“Revenge of the Twenty-Two Day Trail”
BAJA SAN FELIPE 2013
By Paul K Edmunds
We stopped at Oscar Padilla’s Insurance in Calexico where we exchanged dollars for some pesos. From there we crossed into Mexico. The Border crossing was without incident even with the abundance of clothing in the bed of the Tundra. The Border Guard was interested in seeing that we had registrations for each of the bikes. He even asked for a driver’s license from one of our guys.
On the way to San Felipe, we had one Federale checkpoint to pass through—they didn’t have us stop once they saw we were bikers. Down the road a piece from the checkpoint there was a terrible wreck with a dead body in the road covered with a blanket. We later learned that one vehicle was going at a high rate of speed and ran into the rear of another car killing the single occupant.
Upon entering San Felipe we stopped for fuel at a Pemex before continuing on to purchase fireworks, M-100’s and rockets. After stopping for fireworks, we stopped at the Dagnino’s store in Los Arcos. We visited with Hector and his wife, Guadalupe, arranging things for our Annual Service Project tomorrow. We will have at least 200 bags of clothing, down from 250 in year’s past. I gave Hector one of our t-shirts for tomorrow and one for the carpenter, Jose Cruz Torres.
We checked into Hotel el Cortez picking up the keys for our rooms I prepaid. We paid for both rooms for our return on Friday. Jorge Rodriguez, the manager, was not in his office, so I gave some photos I had for him to Fabiola. She has been corresponding with us on the rooms. I also paid the three guards to watch our equipment for the duration of the week. The one who has the night shift had lived in North Carolina—spoke good English. He instructed us to leave our rigs in the parking lot by the paved lot by our rooms. This worked out well. Following the meeting with the guard, I went over to the bar and arranged for chairs to be set up for our Rider’s Meeting this evening.
We arrived in San Felipe before noon and are ready to unload everything and settle back for a shrimp taco and cold soda. I had to get the maid to clean the rooms as they were unmade—she didn’t mind what with the tip I gave her. The Trapnell group of four arrived just behind us. They stayed in Blythe last night. We have determined that we will no longer stay in Las Vegas as it’s just too convenient to stay closer to the Border and arrive early and kick back for a few hours.
At Sochie’s we greeted Sochie and her daughter. I didn’t have an appetite and was able to consume only one shrimp taco and some guacamole with a cold Coke in the bottle—still suffering from a stomach ailment. I’m supposed to get that in Mexico, not at home. I’m now taking my Cipro each day as a precaution.
We went over to Thrifty Ice Cream for a cone—I got a couple of bites of pistachio. We walked the streets to locate Mexican vanilla that we will purchase on Friday upon our return.
We came back to the hotel and encountered Jerry Bronstrup and his son-in-law, Justin Ward. They arrived yesterday and were enjoying themselves. We joked with Justin that he didn’t lose his bike to theft this year. Other riders have been arriving throughout the afternoon including Amar from Mongolia and Steve Ewing, the big guy who takes a 3X t-shirt.
Before long we were making preparations for the sorting of the clothing. We have two Boy Scouts who will be doing their Eagle Service Projects this year, Anthony Gutierrez and Porter Johnson. The boys got busy with spreading out the tarps for sorting. I had three of the maids help them. For that service the maids received clothing for which they were grateful.
Lee Marx talked about some heat he got at the Border for having too much clothing in his trailer. He told the Border Guard that he had a large family that would be joining him on the morrow, and they needed the clothing. It seemed to work, unlike last year.
We were soon sorting clothing. While so doing, Jorge Rodriguez, part owner and manager of Hotel el Cortez, and his uncle showed up to greet us. I gave Jorge a couple of knives—he likes a nice knife. He ended up dialing his son, who I am acquainted with, in San Diego to visit with me—Jorge Jr. Jr. is attending school there. After pictures including the two Boy Scouts, he and his uncle were on their way in a small pickup.
It was announced that we had 187 bags and no more clothing. I had them bag up the baby clothing rather than distribute it separate tomorrow. When we got 220 bags we were done! The Marx’s had a bunch of bed spreads that they would be giving to the San Felipe Branch of the LDS Church. There were other items as well including white shirts and ties plus some soccer equipment. Time for our Rider’s Meeting.
