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Thread: Baja para dos - Nine-day adventure in Baja Mexico...

  1. #16
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    Fantastic! Loving your photographs and descriptions.

    Voni
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  2. #17
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    Baja Day 7, Friday, April 28th. Camping west of Punta San Francisquito to Laguna Aqua Emerge.
    14 miles paved + 80 miles dirt = 94 total miles (151 km)

    Our morning consisted of waking up, packing up the tent gear, and getting the mules back onto hard-packed dirt. It was only a short 3 miles before we reached the intersection to Bahía de Los Ángeles where we turned right and meandered our way north. This portion of the road seems well traveled although we didn’t see any vehicles all morning and well into the afternoon.


    Sea of Cortez on the horizon

    Mile 26 brought us to Playa San Rafael. I wished we had skipped Punta San Francisquito yesterday and camped here. A short two-track road brought us to a camp area on the cliff face. We quickly parked the mules and unpacked the tent so we had a place to lounge under some shade. The area was beautifully remote, with nothing more than the sounds of sea birds and the gentle waves of the sea.

    We spent a few hours enjoying brunch, taking pictures and video with the Mavic drone camera, and walking along the rocky beach. I even changed into my swim trunks and took a short swim in the sea; the water was cooler than I thought it would be (sea rhymes with be - a poet and I didn't even know it).


    Playa San Rafael


    The mules enjoying the cool breeze and views of the Sea of Cortez.


    Rocky beach at Playa San Rafael


    Great brunch spot. Wished we had made it here last night.


    Notice the missing brake light lens that vibrated off somewhere on the trail yesterday. Bummer. Life is still good.


    Bike and beach


    Packed to the hilt but no complaining from the mules

    Although I could have hung out and enjoyed Playa San Rafael all day we did have a schedule to keep since our insurance policy on the bikes was only good for a few more days. Perhaps we should have stayed…

    As we continued inland we witnessed even more cactus forests that covered miles and miles of desert valleys. It really is incredible how much wide-open land exists in Baja.


    Near perfect proportioned cactus. Perhaps he’s been on Cactus Health magazine?


    Cactus forest


    20 Km to Bahía de Los Ángeles.

    About 5 miles before reaching the town we noticed that there were quite a lot of developed campsites and homes along the beach. This seems like a popular place for people to vacation.


    Cool sign but the camp was closed

    Upon reaching Bahía de Los Ángeles we found a small mercado where we were able to buy some sodas, snacks, and top off our water supply. The señorita cashier was a bit rude despite me doing my best to speak Spanish with her. Not all folks you run into in a foreign country are pleasant; I’m sure it’s the same for tourists who visit the USA.


    Mercado in Bahía de Los Ángeles. Notice the perro negro on the roof!?


    Panditas gummy bear candy in my fav color. (Don't judge me by my dirty fingernails)

    As I was sitting next to my bike, an American (technically, aren't all people living in North, Central, or South America an American?) on a dirt bike rode by and asked if we were Ok. I gave him a thumbs up and we talked for a bit about our trip so far. I asked if he had any recommendations on a good taco place and he pointed me in the right direction.

    After some dinner and some WiFi it was starting to get darker. Although there were hotels in Bahía de Los Ángeles, we opted to leave town and make our way to Laguna Aqua Emerge. Interestingly, it’s called a lake but there hasn’t been water in it for some time; it’s now a dry lake bed. We hoped we could make it before dark.


    Sunset riding on the two-lane highway leaving town.

    It turns out we didn’t make it to the dry lake bed before dark. We did manage to get off the highway shorty after sunset, however. The sandy double-track road, leading to the lake-bed, made progress slow. In addition, it ended up being really windy on the lake bed.


