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Baja California, Mexico (2012) in a Tacoma for 15 days:

Discussion in 'Travel' started by David K, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. Jul 29, 2012 at 4:14 PM
    #1
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    This will be a few days in the posting. Each of the 15 days of our trip were great and have a lot to share.

    Here is the overall trip, followed by DAY 1 report (with those details many of you enjoy) and photos for Day 1 and the morning of Day 2, on Shell Island.

    I provided some details that most of you Baja folks know, but for those not (yet) into travel to Mexico may appreciate. Please send me a private message or u2u if you have a question you don't care to have others see or discuss. My email is: info AT vivabaja.com (AT= @)

    Baja California July 2012: 2,622 miles

    Day 1 (Saturday July 14th): To Shell Island via Tecate, Mexicali, San Felipe.

    Day 2 (Sunday): To Bahia Concepcion via Coco’s Corner, Calamajue, Guerrero Negro, Santa Rosalia.

    Days 3, 4 (Monday, Tuesday): At Bahia Concepcion plus Mulege dinner.

    Day 5 (Wednesday July 18th): To La Paz via Loreto and Ciudad Constitucion.

    Day 6 (Thursday): To El Triunfo, Real de Santa Ana, San Bartolo, Los Barriles, Punta Pescadero, San Juan de los Planes, La Paz.

    Day 7 (Friday): La Paz Museums, La Balandra, El Tecolote.

    Day 8 (Saturday): To Todos Santos, El Pedrito, Cabo San Lucas, El Tule, San Jose del Cabo, Santiago, Las Cuevas, La Paz.

    Day 9 (Sunday): To: Isla Espirito Santo, Isla Partida, Las Tres Virgenes Restaurant.

    Day 10 (Monday July 23rd): To Bahia Concepcion via Las Pocitas, Cd. Constitucion, Ligui, and Loreto.

    Day 11 (Tuesday): To Bahia Asuncion via San Ignacio, Punta Abreojos, La Bocana.

    Day 12 (Wednesday): At Juan y Shari’s Bahia Asuncion Bed & Breakfast, Fossil Hunting.

    Day 13 (Thursday): To Bahia San Rafael via Vizcaino, Pozo Aleman, San Francisquito.

    Day 14 (Friday): To Shell Island via Bahia de los Angeles, Laguna Chapala, Bahia San Luis Gonzaga.

    Day 15 (Saturday July 28th): To San Diego via San Felipe, Mexicali and Tecate.









    A week before our trip began, we did a run to Tijuana to get our tourist cards (also called an ‘FMM’, it is like a visa needed for trips beyond the border towns or stays over 3 days). The fee for an FMM (valid for 180 days) was 290 pesos or US$24, each The INM office at the Tijuana border is open 7 days a week from 6 am to 10 pm. The INM official can now receive the payment, so no need to have an open bank nearby, as in the past. We also purchased pesos at the Chula Vista Costco money exchange (Palomar exit, I-5 to Broadway, north) for some of our trip purchases (mostly gasoline) and the exchange rate was 12.905 pesos per dollar. Except for the border region gas stations, the cost of gasoline was $2.95/ gallon (10.05 pesos/ liter).
    If I post a price in pesos, the equivalent dollar value will be shown.

    Saturday, July 14: Crossed the border at Tecate 11:14am. When entering Mexico there is a red light/ green light signal to tell you to continue on in or to pull over for inspection. Being a pickup truck full of stuff, we got a red light. Since Tecate is a very quiet border going into Mexico, it took just a few seconds for the officer to glance at my truck and tell me to continue on into their country. They are looking for items that may be resold in Mexico such as appliances, electronics, etc. Camping and personal gear is no problem.

    Signs point the way towards Mexicali making the little bit of city street use very simple. Just east of town on Highway #2, we stop at a Pemex station and topped the gas tank. price of 87 octane ‘Magna’ from the green/ ‘verde’ pump was $3.02/ gallon (slightly higher price along the border). Got on the toll highway (Highway #2-D) towards Mexicali for a quick 80 mile trip east to Highway #5 for San Felipe. Toll at El Hongo was 57 pesos (or posted US$4.30), toll at La Rumorosa was 20 pesos ($1.55), and final toll near the junction with Highway #5, was 60 pesos ($4.65).

