Los Tres Chaquetas Ride Baja

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MufflerBearings, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. AteamNM

    AteamNM Wonna Be ADVrider

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    #21
  2. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    Loved your trip report. You guys did it right - small bikes/more dirt. I think I'll do it your way next time. I guess that means I'll have to acquire some trials skills.:D
    #22
  3. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    March 18, 2013

    We got rolling at the crack of noon and headed south on Mex 5 towards Gonzaga Bay. We stopped at Valle de los Gigantes about twenty miles south of San Felipe to gape at the giant cacti. The cactus garden is on privately-owned land, and the owner charges $10 - that's $10 US, not 10 pesos - per vehicle to enter. We paid it, but next time we'll park two bikes on the highway and find a way to all ride in one one bike.:D Not only will it be less costly, but there will be two less bikes to dig out of the axle-deep sand.

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    After losing track of one another in the maze of sand roads through the cactus garden and finally reconnecting, we again hit the road south. I was surprised at how severe the vados are along Mex 5. If I had been riding a sportbike at my typical sportbike pace, I would be typing this report from the intensive care unit.:muutt But since we were riding dirt bikes (of a sort), the massive dips were a welcome diversion along the pavement slog. We stopped at the iconic Cowpatty for some hydration, and were entertained by the snowbirds stopping in to get a few for the road as they drove south to their beachfront homes.

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    We encountered Baja's laziest dog at the Cowpatty:

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    We saw maybe ten other vehicles on the highway between San Felipe and Puertecitos, and even fewer between Puertecitos and Gonzaga Bay. The coastline south of Puertecitos is quite striking. Mex 5 is now paved to within a few miles of Gonzaga Bay.

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    We checked out the camping accomodations at Papa Fernandez, but there was no shelter available from the strong winds. It looks like a great and secluded place to camp when the wind is not a factor. We did stick around just long enough to get the KLR buried in the sand again.:twitch

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    We ended up camping in one of the palapas at Gonzaga Bay (across from Rancho Grande Market). The palapas each have a wall built on the west side to provide much-needed shelter from the wind, and have plenty of room to pitch two tents and park three bikes.

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    Does it even need to be said that the sunset was spectacular?

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    Dinner at Alphonsina's was delicious and consisted of shrimp that were bigger than our hands.

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    After dinner, we browsed Rancho Grande Market's impressive selection of craft beers and settled on tallboys of Tecate to aid in our sleep on the concrete slab of the palapa.:1drink Another excellent day.

    Next up: Coco's, Calamajue Wash, Bay of L.A.
    #23
  4. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    :freaky
    #24
  5. Lucky508

    Lucky508 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
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    Austin
    Cool trip. Me likey mucho! :thumb
    #25
  6. _Magoo_

    _Magoo_ master of disaster....

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
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    Location:
    nuevo mexico
    :ddog alrighty, then----get on with yur story, I ain't got forever....:gerg:lol3
    #26
  7. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    908
    Location:
    Kamloops, BC
    MB,
    Yeah...killer silt :huh:huh

    Thanks for keeping me in mind :D

    And for the three people left on the planet that have not seen the wreckage caused by silt:

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    Read all about it: :deal .... http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=666961

    You guys are doing it right....no race attitude....smell the cactus, as it were...:freaky
    #27
  8. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    March 19, 2013
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    Morning brought another killer sunrise and a glassy Gonzaga Bay with no wind. If I worked in a field in which telecommuting was a viable option, I would be shopping for a little house along the airstrip right now.:deal We all would have liked to spend more time at Gonzaga Bay, but we were also excited to get further south and hopefully catch the President of Baja at home. We fueled up at the Pemex, and headed south again on Mex 5.

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    'Nother Baja dog:
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    We were in luck; Coco was at his corner!:clap I’d heard that he is often away for medical treatments these days, so we felt fortunate to find the man here today. Coco is a pretty amazing character: feisty and bubbling over with profanity, yet very warm and welcoming at the same time.

