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Baja Trip. Episode 4

February 22, 2019 Leave a comment

We woke up to pouring rain. Rain never happens in Guerrero Negro.

It was one of the purposes of this trip to get away from foul weather, and now, here we are, in foul weather!

Head south, old folks.

Which is what we did. Uneventfully, we’re pleased to note.

Here we are for one night in Mulege. We’ve stopped at the eponymously named ‘Hotel Mulege’ right at the entrance to the town. The WiFi is good, so what’s not to like? It’s a nice little town with steep and narrow roads, and we’ve done some walking around it. Not least to the bridge over the Mulege River:

Mulege-River

Mulege-River2

If you are in the area, the close-by mission is worth a visit, especially if you can go up to the roof. The views are spectacular. There’s also a beach and a lighthouse worth a visit.

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Baja Trip. Episode3

February 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Today we drove south, probably the longest drive of this trip – about 220 miles – all the way to Guerrero Negro. This is in Baja California Sur, just south of the 28th parallel, and the smallest state in Mexico. We’re about halfway down the peninsular.

The roads on the way varied from pretty darn good to absolutely terrible and bone-shaking. But we had left the traffic behind and pretty much had the road to ourselves.

By the time we’d been to the bank to get some cash, to the ‘SuperMercado’ to get some beer and cookies, and to the Pemex to get some fuel, we checked in at the actually very nice and modern Hotel Terrasal (only 600 pesos per night, just over $30!). A bit road-weary, we just chilled, then ate at the hotel restaurant (OK but not stellar), watched CNN for a bit and went to bed.

It turns out that Guerrero Negro is full of tourist visitors here to see the grey whales at the terminus of their huge migration at the Ojo de Liebre lagoon, also known as Scammon’s lagoon. Many years ago, we took a boat out among the whales, and it was a fantastic experience that we will remember forever.

Today, we went on a tour of the  World’s Largest Salt Facility  Read the article, it’s very short.

We have some pictures from the trip:

PinkPond

This is one of the evaporation lagoons. For some reason, it turns pink(ish) as the salt gets more concentrated.

SaltMonster

These are the monsters that carry all the salt from the ponds to the washer. You can get in idea  of scale by the size of the driver!

HopperFill

Here’s one of these monsters filling the hopper, and below you can see the salt being ‘washed’.

SaltFall

After it’s washed, the salt ‘falls’ onto an extremely long conveyor belt, and is either loaded onto a ship, or added to the salt mountain

EagleNest

The salt mountain is inset. What is most interesting is that little blob on top of the gantry is, in fact, an eagle’s (late edit) osprey’s nest.

 

 

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Baja Trip. Episode 2

February 19, 2019 Leave a comment

It was cold this morning in Ensenada.  Hit the road without breakfast (and more importantly, without either orange juice or tea!).

It was pretty slow progress, lots of traffic. The new road-cuts north of Santo Tomas really save time, and they are working hard on upgrading the rest of that section – to the point that we were waiting in line for about 30 minutes to get through a section being torn apart by monster levelers and graders. But hey, we are in no hurry 🙂

The new sections of road don’t have the dreaded drop-off right at the edge of the road, allowing a little more margin for error. This margin is liberally used by overtakers – actually by those being overtaken, to move over into.

Then there was the long agricultural section leading into the complex north of and including San Quintin. Slow. Topes. Hidden ‘Alto’ signs. Inexplicable speed limits that none seem to adhere to. But hey, we are in no hurry 🙂

Getting up to midday, my blood sugar level was getting seriously impaired, so we stopped at a Tourism Center and tore into some bread and hard boiled eggs – and in my case, a treasured sausage roll. Still no tea, though. Orange juice? At last 🙂

So, finally, we get south of San Quintin, and all the traffic quiets down, and we make good progress at a general rate of a few clicks shy of 100 km/hr. But the drop-offs at the side of the road return, and the road itself is narrow, and I wonder whether to fold the drivers side mirror in….

At the Pemex gas station in El Rosario, we fill up. Good news and bad. We’re getting 15.5 mpg (I think that’s the good news?). Gas is $4.40 a gallon.

A block later is Mama Espinoza’s Motel and Restaurant. Here we stop, and sit in the sun:

ElRosario

It feels like 75 degrees F. Oh. My. That’s so welcome.

Later we eat at the restaurant. B’s chicken tacos were really good (she says), and my camarones rancheros were to die for (B agrees).