Interest is kept going at the Rider’s Meeting with a free raffle. Each rider gets a single ticket. We draw out a few names here and there and invite the winners to come up to the prize table and pick anything they want. We were able to give something to every person attending.
The Bunker’s arrived just before the meeting. Keith Bunker has a new, red Arctic Cat Wildcat—he looks ready to ride! We had introductions from each of the six groups: Brown Quad Squad, Bunker, Edmunds, Marx, Trapnell, and Walpole with 8 riders in his group. Jerry Bronstrup put some special “Baja Pablo” t-shirts and sweatshirts on the prize table plus a whole lot of special “UTMA” stickers. Earlier he gave me two of these special sweatshirts with one for my son, Charlie, who is not here with us on this ride.
After a shortened Rider’s Meeting, each of the groups met separate. There are 15 of us in our group. Park Sorenson and Dennis Hamp will not be here until tomorrow morning. They attended a wedding of a relative Saturday afternoon and stayed in Calexico at the new Best Western on Saturday evening. It was decided that we want to get off tomorrow well before 12 noon.
Piling into my Tundra, we soon returned to Sochie’s for some seafood. I still didn’t have an appetite, but forced myself to eat some coconut shrimp which I later regretted. I heaved them up that evening, and don’t want to ever eat coconut shrimp! While there the boys decided to have some fun by moving Steve’s RZR away from the curb across the street. Steve was aware of the move, but didn’t retaliate.
We soon returned to the hotel, packing for tomorrow. I did one last check of my backpack and gear. I finally got to bed at 22:45 after taking a sleeping pill and my Cipro. It was midnight when I lost my supper. Thank goodness the other end is, well, tight!
I was up at 06:30 this morning with a shower and still somewhat queasy. Walked over to the Hotel el Cortez Restaurant and joined the group for breakfast. Got a ham omelet with herbal tea and it actually was pretty good. I did some socializing without taking any photos.
At 08:10 we departed the parking lot with me in lead in the Tundra and Lee Marx’s big trailer not far behind—we were headed for Los Arcos and our Annual Service Project! I greeted Hector and Lupe plus their two sons who speak good English. Jose Cruz Torres was there with his granddaughter at his side. We were soon dispensing bags of clothing with the Scouts at the trailer door opening. There were our Spanish-speaking folks in Dagnino’s tienda to help with purchases of food. We collected $800 which was distributed amongst 16 people, mostly widows.
While walking through the crowd, I gave away hats and pictures from last year. We ran into a lady who had lived 25 years in Los Arcos. She remembers us when we first started coming to the community the second year we came to Baja, 1990. We also greeted Norma who used to own a taco stand at the Plaza Maristaco on the malecon in San Felipe. She moved back from California.
At 09:00 a few of us departed for the San Felipe Police Station. We distributed the two dozen “POLICIA” hats that I had made up at WestPro. There were 8 policemen and four of us. I left them a couple of photos from past years of our visits.
We went back to the hotel to get ready for church services. Church services begin at 10:00. We were able to leave a little bit early as we unloaded the bed spreads the Marx’s brought including white shirts and ties. I had some white shirts to donate as well. Peter Smith donated a suit. Lee Marx’s daughter made up 12 Young Women’s packets for the members.
The services started on time. The new Branch President is Ephraim Santos who has been a member for some time now and in several Branch Presidencies. They had two confirmations for baptisms performed yesterday, Saturday, before the two talks. There were several Americans in attendance who live down here. Some folks wore the earphones which gave them the English translation from Spanish. Not sure who was translating today behind the scenes.
After the service, we hurried back to the hotel where I parked the Tundra with the trailer attached to the west of where we were parked last night. Chris Hickman ran our bags out to the Tundra after we were in our riding gear.
Park and Dennis made it in time, but Park’s jetting is off. He got a pilot jet from me and stated he would put it in and catch up with us at Meling Ranch. While I was getting him a #48 pilot jet, Greg Bunker came by and complained that his bike battery was dead. I informed him I had one just waiting for him free of charge. He was surprised that I had an extra, heavy-duty, fully charged battery.