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    We didn’t have much of a route in mind from here on out, so over a few breakfast Pacificos, Coco suggested some potential routes. The rough maps he drew for us on blank pages of his log book made it clear that Coco has a thorough knowledge of his corner of the desert. He was clearly unimpressed, however, with my Baja Almanac and threw a good bit of verbal abuse my way when I asked him to show me routes on it instead of trying to decipher his hand-drawn maps. I don’t speak much Spanish, but I did pick out lots of “puto” “pinche” and “chinga” from his opinion of me and my nifty Almanac.:lol3

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    From Coco’s, we decided to follow the Calamajue Wash south to Mex 1 and try to find the mission ruins along the way. Several miles after leaving Coco’s, we stopped to fix a rear flat caused by a nail on the XR350. One inner tube, two gallons of sweat, and 1,000 curse words later, we were back on the trail.:dog Truthfully, the IRC Vulcanduro rear tire on the 350 is one of the easier motorcycle tires I have worked with. And I got to test out my $10 Slime pump I picked up just before the trip; plugged it into the SAE adapter on the KLR battery and it saved me the 500 strokes it would take using my bicycle tire hand pump that I normally carry for these situations.

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    I don’t know if we ever really found the mission ruins, but I did snap this photo of this lovely pile of rocks that is formed in the vague shape of a structure’s foundation::dunno

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    The ride through the wash was a hoot! Calling it a “wash” doesn’t do it justice. It’s a small canyon with vividly-colored rock walls, lush vegetation, and plenty of deep sand, sandy whoops, and even mud! I was surprised at how much water we found there.

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    We emerged from the wash into a densely-vegetated swath of desert. Boojum trees, giant Yuccas, and several types of cacti all crowding each other out in competition for the same patch of sand made for a scenic ride down to the highway.

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    After a quick lunch at the loncheria (pretty sure that’s not a real Spanish word) at the intersection of Mex 1 and the road to Bahia de Los Angeles, we banged out the 45 miles of pavement into town.

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    We rode some circles around town in BOLA, and eventually found our way to some of the camps just north of town. When I spotted the VW race buggy parked on the front porch of the main house at Daggett’s Camp, I proclaimed, “This is The Place. These are My People.”:pope

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    We set up camp in a bayside palapa and watched the sky change colors as the sun sank into the mountains behind us. Once again, we were the only campers at the place. Where was everyone? I’m not complaining, but it seems like a place so beautiful within such an easy drive of Southern California would be packed every weekend. We were glad to have the place to ourselves, but I feel bad for the folks that are trying to make a living here.

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    <o:p>Remnants of a dolphin BBQ. Mmmmm.... dolphin burgers!</o:p>
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    I relaxed by the bay while Greg and Scott rode to town to find wi-fi and beer. They returned with more tallboys of Tecate and a bottle of mezcal.:freaky

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    I’ve experienced (enjoyed?:confused) mezcal before, but this stuff was… different. Imagine a burnt lawn chair that’s been steeped in formaldehyde; that’s the best description for the taste of this shit. But that didn’t stop us from finishing the bottle. I somehow found my way to the tent and slept like the dead.:snore<o:p></o:p>
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    Next up: San Francisquito, and Pancho saves the day! <o:p></o:p>
    #28
    condor-machinist likes this.
  9. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    Greg and I agreed at the end of this trip that the XR350 must never leave this family.:super
    #29
  10. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    11
    Definitely...We named the 350 "Rocinante" just before the trip. Rocinante = name for Don Quijote's horse. This bike has proved to be a real trooper and a joy to ride, and as Dave stated, will never leave our family. I did my maiden voyage through Mexico to Mike's Sky Ranch on it with a bunch of BMW GS 1200's and smoked them in the dirt. The highway was another story...
    #30
  11. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    March 20, 2013<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    Slooooowwww to get moving this morning. I missed the sunrise thanks to that nasty mezcal shit last night.:freaky Scott, however, was completely unaffected as evidenced by this photo:

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    No matter – today will be epic because we won’t see pavement all day. As we rolled through town on the way out, we spotted a few obvious Spring Breakers who stick out like a sore thumb in their hipster uniforms of pastel shirts, aviator sunglasses and straw fedora hats. I hope they fire the travel agent that sent them to Bay of Los Angeles to party down on Spring Break:deal – not exactly the most happening spot on the planet.:bore

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    Surreal vistas of cacti stretching all the way down to the Sea of Cortez welcome us into the desert north of town. The road was free of sand, but that doesn’t mean that I got to ride fast (I’m on a KLR, remember?). Once again, I chased the dust clouds on the horizon that marked the location of Greg and Scott. As an added bonus, my steering head bearings shake loose (AGAIN) a few miles north of San Rafael.:bluduh

