Southern Exposure: Seattle to Argentina

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Thornado, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
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    149
    Greetings all. This is my first ride report here and almost my first post. I've been a lurker for a few years now, and have been dreaming of a ride to South America for the last 3 years. I had been planning on doing it solo, but along the way I met a great woman who thought this trip was a great idea. So here we are, on the road on two KLRs, heading south.

    I'll be primarily updating my personal travel blog, Southern Exposure, but I will be cross posting here as I find the time. I want to contribute back to this site that has given me so much inspiration, especially the FlyingAvanti and Cavebiker threads, amongst many others. In the post I copy directly from my travel blog, the audience is friends and family, not the hardcore found here, so apologies in advance for descriptions of things you already know everything about. I've omitted reposting the ride from Seattle to the border. Further apologies for upcoming delays between posts - I'm trying to ride more than I post.
    #1
  2. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

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    Wednesday, November 19
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    We finally have begun the trip proper. We arose early today, and actually got on the road at a decent hour without incident. We got off at the last exit before the border and picked up insurance for Mexico.
    After reading about all of the border experiences of other travelers, I think we both had a lot of anxiety built up about crossings. Neither had ever taken a vehicle through customs before, so we were expecting quite an ordeal and had only the modest goal of Ensenada for the day.
    It’s strange to me that there is no exit process to leaving the US. It’s just all of the sudden you’re off the freeway and you’re in Tijuana. It was easy enough to follow the signs to temporary vehicle importation office. Tijuana is just as beautiful as you’ve heard, a true paradise.
    Once at the customs office, I left Inna guarding the bikes and took our mountain of documents and photocopies inside. It was not clear at all where to start, but I was soon pointed to the immigration. I was moving in circles between immigration, the bank, and the aduana (customs). Only the customs officer spoke english, but I was really happy with how much spanish I had retained. I was able to get through the conversations without struggling too much.
    The one obstacle I had worried about but had no answer to in advance was importing two vehicles in my name. The customs officer did not like that at all and wouldn’t permit entry. His solution was to sign the bike over to Inna on the spot. I really didn’t know what else to do at this point. It was either sign it over, or go back to the US and magic up a solution. I hovered over that title for a few minutes, but eventually just signed over the title. The customs officer was happy and the rest of the paperwork went through just fine then. I worry this decision will have repercussions at future borders, but only time will tell. The entire process took about an hour and half.
    Once we were out of customs and on the road, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I know that’s probably going to be the easiest border of them all, but it was nice to have the experience behind us. It was a nice turning point from endless preparation to riding south along the Pacific Ocean.
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    We rode the toll road through two tolls, and then decided to get off the toll road because it seemed like a waste of money. The free road turned in from the coast at one point and rode through the hills in the desert, which I quite enjoyed. I’ve always liked desert riding. Riding a ribbon of asphalt through expansive vistas and the sense of open space really strikes a chord in me.
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    We rode through Ensenada and I don’t really have anything nice to say about it. There were two cruise ships docked there and it just seems like a tourist dump to me. We rode through town, headed south, and as it was about 3 pm, decided to double back to the beach area of La Bufadora. We expected there to be a beach town at the end of this road, but it just went from road into a tourist trap line of stalls before you got to some sort of sea spout in the rocks that we didn’t even bother to look at. We rode back towards the main road where we picked a surprisingly nice little hotel around 4:30. We unpacked the bikes, locked them together, and had an early dinner before retiring.
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    #2
  3. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

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    Thursday, November 20
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    Today was the first full day of riding in Mexico. Last night we studied the map and the travel book to figure out our route in Baja. We’ve heard that Mulege, a small village on the site of an ancient mission in the southeastern part of Baja, is a nice place to spend a day or so soaking up the sun on the beaches of the Sea of Cortes. Judging by the speed of today it will take us about three days to get there.

