Excerpts from “Journal: Motorcycle Trip – Baja Peninsula,” Part 3

Part 3: Loreto > Cabo San Lucas

 

By Rick Albertson

October 8: Loreto > San Carlos

 

Great sleep camping last night and good energy today. Back was good, butt a bit sore.

The first 15 miles riding south of Loreto is absolutely spectacular country with beautiful views of the bay to the east dotted with pretty sun drenched islands and lush green super jagged Sierra de la Giganta mountains to the west. The photo below was taken at a roadside pullover called El Mirador (the lookout). Very fitting, though the photo doesn’t do it justice.

A mile later I rode past El Juncalito, a small encampment of a dozen or so nice homes just off the sandy beach of a sheltered cove. The thought struck me that this would make a mighty fine place to winter for me and the Casita.

At this point the highway veered to the southwest and climbed over the Peninsular Range before reaching Ciudad Insurgentes and then Ciudad Constitución where I departed the highway and rode 30 miles to dead end at San Carlos and the Pacific Ocean. Pretty, but not nearly as pretty as the Sea of Cortez on the east of Baja.

The wind became pretty strong as I rode directly into it with scuttling gray clouds amassing overhead—outliers of Hurricane Sergio. It was too windy to set up camp so I rented a pretty but cheap hotel room at the Mar y Arena.

Hopefully I’ll make it to Los Barriles, 70 miles northeast of Cabo, tomorrow before the expected rain begins. Pretty stormy looking at sunset though winds died down.

A few words about my motorcycle:

This 16.5-year-old rebellious teenager-acting Suzuki SV650 is a common, general purpose bike that paradoxically is known for being a good beginner’s bike but is also used extensively as a track bike. So far it has performed flawlessly. It’s low enough for me to plant both feet firmly when stopping, provides a pretty comfortable upright seated stance, and handles very well. It hasn’t missed a beat in over five million two hundred and fifty thousand engine revolutions since we began a week ago.

Yeah, it looks pretty hokey burdened with 155 lbs. of gear in 8 bags and a 2-gallon gas can strapped every which way onto its frame. It certainly hasn’t been mistaken for a BMW 1200 GS, Yamaha Super Tenere, or Honda Africa Twin—the bikes of choice with efficient luggage solutions for this kind of trip. I’ve gotten a few looks and have felt somewhat embarrassed by my improvised, homemade set up… just a blur of white trash atop an overladen bright yellow bee buzzing by. But it works great for me, and I feel like we’ve rather anthropomorphically gotten to know and appreciate one other. So much so that I need a name to call my yellow partner—maybe Suzy Q or Big Bird.

Pre-trip preparations have worked well. The custom rack to carry the gas container and support the saddlebags is very functional. The loud dual-tone air horn that replaced the beep-beep horn has been invaluable. The Crampbuster throttle assist has made driving long distances much easier, keeping my hands relaxed and less shoulder tension.

 

October 9: San Carlos > Los Barriles

Fitful sleep, sore gut. Glad to be on my way. Gassed up on the way out of town with help from the three amigos.

Had to backtrack 30 miles east to Hwy 1, then southeast towards La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. A 230-mile ride, much of it through rich agricultural areas.

Uneventful ride until I reached La Paz. What a mess. No road signs so I had to “let the force be with you.” The force got lost for at least 40 minutes. Driving through La Paz I thought about the fact that I’m learning a few words of Español, many of which are quite similar to those in English. Yet, like every other language there are some words that are deceivingly difficult to translate. One of those words is “Alto,” which appears on red stop signs. Though it took awhile, I have been able to come up with a loose translation based on careful observation of local drivers The word Alto means: “depending on your mood you may wish to consider slowing down, or you may simply continue through the intersection at your current pace; however, you are never to come to a complete stop.”

Shortly afterwards I stopped in the delightful small village of El Triunfo to visit the mission church and the Music Museum. Apparently this was a thriving mining center from 1850 to about 1950, hence, a lot of wealthy settlers who brought a lot of pianos and organs with them.

