Baja again: Dos Pendejos
Well, it is usually just a matter of time before the next Baja ride rolls around. It starts as a memory of the last trip, collects some momentum when re-riding past trips with others (experienced or newbies), gathers more steam when you sit with Google Earth and the Baja Almanac in front of you, gets into third gear when you select the trip dates/time period, snicks into fourth when you find some ride buddies, rolls into fifth when you start bike prep and buy new stuff for the beast, and settles into sixth with a bit of a bang when you get up at dark-o-thirty and see fresh snow on the loaded pick-up on D-day.
My first bike trip to the Baja was a four-week journey on my 1981 R80 G/S in 1994/95....I had been to Baja before kayaking and camping in 1989 and was infected with the Baja virus at that time. Subsequent GS trips were good, but in 2002 I swore that the next one was to be on a dirt bike as the double track was my preference over the slab....and the GS breed are simply pigs in sandy conditions and disallow riders from some of the pleasures of trying to figure out miles of whoops, softer sand areas, and rougher doubletrack routes. While I consider myself a capable off-roader on the Beemers, I am getting my thrills these days on my 450 KTM.
The first dirt bike ride was adequately described in a previous post:
Previous Beemer trips were photographed with film, so I have no digital pics available of those rides ... some pals do, though:
Dale Oliver of Fayetteville, Arkansas: http://appliedcomputer.biz/Personal/Baja2002/
Eric Blume; Seattle, Washington:
What I remember from grade 10 literature class was that Somerset Maughm's Of Human Bondage started out with...."And the day broke grey and dull...."
And it was only fitting that this ride began the same way...as I am somehow inextricably tied to the Baja....it is part of my bondage thing, I suppose...
While we left Kamloops , BC at dark-0-thirty in fresh snow on December 15th, we began to see the day breaking grey and dull within an hour or so....the pic above was on the freeway south to Seattle, but more of that later...
Los Dos Pendejos.....a fitting name for my amigo and myself:
My riding partner is a good friend, Darren. We have been riding together since I met him in the parking lot at the bike shop about 7 years ago...as we both rode Husqvarnas at the time, we clearly had something in common...and over time, we came to appreciate the brilliant wit, excellent riding abilities, and near state of enlightenment that we both shared in common....oh yeah, and a deep sense of personal humility and inner calm...
The trip had been a seed planted and watered over the years every time Darren had to suffer through my tangential and truncated stories about adventures in Baja. Last year Darren went through a succesion of bikes and had ended up with a new Husaberg 550...and informed me he was ready for the Baja.
Porque no ?!
I was gearing up for a longer ride and we agreed to a 5-week trip from Kamloops to the south cape....and after numerous ride combinations, I decided to take the truck as a support vehicle rather than try to ship extra tires, etc to Mulege or San Ignacio ....
We had two other riders interested in joining us, but one had to withdraw a few weeks before departure due to career opportunities ...and the other fellow who is a Baja veteran who would be going down in Feb/07 anyway....plus the guy is a poor retired grandfather on a fixed income, so he only does the Baja jaunt 2-4 times a year anyways :lol3
So, back to the trip.....Darren and I crossed into the States at the Sumas, WA. crossing with nary a problem, much to our great relief, as we were totally set on making this ride last more than the first three hours....a brief moment of panic rose for me just before the border when the truck engine presented a never-heard-before knocking upon start-up at the Tim Horton's at Sumas...it subsided at the first traffic light and has not yet returned....sounded like a valve or some damned thing ....
Not too many pics of the journey to Seattle .... but we stopped at my sister's place to pick up some bike-loot (tires, fastway pegs, Cycra hand guards, knee braces, and stuff like that). The visit was brief as we were on a mission....we jammed the extra crap into the truck along with the extra tires and oil we were taking to San Ignacio for three friends who would be riding there in February...
Yahhoooo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On the road heading south....into a killer storm of high winds and horizontal hollywood rain that lasted from Seattle to Northern California.
We drove straight....well, kinda.....until 3:30 am when we pulled over at Red Bluff , CA for a snooze. I didn't think I could rest much sitting upright behind the steering wheel, but woke up at 6:15 am having had one of the deepest and deadest sleeps of my life.....
Last time I tried that I woke up with the truck rolling backwards at a truck stop ...but that's another ride story.
We stopped for gas, refreshments, bodily functions, and nothing else until we hit the L.A. area later that day .
