Baja lies and pics

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Baldy, Dec 22, 2001.

  1. Baldy

    Baldy Founder of ADV Administrator

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    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:

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    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. :eyes 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.

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    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. :cool:

    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.

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    Next day we got into some incredible dunes. Oh sure, my stinkin' kid misses the shot of a great power slide

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    and gets the one that wasn't so elegant

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    But it was gorgeous, and fun, and

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    especially the ride along the Baja 1000 by Mike's Sky Ranch was awesome

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    Okay, fine. There were two knockdowns in the sand...

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    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.
    #1
  2. YardSale

    YardSale Adventurer

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    Sounds like you had a good time. I'll be heading down on my KLR on Jan 3rd for around two weeks. Sounds like it was pretty cold. Should I bother bringing my camping gear or plan on motels?
    Thanks,
    Kevin,
    A15
    #2
  3. Baldy

    Baldy Founder of ADV Administrator

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    Hey Kevin,

    It definitely cools down at night anywhere in Baja Norte but especially in the mountains. In the days it was around 65ish in Ensenada, 73ish in Guerro Negro, and 78ish around La Paz (we're told).

    We didn't bring camping gear but wished we did since we had so much room in the Jeep. We would have camped a night or two on the beach instead of staying in the cheesy hotels.

    Have a great time and loctite everything!
    #3
  4. Baldy

    Baldy Founder of ADV Administrator

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    I don't mind primitive conditions like the guys in the recent edition of Cycle World experienced in the Gobi desert. Don't mind drunken brawls. But I've had enough filthy slums for a lifetime; I grew up in them.

    I laced up my running shoes in Guerro Negro and ran around town for 2 hours, smiling and chatting with locals, wanting to like the place, but it's a tattered depressing mess, like every town north of La Paz. It had a nice park in el centro and a few nice residential areas, but that was it.

    The ride I took last year, http://www.macaskill.com/Mexico/Mexico.html , was one of the highlights of my riding career but all of the good stuff was 500 miles south of the border.
    #4
  5. Marc

    Marc Just sayin...

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    Baldy,

    GREAT trip report! Regarding your experiences south of the border, I hear 'ya. Used to surf baja in the mid 70's and saw the line between unspoiled beauty and dangerous crap moving further and further south. In a separate post, I said Mexico was horrible for the first 100 miles which should be avoided. I stand corrected - apparently, the badness is oozing southward. I will reset my limitation to 500 miles and eliminate all but La Paz from my baja adventures. Glad you made it home in one piece... I just hope Engineer reads this before he sets out on his Baja adventure this winter/spring!

    Marc
    #5
  6. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    Great trip report, guy!

    Steve in So Cal

    My LA to Cabo trip is tentatively on for first week of April....
    #6
  7. freeflow

    freeflow get in or go in Supporter

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    bump

    from the origins
    #7
  8. G.Kennedy

    G.Kennedy ...

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    Very cool
    #8
  9. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Baldy in action!! Thanks for the bump!! Looks great! :thumb
    #9
  10. bajaburro

    bajaburro Ancient Adventurer

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    unfortunately




























    unfortunately thats what baja has become,dirty and depressing.its ok for people who don't know how nice it once was.forgot to mention crowded.
    #10
  11. Just_Sean

    Just_Sean herewegoagain

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    I didn't know Baldy was a KLR ridin' cheap.....



    Oh, Hi boss :wave
    #11
  12. fixer

    fixer KLR-riding cheap bastard

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    da boss on a KLR... :ricky who knew?
    #12
  13. BeemerChef

    BeemerChef Wandering Homeless

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    Living under the Stars...
    I will never forget reading your ride report you did on the K12... This was before ADV Rider was even in existence! (right?). Man... you were... still are ... the Hero!...
    Seven years later... he we are!
    You be well...

    Ara & Spirit

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. Dudsamoto

    Dudsamoto Been here awhile

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    For any Baja trip planners... as you can guess, El Rosario is NOT a good place to spend the night. I always arrange to go through in the daylight and get the hell out of there.
    #14
  15. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    The historical perspective is cool, huh?

    :lurk
    #15
  16. NomadRip

    NomadRip Always a n00b

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    Very cool, indeed :thumb
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  17. Roostn

    Roostn On the Throttle Stop

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    Very interesting perspective on Baja. I went last March for the first time. We had a ball! But I found I really enjoyed it more the more remote we were. The towns were just a quick place to knock the dust off and do maintenance. There is a route from El Arco toward San Fransiscito and then to the Bay of LA that was just incredible. I can't wait to get back and ride it again. Next time I go I want to camp a little more and do shorter days. We were riding 250-300 mile days and missed out on some sightseeing and talking with people.
    #17