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The Baja Extreme 2016

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by David K, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. Sep 21, 2016 at 7:05 AM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    Hello Amigos,

    This will be a few days and several posts to complete, so be patient. I have over 400 photos to try and pick a few out of to give you all a taste of what I saw!

    In addition, most of the other 7 members of The Baja Extreme also took photos and videos, so as they get theirs uploaded, I will be adding much better pictures than what I have taken (I am sure)!

    I will try to post the trip by the day, as each day was a fun filled adventure and that will help to add more photos for those days by others... I am thinking that will keep the trip report organized so that any of you can follow along ion person or on that Baja wall map you have.

    The four wheel drive vehicles and members of The Baja Extreme:

    Toyota Tacoma TRD OFF ROAD: David and Pat
    Toyota Land Cruiser Wagon: Jesse and Marland
    Toyota 4Runner: Christine and Nick
    Toyota FJ Cruiser: Ham and Jerry

    Photo from Shari at Bahia Asuncion

    Our nights from Friday Sept. 9th to Sunday Sept. 18th:
    9th) Shell Island (near Laguna Percebu)
    10th) Mission San Borja
    11th) Camp Archelon, L.A. Bay
    12th) La Huerta Motel, San Ignacio
    13th) Concepcion Peninsula
    14th) La Perla, Bahia Concepcion
    15th & 16th) Shari's La Bufadora Inn, Bahia Asuncion
    17th) Las Pintas (7 miles off Punta San Carlos road, 17 miles from Mex 1)
    18th) Ron's Oyster Farm, near San Quintin


    The plan...

    I named it The Baja Extreme for very good reason... it was extremely fun, tough, tasty (Jesse is an executive chef at a 4 Seasons hotel), and entertaining for us all.

    I had been contacted by Pat (who met me at my book PowerPoint lecture for Discover Baja Travel Club in July) to take him to see missions and rock art sites, that the others wanted to see on their 11 day Baja expedition (most had never been to Baja before).

    Anyway, they liked my suggestions which incorporated 2 key things Chef Jesse wanted to do: Drive to the end of the Concepcion Peninsula and go to as many seafood sources as possible so he could work his magic with prepping meals for us! That meant (to me) taking them to Bahia Asuncion, La Lobera, and Ron's (Baja Gringo) oyster farm at San Quintin Bay. Jesse had begun Facebook chatting with Ron and Shari, so all was in play.

    We had really too much Baja and almost not enough time ("so much Baja, so little time") to get all this done! They were all full of energy and didn't mind the schedule, which we were able to follow almost without altering...

    Here was what I designed (I will detail what changed in the forthcoming trip report):

    This plan is just a suggested guide. Conditions and personal input can and will change what we do. Hurricanes or tropical rains (Chubascos) may very well keep us off the Concepcion Peninsula. Some places may beg us to stay longer just as likely as some will chase us away. It wouldn't be an adventure if everything went 'by the book'!

    Sept. 9 Friday (300 miles from Escondido):

    To Shell Island via Mexicali. 150 miles from the border. Quick look at San Felipe.

    You guys very well may like Shell Island so much, you will want to stay a full day here and practice you deep sand driving too. Knock off the free day at L.A. Bay if we stay. There is no place else like this! But, if we leave the next morning...

    Sept. 10 Saturday (190-240 miles, 75-100 dirt):

    To Gonzaga Bay (quick look at the bay), Coco's Corner, Calamajué Mission, Montevideo Painted Cliff, San Borja Mission. Maybe camp at San Borja or Montevideo, if late. On to L.A. Bay, if early enough (4-5 pm or sooner).

    Sept. 11 Sunday Free Day (0-50 miles, mostly dirt):

    Explore L.A. Bay (Bahia de los Angeles) or relax. Many sites like La Gringa, El Toro, Las Flores, and a great little museum should not be missed, either!

    Sept. 12 Monday (190 miles +?, 140+ miles are dirt):

    Big dirt driving day, all but about 50 miles. Possible sites: Las Animas, San Rafael, Giant Painted Cave, Pozo Aleman ghost town, Mission Santa Gertrudis?, Mission San Ignacio. I think a motel night in San Ignacio (La Huerta) would be appreciated, but camping is available too. If early (3 pm), Mulegé is about 2 hours away.

    Sept. 13 Tuesday (155 miles, 32 dirt):

    Down the Tres Virgenes volcano to the Sea of Cortez we go. Santa Rosalia has the church designed by Eiffel himself. Mulege is the Hawaii of Baja. A quick look at the 1705 founded mission is in order and great photo spot you won't want to miss is behind the mission of the river and jungle below! On to Bahia Concepcion with its many beaches. Maybe a stop for a cheeseburger and beer at Mark and Olivia's Playa Buenaventura Bar? El Requeson and La Perla beach camps are just a mile south. Take a quick look or camp here? Otherwise... go to the end of the 25-mile- long bay and across to the other side, and 30 off road miles up to the point.

