From New Mexico to Old Mexico: Baja 2018

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tomdubz, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Since moving to New Mexico a couple years ago I've had my sights set on a Baja run. I mean, it's right there and I'd never been south of the border. I almost did it last spring but wound up getting talked into a June jaunt with a buddy around Colorado instead.

    I didn't have any real plan other than a desire to hit the Tropic of Cancer and that was accomplished. Unexpected mishaps definitely chewed into some other desired way points but whatever, it's good to leave reasons to return.

    Anyway, I'm back and here are the numbers:

    Left Santa Fe, NM Feb 17 - Returned Mar 4

    Stays by night:
    1 - Apache Creek Campground - Reserve, NM - Free
    2 - Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - Lukeville, AZ $16
    3 - Beach "Ramada" next to El Capitan in El Golfo de Santa Clara, Sonora $10
    4 - Coco's Corner, BC - Free
    5 - Commando in Laguna de San Ignacio, BCS
    6 - ADV tent space in Mulegé, BCS
    7 - Palmas Altas campground in Loreto, BCS $8
    8 - Cabanas Vista la Ribera in La Ribera, BCS $136
    9 - Stuck at Cabanas again $136
    10 - Couchsurfing in La Paz, BCS
    11 - Commando in Sierra de la Laguna
    12 - Palmas Altas again $8
    13 - Coco's Corner again
    14 - Knights Inn - Gila Bend, AZ $38

    - 2009 990 adv with 66,000 miles upon departure - Bought as new leftover in 2010.
    - Just over 4000 miles for this trip
    - 1 fuel pump - $245
    - 1 oil change - $37.40
    - US gas + some snacks - $118.84
    - Pesos (in dollars) for food, gas, and adult beverages - $714.83
    - Visa, Baja Bound, + Medjet 324.62
    - Miscellaneous US cash dollars that magically disappeared on fuckall knows what $60.00
    - 1 rear flat and 1 front flat - Priceless
    - Total spent: $1852.69


    And of course, some pre-trip prep photos:

    The just before tear down ride
    NM.jpg

    Extracted Oil Jet for Clutch Lubrication
    extracted.jpg

    Yes, it held it's own for the duration - Rear wheel / shock mudguard thingy
    guard.jpg

    Spare tube and chain bits in a fairing
    IMG_5766.JPG
    #1
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  2. Jeff Sichoe

    Jeff Sichoe ruddy bastard

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    Always keen to see another 990a getting bashed to bits in an adventure :)

    Subbed!
    #2
  3. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

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    Fantastic opening, can’t get enough Baja!

    Your price list is awesome, priceless flats and $60 of fuckall...lol.

    Can’t wait for the next update :thumb:thumb
    #3
  4. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

    Joined:
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    Day 1 - Santa Fe --> Apache Creek, NM

    Got a bit of a late start enjoying sleeping in and breakfast with the wife. In the interest of making time and keeping sane, I'd planned a day of both backroads and interstate. If you've never been through this part of NM it's difficult to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time without the stupidslab.

    I don't have GPS tracks for most of this trip because I'm a Luddite and I like making these arcane route sheet things with a sharpie. I did experiment with one actual track recording for a difficult day down in Baja, but if you need a GPS to follow good signed roads in the US then you should probably just stay at Starfucks.

    There's ethanol free out next to the Airport in Santa so let's start there.
    ^ Paseo Real out through La Cienega passing a house burn that I hadn't seen yet.
    ^ Cut over I-25
    > On the frontage road
    < Waldo Canyon Road then through Cerrillos (Pretty dirt road escape route from Santa)
    > NM-14-S through Madrid (Slow for the tourist trap)
    > I-40-W through 'burque toward Grants
    < Off at Exit 89 then pick up NM-117 through The Malpais (Nice old lava fields)
    < Pie Town Road (Dirt bit that's part of the Great Divide Ride)
    > US-60-W toward Quemado
    < NM-32-S (Pretty paved valley twisty)
    >32 tees into NM-12 A quick right and you'll see signs for the Apache Creek Campground as an immediate left. https://www.google.com/search?q=apa...7087993!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i78!2i406!4f13.1

