Baja 2016 - The Ultimate Road Trip
One Dog, Two people and Four Wheels
A wild 6-month ride wheeling through Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Heidi, Tom and Sam here we go…
Mexico border - crossing point:
The terrain starts with cotton fields. At first we thought it was snow! We are so done with snow.
With only a few hundred pesos in our pockets, that’s under thirty US, we are looking for an ATM machine. ATMs are not always easy to find in Mexico. And of course the first ATM spits out no money. I try another machine, and another, still no pesos. Now the concern rises. At a bank I exchange some US cash to pesos. All good, we have pesos but we need to figure out what is up with our ATM card.
I’m still having trouble finding the way out of town. Heidi finally sees a sign pointing to San Felipe, that’s the road we want. Driving along we again loose our way. So it’s back to where we came from to look for that San Felipe sign again, then start over. That works this time, we are on our way. This route was picked because we’ve never gone this way before. I love the way Heidi and I travel.
Soon we see mountains. We’re crossing the northern part of the Baja from East to West on highway-3. This eventually leads to Ensenada on the Pacific Ocean where we will start heading South toward Baja sur.
Climbing into the mountains.
We can’t believe it, snow. There are several Mexican families pulled over and playing in the snow. We even saw the start of a snowman.
I wanted to stop somewhere in Los Algodones for food but Heidi didn’t see anything good, and I was too busy trying to drive. When we finally get close to Ensenada we find ourselves driving through a barrio. I see what looks like a popular taco place, park the truck and jump out.
Now I feel we are in Mexico, the best food ever.
Heidi has a great dog friendly hotel picked out from the internet in Ensenada. I made a detailed map of how to get to the place. It wasn’t easy but we did find the first road we need to turn on. We continued circling around and around going down every possible street but the place simply did not exist. There is a hotel at the spot where our hotel should be but that place is under construction. Our theory is it was sold and the new owners are re-doing it. We are kind of freaked about finding another place that will take Sam. It’s getting late and it feels too cold to camp. But at least we have the camping option, we can even camp inside the truck if need be. Our buddy Clyde removed the back seats and made a custom platform and storage area where the seats were. All three of us have camped in the truck like this and it works good.
I did some sweet talking at the Vista Hotel and got Sam in. The room is only 400 pesos (~$20 US) That was a lucky find, but the room is small and cold and there is no heater of any kind. We even try our shower trick, hot water running full blast. But no, the shower starts spilling out into the room where I have my backpack sitting. A lot of my things get wet.
We get Sam settled in the room and go off walking to look for food. We find a great taco place right on the main drag. Tacos carne asada and all the fixings for just a couple bucks, perfect. A couple cold beers for the road and we are set. Walking back to the hotel is dark, real dark and there are no real sidewalks or street lamps here. We don’t have a flashlight and walking is like an obstacle course of ducking and jumping, not smart. We make a new rule ‘always carry a flashlight if we are going out late’. We love making travel rules.
The next day we’re driving south along the Pacific Ocean.
It isn’t long before a military roadblock/checkpoint. We have this system down, Heidi and I have been through dozens of these and our protocol has never changed.
1. Have the window full down while approaching the inspectors.
2. Take off sunglasses and look at the officer directly. (with a motorcycle it is important to remove your helmet before speaking)
3. Say only “buenos dias senor” or “buenos tardes senor” which ever it is, using a friendly but serious tone.
4. Then shut up and listen for a question.
5. When answering any question always speak Spanish and only Spanish, no matter how bad the Spanish is. This has always worked well for us, even when we encountered corrupt police in Nicaragua trying to extract money. That time Heidi jumped in with her Spanish insisting we don’t need a fire extinguisher for our motorcycle. That allowed us to proceed without any payout.
Driving south we make it to El Rosario where again Heidi had a dog friendly hotel bookmarked. This time it was a breeze to find and the place was perfect.
A fantastic Mexican restaurant is attached to the hotel. This is an official check-point for the Baja-1000 race. How cool is that!
Heidi and I ate here the first night. The place is famous for its lobster tacos. Anyway the waiter warns me about the hot sauce and of course I have to check it out. The sauce kicked my butt. I broke out in a huge sweat and it ruined any taste buds I had. Fun time though. Baja race photos and stickers are everywhere.
I love Baja racing, I always have and always will.
We find out instantly there is excellent desert hiking right across the street. With Sam along that guarantees we will do at least two short runs a day, and in this terrain it can be a good workout.
Always having a camera along is another good travel rule.
This is lucky to have blooming cacti.
I can’t completely get away from my job during this trip but the way I look at it, working in paradise isn’t a bad thing.
At the Oxxos store they have a public phone booth. I just tell the person at the register that I want to start a phone call, they push a button and I dial. For USA numbers you start with ‘001’ and that’s it. I call our bank back home and get the card issue resolved, we hope. There are no banks or ATMs here so we will see the next we try it.
Around town, El Rosario.
El Rosario is great but again we are just about out of pesos so we need to push on. We’re not sure where we are heading today but we will figure it out as we go.
The further south we drive the cooler the desert gets.
Stay tuned for more fun in Mexico's Baja Peninsula…
Continued: ---> Post 4 <----