We were soon riding out of the hotel parking lot at 11:45 with 13 riders—good departure time. It was decided that myself, Greg Jerome, John Bailey, and Brent Ripley would ride down the Highway 5, turning off onto Highway 3, then on to Mike’s Sky Ranch turnoff just west of San Matias. We were waved on past the two Federal Checkpoints.
The reason for traveling the highway was misinformation that stated the road past the Zoo Road was in terrible shape and the sand woops down the road were the worst. This turned out not to be true, but just the same it was nice to arrive early at Meling Ranch because of this “misinformation.”
While several groups were navigating Laguna Diablo, the four of us traveled the highway which was mighty cold until we hit the dirt road leading to Mike’s. I experienced a headache and some nausea as I rode up to Mike’s—guess it’s a holdover from my malady from the past couple of days.
At Mike’s we found Peter York, Jerry, and Justin waiting for our arrival. They had departed San Felipe well before noon. We even beat the Bunker Group to Mike’s where they will be staying the evening. We found out later there was a reason for their late arrival. The Walpole Group is staying at Rancho el Coyote closer to Meling Ranch.
After pictures and a look-around at Mike’s, the 7 of us took off for Meling Ranch. The road wasn’t too bad what with small clumps of snow here and there and some serious collections of water on the trail. But we made it through the washed out portions of the road from the past and on to Meling Ranch passing by Rancho El Coyote.
Meling Ranch had 8 guests from Germany who would occupy four of the rooms closest to the dining room. After getting everyone situated, a few members of our group occupied the small home just to the east of the kitchen. It was perfect what with a fireplace, three bathrooms, and nine beds. Eight of us ended up sleeping there.
I took time to greet Christian Meling who is the son of David and Sandra Meling Reyes Lang. Saundra and her husband own and run the ranch. Sandra directs the cooking and daily meal details. Cooking is done over wood-burning stoves.
All riders who were scheduled to stay at Meling’s were on time for dinner at 18:30 except for the Marx Group who had troubles on the trail. They serve dinner family style, and the food is delicious. We had reserved the back section for the Marx Group including a separate room for grandma, the Marx’s 80 year old mother.
After dinner, we settled up with our hosts paying $55 per person for two meals, supper and breakfast in the morning, and a bed. Those of us in the house out back visited for a short while around the fire place. After some conversation, most of us were looking for a warm bed. We did almost 110 miles today. I was took a sleeping pill, Pepto Bismo, and 250mg of Cipro. It was cold, but I was in bed by 21:00.
Picking up the story with the Marx Group leaving San Felipe—well they made it to the Zoo Road turnoff where one of the Hayabusas ground to a halt with a seized rear-wheel bearing. Not to be discouraged, selected members of the entourage traveled back to San Felipe and secured a rear wheel bearing and three spares. They fixed the buggy in record time, about one hour, and were on their way.
On the north end of the Laguna Diablo, the sole quad, 2000 Polaris Sportsman 700, in the Marx Group developed problems. So, Lee and his son, on the quad, stayed behind with the remainder of the group heading for Meling Ranch. This particular group lead by Ron Marx found its way to Meling Ranch arriving just before midnight. However, they didn’t arrive unscathed as grandma got out of her ride for a pit stop only to slip on a protruding rock and land face-first on the ground in the dark resulting in a black eye.
Ron wasn’t fully aware of the drill when he arrived, so he promptly began to knock on doors to see if he could find “Pablo.” He managed to wake up all 8 Germans in the first four doors he knocked on. They didn’t know “Pablo” and could have cared less at that time of night—no vital information was gained from that tactic. With time and riders being awakened, the small Marx group was put to bed—without dinner I might add.
Lee and Trent Marx in the meantime extended the cable from the Polaris Sportsman attaching it to the Hayabusa and proceeded towing the Polaris down Hwy 3 traveling east to connect with Hwy 5 to San Felipe. While traveling down the highway, Lee noticed Keith Bunker’s dead Arctic Cat Wildcat parked alongside the highway. So, as he passes the Wildcat, he slows down almost coming to a stop and proceeds to make a u turn in the middle of the highway. This maneuver would have worked if it had not been for an automobile coming down the highway at 60mph from the west whose occupants were a married couple from San Matis, a Mexican national and American guy.