The most exciting part of the first day in the rainstorm was seeing Darren's dry-bag with all his camping gear sail out of the back of the truck somewhere outside of Mt Vernon, WA....going about 80 mph (everyone else was, officer)...our quick deliberations led Darren to agree that we would likely not find his stuff by the time we managed to turn around and find the spot in that weather....and that the cost of replacement was bearable as it wasn't top-notch gear....or something like that.
So, Friday night in San Diego area after dilerious driving for two days and we woke up to find all our stuff was still in the truck in the motel parking lot...or at least all the stuff we didn't lug into the room....
Throughout the trip we had varying levels of paranoia about theft....only to find by the end of the trip the only stuff that disappeared was stuff we didn't secure well enough ourselves.....like my drybag full of primo camping gear on the next day somewhere between Malcolm Smiths store and the Chapparelle goody store.
The purple dry bag flew out of the truck somehwere on a freeway between the Malcom Smith store and the Chapparelle place....someone has a good down bag, a North Face tent, a thermarest, some shoes , and a few items I have not yet determined....
While Malcolm has a great new store, we had a difficult time finding good riding gloves and some other protective gear....Chapparelles came through later in the day....all the young babe clerks at Malcolms could do to assist us was ask us "what color do you want?" when we asked for help with gear requests....too bad. It isn't just his place, I know....the service industry these days sucks way too often....
Enough of the rat race....we woke up Sunday, Dec.18th and headed for Tecate where we crossed at 9:00 am...no lineups or anything like that...quick bit of paperwork and we were off ....Ensenada-bound
After about 20 minutes I figured it was time to pull over for a bit of a break, a smoke, and a chance to get rid of some coffee...
We were both thrilled to finally be south of Tecate....a smokin' trip so far with only minor damage due to my worst ever job of packing things down in the box of the truck.....we motored on to Ensenada and got there somewhere around just before noon....
Darren was stoked to see the Pacific and began cranking out pics...
But we just gassed up and motored on to El Rosario where we stayed at the Baja Cactus Motel, just beside the Pemex.
This is a great place to stay and I recommend it to anyone....the food at Momma Espinoza's next door is adequate but VERY over-rated....it is a place in history with Baja hounds of all sorts, but there is so much better food to be had in the Baja, hers pales in comparison to most....the much-touted Langosta burritos did not rise to the occasion:cry
Up early on Monday and off to San Ignacio to Ricardo's Hotel, Rice and Beans.
So far the trip was still all truck driving and we were getting antsy to ride. We originally planned to start our riding by basing out of Bahia de los Angeles for the first week, but at the last minute I suggested we go further south and start our riding out of Mulege instead....Darren agreed.
South out of El Rosario, the highway gains some altitude on its way up to the alto plano where the boulder fields of Catavina invite one to pull over and gawk at the wind-carved coarse-crystalled granite boulders...a truly unique area to explore...
We enjoyed the quiet of Ricardo's as there were few folks staying there that night....dinner was good...pescado com mojo d'ajo
another great place to stay...
Up early the next morning to the clearest skies of the trip so far. It felt to me like I was "back home"....having a sense of calm and comfort that had eluded me so far in our hard push south.
We had a good breakfast and then arranged with Ricardo to store three tires and some oil for some friends who would be riding through in February....no problemo, as he recalled the name of one of the fellows:
We lounged on the porch patio for a while...http://motoged.smugmug.com/photos/124627750-M.jpg
....and then met "San Ignacio Woman"....
While we regret having no photos of this person, we certainly have a story.
This woman, a gringa, was likely in her 40's, looking a bit dishevelled, was asking folks to drive her and her bicycle back out to Laguna San Ignacio (from where she had come and somehow separated from "friends' the day before). She maintained that she was riding south along the Pacific coast to Cabo....and just wanted a ride to get past the rough washboard road leading out to the Laguna. Having done this on a dirtbike, I assured her that she would be best advised to not travel that road to San Juanico alone and certainly not with the equipment she had....as it appeared to consist of an older cheap mountain bike, a green garbage bag with possessions of some sort and two 2-liter bottles of Coca Cola roped together.
She certainly seemed to be a hardy type and decicated to her coastal circumnavigation plan for the Baja. However, she was somewhat put off when I turned down her offer to pay me $20 to drive her the 20 miles to the salt flat coastline. I told her that I wouldn't drive that road in my truck for $200 unless my own life depended on it. Her map was inadequate and was printed on glossy paper and not weathering its use very well.
