Baja 2006

The midwinter blues or the medical term "Seasonal affective disorder" was in full affect for Aurora and my self.

It was time for our motorcycle trip to Baja to get some warmth and sun. When the departure date crept near, the weather forecast was not looking like a sunny warm trip! So we postponed for five days and left on Mar. 8 I loaded the Big Beemer on the trailer and pulled that with my old Caravan. We drove across central Oregon as a shortcut, but a snowstorm came in and we ran into snowy slippery roads at the higher altitudes,
passing a big truck wreck on the other side of the road. The next day we made it to Mercey hot springs southeast of San Jose. We met up with Rick and Annabelle where they are working fixing up the old buildings. We had to wait out the weather here a few days as it was snowing on Tehachapi pass in Southern Cal. I don't care for the kind of excitement that riding in snow provides. While waiting for the weather Rick and I took a trip up in the hills on the Beemers. Well the dirt road hadn't quite dried yet and the further up we went the  murkier it got. Finally when the wheels were clogging with mud we made a wobbly slimy retreat. It only took a half hour of full pressure water hosing to clean her up. Another day trip was a run to the coast at Monterey and check out the aquarium, the dock and the shops. We went looking for the Carmel beach, got lost and managed to get to it at sundown, very nice. Rick, the map/route/short cut expert highlighted out our route to Parker Arizona. We had to give up on the Death valley tour because of the weather delays. Rick and Annabelle planned to meet us in Anzo Borego park on the way back out of Baja. We donned all our gear Mon. morning and headed down I-5 and crossed over to Tehachapi pass trough the Arvin shortcut. There was no snow on the pass, but there were countless windmills twirling away generating power for a power hungry nation. The other side of the pass finds us in desert country.

The desert is warm during the day, but at night it can get darn cold. We wanted to make it to Parker and we did after our longest day of the trip of 500 miles in the saddle and two hours in the dark. I wanted to make it to a nice campground on the Colorado River. But when we got to Parker the cold, darkness, sore butts, and not knowing exactly where the campground was, harkened us to the hotel. Next morning we took a nice trip up along the river, revealing some great scenery and ending us up in Havasu City. This is the city that was started by Mr. Mculluch chain saw guy. He bought a chunk of desert at the river for dirt cheap and bought the London bridge and had it rebuilt in the desert. Now it's a big tourist town. We took a boat tour on the river. From there we went south to Yuma, Az. where your veggies are coming from now. We smelled the harvest of cabbage and lettuce. We jogged north about 22 miles to Squaw lake and found a nice campground there. The RV people like to go indoors when the sun goes down and watch satellite TV. Which means they start up the generators till ten o'clock! Then it's fairly quiet until daybreak when hundreds of squawking birds in the trees near us made an incredible sound. After their social hour they leave us and we sleep a bit longer. Today was the day we crossed into Baja at the Mexicali crossing. I think every border crossing on the US side has been rebuilt since 911, and this one had a new highway going to it. We found out later that you should drive through the truck route and avoid going trough he city. Crazy drivers, stinky catalytic free exhaust, garbage, and people trying to sell stuff at the stoplights are a source of culture shock. Getting out of town is what I like to do and even more true here! We head strait south to San Philipe and find our campsite at Pete's camp about five miles from town.

We have a nice spot on the beach with a Cabana for shade. We camped there for two days and should have stayed for four. We took in some nice food in town and at the Cantina at the camp. One night at the cantina we had some very strong margaritas and it got to me and I danced (with Aurora) to a Mexican DJ playing American oldies at the Cantina. Aurora got in some shopping and bought a hand made blanket. I told her we didn't have much room for big things so I made her carry it on her lap for a day until I found someplace to carry it. We packed our stuff and went to Puertocitos to soak, in the hot springs and camp out at Christina Bay. The campground at Christina was closed so we went back to Puertocitos for the night.. We had a Grande shrimp dinner with a Corona with lime. This little trip included about 20 miles of trashed out pavement and gravel road and 20 ft. of sand. Almost got stuck in the sand and almost lost it when I got traction again. The hot springs go right into the sea of Cortez, but first they go through pools in the rocks. It is very soothing to lay there and watch the Pelicans fly by. The next day we headed for the west side and the Pacific ocean. It was a cold and windy ride over the mountains to Ensenada. Ensenada is growing as they become more  americanized i.e., Home depot, Costco, etc. We found a nice campground on the water south of town. Hot water, showers, cabana with electric light, table, and a local dog and cat to keep us company. As usual for Baja it's short on TP and sometimes even toilet seats! The host was very nice and also ran a computer store on the grounds with an internet cafe which we used a bit. We stayed here for three days and did day trips. One day trip went to San Thomas for a wine tasting tour. Well they served so much wine in each tasting that I quit after three because I was the designated rider.