The small Toyota passenger car almost got it shut down before making contact with the cable stretched across the highway. The force of the impact stretched the cable forward sending both ATV’s into the opposing sides of the passenger car. Needless to say, the two passengers were overcome with emotion as they heard the crunching noises on the front of their vehicle. The noises consisted of the cable going under the hood and towards the firewall while the Polaris and Hayabusa made indelible impressions on both sides of the front fenders and bumper. All four participants were now in a position to introduce one to another with an explanation in order.
While the introductions were taking place and explanations being put forth, Keith shows up with pickup and trailer to retrieve his machine. He also loads up the dead Polaris on the back of the trailer. This small group is followed all the way to San Felipe with the folks in the Toyota in hot pursuit telling their side of the story to the Federales at the checkpoint. After going through the checkpoint, the Bunker pickup and trailer are followed all the way to San Felipe. In his Hayabusa, Lee and Trent high-tail it down the highway to Hotel el Cortez.
When Keith Bunker arrives in San Felipe, he is surrounded by the local police department at the Pemex close to the San Felipe Policia Station. Keith and his passenger are not sure of their fate at this point in time. After some conversation and maneuvering, one of the policemen recognizes Keith as a member of UTMA and remembers the POLICIA hats that they receive each year from the group, and he just happens to speak some English. Explaining to the others that these are good guys, they are released to go to the hotel.
In the meantime, police offers are knocking on doors at Hotel el Cortez searching for Lee Marx. This action by the police gets the hotel manager involved, Jorge Rodriguez. Jorge explains to the police that these are good guys and convinces them to back off. Lee is saved from sharing a cell in the poky with Keith Bunker. As to the Toyota folks, well they are still seeking some sort of compensation.
Arising just after 06:00, it was cold, but a hot shower cured that problem. After dressing I walked around the Ranch and took some photos of our folks. There was frost on the seats of all the machines. I took note of where I placed Ron Stoke’s ashes from last year. The Dearden brothers were pitching horseshoes. I even encountered Ron Marx who looked, well, rested, or maybe relieved to be at the Ranch and looking forward to breakfast.
Breakfast was served at 08:00. After breakfast, the ranch hands put a gallon of gas into each machine at a cost of $5. This will get us to Camalu and a Pemex. Guys were wrenching on their bikes including check oil and air pressure. My KTM needed oil, like ¾ of a cup. But tire pressure was right on.
Our group took a dirt road from the Ranch expecting to connect in to the main Observatory road just before Sinaloa—didn’t happen. The road led down to a river bottom that was going nowhere. Brent Ripley and I came back out to the main road where we encountered the Bunker group headed for a single track trail. They will be staying at Mama Espinosa’s in El Rosario this evening. After greeting them, we traveled to the turnoff cross-country for Camalu just past Sinaloa. We waited there for all our riders to catch up—15 total.
The cross-country travel that includes a steep mountain descent and passing through a guy’s rancho was fun. We had to let the fence down at the guy’s ranch in order to pass by. He was more than friendly about the whole process. I reminded him that we would be back again next year.
We were soon in Camalu getting fuel and treats at a tienda next door. The Trapnell group of four caught up with us. It seems Greg Trapnell needs a cable for his clutch, his is broken. And to our surprise, we learned that he found a shop very close to the Pemex in Camalu that sold him a new, Yamaha clutch cable for 20 bucks! Now that’s luck!
After a short rest stop we headed west for the beach with Chris Hickman leading. The tide was completely in and going out. There were folks there mining for decorative, black rocks and others digging for clams. We could not ride the beach, and so settled for the ridges above the beach. We did this for several miles finally exiting in San Quintin. We stopped by the small house of a family who engaged some of the riders in conversation. They took them inside their home consisting of two rooms, sleeping and kitchen. The guys want to stop there next year with something for them.
We stopped for fuel at the Pemex close to the turnoff for Old Mill where we have stayed so many times in the past. Today we traveled on to Hotel Mision Santa Maria on the beach west of the produce plant, La Pina. This is the old La Pinta that has been completely renovated. It is owned by the same corporation that owns the Hotel Mision Catavina where we will stay tomorrow night.
