Baja, the Long Way

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by HardWorkingDog, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. stevodadevo

    stevodadevo What happened?

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
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    177
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Great report! Thanks for sharing.
  2. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
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    1,801
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Thanks, stevodadevo-----I'm back, had a great but too short time in Death Valley.

    Will get back on the report tonight...until then here's Lippincott, with Saline Valley in the background:



    [​IMG]
  3. RHrider

    RHrider n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4
    Charles, great meeting you at Panamint Springs. Jennifer is starting to read your report.... I think she is hooked and doesn't even ride dirtbikes!
    Take your time on finishing, I can wait:clap
  4. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,801
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Wow, thanks Ratman. That's exactly how we felt, I'm glad my report was able to reflect some of that Baja
    sense of......alertness.....to the situation.

    Say hi to all, RH! What a great coincidence to meet up there, I'm really glad I saw the D36 sticker and took
    the chance to stop by and talk. Hopefully we can find a way to ride together soon.
  5. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,801
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Day 35, 2/3/13
    Rancho Piedra Blanca to Bahia de Los Angeles






    The perfect Baja day had ended at Rancho Piedra Blanca.

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    We'd awakened early to the belligerent sounds of the cows--hey muchachos, it's leche time.
    As we packed we also had to do some more repairs to the DR. The rough roads, rocks and
    washboard had overcome the taillight bracket--the steel plate had sheared through at both
    bolts.

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    Zip ties and electrical tape did the trick, although the zip ties had to be replaced a couple
    more times before we were home.


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    We were headed back for some old favorites on the way back, today the plan was the hot
    showers and friendly neighbors at Daggett's on Bahia de Los Angeles via 95 miles of dirt
    roads.


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    No pavement at all, just how we like it. It was a good day of riding, navigation was perfect,


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    roads were deserted


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    and plenty to keep us on our toes, or at least on our feet.


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    As we approached the Bahia we found ourselves on the course of the Bahia de Los Angeles
    200 that had run just the day before.


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    Turns out the race team that had extricated us out of the mud of Laguna Salada had been in the
    race, but DNF'd with a transmission failure.


    [​IMG]



    We were lucky that we didn't come through here a day earlier. We would have gotten
    a taste of Baja desert racing for free...


    The roads were pretty chewed up. I tried some of the sand whoops, just for fun. It was fun for
    about a quarter mile, then not so fun. Riding a loaded bike just isn't really the best way to
    try out sand whoops on a race course.


    We made it into Daggett's early in the afternoon, set up camp


    [​IMG]


    and with high hopes from our great day of riding started looking for a place to watch the Super Bowl.
    Bryn and I are 49er fans and we'd been thinking there'd be a chance we'd get to watch it after all.


    We'd have probably had a better time off in the middle of the Baja desert, camping with the
    quiet boojum trees.




    It's funny how often you go back to a place you'd really enjoyed in the past, only this time
    everything seems different. Well, the race crowd had overwhelmed Daggett's and while the
    crowd was gone, the water system had broken down and there was no hot water, toilets were
    not flushable (but------full-----of course). It was a Sunday and the resident extended family was
    gathered for the weekly gathering. We got to listen to Mexican country music and the usual family
    gathering noises late into the night.


    We did find a little saggy-floored ramshackle restaurant/bar next door to watch the game, but the 49ers
    played horrible defense and to cap it off, an old gringo downed 4 shots of tequila during halftime
    and decided that since he hated the 49ers he would prove his manhood by challenging Bryn to
    go outside and fight him. I sat watching this unfold, ready to spring up and put this moron down
    if he made one move towards him but Bryn is very good at handling stupid drunks, slowly talked
    him down, and before the third quarter was over we realized the chest-pounder had left.



    I tried to watch the rest of the game but my heart wasn't in it. Neanderthal football fans, toilets filled
    to the brim, loud music and raucous laughter while I'm tossing and turning in my tent; it was the one day
    in Baja where I didn't feel I was living like a king.


    Bryn slept like a baby though. :baldy


    It was time to go back to the primitive life-----back to Surf Camp tomorrow!







