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2017 BAJA EXPEDITION #1 East Side of Baja Norte

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by David K, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:21 PM
    #1
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I had an 8 day trip with a mission to have a look at and get photos of every tourist destination (beach, campground, motel, gas station, historic site) from Km. 0 south of San Felipe to Punta San Francisquito.

    The first day I caravaned with Baja Geoff as he has become very intrigued by the Melchior Diaz 1541 Grave Mystery, as told in this article: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/searching_for_melchior_diaz.php

    Geoff has been going over Google Earth in the region myself and four other Nomads explored in April 2015 looking for possible sites. He had a hot target he wanted to see, and it was very near where we could get our Toyota trucks to, northwest of San Felipe.

    After that search and camping one night with Geoff, I continued on south on my trip while he returned to run operations at Baja Bound.

    DAY 1 (TUE. DEC. 27, 2016):

    I meet Geoff near El Centro and we drive down Hwy. 5 to La Ventana (1 km. south) then turn west and go 28 miles to the target wash and the object Geoff GPS'd was on a steep bluff, just beyond our trucks. He saw a round or oval object 8-10 feet in diameter overlooking the land to the west, just as Walter Henderson described in his 1967 letter to Choral Pepper.

    It was a lot higher up from the arroyo than Google Earth indicated. I managed to climb to the top, sometimes on all fours, sometimes sliding back 2 feet for every three forward, but made it. Geoff had attempted another route up, but it quickly proved impassable.

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    Our two trucks from the top of the bluff... looking west.

    Looking east, there was the 10 ft. wide object...

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    Not a pile of rocks like for an important grave of a 16th Century Spanish explorer, but a mesquite tree!

    Here is from the other side of it, looking west...

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    Further east and higher up, I saw an exciting object!

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    See it?

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    Could that be a cave? Frigatebird and I found a cave on the last Diaz Grave search, just north of here. Remember...

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    Bummed that the grave or 'rock pile' still alludes us, we drove up the wash and made camp where we Nomads had back in 2015... Geoff made the most awesome beef stew for the trip and breakfast burritos the next morning!

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    Geoff says the shrubs on top of the mountain are moving? Is the wind blowing up there, I wonder? I will see if the zoom on my camera helps...

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    The herd of Borrego's were feeding on that shrub and watching us far below.

    Packed up the trucks and headed north in Arroyo Grande...

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    Even with the heavy rain just days before, the sand did not stay we and there was very little mud.

    I showed Geoff were the Pole Line Road reaches Arroyo Grande (17.5 miles from Hwy. 5) and it was a great short time with Geoff exploring Baja for a common fascination we have... the mysteries of the past!

    Stay tuned for Day 2!...
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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  2. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:22 PM
    #2
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    2017 RECON.

    Well, December 28, 2016, actually... but close enough!

    SAN FELIPE KM. 0 south...

    I had the opportunity last week to try and go into every place that seemed to be one for campers or travelers (tourists).

    Most of the "campos" south of San Felipe are actually places that lease lots for long-term occupancy and people build homes or park trailers on them. My goal was to see only the campgrounds, open beaches, and other points of interest so I could be up-to-speed for information to help fellow Baja travelers. I hope to help the people of Baja by this and inform the travelers of what options they have yet still leave enough mystery and not go on every road, so there is still a sense of adventure.

    Guidebooks have never made Baja uninteresting, I have found. In fact, they compel me to see for myself and there is ALWAYS MORE to see and experience than any guidebook can share.

    This will be an ongoing project to recon the roads and sites in Baja as long as I am able to do this, either physically or financially. This is the first trip, so it is one to discover how this works and what I need to change. In addition to writing mileages and drive times, I also have the use of a GPS communicator that leaves a track of where I drive (or walk) and notes on any place I choose to comment. My friends and wife can text me as well. This is the Garmin-DeLorme inReach Explorer.

    So, while I won't bore you with all the details of each day, I will share a few photos of what I saw along the way. I hope it inspires you all to see more of Baja. This data will be able to be updated and those updates can come from any of you to make this a living map-guide to Baja California!