We checked into the hotel paying 570 pesos or $50. Chris and I checked into our room—it has a beautiful view of the beach like all the rooms. I took time to find the night watchman and tipped him to watch our equipment. He was such a nice guy and told me not to worry one bit as all would be safe and sound.
Thus far we have traveled 76 miles today. Many of our riders and members of the Trapnell group, after checking in, dropped off their packs and traveled down the beach and all the way to La Lobera Sea Lion Sancturary exiting at Km 47 off the highway. Still not feeling that great, I chose to shower, write in my journal, and join Jerome, Bailey, Bronstrup, Ripley, and York on the patio for conversation. I downed a single taco from Ripley’s generosity.
Our group moved into the dining room at 18:00 for dinner. While downing a Mexican plate, there was a lot of conversation and tales of episodes on the trail. In the meantime, the whole of the Marx group arrived including Shawn Gutierrez and his family members.
After dinner a few of the members of our group met in Peter and Max’s room for some conversation—I was in bed by 20:40.
I was up at 06:00 feeling good and ready for the day. After S&S, I headed for the hotel restaurant for huevos rancheros.
Our group of 15 was able to depart by 08:00 for Catavina. We had Park lead the way with his GPS. We are taking the old Km16 Baja 1000 Race Route. When we got 2 km in, the road was blocked forcing us to head south which we had intended to do anyway. We soon picked up the road leading us up the ridge and east.
After a short distance, Olin Johnson complained that his new KTM 500EXC was locked in second gear. No matter what we did, it didn’t want to shift. His son was ahead of us with the majority of the group. We finally ended up sending Olin back to the highway to thumb a ride to Catavina and our hotel. We learned later that he wasn’t there a couple of minutes when he was picked up and given a ride in a pickup with this bike in the bed. They charged him $100 plus he filled up their fuel tank to take him the 80 miles south.
The trail was rocky and a lot of hill climbing. I was sans fan on my bike, but didn’t experience any heating problems with my KTM. I later learned after paying $100 to the shop that my bike fan was fine—it is regulated by a computer. We traveled way east, further than we needed to reach Km 103 at Rancho Los Martires by the highway. Some of the scenery was familiar.
We finally reached the grove of palm trees by a small creek where we stopped for lunch. After lunch we proceeded to Los Martires passing the old Sausalito Mine and community with ruins. The ruins don’t exist anymore as there is a Mexican homestead in its place with some agricultural endeavors on the property.
Before we reached Los Martires, we encountered large CAT loader trucks that were moving huge rocks from the desert to a collection spot by the highway. These rocks are going to help construct the new marina that is being built south of El Rosario. We passed this construction spot last year on our ride.
At Los Martires we stopped for a cold soda—they don’t have any gas. We have now logged 90 miles thus far from Hotel Mision Santa Maria. Lee and his son, Trent, showed up in the orange Hayabusa. They “lost” their group after having to stop and have a broken spindle welded on their machine.
We also encountered a couple of riders from Bunker’s group, Cody Winn and his friend, Robbie Allred. Robbie had broken his handlebars and they were headed for El Rosario to see if they could find a used set.
Members of our group stopped down the road a short distance at El Decanso where most of us got a gallon of fuel to make it to Catavina. Max needed a fix for one of his foot pegs as he had lost the nut to the bolt holding it on. We were soon on our way down the highway.
Arriving at Catavina, we fueled up from the roadside vendors logging 140 miles today. There is no Pemex at Catavina. After fueling up, we checked into Hotel Mision Catavina. I had a short visit with Marcial Corral, the manager, before heading to my room. We had booked the entire hotel and room keys were placed in six piles for each riding group.
Owen had arrived safely and was checked in. Riders were already looking to hopefully fix his machine—but such was not to be. It was later learned that he had a pressed part come off this shifting fork in the gear box. It cost him $300 to get it fixed—no warranty at all on his new KTM! But such was not the case with Robbie—he found a pair of used Renthal handlebars in El Rosario for 20 bucks and installed them at the hotel in Catavina.