  6. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Days 36-39, 2/4/13—2/7/13
    Bahia de Los Angeles to Surf Camp




    I was the first one packed this morning--finally won that race. I was ready to get out of Bahia de Los Angeles, and how.


    We were headed across the backbone of Baja once more headed for the Pacific Ocean side and back to our friends
    who----we hoped----were still at Surf Camp. I was really looking forward to some solitude and the clean spare Baja
    wilderness we'd grown to love. Pavement mostly today, but that was OK--wanted to just get there as quickly as possible
    and we were getting to the point of our trip where we just wanted to keep things low-risk and get home without any
    damage.

    We pulled into Surf Camp early in the afternoon, racing down the 5 miles of sandy rocky dirt two-track to the spot and
    though our friends weren't in camp--they'd spent the day looking for surf up north--it was a relief to see the familiar old
    beat up Suburban. Almost felt like home!

    It had been a warm sunny day as we rode west, but as we got closer to the Pacific clouds began building and the wind
    got stonger. We set up camp in strong winds, and took advantage of the rock windbreaks at Surf Camp.


    [​IMG]


    Our plan was to spend 4 days here, taking advantage of Adam & Ryan's hospitality--plenty of surf tools, from boards to
    kayaks to fishing poles, a good supply of food and Cabernet--and, quite importantly, the only toilet seat in Surf Camp.


    [​IMG]


    Surf Camp is very remote; there are no toilets, no water, no garbage collection, nothing. You are on your honor to keep
    this place liveable, which means hiking out into the desert to take care of business.


    [​IMG]



    Being able to sit and contemplate the Baja desert during this time is........quite an advantage.


    Our hosts know how to live well.



    The only down side to our 4 days here was that for the first three days it was windy and COLD.


    [​IMG]


    I was VERY jealous of that Patagonia down jacket.

    But we made the best of it. Every evening there was a communal pot-luck meal at a different camp. We hosted a pasta
    dinner one night, Chinaman Rob hosted the gang for a Hawaiian style Pu Pu meal with freshly caught halibut and some
    elk steaks someone had brought from Montana.


    We spent one day hunting rock clams. The beach here is not sandy, and the clams are found in amongst the rocks.


    [​IMG]


    It took awhile to figure out how to find them, but we were pretty successful.


    [​IMG]


    We had the group back that night for a clam feast.



    The last day at Surf Camp saw a much appreciated turn in the weather. It dawned with a clear blue sky


    [​IMG]


    and we spent the day celebrating the return of the sun along with my son's birthday! I started the day off
    with a birthday breakfast of french toast, complete with peanut butter, strawberry jam and Mexican-style
    nutella spread on top.


    [​IMG]


    Tasted pretty darn good. :dg


    Bryn surfed while I rode back to the small settlement and bought some supplies for the final night's fiesta. We were
    running low on coffee and the tienda only had some whole bean coffee. I asked to store keeper if there was a way
    to grind the coffee--sure, come with me she replied. We walked across the dirt street and in to her home! She had a
    beautiful old steel hand grinder, with big sidewheels about the 16 inches in diameter. Took her about 30 seconds to
    grind my coffee, and we drank fresh-ground coffee that day--delicious.


    We spent the day playing in the sun. Adam surfed


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    We played horseshoes (I was the champ-een, this is the battle for second place :wink:)


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    Ryan & Adam paddled out about a half-mile and caught some sea bass


    [​IMG]


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    As the day came to an end we gathered up our supplies and headed over to the lodging of the Vice-Mayor of Surf Camp:
    "....they call me Fibber!"


    Most of the Surf Camp movers and shakers were there, and they welcomed us with food, wine and great stories.


    [​IMG]


    They call him Fibber for a reason.


    This place is a community in the true sense of the word. There is a tightly knit group of hardcore surfers that have
    been coming here for close to 50 years. They are friends with the local land-owners and have worked hard to make
    sure this place remains a liveable, enjoyable spot. It would be easy for the place to degenerate into a mess, so the
    community makes sure that whoever comes here has a stake in being responsible for keeping it that way. Slobs and
    dumbasses are not tolerated.