    This morning we had a fun encounter with two adventure riders from Seattle. In a comical circumstance, these were the guys we “blew off” yesterday when we were passing through Ensenada. We could not figure out why there were all these dirt bikes and dune buggies on the streets, and as we moved slowly through the traffic, two guys on the sidewalk were running after us, yelling, making signs with their hands, and taking our pictures. Unfortunately, neither of us could hear anything because of the ear plugs and the music. We waved, and kept on going. This morning, as we ate our mini mart breakfast outside of the motel, we saw two riders on the road, waved at them, and to our surprise they turned around and drove up to us. It turned out that these were the guys from yesterday, all geared up on their V-Stroms. We found out that they rode from Seattle to watch the Baja 1000 off road race, which was starting tomorrow. They tried to get our attention yesterday, because they saw our ADV (Adventure Rider) stickers and Washington State license plates. We talked for a short while, got invited to join them to see the race but we had to keep on going South and they had to get back to Ensenada.

    We only had about 200 miles to go today to El Rosario, which is a small town before a long stretch of desert nothingness. It took us much longer than we expected, mainly because the traffic kept on getting stuck behind large trucks and it took effort to get in front of the line, only to get stuck behind another trail of cars 20 miles down the road. One time we tried to get around a line of stopped traffic by riding on the shoulder which got us into a sandy dirt road. Matt’s tire got in pretty deep at one point, and I was sweating it as it was my first time riding in the sand. We decided not to get too adventurous. (There were a bunch of cars stuck in the sand ahead of us, and guys with shovels trying to dig around the tires).

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    Another time the paved road suddenly ended and we had to ride on the gravel road while the workers were paving the road two feet next to us. I am happy that Matt and I took the dirt riding class before we left on this trip. Now I just have to practice my skills as there will be many more dirt roads ahead.

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    We stopped by for a quick lunch in a small one road town. Apparently, today is Mexico’s Independence Day, so there were all these festivities going on in the town park. After lunch (where I was stung by a bee), we kept on going through the desert mountainous scenery, sometimes enhanced by the view of the ocean, and finally made it to El Rosario.
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    The hotel we stopped at seemed extremely cush for this area, we’ve got a king size bed, satellite TV, coffee maker, beautiful shower and a large size adobe room decorated with dark wood beams and artisan furniture. All for only 30 dollars. Better not get used to luxury like this. Tonight we had dinner at Mama Espinoza’s, one of the oldest restaurants in Baja. It has been a Baja 1000 checkpoint for 40 years and the walls are covered in race
    memorabilia.

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    Tomorrow we will get up early and head to Guerro Negro. It should be a long ride through the desert. We’ll get an earlier start tomorrow and hopefully traffic will be lighter.
    #3
  4. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Friday, November 21


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    Today was one of those days I dreamed about before we started this trip. It was a day of near perfect motorcycling, riding through the central deserts of Baja, surrounded by an infinite expanse of cactus.

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    We knew we were planning on putting in some miles today, so we got up extra early. We had breakfast at Mama Espinoza’s and managed to be on the road by 8:30. Somehow we just can’t get our morning preparations to take less than two hours.


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    It was a beautiful sunny day and Hwy 1 outside of El Rosario quickly turned into a winding rollercoaster through the desert mountains. It was the kind of road a motorcyclist lives for. Wide open terrain, sweeping turns, and rolling hills. The sky was that perfect shade of blue to complement the brown and arid terrain. Riding through this terrain is a great way to start a day.

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    I’ve ridden or driven through many of the deserts of the United States before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a density of cactus before. There were three or four different types: the “classic”, thick branching cactus, tall, skinny xmas tree like cactus, squat and thick with red needles on top, and gnarly twisting branching cactus.


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    We didn’t make too much progress in the early miles - we kept stopping to take pictures. I think we made 25 miles in the first hour of riding. The landscape seemed to become more beautiful around every corner.


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    We came to one section of road a little before Cataviña. The landscape was littered with boulders. They were scattered everywhere with some built into large piles. I don’t really understand how something like this forms and would like to learn about the geology of this area. It was stunning to see, ruined only by the insistence of every passerby to write their name in spray paint on the boulders alongside the road.


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    We decided to take a short detour down a sandy road to immerse ourselves in the boulder field. We probably went 1/4 mile down the road and parked the bikes so we could walk around. I scrambled amongst the boulders, seeking higher ground and snapping pictures. It’s a shame about the timing of this encounter. It would have been a magical place to have a picnic.