Before dinner, we showered, turned the heat on in our room, and walked up to the small tienda to get some water and treats. I ran into Keith Bunker who filled me in his perilous time Sunday evening after trailering the quad from Trent and Lee Marx to San Felipe. He told me he was sure they were going to be taken to jail and locked up. He seems to be avoiding Lee so as not be associated with any other “crime” that might have been committed on the trail since Sunday.
We ate dinner as a small group. The meal was not that great, in fact it is one of the worst I have eaten at this place. Next time I will make sure that they make up Mexican Plates for everyone rather than the options we were presented with.
After dinner I paid off the night watchman to give special attention to our rigs and equipment. I also tipped the waiters for their service which was great.
Owen’s plan for tomorrow looks like Keith will drop him off with his dead bike at Chapala Junction where his son and he will tow the dead bike with their good one, 2007 KTM 450EXC. They were to stay in Gonzaga Bay, but had someone come by while towing and offered them and their machines a ride all the way into San Felipe—they took the offer and met us there on Friday afternoon when we arrived.
Up early again this morning. I was able to catch a little bit of breakfast in the dining room of the hotel. Our group of 13 got a good start in the morning for Bay of Los Angeles. We rode up the highway five miles where we cut off on dirt road headed west to the Pacific Ocean and beach.
On our way we passed the Marx group who were stopped with problems with the Polaris quad. This time it was oil leaking all over the place. We didn’t stop until reaching the junction where there is a government rest stop, 35.7 miles. Coming into this area, the ground was covered with lavender flowers, and what a beautiful perfume they emitted.
There were three cowboys who approached us on horseback. They were tending cattle in the area. They were delighted when John Bailey gave them each a cigarette. After a short rest, we were on our way.
After leaving the rest area and approaching the Pacific Ocean, we passed Park and Dennis. Seems Park put a hole in his side case and was fixing it with epoxy putty. They indicated there were all right and to go on. We were taking a new route through the fish camps to the ocean that proved interesting.
Chris and I were the only ones to stop at the familiar beach, 60 miles from our hotel. While at the beach stop we were approached by an American from California, Iner Nyborg, who was camped on the beach north of us at Cuchillo or Knife Point. He and his family have been down here for several weeks and plan on staying a full month. We could see their camp when we came out of the rolling hills.
After seeing that no one was coming our way, Chris and I rode down the dirt road a ways and encountered the rest of the group. We were still missing Park and Dennis who finally showed up. Brent had biffed it on his bike and was fixing his bark busters. The Walpole group passed us after we got started again.
We were soon on our way down the coast line. At the 80 mile marker from the hotel, we divided into two groups. One group would go with me through the Rock Garden to the Bay of Los Angeles Junction, fuel up, and proceed to BOLA. The other group would go down the coast line a short distance and turn off on the Twenty-Two Day Trail scouted out and created by Bill Nichols from Glendale, Arizona.
Bronstrup, Ripley, York, and I headed for the windmill, 5.5 miles from the turnoff. We did a short pause there before embarking upon the road to the Rock Garden. I was in lead and stopped at the Grotto after the Rock Garden. The rest area was full of Mexican soldiers camped there. I came upon them all of a sudden and they immediately wanted to check my pack—I resisted. The other riders soon arrived and the soldiers diverted their attention to them. In a few moments we were visiting and chatting about their stay and where they were from—Guerrero Negro. I think they checked one pack before we were on our way to Bay of Los Angeles (BOLA) Junction.
We hit Highway 1, 32 miles from the windmill, and rode another 7 miles to the Junction where we got fuel from a vendor who has been selling gas there forever. After getting our fuel, we headed to BOLA. Bronstrup passed me like I was standing still what with his 2010 KTM 690 Enduro R. That bike is a handful in the tight sand and dirt, but does wonders out on the open road, oil or dirt.
After a cold ride down the highway, we arrived at BOLA putting on 167 miles today. The Pemex pumps were not working. Seems some dude in a motorhome had crashed into a power pole by the town of Jesus Maria knocking out power since 09:00. The power would not come back on until late afternoon, 17:45.