    One of the members spends his down time--when the swell is down--building sculptures and structures out of the
    plentiful stones the make up the coastline here. I grabbed this photo as we were heading towards Fibber's, unfortunately
    it's facing into the setting sun and hard to make out, but it's a smooth dry-fitted stone circle-arch, built one stone at a time,
    about 6 feet tall.


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    Another of his masterpieces is this dry-fit stone wood-fired oven.


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    Yes, an oven.


    I had brought a few chunks of chicken
    purchased earlier that day from the tienda, and after some instruction I set to it.


    [​IMG]


    A removable stone on the top vent and at the mouth allows you to control the draft and temperature, and after about 45 minutes we had some amazingly juicy roasted chicken to contribute to the feast.


    [​IMG]


    They invited me into the OG's lair--inside Fibber's well used small motor-home--and I met some of the founders of this place.
    These guys had surfed with Gerry Lopez, shaped boards with Dick Brewer, drank beer with Hobie Alter........the real deal.

    Gerry Lopez!!!!! Are you kiddin' me???

    [​IMG]



    I felt honored to be welcomed into that group, and we had fun listening to stories and lies that evening, helped along by
    some good tasting 2 Buck Chuck Merlot.



    Our last day at Surf Camp finally ended and we wandered back to the tents that night, sad it was over, but also looking
    forward to heading north.



    [​IMG]


    Ahhh, the life of kings again. Felt good, even if there were some fibs mixed in...






  7. stevodadevo

    stevodadevo What happened?

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
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    San Diego, CA
    Loving this story! Great father son time!
  8. DaFoole

    DaFoole Erudite inchoate...

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    Location:
    BFE, SW Oregon/SF BayO'rhea
    Great stuff!!! :clap
  9. warp9man

    warp9man Gravel in my Travel

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    591
    Location:
    Farmington Utah
    Hey Guy's loving the ride Report.

    soooo, tell me about your ALPS tents, i have been looking at them from backcountry. are they good? I was worried with the full mesh sides that tones of dirt would blow in.

    what model are you guys using?
  10. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,801
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Glad you're enjoying it after all this time...the end is near :cry

    :lol3

    Anyway, yeah, the tents were/are awesome. Highly recommended. Funny thing is that about an hour ago I almost posted a link to steep n cheap--they had them on sale for $94, but they only last for about 15 minutes :deal

    They're the Zephyr 2's--2 for 2 man, although if you sleep 2 people there won't be any room for anything else, at all. In my view they're perfect solo tents. The mesh is very fine, keeps the big chunks out but with the fly never had a problem with dirt blowing in. The full mesh was what first caught my attention--I wanted to be able to see out completely when not using the fly.

    I really like
    1. The asymmetrical design that's taller at the head--you can sit up and not scrape your head against the tent wall
    2. Doors on both sides--it's really handy to be able to open one side for going in & out and have gear on the other side that's easily accessible.
    3. 2 big roomy vestibules, one on each side, that can easily cover a dry bag and a pair of boots or a back pack.
    4. A little window built into the fly above each door so you can see out without opening the fly.
    5. The poles break down into small sections that fit easily--the entire package is 6" x 18" packed.

    I'd definitely recommend the ALPS ground cloth made for this tent--added protection for the floor and it fits into the pole bases as you're setting up to keep things in place.

    Sometimes amazon has good deals on this tent also.
  11. warp9man

    warp9man Gravel in my Travel

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    591
    Location:
    Farmington Utah
    Awsome thanks for the info on the tents. I think I'll pick one up, to bad I missed out on the steep n cheap deal :-(

    I'm jealous of you guys riding light bikes in baja and riding with your son on such a cool trip.
  12. 71tr

    71tr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
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    Location:
    Chicago
  13. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,801
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Yeah!...they fit my son's budget, advantage #1. I was waiting to see how they worked before I tried them. By the
    time we realized they would work it was too late and I wound up with the dog packs, and then finally a set of
    Wolfman bags.

    No question the Wolfman bags are easier to mount------but not THAT much easier. The JSLIST bags have so
    many buckles and strap mounting points that it really only took him about an hour of fiddling around to figure
    out a secure method. He attached them to the grab bars and across the seat to each other.

