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Old 04-30-2011, 10:13 PM   #31
Coyote63 OP
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We woke up the next morning refreshed and hopeful that the day would be a little less traumatic than the prior two.

The Old Mill really is a beautiful place to stay, located right on the Bay of San Quintín, which is a traditional launching point for sport fishing. It’s super clean and the service is very friendly. Great place!

The restaurant next door was pretty empty that morning, though we hear it can be packed.

The breakfast was terrific.

If you look carefully at the photo above, you can see Drex’s maxi-pad bandage carefully taped to his left arm. We dutifully cleaned up the wound, slathered on new antibiotic, and applied a new maxi-pad every few hours.

I guess we got some cell coverage down there. Not sure why I felt compelled to turn on my smartphone that morning – maybe I was texting home that we were still (mostly) alive.

We left The Old Mill around 9am and stopped in San Quintín proper for a taillight bulb for the BRP and more medical wrap at a local pharmacy. There were a couple of guys milling around in the pharmacy and they asked me if I was anyone famous. I said no. One of them mentioned that he had met Bono riding through with some other dirt bikers a few weeks before.

We rode east out of town and then headed north on the beach.

I discovered that the wet sand offered incredible traction and I amused myself by riding in circles as tightly and fast as I dared. This entertained TE and he took a few pictures.

We rode for miles and miles on the beach and had a blast. The straight smooth surface inspired us and we pushed the bikes as fast as they would go.

In places, there were dozens of families working on the beach. At first, we thought they were gathering clams, but then we realized that they were actually gathering stones and bagging them. They had stacked up some giant piles of bagged rocks. I suppose they were gathering them for sale to a construction company or something along those lines.

Now and again, we had to leave the beach, head up on the bluffs, and find our way along dirt roads or single tracks. Either way, the riding was spectacular. We came across huge tracts of shoreline covered in small boulders. As long as they were cantaloupe size or smaller, they weren’t that difficult ride.

By noon or one o’clock, we had made it north to La Cueva del Pirata, just west of Camalú, where we stopped for lunch.

It wasn’t much to look at from the outside (check out the poser), but inside it was nice and we had another mouthwatering Mexican meal. We also took a few minutes and changed Drex’s bandage.

After lunch, we headed east toward the mountains and passed through Camalú into the hills. This was truly majestic countryside.

If you look carefully in the distance behind me, you’ll see some whitish specs – those are cattle wandering the hillsides.

Sometime around mid-afternoon, we made our way to Rancho El Coyote, located high up in the Sierra San Pedro Martir state park. We stopped there, chatted with the owners, rested a bit, and sipped some Gatorade. We didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the calm before the storm.

It was around 4pm. Our plan was to ride up to Mike’s Skyranch for a quick visit, then head back to Ensenada, load up the bikes, and drive back to RSM late that night. We said adiós to our friendly hosts, then went out to the yard to put on our gear and take off. The BRP doesn’t have an electric start, so TE and I had waited for Drex more than once during the trip while he kicked over the big thumper. While he was kicking it this time, we rode out of the main yard and made our way near the horse corrals and what we thought was the route to Mike’s.

This is the place to play ominous organ music.

We shut down the bikes and waited for Drex. I seem to recall seeing him, out of the corner of my eye, pull out of the main yard. TE and I sat there idly chatting, wondering what was taking Drex so long. After a few minutes, I decided to go back to the ranch house and see what was going on.

To my surprise, Drex was gone. The lady owner of the ranch told me he had left several minutes earlier. She thought he was with us. I rode back to TE and asked him if he had seen Drex. No. Yikes! We scouted around the several roads leading in and out of Rancho Coyote. No Drex anywhere. One of the groundskeepers told me she thought she had seen him head down past the barns. We zipped down there and checked for his tracks, but nothing there was fresh.

We soon realized that Drex must have taken an alternative route out of Rancho Coyote, plus he apparently thought we had left him and was probably racing to catch up with us.

Drex had the GPS and knew the way to Mike’s. TE had been there a few years back and thought he probably remembered the way, so we took off fast, hoping to catch Drex, who was probably riding fast, hoping to catch us. Aaaarrrgh.

We rode hard for about an hour and a half, on one of the rockiest, gnarliest roads I’ve ever known, until we realized we had no idea where we were and still had not found Drex. About this time, I was really wishing we had radios or some kind of communication.

