Baja July 2015

I decided to take a short motorcycle trip south for the 4th of July 5-day weekend.

Not quite sure where to go, I headed south down HWY 1, toward LA. Once you get South of Monterey, south of Big Sur, the scenery is amazing! I’m going to have to take a car trip between Monterey and Morrow Bay some day, so it’s easier to stop and take pictures. I managed to get a few:

 

Then, I headed into LA. Realizing I had SPG points (Starwood hotels) from an AMEX offer I hadn’t used yet, I booked a night at the SLS in Beverly Hills for free :)

And it’s exactly as you’d expect – people were one of two groups: anorexic skimpy-clothes, or rappers and their crew partying. But a damn nice hotel, with luckily a great sunset that evening!

 

In the morning I headed south into Mexico. Side note: I was surprised how non-crappy Tijuana was – looked like any other city, aside from the areas walking distance from the border crossing that sold mostly drugs and/or women. I continued south to Ensenada (about 150 miles?) and found a hotel.

When I asked the hotel staff where to find a sport fishing trip, they replied, “here!” I was booked on a 4-hour trip leaving at 6am tomorrow with shuttle service from the hotel. Great!

Except it turned out to be an 8-hour trip, and I didn’t pack a lunch or sunscreen :(

No luck with yellowtail, but every time we started bottom fishing, we pulled up tons of fish – I caught over 20. Mostly scorpion fish, but a few red snapper, lingcod, sheepshead, etc.

I finally returned to the hotel at 3pm, tired, hungry, and sunburnt, only to find out they were booked for the night. I had planned to leave at noon, but hoped to stay another night after the long fishing trip. Well shit, if I have to pack up and find another hotel, I may as well find a different town to stay in.

North, to Rosarito, MX, I found a hotel on the beach and settled in. Note: there are no beach hotels in Ensenada, for whatever reason.

I wandered around, ate street food, got annoyed with all the San Diego partiers, and turned in early so I could wake early.

The ATVs in the picture below were blasting through town, riding wheelies and being loud. Cops didn’t seem to care, so I followed their lead and rode quite a few wheelies on my way out of town in the morning :)

In the morning, I headed for the border, not sure where to go next. Normally getting back into the US is easy for me, given that I have Global Entry. I was led to believe that I have Sentri access, and could use those super-fast lanes to get through the border. I do have access, but it turns out you must register vehicles before using it.

So I was referred to secondary screening and told I’d be given a warning (and next time lose Global Entry). Around 20 minutes later the screening officer listened to my story and said, “Oh, you have Global Entry, but didn’t know… yeah-ok, whatever. I’m not giving you a warning. Welcome home; have fun.”

I headed up to Pismo Beach (on the 4th of July) hoping to get lucky and find a hotel. People book beachfront hotels YEARS in advance for the 4th weekend. The second hotel I stopped at just had a cancellation. The manager was talking to a family of 6 people in the parking lot, telling them he couldn’t rent the last room to them because its max capacity was 4 people. As soon as he walked away, I said, “how much? Actually, I don’t care that room is mine.” :)

They even offered to reserve it for me for next year, if I wanted. Tempting, but nah.. I don’t want to be locked in to doing the same thing next year.

Anyway, here are some beach pictures… I was waiting for nearly 3 hours in my spot, for the sun to drop and fireworks to start.

 

And the fireworks! Sadly, the fog rolled in and the smoke from the fireworks was also blown toward the crowd. So I don’t have any super-clean firework shots, but the fog created some interesting effects. I shot most of these at f/8 and 2-10s exposures.

That was it! I headed home the next day.

Days 13-End: wrapping up

Regarding Montezuma’s Revenge – it did continue through the rest of the trip, but was fairly mild (no fever). It finally subsided 6 days after arriving home, lasting nearly two weeks, which means it was either dysentery, or I was repeatedly exposed to e.coli or norwalk. *shrug* Update: apparently I’m confused. e.coli can cause dysentery – a generic term. I read something that implied it was its own thing.. whatever :) Anyway, I did the final trip from Creel to the US border in one day, taking small remote roads all the way up. That reminds me, you can see the exact route I took, here: http://www.findmespot.com/spotadventures/index.php/view_adventure?tripid=323331 And download the gpx file: here.

Here is a preview  :)

mexico-trip-overview-map

As you can see, I didn’t take the most direct route home, when I entered the US. But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

What I wanted to start off saying, was, “I’m sure going to miss these signs:”

I re-entered via Douglas, AZ after negotiating the confusing roads to the US border. It was damn hot, 106˚ in that area. Apparently, I didn’t get enough heat though. I buzzed up to Tuscon and stayed the night at a hotel.

It was there, I opened my top case and found an empty water bottle next to my laptop bag. I thought “WTF, I thought this was full… ohshit.” The thin walled recycled plastic water bottle had cracked on the bottom, emptying the contents of the bottle into my case. At first, I thought I was safe, and that a paperback book soaked up all the water, sparing my laptop. Sure enough, the laptop felt dry. I turned it on, and it worked! For 15 minutes, anyway. Then was a faint “pop” and the smell of burning electronics, as it turned itself off. I called the SF Apple store and made an appointment for Sunday, as I’d be home by Saturday. (fast-forward: they replaced the motherboard and I/O board, and it’s back to normal now :)

Anyway, having acclimated myself thoroughly to desert conditions, I decided I may as well take the scenic route home. I headed North to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon the next day.

At the main visitor center, there was a tasty looking cow elk grazing near the parking lot. I was apparently the only person to notice, as everyone else was just driving by focused on getting to the canyon.

I saw the canyon:

My bike seemed apathetic about the whole experience:

So we headed East and North, around the canyon, heading toward Utah:

It was warm:

But, pretty!

With abundant twisties and endless skies:

I made it to Fredonia, AZ and stopped for the night, at a family-run hotel, right at the turnoff to head West on HWY 389. It was tended by an old couple, and the office was their living room. They had 100+ cats running around, and the unmistakable odor of cat piss/spray was present even before entering the building. Gladly, the smell was limited to their space, and the cabin was actually quite clean and nice.

Side note: did you know the US was originally referred to as Fredonia? We were Fredonians, before we were Americans.

I ended up going North into Utah, before heading West through the middle of Nevada on routes 375/6. If you want a desolate ride.. there were signs indicating “no services, next 150 miles,” and they weren’t joking. The Extraterrestrial Highway, bordering a large greyed out area on the map (government access only), and area 51 among others, is the least populated area I think I’ve ever seen. I did see some fighter jets having fun in the sky, though.

I made it to a town called Lee Vining and stayed for the night, because I’d already ridden nearly 500 miles, and a thunderstorm was brewing. The road approaching Yosemite (and Lee Vining) from the East, however, is amazing. HWY 120. It’s full of twisties and one 5+ mile stretch with huge dips in the road. Don’t underestimate the fun level of large dips.

Around 6:30am I headed into Yosemite, stopped for many pictures, and finally made my way home around 3pm.

Yosemite:

And here, I stopped to add oil (first time I’ve seen the oil level warning light come on!). I used 2/3 of a quart topping off, on the entire 4900 mile trip. At nearly 18K miles on this bike, I think it should stop using so much oil.. any time now..

My final parting thoughts are simply: I must do this again. Great country, great people, great food.. but two weeks is not nearly enough to scratch the surface of Mexico. Next time, I’m thinking I’ll head down Baja and catch the ferry over to Mazatlan, heading South from there.