Monday, November 21, 2011

MegaMel and The Boys of Baja - 2011 3K mile tour

Always looking for adventure, the plan was to ride from Yuma, AZ to Cabo San Lucas and back over 21 days. Goals were to maximize the dirt portions and have fun. We went down on red tracks and back on blue.

Since I recently bought a almost new DR650, I decided to take it. I added a rack and small saddlebags along with a tank bag and number-plate bag. I packed a sleeping bag, thermarest, stove, cookpot, and clothes in a dufflebag on the rack. The total weight of stuff loaded on the bike was 30#. I carried about five pounds in my daypack and fannypack. My raingear was in canteen holders on my fannypack belt.

Harry Wedler and Ed Gulczynski rode with me in my '97 Astronomical Van. Here we are with Pikes Peak on our way out of Colorado Springs. Harry took a DR650 and Ed took a KTM 450EXC.

Getting our tourist permits at the Mexican Customs office in Algodones (seven miles from Yuma). Ed, Ed (senior), MegaMel, Jeff, Tom, and Harry.

We camped at this beach in San Felipe.

Tom, working on Harry's flat tire just outside Gonzaga Bay.

Gonzaga Bay - We camped here with a major sandstorm blowing all night.

Coco's Corner is a long time landmark of Baja. Fun stop! He's quite the character!

TV room at Coco's.

After hitting the highway after Coco's, we decided to take this dirt track to cut out some pavement on the way to the Bay of Los Angeles. Ed Johnson from Pueblo decided to bring his GS1200 instead of his XR650 (MISTAKE). The bike rebeled violently when it hit this sand, ripping the saddle-bag off, breaking turn signal, and scratching the fairing. End of the dirt for Ed. We met up whenever we made it back to the highway on the way south.

There are some nice Pintadas Rupestres (Cave Paintings - Pictographs) seven miles off the pavement on the way to Bay of L.A. Great ride with lot's of deep sand and tight turns.

The Boojum trees are only found in a narrow latitude band. 

After getting some spokes brazed (overlapped) at the Bay of L.A. on Jeff's bike (XR650), we rode dirt toward Punta San Francisquito. This beach was a great deserted lunch spot.

Fun riding!

Punta San Francisquito - After discussing camping options with the restaurant manager, he offered us the use of this hacienda. We could camp on the patio or use the inside of the house as well. We all camped on the patio and made our coffee in the kitchen.

View off the patio.

Our hacienda.

On the plaza at San Ignacio. Stayed at La Posada Hotel (Fischer's – Grandpa guided Gardner on expeditions). The plaza here is beautiful.

San Juanico - Scorpion Bay - The ride to here from San Ignacio was one of the funnest rides of the trip. We rode lot's of tidal flats (smooth - go as fast as you want) interspersed with sand dunes. We visited a camp with a nice bar and a weddding party was in progress. There served us some free beer and we were off to find our campsite. We set-up camp in the dunes by the beach and found a few cockle-burrs.

Another really great ride was from San Juanico to Mulege. Lot's of sand/ rock dry river crossings.

We camped behind this restaurant in Mulege.

Tom, Ed (junior), and I camped while Harry, Jeff, and Ed (senior) enjoyed this nice hotel. Most hotels in Baja expect you to park your MC in the courtyard.

My camp! Out of the wind and toilet/ shower included for $3.

Lighthouse at Mulege. The river behind it runs two miles into town. 

We rode through some amazing mountains on the way to Agua Verde on the Sea of Cortez.

I'd heard that Agua Verde was a nice place and it is. This family had the only restaurant in this fish camp and I ate dinner, breakfast, and practiced my spanish a lot.

I stopped at San Jose de Noria on the way from Agua Verde to Constitution, to talk with these students. We rode a couple of miles of really deep sand and then up, up, up steep rocky switchbacks as we left Agua Verde.

This "Wild West" town was fun on our way to Punta San Evaristo.

We camped at the end of the beach and enjoyed a nice fish dinner.

W.M. in Cabo San Lucas.

Jeff thought his XR650 would be ready to ride after a mechanic in Phoenix went through it for him. The chain/ sprockets were junk, the rear wheel bearings were shot, and the rear spokes were rediculous. We'd already worked on the spokes in Bay of L.A. and now this shop in La Paz fixed up the rest. Good job!

This is the direction that a chain is not supposed to bend.

We camped twelve nights out of twenty nights on the trip. Most of the camping was free or maybe $3. Most of the hotels cost around $10 per person. This Pension California was fun.
Yes we parked in the atrium.