    They're not waterproof--nor are the Wolfman's, but they're a good budget set of bags.

    They have sewn-in dividers that are a bit awkward and we cut the inner dividers down at one point to make it
    easier to stuff long things in sideways. The nylon material is thinner than Wolfman stuff, and not as dust
    proof--there are vent holes in the bottom of the JSLIST bags but with all the dusty riding we did it never
    seemed to be a problem.

    The only issue we had was caused by trying to use them without a rack system. The left side rode just fine on
    the DR, but the right side melted a bit from the hot exhaust. Without a rack we were relying on the ppe side
    panel to hold the bag out. The first test before we left was a failure--melted a hole in the bag in about 5
    minutes. :huh

    My wife cut out a piece of divider and patched it up for us. :clap

    We then fabbed a piece of steel strap to hold the side panel out, and it worked until just below Laguna San
    Ignacio...a buckle melted before we caught it. We pulled about a third of the material out of that bag, used
    some climbing rope to cinch the bag up towards the front and no more problems.

    This isn't really a fault of the bags though--but I recommend using a rack system to hold the bags away from
    hot stuff.

    My WRR is set up so differently I'd never try these without a side rack either.

    We're going to use them again. :evil
  14. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,801
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Days 40-42, 2/8/13—2/10/13
    Surf Camp to San Felipe to Carlsbad to Home



    We awoke to another beautiful morning in Baja, the weather was holding.


    [​IMG]


    I was eager to hit the road and get to a motel in San Felipe; 4 days of dry camping--------wet wipes
    can only do so much.


    Today would be our last bit of Baja dirt. We headed north on Mex 1 once we navigated the dirt paths out of
    Surf Camp and turned east at Lake Chapala after filling up at the gasolinera (barrel gas) there. I was running
    on fumes, had to keep swerving the last 500 yards to keep the fuel pump pickups wet.

    We hit the now familiar dirt road leading to Coco's, passing a few other riders heading west. It was a bitter-
    sweet feeling as we waved past Coco's place


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    and arrived at Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, remembering our eagerness and the feelings of facing the unknown
    roads ahead of us a few weeks earlier. Now it was familiar territory, places that we remembered, views we
    looked forward to, and a confidence that we'd accomplished what we set out to do.


    We filled up at the Pemex near Alfonsina's, had a trail lunch, and motored on. The last bit of Baja dirt.


    [​IMG]


    We arrived in San Felipe that afternoon and checked into the Las Palmas. We'd had our fill of the El Cortez
    while waiting for the clutch parts...

    It was a good place to stay, although be warned they only accept cash AND require a 200 peso damage deposit.
    Too many dirtbike slobs have stayed there, I think.


    I guess, after 6 weeks, I had reached a point where new experiences didn't seem all that.....new. For whatever
    reason, I'd just about stopped thinking about taking photographs. Last apology, but I sure wish I had more photos of
    these last couple days.


    San Felipe was energized the weekend we were there--the start of the Carnival celebration and we walked
    through the streets that evening just enjoying the town, watching the parade of floats and dancing groups, cart
    vendors, little kids. It was just a great exuberant atmosphere.


    We had dinner that night at the El Nido restaurant, a very classy place that we'd avoided on our first visit--looked
    too classy for us--but they welcomed us in and it wasn't too expensive either.


    [​IMG]
    (photo from google/tripadvisor.com)


    Great food, a great way to end our stay in Baja.

    (They have blocks of ice in the urinals...not sure who came up with
    that idea, but it seemed like an elegant solution to one of those things that nobody talks about :wink:)

    :lol3 :lol3 :lol3



    Got up the next morning, talking to some fellow riders who were staying next door. Thought about going to Mike's
    Sky Rancho with them....but no, our bikes were tired, badly needed some maintenance. It was time to go home.


    [​IMG]


    Northward on Mex 5, we passed the spot where we'd hiked out 5 weeks ago.


    [​IMG]


    Ironically, there was a 4wd race truck stuck in the mud about 200 yards off the pavement, exact same tracks,
    hood up, driver standing in the mud next to the truck. A green angel truck with flashing lights was on the
    shoulder, on his radio...