    This campground was nice, relatively quiet, and free. No water but there was a shithole. I imagine it's busy during Elk season. It was a Saturday night and some good 'ol boys were hooting and hollering 'til around 7pm which was fine. What wasn't fine was the roaring fire they left unattended when they took off. My only overnight neighbors were some hunters and they came back shortly. I borrowed their shovel and marched over to smother the blaze. Daily good turn done. Goodnight.

    The Malpais - Note the old lava in the immediate foreground. Mt. Taylor in the background
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    Traffic on the Pie Town Rd.
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    The second half of this road was a bit squirrely. It's seemingly less trafficked and it had rained a few days prior. It was then I realized my front tire was installed in the wrong direction as it was throwing mud in front of itself. My fault. I neglected to tell the shop boys that I had switched my previous TKC-80 for the second half of its life. That's what I get for being lazy and bringing my wheels in for overpriced changing.

    If you're wondering, front and rear for this trip were barely used d610 trailmaxes that I scored off an inmate here at a whopping $70 shipped for the pair. They're fine but I would come to wish I had something a little gnarlier for playing in Baja. My flawed logic was that these tires would make me behave down there. Idiot.

    IMG_5771.JPG

    It was cold that day and promised to be a little colder for the start of the next day. I discovered that my heated jacket plug was on the fritz. Too many years of just jumping off the bike and letting the plug pull itself free. Luckily I had packed an extra cable - because I lose shit - and decided to cannibalize the plug off that. A little wire stripping, ghetto twist connecting, and strategic taping later and I made this beauty that worked for the duration of the trip of continuing to jump off, letting it pull free. Lesson obviously not learned. Yes, I did put a lot more reinforcing tape than what you see in the second pic.

    IMG_5775.JPG
    #4
  5. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

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    :rofl:rofl

    Diggin' it man. I wish you could have hit those bozos that left the fire burning with the shovel and then put the fire out; frickin' morons like that ruin dispersed camping for the rest of us. And sheesh - it's not like wild fires haven't been reported on in the west.

    Back to the report - want the next post already...lol. :thumb:thumb
    #5
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  6. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Is it possible to bash these things to bits? I mean, they just crash so well.
    #6
  7. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Day 2 - Apache Creek, NM --> Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ

    Almost had an early start but wound up trying to rebuild a Whisperlite to no avail. My wife tells me these are the Volkswagen Beetle of the camp stove world in that you can't kill them. Well, I tried a total clean and rebuild and it still didn't twerk. I should've fiddled with it at home prior but figured it would be more fun to do with cold hands and no coffee. Never again - should've packed my unsexy, ol' faithful, Coleman dual fuel. I stopped at the first Wally world in Safford, AZ to pick up a foolproof Peak 1 with an evil nonrefillable bottle of wonderfulness for $20

    And the route was:

    ^NM-12 through Reserve
    <US-180-E through Glenwood (Both 12 & 180 were pretty scenical ranch roads)
    >NM-78-W ^ into AZ-78-W (Spectacular wind through mesa, then forest, then open expansive desert view down into AZ)
    ^US-191-S
    >US-70-W through Safford and Globe, AZ (Sucky and then depressing through Rez)
    <US-60-W through Superior (Gila-Pinal Scenic Rd)
    <AZ-79
    >AZ-287 then < then > to stay on 287
    < N. Trekell Rd.
    > W. Peters Rd. (79, 87 and these roads aren't worth seeing again.
    < S. Chuichu Rd. (Getting nicer)
    >AZ-86-W (Tuscon-Ajo Hwy.)
    <AZ-85-S into the Organ Pipe National Monument

    I stayed at the Twin Peaks Campground.
    It's an RV pen with some sites for hippy tenting trash. I should have stayed at the more primitive Alamo Canyon tent sites https://www.nps.gov/orpi/planyourvisit/upload/Park-Map-2015-2.pdf but I didn't see this map until the next morning. I was pushing sunset and tired so imminent whiskey and a flush toilet with the glampers sounded delightful.

