Baja Trip. Episode 10

March 1, 2019 Comments off

B writes: This morning we set off north of La Paz to see Playa Tecolote.  Having overcome one stretch of construction and a rather confusing junction, we arrived at one of the many beautiful beaches along the Sea of Cortez.  The water was unbelievably clear!  There’s a section of beach where you can rent a palapa (shade structure), and farther out a stretch of beach that appears to be completely free for boondocking.

PlayaTecolotes1

Next we headed back south, with a short detour west to Bahia Balandra.  It was quite popular, probably because there was a small lake (or maybe a lagoon) that was, at its deepest, about waist deep.  Lots of families here.

APlaya

Continuing south then eastward, we went to see Ensenada de los Muertos, located on the Bahia de los Suenos (there should be a tilde over the ‘n’).  B noted the possible Hamlet reference ( . . . to sleep, perchance to dream . . . ) but we have no idea if that’s real.  The modest Bahia de los Suenos beach club is here.  It seems to be mostly a beach restaurant.  We ate our picnic lunch here instead.

EnsenadaDeLosMuertos

Came back to our centrally located hotel to find no street parking.  No problem – there’s a pay parking lot nearby.  We drove in and – they speak virtually no English and our Spanish is not at all sufficient.  We wanted to park tonight, take the van out tomorrow, and return tomorrow night.  They couldn’t decide how much to charge us.  They kept on changing the amount (mostly upward) until we finally agreed on an amount.  (Later that afternoon, they asked for yet more money; we said no.)

After a short rest at our hotel, we set out to walk to the Cathedral.  Our timing turned out to be almost perfect, because a wedding had just finished so we could peek in to the cathedral, and watch the wedding party take some last-minute photos in front of the cathedral.

LaPazCathedral2

LaPazCathedral

From there we walked a few blocks farther to the Regional Museum of Anthropology and History.  Again, the host spoke no English, but combined with our insufficient Spanish we managed to understand each other.  And from his genial response to some of Simon’s comments, I think he spoke a bit more English than he admitted to.  There was a photo exhibit with some striking photos depicting life in Baja California Sur, along with words on the wall that seemed to be an ode to the state (best B could make out).  The rest of the museum depicts the human settlement of Baja California starting with humans crossing the frozen/lowered Bering Straits and migrating southward.  It showed how the people survived off the land, organized into bands.  First, when the peninsula was forested and verdant and had plentiful animals the people were hunter/gatherers.  As the peninsula became drier and turned into a desert, the bands chose a region and lived as best they could, using the sea to augment their lives.  It  described the importance of the shamans, who kept the knowledge of how to survive as well as how to heal.  It described the arrival of the Jesuits to the peninsula and how they overlapped the time of the shamans.

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Baja Trip. Episode 9

February 28, 2019 Comments off

Today, we drove to La Paz. With one exception there was nothing remarkable about that drive. For those who may be interested in this route, the road is generally in great shape and there’s hardly any traffic. Which makes for a relaxing time. The exception is about a kilometer section of road that’s being remade, during which one has to drive on rutted dirt.

After coming over the hill to see Bahia La Paz in front as a spectacular view, it becomes a reality that La Paz is a different place than any we’ve visited so far on this trip. It’s relatively clean and tidy, and the roads are well maintained, and, boy, is it busy and bustling! At the same time, it’s a tourist magnet, with all sorts of bauble stands set up along the malecon and city center streets. All good fun.

Our hotel, Central Bed & Breakfast, is 2 blocks from the malecon, and right in the city center, but, once in our room, it feels very relaxed and quiet.

Apart from a 6 block hike to the supermarket for supplies, and a visit to a service laundromat, we just chilled and wandered around a bit.

Tomorrow, we start exploring.

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Baja Trip. Episode 8

February 28, 2019 Comments off

Back north we went to the dread rough road. It was 3 miles of agony, bumping and chopping over the insanity that is this road. To add insult to injury, the three road workers cheerily waved us as we went by; and when we returned many hours later, apparently not a single iota of work had been done, and they cheerily waved us by….

But then the road got a lot, lot better, probably the best we’ve yet seen on the peninsula, with a speed limit of 110 kph.

Best still, we came over the brow of a hill and there was this magical view of a blue river and palm trees and green. Coming down the hill, we had a chance to take a few photos:

B shooting from one end of the pull out…

Purisima1…..and me shooting from the other

Purisima2

Notice the horse in the next shot?

Purisima3

On the way back, we took a side trip over to Las Barrancas. Not much going on here, just a little fishing

LasBarrancas

Another side trip was to San Miguel Comondu. Situated in a lush tropical canyon, it is a delightful  old village, with a church

SanMiguelComondu1

SanMiguelComondu2

And an unusual way to move a horse around

SanMiguelComondu3

Then back through the terrible road works, and eventually, back to the hotel, only to then set out for groceries and Chinese take-out – yummee.