    Sept. 14 Wednesday Free Day (0-10 miles dirt):

    Fun and relax day on the bay. Side trip to the WWII manganese mine ruins, 5 miles away.

    Sept. 15 Thursday (295 miles, 90 dirt):

    Big day as we drive across Baja to the Pacific coast seeing Punta Abreojos, La Bocana, San Hipolito and end up at Bahia Asuncion. Shari is our host here at Campo Serina and La Bufadora Inn. Seafood capital of central Baja!

    Sept. 16 Friday Free Day (0-20 dirt miles):

    Fun day, fishing, swimming, surfing, diving, eating seafood, hunting for fossil sharks teeth, all at Bahia Asuncion!

    Sept. 17 Saturday (355 miles, 25 dirt):

    Big drive day to Guerrero Negro, Cataviña, Mission San Fernando, Las Pintas fossil grotto. Camp at Las Pintas or go on to Baja Cactus Motel in El Rosario.

    Sept. 18 Sunday (80 miles, 40 dirt):

    If at Las Pintas, we go to El Rosario (can see one mission site, right off the highway, in town), get gas tanks filled up, go to La Lobera sea lion crater/ seafood growers, go to San Quintin and meet Ron of the oyster farm. Camp at small, beachside campground.

    Sept. 19 Monday (200 miles):

    San Quintin to Tecate Border, possible stops at missions, Ensenada, Guadalupe Valley wineries??? Or, we've done so much Baja in 11 days, we can save what we didn't see for next time! If we get to the border early in the afternoon, the wait may be less than a half hour... if later, over 2 hours possible, but usually not at Tecate.

    FRIDAY SEPT. 9, 2016:
    We met at the Calexico Pep Boys (Ken Cooke's Pole Line Road meeting spot) at 11 am.


    Arrived in San Felipe a little after 2 pm (one stop in the desert to stretch our legs).

    Filled the gas tanks and Jerry cans we brought.

    Showed them the Malecon and we had tacos then searched for some seafood to cook later in the trip... found corvina for sale and Chef Jesse was stoked!

    On to Shell Island, set up camp, and went swimming in the wonderfully warm sea.

    For the first dinner, Chef had made Chile Verde... melt in your mouth tender!




    SAT. SEPT. 10, 2016:
    The air was so perfect, I didn't use my tent and had slept under the stars on my cot. The beach was so inviting but everyone was anxious to see more Baja, right away! More is exactly what they would get!

    Once packed we did a cruise to the end of the island which is across the lagoon from Percebu.







    I let Pat experience sand driving for the three miles south to where the road to Highway 5 meets the beach (at low tide). During the highest monthly tides, it will be underwater, as it really is an island!

    Our camp is near the umbrella on this map.

    Once the tires were aired back up (pressure dropped to 20 psi from 35, in my case, for sand driving) we head for the highway. Christine's 4Runner (with Nick driving) is on the section that is underwater at the highest tides (full and new moon).



    Heading south, we pass Puertecitos on the highway and make a stop to see the Enchanted Islands at the Km. 99 viewpoint.

    (this photo from 2 months earlier)

    We arrive at Gonzaga Bay, top our gas tanks, go to the Rancho Grande market (I buy a hat), then drive to the shore of the bay for a quick look.




    On south, the pavement still ends 20 1/2 kms. south of the gas station, but there is work on the road and unlike 2 months previous when I was here, you can now drive on one of the new bridges.




    Parked next to a Hilux at Coco's:


    Chef Jesse with Coco. He brought some gifts for the famous Coco.

    Marland greets Coco.

    Cameron and his Trail of Missions tour was here in June.


    Coco makes a hanger to add a bottle of Born and Bred American Vodka to his ceiling. Born and Bred Vodka is being promoted by Marland for his Hollywood buddy Channing Tatum (they were both in the movie Magic Mike, 2012).


    We leave Coco and head east for Calamajué mission, gold mill, and water run canyon...

    Pat jogs ahead to get a video of the caravan of 4 Toyotas.

    Arroyo Calamajué

    Gold ore mill ruins.

    Jesse, Christine and Nick

    Coming down the grade to the arroyo.

    Not much left of the mission church, here from October 16, 1766 to May of 1767 when the bad water of Calamajué forced the mission to move and be renamed Santa María de los Angeles.

    A pretty side valley is passed going up the canyon.




    Hitch hiker!

    Dancing boojums!


    We reached Hwy. 1 at El Crucero. The ranch that was just out of sight of the highway is gone, no more gate to open and close (as in 2012).

    On the road to San Borja...



    We tour the hot spring and water source for the mission orchard.

    Dinner tonight was Corvina Gumbo. It was outstanding!!!

