Day 53 – Mikes Sky Ranch, Baja, MX to Undisclosed desert campsite, Baja, MX

Day 53 – Mikes Sky Ranch, Baja, MX to Undisclosed desert campsite, Baja, MX     10/13/10     Mileage: 322
I was up relatively early, and after settling my bar tab for last night, I packed up the bike to leave. On my way out I asked about the road from here back to highway 1, to which his broken english response was…very bad. Well, that did not bode well as the road so far was already bad enough for the loaded-up KLR. The other problem is that I hate to backtrack and pay for the same real estate twice. So faced with 50+ miles of even worse road than yesterday or backtracking some 30 miles…I chose to press ahead and take my chances. Well, let’s just say the result of that decision was my first unscheduled exit from the saddle of the bike, but luckily it happened at relatively low speed.

This day is not starting out well. And for those of you who know Johnny O....all I could hear is his loud laughing cackle ringing in my ears!

The down side is it was on a steep rutted uphill and the bike was upside down off the side of the road. Mo….ther….***ker!! Well if this doesn’t suck the ***king big one, I don’t know what does! So, I set about removing all the bags and excess weight to make it easier to pick up. As the bike landed on the downhill side, there was no way to pick it up facing that direction. So, I would have to rotate the bike on its side so the wheels were downhill…and then I can use the hill to help pick up the bike instead of fighting against it. Just then, the guy from Mike’s Ranch strolled up and asked in spanish if I needed a hand. Hell yes I said…that makes things a whole lot easier. As I wasn’t far from the ranch, maybe he heard the engine screaming up the hill followed by the abrupt stop of me hitting the engine kill switch on the way over! Either way I’m not sure, but I was glad for the help. With both of us, we were able to get the bike upright and walk it around so it was facing downhill for me to ride to the bottom. Whew. He said the road was like this the whole way, so there was no way I was going to risk damaging me or the bike for 50 miles of that…my only choice was to backtrack. Crap…I hate backtracking!

OK, so the hill does not look like mutch...they never do in the photos.

He did however tell me of a 30 mile dirt shortcut that goes from Colonia Lazaro Cardenas to San Vicente…and would save me from backtracking all the way to Ensenada. I was sold…because as you may know…I hate backtracking! So after putting all the gear back on the bike, I set off back towards highway 3. This time I put the helmet cam on…

On the way back to Highway 3 from Mike's



Cam 3

Cam 4

Cam 5

Cam 6

Cam 7

Cam 8

Cam 9 - Back on the road!

Once back on the road, I headed back towards Colonia Lazaro Cardenas
where I found the dirt shortcut with some help from the locals. It ended up being pretty good as far as dirt roads go.

On the "shortcut" to San Vicente....

Great view from this shortcut through the mountains...

I even came across this fellow out in the middle of f**king no ware working on the road. He stopped me and asked for some water, and I was all too happy to share mine since I was riding on his handy work.

This is no place to run out of water!

I'm glad to share though...I felt bad for the guy!

Cam 21

Cam 22 - Don't go to far left!

Cam 23

After an hour of dusty mountain dirt road, I finally arrived back at highway 1…hung a left and gunned it to start making up some time. The scenery could easily pass for the US desert southwest, with long stretches of empty desert broken up by the occasional dusty town.

On Highway 1 heading south...

Highway 1 south...

I'm glad the KLR is still in one piece after this mornings wee off...

In case you were wondering what a "gas station" looks like in the middle of the Baja you know.

Fill it up super....errrrr....never mind, just fill it...

One more of the Baja desert along Highway 1 south...

I didn’t take many pictures today, but will make more of an effort to stop and take some pictures tomorrow. With sunlight fading, I needed to find someplace to pull off the road as I didn’t want to break the golden rule of adventure motorcycling…never ride at night.

My "stealth camp" in the Baja desert...

