By Allan A Macho
Mavrik Joos, the kid with the seriously cool name from Duluth, Minnesota, is a rising star on YouTube and he has joined the new generation of Baja explorers who are documenting their travels across the magnificent Baja peninsula with video cameras, and then posting their content to social media platforms like YouTube. Mavrik’s parents Greg and Sherryl Joos branded their son with a name that defines his personality. He is definitely innovative and free- spirited. Mavrik’s passions are truck camping, fishing, and cooking, and to date he has posted more than 300 overlanding, catch & cook videos that have generated more than 330,000,000 views. In addition, Mav’s 2.3 million subscribers have posted more than 75 thousand positive comments after watching his weekly travel episodes. Viewers have described Mavrik as the human equivalent of a Golden Retriever; friendly, intelligent, and kindhearted.
At the age of 1 1⁄2 -years-old, Mav’s grandfather introduced him to fishing on one of the more than 10,000 lakes in Minnesota. Mav’s family’s photo album shows a wide-eyed grinning child holding his first caught fish, a small Sunfish. Mavrik’s grandfather didn’t realize that the camera caught an epic moment in his grandson’s young life. From that moment on, Mav was hooked on fishing, and he continued fishing with his beloved grandfather who also taught him to always be a gentleman, to be honest, and to work hard. After more than twenty-five-years of catching and releasing thousands of fish, Mavrik still displays that same bright-eyed, smiling expression that he had when he landed that first Sunfish two-and-half decades earlier.
Years before Mavrik was old enough to have a driver’s license, he would ride his skateboard with a fishing pole in one hand and a saltshaker in his pocket, exploring the lakes and ponds surrounding his neighborhood hoping to catch that elusive personal best fish. Like Mark Twain’s classic character Huckleberry Finn, Mav will cook a fish or two there on the shore of the lake and enjoy a meal with a friend or carry a stringer of fish home and proudly cook dinner for his family.
At the age of twelve, Mav posted a video of himself imitating the excited sounds of a dolphin which has been viewed more than sixty-thousand times on social media. Mav was encouraged by the success of his dolphin video and began videotaping his hobbies like skateboarding, snowboarding, and especially fishing. Mavrik’s long-time best friend Adam DeMarchi videotaped the action from a distance while Mav held a video camera and recorded the action close-up. Together Mav and Adam edited their contents down to ten-minute videos that they shared with their friends on YouTube. Now more than ten-years later, Mav and Adam continue to produce quality entertainment for Mav’s devoted viewers. A quote from Mav, “My twelve-year-old self would be so proud of where I am today.” Today, Mav’s videos are generating more than one-million views per week!
Mav was still in high school when internationally known Shimano, Simms, and Thorne Brothers fishing tackle used his video imagery in their advertising. While Mavrik was a student in college he realized that his videos could earn money to support his passions for fishing and truck camping. Mav’s parents encouraged their son to follow his dream and with the strong work ethic that his grandfather taught him, he worked hard to hone his craft as a video producer and learn the business of social media. In 2018, Mav graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. The young entrepreneur founded MavMadeIt.com where he sells clothing, camping, and fishing equipment on-line to earn money needed to support his Catch and Cook cross-country adventures. Now in 2023, Mav has the likes of Ford, General Motors, Honda, General Tire, Bass Pro Shops, Columbia clothing, Dell Computers, and other iconic brands supporting his videos.
Mavrik’s five-month journey to Cabo San Lucas began in Duluth, Minnesota, 3,200 road-miles away. During the past four years Mavrik has endured miles of rough pavement, muddy and dusty roads, snow and ice, insects, flat tires, rattlesnakes, and driving thousands of lonely miles between smalltown gas stops. Mavrik has traveled the iconic Route 66, California’s Pacific Coast Hwy, Canada’s AlCAN Hwy, the Dalton Hwy to Prudhoe Bay above the Artic Circle, Minnesota’s scenic Gunflint Trail, to Canada’s Boundary Lakes and beyond to Nova Scotia, and Mexico’s scenic Baja Hwy 1 . Even during the winter months, when the Northern Lakes of the United States and Canada are frozen over, you will see Mav fishing through an eight-inch hole augured through the thick ice and camp overnight on the surface of that frozen lake during a blizzard.
