Part 1: San Ysidro > Bahía de los Ángeles
October 1: San Ysidro > Eréndira
Crossed border, cleared customs by 9:00am. Beautiful ride to Ensenada. Stopped in tourist area for a wonderful breakfast: omelet, beans, potatoes, tortilla, milkshake.
Thirty minute ride through dusty, smoggy traffic to clear town. Pretty ride through farmland to Santo Tomás and gas at 1:00pm. Light rain became steady as I spent 30 minutes stopped for construction on road up and over small mountains.
Eréndira, near the Pacific Ocean. A couple of miles outside town the road turned to soupy, slippery, soaked red clay. I made it to within a quarter mile of my destination for the night, Coyote Cal’s, but fell over in slow motion into a mud bog. Randy, a salty expat came by and loaded my mud-covered gear into his truck. The two of us, with him wearing flip flops, slipped and slid all over unable to lift the bike. A few minutes later a truckload of teens stopped and had me up in no time.
Coyote Cal’s juts out on a peninsula breached by turbulent waters from Hurricane Rosa crashing ashore. Wonderful place and extremely friendly folks: Tomas and young female cook, Roxanna. Covered in mud and the rain still falling I decided to forgo camping and stay in the super nice hostel. I’m here lying alone in a room with four bunk beds and an unobstructed view of the seamless gray sea and sky.
Very tired, but a very successful first day. I now feel great about this adventure.
October 2: Eréndira > El Rosario
Good rest, shower, waffle breakfast by Tomas. Put on my rain gear just in case I fell again on the slippery clay road out of Coyote Cal’s. Thankfully, the road was much improved. Glad I had gear on, was cool riding in the morning.
Continued ride on Hwy 1 through fog along coast, then clear skies for the remainder. Excellent two-lane highway with practically no traffic apart from 4-5 dusty stretches through a few small towns, one indistinguishable from another to my eye.
Passed miles of seemingly endless vineyards and several very prosperous looking buildings. Had planned to stop for lunch in San Quintín, but the brief crossroads wasn’t very appealing. I’m slowly aligning my expectations with visual reality. Stopped at second military checkpoint. Again just uttered the name of the town to which I was heading and was passed right through.
Beautiful, massive forested valley and a climb over a small mountain pass before reaching El Rosario. Lunched at the highly-recommended Mama Espinoza’s which more than earned its rating.
Decided to stay at Mama’s hotel next door for $26. Nice to have a bed, shower, and electricity; good cell service throughout town. Before removing hot motorcycling outfit, I rode the bike a mile to a house displaying a “car wash” sign. Great hand wash for $2.50 removing caked on mud from yesterday’s adventure.
Long drive tomorrow to Bahía de Los Ángeles through what is considered some of the most scenic and interesting desert country in the world. I’ll camp on the beach of the bright blue bay for two nights. May run out of gas between distant stations. Carrying extra two gallons. Anticipate clear skies, mid-70s—perfect.
October 3: El Rosario > Bahía de Los Ángeles
Today felt like the first really adventuresome day, crossing into the rich desert of central Baja unique to the peninsula. Did a little early morning bike maintenance: lubed chain, topped off tires and oil, loaded gear.
Leaving town I crossed the Rosario River, mostly dry yet creating bounteous fields of lush green crops, before ascending and tracing the western ridge of the Peninsular Range for 150 miles, the longest—perhaps loneliest—mountainous stretch of Hwy 1. Drove for a very long time without seeing another soul.
The scrub-covered hills and valleys soon became host to mile after mile of the weird, fuzzy, upside down carrot-looking Cirios (boojum trees). Around some bends in the mostly excellent roadway they were joined by groves of fatherly giant Cardón cacti.
Perhaps 80 miles into today’s journey I entered the bizarre and amazing Cataviña boulder fields. How in the world, why was the land as far as I could see in any direction absolutely covered with mounds of boulders? This stunning visual carried me into Cataviña, the much smaller than expected area (not even a crossroads, certainly not a town) where I had expected to stop for lunch.
Instead, I cruised through in 60 seconds or less, leaned into a curve, and descended into a very unexpected sight: a 75’ wide, 12” deep pool replacing the washed out roadway. Coming to a full stop I realized I had never driven a street bike through water, and was very mistrustful of its slick road tires, not knowing what the bottom was like beneath the murky water. I began to visualize myself falling over mid-way through, but immediately stopped and replaced those thoughts with a confident vision of successfully crossing the tides. Thankfully, this was the case, for which momentary pride served only to foreshadow a more difficult trial a few minutes later.
Soon I approached the junction of the turnoff to my destination, Bahía de Los Ángeles, where I was greeted by friendly young soldiers manning a checkpoint. A cursory glance by one into a couple of my bags and a cheerful smile followed by a friendly wave of a khakis-covered arm sent me along my way.
By now a light was blinking warning me that I was about to run out off gas. A few minutes later I pulled over and filled up with my reserve gas. While doing so a young Mexican couple dressed in reflective safety greenery peddled by on luggage-laden bikes asking if I needed help. No. I waved them on.
Rolling into Bahia de Los Angeles I found a neat, clean, sleepy little beach town of immense beauty: white sand outlining a bay—the serene deep ink-blue Sea of Cortez bisected by a chain of steep, barren islands.
Lunch at Las Hamacas proved to be the tastiest meal yet (“crunched” eggs — scrambled with bacon and fries) and served by a delightful motherly cook/owner and a younger waitress who was intent to serve me not only food but a heaping helping of Español vocabulary as well. Wonderful, but oh was I tired.
After resting a bit I mounted up and rode the final five miles north up the coast to the popular Daggett’s Campground (popular perhaps, but I am the sole camper). A beautiful setting featuring individual shaded palapas overlooking the sea a hundred yards away. So peaceful… until my slick street tires failed me yet again as I approached my campsite and fell over in deep, soft sand. Not an issue. I unloaded the bike, set up my tent, and found a local guy to help set the bike back upright.
Exhausted, I took a sweat-drenched nap before sitting in my small portable chair to compose these thoughts, all the while comforted by a light cool breeze and the sound of gently lapping waves come ashore.
Gusty winds sweeping down nearby western slopes have swept a few stars and a bright orange planet into a deeply darkening blue black sky. Enough for one adventuresome day. To bed with a book, a breeze, and better sleep tonight.
Rick Albertson’s limited-edition coffee table art book, “On the Street Portraits: Baja Sur Mexico,” featuring street portraits, travel photography, and his travel journal, can be purchased at the link here.