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    We reached San Rafael where we met the sole resident, Pancho. Pancho tells us that he has inhabited this bit of seaside paradise for 28 years! Pancho is a friendly fellow who extends a hearty welcome to the many clown-suited gringo motorcyclists that drop by his place. I set my bike up under a shade tree and got to work on my rattling head bearings with the large crescent wrench I have in my cobbled-together tool kit. The wrench couldn’t quite get purchase on the nut between the bar risers. When Pancho saw me struggling with my sub-par tools, he disappeared into his home and returned with a five gallon bucket full of sockets. He found a 27mm socket and a ½” drive ratchet and my loose steering head bearing problem was solved.:clap I didn’t expect to find an odd-sized socket in a one-man fishing village, but Pancho delivered!
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    <o:p>Pancho's pooch, Paloma:</o:p>
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    Pancho topped up our fuel tanks with gasoline dispensed from bleach bottles, corn oil bottles and water bottles while dolphins surfaced just offshore; another surreal Baja moment. I made a resolution to camp here next time, but today we are aiming for San Francisquito.

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    We arrived in San Francisquito in time for a fish taco dinner, which was skillfully prepared by the two gentlemen who run the camp. As far as I can see, San Francisquito consists of an airstrip, a handful of [currently vacant] gringo vacation homes, and the fishing camp. According to the two other guests at the camp, the place has been allowed to deteriorate over the past few years due to the drop in tourist visits. Even so, the camp is easy to immediately settle into and comfortable in a way that no shining upscale resort can be. There are primitive cabins available, but we chose to set up camp under a palapa because we are cheap bastards and because the view of from our tents reminded us of a Corona commercial.

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    <o:p>The view from the shitters:</o:p>
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    After dinner, Scott rented a fishing pole and threw his line in from the beach right in front of our camp. Within a few minutes, he caught two small sharks. And damn were they pissed! I don’t think I’ve encountered fish that were less enthused to be on the hook. But that was nothing compared to the snake we encountered on the beach! We watched in horror as the brown and yellow serpent of about two feet in length slithered from the sand right out onto the water, and disappeared out to sea.:eek1 It was about that time that we decided that we were not swimming that day. <o:p></o:p>
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    The cloudless sky, the brilliant blue water, the light breeze, the perfect air temperature, the deserted beach and the perfectly tattered palapas combined to bring to life the Baja I had imagined as I daydreamed about this trip in my cubicle during the past few months. Living in the strip mall hell that is Southern California, with its cold, dirty, crowded beaches, it’s hard to believe that such as place as San Francisquito really exists. This place makes riding even a KLR worth it.:D

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    Next up: San Ignacio <o:p></o:p>
    #31
  12. Bike/Mom

    Bike/Mom n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1
    San Francisquito looks and sounds like a beautiful place---the perfect spot for some R&R!
    #32
  13. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    March 21, 2013<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    When we awoke early this morning, we found Scott here:

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    We enjoyed coffee at the main house of San Francisquito before pointing it towards San Ignacio. Aside from some minor oil consumption on the part of the XR350, the bikes were holding up surprisingly well. The road south from San Francisquito towards Vizcaino was in far better condition than the road we arrived on the previous night. We quickly made our way past burros, horses, cattle and the occasional vulture perched atop a giant saguaro to the town of El Arco.

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    My handy Baja Almanac shows El Arco to be a decent-sized settlement, so I was certain we’d at least find some barrel gas there. Nope. It turns out El Arco is strictly a company town (and a really grim one at that) which exists to serve a mining operation. No gas, no food, no nothing.:bluduh Given the lousy fuel range on the XR’s, this killed our plan to ride out and back to Mission Santa Gertrudis. Maybe next time. About the most interesting thing about El Arco is the little cemetery just outside the settlement (it’s a bad sign when the graveyard is cheerier than the town that provides the corpses).:grim

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    The ride due south from El Arco to Mex 1 was sandy but extremely fast. I think another inmate referred to it as the ‘sand luge’ which is a perfect description. We finally reached Mex 1 around noon and found our first food of the day at a little tienda. We were starving and cleaned the place out of all their comically-named sugary snacks.

