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Old 04-23-2007, 01:55 PM   #31
char76
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Gripping stuff Johnny. We seldom read reports that have the emotional and honest side to them. This is first class stuff.
Bring it on....
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Old 04-23-2007, 08:37 PM   #32
Trophy1298
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Excellent... 5 Stars

"Thumb envy" made me lol.

Great report and pics so far. NOW BRING ON SOME MORE.
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Old 04-23-2007, 09:06 PM   #33
Johnny Dakar OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trophy1298
"Thumb envy" made me lol.

Great report and pics so far. NOW BRING ON SOME MORE.
All right, all right..
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Old 04-24-2007, 12:58 AM   #34
Johnny Dakar OP
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DAY TWO, PART DEUX

Nobody fucks with you in Crankytown.

We raced like demons down Mexico 1--determined to make the 80 miles to The Old Mill in the final ten minutes of fading daylight.

And we would've made it too, but there was traffic--something like, 3 or 4 cars...otherwise we would've almost certainly made it. Oh yeah. Definitely.

Which reminds me--traffic in Baja. Once you get south of Ensenada, there aren't exits off Mexico 1--the road runs right through the center of each town. And since children, dogs, cars, armadillos, and crazy little bastards on souped up, open-pipe quads tend to ignore the existence of any road whatsoever inside most city limits, it's a good idea to slow down as you reach the outskirts. But the Mexicans make it easy for you to slow down by installing a highly effective, quadruple-redundant system at every entrance to every town on the highway. First they'll post a sign telling you you're about to enter a town (hello, welcome to our village). Then they post a lower speed limit (please be kind enough to slow down). Then they paint the road with a series of horizontal white lines (now is about the time you should begin to hit the brakes). Then they embed a bunch of those little "road nubs"--sometimes they're reflecitve--in the asphalt, just to get your attention (no, seriously--slow down). Then, last, but certainly not least, they put what's called a Tope (translation: GIGANTIC speed bump) across the road, and post a sign right next to it so you know you're about to get launched off it into town (I tried asking you nicely.).

If you haven't slowed down by the time you reach the tope, trust me: you will.

And this system, amazingly enough, is very easy to learn. I learned it the first time through. You might even say...I was schooled.

We pulled over at the Pemex in Camalú so Clay could put on his thermals and I could get some caffeine. I got some snacks and slipped on my Rallye Goretex. I was tired from the terror of the sand...but I'd made it through, and only dumped my bike once. Had a bit of a sense of achievement. But I felt bad for having held Clay back. So I told him.

"Dude, I feel bad for having held you back," I told him.

"Aw, that's all right--you did pretty well. That road sucked."

"Nice view though," I said.

"Yeah, it was...where are we going now? I hate riding at night."

"The Old Mill--dtop1 told us about it in the prep." I didn't need to add that it had peppered several different ride reports as well. "It's like, 20 miles from here."

"OK Slick--let's hit it."

Now the problem we had finding The Old Mill in the dark was, from Camalú to San Quintín, all the way down through Lázaro Cárdenas was like one entire town of Mexican strip malls--and we weren't exactly certain of the Old Mill's location. We knew we needed to turn right somewhere and head a couple miles west to the bayside. There was no question we'd find it, it's just that we wanted to find it NOW, because we were tired and hungry...which are the small villages you usually pass through on your way to Crankytown.

I sure hoped that wasn't where we'd find The Old Mill.

But necessity got the better part of my manly need not to ask directions. "Dónde Está el Hotel 'Old Meel'?" we'd ask, in English and in Spanish, of at least five different people and of the ones who actually claimed to know, whaddya know...we got five different answers.

But each set of contradictory directions shared a single common element: there was a big sign at the turn, and you couldn't miss it.

Yeah, maybe during the day, but unlike all roadside advertisements in the U.S, big roadside signs in Baja are not illuminated at night. So I got a quarter mile past it before my mind tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Uh, John--I think that was it back there." I checked my rearview. Sure enough, Clay had stopped. And he was illuminating the sign with his headlight.