    The project will have even more to offer, but I am going to let the sponsor of Baja Nomad forums, and my book's second printing, Baja Bound Insurance, give that info out when we know how this will look.

    The following is only a SMALL sampling of the photos and data collected and that will be available in the future guide.

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    Km. 0

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    Valle de los Gigantes, 1.4 miles from Hwy. 5 (Km. 14+) and my kind of sign!

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    Sundown Wednesday

    DEC. 29, 2016:

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    Rancho Percebu (Km. 20 3/4), 2.2 miles from hwy.

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    Many places from here south were deserted, run down, and many palapas were in need of repair. Baja is taking back what man has tried to claim!

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    Nuevo Mazatlan is special to me because it was one of the original campgrounds south of San Felipe, long before the highway. Shown on old maps as Agua de Chale. The trees here were planted by founder Luis Castellanos Moreno around 1969. Owned by Javier, since about 1984, it remains a shaded campground on a wide sand beach. I first camped here in the mid-1960s and the most recent time was July 2015.

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    Just entering Puertecitos, on its paved driveway (Km. 74.5) is this sign.

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    One of the better-looking campgrounds, 0.2 mi from highway on Puertecitos road and then 0.3 mi to beach.

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    The hot springs of Puertecitos in the tidal zone. It is 200 pesos ($10) even to take photos here.
     
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  3. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:23 PM
    #3
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    The water temperature changes with the amount of sea water mixing with the hot sulfur water. Low tide= too hot, high tide= too cold!

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    The launching ramp, just past the hot springs on the point, is the other attraction at Puertecitos. There are palapas but no rooms any longer. The gas station was open.

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    Isla El Huerfanito, the Little Orphan Island... set off away from the other Enchanted Islands.

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    Not much for camping offered.

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    Was actually not bad, I was shown the inside too. $30/night.

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    Km. 143

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    I had dinner here... cabrilla... was great and only US $7 or 98 pesos (=$5).

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    Thursday afternoon.
     
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  4. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:24 PM
    #4
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Alfonsina's Motel & Restaurant (Km. 147 and 1.8 miles in):
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    Km. 149+ (2.0 miles in)

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    $20 or 350 pesos (quoted prices for camping), cabins are $40.

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    Punta Final as the sun goes down.

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    My camp between El Sacrificio and Punta Final on Thursday night.

    Friday 12-30-16:

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    Grave of William Lacy at his mill site, Molino de Lacy (Molino de San Francisquito before he died).

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    New construction, 3 miles south of end of pavement. The pavement ended by a new Km. 170 post, however, it is really Km. 167... since a Km. 165 post is 1.2 miles (2 km.) north and the rest are all correct going north.

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    Las Arrastras de Arriola site is safe from the new highway... see the bridge in the background.

    When I wrote about Las Arrastras las year, I was concerned that new road construction would destroy the historic gold milling site. Read more: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/las_arrastras.php

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    Looking down the well at Las Arrastras.

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    Coco in a group photo when I came in.

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    Puerto Calamajué was a real disappointment after the long drive.

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    The graded road ended at this house and shrubs blocked a view or access to the beach.

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    Fishing shacks could only be reached across the mud flat.

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    The L.A. Bay Junction on Hwy. 1 (Km. 282/Km. 0)

    Despite the Google maps all calling the L.A. Bay 40 mile long paved highway 'Mexico #12', not one sign or mile post does. It has always been a branch of Mexico #1.
     
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  5. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:26 PM
    #5
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Bahia de los Angeles Areas Friday 30th and Saturday New Years Eve...

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  6. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:26 PM
    #6
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Las Flores

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    For the history on this location: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/las_flores_ghost_town.php

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    A graveyard for important citizens of Las Flores and Bahia de los Angeles. Many are Daggetts and Arces.

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    Dick Daggett Jr.