    Highway #5 has been torn up for widening in sections for the past few years and during this trip, there was a total of 20 miles of unpaved detours along the new road work. This is in the area 47 miles south of the Highway 2-D junction (at the sand dunes) to El Chinero mountain (between the active gold mine and Highway 3 junction). The detours were mostly smooth and watered down for dust control.

    At the Highway 3 (Ensenada) junction, 160 miles from Tecate is the first major military inspection where soldiers may ask you to step out of your car so they can look for illegal drugs, guns or ammo. They are always polite, friendly and very quick (at least to us). Most of the time they will ask you where are you coming from and where are you going. In a couple locations they recorded my name and asked what year model my Toyota Tacoma was (2010). Showing them your driver’s license makes their writing of your name easier. They never asked to see passports or tourist cards, and never have on any of my trips… as it is not in their duty of looking for guns and drugs.

    At El Dorado Ranch, we stooped to top our gas tank. This is 7 miles north of San Felipe, just past the big ‘Rockodile’ sign (a crocodile). The price here is the same as at all other Baja stations for this trip with one exception and the border zone price. Magna (Regular 87 octane) is 10.05 pesos per liter or $2.95 per gallon. If you are using dollars, this station was giving an exchange rate of 13.00 pesos per dollar. I took on 10.5 gallons for the 183 mile drive from Tecate. The convenience store at the El Dorado Pemex had 8 packs of Tecate Light Beer for 84 pesos ($6.46 for 8 cans).

    We left the station at 3:30pm, drove the 7 miles to San Felipe, turning south at the traffic circle. In 6 miles, a left turn is made (ahead goes to the airport) and this point is also Kilometer 0 for Highway #5 south. Several vacation home and camp areas are passed as we head for a very special beach I have been camping on for the past 34 years, before most of the region’s development and before paved roads ventured south of San Felipe. It is a barrier island that during the highest tides is surrounded by water and impossible to access or leave. Being difficult to get to is one reason it remains as beautiful today as it was the first time I camped here, on the beach I call ‘Shell Island’. The access road to the island is near Km. 26, almost 22 miles from San Felipe. We arrived at our campsite at 4:40 pm. Our vacation had begun!

    Photos:

    [​IMG]
    After crossing the salt/mud flat seen here, we reach the beach on the island.

    [​IMG]
    While the entire 4 mile long island is usually deserted, we have a favorite spot next to the dunes a couple miles away from the road.

    [​IMG]
    Elizabeth quickly gets into the ‘Baja Feeling’ mode…

    [​IMG]
    … and makes her first contact with the Sea of Cortez.

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    Whelk eggs were spotted on the wet sand. A whelk is a large sea snail.

    [​IMG]

    New, easy up tent! Our last time camping here (July 4th weekend, 2011) a sudden strong wind devastated our camp and ruined our old tent. That same wind sunk the sport fishing ship ‘Erik’ with many lives lost, about 50 miles south here.
    Sunday, July 15: We woke up with the sun and soon were packed up.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here are views north and south on Shell Island (low tide):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    ===============================================================

    Sunday’s drive to Bahia Concepcion coming next (Enchanted Islands, Coco’s Corner, Calamajue Canyon, and more!)…
     
  2. Jul 29, 2012 at 7:04 PM
    #2
    NoSoup4You

    NoSoup4You Well-Known Member

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    subbed!
     
  3. Jul 29, 2012 at 9:10 PM
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    Speed Freek

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    Nice, MOAR!! :D
     
  4. Jul 30, 2012 at 12:05 AM
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    chilidogrc

    chilidogrc Skewpage

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  5. Jul 30, 2012 at 12:12 AM
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    tacobot

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    Wow.