I showed her the Baja Almanac section she would be travelling and bluntly said, "There is fuck-all out there for water aside from some ranchos that you likely won't see, and you have a very real chance of dying trying to ride that section with what you have here!". While I may have been a bit too paternal in my advice :rofl, I stand by it. We left Ricardo's for Mulege with a bit of concern for San Ignacio Woman and her adventure plans
The day was bright, our bellies were full, and the Sea of Cortez was awaiting
We stopped in Santa Rosalia to get some pesos and found that the ATM at the bank on the north side of the street would not spit out $$$$ for us...but the one across on the south side had an ATM that regurgitated the requested plata. I also decided to pay the $20 for the tourist card...yeah, the $20 card that no one ever asks to see when the military checkpoints pretend to look for guns and drugs.
Still a sunny day, we were eager to move on to Mulege which would be our base for the next week of riding. I insisted we stay at La Hacienda....the primo moto-friendly motel of choice for discerning motoadventurists...
This old establishment has seen better days, but it has character, a distinguished owner, Alphonse, is centrally located, has secure parking, and allows folks like us to set up house and feel at home...
This is when the riding starts.....
Looking foreward to the rest of the story. I notice alot of Mexican water in the background of your photo's. :clap
Thanks for the pics and report!! Baja: a dream destination!! :thumb
Let the riding start :lurk
Estamos esperando para mas,
As your tag suggests, you like water....as your experience might indicate, that's a pool :rofl
But as the ride continued, we DID come across the remnants of the winter's heavier than normal rainfall ...
This pic is of Darren crossing one of the shallower river crossings we encountered in the mountains between Mulege and San Juanico on the Pacific coast. The September tropical storm Juan that flooded that area seriously rearranged the San Raymundo Arroyo road:
Of the half dozen wet crossings in that area this was the shallowest....the others were up to our knees....and as usual, some of the more demanding sections were not photographed as we were busy riding.
Some of the roads had been rerouted but remained consistent generally with the established route...the excess of standing water has apparently increased the incidence of mosquitos and Dengue fever in at least the Mulege area ...
Our first ride out of Mulege was on the afternoon that we arrived and took us along the river, out on to the airstrip at La Serenidad (after riding through a fisherman's yard and surprising an older fellow enjoying the afternoon sun but not our intrusion). Darren and I let 'er rip on a drag race out to the beach past the airstrip (eating Husaberg roost seemed to be my reward for initiating the duel) and out to the Sea of Cortez south of the lighthouse...
And while most of the sand was relatively packed, some sections were not and we could feel the motors sporadically strain under the load of riding "in" the sand rather than "on" it...we came up to the dunes at the end of that beach and determined that deeper soft sand just is not a rider's friend...
And just to punctuate the joy of the first ride...
On the way back to town we rode past the airstrip to La Serenidad again and asked around for an Arizona pilot with whom I had tentatively arranged some air time over that general area:
Most unfortunately, our timing was off and we were out of Mulege the days Mike was there :cry
Back into town for a short tour and La Hacienda ...
We started :freakyto plan the next week's rides with some careful deliberations...(note the speed with which Darren manages his cerveza)...
And being as astute and careful to examine options in detail as usual, Darren examines the options carefully...
The next day we rode in a liesurely fashion west of town through an area with ranchos....and led us to a 1/4 mile race track the locals used...
Darren seemed slow off the line as he was intent on catching bugs for a niece ...
Cute, if ytou like that sort of thing...
A key ride we had planned for that week was to ride to San Juanico (Scorpion Bay) on the Pacific coast. I had done that route several times 2 years earlier but the September storm had flooded the roads in the mountain/alto plano sections and it took a few tries to finally find the correct route...but we enjoyed exploring the "I think this is it" route options...
Again, Darren is scouting for prints to determine which trail to take....sometimes the right route just seemed to go up in smoke....
He has developed a divining hand-jive technique to roll us on our way ...
By the second day we determined the correct series of detours and the route to San Juanico was mastered....but there were a few stories developed on that final day when we rode across to the Pacific and back...
The wet crossings we encountered were not difficult but they did keep our boots full of water...
Along the way, we had to ask for directions....and my fundamental Spanish language skills were about as good as my directional guesstimations...
As we approached the ranchos several miles east of the turn-off at Ballena del Raymundo, Darren rode ahead and had his first taste of Baja silt....moondust.....
