gloves on, but didn’t really think I’d need to plug them in because they're pretty warm anyway and I wouldn’t be going that fast. Wrong! It was darn cold out there - and I’m used to riding year-round in Maine winters. About a mile up the road I stopped to wire them up and it was total quiet, just like the night before, then I heard a pack of coyotes howling not too far away. It may have only been two or three, but it sounded like more. It was nice to listen to early in the morning up in the mountains with nobody around - I just hoped they weren’t moto chasers!
    [​IMG]

    The puddles were frozen
    [​IMG]

    The heated gloves warmed my hands up quickly and it was a really nice ride up to Rumorosa.
    [​IMG]

    The dirt road continued along at about 5,000 feet elevation
    [​IMG]

    It's always reassuring to know you're headed in the right direction
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    Jut before Rumorosa I passed this - no idea what it was
    [​IMG]

    When I reached MEX-2 I had about fifty miles to go to pass through Mexicali to the border, and I was pretty sure all the good stuff was behind me, but I was very pleasantly surprised again. Baja is awesome!

    Just east of Rumorosa MEX-2 becomes a beautiful highway that winds up through mountains and then down onto the dry lake bed where the Laguna Salada road heads in toward Canyon de Guadalupe. This highway was beautiful and the views were spectacular. Through the mountainous area the highway is actually divided so that the east and west lanes take completely different routes through the mountains and each direction has two lanes so there’s no getting stuck behind slower traffic. It was awesome!
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    Shortly after coming down out of the mountains I came to a Federal Policia checkpoint. One car and two officers with automatic weapons standing in the road, but they just politely waved me through without stopping.

    The turnoff to Canyon de Guadalupe where I spent the first night . . . I had come full circle
    [​IMG]

    Closer to Mexicali I came to a toll booth. I only passed through two tolls while in Baja, both were near Mexicali. This one was staffed by a very nice young lady who spoke a few words of English. She told me the toll was twenty pesos. Perfect! Other than a few coins, the only Mexican money I had left was a 20-peso bill, which I was more than happy to part with at this point.

    I made it through Mexicali to the border crossing area no problem, but there was a long line of cars, and I had apparently missed a sign for a much faster lane that allowed motorcycles. As I was sitting in three lanes of traffic about a tenth of a mile from the checkpoint (barely moving) a guy in a car next to me kept telling me to get in the far left lane, but I couldn’t because there was a concrete barrier so I just kept creeping along with traffic. A couple minutes later the same guy was standing next to me telling me to split the lanes and move ahead. I’m not sure what he did with his car, and I don’t know if he was US or Mexican - he spoke English with a heavy accent. He asked me if it was my first time crossing the border there, and I said yes, then he told me I should have taken the far left lane for bikes and it was OK to split the lanes and move up to the front, but the cars were packed in pretty tight and there was only about a foot between them. But, he was out there directing traffic and making a path for me and with his help I was able to move all the way up through the line to the front and over to the left lane where I was then next in line to go through. I was amazed that he did all that just to help some stranger on a bike. I crossed through without any difficulty, and even the US border guy was asking me about my bike and telling me about the upcoming Baja 250 race. I’m telling you, everyone in and around Baja loves bikes!

    And so . . . I was back in the good old U.S. of A., land of credit cards, and I stopped at the first gas station I saw because I was just about out! The next stop was back at the Subway restaurant where I had lunch on Monday before heading into Baja. I had a sandwich, called my brother to let him know I should be back in Sierra Vista around 7:00-8:00 pm, then hit the road again.
    [​IMG]

    I made it back to Sierra Vista around 7:30 pm after another long day on the road. It was a great trip, and it was great to be back.
    [​IMG]

    If you recall, at the beginning of this ride report I said that opinions on riding Baja were split pretty much right down the middle. There were those who said Mexico is too dangerous, don’t even consider going there, especially by yourself - the drug cartels will kill you, there are banditos, crooked cops, scary military checkpoints everywhere, federali ’s will get you and lock you up forever, etc., etc. Then there were those who said Baja is a wonderful place full of friendly people, don’t do anything stupid and you’ll be fine. And that what I noticed during my research was that the naysayers were typically people who had never been to Baja, and those who said it was a wonderful place full of friendly people were the ones who had actually been there.

    Well, I’m happy to have joined the group who has been there and can tell you that Baja is a wonderful place full of friendly people, don’t do anything stupid and you’ll be fine. I didn’t encounter any banditos or crooked cops, the military checkpoints certainly weren’t scary, and the federali’s just politely waved me right on by.