    I want to go camping there; I'd probably stay there all 15 days! Haha
     
  6. Jul 30, 2012 at 12:14 AM
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    Crookbook

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    What a great trip! I just got back from a month in Baja doing the 1000 race roads and pre running for the 1000 in November since I race class 11 in a 1971 beetle. Calamjue canyon had about 3-4 feet of water scattered around. It is very wooped out and silty after the water section but is a very beautiful area! Looks like more and more fun!
     
  7. Jul 30, 2012 at 1:14 AM
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    RadSurfTaco

    RadSurfTaco Well-Known Member

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    In Ocean or My Taco...trolling up & down Hwy 1
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    man looks so fun!
     
  8. Jul 30, 2012 at 1:56 AM
    #8
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Sunday morning we got moving south at 7:38 am and reached the Puertecitos entrance road in an hour (time includes adding air to the tires once we were off the deep sand of Shell Island). The Puertecitos road is at Km. 74.5 and the new, wider, high speed highway begins here. The 52 mile highway from San Felipe to Puertecitos is an older style, narrow paved road with sudden, steep vados (dips) that prohibit high speed. I reset my Tacoma’s trip odometer at the Puertecitos junction to note the mileage where the new pavement has reached, and other points south.

    Playa Cristina is at Mile 5.0, La Costilla is at Mile 6.1, the wide turnout with the view of the Enchanted Islands is at Mile 14.7 and just before Km. 100 marker. Okie Landing (a fishing ‘resort’ from the 1960’s with just concrete slabs remaining) is at Mile 25.5/ Km. 117. The pavement ended just north of here one year ago.

    The end of pavement this trip is at Mile 31.3, just beyond Km. 126. That is almost 6 miles (10 km.) in one year. This is no rush job, but the quality of the highway is fantastic, with a 110 kph (~70 mph) speed limit.

    Turnoffs to Campo Delfines is at Mile 31.9, Punta Bufeo is at Miles 36.6, Papa Fernandez’ is at Mile 41.7, Military checkpoint is at Mile 42.8, and the Pemex gas station/ Alfonsina’s road/ Rancho Grande store are at Mile 44.2 from Puertecitos road and the time was 10:06 am.

    The remaining unpaved road to Bahia San Luis Gonzaga is graded smooth. From the end of pavement to the Pemex and Rancho Grande is 12.9 miles. We topped the gas tank at Gonzaga Bay. Trip odometer reset to 0.

    Las Palmitas oasis/ El Camino Real access road is at Mile 7.2, the first boojum (cirio) trees were at Mile 13.9, and Coco’s Corner is at Mile 22.4. We were at Coco’s from 11:00 to 11:52 am. It was a nice visit, Coco seemed quite happy, and his only request was for a new battery for his quad. Otherwise he gets around on a wheelchair or walks on his ‘stumps’.

    At Coco’s when we arrived were a couple from Ventura in a Jeep Wrangler with good off road tires. They wanted to go south through Calamajue Canyon, but Coco had told them the water was too deep for them to take the ‘risk’. Just a couple weeks earlier, Bajatripper had passed south via Calamajue and reported the stream much smaller than typical and the water was no problem for his Toyota 4Runner. I told the couple that they could follow me and I would be happy to pull them through with my Tacoma, if needed. Coco said he wouldn’t take responsibility for them, and I assured him that I would!

    There are two roads southbound from Coco’s Corner, the most used one is the main road to Highway #1 at Laguna Chapala which is graded and will be the route or close to the route of the future paved highway. The other goes through Calamajue (say: ‘Cal-a-ma-WAY’) canyon is was the main route south before 1983 when the graded road from Laguna Chapala was completed. For several miles, the road and the year-round stream of mineralized water are one in the same. The Baja 1000 race often uses the Calamajue route, and that often creates a difficult drive until nature repairs the damage.