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    Vizcaino was also a welcome break from the highway. After the past couple days, Vizcaino felt like a huge place, complete with fuel, food, ATM and a very well-stocked auto parts house. It was an uneventful ride from Vizcaino to San Ignacio, broken up by encounters with terrifyingly fast semi trucks and a brief stop at the military checkpoint. Without exception, every car and truck was getting searched, but the motorbikes were waved right through. I guess the authorities figure that you can only smuggle so much contraband in saddlebags.:D<o:p></o:p>
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    San Ignacio alone made the trip worthwhile. It’s pleasantly shocking to suddenly find yourself riding along a lush lagoon surrounded by thousands of date palms when just minutes before you were droning along through a scorched desert. The ride along the lagoon leads to the town site, which is anchored by the impressive mission and heavily-shaded town square. I don’t typically do a lot of sitting around, but I could sit under the massive trees of the San Ignacio zocolo all day and watch the world pass by. The town strikes a nice tourist/local balance that is missing in a place like San Felipe or Ensenada.

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    We secured a room at the Hotel Posada, where for 350 pesos we got two beds, a cardboard door, and a shower that flooded the entire bathroom every time it was used. But it did have a delightfully old-timey looking cobblestone parking area. I really shouldn’t complain – I spent almost as much for a pair of leather work gloves at the local hardware after I lost one of my moto gloves while riding around the zocolo with them foolishly balanced on the tank.:doh

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    Upon checking in, we were immediately besieged by the sticker beggars. They were stoked to get a few gems from our collection of random moto stickers.

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    We dropped our laundry off at a llavanderia – which was simply a lady in the neighborhood who owns a couple of washing machines – and walked into town for a dinner of date empanadas and Pacificos. San Ignacio is even more charming in the evening, when everyone comes out to enjoy the cool air and laid back atmosphere. I could spend a long time here.

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    Next up: Whale petting! <o:p></o:p>
    #33
  14. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    11
    I had almost forgotten that the 350 was consuming oil. I suppose most bikes of that era, still on the trail, do just that. It is also important to point out that aside from San Felipe, Vizcaino had the best parts store, with a variety of motorcycle specific oil to choose from. Anyone who has travelled through Mexico knows that sometimes you get lucky with parts, and sometimes you have to rely on good ol' duct tape. Vizcaino offers a pretty reliable assortment of food, fuel and gas for those passing through. :happay

    Be advised: On both passes through Vizcaino (going north and south) we saw federalies lying in wait. They looked somewhat irritated at us, as the XR's were on the frontage roads next to Mex 1, playing in the dirt at higher rates of speed than traffic on the pavement. :super But, we weren't breaking any (known) laws, so they just continued their restful days in the cruisers.
    #34
  15. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    March 22, 2013<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    Although we were told earlier in our trip by a self-proclaimed Baja guru :gerg that the whales moved on up the coast several weeks ago, we decided to ride out to Laguna San Ignacio anyway and see what we might find. Greg greets the new day, totally stoked to have shared a sagging double bed with his brother last night::D

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    The road to the laguna is now mostly paved, but still a starkly beautiful ride along the tidal flats between the town of San Ignacio and the water. We stopped at one of the first fishing camps to ask where we might hire a panga for whale watching. Nice folks in the fishing camp, but I can’t say the same for their pit bull, who clamped onto my knee as I rode away from the camp. The damned dog traveled with me for a good fifty feet, teeth sunk into my leg armor and all four legs flailing in the air, before he finally let go and cartwheeled to a stop.

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    There are several choices for whale watching tours around the laguna; we chose Pachico’s Eco Tours at random, and we were glad we did. The owner graciously arranged for a private boat to take us out immediately for the same price as a group tour that wouldn’t have left for several hours. Pachico’s ‘eco resort’ itself was pretty interesting. It consisted of four or five small cabins right on the water and a dirt-floored thatched roof lodge/dining room, the walls of which were constructed of old car tires and adobe.