    A new state for me and the maquina
    AZ.jpg

    70 wasn't all bad provided that you didn't look down at all the basura.
    US-70.jpg

    Guadelupe can be a prickly Bitch
    Guad.jpg

    Looking over to Ajo Mountain
    Organ.jpg
    #7
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  8. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

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    The last shot is fantastic - one hell of a sky and sunset. Well done :thumb
    #8
  9. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Thanks. Here's another with some better bike focus but I kinda like the off focus one above. IMG_5788.JPG
    #9
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  10. lifetravelled

    lifetravelled Been here awhile

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    In.
    Great photos and detail, love your work.

    Josh
    #10
  11. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Thanks Josh.

    A note on the photos. Most were shot with a dumpy, recently refurbished Rebel T3i and a nice 17-35mm 1:2.8 L lens inherited from my dad. Of course, some were Honor 6x cell phone shots.
    #11
  12. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Day 2.25 - Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

    Being an amped up anxious gringo on the verge of first time entry to the land of tamales I didn't get that much sleep the night prior. I was up and rolling before the sunrise and decided to use the light outside the visitor's center to make coffee and plan the day.

    In front of the visitor's center was this big detailed map on display https://www.nps.gov/orpi/planyourvisit/upload/Park-Map-2015-2.pdf

    After some sunrise pictures of the cactus, I decided that the Ajo Mountain Drive would be a nice warm-up before border hopping. It was spectacular and the best bits were one way so you could lollygag around corners without being worried about anything coming toward you.

    And you're probably all, WTF already, when do we get to Mexico? Hang onto your tits. Next post.

    IMG_5800.JPG

    IMG_5797.JPG

    Obligatory Ghost Rider Shot IMG_5811.JPG

    IMG_5816.JPG
    #12
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  13. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Day 3 - Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to El Golfo de Santa Clara

    It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking how much nicer things would have been if you'd planned better. I had mentioned how I couldah-shouldah-wouldah stayed at that more primitive site, but if I'd done that maybe I would have slept in and missed the beauty of the Ajo Mountain Drive. I know some folks must hyper-plan but I'm happier winging it and find the trade offs well worth it.

    After enjoying the warm-up ride it was a quick shot right to the border. I was thinking I'd get breakfast in Lukeville before crossing but the border just kind of jumped up at me, and before I knew it I was in the funnel. This crossing was so low key. I was simply asked how long I'd be in Mex and where I was headed. No search, a mere glance at my passport, and I was waved through. I asked about the tourist permit (FMM) but they thought I was talking insurance, which was a couple buildings down. The customs office (aduana) was just to the right of the entry, literally under the same roof. I fell prey to the first taco stand I saw and walked back to the aduana to deal with the paperwork. They took $32 USD so that was easy.

    Rolling through Sonoyta was exciting. The cultural differences are definitely starker and more readily apparent than any Canadian crossing I've ever done. First impressions included: fuck the posted speed limit; stop signs are hidden suggestions; there will be trash; we love our topes, tacos, and cacharros (junk cars); bitches have teats, males have balls, and nothing is leashed or fenced. Aside from the bitches and fences bit, it's just like Southside Santa Fe aka Little Chihuahua.

    Sonoyta to Peñasco was windy and ok scenic wise along the edge of the Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar. I rode into town for gas, ATM, aggressive city riding, and a stop at the tourist sign. While stopped I had a chance to practice my bumbling Spanish with some municipal police that wanted to know what I was up to. They were friendly and just curious - I don't think a lot of ADV power rangers come through here. In chatting with them, I came up with the name for this epic ride: From New Mexico to Old Mexico. They had a laugh at that and said, "buen viaje" leaving me to my own devices.