    The road begins heading east and for 6.3 miles is a graded road that continues to the Sea of Cortez (also called the Gulf of California) at Puerto Calamajue. The road we want turns south off the graded road and in 6.6 miles arrives at the top edge of the Calamajue river gorge. To the left here are ruins of a gold ore processing mill from the early 1900’s. The road drops to the valley floor and at Mile 13.1 from Coco’s Corner a faint track goes to the left and climbs up the opposite bank 0.4 mile to the first site of the 17th Spanish California mission, founded in 1766. Only there for a few months, the mission was moved because the water was far too salted with minerals to grow any crops. The new location was given the name Santa Maria de los Angeles and the first location has typically only been known as Calamajue, the local native Indian name (however one Jesuit missionary wrote that it was first called Nuestra Señora de Columna).

    We made lunch next to the ruins of the mission and rock corrals, probably built by miners years after the mission period ended. We got on the road again at 1:25 pm and soon were driving in water and across only a couple of deep puddles, but no challenge at all for either the Jeep or Toyota.

    At mile 21.1 from Coco’s Corner (not including the side trip to the mission) we were out of the canyon and passed the access road to Highway 1 at Km. 251. This cut across road was built in 1973 during the building of Highway 1 to get water, needed for compaction of the roadbed. The next 6.9 miles are mostly slow because of the whoops (short, deep bumps) usually created by race traffic. After passing Rancho El Crucero, opening the gate across the road (and closing it behind us), we reach Highway 1 at Mile 28.0 from Coco’s Corner and at Highway 1, Km. 261. We add air to the tires for highway running and are on our way at 3:02 pm. The couple in the Jeep headed for Bahia de los Angeles to finish their vacation.

    Reset trip odometer to 0 at El Crucero/ Km. 261. Mile 13.0 is the Bahia de los Angeles junction. The next military inspection station is at the turnoff to El Tomatal, near the Pacific coast of Baja California. Mile 69.9 is the Villa Jesus Maria Pemex station (121.2 miles driven since Gonzaga Bay gas fill-up) and after topping off we are southbound at 4:20 pm.

    Normally, one expects to show his tourist card at the state border, near Guerrero Negro and typically, this is the only place were you are asked to show it. A big stop sign is in front of the immigration office, just a bit south of the huge steel eagle and traffic circle, built on the state border between Baja California and Baja California Sur. We stopped, anxious to show the officer our papers, but he just glanced from the doorway and waved us on.

    The southern half of the peninsula is on Mountain Time, so we advance our truck’s clock from about 5 pm to 6 pm. Also the kilometer markers work in reverse, getting smaller as you drive south. We pass through Vizcaino at 6:48pm (65 miles south of Villa Jesus Maria). We pass by San Ignacio (Km. 73) at 7:30 pm after another military check. Now, if it is your first time into Baja, do not pass San Ignacio without taking the short paved road right, to the plaza, to see this beautiful oasis and giant stone mission church.

    The highway makes two steep drops to the Sea of Cortez, the second is the steepest and is called Cuesta del Infierno (Hell’s Grade). On our way south, it was unpaved as new highway work is being performed. On our return, paving was underway.

    We arrive at Santa Rosalia (Km. 0) and go to the second Pemex station on your left (next to the harbor), as the other three have a bad reputation for dishonest pumps or attendants. In fact, the primary ‘bad’ station (just ahead, on the right) was closed for remodeling (and maybe tamper-resistant pumps?). It was just after sundown when we left at 8:22 pm.

    We arrive at our destination on beautiful Bahia Concepcion, just as it was dark. We will camp this and the following two nights here, getting some long awaited rest and enjoying one of Baja’s most beautiful bays and beaches.

    Some photos:

    [​IMG]
    Islas Encantadas (Enchanted Islands) viewpoint parking, near Km. 100, south of Puertecitos.

    [​IMG]
    New, fast highway south from Puertecitos.

    [​IMG]
    End of pavement, July 15, 2012 (about 13 miles north of Gonzaga Bay Pemex Station).

    [​IMG]
    View north from south end of highway, near Km. 126.

    [​IMG]
    First view of Bahia San Luis Gonzaga.

    [​IMG]
    Road south from Gonzaga begins smooth, but gets rockier as one nears Coco’s Corner.