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    The sandy road was quite the washboard in the wheel tracks. I decided to try my luck riding in the center only to quickly have the front wheel push in the sand. The bike started to tip over and I did a walk off dismount of the bike and it settled on its left side. Luck tried, luck failed. The blue bike is now evenly balanced with a fall on the right and left sides. The bike wasn’t damaged; the soft sand that was the problem in the first place nicely cushioned the bike’s fall. My ego is doubly bruised. I think the crash bars will need a minor adjustment but this kind of thing is what I had in mind when I built the bike up.


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    We got back on the main road and passed through Cataviña. It was a small town if I use the word town generously. There was one or two restaurants and two hotels. In retrospect we should have just called it a day right there and stayed the night. The desert surrounding it was enchanting, and opportunities to enjoy a landscape like this won’t come often in life.


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    We officially entered the Valle de los Cirios, Valley of the Cactus, shortly thereafter and it was a strange beginning. That particular valley seemed to have less cactus than any of the ones preceding it. It’s a large nature preserve, and after 10 miles the cactus returned in full strength. As we crossed over another set of hills, we entered a rain shadow. The landscape was drier and there were large open spaces of just dirt or sand. We saw a few mirages beckoning us into the landscape.


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    After nearly 100 miles of riding through hills, it flattened out and the road became straighter. It reminded more of West Texas. The riding wasn’t as exciting, but it was still a beautiful day. The temperature fluctuated between 80 and 90, but I was comfortable in my riding gear. Low humidity was a real plus.


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    After 200 miles, and very close to Guerrero Negro, our goal for the day, we made it to the first gas station since El Rosario. It’s fortunate the KLRs have such big gas tanks as we could have gone another 50 miles or so. We soon went through our first of three military checkpoints of the day, and at the first one they made us stop to show our visas. The other two later in the day just waved us through.


    We crossed the 28th parallel, the border between Baja California and Baja California Sur. It’s a good milestone for us. We made it to Guerrero Negro at 2pm, hours ahead of schedule. We rode through town and it wasn’t particularly inviting. Just a few long roads flanked with small shops. It was only a few miles from the ocean and it seemed strange they didn’t put the town near the water. It would have made it far more inviting.



    We were early and not excited to spend the rest of the day there, so we made a snap decision and decided to move on to San Ignacio, which was about 60 miles further. There is a naming convention to Mexican towns I don’t understand. This would be the 2nd town where we found two towns close to each other being distinct but having the same or nearly the same name on the map. The guidebook did not make the situation clearer.


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    We rode east, as this stretch of one went clear from the west coast of Baja to the east. San Ignacio was in the middle. When we finally reached it, it was 3:30 and it was only 60 more miles to Santa Rosalia on the east coast. We made our second snap decision of the day and decided to push through to the east coast, which would give us a nearly open weekend. Our goal for tomorrow had been Mulegé, 60 kms south of Santa Rosalia. Spending in the night in Santa Rosalia would be a short ride on Saturday and we would be taking the day off on Sunday.


    The sun was now casting golden light on the landscape, which made the mostly straight road more beautiful. For many miles a volcano called Vulcan Tres Virgines loomed before us. Judging from the peaks it never erupted. Once past, the road descended quickly to the coast. It was the kind of road they would never build in the US and the kind you never catch at the right time. It was a steep but not too steep grade wrapping around the hills until reaching the bottom and the extremely welcome Sea of Cortez.



    Another few miles down the coast and we were in Santa Rosalia, a busy little town that was founded by the French to mine and smelt copper. We road through town and priced a few hotels before settling on one at the edge of town with good parking for the bikes.


