Another Baja adventure is in the books. This year's trip may have been one of the best. Of course, each year seems to be better than the last.
Here is my trip picture album.
It was a nearly two week trip with more to show and tell than I have pictures or words for, and you have the patience to read. So I'll cover just a few highlights.
The group arrived at the Tecate border crossing coming from different directions. I road down the night before, from a conference in Vegas, and stayed nearby. Bfrank joined us from visiting friends in San Diego. Russell hosted the Sacramento contingent--Nate, Sarah, Ted and Doug--overnight as they came down in the truck with trailer the day before (Is it really a bike trip if you don't ride from door-to-door? ;-) ) We all immediately proceeded across the border to stop at the taco stand on main street in Tecate. Baja! A quick stop next door at the money changer and we're off.
Wine tasting was our next stop in Baja. There's a surprisingly nice wine region in the mountains south of Tecate. Good reds (my thing) but the whites were better. They even had "wine" in two liter plastic "soda" bottles. Very convenient for a motorcycle gang. We bought some peach stuff and had it later at dinner. Not bad.
After the usual overnight at Baja Cactus in El Rosario, we zoomed south on pavement to the Bay of LA--our first of four bay overnights.
Baja has so many great Bay locations. Each has its own special charm. LA is rapidly becoming a "more significant" destination as the road is paved all the way to the town. Right now, it's still a great place. The Costa de Sol where we stayed is especially nice. Great rooms with bike parking and palapas in front of your door. Cold beer open and waiting as we stepped off the bikes. Dining is just a few steps away in their restaurant. For dinner they cooked us a seafood platter and refilled it as needed. We ate like kings and queens. In the morning it was time for some dirt.
An enjoyable afternoon ride on firm dirt sent us to the next bay destination--San Francisquito. But, as we road along we found Doug laying in the middle of the trail with his broken BMW taking a nap. He have gotten caught in the sand and dropped hard. We got the bike up and operational, he toughed it out, and off we go to finish the last 10 miles or so.
As quiet and remote as you can ask for, San Francisquito had palapa like huts containing cots and a main building housing a kitchen and eating area. Other than that, nothing but very blue water and a full moon. The local caketakers brought us a stack of wood for our campfire on the sand. Do you enjoy quiet warm beach beauty? This is the place!
In the morning Doug's bike is loaded into the staff pickup and he's off to Bay of LA and pavement. Two days later he's back in San Diego and flying home to somewhere near Sacramento. Seems he had three cracked ribs and a partly collapsed lung. Ow!
Another day of dirt riding through El Arco adds more dust and fun. The road out of El Arco back to highway 1 is the closest thing I've ever seen to a dirt superhighway. Wide, straight, flat, and relatively smooth we were comfortably cruising at 70 mph.
As we arrive at our next destination, San Ignacio, I'm in for a treat. I've heard about and wanted to try the San Ignacio Springs yurts but they've always been fully occupied in the past. Not this time. We're in!
Yurts are round tents common to Mongolia. A Canadian couple has set up a number of them in the palm grove along side the river entering San Ignacio. They have a main kitchen "building" (really an organized outdoor area with a sun roof) along with the yurts and serve group meals as part of your stay. These "tents" are not like anything you've slept in before. Too cool!
Next day we're off to see the whales in the San Ignacio lagoon about 30 miles south of town. Except, at a re-group stop half way there, Ted's bike is peeing oil. Oh man! Not good! Seems the mount for the BMW's skidplate has cracked and taken a large chunk out of the bottom of the motor. Within minutes a pickup headed back to town from the lagoon stops and we load Ted and his machine on-board while we all continue on. How lucky is that! Baja road service!
Ted does okay. Back in town he gets the services of a local mechanic. They rivet a metal plate into the hole, then JB Weld around it. Within two days he's got a working bike. He rides to Gonzaga and meets up with us three days later.
Whales. I don't have the words or photography skills. Just take a look at the short video clips and imagine it. You've got to see this place once in your life!
Another remote beautiful bay overnight is waiting so we're off on the high road south to San Juanico, a.k.a. Scorpion Bay to the gringo surfers. Here we've scheduled our only no-riding rest day. We have a house near the beach reserved and treat ourselves to a group cooked meal and breakfast (okay, really a Nate and Sarah cooked meal but I walked to the store and bought the eggs at 9:00 am or "the crack of dawn"). Baja, just one beautiful beach after another.
We used the extra day here to get Bfrank's foot pegs welded by the local vehicle repair guy. $5 Per side. Then we're off to Mulege by way of Loreto.
After a brief lunch stop in Loreto and we arrive in downtown Mulege. As is tradition, we stay in the center of town at Alfonso's Hacienda hotel. It's always good to see him. This guy is amazing. Each year I learn something new about him. Still going strong at 80+ years, he's taught himself nearly perfect English, retired from owning and flying a plane, owns two hotels in town, and is building homes--really a development--north of town in a desert area. I tell him he's in the book Baja Legends and promise to e-mail him the relevant pages when I get home.
Our crew of five (down from seven at the start) continues on from Mulege to Gonzaga Bay. We have e-mail messages from Ted suggesting he's got the BMW running and might meet us there.
By late afternoon, after a morning of pavement and an afternoon of dirt, we are pulling into Gonzaga and see Ted's bike at Alfonsina's, the local (only!) hangout. We secure rooms and dinner. Our forth remote beautiful bay.
Our last Baja day awaits. We head out from Gonzaga in the morning to find the only fuel station is out of gas and closed. Not uncommon in Baja, and particularly so here in a remote location like Gonzaga. The bigger (i.e., smarter!?) bike riders buy some gas off other visitors that have cans full in their truck. But I calculate I have the remaining range to reach fuel near San Felipe, our afternoon's destination. I'm wrong.
After a morning of rocky dirt roads we reach the new pavement south of Puertecitos and speeds pick up. About five miles out of San Felipe I roll to a stop. Ted comes to the rescue with a MSR can of gas. That gets me about 3.5 more miles. Another embarrassing stop and Nate drains a bit more fuel from his KTM supertanker and I cover the final distance. I roll into the Pemex on the south side of San Felipe running on fumes. Next time I stick to John's first rule of Baja "Where there's gas, buy gas."
Our last overnight is enjoyable but uneventful in San Felipe. This is a real city with all the services so it makes a fitting last Baja stop. It's an opportunity to ease back into all the services and commercialism that is the U.S. Our final day includes the twisty pavement of MX Rt 2 over the mountains south of the border back to Tecate and the U.S.
My Suzuki has been unstoppable the whole way, assuming you ignore the rider's stupid lack of fuel purchase in Gonzaga. Now that we're back in the U.S., it clearly feels neglected. After the afternoon lunch stop, I find the oil filler cap is missing. Of course, not until riding some miles and coating my self and the right side of the bike with 20W50. Some duct tape to the rescue. We continue on.
The tape gives way just two miles from San Diego's Fun Bike Center. More minor roadside "repairs" and we make FBC as the rain starts pouring down. A bit of searching at FBC finds a suitable replacement cap (I think from a Suzuki GSXR) and all's good again.
Russell treats us all to an overnight at his place in San Diego and I finish the week with a day's ride up the coast to Paso Robles in cool but sunny conditions.
Another Baja. May there be many more to come!