    [​IMG]
    The first boojum tree I spotted along Highway 5, about 8 miles north of Coco’s or 14 miles south of Gonzaga.

    [​IMG]
    Elizabeth greets an old friend, Coco.

    [​IMG]
    Coco wants a hug!

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    Coco is surprised to hear the couple (John and Rachel, walking the length of Baja) have arrived in La Paz, and shows us their entry (and his cartoon) of when they passed here weeks earlier.

    [​IMG]
    Coco and David K

    [​IMG]
    The old gulf coast road south to Calamajue Canyon.

    [​IMG]
    Baja Angel (Elizabeth) and I at the mill ruins on the edge of the cliff at Calamajue.

    [​IMG]
    We arrive at the 1766 mission site.

    [​IMG]
    The adobe walls have all melted down.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The view of the gold ore mill ruins, across the canyon from the mission site.

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    White mineral deposits from springs along the creek, in the canyon.

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    The deepest puddle this month!

    [​IMG]
    Lot’s of colors in the canyon.

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    Several palms are growing in the canyon, too.

    [​IMG]
    Once out of the canyon, the Baja desert begins to entertain us with dancing boojum trees.

    I am now driving to get to our next camp before it is dark (driving highways in Baja in the dark is not a good idea because cattle and burros are attracted to the pavement at night, plus you miss great scenery).

    [​IMG]
    The unpaved, wider but still steep ‘Cuesta del Infierno’, near Santa Rosalia.

    [​IMG]
    Last photo today showing some old French mine buildings, across the highway from the gas station. Santa Rosalia was a huge copper mine dating back to the late 1800's operated by the French.

    Stay tuned for more…
     
  9. Jul 30, 2012 at 7:32 PM
    #9
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Monday, July 16 (Day 3): We awake to a beautiful day on a tiny little bay on the bigger Bahia Concepcion. There are 9 palapas or cabañas made of palm leaves on the white sand beach. A large family on vacation is at the palapa on the north end and we are using the palapa at the south end. We basically are in vacation-rest mode now for the next 48 hours… and the ills of civilization are 600 miles away. Glorious weather, wonderful sea water and we do as little as possible knowing soon that our friends Steve (‘Bajatripper’) and his wife Zully will be showing us plenty in, and around La Paz! That afternoon, we go to the nearby restaurant at Playa Buenaventura (just south over the bridge from the closed, rundown hotel on the same beach). We visit with the friendly owners Mark and Olivia who offer us use of their Internet (we weren’t in that great of a need yet) and cold beers (we did enjoy those). We also treat ourselves to their famous cheeseburgers with all the fixings.

    Tuesday, July 17 (Day 4): More of the same great Baja beach time!
    That afternoon, we drive to Mulege (Moo-le-HAY) for dinner, ice, and top the gas tank. Our favorite beach restaurant ‘El Patron’ was closed, so we try the place next door, ‘Pancho Villa’s’ and there was just one other table occupied. Business is way off in Baja, as well as back in America! We order a shrimp dinner, and while it was good, it was less than what we had received at El Patron, in years past. We got gas at the pump in the middle of town and bought a block of ice at the ice plant just south of Mulege, across from the newer gas station.

    The only issue camping on a tropical beach are mosquitoes. We heard that Bounce fabric softener dryer sheets repel bugs, so we stick them in our pockets. It did seem to work, but when we were unprotected they did bite us a bit. We also have the citronella candles and Raid area fogger. Daytime temperatures were never over 95º along the coast and the water was great, not too hot but not chilly, either.

    Now some photos:

    [​IMG]
    Playa La Perla on Bahia Concepcion (just south of El Requeson).

    [​IMG]
    Our new easy up tent is great… windows all around that can be closed and it is tall enough to stand in.

    [​IMG]
    Our view from the tent.

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    The palapa is open on the inland side, a bit backwards unless it was to block wind off the bay?

    [​IMG]
    We have these floating chairs, which are perfect in the Sea of Cortez.

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    Is there any better way to enjoy a cold Tecate Light?