Beautiful colors everywhere in this very well maintained town.

Camping on the beach in Los Barilles at Baja Sunrise Park. The absolute cleanest, most pristine bathrooms I’ve ever seen at a campground.

 

October 10: Los Barriles

Lazy morning getting up after having been lulled to sleep by waves lapping the shoreline 200 feet from my tent.

Walked down the beach and went snorkeling for a few minutes. Clear, calm, warm water and fish galore, including many large and small colorful angel fish.

Became very warm, probably 90 with high humidity, as I walked the “low road” into town, which would take five minutes according to the owner of the campground. 20 hot minutes later, often groping my way forward through ATV dust clouds, I reached the small town of Los Barriles. The rental of ATVs seems to be the driving force behind the local economy.

Only one other person shared the hot dusty stroll with me, separated from an exclusive resort by a border crossing inspired 12-foot fence keeping the outs from the ins.

Visited the OXXO convenience store across the road from the beach campground to partake of my lunch of choice for several recent days: Coca Light and an ice cream bar. I’ve been gone ten days now and will reach Cabo San Lucas tomorrow. After three nights there I’ll begin the 1,100 mile trip back north, this time having a pretty good idea of what lies ahead each day.

 

October 11: Los Barriles > Cabo San Lucas

Packed up and left the beach behind for a few hours. It’s hard to imagine that these boulders will soon be covered by sand swept in by waves coming from a new direction. Happens this time every year.

Uneventful short ride to Cabo San Lucas. Crossed the Tropic of Cancer line about an hour south of Los Barriles. Per Wikipedia: “The Tropic of Cancer is the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the sun can be directly overhead. This occurs on the June solstice, when the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun to its maximum extent. When this line of latitude was named in the last centuries BC, the sun was in the constellation Cancer (Latin for crab) at the June solstice, the time each year that the sun reaches its zenith at this latitude.”

I was quite anxious riding the 70 miles today. Not sure why. Slept fitfully last night. Maybe finally reaching the tip of Baja. Maybe worried about driving through the maze of slippery, sandy, speed-bumpy, largely unmarked streets of El Centro trying to find the Cabo Vista Hotel.

Found it, but was a nightmare having to stop a dozen times or more to check my GPS. Nice small hotel; very nice, super clean room with a kitchenette. Great assortment of free breakfast foods and drinks available all day. Allowed me to park my motorcycle in a gated garage so won’t have to worry about it.

Fun time photographing at the marina.

Liked the combination of late afternoon harsh sun light and wide angle lens.

Great steak dinner at Patagonia Argentina Steak House a short walk from the hotel. Stopped on the way back to take a few photos. A successful day.

 

October 12: Cabo San Lucas

A rest day. Back to the marina mid/morning. Took a few photos like yesterday. As I walked around the marina I was accosted repeatedly by vendors wanting me to take a tour, play golf, scuba dive, visit the arch and lovers beach.

Afterwards I was guided on a water taxi tour by this guy aptly named, Sergio. Boat traffic in the harbor is expected to be halted this afternoon as winds from Hurricane Sergio build up large waves and strong currents. Even when we went out the normally calm Sea of Cortez was becoming choppy, and the Pacific around the point of land’s end was quite rough.

The rocks and the archway framed by a blue sky of enormous white clouds and blue to green to turquoise foaming water crashing upon the shore is quite magnificent (though very hard to capture in a photo).

 

October 13: Cabo San Lucas

Walked to the marina area last night. Wow, quite a nightlife scene. Weird walking around alone.

Another rest day preparing for five days of 200+ mile rides getting back to San Diego. If needed I will spend an extra night along the way to rest. Motorcycle maintenance: cleaned/lubed chain, checked oil and tires.

Walked to marina for lunch, a good old American cheeseburger! Took a few photos.

Felt like I’ve had a creative breakthrough in the last week. Very happy about that.

Put the bike up on its centerstand and loaded up. Want to get an early start in the morning. I’m ready to leave the chaos and tourists behind and head back out to the countryside.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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