I was riding about 1/2 mile behind him in a flat section ...as I was gaining on him I saw his trail dust ahead and was encouraged as I recognized the area from previous rides. As I continued, the dust cloud was drifting in the expected direction but there seemed to be a blue and yellow obstacle on the road....it didn't take too many synaptic leaps to realize he was down and that the dust cloud was well removed from the crash site.
I rode up to see Darren lying on his left side, immersed in silt, and his Hussy laying on top of him like a drunk date:eek1:huh
Unfortunately, my concern was for his well-being so I don't have any pics of that moment:cry...so I remained seated on my bike (why race over and get dusty???:lol3) and offered the obligatory "Hey, you okay??":jkam
Darren slowly extricated himself out of the two feet deep moondust, managed to get the bike off himself, and stood up with silt dripping off him in slow-motion rivulets.
He had some scrapes and bruises that were appropriate for the situation and had managed to plant the bike on top of himself rather than land in a large family of cactus that would have required serious needle-nose plier treatments. A slightly displaced bark buster appeared to be the only damage so, after a few minutes I rode ahead.
He approached in another cloud of dust...
We stopped to review the experience....
In this next picture (taken at same place as those above....and near the first rancho that will sell gas just east of the Pacific coast road turn-off at Ballena del Raymundo), you can see a new road cut into the distant hillside....this new road is a shorter route to Ejido Cadeje and San Juanico....
We eventually found our way into San Juanico through the newly developed road systems on the Pacific side just before Ballena del Raymundo and with the help of some locals and "sand map drawings" at the village Ejido Cadeje.... we rode into San Juanico at about 2:30....not enough time to lunge around, but enough for a cerveza, a visit with some locals, and a rip-roaring burn-out show...
San Juanico is a favourite surf location....
The store was my favourite beer location...
and the local biker show was entertaining (new cowboy boots and all):clap
We rode around for 5 minutes looking for the "Pemex" that the locals at the store directed us to, and eventually determined that the "Pemex" was another typical gasolineria operated by "Siphon Woman Extraordinaire"...
Again, no pics, but she impressed us with her novel technique: rather than suck on the siphon hose, she place her end of the hose in a gas jug, wrapped her hand around the hose and jug opening tightly, .....and BLEW into the jug neck (as oppoesed to SUCKING on the outlet end of the hose), thus creating a pressure differential that pushed gas into the hose:freaky:clap:eek1.
:cry Unfortunately we needed to blast back over the montains to Mulege, so we missed another opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of the locals.....
A friendly woman, with strong hands and a kind face....and a technique that impressed us to no end. Most unfortunate:cry
The ride back to Mulege gave us the chance to find that new route over the mountain that appeared in the earlier pic....
A fast ride back, a shower, some party treats, and a day to remember with stories for the grand kids: "....did I ever tell you about the gas station in San Juanico?"
But Mulege had had more in store for us.....
Keep it coming.:freakyI am getting pumped for my Baja trip.
(On the left there)
Lots of local gringo's hang out there which makes it a good "IN" for outsiders looking for local knowledge. :deal
Great start! Looks like a fantastic trip.:D
Thanks for another great update!! Looks great and YFF's are having a great time :thumb
Ya shure, ya betcha ... being familiar with the town, I like breakfasts there
...we frequently encountered three American gentlemen (who also were staying at La Hacienda) who were among the folks that lost their homes in the September flood ... one of the gentlemen said that this was the third time he has been flooded out in Mulege and that it was a friend who was caretaking his home at the time who was the only fatality of the flood:
September '06 flood pics:
Other flood pics may bee seen at:
We also enjoyed dinner a few times upstairs at the Equipales, tacos at Deny's (....also known as "Taqueria Doney"....best in town, perhaps)....on street coming into town from highway at north end of town...
drinks and dinner at Las Casitas....tacos on the highway that had great fish tacos...
Mulege has a good variety of places to eat.....the Grand Meal may be the weekly pig roast at La Serenidad....
But, I digress with culinary quips....back to the essence of the gustatory gallery...
But more of that later....
Awesome man, just got back from there in November. Didn't end up making to the pacific side though, got stuck in San Felipe. Am now jonesing hard to go back.
Never been to Mulege
I've always managed to bypass it but have always wanted to check it out. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks; I'll be able to say I've checked it out. By the way, do you happen to have any gps coordinates/tracklogs of the ride from San Juancio to Mulege since that is high on the list of probable rides?
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