    Facilities for camping at Mission San Borja are palapas, flush toilets, and showers! The bathrooms are located behind the palapas, facing the orchard (I didn't know they were there before José showed us). Camping fee was 50 pesos per person (under $3). The family of José will guide you to the hot springs and to the mission for a small gratuity. They are available for longer tours to rock art sites and even up to the San Juan mine if you give them some advance notice. José's son has email (I will add).



    To be continued... Montevideo and Bahia de los Angeles next!
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  2. Sep 21, 2016 at 12:32 PM

    eccracer104 O.G. Member

    Apr 9, 2008
    First Name:
    San Diego, CA
    2016 Tundra 4x4
    Wow! Great pictures David :thumbsup: Looks like an awesome trip
  3. Sep 21, 2016 at 12:54 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    Thanks, just wait... the best is yet to come!
    eccracer104[QUOTED] likes this.
  4. Sep 21, 2016 at 2:05 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    Day 3 of 11, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016:

    Mission San Borja, with the sun up...
    Founded in 1762 by Jesuit missionaries at a hot spring called Adac by the natives, the only source of water to provide for a mission in the region. The stone church was constructed by the Dominicans who took over the mission program in 1773. The stone mission work ended in 1801, before a bell tower could be added. The number of Indians had dropped to so few that in 1818 the mission was closed. It remains open and repaired for the few area Mexican visitors and tourists who will drive the 22 mile dirt road to see this, the most northern of the Baja California stone missions. The Franciscan and Jesuit adobe ruins are behind the stone church, partially protected with an awning added 16 years ago.





    Pat heading to the roof.







    Where we camped.

    Chef Jesse



    José, our host at San Borja.
  5. Sep 21, 2016 at 9:43 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    Ham just produced the YouTube video he made of our trip, just under 7 minutes... which isn't near enough to capture 11 days in Baja!


    Video includes:
    San Felipe
    Shell Island
    Gonzaga Bay (Rancho Grande beach)
    Coco's Corner
    San Borja
    L.A. Bay (Camp Archelon)
    Arroyo Calamajué
    Painted Cave (near El Arco)
    Pozo Aleman
    San Ignacio (Motel La Huerta)
    Playa Buenaventura (Bahia Concepcion)
    The Concepcion Peninsula
    La Perla (Bahia Concepcion)
    Arroyo Tres Marias (Concepcion Peninsula)
    Bahia Asuncion (Independence Day street fiesta +)
    Playa Loma surfing beach
    Las Pinta Fossil Grotto (and pizza night)
    La Lobera sea lion crater
    Ron's Oyster Farm and my birthday cake surprise!
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
    RogueTRD, Soul Surfer and eccracer104 like this.
  6. Sep 21, 2016 at 9:44 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    More trip report coming!
  7. Sep 22, 2016 at 2:42 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    DAY 3 continued...

    WE leave San Borja on a beautiful morning after a wonderful tour of the mission church. A full day (or more) could easily be spent at San Borja with such a wonderful family as guides. (Remind me to post the email address to contact them, if I forget)




    Northbound, I am showing my passenger how smoothly the Tacoma glides over these roads, and pull over at a fork near Rancho Agua de Higuera (new ranch on the site) to wait for the others to catch up... when I back up closer to the fork I passed, it feels odd... I discover I have a flat, but only let air out when the tire was in one position (I filled it and it held, but when I rolled a few feet, the air whooshed out... a sidewall gash). On goes the spare to go to L.A. Bay.

    First, we go the 6+ miles to see the painted cliff at Montevideo.
















    OK OK... Baja just keeps giving and giving... and the members of The Baja Extreme are again blown away by how much natural and man-made wonders are to be found on this magical peninsula!

    On to Bahia de los Angeles...
  8. Sep 22, 2016 at 3:26 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags

    Camp Archelon http://www.archeloncamp.com.mx/






    China's (say: Chee-nah) Tacos and on Sunday: Birria!


    For dinner, Chef Jesse makes chicken and waffles (pancakes, actually) and it was incredible how well the chicken cooked fresh in camp (tender, juicy) and with jalapeño-maple syrup... really amazing talent!

    We had a great night, no bugs, and Archelon palapas each come with a pair of large canvas cots to sleep under the stars or in a palapa. The rate was 100 pesos per person ($5.62 at the rate we got pesos for). They have flush toilets and showers. I would definitely come here to camp again... and it has a sand beach, too!

    It is about 8 am and I go to the tire shop across from the Xitlali market (near the end of pavement, where the dirt road to Punta San Francisquito turns left. My tire is fixable! I feared it was a goner, but I guess it was close enough to the tread section, the answer was "No problema" and a patch was applied... and it lasted right to today.. and beyond? Pepe Smith was there just socializing with the owner (one of Papa Diaz' kids, I think).

    We then went to the museum, but it was closed at 9 am, so I showed the gang the outside stuff and explained about the San Juan mine on top of the mountain... the cable tram bucket system and railroads at the top and bottom that brought the ore to Las Flores for processing into gold and silver ingots.