Mavrik’s 90-days in Baja adventure videos began at the US-Mexico border town of Tecate, BCN, where Tecate beer was founded in 1943. After obtaining the necessary vehicle insurance, tourist permit, and fishing license, Mav headed south on Mexico Hwy 3 towards Ensenada. Mav mentioned that numerous people advised him not to cross the border into Mexico because it is too dangerous. However, he quickly tells his viewers that things aren’t as bad as people say and he’ll take the normal precautions.
Being Mavrik, he does not hesitate to drive south searching for his next catch & cook adventure in Baja California. Mav follows the scenic La Ruta del Vino (Hwy 3) towards Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s largest wine-producing region with more than 150 wineries and world class eateries. After approximately thirty minutes of driving south, he reaches the village of Ignacio Zaragoza (pop 100) where Mavrik turned eastward and followed the secondary road towards Valle Seco (Dry Valley). His first camping destination is Rancho La Bellota (la-bay-o-ta (the acorn)), a 2,800-acre horse/guest ranch located 40-miles south of Tecate, where he will spend his first night camping in Baja.
Rancho La Bellota encompasses approximately five square miles of rolling hills, riparian valleys dotted with groves of live oaks, coastal sage, and rabbit brush. Water flows underground mostly and occasionally surfaces in the creek beds forming pools of life-sustaining water for the birds and wildlife. The Rancho is popular with horseback riders, artists, wild-life photographers, bird watchers, mountain bikers, hikers, and people seeking a quiet place to relax in a hammock and read a book. Guests can choose to stay in one of the cozy motel-like lodges or dry camp in their overlanding vehicle. The feeling of Baja’s vibrant vaquero traditions are present everywhere. Baja California suits Mavrik’s personality well. He describes himself as an introverted extravert, he comfortably mixes well with a group of strangers in a campground, and he easily makes them feel like longtime friends. He also enjoys his “alone time” and can spend a couple days fishing or surfing alone in a deserted beach cove or relax in his camper reading a book when the “El Norte” winds are blowing.
When Mavrik arrived at the main gate of Rancho La Bellota, he is met by ranch owner Raul Aguiar who warmly greets the smiling gringo and invites Mav to join the other overlanders already staying at the ranch, and he invites Mav to join his family for dinner. Raul and his wife Caroline are very accommodating hosts, they are bilingual and speak perfect English. Within a few minutes’ drive on a good gravel road, Mavrik enters a park-like setting of Sycamore and Oak trees, dotted with several white-washed adobe buildings and corrals reminiscent of an early western movie. The well-maintained buildings contain several comfortable rooms for overnight lodging. Clean showers and flush toilets are located in smaller buildings nearby. The clean bathroom facilities are available to the Overlanders and Campers.
There are no hook-ups for RVs because the ranch is off the grid. Rancho La Bellota’s tranquil setting represents what rural Southern California was like one-hundred years ago. The natural sounds of the leaves rustling in the cool afternoon breeze calm the traveler seeking special relaxation.
Guest from all over the world have been staying at the ranch for more than twenty years. This hidden gem of Baja Norte is off the grid and there is no cell-reception unless you have a satellite phone. The owners and most of their repeat guests like it that way. The Rancho’s serene atmosphere entices the visitors to relax and unplug from the hecticness of their business world north of the border. After a stay at Rancho La Bellota the guests will have many fond memories of their friendly Mexican hosts Raul and Caroline. RanchoLaBellota.com.
MAV TIPS: Mexicans have a reputation for being very hospitable, and they expect their guests to sit back and relax. However, it is polite to offer your help to cook and clean up. It is considered impolite to refuse an offer of refreshments. Don’t worry about getting sick, you won’t. Mexicans drink bottled water, instead of drinking from the municipal (tap) water supply… and don’t forget to bring good walking shoes to explore the colorful markets and shops.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT MONTH…