Day 56 – Los Barriles, Baja, Mexico to Topolobampo, Mexico

Day 56 – Los Barriles, Baja, Mexico to Topolobampo, Mexico     10/16/10     Mileage: 94 + a ferry ride!

 Last night turned out to be a late one after all. I ended up meeting the owner of Rico Loco’s…..Crazy Rick himself…and ended up partying with him and his friends until 5am after the bar closed to the public. He then invited everybody back to his house 3 kilometers away, a great house right on the beach! Rick is an ex Baja off-road racer, now bar owner, and apparently donates quite a bit to local schools and charities…pretty cool. So after shaking out the cobwebs and saying adios and gracias to Rick, I was off to La Paz to catch the ferry to Topolobampo on mainland Mexico. This will be ferry ride number 4 for me and the KLR and will take 8 hours to cross the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).

The California Star....my home for the next 8 hours...

The KLR strapped in for ferry ride number 4...

Inside the Baja Ferry California Star...

A view from the bridge of the California Star...

Good bye Baja, next stop mainland Mexico...

The ferry ride was great and very comfortable, complete with a cocktail waitress in a mini-miniskirt that also sang 4 sets of Mexican folk songs. Needless to say she was popular with the local Mexican gents.

Here's a shot of this little latin number....while doing a latin number....while doing a number on the local Mexican gents!

 The ferry pulled into Topolobampo at 9pm…well after dark, so I was looking for a place to stay as soon as I got off the boat. The main road out of town goes towards Los Mochis, and along the way I found a no-tell-motel, and decided to give it a try. “Motels” in Mexico are very different from hotels, as they are rented largely for one purpose…and that is to shag someone you probably shouldn’t be in the first place. This one was 150 pesos…or around $12. Each room has its own garage to put your car in, so that your wife won’t see it when she drives by with her boyfriend.

Even the KLR got her own room tonight. Like me though, there was no one else to fool around with...

The front door to my shag palace...

My room was relatively clean and came complete with running cool and cold water, breath mints and a brass stripper dancing pole.

That pole is not there to hold the roof up!

Swingin' babay, yeah!

The bedding looked clean, but I didn’t take any chances and put the ground sheet for my tent on the bed and slept in my sleeping bag liner.

Not taking any chances...

If you extend your stay and they need to get more money from you, there is a convenient pass-through in the back wall so you don’t have to leave your room and risk being found out!

You put more money in here and spin it around to pass it to the hotel staff to stealthly extend your stay.

So after a cool shower, I was off to bed to catch up on some sleep from the night before.

Here's a shot the next morning of all the empty "rooms"!

Most of these motels also have walls around them for additional privacy.

If you're ever in Topolobampo, MX....give motel Popeye a try! Lol!

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Day 55 – Ciudad Constitucion, Baja, MX to San Barilles, Baja, MX

Day 55 – Ciudad Constitucion, Baja, MX to San Barriles, Baja, MX     10/15/10     Mileage: 333

 The morning fog burned off to bright dry sunshine and I was on the gas to make time. The first stop would be the Baja Ferry terminal in La Paz to get a ticket to mainland Mexico and do the import paperwork for the KLR. As I was leaving the ferry terminal, I saw two other bikers on Honda XR’s, so I went over to chat. Luke and Toby are from the Vancouver Canada area….right where I was 10 days ago! They are on the road for a few months on their way to Panama…maybe farther. We exchanged emails and may cross paths again in Central America.

L to R: Luke and Toby from Canada...and their Honda XR's

After that I made a B-line for Cabo to check things out.

On my way to Cabo, I crossed the Tropic of Cancer...cool!

Well, I came over the hill to see Cabo…complete with a cruise ship, a Home Depot, Walmart, Costco…and every other chain and box store in anytown USA. So, I hung a left, and were it not for the numerous traffic lights, I might not of even put a foot down.

On the way into Cabo...

I’m sure there is a nice part of Cabo, but I wasn’t willing to spend the time to hunt it down.  So with that I moved on to Los Cabos which is a bit more low-key, but still pretty geared towards big resorts and “2 week” tourists.

Los Cabos resort beaches...

I stopped off for some fish tacos and a beer, explored the kind of quaint “downtown”,  then moved on to my next target…Los Barriles. Now this town was more like it and I immediately liked being there! I imagine that it is now what Cabo was 30 years ago. There’s a tiny downtown with a few bars and restaurants…but still has that sleepy backwater vibe. I parked myself in Loco Rico’s which is a cafe (with wifi) by day, and a bar by night.

Loco Rico's

Loco Rico's...internet cafe by day, hopping bar by night...

Tonight was karaoke night and the bar is filled with ex-pat gringos…retired and otherwise…singing oldies and other sing-along favorites. It’s a big Friday night in Baja!  😉

Day 54 – Undisclosed desert campsite, Baja, MX to Ciudad Constitucion, Baja, MX

Day 54 – Undisclosed desert campsite, Baja, MX to Ciudad Constitucion, Baja, MX     10/14/10     Mileage: 424

 I was up early, quickly packed the bike and departed my stealth campsite shortly after dawn. It was foggy but pleasantly cool and I was on the gas to make time. The road was straight for miles on end, much like those deserted roads in Nevada and the desert southwest….ideal for making time by taking some liberties with the speed limit.

Along Highway 1 south...

Along Highway 1 south...

I stopped for gas once before getting to Santa Rosalita situated right on the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).

Santa Rosalita

Santa Rosalita waterfront...

It was an OK little town, but lacked something that would make it worth staying for more than lunch. For that said lunch, I picked a restaurant on the top of a small hill overlooking the harbor. It wasn’t until I was inside that I realized I was in a Chinese place…in Mexico. Oh well, I wasn’t getting suited back up just to find some fish tacos, so I’ll have the numero quatro with a huevo roll, gracias. Seems Chinese food is the same everywhere…not good, not bad…and fills the hole. So after stuffing myself with sweet and sour chicken, I was off down the east coast of Baja.

This is a long way from Alaska!

The scenery along this area of the coast was stunning with great little secluded beaches, most with little cabanas and beach bars…I had to at least stop for a beer.

There were numerous beach coves all with cabanas and beach bars....nice!

...and another awesome beach...

...and another!

More great scenery along Highway 1

After that it was back on the gas down highway 1 which cuts back across to the western side of Baja to the town of Ciudad Constitucion…where I found a room for $28 with secure parking for the bike.

"Main Street" in Ciudad Constitucion...

I walked around town looking for good wifi, but came up empty. Looks like the blog will have to wait for La Paz or Cabo to get updated…

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

Cam1

Cam2

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 desert.....now 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 Mexico....now 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 sections...as 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.

I’m OK and doing great!

For those of you worried for my safety after seeing my SPOT tracker freak out the other night…I’m fine! I left it on accidentally overnight in the middle of nowhere in the mountains of northern Baja…and it was sending all kinds of weird location tracks. I’m currently in southern Baja…trying to find good wireless to update the blog. I should be in La Paz or Cabo by tomorrow.

Thanks!

-Lenny