    Night riders

    After picking a camp site near the middle of the lake-bed, we did our best to use the bikes as a wind-block while we set up camp. We decided it was too windy to use the tent and just slept under the stars in our sleeping bags. Once we were in the comfort of the bags, the winds didn’t seem so bad. It wasn’t much longer before we were both fast asleep…

  3. #18
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    Baja Day 8, Saturday, April 29th. Laguna Aqua Emerge to San Felipe
    174 miles paved + 31 miles dirt = 205 total miles (330 km)

    Waking up in the middle of a dry lakebed is an experience every adventure minded person should seek. It’s a unique feeling being in the middle of miles and miles of dry, flat, desert landscape. Interestingly, the winds had died down for about an hour during sunrise. We had the chance to fly our Mavic camera and capture a video of our camp site from 1,000 feet. At that elevation our bikes and sleeping bags were just a tiny blip in a sea of brown-colored, cracked, hard-packed dirt.


    Dry Lakebed camping


    Dried hard-packed dirt


    Viajo - Spanish for “I travel”

    This also happened to be the first mechanical problem of the trip… While trying to start my mule, it wouldn’t turn over and indicated a weak battery. I didn’t leave anything on or charging all night so I was a bit worried. At least we were not too far from help and we had a recovery system, if necessary, to tow me into town. I unplugged the GPS, 12V accessory charger, turned off the switch to the aux lighting, crossed my fingers, and said a short internal prayer…

    … It started right up. I just had to ensure I didn’t accidentally stall the engine during my typical off-road follies. I also hoped to give him a good charging from the highway miles we had planned ahead. I estimated that I only had to shut him off three times that day and hoped it would be enough to keep his battery going strong enough to get us back home the next day.


    Built for adventure


    Nexx X.D1 Baja helmet with ProShot camera mount and X-COM Bluetooth


    A good looking mule

    After breaking down camp, we rode around the dry lakebed enjoying the speed we could travel on what Chantil said “were the smoothest roads in all of Baja!” I set up the iPhone and tripod to film a bit of buffoonery as well.


    Having fun!



    The winds started picking up again so we left the lakebed and proceeded back onto the two-lane highway Punta Prieta Los Angeles as it continued west to Highway 1.


    Heavy winds and dust storms


    Blowing dust reduced visibility to less than 20 yards

    The highway was uneventful since we had already seen much of it on Day 4. We were in search of new lands to explore and that happened just after mile 38 where the dirt road winds north towards Coco’s Corner. This was the intended path we plotted, however…

    …The beginning of the road had miles of devilish deep sand. Together, we battled the mules through a mile of sand in the hopes that things would improve further along. I went ahead attempting to coax Chantil’s mule through another half-mile before I finally succumbed to the satanic sand. The 1.5 miles back to Highway 1 was exhausting. I felt a bit humiliated for not being able to ride across the sands like Lawrence of Arabia but was also grateful to have made it back to the pavement before my heart exploded.

    Fortunately there was another much easier way to Coco’s Corner that is about 18 miles up Highway 1. This dirt road is graded and easily traveled although much of it is under some serious construction. There were traffic cones and heavy trucks parked everywhere. Interestingly enough, there were no flaggers; folks in Baja just go about their way despite multiple roads leading in various directions; most unmarked.


    Construction zone


    About to reach Coco’s!

    After a short period we reached the famous Coco’s Corner. We had a little idea of what to expect since we had read other ride reports but we were still surprised at how warm hearted and generous Coco is. His place is quite an attraction with the plethora of beer-can decorations, colorful vinyl racing stickers, t-shirts, and other signed pieces of women clothing hanging from the roof. We enjoyed a cold Coca-Cola, signed his guestbook, took a picture with him, and were soon on our way north once again. Yes, my mule did start again.


    Cool Coca-Cola at Coco’s (That’s a lot of “C”s)


    Stickers seem to be a theme at all Baja hangouts


    Chantil and Coco


    Coco’s Corner decorations

    It wasn’t much further after Coco’s Corner that we merged onto some of the nicest paved roads in all of Baja. The Mexican Federal Highway 5 is a surprising mix of beautifully flat two-laned pavement with wide shoulders. Speed limits in some sections was a whopping 100 KPH!

