Xplore2Gether - California to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JimsBeemer, Mar 6, 2019.

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  1. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Ok - I'm starting this thing! Some background:
    Jim and Carol - married 40+ years, on two motorcycles (BMW R1200GSA and F700GS). Retired after years of planning centered around this trip. Sold our house in San Jose and most of our possessions, and left from a temporary rental home in Hollister CA on Jan 16, 2019, headed to Ushuaia. We have been riding for over 40 years, but with a ~25 year gap in the middle (kids happened), and Carol only started riding her own ride ~ 6 years ago (decided she didn't like being a passenger, may say something about my riding?). Jim is the one who loves to ride just to ride and Carol is along for the ride but loves people and cultures. Neither can imagine doing this without the other.

    We have a Facebook page and a website (which forum rules, as I understand them, forbid me to link to here) that we maintain to keep friends and family updated. But almost no one following us through those portals are riders, and I've become increasingly aware of the value, both to ourselves and to other riders, of having a thread here where other riders can follow along. So to that end I will attempt to update our trip here, focusing on "the ride" and other attributes of our trip that would be relevant to other riders. And I hope that other riders following along can add useful input from their experience.
    #1
  2. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We are now almost two months into our trip, currently in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. But I will try to briefly recap our journey to this poitn. Our start date was set by our end-date on lease on the rental we had on our Hollister abode. Our youngest son and his wife (we have five children) came to help us do the final move-out. We rented a 10'x20' storage unit - if it didn't fit in that, we got rid of it! Kept all my tools :-) On the big day, there was a major storm (one of many this year) bearing down on us, and as my son and i were making one last trip to the dump, I looked out and said "You know, today is a day that no one ever said, ' I think I'll go for a motorcycle ride!' But the lease was up so we had to leave, and so we did, mid afternoon, in a steady downpour. I took a picture of my ODOM for prosperity. Our daughter in law took the video of us pulling out of the garage.

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  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We drove in steady rain to Paso Robles, where we stayed two nights at Allegretto Vineyard hotel and resort - a pleasant way to wait out the storm. From there we drove to Los Angeles and we spent a week visiting our oldest son and his family. The rain that came through ahead of us scrubbed the air, and my son and I took a ride up into the hills and got some gorgeous views. It is not always this scenic in So Cal! And while we were there, my son's friend, a mechanic from Guatemala, wanted to see my tool kit. Since we have two bikes, I am able to carry a pretty complete kit, and I laid it all out for him. He took pictures to show his mechanic friends.

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  4. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    From LA we headed through Escondido and El Cajon, for more family visits. In El Cajon area, we camped at Lake Jennings, which was very quite and relatively inexpensive. Our plan was to cross the border in Tecate, and heading that way from Lake Jennings we stumbled across a great B&B, "Vineyard Hacienda" in Spring Valley CA. Highly recommended - it was reasonably priced and just a lovely quite getaway. We ended up staying an extra night. That is one of the wonderful things about traveling "retired" - the constrains on our schedule are largely "soft" constraints. We have to end up in the Patagonia region "summer" - roughly a year form now, and we have a hard date to catch the Stahlratte in Panama in early June for our transport to Columbia. Those are the only real bounds of our trip. That means that, within those bounds, if we find a place we like, we can decide to stay an extra day, or two , or a week!

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  5. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We crossed the border in Tecate on Feb 1, 2019, with no lack of notoriety. We have ridden into Baja before, which does not require a TVIP - but for this trip we needed one, and from reading various threads i knew that the office to get the permits was just to the right after you cross. I was in the lead with Carol behind, and we have helmet coms. I pulled through and pulled into a parking spot right in front of the Aduanda office, and Carol started to do the same - but a police officer approached me and told me I could not park there - I had to exit to the street and park on the street (he pointed for me to go the wrong way down a one-way street - which is ultimately what we did!) Carol, seeing this , was part way turned to park but part way in the lane, and ended up stopped, at an angle, right up against the nasty steel-dome topes, designed to really screw you up if you are on a bike! You need some momentum to get over those, but she was stopped with her front tire right up against them trying to figure out what we were supposed to do. I told her we had to go through to the street, and when she tried to start up over those domes, it pulled her front wheel one way and she went down the other. I saw the whole thing happen and was about to get off to help but then a bunch of these young federal police jump in and I figured let them screw up their backs, and I just watched while they quickly righted her bike. In that process one of the officers rifles slipped off his shoulder and banged Carol in the helmet! Meanwhile, my GoPro was recording the whole thing (we figured out much later!) I told Carol that she single handedly managed to shut down, for a minute or so, the US/Mexican border, at least at Tecate!