Not knowing how to get to Mike’s, TE and I turned around and hauled it back to Rancho Coyote, hoping all the time that we’d find Drex when we got there. By the time we got there, it was about 7pm and dusk was settling in. Unfortunately, Drex was not there.

We had a convoluted conversation with the ranch owner’s adult son, who surely knew his way around that mountain better than anyone on the planet. We tried to describe to him where we had gone searching for Drex, but it was very tough describing twisting dirt roads, multiple unmarked intersections, and the occasional hand-written sign.

After a while, we realized we had taken a wrong turn and actually headed away from Mike’s.

The question was, where was Drex? It seemed odd that he hadn’t returned to Rancho Coyote. Had he gone on to Mike’s? There was no way of knowing, since there’s no telephone or cell phone communications in those mountains. Amazingly, Rancho Coyote had wifi and I could connect my smartphone to it, but there was no way of communicating with Drex. No one knew if Mike’s Skyranch had wifi or not.

I started to fear the worst. I could imagine Drex thinking he was behind us and racing to catch up, then dumping it on some turn and landing in some gulch all broken up where we’d never find him.

We decided that Drex was either at Mike’s safe and sound, but unable to let us know, or he was crashed somewhere on the mountain. It was now about 7:30. We were hours from Ensenada. We didn’t know where Drex was or even if he was OK. I had a plane to catch back in Orange County the next day at 2pm, but this was the least of my concerns. (I imagined the phone call, “Hi, um, I’m gonna be a few days late getting back to work. I’m in the mountains of Baja Mexico and I’ve lost my brother. I need to find him.”)

I truly had no idea what to do. I saw two options: 1) spend the night at Rancho Coyote and resume the search for Drex in the morning or 2) high-tail it 3 ½ hours to Ensenada and hope that Drex was there when we got there. Both of these options could be very wrong. If we slept at Rancho Coyote and then it turned out that Drex had gone to Ensenada, we’d needlessly waste the whole night. If we rode to Ensenada, only to find that Drex was not there, then it would be likely he was wrecked up on the mountain somewhere. This was the worst kind of Catch 22.

I decided that the only way I was going to know what to do was to ask God. So that’s what I did. (Sorry if you’re gasping, but this is how I roll when the going gets tough.) I explained the dilemma and that I was equally conflicted about the two options, and then I asked for an answer. It came immediately. I suddenly felt certain that Drex was OK and somehow headed to Ensenada.

I found TE and told him so. We started getting ready go.

The ranch owner’s son told us where we could find one bar of cell phone service 1.3 miles off the main park road, up on a particular rise. (Are you kidding me?!) I figured maybe I could text Drex there and tell him my plan. I was becoming more convinced that he was indeed alive and had decided to head back to our home base.

Using Rancho Coyote’s wifi and my smartphone, I posted a message on Facebook and told Drex that we were leaving the ranch with an ETA at Ensenada around 10:30. Then we took off.

It was about ½ hour ride to the supposed one-bar cell spot. We got there and shut down the bikes. I powered up the smartphone and texted Drex on the side of the road of that dark mountain. I still have the conversation history in the phone:

3/19, 8:05p “Wete leaving rancho coyote for Ensenada. Its a little past 8. Text when you can.”

I sat there after hitting Send, hoping so much that he would get my message. My nerves were pretty frayed and for a moment I wondered if maybe I was abandoning my injured brother up in the mountains of Baja. TE was pretty uptight too. I could sense he was very worried. A few moments later, there is the absolute quiet and dark, my smartphone screen suddently lit up:

3/19, 8:07p “Okay I’m in Valle de Trinidad and will do same”

There have been very few times in my life when so much relief has washed over me. I felt unbelievably grateful. I shouted to TE that Drex had replied and said a silent prayer of thanks. Three gringos messing around in Baja were going to be OK after all and return home a little battered, but with some great adventures to tell.

The next 3 ½ hours (we had underestimated how long it would take to get to Ensenada) were some of the longest I can remember. We wound down out of the state park on a very twisty asphalt road for about an hour, then hit Mexico One, with its countless semi-trucks, cars, and pickups. The night was chilly, probably in the low 50’s I’d guess, but made colder by the 60 mph we were riding. The highway traffic racked my nerves.

We made a stop someplace along the route, bought some hot chocolate, stretched out legs and butt muscles, and gassed up. We arrived in Santo Tomás at 10:55 and texted Drex. He was already in Ensenada, having taken Highway 3, which dumped him directly into town.