    However, ride another five miles and your being punished by roads reminiscent of a teenage boy - a face full of potholes with no shoulders. See for yourself:


    Some pretty bad sections of highway


    Baja Bug


    PEMEX station. The second time I had to shut down my mule today. Yes it started again!

    Before long we reached San Felipe… on a Saturday… with no hotel reservations… BIG mistake.

    San Felipe was maddening; trucks, cars, bikes, ATVs, Mexicans, and Americans are everywhere. We attempted to get into five different hotel but all has the same answer - “No hay habitación.” It was getting late and I didn’t want to be on the road after sunset so I voted to continue north and hope for some camping along the beach. Just before sunset we found Campo Los Amigos. With a lot of faith and a bit of hope, we followed the sandy road towards the Sea of Cortez where we found…

    … a palm-frond roofed cabana right next to the beach. We parked the mules and set up camp before the last bit of light disappeared from another great day in Baja. Later that evening, a couple came by to collect the 220 pesos ($12 USD) for the campsite.

    My review of Campo Los Amigos: It’s a bit of a dump; the men’s bathrooms were locked and the women’s toilets don’t flush. The cabanas are falling apart and there was quite a lot of trash in the camp area. One neighbor played Mexican pop music until 10:45 PM (actually not too unreasonable for a Saturday evening) followed by another insensitive neighbor from California who shot off fireworks and M-88s until 11:30 PM. Chantil didn’t notice because she slept soundly through all of the noise. Her review is a bit more positive. She reminded me that the beach and the views of the mountains near San Felipe were beautiful. She’s right; they were, especially during the next morning.

  4. #19
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    Baja Day 9 (Final Day), Sunday, April 30th. San Felipe, Baja Mexico to San Diego, USA
    242 miles paved + 0 miles dirt = 242 total miles (389 km)

    I am definitely not an early riser - normally. Something changes when I’m motorcycle camping. Perhaps it’s because I go to bed earlier? Perhaps I don’t sleep as comfortably on an inflatable camping pad? Whatever the reason, I usually wake up around sunrise. This morning I was up and walking around the beach well before anyone was awake. I also collected a bucket load of trash from the campsite and beach area. Why do I do this? Because my mantra in life is “make the world a better place”. I’m also OCD and trash just doesn’t seem to belong on a beach - even if it’s Mexico.


    San Felipe beaches


    Campos Los Amigos


    Beach camping on the Sea of Cortez





    This morning was also a bit somber for me because it was going to be our last day in Baja. I think Chantil felt the same way because we both seemed to take our time packing the tent, sleeping bags, and mules. I was grateful that my mule started up, although you could tell the battery was straining. Once packed, we rode back to Highway 5, then north towards Mexicali.


    Sign marking Los Amigos


    Rockodile

    What was going to be one of our least adventurous days suddenly became the most “adventurous”…

    As Chantil rolled on the throttle to pass me on the highway she noticed that her mule had no power. We both gently eased off to the shoulder and the side of the road. I rode her mule for 100 yards down the road and noticed the same problem - no power. I suspected a clogged air filter. In addition, the engine RPM would stick even when the throttle was released. We went to task of pulling apart the bike next to the side of the road while cars and trucks sped past without stopping. After about 30 minutes, we had the air inlet and air filter sections removed. The filter ended up being fairly clean and we didn’t see any other issues. We still had the same problem. What to do now?

    We decided that our best option was to go back into town and see if we could find a hotel and then find a mechanic the next day. While Chantil put her bike back together I set up the rope and webbing system that we would use to tow her mule back to San Felipe. I also took a moment to kneel down on one knee and offer a sincere prayer for inspiration, guidance, and help with our situation.

    Chantil wasn’t too excited about being towed, especially because we had not practiced. Lesson learned - practice before you actually need to use a skill. It turns out we didn’t need to tow Chantil because she was able to ride along the shoulder while idling along in third gear. Before long we had made it to a hotel that looked like it might have WiFi.