    Worthy of note: We got our tourist visas (6 months) but did NOT get our TVIP's in Tecate. The Banjercito was closed - no idea why, it was a weekday and in the early afternoon. Since we were planning to take the Ferry in La Paz, we were told to get our TVIP there, which I knew was possible, and in the end that is what we did. But it would have been simpler I think to have obtained those in Tecate and I still do not understand why/how the Banjercito was not open. Maybe a slow day so they went home early? It is Mexico!

    Over the next few days, I'll continue to add post to catch up to our current location in Guadalajara.

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  6. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    IN....:clap

    enjoy your travel and ride safe.

    don't get too skimpy on the postage sized pics.......:D
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  7. JoeBiker25

    JoeBiker25 Been here awhile

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    Awesome! Greetings from your neck of the woods. Enjoy your dream trip and take lots of pics!
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  8. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Trying in-line pics here - curious which works better. After getting our tourist visa, we left Tecate we headed to Valle de Guadalupe and La Ruta del Vino. We stayed in Gudalupe at the Hotel Valentino for two nights, and spent an evening and a day touring a local winery and enjoying some fantastic food. The hotel rooms are up on a hillside with fantastic views. Once you get off of Rt 3, the roads are mostly dirt, and it had rained a lot the days leading up to our arrival, and we had to drive through a couple of major puddle. And good ol' Google routed us to a nearby hotel through a farm road to our restaurant on the second night. It was could have been bad! We were two-up on my R1200GSA, and I was having to hold back, stopping occasionally, for this car that was ahead of us, going slow through the puddles and mud. Then he stopped and his backup lights came on. I waited while he backed up and turned around and went back the way we'd come. After I drove up to where he had been, I saw why he gave up! The road was water as far as you could see. But we are literally like 1km from the restaurant, and I think I can see a way through (I did get off and walk it a bit), and Carol is game for going forward, if she can get off and walk! So that's what we did - I made it through about 50 yds of water and mud and then waited for her to catch up. When we got to the restaurant (Finca Altozano - great place) a parking lot guard came over to us. I looked at him, pointed the way we had come and said; “El camino es malo!” (The road is bad!). To which he laughed, nodded his head and said “Si!”. Then he commenced to explain in gestures and bits of English and Spanish that if we left going the other direction, it was a much better route. Google didn’t like it because it was twice as far, but it was a short ride that way to asphalt and infinitely better all around – that is how we went home! I wish we had taken some pictures of that road – it was epic. One positive thing (besides the great story) was that it gave a chance to try the Continental TKC-70 tires, which I switched to for this trip, in the mud. They did well enough for our purposes - I was pleased.
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    The Routa del Vino

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    Hotel Boutique Valentino

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    Vineyards near our hotel.

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    Almuerzo (lunch) at a local restaurant. One could just go on and on about the food in Baja.
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  9. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    From Valle del Guadalupe we headed to San Felipe, via Ensenada. This much of the trip is familiar to us - we've ridden in this part of Baja before. And a word to the wise - Google again: If you route using Google through Ensenada to San Felipe, it will take you to a NASTY intersection just at the east side of Escondido. As we approached it I started getting these flashbacks of "Oh no! Not this again!" It is a steep uphill incline to meed Hwy 3 at a nearly blind, busy intersection. You either have to come out into the intersection to stop, hoping and praying that no one is going to run you over - or stop on this steep incline (with a fully loaded bike) and bad visibility. Carol in particular HATED that the last time (3 yrs ago) and was very unhappy to find us doing it again. If Google suggest you take "Blvd Sokolow" leaving Ensendada to get to Hwy 3 East - think again!

    In San Felipe we stayed at Kiki's RV Campgrour, and and Motel, where we have stayed before. It is a great place and biker friendly - Kiki is a rider.



    20190203_132420.jpg Stopped for lunch along Hwy 3 on the way to San Felipe.

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    Baja scenery - off of Hwy 3 headed to San Felipe



    20190203_152923.jpg More Hwy 3 scenery

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    Jim Chillin' at Kiki's beach in San Felipe.
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  10. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    At Kiki's, we met group of riders, all on BMW GS bikes, from Guadalajara. One of them, Rafael, was on a GSA like mine and spoke English well, and we talked for quite a while. Before we left he gave me his contact info and said to contact him when we were in Guadalajara. This turned out to be a useful contact - that will come. Riders are a generally a great group of people willing to help.

