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July 28, 2016

Return to Baja

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Posada San Martin hotel in the town of Vicente Guerrero, in the state of Baja California Del Norte, Mexico.


This is roughly the route I took today:

Starting Odometer: 42,993
Ending Odometer :43,287
Miles Driven Today: 294

I left work at 1:15 pm and I was in Mexico heading south on Mexico 1D at 3:15.
So, I'd say it took me about 2 hours to get out of the country.


By 4:00 p.m., I'm eating a late lunch on the beach at Rosarito. Tons of people, mostly Mexicans. There's some band playing loud obnoxious music, as always.

Somewhere in San Diego, on I-15, I see the football stadium and suddenly I know where I am. Like, I think that this is the best part of traveling. To look around and realize where you are, when you haven't been there in 5 or 10 years.

And now, I realize that my GPS is routing me into a border crossing that's east of the crossing I normally take on I-5. So, I panic, and drive off road for a little bit to get over onto I-5.

Now, I'm rolling south on I-5, and I missed most of downtown San Diego, but I'm OK with this.

Today at work, a guy I work with asks me if I'm getting insurance for Mexico. I just laugh. Like, I'm not clear if I have insurance for the U.S. And I'm sure as fuck not going to buy it for Mexico.

I exit close to the border to get ready for Mexico. I have to stop to gas up, get some gatorade. Things like this.

Things I told myself I'd never ride without when I ran out of gas in the Punta Preita desert of Baja last time.

In the desert, the two principal comodities are Gas and Water. So, I stop and gas up. Then I get some gatorades for the ride.

And I head south again towards the border.

I roll across the border into Mexico. They never stop you.

As I roll across the Mexican border everything is gridlock. So I just start lane splitting and
now they're routing us around some road construction through this third world hell of
rusting rebar and now, 2 other motorcycles are racing me across Tijuana. Every intersection is a game of chicken.

Who knows who has the right away? Who cares? It's just this madness of honking and beeping and turning and braking and finally, we get back onto the main drag so we're heading west towards the beach and I know where we are again.

And I have my GPS this time. So that helps.

There's a left turn for Mexico 1D and I always miss it. Every freaking time. But not this time. This time, I see the turn, turn left and now I'm heading south on Mexico 1D and I come to the toll road. It's 15 pesos or 85 cents.

I pay the guy and now I'm rolling south along the beautiful coastline. It's cooler on the coast, of course. Suddenly, I don't feel like my spleen is going to boil or I'm going to die any more.

Now, I'm rolling south, looking at all of the construction. Development seems to have exploded down here.

I see an exit for Rosarito, and I take it. Now, it's under construction. So, I pull up and ask them what to do. The dude is like...just go man. So now, I'm driving down this dirt path that is under construction. The guy is driving a steam roller right beside me. I'm spinning all over the dirt they've laid down. This would never happen in the USA.

I finally find a beach at Rosarito, but there's no one here. So I ask the guy..."Donde la playa?"

He tells me to go south a few more blocks down the boulevard to the main drag.

The main drag is just a circus of whistling and honking and every man for himself.

Finally, I see a road that seems to go down to a fairly crowded beach. I stop my bike at the end of a little alley that ends at the sand.

Water running through the street reeks of raw sewage.

I'm trying to figure out what to do with my gear...my bike...my clothes...all of this shit
because I want to go down to the beach and swim in the ocean.

Finally, it dawns on me. This guy's shirt says "Parking" in English.

I ask him if he will park my bike. Of course. If I eat at the restaurant, and sit out on the tables on the beach, then parking is free. Change into my bathing suit, in the parking lot and now I'm sitting on the beach as the tide comes in, washing away the tables and
pushing the cart vendors scurring from the crashing waves.

All of this. All of this is Rosarito. Beautiful.

Return to San Quintin

I am trying to make it to San Quintin (Sahn Kah-TEEN). No real reason, per se. I mean...I've been here before, and I'm trying to get some miles under my belt today, so San Quintin was a town that I remembered from last time, and it ends up being about 300 miles from Riverside.

So, if I'm following my standard (preferred) 300 miles/day habit, then San Quintin is a good place to stop for the night. I'd like to make it as far as El Rosario, where I spent the night last time, but I'm afraid that will be too far for today.

When I get to Ensenada, I ask a guy how far it is to San Quintin and he assures me that it's 4 hours, which is hard to imagine, since it's only 100 miles away, according to my GPS.

But now, I start driving, and, just south of Ensenada, the road turns inland. And what's odd about this is that I don't recall this deviation from the coast. At all.

This trip is sort of an interesting one, for a variety of reasons. My motorcycle trip from San Diego to Cabo and back in October of 2009, so 7years ago, roughly. And that was the start of all of my big motorcycle adventures.

It was a ground-breaking life-style changing event for me. Ever since then, I've done big motorcycle trips every year, pretty much. But this is the first time that I've ever returned to Baja, where it all began. For me anyway.

What I recall from last time is that I drove down the coast from San Diego, and spent the night in El Rosario.