143 miles today. Tomorrow looks like quite a bit further, but with less traffic, so all is good.

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Baja Trip (or driving south to flee the cold). Episode 1

February 18, 2019 Leave a comment

Well, we made all of 125 miles today. We had to do a silly dance to get our FMMs stamped by Mexican imigracion. Went through the border at Tecate, then had to find somewhere close by to park, in order to walk back over the border into the USA, then walk back into Mexico to get to the immigration office???? Last time I came through Tecate (back in 2003 on my way to San Felipe and south on a motorcycle), I was able to stop at immigration on the way through.

Anyhow, a beautiful drive south to Ensenada via the Valle de Guadeloupe (wine country, and now very touristy). On the way, we were snowed on (actually sleet), the temps got down to 40 F, eventually to rise to a relatively balmy 60F.

We decided to hotel it and headed to Estero Beach Resort, and they had a special offer – $100 US per night. I don’t think so, so we found a perfectly adequate room at Hotel Bambu, a mile from there at 700 pesos for the night (about $36).

We hiked it to Tacos El Original, and I had one each of carne asada and adobada tacos, and B had a carne asada tostada. Delish!

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We’ve decided…

February 10, 2019 Leave a comment

We’re heading south for Baja California some time this week. Getting fed up with the chill here in SoCal, which seems like it’s been here for months. Checked the weather down south, and it’s kinda odd – warm on the Pacific coast but cool on the Gulf of Cortez coast.

We’ll see.

Got all the auto insurance and FIMM docs from Discover Baja last Friday. We won’t be taking the trailer, so we’ll be motelling it and car-camping in the van. But that’s just fine, we did a similar trip in 2004, and it was just stellar.

Big difference this time is that we don’t have to rush back for work.

Still, there’s loads of little tasks that need doing before we set off. Wish us luck 🙂

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Baja Almanac

January 30, 2019 Leave a comment

Years ago, we bought the 2003(?) Baja Almanac. It was great for detailed maps. Later, we upgraded to the 2009 edition. About $20, as I recall. We still have it.

We are planning a trip into Baja California next week, and as part of that planning we visited Discover Baja Travel Club in Clairemont Mesa.

Long story short, it turns out that the Baja Almanac has become as rare as rocking horse droppings, and the folks at Discover Baja advised us not to lend our copy to anyone lest we never get it back again. A check of eBay/Amazon has used copies of this item at around $500 each.

Okay. <blinks>

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Solar on the roof

December 9, 2018 Leave a comment

Way back in 2005 or so, we bought a 30 watt solar panel and controller to feed our 2nd battery in our VW Westfalia. I did ‘engineer’ an aluminum mount so that we could point it towards the sun. It worked, very well, and life continued.

We sold the Westfalia in 2013, but we wanted to continue camping and bought a Nissan Xterra. We acquired a Koolatron Kool Wheeler 12VDC cooler, and a 100 watt Grape solar panel from Home Despot, with controller. We discovered that, after adding gizmos to allow us to point the panel at the sun, we could keep that cooler cool, all day long.

Then we bought the Lance trailer in late 2013 and we’ve been using these two panels in various ways to keep its ‘house’ battery up to snuff. We also bought a flexible 100 watt panel to aid in this, as the Grape 100 watt solar panel was kind of heavy to deploy.

Latest addition is a Nissan NV van, and a second ‘house’ battery in it. The collection of ‘portable’ solar panels was building up, and what we had was all tactics and no strategy.

Blinding flash – put some solar on the roof of the trailer. Yep, without being able to angle it towards the sun, it wouldn’t be as efficient, but solar panels are getting relatively cheap, so we could add, as necessary.

So, that’s what I completed today. The original 30 watt panel from 2005, the Grape solar 100 watt monocrystalline panel from 2013 and a polycrystalline 100 watt Grape solar panel are now on the roof of the Lance trailer, combined in parallel, feeding a 20 amp PWM solar controller, which, in turn, feeds our Group 29 (110 amp hour) ‘house’ battery.

Experience from our last trip, when we had no power connection (and without the second Grape 100 watt panel), has led us to believe that this 230 watt solar configuration will be more than we will need. In the trailer, the fridge and furnace will run on propane, you just can’t run the a/c or microwave without 120VAC/generator, so most of the needed 12 VDC current requirement is pretty limited.

Here they are:

solarpanels

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