    An arrastra (hand operated ore mill)


    Las Flores train engine

    The train car behind the engine is from the mountain top San Juan railroad and is a different gauge (why it doesn't fit on the same track).

    Our Hollywood celeb, Marland Burke (Model, in Magic Mike, and on TV)


    Las Flores... the jailhouse is the only intact building of a once thriving town. The train engine came from here, now in the L.A. Bay town plaza.

    Heading south, on a recently graded road... very fast!
    Atlastrekker and Soul Surfer like this.
  9. Sep 22, 2016 at 3:45 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    Poncho's Place, Bahia San Rafael...




    Poncho makes good use of a BFG All Terrain TA!





    So, I asked Poncho if I could get the word out of anything he might need (he has no vehicle since some meth heads stole his truck)... and he responded that while his solar panels give him power during the day for radio and his refrigerator/ freezer, his batteries were shot and all three no longer held a charge so he is in the dark at night. Here is a photo of two of them (I am not sure how many he needs, if more than one?).



    Poncho keeps his place super clean and decorated. He protects the turtle eggs from coyotes when they are in the beach sand, he tells us.


    Poncho gives a gift of sea shells to the two females in our group. Everyone is blown away by how humble this man is and does not complain about his situation in life, alone here.

    Time to move on down the road...



    Natural or man-made? >>>



    There are a few detours on the trip.


    We do not go to San Francisquito today... just so much Baja... and so little time!

    More great roads!

    Cuesta de la Ley grade is now concrete!



    Looking south from the graded road, this is EL CAMINO REAL, the King's Highway (Royal Road) from about 1759 to 1930s when autombobles arrived in Baja, replacing mules and burros.


    To be continued!
    Atlastrekker and Soul Surfer like this.
  10. Sep 23, 2016 at 7:02 AM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    Many parts of the old mission Camino Real have been overlayed with an automobile road, as it did take the most direct route between missions, visitas, and sources for water. The newest section of Highway 5, near Coco's Corner is being built on top of some of the mission road... just as much of Highway 1 was between El Rosario and Tijuana.

    It isn't long before we arrive at the parking spot for the steep 1/2 mile climb to see the northernmost example of giant cave art (that we know of). I need to let some of them know that flip-flops are not appropriate footwear, and once everyone is in boots, I show them the trail up and let them go on ahead to experience the thrill that my wife and I experienced here, 4 years ago.

    Marland takes a photo of the rest of the group...





    Zoom of the vehicles below.

    Next, we go to Pozo Alemán which was an active gold mine town in the early 1900s where some miners lived underground to escape the heat.






    Read about the history of Pozo Alemán in this new article I wrote for Baja Bound: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/pozo_aleman.php
    Atlastrekker and Soul Surfer like this.
  11. Sep 23, 2016 at 9:09 AM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    Going from Pozo Alemán south, we connected to the El Arco-Santa Gertrudis road via a direct short cut... only I got onto an older version of the short cut and we were on some old mine claim tracks before reaching the well graded road that heads east to the mission.

    Nick (driving the red 4Runner) radios that his alternator light is on, so we decide to skip the Santa Gertrudis mission and turn south to Highway 1 on the road through Guillermo Prieto, as the sun goes low in the sky.

    Guillermo Prieto was once a large farm center, and I was here in 2001 seeing an active community and kids playing. In 2012, the place was abandoned and last week, a new goat farm had been established there with goats running about the empty homes and play yard equipment.

    Reaching Highway 1, we pumped up the tires for highway driving (from 25 psi up to 35 psi for me) and went the 7+ miles to Vizcaíno, which has become a huge center, and as we would discover, one of the best auto parts stores in Baja! First, we got gas... after stopping by one parts store north of the station, but didn't have the alternator.

    Gas at the north station, 166 miles from Bahia de los Angeles fill up, at 7:24 pm MST, 600 pesos, 43 liters, 15 mpg all off pavement at lowered pressure, except for 7 miles.

    Across the highway and just a little south was the Pro One auto parts store, and wow did they amaze us! They had the Toyota alternator for the 4Runner, as well as some other things Nick wanted to get... We drove back to the Pemex and in the yard behind the station, in less time it took to buy it, Nick had replaced the alternator with a new one. That was the end of that issue.

    Now dark, the gang was concerned about night driving the 40-some miles to San Ignacio, in the dark. Some may have still not been convinced that the horror stories of Mexico travel were hokum. The only concern would be range cattle and burros on the road. We saw both but drove cautiously. No banditos, no drug cartels, no crooked cops, and no chupacabras!

    We arrived at the La Huerta Motel, only one other car was there. Pat and I each got a room (550 pesos, under $31) but the others preferred to camp next to their trucks in the parking lot by the animal cages, and negotiated with the clerk for a camping fee, which seemed to really shock her when the rooms were so nice and inviting!

    It all worked out well, we all had a great sleep following Chef Jesse's fantastic pulled pork dinner!