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    A memorial to gold prospector Herman Hill placed here by Paulina and Dern...
    Herman is known from this book of his gold searching stories:

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    The Las Flores railroad line brought ore to be processed here from 5 miles south, at the foot of the mountain. There, a cable-tram bucket line brought the ore down from the top of the mountain where another railroad brought the ore from the mine, at nearly the top of the mountain. See more about this later in this trip report. The train engine is on display in the L.A. Bay town plaza. Behind that engine is an ore car from the other railroad at the top of the mountain. It used a different gauge track and that is why the ore car does not fit on the same track as the engine.

    Heading south, the road is mostly very good by Baja standards. There are a couple places one needs to slow down, however.

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    26 miles from Bahia de los Angeles is this junction. It is 10 miles to the bay shore, 11 to a camping beach, and 12 to another camping beach past the mangroves. The 11-mile camping beach had a Tacoma with a solo camper, we waved. I chatted with him the next morning on my way out to make sure he was okay. His name was Abe and he was from Colorado. He said he travels around the world spending months at a time exploring. I camped a mile beyond and it was a beautiful, starry night for New Years Eve.

    The next morning, that changed!
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2020
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  7. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:27 PM
    #7
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    SUN JAN 1, 2017 Happy New Year

    One last look at 2016:
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    2017:

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    Before the sun was up, the fierce wind kicked up and I scrambled to get camp torn down and the tent stowed away. It began to rain just as I finished!!!
    Happy New Year!!!

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    The rainbow lasted until I was miles south... a good omen!

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    Las Animas mangroves

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    South shore of Las Animas Bay

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    There is the mystery wall that so intrigued Erle Stanley Gardner and especially Desert Magazine's Choral Pepper who would research the location and conclude it (along with the dam below, date palm, and other signs) was part of an aborted Jesuit mission to be called Santa Maria Magdalena. Read more about it here: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/mystery_at_las_animas.php

    The road to the base of the hill, below the wall was obliterated, otherwise, I would have shown more photos or the area. This is about 2 miles south of the bay.

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    North end of San Rafael bay beach, about 2 miles north of Pancho's place.

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    For you Tacoma fans.

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    View from Pancho's San Rafael. Note the gill net in the water. The fisherman that was sitting with Pancho down there got up and went to his compound a bit east of Pancho's house. It was as if he didn't want to be seen with that gill net?

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    The road south does have two major washouts with detours in place.

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    This is the El Arco-San Francisquito highway! Excellent!!

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    Gate at Beto's driveway, open and drive through, close behind.
    Puerto San Francisquito on Cala San Francisquito

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    Camping is $10/pp with use of bathroom and shower. A cabana rents for $40 and a house rents for $100.

    If you turn right at the gate (or use the first driveway 1.3 miles west of the gate) you go 1 mile to Punta San Francisquito Resort with both a salt flat and paved landing strip.

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    The resort is in sad shape. The restaurant was in business and I was invited to eat by a lady walking outside. The cabanas rent for $20.

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    IMG_4898_e7635e1310731dcddac644a62128b00f325ea464.jpg

    That was good enough for now... Next to find another quiet camping beach. Stay tuned!
     
    Crom likes this.
  8. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:29 PM
    #8
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    What a great day... seeing so much, driving great dirt roads, enjoying the XM Satellite radio and four wheeling solo without fear (oh what a feeling).

    On Google Earth, I could see a road to the north coast of the peninsula that makes San Francisquito. It is opposite of the old road south to El Barril, on maps, about 5 miles west of Beto's gate. It is 4.6 miles north to a fork, I go left and in a mile the road passes next to the beach, but just out of sight of it and then heads back inland... coming to an end (washouts and brush) 1.6 miles from the nearest beach approach. On Google Earth, you can see that this road (once wide and graded) went to a big mine on the mountain.

    IMG_4899_e384f2a388e78f04c6e95e02dc3e3eff1895b094.jpg

    IMG_4902_d91ece4ff434fda0fd5d9d443840fa509fd3e907.jpg

    IMG_4903_b5faf98f3861017b8ac2071f5005a48d57219d74.jpg

    IMG_4904_b3da7a3b5992c8a916a1fe2f1f4b6b9ce90a0aee.jpg

    IMG_4905_3c6de777ba37b5afad9e41a76c30d000950d1646.jpg
    Ironwood for my campfire!