In my mind, that trip was pretty much all following Mexico 1D, and Mexico 1, down the coast. I was stopped last time at a military checkpoint near the end of the toll road, probably at Rosarito or Ensenada.

And I didn't take a lot of pictures that first day. As in hardly any.

And this time, all of the military checkpoints are gone. But the road doesn't go where I remember. And I didn't take any photos. And it occurs to me that I don't really remember the trips. What I remember is the photos of the trip.

I'd really like to get to San Quintin, only because I remember that there used to be some stands on the side of the road where they sold mariscos (sea food). I know this because someone told me about them when I was in Ensenada. But I don't think they're there any more because I told Erol about them last year and he sent me a photo showing that they were all out of business, I think.

So, I sort of have these tenuous memories of San Quintin, and I'd like to go there, and it's about 300 miles for the day.

But south of Ensenada, the Mexico 1 is just horrible. Who knows what happened to it, but it's just ruined. And we're diverted every so often to drive down through these gravel/dirt roads. And maybe that's why the guy said it would take 4 hours to get there. The roads suck so bad.

But now, the sun is setting. And I'm so tired. Really tired. I'm not clear why, but it's that sort of "on-the-road-and-not sure I can do-300-miles-today" tired.

And, honestly, I do not have a plan. I mean...if it can be said that I have a plan, what I'd like to do is go to Bahia Los Angeles, and return north up the Sea of Cortez on that side of the isthmus, which I've never seen before. But I mean...this is sort of a back-of-the-envelope sort of plan.

In all honesty, I'm just winging it. I just don't really have any reason to be in Denver, so I'm in Baja type situation. That's all there is really.

I'm just sort of down here kicking around, really. Sort of like when you go down to the altar and the priest gives you something in a cup. You know you're going to drink it and who the fuck knows what's in the cup. That's sort of where I am.

I'm just down here saying "deal". Racing across the Baja.

This part of the Baja is much more verdant than I recalled. They're growing irrigated crops on both sides of the roads. And the sun is setting. And lord god I've got to get off of the road when it gets dark. There are so many reasons not to be riding around down here I can't begin to name them.

You can't see the road. Or the turns. Or the loose farm animals. Or feral dogs. Or tires in the road. Bandits. Lots of reasons really.

But, for some reason, I am so focused on getting to San Quintin, that I won't stop. And I'm riding 80 mph because I'm 40 miles out and that means I'll be there in 30 minutes. I'm following that sort of logic.

It gets darker and darker until it's so dark I can't see the road. And now, I'm rolling through some little town...I'm not clear where...and suddenly the road goes away. Like...all of hte sudden, I'm driving down gravel and there's some large rock/boulder in front of me
and I"m not even on the road anymore. And somehow, I dodge the rock/boudler, and the bike nearly goes down, but it doesn't somehow.

By the grace of god. And I'm like...OK. That's it. Fuck this. This is why I don't ride at night. I'm not riding another meter.

And I pull up and there's a sign that says Hotel Mission Inn And I park. Walk up to the building, and open the door.

But it looks like a restaurant. Not a hotel. Somehow.

"Hotel? Donde hotel?" I ask the guy at the desk.

"It's next door," he answers me in perfect English.

"Gringo stupido," I laugh, and I walk outside to get on my bike.

The guy follows me out and asks me if I like beer, and if so, what is my favorite kind.

"Tecate," I laugh. Get on my bike. Ride next door to plead for a room.

And, I'm arguing with them over the rate, when I finally grasp that they don't even have any rooms available. So, I'm not really negotiating from a position of strength.

But they take pity on me and call around and find me another hotel room, 1 km back up the road I came down on. Mexico 1.

I can't remember the name of the hotel to save my life. So they write it down for me on a card.

When I go outside, the Raul is coming out of the restaurant, with an open 12 ounce Tecate long neck.

He hands it to me in the parking lot.

I want to cry. Who does that?

Get on my bike, ride 1 km back up the road, find the hotel. And I go to check in, but I'm so tired,

The room key number is either a 6 or a 9, depending on how you look at it. I walk in on a girl in Room 6. We were both surprised.

Turns out, it was a 9, not a 6. But I can't find room 9. So, I go back into ask for help about 3-4 times.

Finally, the hotel clerk gets me to my room, but now I can't figure out how to work the A/C.

Now, I return to the restaurant for dinner where the guy gave me a free beer, only he's not here anymore.

I try to explain to the other waiter what had transpired, in broken spanish. Of course, he speaks perfect english.

"What does he look like?" he asks. But that's not how the brain works. I can't do that. I might recognize him if I see him again. But I can't tell you what he looks light. At all.

Finally, the other guy shows up.

His buddy tells me that I looked so exhausted when I got off my bike, that the guy felt bad for me and handed me a beer.

I'm sure it was not a pretty sight.

Now, it's 9:43 p.m. I'm going home to get in bed in my room at the Posada San Martin hotel.

Update: I'm in the Posada San Martin hotel in the town of Vicente Guerrero, in the state of Baja California Del Norte.

This is roughly what I will attempt to do tomorrow. I'll cross the Punta Prieta Desert and run out to Bahia Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 28, 2016 at 11:55 PM

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