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    Captain Miguel Angel welcomed us aboard his panga and we motored out to the whale preserve. I have to say that I was not terribly excited about the prospect of whale watching since the whale watch trips I’ve taken in California are pretty unspectacular: merely an expensive ride on a big boat to maybe, if you’re lucky, see a whale or two 100 yards off the bow. Whale watching in Baja is a totally different deal. We could have hop-scotched across the laguna on the backs of the California Gray Whales that were hanging out there.:clap

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    Momma whales repeatedly nudged their calves up to the panga where we were able to reach out and actually touch the whales, thanks to the lack of pesky California-style environmental laws prohibiting the harassment of marine life. We giggled like little girls when we got sprayed with whale snot as the massive creatures breached right beside the boat and exhaled. I’m not one to get all starry-eyed about communing with nature and such, but getting so close to these giants was pretty powerful. I highly recommend taking some time out from riding to pet the whales if you find yourself in the San Ignacio area.
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    The tide receded just a bit while we were out:

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    Back at the luxurious Hotel Posada, we got shaken down for an additional 100 pesos for a late checkout when we had earlier been told that there would be no charge.:bluduh Oh well, happy to contribute to the local economy. I gave my one remaining moto glove to a local kid and told him that if he asked around town, he could probably find the mate and have a matching pair. He seemed excited at the prospect of owning a slightly-used pair of genuine Fox moto gloves.

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    We ate lunch at a taco stand that would send a health inspector into convulsions and swung onto Mex 1 southbound for Mulege. We learned along the way in Santa Rosalia that sourcing the most basic parts and supplies in Mexico can be a real challenge. The XR’s were both in need of an oil change, so we stopped at a parts house; they had one quart of motorcycle oil. The next one had two quarts. The third had one quart. So after visiting every parts house in town, we were able to assemble the required four quarts of oil.

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    Santa Rosalia is a seaside town that, on the surface, seems to have some unfulfilled potential. Our quick pass through on the highway gave us the impression that it was just a big grungy industrial town that could seriously benefit from some urban planning and zoning laws. For example, this oil change shop is located right on the beach::huh

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    I think if I spent some more time here, though, the place would grow on me. Santa Rosalia has an unusual history. Originally a large copper mining operation founded by a French company, mining was suspended in the 1950’s, but the remnants of major mining activities are still scattered all over town. The French-inspired architecture makes the downtown area feel more like New Orleans (on a very small scale) than a typical Baja town.

    I'm pretty sure "sandwichito" is not a real Spanish word:

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    Whereas Santa Rosalia was a little rough around the edges, Mulege was immediately charming and inviting. We turned off the highway and passed under the huge arch onto the narrow one-way streets of the little village. This was one part of the trip that I had planned in advance; I’d read good things from the inmates here at advrider about the Las Casitas Motel, and we were not disappointed. Marco, the motel’s manager/bartender/waiter, was very accommodating and graciously granted us VIP moto parking in the lush courtyard. We ended our day over beers in the bar, gazing out through the overhanging bougainvillea at our bikes cozily tucked into the motel courtyard. I like this place.:nod

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    Next up: Lazy days in Mulege. <o:p></o:p>
    #35
  16. bigdon

    bigdon Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,735
    I'm in! Baja is on my Bucket List! :D
    #36
  17. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    Glad to have you along, Bigdon! Do make it a point to get to Baja; if the three of us can do it, anyone can.:thumb
    #37
  18. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    March 23, 2013<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    We started the day right with coffee and killer date pastries:dg at a little café in town:

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    After a leisurely breakfast, we performed much-needed oil changes and air filter service behind the motel. When we asked the motel manager where to take the used oil for recycling, he looked at us like we’d lost our minds, and was surprised we even bothered to catch the old oil. Reluctantly, and with a guilty conscience, I dropped the containers of used oil in a trash drum. A discarded gallon water bottle works just fine as an oil catch:

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    Besides bike maintenance, nothing much got accomplished today. We rode around and took in the Saturday scene in Mulege. There were two quinceaneras happening simultaneously; one at a church in town, and the other at the mission outside town. I’m well-acquainted with this custom since I live in an area with many Latin-American immigrants, but the residents of Mulege really make a production of it. Once the church service is concluded, the quinceanera girl is loaded into the back of a pickup truck along with her attendants and is then paraded around town in a noisy procession of honking cars and trucks full of hollering friends and family. It’s quite a spectacle, and I’m glad we were able to experience it. No photos, since I felt weird as an obvious outsider snapping pictures of a 15-year-old girl who I don’t know.