    [​IMG]
    At Mark and Olivia’s Playa Buenaventura Restaurant, just north of El Requeson.

    [​IMG]
    The cheeseburger in paradise, they are great!

    [​IMG]
    The next day, we saw some of the damage from the flash flood along Mulege’s river. This was a few years ago, and has still not been fixed.

    [​IMG]
    Our shrimp dinner at Pancho Villa’s on the north river road.

    [​IMG]
    Back at Playa La Perla for the evening.

    [​IMG]
    The next morning, we will head for La Paz!

    Stay tuned…
     
  10. Aug 1, 2012 at 12:21 AM
    #10
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    ... here are three area maps of our peninsula trip where there is some need for detail...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and the overnight loation map:

    [​IMG]

    Stay tuned for Day 5-15 reports...
     
  11. Aug 1, 2012 at 12:58 AM
    #11
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Wednesday, July 18 (Day 5 & Our 4th wedding anniversary): We have a morning swim and we pack up our campsite into the Tacoma. We drive out from La Perla at 9:40 am and I note that we were 28 miles south of Mulege.

    There is another military inspection about 15 miles north of Loreto, and as at the others, it is brief and professional.

    Thanks to our friend Phil C, we learned that the great fruit stand that was also across from the mission in Loreto, in 2009 was now only along Highway #1, just north of the divided part of the highway, about Km. 2.5. It is on the west side and you will see the tropical plants and signs for Coconut drinks, etc. It is called EL CAÑAVERAL and run by ‘Charley’. We ordered two fruit salads, and they were as amazing as we had remembered them from 2009. We also have a coconut horchata which was a great refresher in the hot, humid climate. The live iguana that we photographed in 2009 is no longer alive, but on display along with some other stuffed and live critters. Charley has several banners touting the nutritional value of the many fruits he serves in various preparations and drinks.

    We are on the road again at 11:30 am and climb over the Sierra Giganta then the long drop west to Ciudad Insurgetes, where the highway turns south and becomes a four lane road to Ciudad Constitucion, a large agricultural center on the Magdalena Plain. It is 175 miles from our fill up at Mulege, so we top the tank just so we don’t roll into La Paz on fumes, 126 more miles to the south. It is 1:18 pm when we leave the station in Constitucion. There were many reports of local police ticketing tourists for not fully stopping at the many signals going through town, or for speeding, or for nothing. We never saw a cop both times passing through this city. However, if stopped and you are certain you did not violate the law, then hold you ground, ask to go to the station and see the judge. Traffic fines are low in Mexico, despite what a cop may say to scare you into paying him a bribe. Chances are pretty high he will not waste any more time on you and look for weaker prey.

    We arrive in La Paz at 3:54 pm and before heading to Steve (Bajatripper) and Zully’s home, we have a look at the Malecon in La Paz. A malecon is a wide sidewalk along the sea or harbor, often a social gathering area at sundown when it cools a bit. We arrive at Bajatripper’s to find a note saying they went to Tecolote Beach to drop their daughter off, and would be back about the time we got there, and sure enough, just as we finished reading the note, they pulled up!

    Bajatripper (Steve) first lived in La Paz when his mother and step-father were doing archeological digs in southern Baja California, back in the early 1960’s. Look for scientific written works by William Massey and Lee de Massey.

    Today, Steve and Zully have a beautiful home with a guest house and swimming pool that had previously been built for a general, stationed in La Paz. They have been remodeling and landscaping it and their work is commendable. We would be spending five nights there, but the next four full days we were out seeing and doing so many great things!

    That evening, we all go out to the Malecon to see La Paz come alive as the sun sets! Viva La Paz!

    Now some photos:

    The first 7 at at Loreto’s EL CAÑAVERAL fruit salad paradise…

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    Back into the desert!

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    Arriving in La Paz…

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    ‘Bajatripper’ (Steve) and Zully

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    On the Malecon in La Paz…

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    Married 4 years this day…

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    What a great place!

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    Our first big tour day begins tomorrow, DAY 6, stay tuned!
     
