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Baja Beach Weekends are the best! Memorial Day 2011

Discussion in 'Off-Roading & Trails' started by David K, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. Jun 2, 2011 at 8:53 PM
    #1
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    In a nutshell, a great weekend on Shell Island for Memorial Day 2011!

    It would be the first trip there with Baja Angel's daughter Kristi... Her son Josh and his girlfriend Jonna would also caravan with us.

    Jonna and Josh were last on the island this past Labor Day (Sept. 2010) and the four wheel drive wouldn't engage so they were stuck were the road reaches the beach, then.

    This trip, the Ford transfer case engaged and they were able to keep up with my Tacoma for the trek up to our favorite camping spot, a couple miles away.

    We left the San Diego area Friday evening around 7:30 (after dinner) and headed east on I-8 to Hwy. 111 to Calexico/Mexicali, which is the fastest route to San Felipe. Coming home, we prefer the Tecate border (and it was a doozy last night with almost a 3 hour wait.. and we heard the other borders were almost a 6 hour wait).

    There were several dusty miles of detours in the Rio Hardy/ El Mayor area and again at Laguna Salada by the old canal location... On the way home, I recorded about 7 miles of dirt detours. Our vehicles were searched at the military checkpoint southbound (but not northbound, 3 days later).

    We arrived in San Felipe about 1:30 am, topped off the gas tanks at the station in El Dorado Ranch and headed right for Shell Island. We were concerned for the Ford Ranger and expected to maybe need to pull it if air pressure alone couldn't help if the four wheel drive again failed. There was no need to worry, as the Ford did fine!

    We got camp set up, and a fire started to kick back... enjoy the Tecate Lights we bought in Mexicali... and realized that the glow in the sky was the approaching sunrise! Man, was I sleepy! I think I got (maybe) 3 hours of sleep before the warming sun got me up... The day was beautiful, the water was smooth, and we were in paradise!

    Now, some photos... and more of the trip report will follow:

    I hear the rumble of ATVs approaching...
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    BajaRob and Connie come with two bottles of champagne and champagne glasses to toast our arrival!
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    Good Baja friends... what fun!

    Later, a pair of Jet Skis arrive and land on the island in front of our camp, it is Chuck and Chris (Baja Warrior) to say hello.
    (Coming home on I-5 late last night, we pass them)

    High tide was at midday and then the water goes back out again to expose new treasures to photograph...

    Saturday, was a pretty mellow day with a nap or two. We did drive to Bahia Santa Maria to show off Rob and Connie's house to Kristi. We then drove down the beach to El Vergel to look for 'El Vergel' (Vern)... found his Jeep, but not him... left my card on his widshield wiper. We then went to Delicias for lunch at Aniceto's and it was very good. A return to Shell Island for a relaxing afternoon.

    Low tide Sunday Morning...
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    We drive up to the north tip of Shell Island to see what has changed there, across the lagoon from Rancho Percebu.
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    A careful look for Tern eggs...
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    Mama or Papa Tern.

    To be continued...
     
  2. Jun 2, 2011 at 8:55 PM
    #2
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    The purpose of the trip was pure rest and relaxation, but also to introduce the place to Kristi... who studied marine biology and worked on a research paper for Scripps Institute of Oceanography (was published)... so she has a fascination with the sea, already!

    Here are some photos I took walking around our camp area...

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    He curled his tail like a scorpion when he ran!
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    Our camp as seen from Ken Cooke's campsite of July 4, 2011

    Okay, 18 more photos to post... Stay tuned!!
     
  3. Jun 2, 2011 at 8:58 PM
    #3
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Sunday Afternoon at low tide, I took the kids to the far south end of the island (which is the north point of Bahia Santa Maria) for some goodie searching (shell collecting, photos, discovery)...

    Of course I love my Tacoma and any chance to drive it in four wheel drive is a thrill. Last February, the stock BFG tires (265/70-16) that came with the new truck got replaced with Hankook Dynapro ATM tires... also 1" taller (265/75-16) as that increases my ground clearance 1/2"... all without needing any lift or changes. The Dynapros were very quiet on the highway, amazing in snow and mud, as well as desert sand at Ocotillo Wells. This was the first test on Baja's bottomless beach sand... which is the most difficult of all sands to drive on. Probably due to the high per-centage of crushed shells and slighly coarser grain...