    We mostly did a lot of this:

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    And wandered around town looking at random stuff:

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    <o:p>Yep, more air-cooled VW's::clap</o:p>
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    <o:p>This Datsun was perched precariously on a steep slope, teetering above a busy sidewalk in town. One good rain, and some unlucky pedestrian will wearing an old pickup truck on his head::eek1</o:p>
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    The mission is located on a hill just outside town, next to a lush oasis along the river. It was here at the mission that I found Jesus::pope

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    Greg and I rode along the river out to the Sea of Cortez to check out the damage that still remains from the hurricane that took place several years ago. Pallets and other scrap wood lodged twelve feet up in the trees along the river showed just how high the water got during the storm surge. There was a ruined and abandoned waterfront area (formerly the malecon or some kind of resort?) along the river that has apparently not received any attempt at restoration. On the other side of the river, however, were many recently-constructed gringo vacation homes along the mangroves right at river level, waiting to be taken out during the next major storm.

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    Back at the motel, the manager told us of a party in the town square later that night, but we knew we wouldn’t be up late enough to attend. We might as well have gone to the party, though, because we were kept awake by booming tuba music until 3:30 AM anyway.:strum<o:p></o:p>
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    Next up: Loreto<o:p></o:p>
    #38
  19. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    March 24 and 25, 2013<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    We discovered this morning that coffee shops in Mulege are closed on Sunday, because really, who drinks coffee on Sundays?:dog So packaged donuts would have to do for breakfast this morning. We stopped briefly at Playa Santispac because I’d heard from a co-worker about what a beautiful uncrowded paradise it was; I don’t think he’s been here for a long time. It was a very scenic area, but it was also a mob scene. There are much better choices for beaches (Playa Coyote, Playa Burro) just a few kilometers south of Santispac.

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    And all along I thought Greg was fluent in Spanish:

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    We made short work of the highway ride to Loreto, which is larger than Mulege and a maybe bit more tourist-oriented. There are some seriously impressive gringo vacation homes along the coast just north of town – way more ostentatious than those in Mulege. We checked into Hotel Junipero in the middle of town, where 450 pesos got us a room with three beds complete with brothel-style red silk linens and an impressive view of the mission just across the street. Secure parking for the bikes was in the courtyard just below.

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    <o:p>Another important announcement about a furniture store grand opening. Or a restaurant. Or someone running for office. Or something::dunno</o:p>
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    Pleasingly firm sleeping surfaces courtesy of poured concrete box springs:

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    Baja - the land of personal responsibility. Don’t trip walking down the stairs from the second story; you might arrive at ground level much quicker than anticipated::eek1

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    Did a little beach riding:

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    Then watched the Palm Sunday procession to the mission from our hotel balcony:

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    If you ever find yourself in Loreto, you will be sorry if you fail to visit Pangalapa for their chocolate clams, which are locally-sourced clams stuffed with diced ham, peppers, and cheese, then wrapped in foil and grilled. Unreal goodness:

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    Morning the next day brought a spectacular sunrise. There were many locals out for some early morning exercise on the elevated walkway that runs along the new malecon.

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    We had placed a small deposit yesterday to reserve a boat for snorkeling today, but as we approached the marina, a boat captain approached us and undercut the snorkeling company’s price by more than half. We couldn’t turn that down, so we forfeit our deposit and climbed aboard the “Jandy 1” with Captain Jesus. A more appropriate name for Jesus’ vessel might be “Janky 1”; the tired old panga was quite literally coming apart at the seams. The floorboards heaved and buckled at the taped/painted/fiberglassed-together seams every time we hit the most minor wave. Nevertheless, we made it safely out to Isla Coronados in the Bahia de Loreto Marine Park where we used cobbled-together yard sale snorkel gear provided by Captain Jesus to look for fishies. We decided to pack it in and head to another island about the time an aggressive bull sea lion slid off his rock and torpedoed towards us.:yikes The second island featured pristine white sand beaches and no angry sea lions.