    We rode 365 miles today, the longest day Inna and I have ever ridden together. Except for the last 50 miles, the distance flew by and we were surprised at how many miles we had done without it seeming like a grind.
    #4
  5. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

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    Saturday and Sunday, November 22 and 23


    by Inna



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    From Santa Rosalia we only had about 40 miles to go to Mulegé which was our weekend destination where we planned to spend a day enjoying the beaches of the Sea of Cortez. We had a leisurely morning around town, spent a few hours at the Internet cafe and came back to the hotel to pack, only to discover that we had missed the check out time by an hour. I made a deal with the hotel guy by giving him $2 dollars, which he gladly accepted and we were almost on our way. Right before we got on our bikes, he came up to us with a cute, mid-size short brown-haired dog on a leash. He told us that the dog somehow fell out of an American RV and was left behind by the owners. The dog had a collar with a number to call in case it was lost, so we spent the next half an hour trying to make the the 1-800 call to US, with no luck. We finally called Matt’s parents, gave them all the information and the location of the dog, hoping that it will be reunited with it’s owner, but knowing that the the chances were pretty slim. We later found out (from the parents’ communications) that the dog’s name was Lucy and her owner was a veterinarian who was traveling in Mexico performing veterinary services pro bono. We very much hope that Lucy finds her family soon.

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    Mulegé is a small village-town with about 5000 residents, with some of the best beaches on the Sea of Cortes within a 10 mile distance. We settled in the charming Hotel Hacienda, ran by a very genial and hospitable señor Alfonso. He has owned the hotel for 44 years (and married to his señorita for 54!). He has five sons and one daughter, all highly educated professionals. We were probably one of only three residents at the hotel. (The tourist season is just starting and the business has been down because of the deteriorating US economy). We were able to park the bikes right in the courtyard of the hotel, which is always a big plus.



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    In the evening, we rode to the beach where we had a very romantic candlelight dinner on the beach - our table was located literally five feet from the water. The restaurant was owned by (you guessed it!) an American couple, and we found out there was a sizable community of American retirees and American RV travelers in the area.

    The next morning we rode along the coast for about 15 minutes to a remote sandy beach, and spent the whole afternoon frolicking in the the sun. I love days like this, nothing to do or worry about, just enjoy the calming sound of the rolling surf and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.
    #5
  6. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

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    Monday and Tuesday, November 24 and 25


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    The next day we got up early, had señor Alfonso’s tasty coffee (which he prepared for us every morning by saving it in a termos) and were on our way to La Paz. The ride of about 300 miles was quite boring and exhausting. The scenery could be compared to dry flat deserts of Arizona with short mountain chains blocking the horizon on both sides.



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    Most of the time you could see the straight road for miles ahead and that would just amplify your desire to be done riding and off the road and the bike. It is on these straight endless roads when you feel the nagging pain in your back, shoulders and neck.



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    Half way to La Paz in Insurgentes we ran into two adventure riders from San Diego whose bikes we noticed in Santa Rosalia and had a short conversation with them. They have already been down to Cabo and were on the way back north. We were jealous of their cool bikes - a KTM and a BMW - they are definitely much faster than ours. Matt and I disagree on their names, so we won’t post it here. Keep in touch, guys!
    The road seemed to last forever, but we finally reached La Paz at about 4:30 pm.



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    It took us about 40 minutes to find a suitable hotel. Matt and I are still trying to figure out the best strategy for getting around an unknown town and finding a hotel that would fit our budget. The one disadvantage of our Rough Guide travel books is that they don’t rate the hotels by price. We try to go by the book descriptions, but it usually takes a few trials to find a good value hotel that is not completely “ghetto.” Trying to maneuver the bikes around unknown narrow city streets, looking for street name signs (which are very rare), having one person get off the bike to check the hotel rates, makes things a bit difficult and we become impatient with each other fast as we try to figure out the best plan of action. We finally found the right place. Matt parked his bike on the street and went to deal with the receptionist who wanted the pay upfront. The bike seemed to sit pretty steady, but a minute later fell down on it’s right side against the curb, bending heavily the right pannier. (I dropped my bike on the right side earlier that day too when we stopped for gas at the station, though no severe damage for me). Matt was visibly frustrated as we were unloading, but I was pretty sure we would be able to fix it the next day at some welding shop.


    To make things even more difficult, when I asked the receptionist about the ferry schedule to Mazatlan, which we were supposed to take the next day, he told us the ferries have been broken for a few months now and they anticipate to renew the service only about two months from now. That meant we would have to take the 3-4 day ride back to Ensenada on the same road we came down. We almost lost it! Thinking about riding that road back was more than either of us could handle at that time.