    Coming up next, Day 5: Mission San Ignacio, Santa Rosalia, Mission at Mulegé, Bahia Concepcion, Playa Buenaventura rocks us with food and drinks, the far side of the bay, and a long, scratchy night!

    Atlastrekker and Soul Surfer like this.
  12. Sep 23, 2016 at 11:31 AM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    DAY 5 (TUE. 9-13-16)

    We pack up at La Huerta, get more ice at the store in front of the motel (they are building a restaurant on the motel grounds now), and drive the short distance to the town plaza to have breakfast and tour the mission, founded in 1728.







    We got a private tour of the mission workshop and saw some artifacts not yet on public display.



    Leaving town, we see what was missed coming into town in the dak, last night.



    Ham lost a bolt holding a part of his aftermarket suspension to the axle so at Santa Rosalia we stopped at the Pro One auto parts store and Nick and the others went into action.


    Located north of the harbor, on the sea side of the highway.

    In less than an hour, we arrive at Mulegé and tour the 4th California Spanish mission, founded in 1705!



    Mulegé is often called the Hawaii of Baja...



    Heading south, we get gasoline and are off to Bahia Concepcion.
    Jesse's wish on this trip was to go to the end of the Concepcion Peninsula, no matter what... and while I was concerned that Hurricane Newton may have done the road in, as it has Hwy. 1 in a few places, I was willing to go, as I also always wanted to see the other side. Some painted cliffs are over there, too.

    First, however, I wanted to take all of them to see Mark & Olivia's Playa Buenaventura Bar and Restuarant. Mark's son, Nathan has been really a big help and a major asset to the two after so much hell was done to them by the thug who once had the hotel next door... which was given to Mark & Olivia by the court as a small restitution for years of harassment they endured.




    We had a great meal of cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches and Marland had a chicken sandwich. It all arrived at the same time... an amazing thing at some Baja eateries!

    In the next addition, we go to the other side of the bay, and north on the Concepcion Peninsula!
    Atlastrekker and Soul Surfer like this.
  13. Sep 23, 2016 at 11:45 AM

    el_turks Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2015
    Southern California
    2009 PreRunner
    KOs 285,
    This is bad ass y muy chingon.. at the same time...!!!
    David K[OP] likes this.
  14. Sep 23, 2016 at 4:09 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    Yes, there are roads on the peninsula that creates the Bay of Concepcion... ranches, too... and a WWII Manganese mine on the east side of the north end.

    Erle Stanley Gardner was curious, but in 1966, he got no answers. He decided it would become a quest! I will write more about it in a future article...

    In the November 1991 issue of Baja Explorer Magazine, Bob Vinton (aka Bicycle Bob or Baja Bob) details the road as do Tom and Patti Higginbotham in their 1996 central Baja guidebook, 'Backroad Baja'. So, we weren't flying blind into the unknown. Heck, the AAA Baja map even shows the road, as do the Baja Almanac map books.

    Mark at Playa Buenaventura gave us the latest scoop in that the original road around the bottom of the bay at Km. 76 should be avoided due to a mud field near the abandoned government trailer park. Go another mile south or so, to the newer ranch road left (just north of Km. 74).

    That is exactly what we did, and deflated our tires for some serious off roading that would last until midnight!

    Leaving Highway One, our new off road adventure begins!

    These mileages may vary with your odometer, use them only as a general guide. May the Force be with you!

    A cattle ranch is passed at 0.4 mile.
    At Mile 1.0 we join the old, pre-1970 main Baja road, that comes in from Km. 76 off Mex. 1.
    At Mile 3.7 the main route of travel forks left for the bay.
    At Mile 4.7 the road closest to the bay from the trailer park comes in from the left.
    At Mile 5.6 fork to the left heading north.
    At Mile 6.6 the road is next to the bay and going northbound.
    At Mile 8.2 a road we used on the return (Ham's Shortcut) meets the coast road.
    At Mile 9.9 (just north of three cardón cactus growing side-by-side (and called The Three Musketeers) is the wash/ route to Los Pintados rock art. On the report for tomorrow, learn how we missed finding it and what we found instead!
    Around Mile 13, the road goes inland as the coastline curves off to the west.
    Mile 15 come close to the bay again briefly, then head towards the mountain.
    Mile 16.8, curve left and head back downhill towards the bay.
    Mile 19.4, reach a salt flat-like area near Punta Amolares. We camped near here about midnight
    Mile 25 End of the road for us, a "grand canyon" gully stops us about 11pm+

    We estimate we are about 7-8 miles short of our goal, a sandy beach called either "Santo Domingo" or "Los Hornitos" on maps. The manganese mine road is a mile south of that beach.

    We head back south to find a suitable place to set up our tents and get some needed rest. We go back south 5.6 miles and find a big flat near a gravel beach, and all is good at Punta Amolares.







    The rest of us went a bit more to the right and had no problem on this mud flat.