  12. Aug 1, 2012 at 4:24 PM
    #12
    MightyMouse-SCT

    MightyMouse-SCT Well-Known Member

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    Nice thread . How did you like that insta tent . On my list of new supplies.
     
  13. Aug 1, 2012 at 4:56 PM
    #13
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    We loved it... Set it up 5 different times on this trip... Easy-Sneezy! Got it at Target on Sycamore, Vista... but that was several months ago.
     
  14. Aug 1, 2012 at 4:58 PM
    #14
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thursday, July19th (Day 6): Today Bajatripper drives (I can use a break) and our first stop is to pick up some burritos for breakfast on the road. We pull up in the village of San Pedro, about 15 miles south of La Paz and Zully orders several yummy treats for us. This seems to be a popular item as others are doing the same for a meal on the go.

    In a few more miles we climb into the tropical hills and arrive at El Triunfo, a gold and silver mine town born in 1862. The town grew to 10,000 inhabitants and was the largest town in Lower California for a short time. When a hurricane flooded the mines in 1918, activity had all but died here. The Boleo Company (of Santa Rosalia copper mine fame) tried to get operations going again, but gave up in 1926.

    The ore mill ruins and railroad bridges are interesting as well as the cobblestone streets in a now quiet town. We spend a lot of time looking around and taking photos (see them below). It is sure great to have Steve as a historic travel guide! Too many things are missed unless you slow down and take a closer look.

    About 4-5 miles from El Triunfo is the older mine town of San Antonio, started in 1756 by a Spaniard named Gaspar Pison. He was a rival to California first commercial mine operator, Manuel de Ocio who got a special permit to mine silver beginning in 1748, in an otherwise Jesuit controlled area. Ocio’s ore mill was called the ‘Real de Santa Ana’ and is about 7 miles south of San Antonio. The church in San Antonio was built around 1825 and is regarded as one of the best-looking colonial style church in Baja.

    The Real de Santa Ana was shown to me by the late Jimmy Smith of Los Barriles, San Ignacio, Baja racing, and flying fame. Jimmy told me back in 2001 that the Real de Santa Ana was one of his favorite places to visit. It is special in that it is the oldest mining operation in all of California and it took special efforts to get the Spanish Viceroy to over-ride the Jesuits’ power-hold over any foreign activity on the peninsula. Bajatripper had attempted to find it in the past, so I was happy to give something special to him.

    The access side road is only a couple miles down another dirt road off Highway 1, but a locked gate was soon reached, that wasn’t there 11 years ago at my last visit. We found someone nearby with a key, and thanks to Steve’s fluent Spanish and sincere desire to visit the site only for its historic importance, we gained entry and drove to the trailhead.

    Located in a tropical arroyo with mango, plum and flowering trees, it wasn’t long before we arrived at the first mill structure, continued to the second, then finally found the horno (oven) in which the silver was melted into ingots. While there, the sky darkened, and thunder and lightning entertained us. Steve found a small pitahaya fruit and Elizabeth got to taste one for the first time.

    Next stop, was San Bartolo which is perhaps the mango capital of Baja California! Mangos everywhere for sale and being dried and candied. We went across the arroyo to a spring fed swimming pool, very popular in the warm days. Fresh water pours out of the mountain here and it is all put to good use for the town and for recreation.

    Next stop is Los Barriles, and we have lunch at a BBQ place called Smokey’s . This was the first time on our trip we saw more than one American family in the same day, at the same place! Sadly, American tourism has dropped due to a combination of fear and economics. While I cannot due anything about our lack of income, I will tell you that Baja California is not a place where any foreign tourists need to fear. Crime and violence are typically near the border, on the mainland of Mexico, and between drug traffickers and law enforcement. Tourists are not a target, and you have a lot more to fear in your own city, north of the border.

    We now turn north, and follow the coastline on a dirt road, passing many beautiful homes (most for sale) and the Punta Pescadero Resort and airstrip. The road deteriorates the further north we go. One stop to look at the beach we find a sea turtle nest and her track to/from the water, very cool!