    We unloaded the luggage and ran to the ferry office which was mentioned in our book as fast as we could. The building looked like it has not been open for a few months. What he said must be true we thought, though deep down we refused to believe it. We found an Internet cafe and checked out the ferry website. It mentioned nothing about the ferries being out of service. Frustrated, we came back to the hotel and asked the receptionist to call the ferry office. He did so (for $5 pesos), and we found out that ferries in fact are in service and there is one leaving the next day at 8 pm. It was a great relief tinged with irritation that the receptionist had caused us such a panic. Though its worth mentioning that the next day a motorcyclist from Vancouver BC who was staying at our hotel told us that the ferries were indeed out of service as recently as four days prior, and was very surprised to hear that they were back in service as he had to rethink his route due to the ferry unavailability earlier.


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    The next morning we went to the ferry office (different than the one mentioned in the book) and without any problems got our ferry tickets. It turned out the be much more expensive than we anticipated for two people and two bikes - $485. (The prices went up November 20). We also decided to upgrade to a private cabin vs a seat in a main salon in order to get a good night sleep and have a productive day of riding the next day as neither of us wanted to stay in the overly touristic Mazatlan.



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    Matt was able to fix his pannier for free at a bike shop in the morning. In the afternoon we wondered around the city, which is quite large by Baja standards, with a happening downtown, and a pleasant and not so touristy waterfront. We arrived at the ferry terminal 3 hours in advance, boarded the ferry without any problems, and were quite amazed at how nice, clean and upscale our room was, bigger than some hotel rooms we were staying at (and it even had a shower!). And the sheer size of the ferry, which has a few restaurants, two bars with dj booths and a dancing floor, a swimming pool (albeit not functioning), a game room, a kids play room, and a few shops, is quite inpressive. It’s like a small cruise ship, though the only people on it were truck drivers and a few random travelers, including us.


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    As the ferry took off, we said final good-byes to Baja and went to our cabin to have a picnic type dinner and celebrate our first milestone adventure over a bottle of wine.
    #6
  7. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

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    We ended up deciding to ride down the coast rather than do the interior. Our glowing white Seattlite skin cannot resist the draw of sunshine and surf. We're currently in Acaponeta and heading further down the coast tomorrow.
    #7
  8. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    Great start and lovely desert photos!
    #8
  9. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
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    67,901
    Outstanding!! Thanks for the detailed report and great pics.. what a great adventure :thumb
    #9
  10. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
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    Location:
    Tucson
    Great report. I'm amazed at the level of detail you give... good luck with everything.

    I think you probably will have problems with those titles. Not to worry though, they'll let you in, just may cost you a little more in the corrupt places, don't be in a hurry, and don't accept their first offer :lol3, everything should be negotiable.

    Suerte
    #10
  11. marior97

    marior97 marior97

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    Location:
    San Salvador, El Salvador
    :lurk :clap :clap :clap
    #11
  12. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
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    I see you're a bit north of Puerto Vallarta. Say HI to my 07 KLR if you pass by--although it's in storage waiting for me to continue a trip I started early October from Portland...
    #12
  13. kennyanc

    kennyanc Long timer

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    Asheville, NC
    Subscribed, looks like it's gonna be a good one. :clap





    Kenny
    #13
  14. Roadengn

    Roadengn Amature Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Eureka, California
    I am enjoying your report and look forward to future posts. Enjoy the adventure!:thumb
    #14
  15. slide

    slide A nation with a future

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
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    Location:
    NM, USA
    I enjoyed your narrative quite a bit. I am a bit nonplussed that you found Tijuana a 'paradise' and Ensenada not so nice. I've heard Tijuana called many things, and found it many things myself, but a paradise?