    IMG_4907_952ec972ebc35fab2aa2f64edfc3b0a29a4b9ea3.jpg

    IMG_4908_3c86c98261f0526f255afaba03618084687def62.jpg
    This guy didn't make it!

    As it was getting sundown, a Tacoma with a camper shell drove by on the beach, stopping a quarter mile past where I was and a couple guys got out with fishing poles. They returned after dark from wherever they had come onto the beach.



    IMG_4910_bb09383b06228fa8a1c83d2f26807f797b0196c1.jpg
    The next morning, Jan. 2, 2017.

    IMG_4911_892e13d3626d5f391533026c1b03afb70adbe973.jpg

    IMG_4912_3167b7360788a1b87c6aa9593ba33fe6a23f3749.jpg
    Isla San Lorenzo

    IMG_4913_393c465a7d122ae290606f049a68c52105958135.jpg
    Petrified sand dollars, right along the road, exposed when it was cut into the hillside.

    IMG_4914_968de30f861a49dfc14b3bea660b2cfdda86d626.jpg
    This was 0.7 miles from the beach and over 100 feet higher.

    I took the right fork and it soon passed these oyster shell piles...

    IMG_4915_09a79be263887ab91271af4e4210fe029adacacd.jpg

    There was another fork in 0.4 mile and I went left, ending at a beach in another 0.4 mile. A couple were camping near there. On Google Earth, the right fork also ends at the beach in a mile or less east.

    Just before returning to the L.A. Bay road junction is the signed road south for Rancho Escondido (on the El Barril road)... the sign is pretty worn out. Like so many tourist oriented places, and this one was seeking motorcycle off roaders offering cabins and meals, it seems to have failed the test of time.

    IMG_4881_23a51eeca8567d98e76f0238931296fa36dc0df7.jpg

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    Back north to L.A. Bay...

    IMG_4923_3ed18049c976d6e2a8464fe2ca80a934397c4576.jpg


    IMG_4927_7828aa01de8855d78f49d80607eb27ea86fcd695.jpg

    I want to see the Railroad/ tram bucket terminal platform where the Las Flores Railroad and the San Juan ore buckets met. I was last there in 2003! The road was badly overgrown and looked only traveled by motorcycles, much of it was part of some local off road race. I scratched my truck pretty bad getting in here, but it was worth it!

    IMG_4928_a58fac90c0500cbc6ef2c3492b40c61f074ccf83.jpg

    IMG_4929_36771eebd80450a746a3a1065551f375faaa2c8b.jpg
    Where the railroad crosses the auto road, the rocks and eveidence are missing, covered by sand... but walk just north, past the plants...

    IMG_4944_619a8997048d85a2f319274c44a961aa40183d44.jpg

    IMG_4931_b2e285f2b9421a5ac207b7f86c50614bab5e08e8.jpg

    IMG_4943_d1b021e79d979578d837144d7243b9de2edfcb19.jpg
    View to L.A. Bay

    IMG_4933_d797928bea9734dc93348966314739d18e2c4aa8.jpg

    IMG_4934_b6c43a59fd182b91582672ea74498bf660d7c354.jpg

    IMG_4936_b469b3deac2513837b03ac18068b179250ddffb1.jpg

    IMG_4937_17ee5d97f622c18f199c1fafe41e56b895a4ad41.jpg

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    Heading back to my truck...

    IMG_4942_b1eb700ac68041f83b032e2dcb929c570b6c36a7.jpg

    IMG_4944_619a8997048d85a2f319274c44a961aa40183d44.jpg
    See my truck?

    IMG_4945_a3797afb2ecc5d73693541817c8bfea2bcb1f7ab.jpg
    I get a room at Casa Diaz ($20), it is very rustic but has lights, bathroom, hot water, and a soft bed.
    Photo from Tuesday morning sunup.

    SO, my negative restaurant review for this trip comes this night.
    I got the room at Casa Diaz, and decided to treat myself to a nice seafood dinner.

