Its that time of year again, time to hit Baja! Outside of prepping the bike, my plans were as follows: ride motorcycle, sit on the beach, drink a few beers, and chase senoritas. I headed out from Las Vegas on the 17th, a bit later in the day than I wanted to, but Im on vacation and not in a hurry. I stayed the first night in Yuma, AZ, as the border crossing at Los Algodones was a bit backed up, plus I needed a few supplies still. I crossed the border late the next morning at Los Algodones. Very easy crossing, plus the first building on the right hand side of the street is the Immigration Office. Go in here and get your tourist visa. Part of getting your tourist visa is walking out the back door to the little HSBC bank window to pay the $25 fee, then bringing the receipt back to receive your stamped visa. No worries about leaving your bike on the street in front of the office, or there is a parking lot behind the office too. I had to hit the ATM to get pesos, then fuel up and get back to riding. Riding out of Los Algodones I was going to try a dirt route that I picked out on Google Earth, but everything was extremely muddy or had standing water in it, so I took the toll road, for 9 pesos, and stayed on the pavement to San Felipe. All the way down, there was standing water everywhere, clouds overhead, high winds, and very cool temperatures. I spent the night in San Felipe, as I rolled in there around 3pm. I try to avoid riding in the dark in Baja, too many cows, vados, and crazy drivers. I got moving early the next morning, still with the same high winds and cold temperatures. I decided to knock out some big miles today to try to get to warmer weather. I rode up to the Pemex station, fuel up, then proceed to have the bike backfire and not start for a few minutes. This would continue for the remainder of the trip, at pretty much every fuel stop in Baja. I had been past the sign for the Valley of the Giants (about 20 miles south of San Felipe) a few times, so I decided to stop and check it out. Its $10US to get in. Be prepared for deep sand on your self guided tour of huge Cardon Cacti. The highway south out of San Felipe is now paved to within 4 miles of Gonzaga bay, so this is probably my last trip there before it gets overwhelmed with more visitors using the extended road. I hit up Alfonsinas for some fish tacos, talked to a couple that was camped down here, then headed out for Cocos Corner. Coco was there today, so I stopped and had a Pacifico with him. Hes doing OK, but had been in the hospital a lot this past year. Coco managed to put a few of the local critters in a jar on the table for the tourists to see. The road out from Cocos was in decent shape, despite the large areas of standing water and a few deep rain ruts. Back on MEX 1, I charged south to Gurrero Negro and finally stopped when I ran out of daylight in San Ignacio. On the way to San Ignacio, I noticed that my exhaust sounded a bit different. After settling in, I went to have a look and found that the Remus Titanium exhaust had started cracking at the rivets. Looking in my bag of spares, I didnt have a big enough hose clamp, but the crack didnt look that bad. At the hotel, there was a guided tour of 20 Canadians that were riding the Baja 1000 course on rented bikes. I ended up talking to the guide and how he loves doing solo trips down into Baja. The next day was warmer and the wind had stopped, so I decided to get off the pavement. I took the road out to Laguna San Ignacio and the salt flats. Not much salt, as the rain had dissolved it, but there was plenty of deep sand. As I was riding the 50 miles of deep sand whoops, I didnt have a chance to get any photos due to the first rule of riding in sand being Dont stop. You go through a few little fishing villages out on the coast. All of the kids come running out of the houses, asking for candy and stickers. I unfortunately did not have any with me. As you head inland toward La Ballena, it gets very rocky, but the road is well traveled. The last 20 miles into San Juanico is extremely washboarded, so if anything is going to come loose and fall off your bike, this is where it will happen. In San Juanico, I grabbed more fish tacos for lunch at El Burro Primavera. One slight problem, the Canadiens had been here a couple of hours ago and the guy that sells gas was out. I now have to go to La Purisima to get gas, but that adds about 40 miles to my trip that I hadnt planned on. Oh well, its Baja, just roll with it. So I head out on the road to La Purisima, dealing with the road construction, herd of cows, and potholes that swallowed a Ford F150 that was in front of me. After gassing up, I head south to Cuidad Insurgentes. Its a 100 mile straight shot, with rolling hills, loose cows, huge cacti, and large birds of prey flying everywhere. At Insurgentes, I gas up again and start peeling off layers as I have finally out run the cold front and clouds. It stays warm, but its also late afternoon, so I get moving toward Cuidad Constitucion. Constitucion is a huge agricultural area, so there are fields of everything from wheat to corn to tomatoes, and the accompanying insects that pollenate them. Living in Las Vegas, Im not used to seeing flying insects and have forgotten how much butterflies splatter when you hit them. After some traffic delays in the two cities, I decide to head to La Paz for the night, but I run out of daylight. The section between Constitucion and La Paz has rolling hills, then a plateau that you ascend then a sharp drop with a lot of switchbacks as you drop to the Sea of Cortez and into La Paz. Just as it was completely dark and I pulled over to switch to my clear goggle lens, a small truck pulls in and 3 guys get out, leaving a trail of 30 empty