We took this HORRIBLE, rutted, sandy road about three miles west in the dark. You know where it led.

That's right. It led right into Crankytown.

The road ended in a T, with no obvious sign of where the Old Mill might be from there. I'd had it.

"WHERE THE FUCK IS THIS FUCKING HOTEL, GODDAMNIT!" I yelled, to no one in particular, just in frustration.

Now Clay has this thing he does, and I'm not certain why, but when you catch him by surprise, he pauses and looks at you for a moment--I'd guess he's listening while his brain explains the possible causes for what just transpired. He's a smart guy--a scientist actually--so it takes a bit.

Clay paused and looked at me for a moment.

Then he turned left and rode off. I was too busy having a soak in one of Crankytown's more popular attractions: the Self-Pity Jacuzzi.

I was about to start my bike and follow him, when he rode back around the corner.

"John--it's right here."

We pulled into the courtyard of the Old Mill--a place I'd seen several times, in pictures...ahhhh, I thought. A nice place to keep the bikes. The legendary courtyard of The Old Mill...

Now at this point, not having eaten in 12 hours, after miles and miles of surfaces UPON WHICH I WAS VERY BAD AT RIDING A MOTORCYCLE, after worrying about Clay being too cold, having a hard time seeing, and rattling his teeth loose on his LC4, after the shit directions, after feeling powerless and out of control, I was hungry, angry, and tired, and all I wanted was a bed and a place to dump my gear. Not only was I visiting Crankytown, I was running for goddamned mayor. I was about to PM Baldy and ask him to change my name to Cranky Dakar, then prove to everyone that it was a much more suitable name. I was thinking about moving there permanently. Why?

Because NOBODY FUCKS WITH YOU IN CRANKYTOWN.

I walked up to the office. It was closed. fuck you, I thought. You get branded. I slapped a Trip to the Tip sticker right at eye level on the office front door. I was gonna find a room or get kicked out. It was 9pm.

Clay was wisely keeping his distance. Could be he was taking his own tour of Crankytown. Right next to the office, from behind some rattan dividers, I heard people chanting in unison. Normally, in the middle of the night, at the end of this dark, rutted road by a fog-enshrouded bay, in this foreign nation, I might have been apprehensive, but I just didn't give a good goddamn anymore. I was going to find out if there was anyone in there who could help me before I looked elsewhere. I got ready to barge in, and suddenly, someone slipped out and walked up to me, smiling.

"Hi," he said.

"Hi," I replied, momentarily taken aback.

"Are you looking for a room?"

Oh, Thank you Sweet Jeebus. "Yes. Yes!"

"Hm. Well, there aren't any...they're full up here..."
I silently growled. I was out of options. I had no idea where to go. I briefly considered strangling this mild-mannered stranger. Just then, Clay walked up. The stranger introduced himself.

"Hi, I'm Rex."

"Hi, Rex--I'm Clay. This is John. Where y'all from?" His social ease, even when exhausted and starving, irritated me. He was probably glad to meet another person who wasn't visiting Crankytown.

"We're missionaries from Atlanta."

"Ooh..." we both responded in unison, in that way you do when you have absolutely no idea how to respond and you're just stalling until you do...Fortunately, we didn't have to.

Rex continued, "Yep, we've filled this place up, but there's another place right next door, and I'm pretty sure they have rooms. It's called Don Eddie's Fish Camp. Here, I'll show you the way."

I swear, God sent this man to lead us out of the wilderness and unto His bosom...or at least unto Eddie's bosom, which at that point, was just as nice--maybe better; Eddie, it turns out, had food at his bosom.

We walked around and passed a window. Inside was a kitchen...the lights were on, and there was someone working in it. We both grinned at the first encouraging sign we'd had in a while.

We walked into a lobby literally wallpapered with photos of people holding the fish they'd caught with Eddie. Dorado, Yellowtail, Grouper, Halibut....HUGE fish...and Eddie came out of an office to greet us. Great old guy. Spoke perfect American english. We introduced ourselves.

"We need a room, two beds..."

"No problem--for how many nights?"