    I went to Casa del Sol (Victoria's) where the Great Dane, Scoobydo is still greeting guests. A big family is already in the little restaurant but, they were not yet ordering... I asked for fish, "no fish" was the reply. That is very strange in Bahia de los Angeles to have no fish. The two other dinners items were shrimp and scallops (100 pesos each). I ask if they are real scallops (manta ray is sometimes substituted, but that would be okay, in this case), the reply was yes, real scallops.

    Okay, the soup eventually comes and it is great, have no idea what it was but a creamy, squash and cheese soup, I think. Last time it was corn chowder and great. Victoria has great soup, and it is a cold night, so I was looking forward to that.

    When the dinner arrives, I was way-way disappointed... instead of scallops or something close, like manta ray, it was squid (calamari) and I even was going to taste one to see if it would pass, as I am not that picky. It smelled and like fishing bait.

    Not wanting to embarrass Victoria in front of the large family, I walked up to the bar and quietly told her that it was not scallops, but obviously calamari. She firmly denied it and was loud, I shook my head and she said it was the way the cook sliced it... there were a couple of back and fourths and even said in Spanish to the Mexican family how scallops are sometimes cut that way. Yes, the tube-shaped, rubbery meat, was as much a scallop as I was.

    That she wanted to debate me on it instead of offering a substitution (real shrimp would have been fine) ended my appetite.

    I had ordered two beers and enjoyed the chips and soup... but only drank a little of the second beer when my bait, I mean dinner, arrived.

    I got up, asked her for the check and she said I owed nothing. I think that was an admission. I insisted on paying and told her the soup, beer and chips were all very good. I paid her 200 pesos which was probably the full bill, but I was happy to leave.

    I drove up to China's taco stand 'La Carreta' and had the most wonderful FISH tacos! Yes, they do have fish in L.A. Bay!
    :lol:;)


    Tuesday, the long drive home with a surprise at my lunch stop (no, they had real fish and it was excellent)! Stay tuned!!!
     
  9. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:31 PM
    #9
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    TUE JAN 3 2017 Bahia de L.A. to Tecate

    It was a beautiful morning, I made breakfast out in front of my room, on my tailgate and left just before 8 am.

    612f5bc9-ae25-4865-8cf7-a8ccbc6fc191_6e0945a16c4894503aa27e2930f90287bdf1b14b.jpg

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    The desert west of L.A. Bay has most of the popular Baja plants, like cholla, pitahaya, elephant tree, and cirio (what we know best as a boojum tree).

    IMG_4958_e11787080722fcdb94bccf870f387ae295ad9d67.jpg
    Hwy. 5 junction with the Hwy. 1, at Laguna Chapala

    IMG_4959_feecbf9608baa11d24cdedbefe7b33fd883c1ea8.jpg
    In less than a mile, the new road route veers off to the right and parallels the new, about a half mile away and in just over two miles they rejoin again for the climb into the hills.

    IMG_4960_93f5535ed6030aa330d7c9a4ef46330efda5260a.jpg

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    Construct to complete the final 20 some mile gap of Mexico Highway 5 (Mexicali to Laguna Chapala) is underway. I would say in another two years it could be finished?

    IMG_4963_0731c49cd2fa7dc35d8a5a87c11b5619c43f586f.jpg

    IMG_4964_57f58e2c38f7c3569c4a5897bca25d0a83950a91.jpg

    IMG_4965_74b81f42e9382efc571b7e39ea9657e859ba84a2.jpg
    Just north of the start of pavement, but this should read Km. 167 to match all the other km. posts north of this one! In other words, the next marker is 2 kms. north and is Km. 165... the rest are in order, going north.

    IMG_4966_4382670fee5c1aaba7d5700d0c0a947d116aaaa2.jpg
    20.5 kms. north of the end of pavement is the Pemex (at Km. 147) and Rancho Grande store, beach access and Alfonsina's motel access.

    IMG_4967_d0f7512b9f55e81a70fe187f2b0610973dbfc1d7.jpg

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    Rancho Grande beach

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    Km. 35.5, Colonia Delicias and Chelo's Restaurant... just one couple there eating at 12:15. I had a nice visit and was asked about a mission. My thank you for the conversation was a copy of my book and if Linda (his wife) could take a photo...

    ba6123c4-fcfa-4eda-a284-b333c6f93d31_c7916933d96987c1674d46b849463a8cfa59ce06.jpg
    ... of me and IVAN STEWART (!)