    Well, it's been years. Maybe the place has come up quite a bit.
    #15
  16. tony the tiger

    tony the tiger Long timer

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    Location:
    secret owner of a Parmesan cheese factory
    :thumb
    subscribed!
    :lurk

    Nice start, too!!
    #16
  17. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Phoenix, Arizona
    This look's fun...
    #17
  18. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

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    Aug 18, 2007
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    149
    Sorry my sarcasm didn't ring through clearly enough! :evil
    #18
  19. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
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    149
    Wednesday November 26 to Friday, November 28
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    The ferry ride from Baja to Mazatlan was uneventful. We had splurged on a cabin, with the hopes that we could get a good night’s sleep and use that to power us away from the tourist trap of Mazatlan as rapidly as possible. The cabin was surprisingly plush, with nice beds and a bathroom with a shower. In fact, I was surprised at how nice the passenger area of the ship was in general. It felt more like a cruise ship than a ferry. The Puget Sound ferry system, while nice enough, had lowered my expectations when I thought of a ferry.
    The ferry plodded across the sea at a stately 31 km/h, according to the GPS. If I had known the distance to be traveled, I would have released before I set my alarm clock that there was no way the ferry was going to arrive at the scheduled 8 AM. I’m sure the crew knew that, but they feigned ignorance when I had asked them. Very kind of them to wake us up and announce over the PA at 6:30AM that the restaurants and cafeteria were open. We got up about an hour later, packed up our things, laid out the riding gear, and went to get some coffee. If I had known the ferry wasn’t going to arrive until 11AM I would have slept until much later. I’m a big fan of sleeping.
    We debarked with little drama, and drove through the lovely industrial sector of Mazatlan. The heat was about the same as Baja but the humidity was stifling. Compared to Baja, it felt like we were wearing lead blankets fresh out of the oven. Poor Inna really seems to be struggling with heat in her legs. Her boots seem to retain more heat than mine, and we can’t tell if it’s the BMW Santiago pants or some aspect of the KLR plumbing dumping heat onto her knees. Slow speeds are really hard on her.
    It took us a few beats to find access to the freeway south. At this point we were still planning on taking 40 up to Durango to see Zacatecas and the interior colonial towns. This had been an agonizing decision, as sun starved Seattlites the pull of remote beaches along the coast was strong. Navigation wasn’t helped by the Garmin basemap being just completely wrong. It showed 40 to be north of Mazatlan while the paper map showed it to the south. I had already seen how worthless the basemap was, but I didn’t expect it to be so grossly incorrect. We headed south and after some hesitation we started up 40.
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    I can’t emphasize enough what a great motorcycle road 40 is. It starts out with gentle curves, but once you reach the proper foothills of the Sierra Madres, it turns into a roller coaster. It was curve after curve after curve. Rarely could I count to 3 on a straight before another curve started. I tried counting for one mile and counted 17 turns. While I was enjoying the ride, looming over our heads were the distance and the clock. We have a set rule of not riding after dark, and the late arrival of the ferry had really cost us prime riding hours. I think it was around 40 miles up the road, with 3 hours of light and 160 miles left, that we accepted defeat and headed back down.
    It was heartbreaking to give up on such an awesome road, but safety always comes first for us. The thought of lying on a beach the next day also greatly eased the pain. We headed down and the road felt much more dangerous. The majority of the big trucks were headed up the mountain, and they had little regard for those pesky strips cluttering up the road. They were easy enough to avoid, but it made us appreciate the decision not to do so many more miles so late in the day.
    We headed back south and decided to spend the money and use the cuesta (expensive) toll roads to make up for all of the lost time that day. They’re great roads and we can cruise at our max KLR speed of 70, but it’s ridiculous how expensive they are. We spent as much on the toll road as a hotel. We rode and as dusk began to settle, we exited to the town of Acaponeta.
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    We rode into town, checked a few hotels, and the only hotel with suitable parking was on the road into town. We weren’t sure if it was a hotel at first or a police station. There were armed guards out front, and the central courtyard was full of Federale vehicles and men. Inna asked the men out front if it really was a hotel and they gave the affirmative. We parked in front of our room and for one night, had little fear about bike security. There must have been some sort of jefé staying there to require so many guards.