    From San Felipe, our plan was to head south on Hwy 5, along the Sea of Cortez, eventually meeting up with Hwy 1. This road has always been partially dirt, but has been under construction for years and was mostly paved - until Hurricane Willa. I had read there was "some damage" from the storm (I did research this in advance!) but that it was still mostly paved. That turns out to be not true! It is mostly dirt, and much of that quickly graded, temporary path around the damage type of dirt road. Carol was not very happy with me as this turned into two long days of mostly dirt ridding, with occasional sections at the edge of Carol's skills, and not far from mine. Most of it was ok, maybe some washboard but not too bad. But there were a few sandy sections, and a lot of bridges were out. At the bridge closures, the road would route down through the dry riverbed and back up to meet the road on the other side. May of these were steep detours, very roughly graded paths, and they tend to have "moguls" . Carol dropped her bike four times, including one bad crash that anyone whose ridden in rough dirt will sympathize with. It was near the end of the second day (and ironically very near the end of the last dirt section, not far from Hwy 1). She was going uphill in one of these bad sections of "moguls", tired and worn out, standing on the pegs. Due to stress and fatigue, she had way to tight a grip on the handlebars. She lost balance on one of the "moguls" and it jerked her body backwards - and with the tight grip on the throttle she revved up and accelerated, which of course caused her to "fall" back back even more .... if you've been there you understand. She accelerated right into the side of an embankment. And I heard (via coms) and saw (rear view mirror ) the whole thing, and felt helpless. She hit the embankment pretty hard, but was ok except for a bruise on her arm. It bent her crash bars and (we didn't notice until nearly a month later) her handlebars. I rode her bike the rest of the ~50 yds through that section, and after a rest she was ready to go again. She is a trooper!

    Ever since then, I kept thinking I'd stop somewhere along the way and see if we could get her crash bars bent back into shape - and so when we got to Guadalajara I contacted Rafael, the rider I met in San Felipe. He set me up with a friend of his who works for a motorcycle touring company, Bureman, and Bureman set me up with the shop they use. But more than that - Bureman went with me to the shop and translated for me! This is now the friend of a guy that I met for a few hours in San Felipe, helping me out. The owner of that shop took a look at Carol's bike and said (via Bureman's translation) "Do you want me to straighten the handle bars too?" And once he pointed it out it was obvious. I'm getting the crash bars straightened and repainted, and the handle bars straightened, for ~$300USD. No complaint there. And it was so nice to have the local help via my chance meeting of Rafael! Riders helping riders.

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    Sea of Cortez along one of the rare paved sections of Hwy 3

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    After the first day, we were planning to camp at or near Punta Final. But the day had been long, and it was a bit cold and very windy, so we stayed at Alfonsinas. This is off-season and we were the only guests. Even so, they opened up the restaurant for us for dinner and breakfast the next morning!


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    Carol on one of the good sections of Hwy 5. I regret I didn't get any photos of the bad stuff - we were to busy riding (and occasionally picking up Carol's bike!)

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    Hwy 5 on one of the longer detours. Several people told us that Hwy 5 was just finished being completely paved before the Hurricane basically took it out.
    #10
  11. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Gilroy! Our neck of the woods indeed. Glad to have you along.
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  12. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Will do, and glad to have you along! Most of the new pics should be reasonable size - the one of Carol getting help up-righting her bike at the boarder was cropped from a frame of GoPro footage, so it was limited in resolution.
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  13. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Finished my Spanish homework - have time to add another installment :-) We reached terra firma on Hwy 5 just before it intersects with Hwy 1, and cruised on into Guerrero Negro. The bay there is one of the main places to watch the grey whales, and we got a room for two nights at the Hotel Malarrimo and signed up for the whale tour leaving the next morning. Guerrero Negro is a pretty "lean" town - mostly a factory town centered around the Mittsubishi salt harvetsting operation (one of the largest in the world), and seasonal whale tourism. The whale tour was a fantastic experience - even though I did get sea-sick and fed the fishes. Our first night there we met a fellow rider from Australia, Seth, who has been traveling about the USA on a KLR and is now making his way to Ushuaia. At dinner we joked that we might see each other again - was a short lived joke!