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    Pangalapa was closed in the evening, so we ate over-priced and under-spiced tacos at La Palapa down the street – don’t get the two confused if you’re looking for good food in Loreto.:deal

    Before I go, mandatory VW viewing:

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    Next up: Angry cartel types or just really unfriendly ranchers? <o:p></o:p>
    #39
  20. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Ciudad Catedral
    March 26, 2013<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    Today’s plan was to ride from Loreto on the Sea of Cortez coast to San Juanico on the Pacific coast via the remote villages of San Jose Comondu and San Miguel Comondu. But things don’t always go according to plan.:D<o:p></o:p>
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    We passed this interesting bit of engineering on the outskirts of Loreto. It looks like some kind of chute for loading gravel from the hills above into waiting trucks below. The hillside apparently needed reinforcement, but concrete and rebar is expensive. What do we have on hand that might be a good substitute? How about a Camaro, a Pinto, a Galaxie and a Mustang (among other Detroit classics)? It appears to have held up just fine:

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    We left Loreto and climbed up through a steep canyon on an incredibly serpentine paved road with many unmarked surprise washouts. Remember the personal responsibility thing? The road is paved all the way to the very scenic Mission San Javier.

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    From Mission San Javier, we backtracked a few miles to the dirt turn-off to the Comondu villages. We verified with a rancher at the junction that we were on the right road, although he stated that he would avoid this route, since it was impassable in a car, and unknown on a motorbike. He looked worried for us. Maybe we should have paid more attention to his concern. <o:p></o:p>
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    The road was really pretty mellow until we reached what I believe was Las Animas ranch. At this point, the road is flanked by a couple of ramshackle ranch buildings. As we approached the ranch, we were flagged down by two teenage boys who were dressed as if they were going out to hit the night clubs in Mazatlan; they looked curiously out of place so deep in the hills far from any urban area. The following conversation was conducted entirely in Spanish between Greg and the teenagers:<o:p></o:p>
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    Kids: “What are you doing here?”<o:p></o:p>

    Greg: “Just passing through.”<o:p></o:p>
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    Kids: “No you’re not. This is private property. You need to turn around and go back the way you came.”<o:p></o:p>
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    When Greg relayed this information to me, I sized up the kids, didn’t see anything too alarming, called bullshit:topes, and we continued along the road beyond the ranch. Just past the ranch, the road became very steep and littered with basketball sized rocks. This was not fun on the big bikes, and the road was only getting more difficult. The difficulty of the road combined with the weird exchange back at the ranch made Greg very uncomfortable. Greg told me that there was a look in the eyes of the kids that lead him to believe that there was something more to their warning than just kids wanting to mess with tourists. I trust Greg’s instincts in these matters, so now I was a bit worried myself, as it was becoming clear that we needed to turn around and ride back through the ranch.

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    We bounced and skidded back down the road, in full view of anyone watching from the ranch (perhaps through the scope of a high-powered rifle?:gun2). As we passed through the ranch, I see that a middle-aged parolee type has joined the teenagers and all three are angrily trying to wave us down. Nope, we’re in a hurry. We throttled it past the trio as I gave them my best clueless but friendly tourist wave.:wave They did not appear to be happy with us.:boid We did not stop to look back for many miles.

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    We passed by the mission again and traveled along a fast dirt road interspersed with washouts and water crossings to the paved Highway 53 and into La Purisima. La Purisima is situated in a beautiful palm-lined canyon and has an impressive-looking dormant volcano as a backdrop. The town was completely deserted on the day we passed through and had a vague “village of the damned” feel to it, but this could have just been my own paranoia with the ranch incident so fresh in my mind.:norton We bought some barrel gas from a group of surly and untalkative fellows, checked out a loncheria that was just too grim even by our standards, and got the hell out of town.

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    <o:p>Cool gravity-fed sink set in a palm stump:</o:p>
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    After a rough day in the heat of the foothills, the cool coastal air of San Juanico/Scorpion Bay was very welcome. Except for the paved main street, all roads in San Juanico are dirt, and the town is populated by a mix of friendly and laid back locals and expat surfers. We had some outstanding shrimp tacos at La Cabana while we considered our options for lodging. We decided it was too cold to camp in our lightweight gear, so we settled in to Casitas de San Juanico for the night. This is another place I can highly recommend. It consists of four comfortable rooms attached to the owners’ home on a secured property in a residential neighborhood. It is far better than the only other lodging option in town, (Hotel 7 Puentas), which consists of a room over a liquor store and no parking for more money.

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    Next up: Riding on the moon.<o:p></o:p>
    #40