    To be continued, with Day 6!
    Atlastrekker and Soul Surfer like this.
  15. Sep 23, 2016 at 9:47 PM

    HBMurphy Ban Pending

    Jun 27, 2009
    First Name:
    So California Coast
    09 Off Road Delete Model
    <<<~~~ this guy is jelly.
  16. Sep 24, 2016 at 10:06 AM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    DAY 6 (WED. SEPT. 14, 2016):

    We are camped on a salt flat-like area not far from the shore of the bay... a narrow line of low shrub is all that is between us and the water, a few hundred feet away. Chef Jesse makes us an egg, bacon, and cheese scramble which we devoured with pleasure! It was a long, tough night drive so we were not in any hurry to get up, and the breakfast was greatly appreciated. My passenger, Pat, likes fresh-brewed coffee and I have my camp stove set up each morning for him to percolate a pot. He has brought Starbucks, and it was quite good even for me as a not so big coffee drinker.

    We all walk to the shore and Nick goes snorkeling in the warm water. A puffer fish calmly swims to us (see it in Ham's video). We are finally heading back south at 12:45pm heading back. I should mention that the road north of Amorales (where we camped) is very overgrown and not been used in ages except perhaps for motorcycles! All of us got tons of "Baja pin stripes" last night! In the video, you can see the brush lit by Ham's amber lamps that we drove through, twice. [I got my truck 'clayed' in a detail job two days ago to remove the scratches. Only one was too deep to rub out.]

    In my notes, I note that we passed through a fence gate 4.8 miles southbound from camp at 1:21 pm (closing it after we all pass through, of course). We pass a Ford Courier or Ranger truck coming north on the road driven by a rancher, friendly waves are exchanged... and we admire that his truck is 2WD and travels frequently on what we would call a 4WD only road... LOL!

    We reach the Arroyo los Pintados 'road' at Mile 16 from camp... and there are no tracks, just the arroyo north of the Three Musketeer cardón cacti.

    There is a fork in the wash in 0.7 mile and I take the left branch (which was correct for the painted cliff), but the wash route becomes difficult and we turn around after 0.4 mile and head for the right branch... and sure enough I see tire ruts, so we think we are on the correct route. I did not have the GPS for the painted cliff, and was just winging it. Where we ended up going was fascinating and proves that in Baja, all roads go someplace interesting!

    Well, the right branch road climbs out of the arroyo and there is a steep down-and-up gully. Nick is lead rig and it takes him a few tries... we toss in some rocks to help us bigger vehicles not bottom-out the rear end. We drop into another arroyo (Tres Marías) and go up it and soon are in a running stream! I love seeing water in the desert and it shows you (if you get away from main roads and into the backcountry) how the Indians could survive in an otherwise waterless land.

    Where the canyon narrows and further driving is halted we see what looks like a man-hole plate on top of a well, a few feet higher than the arroyo floor. There is a concrete foundation on the side of the arroyo and just ahead is a side ravine (that the water is coming from) with a fence along the side of the slope... very odd? We walk to see where the water is pouring out of solid rock and it is an amazing place (to me)!

    Investigating the concrete foundation, we read it is from 'Pancho Arce, June 14, 2001' and this is (was) 'Rancho Tres Marías'. We are about 4 miles from the bay shore road (it seems a lot longer).

    Coming back, Ham spots an old road that will allow us to avoid the deep gully and we turn left out of Arroyo Tres Marías and cross over to Arroyo Luis (on the Almanac map). Ham had spent weeks downloading GoogleEarth images of the area of Baja we hoped to see and had a screen in his FJ with the GPS of his truck and that is how he found the cut across road! We reached the bay shore road about 5 miles from Rancho Tres Marías site. We were back at Highway One in 7.2 more miles, on the same road we took the day before.

    Before I get into the next part of Day 6 (Campo La Perla), here are maps and photos...

    The beach at Punta Amolares:



    Looking across the bay:



    Our camp:


    A surprise INSIDE my truck!!!


    Jesse's Land Cruiser:


    One more walk to the water...



    Our camp from the near the water...


    The drive back south...



    Big lizard...




    Osprey on cardón:


    Arroyo Tres Marías:









    Pat on the foundation.


    Ham's GPS track. Note the short left fork, which was the correct direction for Los Pintados.

    I traced the roads on GE, where we returned to the bay shore road was just south of the road I traced.

    Red arrows for drive in and blue for drive out.


    To be continued...
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
    Atlastrekker and Soul Surfer like this.
  17. Sep 24, 2016 at 4:02 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    We reach Hwy. 1 (just north of Km. 74) and fill up our tires to street pressure (35 psi for my Tacoma on the Hankooks). We turn right and head north. We have a late afternoon on a sandy beach, at Campo La Perla. The place was deserted and the hurricane only did some damage to one palapa.

    A room with a view...


    Nick and Christine are the first to get in the bay...



    Thursday Morning... DAY 7 Sept. 15, 2016





    El Requeson...