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    Acaponeta is a charming town. The central plaza, while under construction like everything else in Mexico, is a beautiful wide open space with a few statues and a central gazebo. Restaurants and shops surrounded the plaza, and it was bustling with activity. This was the first town we’d stayed in Mexico that really felt warm. The town seemed to be a thriving community and the central plaza with filled with children and adults socializing. Everyone seemed to be out for a stroll. We had our dinner at a restaurant on the plaza and unexpectedly had perhaps the best guacamole we’ve ever had.
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    It was great to sleep in a bed that didn’t rock with the ocean that night, and we overindulged the next morning. It was a slow start. We went into the center of town, and ended up in the central market. It really turns my head to see a pickup truck with two huge bulls in the back drive by. Welcome to the mainland. We had some juices made up, which they served to us in plastic bags with a straw poking out. Very clever.
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    By the time we were back on the road, the heat was in full force. We put riding gear on only at the last possible second before starting the motor. We blasted south on the cuesta road again, but soon exited because the expense was just too great ($15 for two bikes every 40 miles!). We took Hwy 15 down to Tepic, then headed to the coast on Hwy 200. The road south of Tepic was beautiful. The countryside was filled with farmland nestled between large, verdant hills. We could see rain to the east ahead of us, but the road always seemed to turn away from it at the last moment, so we dodged having to dig out of rain gear.
    The road turned from rolling hills to farmland, and traffic became a bigger problem. The lines behind trucks became 7-8 cars deep, and passing became much more time consuming. This, combined with the heat, led to more than a little frustration. Somewhere during the day we had let the ‘hurry’ bug infect us, and we stressed about making miles rather than enjoying the scenery while we were going slow. We need to stop falling into that mental trap.
    We rode through Puerta Vallarta and it didn’t make much of an impression on us other than terrible traffic. The beaches look great, the crowds not so much. I would rate it much higher than Cancun though. Once past there, the trucks seemed to disappear and we were riding at a more pleasant pace. By the time it was getting dark, we were near Tomatlán, so we headed 5 miles east to rest for the night. We were so close to where we wanted to be it hurt to stop.
    Tomatlán is a nice enough town. We made up for our toll roads by having $5 worth of tacos for dinner and stayed at the cheapest hotel we’d yet stayed at. It was 170 pesos (US$12) and had a very secure courtyard for the bikes. The quality of the room was in line with the price. It was warmer in the room than outside, so we just left the door open until we turned the lights out. The sink, shower, and toilet were all in one stall. If you were a guy, you could probably manage to use them all at once. The room overlooked a popular road in town, so we had noise late into the night.
    I have to mention something I found hysterical. I’m used to people in the US rolling down the street with cars pumping bass, either to dance music or hip hop. We heard some cars approaching us while we ate our tacos and could feel the heavy bass in typical fashion. It wasn’t until they were close enough to hear the treble that we could hear they were somehow extracting all of that bass from traditional Mexican crooning ballads. It was an excellent twist against my expectations.
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    We slept poorly that night. The church bells ring at 6:30 to wake up everyone up, which is very quaint as long as you don’t live there and prefer not to get up at 6:30 every day. We rose to make our early start for a tiny run down the coast. We had three beach towns we were going to check out within 50 miles, so we hoped to settle on one quickly and hit the beach. We came across Punta Perula first, and rode down the dirt road to it, only to cross a paved road along the coast. Where did that road come from ?? We rode to the beach, and it was beautiful. Quiet with a great surf break in a small bay sheltering some green islands.
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    Our next stop was Chamela, which turned out to be quite challenging. The signs point down dirt roads that don’t go anywhere. We kept ending up in people’s back yards. We gave up on finding Playa Chamela and headed back to Punta Perula. We noticed one more dirt road sign with a hotel indicator and gave it a shot. At the end there were a hotel featuring beachfront bungalows right on the beach. Although it was a bit budget busting, we splurged and decided to stay for the night. Neither of us has ever had a room so close to the ocean before. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the water that perfect warm but refreshing temperature.
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    #19
  20. Thornado

    Thornado Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    149
    We've really slowed down the pace as this section of the coast is just fantastic beaches. Get up early, ride a bit, and then settle in for an afternoon on the beach in a new town. We figure we might as well take advantage of the incredibly beautiful and inexpensive beaches while they're so easily available. Once we're through with our beach run we're off to Oaxaca.
    #20