"Just tonight. All these pictures, they're from your fishing trips?"

Eddie laughed. "Yes."

"Do you have a restaurant here?"

"You can eat in the bar upstairs. Go take a look." He motioned toward a set of stairs. We climbed up into a sizeable dining area, fronted by a full bar. The wall was laden with nets, glass floats, and monstrous taxidermied fish. Mood lighting illuminated a small dancefloor, and beyond that was a pair of doors leading out to a large deck.

Clay looked at me. "Whaddya think, Slick--think they have good food here?"

"Dude, I don't care if they have fucking ketchup-covered cardboard. Let's unload the bikes and eat."

And that's just what we did. We brought our bikes round and headed up to the bar, manned by the only person there--Fernando. He handed us menus, got a Tecate con limón for Clay (hey, just like Rogue 1! ) and a Coke Light for me. Mmmm...

Clay looked up from his menu. "So Fernando, what's good?"

"The Red Snapper, maybe the Dorado."

He told us the different ways they prepared it, and we ordered. I didn't really care what they served. It could have been roadkill and I would've just squirted a little extra lime juice on it and wolfed it down, I was that hungry.

What we got was way beyond what we expected.




That's fresh Red Snapper, grilled in salsa, onions and fresh olives, with steamed veggies, rice, and a baked potato. Fresh warm rolls with butter too.





Aw HELL yeah.

Clay got his sauteed in garlic and butter. There was a momentary sucking sound, and the food was gone.

Clay ordered another beer. Just then, three guys came in, ordered beers, and took a table. We chatted, told them we were headed south. They were headed north. They'd been fishing. Clay's ears perked up.

"Where's the best place you fished?" he asked.

Without hesitating, one of them said, "Loreto." The other two nodded. "Huge yellowtail. Huge. Fight you for fifteen minutes."

Before we knew it, we'd caught the express train out of Crankytown.

We wouldn't return for quite some time.

Fate smiles upon us yet again, eh 'cuz?



Johnny Dakar screwed with this post 04-24-2007 at 01:48 AM
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Old 04-24-2007, 05:06 AM   #35
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Hey JD, great story so far. Had exactly the same problem 4 years ago. Got to SQ after dark, muddled around the place, confused, on the muddy roads, eventually got to the Old Mill and ended up staying in Eddies. I do miss Baja. Keep it coming.

YM

PS your report finally got the Char the limey to post again
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Old 04-24-2007, 06:04 AM   #36
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Johnny and the Pulitzer

Fabulous writing. Can't wait for the next installment.
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Old 04-24-2007, 06:24 AM   #37
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Oh great, another one I'm going to have to compulsively check every few minutes.
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Old 04-24-2007, 07:04 AM   #38
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Great report

Keep it coming!
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Old 04-24-2007, 07:13 AM   #39
Trophy1298
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I'm hooked

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Old 04-24-2007, 07:27 AM   #40
BenTwo
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Hola Johnny,

Me likey report and pics very mucho. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-24-2007, 07:33 AM   #41
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Crankytown!!

Love it. Well written!
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Old 04-24-2007, 07:42 AM   #42
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Great report, keep it up, I've been to all those places but love to see it again. Good to se you enjoyed some of the good life Baja has to offer, why sleep in the dirt like some lost teenager.
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Old 04-24-2007, 09:10 AM   #43
char76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yer Maun
Hey JD, great story so far. Had exactly the same problem 4 years ago. Got to SQ after dark, muddled around the place, confused, on the muddy roads, eventually got to the Old Mill and ended up staying in Eddies. I do miss Baja. Keep it coming.

YM

PS your report finally got the Char the limey to post again
I have always been one for attention to detail. So i would just like to point out that this particular trip that Yer Maun is talking about was by cage, not by bike like our author (hero) here.
Top stuff Johnny, keep it coming.
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Old 04-25-2007, 03:14 PM   #44
Trophy1298
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Old 04-26-2007, 03:08 AM   #45
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Please no, don't do an Antware on us.

Keep going, please.

Really good writing!
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