    Isla el Requeson...



    We stop in at Playa Buenaventura to check in with Nathan, Mark, and Olivia...


    Heading north for Mulegé, we pull over to get some premium shots of Bahia el Coyote (a small bay in Bahia Concepcion), those famous sea level palm trees (photos of them just above the sea date back to the 1940s), and it is a premium photo location, used for book covers over the past 40 years...





    1971 book cover:


    The pre-paved highway main road to La Paz...


    We go into old town Mulegé to get some ice and anything else needed and to show the Baja newbies what it looks like there. On the highway heading north, we have a couple of detours from the hurricane of the previous week but are not an issue for any car.

    BANDITOS!!! ???

    Between Santa Rosalia and San Ignacio, between the big grades, was a van on the left with children and a woman. They were waving for help, holding an empty water gallon bottle and a siphon hose, yelling "gasolina"!

    It looked much like the scam reported near El Rosario, but I radioed the others it seemed okay and it was up to them if they wanted to stop (it was a busy highway). They opted to get a dose of good Karma and pulled over to help... providing the van with three gallons of Premium (as the backup fuel for the super-charged Land Cruiser I-6 engine). After giving gas, I told the woman, who kept her face hidden with a scarf, that we wanted them to start the van and we would follow them to San Ignacio to make sure they got there safely. She refused, coming up with excuses and saying her husband had "papers" she was waiting for, yadda yadda yadda. I asked her if she was sick (TB?) and that is why she had her face covered. She said yes, but most likely it was because of all the filming and photos many were taking of her!

    We topped our tanks at San Ignacio and pulled across the highway for some carne quesadillas. They were so good we asked for another round... sadly, we cleaned her out of meat on the first order!

    The highway to Punta Abreojos was the worst paved road of the trip, filled with potholes for much of the distance. We went to the end of town and came back on the malecon paved street, then turned left to use the salt flat road to La Bocana and on to Bahia Asuncion (our goal for today).

    Beach at Punta Abreojos.

    Salt flat road (thank goodness the sea level hasn't risen, yet!)

    Ham is leading the way and misses the correct route through La Bocana, and we tour the town dump!

    Passing through San Hipolito.

    We next pass through Punta Prieta, and I note how much the village has grown since I was last through here in 2007.

    Between Punta Prieta and Bahia Asuncion, Jesse (in the Land Cruiser) is hearing a front end noise. I stop, and as he rolls in behind me, I can see his wheel wobble a bit!


    Out comes the jack and the tire indeed is wobbling when manually shaken. Jesse had a private mechanic put a new bearing in that wheel... and as Nick soon discovered, left out important washers!!! Nick tightens it up and it remains good for the next two days. On the way north, we stop in that great Pro One auto parts store in Vizcaíno and they have a kit of the two washers that Jesse's mechanic forgot to replace! We stop in two days at El Crucero and Jesse correctly installs the washer and lock washer and uses a torque wrench (bought at Pro One also) to correctly tighten the axle nut.

    We arrive at Juan & Shari's La Bufadora Inn (Bahia Asuncion)...




    Jesse had communicated with Shari on Facebook before the trip and asked her what she would like from up north... and delivered them to her.

    After seeing the incredible rooms, we all elect to stay in the rooms at Shari's instead of camping at the campground. A big meal is planned for the next night. We stay in Asuncion two nights.

    Viva Baja!

    It is the eve of Mexican Independence and we join Shari going into town to celebrate. The night was a hit with lots of good cultural exchange between our group and the people of Asuncion. Jesse had the best tamales and incredible empanadas served on the street. See Ham's video for more of the fiesta that included fireworks, the first year they replaced gunfire, Shari tells us!


    Continued with Day 7 (Friday) at Playa Loma, San Roque, Fossil hills, and food feast that night!
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  18. Sep 24, 2016 at 6:34 PM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    DAY 8 FRIDAY SEPT. 16, Independence Day 2016

    We head out with Shari to go to the surfer's beach, Playa Loma, on the way to San Roque.

    See Ham's video for more. Nick catches some waves along with the local boys.

    San Roque...

    The once ruined church has been brought back to life!



    Neither Ham or his sister, Jerry, know how to swim... so they get lessons and have a blast!







    Dinner is delivered! I buy one of the yellowtail just caught so Jesse and Shari have the makings for fresh sashimi!

    What is amazing as to how professional Jesse whips up a multi sushi meal for 13 people with several different seafood ingredients from Shari and Juan and the boat at San Roque. Can you tell Shari is happy?



    The owner of the Asuncion restaurant (Mari) Tomás and his family join us. He brings fresh herbs and assists the prep.



    We eat and party well... then a second wonderful sleep at La Bufadora Inn. I am in the Rock room (where Baja Angel and I stayed in 2012, last time here). Thank you, Shari!

    I think there may be future visitors or even homeowners for Asuncion from this group!