    I remember thinking that I wanted to ask the hotel receptionist if I could use her WiFi to get some help with finding a mechanic. What I wrote on Google Translate was “My motorcycle broke down and I am in need of a mechanic”. I then intended to follow with “Could I use you WiFi to find one?” Before I had a chance to follow with the question about using the WiFi, she motioned over a teenage boy to help. I showed him the message about needing a mechanic. He motioned me to follow him to the parking lot. It appeared he wanted me to load Chantil’s mule into the truck. I did my best to explain that the motorcycle was ridable as long as the mechanic wasn’t too far away. He seemed to understand. We then followed the truck about five blocks to a house that had clearly belonged to a mechanic - it was surrounded by cars, bikes, and ATVs in all levels of disrepair. The mechanic motioned us to park Chantil’s mule under a covered awning where we went to task of explaining what the problem was. Google Translate saved the day once again; helping to identify the problem as well as introducing us to Charley, the mechanic.

    In ten minutes we had the seat and air inlet off the motorcycle. Charley noticed a broken wire on top of the fuel pump and tank. He quickly stripped a new wire and replacing the connector. I was impressed that he found it so quickly and assumed this was the problem. Unfortunately, the low-power problem continued. It turns out the broken wire was to the low-fuel indicator.

    After playing with the throttle and noticing that it was sticking open, Charley motioned for us to remove the entire air inlet section from above the throttle housing. Once removed the problem was immediately apparent…

    …There was a two inch by two inch piece of foam stuck in the throttle housing!! How it got in there is a mystery but I’m pretty sure it was our fault. I’ll try and explain… Before we left for the trip we cleaned and oiled the air filter. Getting to the air filter requires that the panel covering the battery is removed. The battery on Chantil mule is a smaller lithium battery so foam padding was placed around the battery to keep it from bouncing around. Apparently, we failed to notice that a piece of foam ended up inside the intake muffler during the air filter cleaning. What’s even more amazing is that piece of foam vibrated around inside the intake muffler for nearly 1,300 miles of bouncy Baja roads and didn’t get lodged into the throttle housing until the very last day of our trip. ¡Loco!



    Charley the mechanic.

    While leaving Charley’s, a pair of stupid dogs began chasing us on the motorcycles. The larger dog ended up bitting her pant leg and nearly knocking her off balance. Fortunately, the dog let go before she crashed. Mean dogs!

    Highway 5 was easy traveling allowing us to cover a lot of miles without any incident. Just before reaching Mexicali we turned west onto Mexican Federal Highway 2D. This toll road is a well maintained four-lane highway with wide shoulders. The highlight of the day was the winding canyon section over the Sierra de Juárez.


    Mexican Federal Highway 2D


    Riding over the Sierra de Juárez

    We decided to return to the small town of Tecate for entry back into the USA. We were hoping for minimal traffic at the border crossing; boy were we wrong! Once we reached the border fence we quickly realized that it was going to be a long afternoon of waiting behind two lanes of cars that stretched for as far as we could see.

    In California we have a beautiful thing for motorcyclists called “lane-splitting”. Why is it so beautiful you ask? Because it allowed motorcycles to avoid traffic congestion by riding in the free space between the cars that clog our freeways. Since I regularly commute on my motorcycle, I am more conformable with lane-splitting than Chantil is. In fact, Chantil will generally avoid lane-splitting. So here we sat behind the choking exhaust of hundreds and hundreds of cars and trucks all while baking in the afternoon sun.

    It only took about 10 minutes of nauseating slow progress before Chantil decided to give lane-spotting a shot. I’m so glad she did!! Before long we were at the front of the line and just minutes away to returning to the United States.


    Lane-splitting through traffic to the border

    The rest of the trip was uneventful. We rolled into our parking lot just after sunset having completed our first motorcycle trip outside the comforts of the United States! ¡Viva México

  5. #20
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Wonderful! Thanks for bringing us along.