    I had also said that I planned a three-day loop around northern Baja to get a feel for what Baja was really like, what the people were like, and what the roads were like.

    Here’s a brief summary of what I learned about Baja in my short trip around Baja North.
    · There's nothing scary about Baja.
    · Baja is a beautiful and diverse place full of beaches and mountains.
    · Dual sport riding is fantastic in Baja.
    · It’s really a pretty big area, and not very populated.
    · Speaking Spanish would be helpful, but you’ll be OK even if you don’t (just remember: “gaso, campo, and taco!) :D
    · Everyone in Baja seems to love bikes, even the soldiers at the military checkpoints.
    · Everyone was friendly and helpful, more so than just about anywhere I’ve been.

    If you've been thinking about going to Baja - do your homework just like you would for any other adventure, then . . . just do it!
    #47
  8. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,957
    Location:
    Southern Maine
    Awesome ride and report! :clap
    #48
  9. DCZ

    DCZ Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    Oddometer:
    156
    Location:
    Dove Creek, Co.
    Thanks for a great ride report!

    I am still trying to find the time and courage to make the trip to Baja - reports like yours make me feel like I shouldn't put it off any longer.

    Rick
    #49
  10. KFhunter

    KFhunter Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    N/E WA
    Thanks for you RR

    Ride Baja is in the bucketlist
    #50
  11. GB007

    GB007 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    284
    Location:
    Southern California, USA
    Seems you had a great adventure! Very nice and detailed report... It reminded me from a trip I took some years ago with a friend who knows Baja well. I also did the same loop, staed at canon de Guadalupe, went to Gonzaga Bay, Cocos and Laguna Hansen. I am a native Spanish speaker as I was raised in Guadalajara, but have lived too many years in California. I was also kind of hesitant about my trip, but all went well. Actually, when we arrived to Cocos's, he sent us on our way as some one had stoled a smal air plane in the area and the police and military where looking for the acomplice... Trucks with machine guns arrived, but nobody bothered us... We left all excited feeling as James Bond.. Lol. Riding from Santo Thomas to El Rosario through dirt, we mis-calculated the distance a rode very technical muddy trail in the middle of the black pitch night running out of gasoline (we barely made it, transferring some gas from another bike), very hungry, and no water... But we made it and had lots of fun! Thanks for bringing back some good memories! :rofl
    #51
  12. Ozmandrew

    Ozmandrew Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Southbay / SoCal
    Glad you had a great experience in Baja. Enjoyed the fotos & candid write up. I've spent a lot of time there & speak fluent spanish & its not without its problems but IMHO its the greatest off road adventure destination in North America no doubt.
    #52
  13. Haywood

    Haywood Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    404
    Location:
    Chula Vista,CA (spittin' distance from Baja)
    Good job! With the report AND finding your way around in the dak in a place you have never seen before. I have been through those trails in the daytime, but never solo at night. That's some 'adventuring' right there.
    #53
  14. caljw

    caljw Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    398
    Location:
    San Diego
    Agreed. That trail at night...bolas! But I really enjoyed your report makes me want to get right back down there.
    #54
  15. David13

    David13 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    619
    Location:
    Los Angeles area (SoBay)
    I'm leaving to go back down on Saturday.
    I was down there three weeks ago, and broke down at La Rumorosa, at the overlook. I got towed into Mexicali, and crossed back on Sunday afternoon. I found out about the left lane right away, as there were hundreds and hundreds of cars in line at that time.
    Excellent report.
    dc
    #55
  16. Happy Golly

    Happy Golly n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1
    Great Report = Great Escape to read durning my lunch break. Enjoyed your insight and pictures. Thank you for your report
    :clap
    #56
  17. P 0 P E Y E

    P 0 P E Y E Bald rider

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    117
    Location:
    southern Connecticut U S A
    Inspiring. Ty
    #57
  18. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,479
    Location:
    St. George, UT
    Excellent -- all the way through. :thumb

    Like your style - pics, writing and overall experience! :clap Thanks! :D
    #58
  19. Humunn

    Humunn Moto Prozac

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,073
    Location:
    Sunny Central Oregon
    Cool! Love Baja!
    :clap
    #59
  20. Rainier_runner

    Rainier_runner Epic Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Yelm, Washington
    Just linked over and read this from start to finish. Thanks a lot! Now Baja is on the short list!

    Great ride report! Keep them coming!

    :beer
    #60