    Here is a map of the Vizcaino Peninsula in central-west Baja California, and the road to Asuncion from Highway 1 (the town of Vizcaino is at the junction). The road is all paved since this map was made. San Roque is just a few miles up the coast from Bahia Asuncion.

    A big day driving north to the Las Pintas Fossil Grotto is next!
    Soul Surfer likes this.
  19. Sep 25, 2016 at 10:53 AM
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    Pala Mesa, California
    2010 4WD Off Road DC
    Differential Breather Mod Light Bar: 4 Cree LED lamps Bilstein 5100s Ride Rite Air Bags
    DAY 9 (SAT. SEPT. 17, 2016)

    Shari has up line-up our Toyotas for a leaving photo. We exchange hugs and I think some of my friends will be back...


    Shari's photo with names added:


    The new Pemex at Bahia Asuncion gets our business, but since they have no air line (I found out the day before when I topped my tank), we did air back up at Shari's with our own pumps.

    The paved road from Asuncion to Hwy. 1 at Vizcaino is excellent (in 2012 there was a section of pot holes) and makes the drive easy, for a change.

    At the Eagle Monument (near Guerrero Negro) state border, there is a big stop sign for the INM office inspection, but nobody is there to look at the tourist cards we purchased. We stop for some photos of the 140 foot tall eagle, constructed to commemorate the completion of paved Highway One on December 1, 1973. The president of Mexico was here to "cut the ribbon". Now, a military base has set up at the monument and trees block much of it from view. It was supposed to be a museum (there's and underground room) of Baja history there, and many donated items to display (including some from the late Mama Espinoza). Who knows what happened to all of them?

    The 28° North Parallel of latitude and border between the two states that make up the peninsula of Baja California.


    Looking south after passing the monument...


    We are in the state of Baja California and back on Pacific Time (so we get back the hour we lost driving south).



    The junction to Bahia de los Angeles (the power lines from Guerrero Negro head east for the bay here). No new work yet on the future Pemex station signed (to the right of my truck in the photo above this one).

    We had decided to take a lunch break, and the pull off at El Crucero came up at about 12:30. This is where we reached pavement coming south from Gonzaga Bay and Calamajué mission on Day 2. As I mentioned on that day, the ranch at El Crucero (located just out of sight from the highway) was abandoned. Here is the road north from El Crucero (a major pit area when the Baja 1000 passes this place).


    Before the road from Laguna Chapala to Puerto Calamajué was built in 1983, this was the south end of "Hwy. 5" south from San Felipe!

    There is one tree at El Crucero, so we gather around it... Jesse has begun feeling the front hub acting up so they use the opportunity to install the washers they bought at Pro One in Vizcaino to replace those left out by Jesse's mechanic when he had a new bearing installed before the trip.



    Note Hwy. 1 in the background where it bends around the base of a hill.

    We pass slowly through Cataviña and make a stop at Rancho Sonora (by the El Marmol junction) to look at and maybe buy some onyx curios (wind chimes, figurines, gifts).

    Next, a brief stop at the new military checkpoint at San Agustin (located by the long ago abandoned Pemex station).

    At the abandoned El Progreso Café we turn left for the 2.5 mile dirt road to see Mission San Fernando de Velicatá, the first California mission founded by Junípero Serra in May 1769 on his long journey from Loreto to occupy the ports of San Diego and Monterey, for the King of Spain.


    Pat at San Fernando.

    The goal for this afternoon is the fossil grotto and petroglyph site of Las Pintas. I had not been there since my birthday in 2010... and I would turn a year older on this trip at the same location!

    The road we need to use is the one for Punta San Carlos, at Km. 80. We stop there to deflate the tires and it is just over 17 fast miles to the Las Pintas side road. The others want to do some video recording along the way.



    The road to Las Pintas (7 miles long) is far far dustier (silt) than 6 years ago.. and less used, too. There was some new ranch oriented building near the site, but we saw nobody else in there.

    It is getting late, and we decide to camp at the lower end and let the others explore as much as they can before it is dark, plus any time in the morning before we leave for San Quintin.

    Nick gets up the boulders with ease.

    I begin documenting as much as I can get to while there is still enough light. I first came to Las Pintas in 2000 and have been back many times. Each time seeing new things, it is that impressive a site.














    The rock art at Las Pintas may be some of the oldest on the peninsula, dating from 1000 to 3,000 years ago. [Gloria Garvin, Seven Rock Art Sites in Baja California, edited by Clement Meighan,1978].

    It is a fantastic evening... no wind, no bugs, just a perfect camp night in Baja!


    Chef Jesse makes each of us a Dutch Oven Pizza! Amazing!!! See it in Ham's video. It is a great campfire night.

    SKULLY likes this.
  20. Sep 25, 2016 at 3:53 PM

    HBMurphy Ban Pending

    Jun 27, 2009
    First Name:
    So California Coast
    09 Off Road Delete Model

    And a lot of it too!!!

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