    Voni
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  6. #21
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Great story and pics. Thanks for posting.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  7. #22
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    We returned from Baja with a lifetime of memories and over 90 GB of videos and photos obtained from my GoPro, iPhone, and Mavic Pro drone cameras.

    I went to work almost immediately after returning to try and determine which videos were going to make the cut. The best videos either had to help tell a story or had to have cinematic value. After many sleepless evenings I had successfully paired-down the videos to just 14 GB of the best stuff.

    Unfortunately, the videos sat waiting… Waiting for the song that wouldn’t come…

    I listened to hours upon hours of Latin songs in the search for the one that seemed to capture my feelings of Baja. The song had to have a Mexican flair without being too traditional. It had to have sections that captured the way Baja makes you slow down a bit but also have sections that seem to capture the excitement of discovering new things. After months and months of searching, I began to wonder if such a song existed…

    Well, just recently I was searching again and I found the song!! It’s called El Toro by JMK Instrumentals and it is darned near perfect! In just a short week I went to task of marking the song track in sections, determining what video would be a good fit for each section, and then painstakingly worked the timing of the videos to correspond with the music.

    Well here it is… Baja para Dos - a Nine-Day Motorcycle Adventure. Enjoy!


  8. #23
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    [QUOTE=Voni;1110415][COLOR="#FF0000"]Wonderful! Thanks for bringing us along.

    Welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rinty View Post
    Great story and pics. Thanks for posting.
    You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. #25
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by travisgill View Post
    We returned from Baja with a lifetime of memories and over 90 GB of videos and photos obtained from my GoPro, iPhone, and Mavic Pro drone cameras.

    I went to work almost immediately after returning to try and determine which videos were going to make the cut. The best videos either had to help tell a story or had to have cinematic value. After many sleepless evenings I had successfully paired-down the videos to just 14 GB of the best stuff.

    Unfortunately, the videos sat waiting… Waiting for the song that wouldn’t come…

    I listened to hours upon hours of Latin songs in the search for the one that seemed to capture my feelings of Baja. The song had to have a Mexican flair without being too traditional. It had to have sections that captured the way Baja makes you slow down a bit but also have sections that seem to capture the excitement of discovering new things. After months and months of searching, I began to wonder if such a song existed…

    Well, just recently I was searching again and I found the song!! It’s called El Toro by JMK Instrumentals and it is darned near perfect! In just a short week I went to task of marking the song track in sections, determining what video would be a good fit for each section, and then painstakingly worked the timing of the videos to correspond with the music.

    Well here it is… Baja para Dos - a Nine-Day Motorcycle Adventure. Enjoy!

    Wow!

    Magnificent!

    I'm at a loss for words. You shared this brilliantly, and we thank you!

    Voni
    sMiling
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  11. #26
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    As much as I enjoyed the pictures and the stories, the video is truly a work of art.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  12. #27
    BMW Motorcycle Owners rdalland's Avatar
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    That was great! Thank you for making the effort, and bringing us along on your trip.


    ride what you've got; enjoy the ride!

    Reid - Stone Ridge, NY - BMWMOA #69187 - Turbo Fluffy Motoclub - IBA #50182

  13. #28
    Registered User RIDERR1150GSADV's Avatar
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    Great RR! Thanks for taking the time posting this!
    MOA # 108516
    Current ride 2017 R1200RT White
    Past rides '04 R1150RT, '05 K1200LT, '06 R1150GSA

  14. #29
    Registered User slowflyn's Avatar
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    Great report and pics, thanks for posting. My buddy and I were down in Baja a couple of weeks ago, we enjoy Baja and the MX mainland.
    Darrel
    '13 K1600 GT
    '15 R1200 GSA "Mule"

  15. #30
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Great video, makes me want to fire up the GS and head for Baja!

    Thanks for taking us along,
    DG
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST -- 1988 R100GS "Bee"-- 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C -- 2010 K1300GT
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