    Baja is always so rewarding and fun for me... I hope that my writing and trip reports are a way to give back some of the joy.

    Baja California has always been a great place to travel, explore, vacation, and be close to Nature for over 50 years of my life.

    Thank you... and VIVA BAJA!

    My Baja Website: www.vivabaja.com
     
    Chefjuan09 and RogueTRD like this.
  10. Jan 6, 2017 at 8:47 AM
    #10
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Where I over-nighted:

    c5b2d2b9-bbfb-4da6-8b54-dc25cf220267_b2b262081571f6fecf4fdba95de5303795b2decd.jpg
    Red arrows are camping locations and the blue arrow is where I stayed at a motel for nights #4 and #7.
    Top to Bottom red arrows (Night # of trip):
    #1 Arroyo Grande
    #2 Near Laguna Percebu
    #3 Near Punta Final (Gonzaga Bay)
    #5 Bahia las Animas
    #6 Near Punta San Francisquito on Bahia San Rafael
     
  11. Jan 6, 2017 at 3:25 PM
    #11
    fishtacoz88

    fishtacoz88 Active Member

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    Awesome Trip, I was to do a overland through BAJA CA as well, just beautiful. I am sure the weather was really nice this time of year as well.
     
    David K [OP] likes this.
  12. Jan 6, 2017 at 4:13 PM
    #12
    ModocTaco

    ModocTaco Active Member

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    Great trip report David. Hope to make a trip down to Baja this spring and visit some of those amazing sites.
     
    David K [OP] likes this.
  13. Jan 6, 2017 at 4:48 PM
    #13
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    It was TOO COLD at night for my liking! Now, I am a San Diego boy, so 50º is too cold! I got rained on a little on New Years day (at Las Animas) and the wind came up before the rain having me tear down camp before I was planning too... like at sunrise!
     
  14. Jan 15, 2017 at 7:15 AM
    #14
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Anyone want more detailed maps, just ask. This trip is collecting data and photos that will be available someday soon as a resource guide, along with the rest of Baja (outside of cities). I will let you know with progress reports, and more photos of the rest of Baja, naturally!
     
  15. Feb 10, 2017 at 9:49 AM
    #15
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Just returned from the second recon trip, central Baja California (Jan. 30 to Feb. 8). A trip report will be forthcoming.
    IMG_5143_13a6bcaea4dcb97eb06ae64371b2970650bedbe3.jpg
     
  16. Mar 16, 2017 at 10:38 AM
    #16
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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  17. Mar 16, 2017 at 11:25 AM
    #17
    818

    818 Member

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    Hey David,

    Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

    For someone who would like to do something like this in the future, what kind of precautions do you take?
     
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  18. Mar 16, 2017 at 11:30 AM
    #18
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    *Make sure to have gasoline in the tank by not passing any open station once you are below half a tank.
    *Remember to bring a spare match stick (or real matches) to light your campfire if the one you thought was good stops working.
    *Have a camera because the photo ops are huge!

    IMG_4278_1f669b88a28d76d9be28e4fa18ade567593f37fe.jpg
     
  19. Oct 27, 2017 at 8:14 AM
    #19
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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  20. Mar 20, 2018 at 8:03 AM
    #20
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    My New Maps covering the regions of this trip report:

    8538403d-0d7d-4b03-b7ba-cf0419979fad_c228e3500da0996f86c2474bb685d999eb2e0a05.jpg

    La%20Ventana%20Map%20A-1_8397a6e56013b118580083b5bf8c4fa76692978d.jpg

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    2b604ef5-0f93-49dd-a6b7-cd56e54f76d4_11351d3095c12046a6f3e38660d7582bc0785c5a.jpg

    7260d9a2-167e-493f-a295-a01b92c657e9_3ab6a5d228119005749a17166594212bf2490797.jpg
     

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