We met him at Mickie D’s, where we exchanged some flip “long-time, no see’s” an abrazo or two, and a few quick explanations. It was all very manly and non-chalant, though I’m pretty sure we’d never been as worried about one another in our lives.

We stripped off our gear at Drex’s friends’ house, said some hurried good-byes and thank-you’s, loaded the bikes and headed toward the border.

We hadn’t gone more than a few miles before we established the rules for our next trip to Baja and starting planning the dates…


"Every time I start thinking the world is all bad, then I see some people out having a good time on motorcycles. It makes me take another look."

--Steve McQueen, On Any Sunday

Coyote63 screwed with this post 05-01-2011 at 08:35 PM
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:52 AM   #32
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Entertaining adventure

Thanks for the report!
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:10 PM   #33
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loved it. Ride more, so we can read about it. You are a very good storyteller.
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:21 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by skippyjon View Post
Thanks for the report!
Next time you'll have to come with us, skippyjon!!
"Every time I start thinking the world is all bad, then I see some people out having a good time on motorcycles. It makes me take another look."

--Steve McQueen, On Any Sunday
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:23 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by benwiggin2 View Post
loved it. Ride more, so we can read about it. You are a very good storyteller.
Thanks. I love storytelling almost as much as I love adventuring!
"Every time I start thinking the world is all bad, then I see some people out having a good time on motorcycles. It makes me take another look."

--Steve McQueen, On Any Sunday
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Old 05-02-2011, 07:39 PM   #36
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Eek My side...

I fired up the BRP and looked around for Coyote and TE -- didn't see them. Cruised across the acre or so to the main gate and looked around for them. Still nowhere. Turned back and looked at the ranch house. Not there.

Hmmmm. They must have buzzed ahead. Not likely, but possible. And I've been riding very slowly given my half-functional left arm. Mebbe they wanted to get ahead a bit.

So I turned through the gate and headed toward Mike's. Tracks in the dust. Looked fresh. Okay, I'll keep going.

If you've not been into Mike's recently from that side, the old road is hammered. Not terribly difficult, but causing one to pay attention. And with every rock I hit, pain slammed through the wound in my left arm.

Hmmmm. Mebbe they are behind me. They'll see my tracks and follow. Stopped in a couple of places and made some rock piles and scratched some arrows in the dust. Listened. Nothing.

(How many mgs of pain killers did I take? Am I caught up on my antibiotics?)

And suddenly I was at Mike's. And the sun was almost down and the canyon was quickly getting dark. And TE and Coyote were nowhere in sight. TE could easily ride that route twice as fast as I could. I bopped into the bar and asked if there was any Internet access there. Nope.

I chatted with Mike for a few. He's a real gentleman. Don Miguel. Mike suggested they may have gone done a certain canyon that would lead them to Valle de Trinidad rather than Mike's.

Hurting like I was, I did not want to go back over the nasty road to Rancho El Coyote. But maybe I should. Someone at Mike's told me there are two ways to El Coyote from there. If I went one way I was sure they guys would go the other way.

What if either of them were down and hurt -- the other would surely go back to Rancho El Coyote where there was wireless Internet.

Decision time. Yes, I roll like my bro. Said a prayer. Valle de Trinidad here I come. Fired up the BRP and flew -- fortunately I've been over the road from Mike's to Valle de T several times so with my light I rode reasonably fast and got out of there.

I rolled into the Pemex and chatted with the guys a bit. Anyone seen an orange bike and a red bike together tonight? The answer was maybe a red bike down by the taqueria. So I headed down the hill, found the taqueria, and a bright streetlight next to it in front of a building.

Pulled out my phone, turned it on. Then turned on data roaming and downloaded e-mail. (That turned about to be a $40 decision).

Then I got a text. And sent one. I haven't deleted them either. Soooo relieved that we were all okay. On opposite sides of the mountain, but safe. Several lessons learned.

So I hightailed it up MX3 to Ensenada in the dark. Almost missed a military checkpoint that wasn't marked. The 18 year old with the carbine nodded at me and said, "Un poco mas despacio eh Senor?" "Claro que si" I replied.

But I didn't go slower. I got on it and got into Ensenada as fast as I could.

Four weeks later I went back to Baja...but that's another story:
Not all that wander are lost

drex screwed with this post 05-02-2011 at 09:24 PM Reason: A bit of editing
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:43 PM   #37
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¡Bien dicho, hermano!
"Every time I start thinking the world is all bad, then I see some people out having a good time on motorcycles. It makes me take another look."

--Steve McQueen, On Any Sunday
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