    IMG_5818.JPG

    Here's some route stuff for you from the border:

    ^ Mex 8 to Puerto Peñasco then back out of town
    < Sonora 003 to El Golfo de Santa Clara (desolate tidal salt flats, super windy, sandstorm conditions)
    < Luis Encinas Johnson into town
    > Veracruz (Just at the change to dirt)

    After the no sleep, early start, and sandstorm I was ready to call it a day by 2pm and was in search of a palapa at the aptly named "Las Palapas." It was the Monday after President's Day weekend and I thankfully missed the hordes of gringos that descend on this place. There was trash blowing around under the proper palapas, so I jokingly asked the old dude in charge if he had any without wind. $200 pesos and he set me up under his porch next to his chickens in a fairly well sheltered site facing the sea.

    I went for a walk into town in search of some eats. Due to the lack of tourist traffic, most of the options were closed. That said, I noticed a chicken lady about to feed her men from her stand and asked if I could have the same. $80 pesos got me a 1/2 roasted with beans, salad, rice, tortillas, and a coke. It was delicious.

    The highlight of this place was being there on a non-tourist day and seeing the local fishermen launch their boats. The boats are 25-ish foot skiffs that are kept in yards all over town. My theory is that there are a couple guys with trailers that are co-opted because the same trucks launched multiple boats. I've never seen boats that big launched that fast and I've lived by the sea for most of my life. They drive fast right onto the beach with the fishermen loaded and ready. A quick backup and the boats just roll right off the trailer and are away. It's brilliant.

    That night I slept like a stone despite my rooster neighbors.

    The morning view from my "palapa"
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    Get it?
    IMG_5858.JPG

    Peekaboo-moto
    IMG_5833.JPG
    #13
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  14. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    And a few more from wandering around El Golfo:

    Pride has funny faces
    IMG_5824.JPG

    Guad is watching
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    I finish the baño next week hunny
    IMG_5825 (2).JPG

    Not a seagull
    IMG_5870 (2).JPG
    #14
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  15. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

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    Really like the obligatory ghost rider shot, looks both epic and tranquil - perfect place to ride.
    #15
  16. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Day 4 - El Golfo de Santa Clara --> Coco's Corner.

    Sleep was grand and I got an early start. Today would finally be the day that I officially got to Baja.

    Bajasign.jpg

    And the route:

    ^ Sonora 003 / 040 out of town
    ^ Follow Sonora 040 (Rigorous military checkpoint: search, and record driver's license number - no other papers requested)
    < Luis B. Sánchez to Estación Coahuila (Crossing into Baja California)
    O jig and jog through town eventually found BC-1 needed to stop and look at gps app (LocusPro)
    ^ BC-1 (If I'd followed BC-4 I would have missed the little dirt section that goes through a dump with some dude living in a shed out there, scratching out his living by sorting the piles.)
    < BC-4 (Of course they sell hot dogs on the roadside in Mexico)
    < Mex-5-S through San Felipe - went down to the malecón (waterfront promenade) to Rosita's for whole curubina before going back out 5.
    O Took a little 2 kilometer detour down on the old road to make coffee and wonder what it was like here 20 years ago.
    O Jigging and jogging between new road and old road on the way to Coco's. Some of the detours aren't signed all that well and you just have to figure it out.

    I didn't know this was a Baja racing history museum. I just liked the colors and saw the whole fish on the menu. Went for a little digestive leg stretch and the proprietor was taking pics of my bike when I came back so I had him take one of me.
    Rosita's.jpg

    Time Machine
    Oldroad.jpg

    World's Oldest Fidget Spinner?
    Coco.jpg
    #16
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  17. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    I'd eluded to staying at Coco's but neglected to elaborate. I had read that the likelihood of him letting you camp was good as long as you showed up before sunset, bought a beer, signed his book, and played nice. I didn't expect to be put up in my very own camper, so that was a pleasant surprise.
    IMG_5902.JPG

    Observing the traffic that rolls through Coco's is an invaluable experience. It's a funnel for all walks of life. The state police showed up to chat with Coco about some recent bandito activity in the area and they also got some pictures with him for their wives. Truckers, bikers, surfers, campers, locals, and vagabonds might all wind up going through here.

