Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SW2011 Part 5: BAJA

I picked Mikey up at the SD airport around noon. He had a rat-tail mullet, complete with feathers and words shaved in the back, a small duffel bag as checked luggage, and a large boom-box as his carry on. We got to work packing the car and collecting supplies for our trip.

We picked Ryan up from work around 3 and headed straight to the border. Our car got searched at the crossing, right behind a truck whose license plates were taken off and put aside. We are still wondering what happened there. We made our way through Tijuana as quickly as possible and continued south towards Ensenada.

We stopped at a grocery store in Ensenada to get food for dinner and breakfast along with some mexi-cokes, beer, and tequila. We continued on until we reached Santo Tomas where we got off the highway and onto the long, dirt farming road to the coast. The sun was setting and before we reached the end of the road it was completley dark. We camped at the same place as last fall, right above the ocean with the stone archway off a huge field of brussels sprouts.

We woke up early Friday morning to a low fog over the coast. We made some breakfast, did a little exploring, and got on our way- east to the Sea of Cortez. Ryan and I were dropped off by Mikey once back on the farm road to run the first few miles of the road. At this point the sun was starting to burn off the fog and it was amazing how quickly it got hot. We headed back up Highway 1 to Ensenada and across Highway 3 towards San Felipe. Before leaving Ensenada we made sure to stop at the Phoenix fish taco stand for lunch, some of the best fish tacos we've ever had... and only 10 pesos each.

Highway 3 was a pretty cool drive, going right into the mountains and gaining elevation quickly. We soon encountered our first military checkpoint of the trip. The purpose of the military checkpoints are to prevent drug trafficking. We don't try to understand or talk in Spanish at the checkpoints. A simple "no hablo espenol", and we are on our way. As soon as we can see the Sea of Cortez at the horizon, we are at the second checkpoint, we are asked to get out of the car so they can do a quick search this time.

We are now in San Felipe. Brett and Scott weren't able to leave San Diego until this afternoon, so they were taking Highway 5 directly down to meet up with us. We are scheduled to meet them at the San Felipe water front at 7pm. We have a few hours to kill, so we head south to look for beach side camping.

Between small fishing camps, residences, abandoned camps, and sand that was too deep to try driving through, it took us a long time to find a suitable place to camp on the coast. In the end, we found a long sandy road that ended at a small partially-built building. It was basically a second floor platform/roof with a perfect cooking station. It was right above the beach and on sand dunes, perfect for sleeping.

We drove back to town around 6:30 to get some fish for dinner and meet up with the guys. I stayed within view of the car while Ryan and Mikey ran errands. We don't leave the vehicles and gear alone. 7:30 had come and there was still no sign of Brett and Scott. After deciding to give them a few more minutes, we see the Navy jeep rolling down the strip with two dirt bikes in tow. We're pumped. We fill up on gas and head south of town back to our site to set up camp. After setting everything up and cooking dinner, we decide to figure out how to get down the sandy bluffs to the beach. Time for a night time snorkel adventure.

Being on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja, the sun hit us immediately after cresting the horizon, making sleeping near impossible. We were up early and cooking breakfast, drinking water, and rubbing on sunscreen. I'm pretty sure I went through more sunscreen on this trip than I have in the last year or two altogether. We packed up camp and continued south towards Puertecitos.

We had expected the pavement to stop after Puertecitos, but instead it was a freshly paved, brand new highway. The best roads we had seen on the entire trip. This allowed us to get further south with ease. The jeep with the dirt bike trailer was our main concern once we hit the bumpy dirt roads.

We found our new camp around noon. It was exactly what we wanted, rocky beach area for spear fishing, completley remote from fishing camps or villages, and trails for dirt biking. We spent the afternoon doing all of the above. It was a pretty relaxing day.

We packed up camp late morning on Sunday and drove north, all the way up Highway 5 to Mexicali and were back in San Diego by dinner time. Aside from the usual military checkpoints and a mini van that rolled off the highway directly in front of us, the drive home was pretty uneventful. The only downside was the two-hour wait in Mexicali to get back across the border.


Ryan took Monday morning off from work so that we could go sailing in the bay with Mikey before his flight home to Portland.

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