Dinner at Rancho Viejo in La Paz. We met Karl and Doris from Germany who were riding BMW's to South America. Doris came along to dinner.

La Paz - Harry and Ed (senior) caught the ferry to Matzatlan where Harry has a home. He spends winters there.

We all put down payments on property at this development north of Los Barilles after seeing the airstrip. We can fly in whenever we want.

Los Barilles - One of the popular kite surfer beaches of Baja.

Los Barilles - My campsite.

Jeff had a head-on collision with a pickup about twenty miles north of San Jose del Cabo. He rode his bike to town, bought lunch for us, worked a couple of hours on the computer to book flights, and spent the night at a hotel before flying home at 6 AM. That guy is double-tough. He finally got an operation and they put a lot of hardware in his leg. He also had rib breakage that was very painful. We arranged to have his bike stored/ repaired at HD Cabo San Lucas.

HD Cabo has permission to park MC's between the mall and the marina. Way cool!

Todos Santos north of Cabo has the Hotel California where the Eagles wrote their tune.

We rode about five miles north of town and camped here.

Typical of the Baja, you can usually find gas within fifty miles but it might be at a rancho or fish camp from jugs.

Stopping at an abandoned rancho for coffee and oatmeal was fun.

No way can you get lost with great roadsigns like this.

Back to Constitution. When we came through here on the way down, we continued on to Punta San Evaristo. Now we stayed in Hotel Conchita in the center of town, handy to the concert in the plaza and the many cafes. Here I'm enjoying the New York Times and the strictly medicinal Vive Villa and Mezcal (both are actually cane sugar alcohol (25% by volume). Doctors prescribed a couple shots of this mixed in Fresca to cut the trail dust.

I loved sitting in the sun across the street from the hotel and eating a great Torta (hot sandwich) with coffee.

One of the most beautiful missions in Baja. Most of them date from the 1700's.

Here's a little video showing some of the riding. 

A little more video on the same road. 

Video along the Bay of Conception, Playa Requeson, where we camped.

We camped inside this palapa at Playa Requeson.

I stopped at a isolated restaurant across the highway fro the Tres Virgenes volcano but it wasn't open. When this old guy walked over to me from working in the yard, he asked me what I wanted. I mentioned coffee and he invited me into to his caretakers cabin and made a cup for me. A great spanish lesson and a fun stop. Tom and Ed (junior) had ridden ahead to San Ignacio.

Ed was apprenhensive but I asssured him that the sandwiches (tortas) from this street vendor would be good.

A favorite stop in Guerrero Negro, the Malarimmo Restaurant/ Hotel/ RV Park. We stopped for breakfast, then Ed and Tom rode out six miles on a causeway to the old lighthouse and salt loading pier. The last time I was here, I was taking the CA grandkids to see the grey whales in Scammon's Lagoon. The whales came to our boat twice so we could pet them.

We left the highway again near  Rosarito, stopped in Punta Rosalilita for gas (out of jugs) and headed north to camp near the El Marron fish camp. This was an excellent camp.

The ride back to the highway was our toughest ride. Twenty miles of sand including about three miles of deep sand, nasty rocky hillclimbs, and of course, silt beds. Maybe ten of these. You don't want to ride through them. They are vicious with very fine dust up to two feet deep. We always tried to circumnavigate around them when possible. Ed was pretty sure we were lost and would die on this run.

At Camalu we headed for Mike's Sky Ranch (a legend stop for the Baja 1000 and must see for any off'-roaders doing Baja).

Sandie and I took this "back way" route to Mike's on a previous trip with our Baja Bug. It has since washed out a lot. I don't think we could get through there now without some winching. We had to drop into the riverbed and climb this hill back to the road.

It was fun meeting eight guys from C. Springs at Mike's. Gay Smith was in his big bucks Porsche powered buggy. Arlo England (C. Springs motorcycle legend) was part of the crew.

We woke up to a flat on Ed's bike after a fun night with steak dinner and fun times in the bar at Mike's. 

Coffee break in Heroes de la Independencia. I loved the kitchen.

Last night! We were trying to ride dirt from Independencia to the border through the national park but we ran into fierce rain after lunch so we high-tailed it to Ojos Negros. It dumped well into the night but cleared by morning. Thinking the dirt roads might be impassable, we rode through Ensenada, Tecate and took Mexico Hwy 2 to cross at Algodones. Twenty One days of straight riding - A great trip!