    When we arrived on the beach 2 am Saturday morning, I dropped them to 14 psi all around and had no issues getting to our camp. With the truck unloaded, I dropped the rear tires to 12 psi. What you want is a wider 'foot' in order to 'float' on top of the sand and not dig in. Once over the dry sand and onto the wet sand between the high and low tide lines of the day, it is possible to drive in 2WD even... but getting to the wet sand requires crossing the dry, deep stuff where most people will have trouble without 4WD and without deflating their tires.

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    Kristi
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    Jonna
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    Tacoma
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    I love my lights... Maybe it was the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind that makes having good lighting fun for me? I mean, I rarely drive at night off road... but, it is nice to see everything! I have a pair of 7" HID driving beams and a pair of 8" Halogen pencil beams (in addition to the stock headlights and fog lights).

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    Picacho del Diablo, 10,154 feet (more or less depending on the rising sea level :lol: )

    We all take photos of each other on Monday morning before we leave... and we all hate to have to go!

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    Kristi
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    Josh
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    Baja Angel (Elizabeth) and I
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    Josh and Jonna with Elizabeth and I
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    Kristi and her mom... She sure loved Baja last weekend... and this first trip to the San Felipe side won't be the last... Her Facebook page is filled with the photos she took and you can tell how much she enjoyed the place.

    On the way out, Jonna wanted a close look at the giant fish she saw the last time we drove past it...

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    Back in the day seeing 'small' totuavas like this was very common. Let's hope for their comeback so we may enjoy them once again!

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    We are off the island and tires re-inflated before noon. The drive into San Felipe was easy. We filled our tanks... it was just under 9 pesos per liter in San Felipe and just over 9 pesos in Tecate. The exchange rate was 11.50 pesos per dollar making the cost of 87 octane gas just under $3 a gallon south of the border zone and just over $3 in the Pemex special border zone... a dollar or more cheaper than in California!

    We enjoyed fish, shrimp and carne asada tacos in San Felipe, we bought some tourist stuff (t shirt, silver jewelry, friendship bracelets) and were northbound before 3 pm. San Felipe looked almost dead for Memorial Day (compared to past years... well I mean 5 or more years ago).

    The military checkpoint by the Hwy. 3 junction (31 miles north) just asked us some questions and waved us through.
    The road widening detours totalled about 7 miles and are at the north side of the Laguna Salada crossing (by the failed canal) and again in the Rio Hardy area.

    We took the Libramiento Mexicali (2-D) toll road west for Tecate (55 pesos). The military check at the bottom of the Rumorosa Grade also waved us through. We stopped for some snacking and leg stretching up on the grade and saw quite an interesting (state and federal) police escort of plain white vans... Maybe going to the El Hongo prison?

    Toll Gate at La Rumorosa was 18 pesos and the toll gate at El Hongo 55 pesos.

    When we arrived at the Pemex coming into Tecate, we saw that there was a line of cars from there on ahead... this would be the longest border line I have ever seen at Tecate! We learned that Tijuana and Mexicali both had 5-6 hour waits, so many people detoured to Tecate... and many lost out because Tecate border is closed from 11 pm to 5 am. We got into line at 7:18 pm and crossed in at 10:07 pm. There was a mile of cars behind us!

    Despite the border wait (the only negative part of the vacation), the trip was wonderful... even the wind of Sunday night was no big deal. The kids and us had a great time... it was really nice to get visits from BajaRob, Connie, Baja Warrior and Chris, as well!

    The Baja 500 is this Saturday and July 4th weekend is a month away... we can't wait to go back again!

    ALSO, a special thank you to Baja Geoff and the gang at BajaBound.com for providing excellent and easy to buy Mexican Auto Insurance for Josh's Ford Ranger and my Tacoma. I appreciate BajaBound.com's support of BajaNomad.com.

    I hope you enjoyed a small look into our 3 days on the beach as much we did. I have been camping on Shell island since 1978, and it is still as wonderful (and above sea level) today! :cool:
     
  4. Jun 2, 2011 at 10:06 PM
    #4
    steve o 77

    steve o 77 braaap

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    cool pics!
     
  5. Jun 3, 2011 at 7:43 AM
    #5
    Hardscrabble

    Hardscrabble Well-Known Member

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    Wow, very nice write up and fantastic pictures. :thumbsup: Thanks.
     
  6. Jun 3, 2011 at 7:50 AM
    #6
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thank you!
     
  7. Jun 3, 2011 at 6:09 PM
    #7
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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