[Originally posted December 30, 2007]
[google doesn't know where San Felipe is!]
I spent the night before last in a random hotel Yuma, Arizona. It was the first relaxed day of riding on this trip; not too many miles and plenty of time to do them. It also provided the first "holy cow, this is amazing" experience of the trip, riding through gorgeous southern Arizona desert into an enormous, glowing pink sky. A coyote looked at me quizzically as I rode past. I'm pretty sure he immediately got on the phone to ACME corp demanding an elaborate and experimental contraption to catch my modern orange interpretation of the roadrunner. I'll keep an eye out for anvils, big red fireworks, and tunnels painted onto mountainsides for the rest of the trip.
Southern Arizona is strange. I'm fairly certain that the only foliage that grows naturally here is the RV Park, mobilitis senioris
. The landscape actually reminds me of Mexico, but instead of haphazardly constructed cinderblock buildings the shantytowns are made out of haphazardly placed mobile homes. Acres and acres and acres of them.
Crossing the border into Mexico at San Luis Rio Colorado was anticlimactic. There was a gate, I drove through it, I was in Mexico. It actually took me a while to find Immigracion (right next to the gate, DUH). You can visit the border towns (and most of Baja) without any paperwork, but southern Mexico requires visas for both myself and the bike. From stories I hear of border crossings in the rest of Central America, this was a painless process, but it still required me to visit two different offices, plus get photocopies of the visa (which, btw, was itself a carbon-copied document) made at a random copy store across the street.
What is it with the need for copies, and why on earth don't they put a copy machine in the office??
Immediately upon receipt of bureaucratic blessing (good for 180 days, after which I become public enemy #17323586), I proceeded to get myself totally lost. For a few not especially good reasons I haven't loaded Mexico maps into my GPS so I had to navigate solely with paper maps and the conspicuously absent street signs. I ended up riding cross country on several dirt farm roads and asking directions a couple times in my broken spanish. On the plus side, I got a good tour of Sonora farmland and several towns that have exactly nothing to recommend to tourists except maybe a slightly different shade of silt.
I did find one cool thing in my meandering - a set of derelict railroad tracks in pretty fair shape. I'll have to check google earth to find out where they go; this could be a truly hardcore adventure for Anton's makeshift railcar.
My wandering finally took me to the main highway to San Felipe, which is a spectacular road that cuts across deserts and a vast dry lakebed that dwarfs Black Rock. Again with a giant glowing pink-and-orange sunset. My second "holy cow, this is amazing" moment in as many days.
San Felipe is standard Baja tourist town, with a Baja-1000-themed twist. Lots of gringos, dirt bikes, and quads. The beer is excellent, though. I think beer tastes better in Mexico. Must be the dirt.
Today I continue south, taking some roads the map marks as unpaved. I promise to get pictures this time.