We checked into Hotel Villa Vitta where I greeted Gigi’s son, David. I have not seen David for a lot years and it was good to get re-acquainted. Gigi Navarro is the owner and is on her way from Ensenada to greet us. She would not get in until tomorrow in early morning, 01:00. I also visited with Antonio with whom I made the original reservation.
I checked into room #5 which is a big room with a king and queen bed. Peter and Max would stay in the room next to us. York and Ripley found rooms that suited them. We pay $60 for these rooms while the smaller rooms on the end go for $45 with two beds. We usually stay at the Costa del Sol with Victoria, but she was full this year. We will have dinner and breakfast at our hotel.
After the Trapnell group came in, I went up to the tienda with Brent. On the way I visited with a Charlie Smith from SLC who is a member of UTMA and is approaching 80 years of age. He is riding with a Mike Curtis from Arizona who is leading the small group with dual-sport bikes.
The Twenty-Two Day Trail riders soon came in which included Max and Peter, Chris, John and Greg, Bill, Dennis and Park, and Justin. They were wiped out! Tuff ride with over 30 miles on single track with steep, mountain climbs with rocks. The Walpole group rode ahead and behind them depending on whether they were changing a flat tire or attending to a mechanical problem. They excited just south of Punta Prieta where they obtained fuel to take them up the highway to the BOLA Junction and into BOLA.
Supper was a $15 a plate seafood dinner that included the drink. It was pretty good. We visited for a while and made sure everyone was fueled up before retiring at 21:00.
We were up early this morning at 06:00 and checking bikes. My bike’s oil was right up and the tire pressures were okay. Chris and Peter needed oil in their bikes. Peter needed oil in his tranny as it is leaking through the seal on his primary drive. Max’s bike needed attention as well.
We went over to the restaurant for breakfast. They did scrambled eggs and pancakes which turned out to be pretty good for $5. After breakfast we got ready and were on our way. I departed as the first rider out at 08:15 arriving at Km15 alone.
En route I had to pass several motorhomes that departed BOLA this AM. They were flanked by two green pickup trucks provided by the Mexicans to assist with potential problems. I found out later from a friend that this was a tour group put together especially for Baja—my friend was invited but didn’t attend.
While I was waiting, an American with a trailer full of quads stopped to see if I was okay. After indicating that all was okay, he was on his way. We saw him again at Coco’s where he unloaded and headed to Calamajue Wash to spend the evening with tents and sleeping bags attached to their four wheelers—there were three of them.
After waiting some 30 minutes, all riders were gathered and we headed out on the Baja 1000 Race Route. We had to let down a wire gate as the regular route exiting at the highway was closed with a fence. The sand was deep at first, but then was replaced with dirt trails. I struggled with the deep woops before we got to El Crucero, Km 261. Max passed me in the deep sand while Peter flew by me in the deep woops—bummer that I’m getting that old to keep up.
At El Crucero, 50 miles from BOLA, we re-grouped and pushed on through Calamajue or Horse Piss Canyon as it is affectionately called. I struggled again with the deep sand before reaching the water crossings in the canyon. The water was not all that deep and provided some relief from the loose sand.
We gathered at the place in the wash where we exit up onto a dirt road leading to Coco’s, 15 miles from El Crucero. After crossing this stretch of road and some woops, we arrived at another dirt road leading to a fish camp at Bahia Calamajue. We were soon at Coco’s place and visiting with him, 79 miles from BOLA. He just turned 76 in February. He told me he was born on February 25, 1937. He was actually in pretty good shape for having both his legs amputated just below the knee. He was able to walk around on his stubs. Good to see him and sign his register.
I departed first headed for Gonzaga Bay. The dirt road was not that bad and I covered the 25 miles pretty quick. I passed two truckloads of Mexican soldiers en route. I stopped at the Pemex and filled up before going on to Alfonsina’s where we would spend the evening. I logged 104 miles today.
When I got to Alfonsina’s at 12:15 I rode right up the front steps and onto the patio where Antonio and his help were visiting. One of the women shook her head as to state that I was not allowed to ride my bike there. I got off my machine, took off my helmet and conversed with them in Spanish making sure they understood that Pablo had permission of sorts to ride up the front steps and onto the patio. I ended up tipping all of them so as to give us good service and watch our equipment. Lee and Trent were there with their disabled Hayabusa—so what else is new! The Marx’s took a new room on the end with two queen-sized beds and a day bed.