So with 45 minutes of daylight left, I made a left and started down a dirt track, then veered off into the open desert and found a nice low spot that was pretty well hidden. The weather forecast overnight was clear, cool with the chance of a passing bandito, so I think I’ll cover the bike just in case.  😉

Parting shot...

Day 52 – Sand Diego, CA to Mikes Sky Ranch, Baja, MX

Day 52 – Sand Diego, CA to Mikes Sky Ranch, Baja, MX     10/12/10     Mileage: 220

The morning was cool and there was some ocean fog still lingering about. I broke camp, adjusted the chain on the KLR a bit and was off for the border. I crossed in Tijuana, and went straight for the fast toll road towards Ensenada to get me as far away from the Tijuana craziness as fast as possible!

Welcome to get me the "F" out of Tijuana!

Once a comfortable distance from the border, I crossed over to the slower “libre” road.

This must be Mexico's version of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero...

Once in Ensenada, I stopped into the “tourist” office for my tourist card and import paperwork for the bike. The tourist card was no problem, but I was told I would have to do the import paperwork in La Paz, were I plan on catching the ferry to the mainland in a few days. With that more or less squared away, I was off to find gas and some pesos. Once that was complete I made tracks for the relative security of Rt 3 and the open country to the east of Ensenada.

These rock formations remind me of Joshua Tree near Palm Springs...

Scene from Highway 3...

My goal was to reach Mike’s Sky Ranch, a famous motel/bar in the middle of the Baja desert high country. It is popular with Baja racers and off-road enthusiasts of all stripes as it is apparently located in some very rugged country along an equally rugged road. And boy they weren’t kidding! Trust me when I tell you that nothing short of a 4×4 truck or jeep, a quad or an off road motorcycle will make it there! A rugged and desolate road is very much under stating the reality…and that makes for a very select clientele! The KLR is big and quite a handful off-road without any gear strapped to it…and with all the extra weight of the gear, it handles like a piano. I’m glad to have kept it shiny side up to arrive good and thirsty at Mike’s little oasis in the mountainous desert.

Back on the dirt...before it got rugged!

On the way to Mike's Sky Ranch...some 21 miles up a rugged dirt road.

I don't have pictures of the more rugged I was busy keeping the bike upright!

This place is super cool and must have been host to numerous epic parties over the years. Today however, I have the entire place to myself save for the two caretakers. After setting up my tent, I immediately procured a cerveza…$2 a pop for an ice cold Pacifico…nice!!

Entrance to Mike's Sky Ranch...and oasis in the desert!

Almost every window and flat surface is covered with stickers.....mostly related to off road racing!

Not too bad to pull in hot and thirsty from the desert and see this!

My "campsite" for the night...

Complete with an awesome sunset...

There isn’t any wifi and certainly no cell service, so after studying the map, reading the guide book and downing a few more $2 beers, I was off to my tent for a nights rest.

Day 51 – San Diego, CA

Day 51 – San Diego, CA     10/11/10     Mileage: Local miles

 Today I had some last minute errands to run before going south of the border into Mexico, so after saying goodbye to Bob and Janet, I was off. First stop was REI to return a cook set that decided against. Next was the bank to get some gringo hundred dollar bills…but it was a bank holiday…crap! Oh well, next stop was Starbucks to get a coffee, send some emails, make some calls and upload some blog posts. As I was sitting there at an outside table, I guy on an F650 pulled up and introduced himself. His name is Philipp and he is from Brazil but living in San Diego. It turns out he made the run from San Diego to Deadhorse last year…pretty cool! He had planned on making the run to Tierra del Fuego this year but had to put it off until next year.

Philipp and his BMW F650

He’s also planning on starting up a motorcycle touring operation in SoCal aimed at Brazilian tourists. I told him to keep me in mind if he needs a guide in around 6 months! Ha! By the time I got done with everything, it was a bit too late to start into Mexico, so I found a campsite right near the border and packed it in. Tomorrow I’ll be able to cross into Mexico after a quick stop at the bank for some greenbacks…