We resume our story where our hero (Ben) had his license seized by el jefe at the policia station in Puertecitos, the town Clement Salvadori calls "the ugliest in Baja." It was "a dangerous maneuver to pass that truck." I was there and watched it. The truck had pulled off the dirt road to let Ben by, and he passed at perhaps 10 m.p.h. Anyway, we scrounged for coins, paid the $12.50, leaving us 30 pesos since there was no cash to be had for 200 miles in either direction, and Ben was a free man in possession of a license. Nice policia car that hauled him into the station with lights flashing: We had gone 60 miles since our last gas and we had 200 left to go to Guerro Negro, where we were told there was a working ATM. With the delays at the bank trying to get cash and Ben being arrested, we were set back 3 hours and it was now pitch black. The first 90 miles were on heavy washboard. I went into a downhill corner too hot that had tricky lengthwise gravel ridges. I drifted wide until it was clear there was no way and I had to take my chances in the open desert dodging boulders and smashing cactus until I could get stopped. I'm impressed with how cactus-resistant BMW Kalahari boots are... Two needles penetrated the boot but ran out of gas before nailing my foot. After getting the bike back up to the road, the score was 6-0 washboard: two missed corners, one broken speedometer cable, two major parts vibrated off, and rear license plate eaten; no knockdowns. Ben complained that the Jeep CD player skipped. Poor baby. We found a place for soft drinks and spent our last 30 pesos. Bad idea. At 250 miles since last gas, the KLR was on its last fumes, we were toast, it was 10:30 and we had one last military inspection. It was decided Ben's Jeep needed to be sprayed for fruit flies but my bike would be okay. That will be 10 pesos for spraying. We explained how we didn't have 10 pesos and they explained why we couldn't go then. Ben scrounged the Jeep and somehow found a 10 peso piece. What was that doing there? And why did we miss it before? Whew! They sprayed his two left wheels and we were free to go. The hotels in Guerro Negro wouldn't take a credit card but we found a working ATM! And the sound of dispensing bills was the sweetest thing we'd heard in two days. And we slept like logs. Until there was a drunken brawl outside our room. And then...something happened to us that had never happened in our travels before before: our attitudes soured and we decided Baja sucks. So we went north and that day in search of adventure in Southern Cal. But we had an incredible ride through the sweepers in an amazing landscape filled with boojums. The only Pemex along the 230-mile route was closed and this time the KLR didn't make it 250 miles, owing to 30 mph headwinds. So we ditched it in the desert, drove to town & bought a gallon of Pemex, and an amazing thing happened. We listened to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, one of the coolest songs I know, we got feeling like schmucks for dissing Baja, looked up and saw the greatest display of stars I've ever seen, and decided we were in a magical place. I rode the 20 miles into town by the light of the moon with my shield up and never wanted it to end. You woulda thought I was Arbey Canuck. But it wore off in El Rosario, a rotten slum of a town, and the Sinai Hotel. Gross. In the morning while Ben slept I attempted the ride to Punta Baja but was faced with a big river crossing. Uh oh. It'd be a long hike back in my Kalahari boots, which are pretty gay when it comes to hiking. But what the heck, I went for it. The water was deep enough to fill my boots and muffle the exhaust, but somehow the engine didn't die and neither did I. Next day we got into some incredible dunes. Oh sure, my stinkin' kid misses the shot of a great power slide and gets the one that wasn't so elegant But it was gorgeous, and fun, and especially the ride along the Baja 1000 by Mike's Sky Ranch was awesome Okay, fine. There were two knockdowns in the sand... For the record, the Jeep could climb steeper sand dunes than the KLR could with its Avon Gripsters. We boogied north and out the Tecate border crossing, came up the coast highway back to the Bay Area, stopping to see Lord of the Rings in Santa Barbara and the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Can't get enough of that place. So whatdoIreallythinkofBaja? The towns and washboard roads suck. I prefer the ride to central Mexico 1000% more. But it had its bright spots, some of which are truly great.