beer cans behind them. When Im getting back on the bike, I notice them coming back out of the store, each with a case of beer. Luckily they get back on the road and head the opposite direction back into Constitucion. There are a few cars and trucks on the road to La Paz, so I stick myself in the middle of a few of them to use as cow shields on the way to La Paz. This is the one part of this trip that I didnt enjoy, as it was riding I had to do versus riding I wanted to do. I finally get to La Paz, grab some dinner on the Malecon, and find a hotel. It isnt a Baja trip unless the bike is in the room with you: I get up early the next day and go for a run on the Malecon and see what it looks like during the day. La Paz is interesting, but busy, dusty, and pretty expensive, so I move down south to Todos Santos. I came through Todos Santos last year on my way back from Cabo and realized that I should have spent time here instead of in Cabo San Lucas. Unlike the USA, nobody here is uptight about you riding a bike on the beach. Dont be a jackass about it and you wont be bothered. My exhaust had continued to crack, so I picked up some hose clamps, 2 big cans of Tecate, and headed back to the hotel to make a field repair. For future reference, hose clamp in spanish is Abrazedera de Acero. The JB Weld under the cans needed several hours to cure, so I spend the rest of the day ambling around Todos Santos eating and waiting for my laundry to get finished. A few things you need to understand when you visit here in order to not look like the normal Ugly American: slow down, simplify, stop whining, and try to speak some spanish. Granted, there are lots of expat Americans and Canadiens here, but they left the norther rat race behind for a more relaxed life. Lots of English can be overheard in most places, but there are still plenty of people that only speak Spanish. There is plenty of excellent food here in Todos Santos, from sit down restaurants with classically trained chefs to roadside taco stands. This place had excellent Duck tacos. It was here that I learned to ask if a place has fresh fish that may not be on the menu. I came back the next night and the chef made me an incredible fish dinner. This place has great little gorditas. The little roadside stands are just as good as the restaurants, but at a fraction of the price. 3 gorditas and a 1L coke was 42 pesos. The coffee shop, Deli Los Santos, has good food and coffee. Im not a coffee drinker, so when I ambled in and wanted something simple, the owner Sebastian wanted something that was a bit of a challenge, so I told him to suprise me. I ended up with a huge cup of coffee made with milk and a whole Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. I was then cordially invited to stop in the next morning for breakfast. This was one of the best meals Ive ever had. The fresh beef (unintentionally tenderized by the front of a car) that was stewed overnight, juevos rancheros, and another coffee creation was by far the best meal of the trip. After spending 2 days in Todos Santos, I moved down the beach a few kilometers to El Pescador. Much more budget friendly and a lot more non-Californian tourists. I like to play with long exposure shots at night, so here are a couple of them that turned out OK. El Pescador was busy, so I couldnt get multiple nights at the same place. So the next day, I move to Pescadero Surf Camp. Everyone here was from different parts of the world, and we got along just fine. First order of business was to get some refreshments lined up. Im not a huge Xmas fan, but we did have a tree. Here I am putting the limon on the top: That night, I added a few lights to the palapa. Then we needed some light to cook by, so I moved the lights to the Xmas Cactus: Most of Xmas day was spent at Cerritos Beach. I paid the $5US to park the bike on the firm ground. On top of the hill was The Hacienda, a very cool resort hotel. It even has a secret passage to get up to the top of the tower. Well, the beach was great, but not being a surfer, I got bored, plus it was time to start heading back north. One of the guys at Surf Camp was heading back north as well, so we agreed to meet in San Ignacio the next evening for dinner. Rather than fight the wind going over the mountains into Loreto, Mulege, and Santa Rosalia, I elected to head back toward the salt flats to get to San Juanico. On the beach in San Juanico. Looking at the map, there was a second road that is inland a couple of miles, so I took that instead of the deep sand whoops. The road was in great shape, but did have a lot of silt beds. These usually had workarounds, but a few times it looked like the silt was a better option than the workaround. The last silt bed of the day decided to reach out and grab me. Most of the road: The moonrise to the front: The setting sun behind me: Made it into San Ignacio about 15 minutes before the other guy arrived in the car. We camped by the water and I got eaten up by the bugs. The surfer guy was lamenting sitting in traffic to cross the border in Tijuana the next day, so I suggested to take the route I took down. I offered to scout the road for him, and if it was going to be impassable in a VW GTI, Id let him know. Turns out the road was in great shape and he was only a few minutes behind me at Cocos. I had to fix a missing bolt, so he left before I did, but we pulled in at the same time to the Pemex at Gonzaga Bay. I stayed the night in San Felipe: I headed out the next morning via Mex 3 and tried to hook up with some friends that were at Mikes Sky Ranch. I missed them, so I headed to Ensenada then to Tijuana. I checked the weather and it looked like it was going to start getting nasty the next day, so I headed back home to Las Vegas.