Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010: Ensenada – San Quintin: 180 miles, 8 hours.

Wake up at the hostel, head out to take a few pics of less-than-impressive Ensenada. I do go to a Santander bank, which is linked to Bank of America in the states, and where I take out a bunch of pesos Ill be needing here with no surcharge and at the full exchange rate, which is good right now at 12.3 pesos to $1. I head back to the hostel to load the bike up and agree to meet with Mike and Steve, who have rented a car, in San Felipe tomorrow. My plan has changed slightly. I'm not that pressed to go to Mike’s Sky Rancho, the motorcycle haven in the desert as I hear its pretty overpriced, and even camping is like 20 bucks. Fuck that, I'm in Mexico, I can get a room for 10 bucks if I want. Instead, I plan on heading as far south on the Pacific Coast during daylight hours today and crossing the peninsula to San Felipe tomorrow

First stop is La Bufadora. It’s big blowhole on a cliff, where an underwater cave causes the water to thunder upwards as high as 50 feet. If that doesn’t sound impressive, its because it isn’t. I arrive after meandering up through the hills outside of Ensenada and roll down a street lined with tourist shops. I see a paid parking lot at the end, but I opt to roll right up to the sidewalk entrance to the blowhole. A guy sitting with his buddies waves me in and points to the curb and nods his head, as though he own the sidewalk and is graciously letting me park there. His buddy speaks English and reminds me to tip him on the way out. The guys are playing cards and definitely have an asshole-ish vibe to them. I go to the cliff and look at the lame ass notch in the rock and watch some water fly up after hitting the cliff. I realize that aside from the fairly nice view of the Pacific, this is pretty fucking lame. I walk back to my bike and buy a couple of well weathered postcards from an old man. I don’t have small change in pesos so he asks for a dollar. Long story short, there is a bit if confusion as I realize the postcards are a dollar each. Now I realize we are talking about a dollar here, but you can get like 10 for a dollar in NYC which has a slightly higher cost of living than this dumb ass tourist trap. Meanwhile, the guys who pointed at me to park my bike are eyeing me a bit, knowing Ill probably be taking off soon. This place is giving me a bad vibe, and I quickly hop on my bike and head south, And yes, I stiffed those dumbasses.

I head south with the intent to go through the town of Santo Tomas where there is a road which leads down to the beach, which I can continue to follow south. For the first time on the trip, I don’t have the niggling feeling of a self-imposed deadline which is really nice. Just go as far as I can until dark and find a place to crash. I'm going to try to balance out the necessary planning and logistics of the trip with maintaining this free-wind feeling. Somehow, I don't realize that Ive driven through Santo Tomas and after gassing up and consulting the helpful attendant, take a side road from San Vicente to El Erejira, a beach town which is connected to other beach town further south by a rural road which I intend on following before heading east back to the highway before dark and finding a place to stay. The road is newly paved and there is ongoing construction. The key word is ongoing, as the road changes into a gravel track and finally leads me to the town. Its not that much to write home about, but its nice to see the Pacific. I set a course down a dirt path further south to Johnson (yep, that what its called) and now I finally get my first real off road riding experience of my life. Although Ive been riding for a long time, dirt is new to me. The XT is awesome, even with all the luggage strapped on, and I'm tentatively picking my way along in 1st and second gear, skirting farms, the ocean, and trying to pick the best line without dumping the bike, There are some serious dips, rocks, and a bit of sand thrown in, and the only people I see for 2 hours are a guy and a group of kids riding dirt bikes (unladen with gear) and the guy tell me that the trail ends a mile up and I need to cut back east. I realize that the map I am using is completely useless when it comes to these trails, tracks and even secondary roads, which could be a problem. I head east when the track ends and the sand gets looser here. This is some pretty scary stuff, I have to try very very hard to keep going and not lose control of the bike. I am almost always way into the adventure of riding in the middle of nowhere, but for the first time, I am a bit nervous about this dirt thing. I feel a lot less in control here, and we are talking about some really remote terrain. If something were to happen, and all of that. I follow the track (which branches off several times, there is a lot of guessing going on) and end up at the top of a little plateau on some farmland where some men are working with some type of smelly ass farm chemicals. I ended up here after avoiding riding on what I thought was the right track, but a PRIVATE sign was posted on the land. After consulting with the guys, and with the sun setting, I realize I need to get the fuck back to the highway as quickly as possible. Some 1st gear, deep sand riding, and a couple of wrong turns (again, this is an extremely remote area, no vehicles, the track ends and nonchalantly dumps me back onto highway 1, about 15 miles south of San Vicente.) I’ve gone about 20 miles in 3.5 hours. I breath a sigh of relief (why am I sweating this so hard, I'm not sure if I would have a few years ago. That whole getting older thing maybe?) and head south to find a cheap motel. Colonet offers nothing, but I do have a plate of beef stew, beans and rice in a little kitchen on the side of the road, with a 2 month old girl bouncing in the corner in her seat-crib thingy. Its dark now and I'm breaking the biggest rule of motorcycling in Mexico: Don’t Ride at Night. Well, I need to find a place and at least I'm on the main highway. Pass through a couple more towns, get quoted a couple of prices and end up in San Quentin at a place for 120 pesos a night. That’s less than 10 bucks. Francisco the owner is cool and speaks a little English, he lived in Jersey for 7 years. I unpack , go find an internet café and fall asleep watching shows on the laptop. Tomorrow, the plan is to ride more dirt, crossing the peninsula and stopping at the Mision de Santo Domingo, Mike’s Sky Ranch for a drink, possible the observatory at San Martin with stunning views of the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez, and finally at San Felipe where I plan to hook up with Mike and Steve, and maybe meet up with Sondra, a rider from San Diego I met on ADVrider.com who is having her own little dirt bike adventure in Baja.

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