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Baja Trip. Episode 7

February 26, 2019 Comments off

A little frustrating. We set off north to visit La Purisima Mission. We got a little north of Villa Ignazio Zaragoza, and the road – officially having promised to be paved – turned to very poorly graded and washboarded rock. I kept going for a while but it seemed like it was never going to end, so turned around and headed south again. There’s always that judgement thing, do you really want to drive through this all over again when coming back?

So, instead, we headed for a different location. Puerto San Carlos, which is on the coast, south of the place we visited in Episode 6. We had no idea what to expect, so adventure.

The road there was uneventful, except to discover a power generation plant in the middle of the desert. I noticed a pipeline by the side of the road, which should have been a clue. When we got to the end of the road, at the port, a security gate and guard blocked entry any further.

So we parked to take a look around, and what did we see?

LNGTerminal

A liquid natural gas pipeline terminal. Clearly feeding the power generation plant.

Looking west from here is near the southern end of the approximately 80 mile long barrier island complex.

BarrierIslands

Back in Ciudad Constitucion, we gassed up and got a $6 deal on 2 shrimp and 2 marlin tacos, salad and a coke. Yum.

Back at the internet, B discovered that rocky road north on the way to La Purisima was the result of bridge building activity. Google maps shows that the disruption is at most, a couple of miles long. Try again tomorrow 🙂

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Baja Trip. Episode 6

February 25, 2019 Comments off

Yesterday, I discovered that the 120 VAC power supply on the Surface Pro on which I am typing this was pretty much dead. My guess at the cause is variations in voltage in Mexican AC. All is not lost as I have a 12 VDC charger and a small ‘Power Source’ 12 V battery to use. All is well.

<Late Edit: The Surface Pro power supply is just fine. I’m guessing it was reacting as designed to poor power supply conditions>

Uncharted territory

We had been as far south as Loreto before. We have also flown in to Los Cabos airport and drove both of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, as well as Todos Santos and La Paz, if only briefly. But never north of  La Paz or south of Loreto.

Our plan is to stay in Ciudad Constitucion for the next three nights, and visit various places in the south central part of the peninsular.

We set off south on Highway 1 which threaded the needle between the hills to the right and the sea to the left. There is much less development here than north of Loreto.

After about 30 miles, the road turns south west, leaving the sea behind. The highway is a bit twisty and turn-y here and for the next few miles, but nothing to worry about. Eventually after crossing the hills, the road goes almost straight as an arrow into Ciudad Insurgentes. As we approach the city, the expected signs of large scale agriculture appear.

Our first diversion is to Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos (PALM). So we have come from shining sea (of Cortez) to shining sea (Pacific Ocean) in about 2 hours today. PALM is famous for whale-watching, and there was quite a crowd at the port, waiting to go out on pangas. Having already done that, albeit elsewhere, we decided not to repeat the experience, although we did climb up to the viewing area to see what we could see. I could see nothing with binoculars around where the pangas were, so I gave up and visited los banos. However, B was working her ultrazoom point and shoot camera and got a most incredible shot from about half a mile away. No apologies for the graininess or shakiness.

GrayWhale

Update: Mission accomplished. Weather outside is sunny and 77 degrees F. Yay!!!

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Baja Trip. Episode 5

February 24, 2019 Comments off

About 20 km south of Mulege, you drive over a brow of a hill, and Bahia Concepcion hails into view. It’s got to be the bluest water we’ve ever seen since the last time we drove down here, There have been a lot of bay side developments since then, as well. But there is still plenty of space and cabanas for all.

Not quite by accident (but because we are cheapskates), we are staying at the El Moro Hotel & RV Park, just like we did last time. It’s OK, close to the town center – in easy walking distance – as it is also to the malecon (walkway by the sea). The WiFi sucks mightily, but if you have a cell data plan, there is a monster fake palm tree hosting cellular antennas in a corner of the (small) property.

Last night we stealthily brought into the room and on to the patio, a table, a propane tank, a propane stove, and a small dutch oven. In it we reheated the remains of several meals we had eaten over the past few days: chicken cordon bleu and spaghetti; shrimp tacos; and chicken tacos. By the time we got to the chicken tacos, we decided that we’d eaten enough, so the chicken tacos survived ’til lunchtime today.

Before lunch we went for a short walk to the malecon and out around the harbor wall. There were pelicans everywhere, diving for fish – and mostly failing.

Here are a few pelicans taking a break from diving. I hope the person who owns the boat knows how to clean up bird droppings!

2PelicanBoat

This is what Loreto looks like from the end of the harbor wall.

3Loreto

This is the interior of the oldest Mission on the peninsular. It was actually a lot darker than this shows, but ISO is your friend.

4LoretoMission

And this is a shot of the Mission bell tower from the courtyard of the Museum next door.

5MissionTower

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Baja Trip. Episode 4

February 22, 2019 Comments off

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. Episode 3

February 21, 2019 1 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 Comments off

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 Comments off

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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