Surprise, all the rooms on the south had been remodeled with new furniture. Antonio insisted I take room #1 with two queen-sized beds. I got my backpack off and placed in the room before working on getting everyone situated and making sure rooms were set aside for late comers such as the Walpole and Trapnell groups. I also arranged for a buffet dinner this evening. We ended up with 27 riders staying overnight. Here again, we had to reserve Alfonsina’s with $150 deposit—not like the old days!
I was able to kick back for a while and enjoy the ambience. I ordered some shrimp burritos and a cold one. I sent time visiting with Lee and others including the four members of the Trapnell group after which I took a shower.
Chris came in after fixing a front flat at the Pemex station with a cactus thorn, the first and only one in our group. And Greg Jerome came in with a non-running bike. They worked on it and discovered that it was low on oil and the filter was not seated properly. There was sand beyond the air filter going into the engine. Bummer
The Walpole group finally arrived. Jason Irvine did a get-off and had some interesting bruising to prove the same. Their group settled in the north section of rooms at Alfonsina’s.
Late afternoon we enjoyed a visit by the Lizard Lady, Kacey Smith, and a friend, Will Bailey. Her folks own a home on Alfonsina’s beach as does the famous Malcolm Smith. We had a wonderful visit and were brought up to date on her latest trails. She even told the story of how she got the name “Lizard Lady.” Seems she went dirt bike riding with Al Roach of Baja Designs. He noticed that she didn’t drink much water and made the comment that she was just like a lizard when it came to riding dirt bikes and hydrating. And the name stuck. One can access her website by going to www.bajagpsguide.com
This evening we enjoyed a wonderful buffet complete with shrimp and fresh fish. Riders paid $15 for the buffet plus $25 for their room for a total of $40. After dinner we were delighted to see a full moon rise on the bay with a fiery, orange color. It was a beautiful site and one that you don’t see that often.
The Bunker group will be staying here tomorrow evening, Friday. They will get into San Felipe early Saturday morning and depart for home. Under the leadership of Greg Bunker, his group has been taking a lot of single-track and cross-country trails. Greg’s GPS unit is a treasure trove of trails in Baja, especially single track. With their adventure they have experienced the typical get-offs with minor scrapes and bruises plus a few flats.
Everyone was up early this morning to witness the sunrise. It was beautiful as ever coming up with the bay in the foreground. We were soon siting at a table eating breakfast served up by Antonio Islas, his wife, and crew. It was a beautiful morning with the tide all the way out. It will be a great day to ride the beach into San Felipe beginning north of Puertocitos.
We were soon on our way north to San Felipe. The oiled highway now extends to three miles north of Gonzaga Bay. They are working on a rather large bridge that crosses a wide, sandy wash. I had to stop and take a picture of it before jumping up onto the oiled highway. It won’t be long until it is oiled all the way to Chapala Junction, then there will be a whole new clientele stopping by Alfonsina’s.
I chose to ride the highway all the way into San Felipe arriving around noon. I did a total of 101 miles today. My bike’s speedo registered a total of 700 miles. Those of our group who did the Twenty-Two Day Trail could add another 50 miles onto that figure.
I checked into Hotel el Cortez. Olin Johnson and his son were there at the hotel having arrived earlier in the week from Catavina with a dead bike. Our riders were coming in all afternoon. There were also a few pre-runners in town including those staying at Hotel el Cortez. Our gang was soon uptown downing shrimp tacos and a cold soda. Plus, we did some shopping for vanilla and other souvenirs and such. We would be coming back to town and Sochie’s this evening at 18:00 for our group dinner and visiting. A few riders departed for home.
We got up this morning at 05:00 and were on the road at 05:30. Park and Dennis followed us to the Border. We arrived at the International line and waited a long time to cross the Border, like well over an hour. But we were soon on the other side after producing our passports and smiling at a most friendly Border Patrol Guard.
We drove all the way home arriving late in the evening. Souses and kids were in Mapleton awaiting our arrival. We got bikes and gear unloaded. Good trip, great ride! We did over 700 miles on this run.