Aurora tried all eight and was very happy when we left there. We checked out a roadside Tamale stand and had some of their homemade tamales and local cheese and they were the best! So we started going to more roadside food places and enjoyed them all. We took the coast road up to Rosarita and it was pretty spectacular scenery. We got into a rain shower and parked under an overpass to wait it out and another rider parked and we chatted. On the way back I stopped into Home depot and
got a screw to replace the windshield screw that broke when Bianca fell over in the night. The sidestand sunk into the dirt as it rained in the night. She looked like a dead Hippo laying there completely Horizontal. We couldn't pick it up and enlisted the Russian restaurant guy, who was walking by, to help us He talked funny like he would Say: "your motorcycle is approximately laying down." He liked the word approximately. Our next day trip was long awaited by Aurora as I told her there would be good shopping at La bufadora. She loves to  shop. La bufadora is the famous blowhole tourist place where the waves go under the rocks and shoot a spray of water up in the air. But to see it you must walk through a gauntlet of street vendors selling all kinds of things. They say not to go there on weekends because of the crowds, so we went on Monday. We got there about nine o'clock and drove right down the gauntlet and not one shop was open. I said to myself: "Uh oh, I'm in trouble now!" Aurora was reading my mind and we had a good laugh about it. Anyway it turned out the shops opened at ten. So we watched the blowhole for awhile. Then we walked the gauntlet several times to where even Aurora got tired of it. They really want to sell you their stuff: "Hey motorcycle people, I have good price on leather boot holders, almost free!" After that it was tamale time again. The next day it was time to head back to the USA.
Aurora was crying the blues again, kind of like every time we had to move on to the next place: "I don't want to leave his place!" Only this time it was more like: "I don't want to go home!" I didn't want to go home either, but getting home would be fun also. We headed north to Tecate on the border as it's an easy crossing and in line for our rendezvous with Rick and Annabelle at Borrego Springs. Halfway to Tecate we were heading up this hill and a buss was coming down  and then a pickup was passing him and he was in my lane! I quickly moved over near the edge and he squeezed over a bit and we passed each other. Going off the road was like a cliff so that was my last option, no kamikaze's for me. A guy in Mexicali cut in front of me also. They don't drive very well here. Aurora didn't quite get her quota of gifts and needed one more stop in Tecate. We located the street venders at the park and after ogling and haggling for ten minutes she emerged from their clutches with a smile. So we were ready to go and she climbs on the bike and jiggled around the wrong way and we went down. Being a veteran dropster I just stepped aside, but as this was Aurora's first fall, she went flat out on the pavement. She looked up at me, minus the smile, and was now sporting a look of complete surprise on her face. It would have been funnier if we weren't right out in public. We couldn't pick up Bianca and some Mexican teenagers helped us pick her up. Now to meet up with our riding buddies in Borrego Springs. Rick had highlighted a route to Borrego through Julian, Ca. Well it was just a line on the map to me, but it wound up high into the mountains. As we lost daylight it got colder, and as we got higher we got into snow on the ground. At the top it was about 40 degrees, blowing and a foot of snow on the side of the road. I was wondering what the heck we were doing up here!

We pulled into a restaurant in Julian and had hot cocoa and soup to warm up our frigid bodies. Aurora was not a happy camper as she was freaked out by the snow, cold and dark when she was expecting a warm desert. She said: "Are you testing me?" So we put on more clothes and headed down the mountain about 3,500 ft to the desert floor. It was almost balmy down there and Aurora was happy once again. We met up with Rick and Annabelle in their camp spot and got settled in. They made us feel at home with tea and Jack Daniel's. In the morning we took a hike up the canyon to the oasis. There was a large flash flood there last year and wiped out 300 palm trees. The water must have been very deep and fast. We were lucky to see a group of mountain sheep. We got some pictures of a big ram. We left that afternoon and ran through Joshua tree park and marveled at the great scenery. We ended up in the town of Joshua Tree, got hotel rooms, went to dinner and took in a karaoke bar. Aurora talked me into getting up to the mike twice. They were impressed, but I still have my day job. In the morning we headed back to base camp, but with one shortcut planned by the expert. Of course he had never done this shortcut before and I said if it was sandy I was bagging the shortcut and we would meet at Hanks Corner. I put in about 200 ft. of the shortcut and did the bat turn. We waited at Hanks corner for about 45 min. when they showed up. Turns out they got lost and ran into the road from hell, but they had memories. After that it was blasting back to base camp and loading the bike on the trailer and driving home in the rain most of the way. We both thought we should have stayed down there a lot longer!

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