    Got to the border about 2 pm. Motorcycles have their own separate border lane, as I'd discovered when going
    back for parts weeks ago. Just split between cars, dive through the K-walls--there's actually signs on the K-walls
    where they've put a break for motorcycles--and we were through and into Calexico very quickly.

    First stop: Casa de Cambio, to change our leftover pesos back to dollars.

    Second stop: In-N-Out.


    [​IMG]


    From El Centro, we were headed for a long stretch of slab. I'd talked to my wife last night, she'd offered to drive
    my pickup down from the SF Bay area and meet us at a motel in Carlsbad. We were not really looking forward
    to that last 500 miles home, droning away on interstates. It had turned cold again, the forecast called for high
    winds, rain, chances of snow in the high passes.

    Four wheeled comfort sounded awfully good.


    But first, we had to get from El Centro to Carlsbad, a small beach town north of San Diego.

    On I-40.

    It crosses the very southern end of California and turned into the last big challenge of the trip. There are
    consistent high cross winds along I-40 as it heads up from the Anza Borrego desert in the mountain ranges
    that make up the Cleveland National Forest, consistently high enough that there are huge wind mill farms
    all along the interstate. That was the first test, getting blasted once again by the high winds. At least we had
    nice wide lanes, and a median to separate us from the opposing traffic.

    The worst was the cold, rain, snow and ice we hit along the 4000 foot ridge that I-40 follows for about 20 miles
    from the Border Patrol station until it finally drops down to sea level past Alpine and into El Cajon. We froze,
    again, and there were long patches of ice on the road. All our focus was on just getting through this last
    300 mile day, safely.

    We stopped at a little coffee shop in Alpine; we were too numb to ride. Warmed up, and got off the mountain.

    The last 40 miles to Carlsbad were kind of, well, ecstatic. It was warm, sunny, the freeways weren't too
    crowded--we'd missed the commute traffic, and I navigated us around the worst parts of San Diego; used to
    live in the area, so that helped.

    We arrived at the La Quinta Inn, checked in, and I know this is stupid, but I realized for the last 10 miles or
    so I'd been humming the theme song to Rocky as I rode.

    Dumb, corny, but we felt like we'd conquered---------something!? The unknown, mostly, I think.

    We reveled a bit in our digs--


    [​IMG]


    South Park, in English???? Who knew.

    At the same time, we both felt out of place in this opulent, couch potato world full of luxuries that no one even
    seemed to notice. We missed Baja, already.


    My wife and good ol' Marleau--world's best dog--arrived about 10 pm that night, and there was joy and hugs
    and wagging tails enough that we got a call from the front desk: "We've had a complaint...too much noise!"


    The four of us spent the night in our motel room, got up early and packed the bikes and ourselves for the last
    500 miles home, pretty much straight up I-5.


    [​IMG]


    It was cold and windy the whole way home, and Bryn and I kept grinning at each other; "Dad, put that heater up
    another notch, would ya?" No problem, son.





    We were living like kings.






  15. warp9man

    warp9man Gravel in my Travel

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
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    Farmington Utah
  16. oldtrucks

    oldtrucks Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
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    293
    Location:
    NorCal
    Good stuff HWD, enjoyed getting acquainted with Baja through your report
  17. joenuclear

    joenuclear Planning.....

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    Fort Smith, Arkansas
    :clap Thanks for the wonderful RR! :clap
  18. benwiggin2

    benwiggin2 Long timer

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    Red stickered, in the wild, wild, west
  19. sandsman

    sandsman I ride more than some and less than others.

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    541
    Location:
    Greenville, Tx
    Just super, all of it.......I will be making that ride too, but mostly on hardtop roads (big goldwing hack). Thanks for making your trip soooo interesting.
  20. Jimbones

    Jimbones Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    14
    Location:
    Halfway to Heaven and Just A Mile Out Of Hell
    Excellent! You missed your calling in life(maybe?)-you should have been a journalist.
    Thanks for taking the time to record your journey in words and pictures, and to share it with us. It was fun!