    From Guerrero Negro we headed to San Ignacio, where I had read about a B&B that was owned by some Canadian expats who were also riders; Ignacio Springs. I booked two nights there with no plans but some R&R, and it was a fantastic place to stay. And as we pulled into the place I saw this KLR .... it was Seth! We also met another rider, Joe, from Washington state, ridding back (wandering back) after having spent 3 weeks near Mexico city in Spanish language school. Joe has ridden in South America a fair bit and he gave us some pointers. Seth met another couple on motorcycles at a nearby campground, Chris and Sharon, and invited them over to Ignacio Springs to visit, and we enjoyed talking with them. They are also on their way to Ushuaia! We also met another couple on bikes, Chris and Sharon, also on KLR's, who are also on their way to Ushuaia! They have lived in Honduras and are headed back there after nearly 10 years in the states, and started their trip by first heading north to the arctic circle and then turning around and heading south - quite a trip. We just keep meeting other interesting people on similar journeys - not all on motorcycles either, but all doing some grand trip. It is fascinating to meet these people, they are invariably an interesting lot!

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    On the whale watching boat - before I got sea sick :-)

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    This whale came right up to the boat to be touched!

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    This is Seth, from Australia Ushaia bound.

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    Every evening at Ignaciio Spring they have a group dinner and it was great to meet so may other travelers. Joe (rider from Washington) is standing, and Seth is seated to right. Nearly everyone there was on an extended trip of multiple months to years.
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  14. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Here are some more pictures from Ignacio Springs. San Ignacio is a literal oasis in the desert, and Ignacio Springs has "beach front" property on the water, and they have kayaks for the guests. One night some local family came and sang for us. 20190209_133317.jpg
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    Most of the rooms at Ignacio Springs are Yurts that are apparently quite nice - they were all booked so we were in a standard-type room, but in the stand alone building in the background.
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  15. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    From San Ignacio we headed to San Jose del Cabo, taking three days, stopping in Loreto and La Paz. We had plans to come back to Loreto after San Jose del Cabo to meet up with friends who were headed there for vacation, so we just passed through on our way south for the time being. It was Carol's excellent suggestion that we get our TVIP's and ferry tickets in advance in La Paz. The Ferry port is somewhat out of the way, and not on the way to San Jose del Cabo, but it was well worth getting that done inbadvance - having done so we realize how hectic the day would have been if we had waited to the day of the ferry. It took a full half day to get it all sorted out. We stayed at a campground in La Paz (Maranatha), and we were the only tent campers. They let us put up our tent on the lawn - very nice!
    20190210_173507.jpg Loreto - Zopilote Brewery and Cocina. First IPA I've had since crossing the border!

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    Sea of Cortez just south of Loreto

    AWKQ1821.JPG Maranatha Campground

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    This is the office at the Ferry port where you can get your TVIP - then you go to another building to get your ticket for the ferry. Recommend doing this in advance if you can!
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  16. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    After getting our TVIP's and tickets at La Paz (actually - what we got was a receipt that you exchange for a ticket the day of departure. That was not obvious to me at the time (no English spoken at ticket counter) and caused some confusion later) we headed for San Jose del Cabo. We stayed at the Westin, the only classical "touristy" (and expensive!) thing we've done on the trip so far. It was nice to chill for a few days in relative luxury. Went into downtown San Jose del Cabo on our last evening and wished we had done so sooner - we would have spent more time there. Lots of expats here (of course). After three nights in the cushioned, manicured, uber-safe tourist-ville enclave, we were rested and ready for the road and more "real" Mexico!

    20190213_124922.jpg Chillen' poolside.
    San Jose del Cabo Sunset.jpg Had to walk down the beach from the Westin to get a proper view of the sunset. I was wishing I had a "real camera', but still am impressed with this cell-phone sunset shot. The guy in the foreground was surf fishing, and note the ultralight in the air, near the sun.
    20190214_180723.jpg The night afternoon/evening we went into San Jose del Cabo, there was an outdoor art show.
    20190214_184715.jpg Downtown San Jose del Cabo - these pictures do not do it justice. It had a ncie "vibe" - lots of people, street performers (look carefully in this one for the saxaphone player - he is NOT a statue!) and vendors. We had some great tostadas from a sidewalk stand. Lots of art, music and places to eat.
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  17. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    This was cool - the Westin does not get a lot of people driving their own vehicles - it is primarily a fly-in, fly-out destination. So they have a very small valet-parking-only parking lot. They weren't going to valet-park our motorcycles and the small lot was full in any case, so they let us park our motorcycles right in front of the lobby/reception area, behind some pillars. We could see them from the entrance to our room.

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    #17
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  18. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    N! :lurk
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  19. RJ44

    RJ44 Been here awhile

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    Great stuff. Quite the adventure so far. Love seeing the smiles in the pics. Ride safe!!

    Rob
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  20. Astronaut Jones

    Astronaut Jones Adventurer

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    Thanks for the ride report, I’ll be following.
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