    We leave the coast and climb over a mountain and drop to the agricultural region of San Juan de los Planes. It is now dark, but we have a paved highway all the way back to La Paz (BCS #286).

    What a great day! More to come…

    Now, the photos:

    EL TRIUNFO:

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    Railroad bridge

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    Mine shaft… deep!

    SAN ANTONIO:

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    REAL DE SANTA ANA:

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    Walking from the road down the arroyo to the 1748 ruins.

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    Wild mangos…

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    Taste great!

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    Pitahaya Dulce, the native fruit so popular with all who have lived on the peninsula.

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    We arrive at the mill ruins.


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    The horno at Real de Santa Ana.

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    SAN BARTOLO:

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    COAST NORTH OF LOS BARRILES:

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    Punta Pescadero airstrip and resort.

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    View from water.

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    A fresh water spring on the beach?

    SUNSET near SAN JUAN de los PLANES:

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    More to come on Day 7...
     
  15. Aug 1, 2012 at 5:02 PM
    #15
    Rakso

    Rakso CeRaTi

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    Fantastic!!
     
  16. Aug 1, 2012 at 5:08 PM
    #16
    SoCalTacos

    SoCalTacos Penis Bird

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    subd...ive only driven as far as san felipe and this looks like a blast....gotta love baja!!
     
  17. Aug 1, 2012 at 5:26 PM
    #17
    BuckWells

    BuckWells Well-Known Member

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    Looks like a great trip!
     
  18. Aug 1, 2012 at 7:03 PM
    #18
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    A LOT MORE IS YET TO COME FRIENDS... stay tuned! ;)
     
  19. Aug 2, 2012 at 7:58 PM
    #19
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Friday, July 20th (Day 7): Today, much less driving as we have a visit to two museums in the city of La Paz and spend the afternoon at two beaches: La Balandra and Tecolote.

    Steve and Zully were our hosts and guides, as we toured two museums featuring Baja California Sur history. Next, we went to the plaque on a city side street placed by INAH as the possible location for the mission of La Paz, of which nothing remains. The modern church, a few blocks to the north is named as the mission by some books, but there is no connection in reality. Bajatripper has uncovered some evidence that the true location was even in a different place than the plaque, a bit more south? Later, we head to Bahia Balandra and walk out to the famous ‘mushroom rock’ a popular La Paz photo site.

    We then head north to Tecolote Beach, which looks across the San Lorenzo channel to Isla Espiritu Santo. Elizabeth and I go for a swim in the calm water as Steve and Zully watch from the beach… Soon Elizabeth says something has hit her arm and she describes the pain… then I get hit on the ankle… yep, jellyfish (agua mala). The single string kind, nothing you can easily see. The burning goes away later, but we know why Bajatripper and Zully, didn’t join us! LOL.

    That night, we have dinner at Bajatripper’s favorite hot dog cart, and they make more than hot dogs there. A big line forms soon after we order our burritos and hot dogs.

    Enjoy the photos:

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    On El Camino Real (photo in one museum)

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    The plaque at the INAH location for the La Paz mission.

    In the next museum:

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    The flag of William Walker’s Republic of Lower California and Sonora (he claimed to be president of)

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    El Triunfo

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    A sugar cane press (Todos Santos history)

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    Some interesting items… read the following…

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    We stop by a tile shop, and see some wild bathroom fixtures…

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    Bahia Balandra:

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    Baja Angel, my joy and love…

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    On Tecolote Beach

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    Hot Dog Stand, Baja Style!

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    End of Day 7 and Week #1 of our Big Baja Trip 2012... There is a whole lot more, and some big surprises yet to come… stay tuned as tomorrow, we go south to Cabo and beyond!
     
  20. Aug 2, 2012 at 9:58 PM
    #20
    Hardscrabble

    Hardscrabble Well-Known Member

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    David,
    Wow, awesome pictures and write up! :thumbsup:
    I've never been to Baja but have always wanted to go.
    I'm reading it all and learning a lot. Thank you.
    Looking forward to the rest of the trip.
     
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