    Also staying that night was a young man on a bicycle tour trying to get to every Mexican state. He was less mestizo, if at all, and had a more aristocratic accent. I made the mistake of assuming he was from Spain and felt like a dick for doing so. It's just that I've never met a Mexican of means who has the desire to do something as frivolous and wonderful as bike touring. He was an electrical engineer from Mexico City. The vast majority of Mexicans that the average American meets are members of the Central American Army that make our largess possible: hospitality pros, plaster/stucco artists, agricultural slaves, sewing whizzes, and the like. That said, a lot of the jobs that people think are majority immigrant are actually not. It's a complicated world. https://cis.org/Memorandum/Jobs-Americans-Wont-Do-Detailed-Look-Immigrant-Employment-Occupation

    After apologizing for putting my fat gringo foot in my mouth we made a nice feast of papas y carne con calabacitas that Coco generously provided. I regret not getting the cyclist's name or contact info and wonder if our paths will ever cross again.

    I know many of us don't stay here but I would highly recommend it. For the price of 3 beers ($75 Pesos) the dinner, lodging, and colorful conversation cannot be beat.

    Facilities
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    She's a stalker I tell 'ya
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    His Motorcycle
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    #17
  18. Max Wedge

    Max Wedge ADVenture mowing

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    Awesome!
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  19. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

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    Excellent @tomdubz! Really enjoy your writing style and dug the shots of staying at Coco's. Man, I can't wait to get down to Baja and ride.

    Thank you for taking the time to document your trip :clap:clap
    #19
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  20. tomdubz

    tomdubz getting there

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    Day 5 - Coco's --> Laguna de San Ignacio

    If you can get to Coco's from the north then you can find Mex 1. Taking the last of the old road makes me wonder how much this will all change once the new road is done. I know there's lots of epic side trips I could have done instead of today's route, but I wanted to make time in order to ensure my goal of hitting the tropic.

    From Coco's

    ^ Mex-5-S
    < Mex-1-S (Carretera Transpeninsular)
    O Wandered around Guerrero Negro and picked the most populated taco stand. They don't have buche and lengua at the touristy taco stands.
    ^ Back out Mex-1-S (Flat, strait, but still not boring)
    > The one road that takes you into San Ignacio (Pretty under the date palms)
    O Wandering around town scoped out big church and stopped for date pie on the plaza
    ^ There's one road South to the Laguna. It's signed "Laguna" but I have no idea if it has a real name.

    Once at the Laguna, I caught on real quick that it's a tourist trap with "camps" that are for people going out to fondle the whales. As a former temporary Southeast Alaskan, I must admit that I was appalled that this was an option for "Eco" tourists. In AK, it's a hefty fine if you harass whales but here you could pay to go fuck with them in their nursery. I stopped at one and would have paid to just set my tent up but was politely met with a, "noo, we're full."

    It was getting close to sunset so I was thinking about pulling my first off-grid camp when a lone KLR appeared on the horizon. I stopped and let him know that the next camp was full and not into moto trash. Then I asked him if he wanted to just camp together over yonder, behind a ramshackle shed type thing with someone's fishing trash all about. Boris was game. We made a nice camp a little out of the wind and enjoyed the safety of buddying up. He was an interesting dude - having worked law enforcement for the National Parks in Alaska he had some stories. I think he said it was his first foray into Mexico and his KLR was still shiny. The next morning I would buy some gas and water off him. He was planning on a day of whale touring and then back out to the Transpeninsular, but I was planning on getting lost finding my way to San Juanico along the coast.

    Take Your Rotopax and Shove It
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    She Sells Sea Shells
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    The Road to the Laguna
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    Boris at Camp
    IMG_5923.JPG
    #20
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