Sunday, February 22, 2015

Back aboard LightSpeed in Alameda, California

February 22, 2015

Time flies in the real world.  Our trip down the Baja was a great last blast before re-entering the real world.  Kathy officially started work on February 9 and flew out of San Jose del Cabo (3 hours south of La Paz) to the San Francisco Bay area for some client meetings and a busy first week at work. 

Left to my own in Mexico, I made a small effort to sell our Craigslist Honda Accord with 180,000 miles in La Paz and fly home.  I wasn't looking forward to the solo mile drive back to Alameda and had some doubts about the reliability of the high mileage Honda.  Milton, our host at Casa Buena B&B in La Paz, fueled my adventures spirit by suggesting the existence of a dirt road route via San Juanico to San Ignacio.. the route the Baja 1000 race takes.  
I took the beach / salt flat options as I heard that the 'main' road had lots of deep sand.

Many times along the 'short cut' I was pretty sure I'd end up leaving the Honda stuck in a ditch.  In the end it was good fun.  Local knowledge and a 4X4 with ground clearance strongly advised.
Wrong turn took me across the river twice!
A nice section of 'short cut'.  
A little sandy, but again a nice section... there was no way to film the sketch spots.

Salt flat.  All good if you stay on the track.

 Salt flats were a thin crust over some very very very slick mud.
 Signs like this one in the desert offered little help.
 Misson at San Juanico was a welcome sight after 110 miles of punishing off road travel.
 One moring I had pretty thick fog.
 Watch out for cows, donkeys and goats.
 One near blow out with a bulglng side wall.  However, I found a used tire that was an exact match for only 400 peso installed ~$28 is not too bad.   I wouldn't exactly call these Baja tires as they are very low profile, but it's a Craigslist car and well somehow I made it down and back the Baja on back roads.
 50 pesos or ~$4 to have my oil changed.  Labor only as I brought my own oil and filter.  Nice.
 Friendly folks at a taco stand that gave me directions to a tire shop and cooked up some tasty tacos for lunch.

 Mexico / USA border

On the way back I spent 5 days at my mom's house in Palm Desert which was really nice.

Finally back on the boat, I've been busy working on boat projects.  My list is getting pretty short, but the deck painting project is taking much longer than first envisioned.

Sunset from the beach near our boat in Alameda

Friday, February 06, 2015

La Paz Baja 2015

 Mission at Mulege
 View toward Mulege
 Home built around palm tree.  Seems risky in high winds, but seemingly it works as this area was hit pretty hard by Hurricane Odlie in 2014.
 Organic material covers a barred window indicating this home was hit hard by flood waters brought by hurricane Odlie.

 Hotel las Terrazas in Mulege cost $400MXN a night or about $27 a night.
 This room was very basic and period authentic circa 1970's, but clean, quiet and comfortable.  The owners were super friendly, we stay here again.

 Healthy breakfast.
 When your high beam / turn signal switch breaks with the brites stuck on... you gotta pull the steering column apart and jury rig.  On the narrow road the last thing you want is to blind oncoming drivers and increase the risk of a crash.
 Sunset from the road.
 Ready for some well earned tacos on the La Paz Malecon.

 Buena Casa hotel in La Paz was a luxurious treat.
 The old 'Shack' restaurant is gone as are it's original owners.  We did see a few familiar names written on the wall.
 Street art in the central district of La Paz.
 Central Velasco square has plenty of colonial charm.  We simply call it the Zocalo (square).
 Sunset on the Malecon
 El Mural is a great family run pizza place
 Sunset over bahia La Paz
Kite boarders at La Ventana

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Driving the Baja 2015

Alameda to La Paz via Palm Desert and San Diego.

 Fresa stand.  We picked up a 5kg (11 pound) flat of delicous strawberries and somehow managed to eat all these in only three days.
 Dusty town typical of Baja.

 Lots of rain created some sizable puddles on side roads.
 This one was pretty deep.  Luckily no water leaked in the doors.
 Broccoli farm?
 Google Maps suggested this short cut to Molino Viejo resturant on Bahia de San Quintin.  It seemed pretty rough at first.
 And then it turned to single track.
 And then some nearly impassable water hazards

 But in the end it was worth the drive to check out Bahia de San Quintin as we wondered about the feasibility of bringing our boat into this bay on previous Baja sailing trips.  It looks like a case of calm weather and local knowledge are absolutely required
 Molina Viejo Resturant is unexpected at the end of this muddy road.

 Sea Bass lunch was delicous
 Further down the coast we're stoked our car still runs and drives strait after all the rough and wet roads.
 Our $2600 CraigsList Honda Accord has 175,000 miles and everything still works.

NOTE:  El Rosario is the last Pemex gas station until you get to Guerrero Negro some 224 miles  or 361 km distant.  This is the only stretch on the Baja with any shortage of Pemex stations.  If you miss that last gas station you,  could buy gas from road side vendors with jugs in Catavina.

 Hotel Mision Catavina is pretty nice, book in advance as the alternate hotels looked to be a major downgrade.
 Dinner and Margaritas at the Hotel Catavina resturant... the only game in town.
 Shrimp Coctail was a great value at 85 pesos or $5.81USD at the exchange rate of nearly 15:1
 The next morning we set out to find the some nearby cave paintings.  Going with no directions or local knowledge we made a few wrong turns like the one by this big Saguaro catcus.
 Eventually we found the cave and it was well worth the effort.
 Just a few of the many drawings on the ceiling of this tiny cave.    Be sure to turn off your flash to avoid damaging these ancient paintings.
 This photo really does not do justice to the narrowness of the road.  But if you look closely you can see the white line missing as it has fallen off the edge.  Most of the road abutments are a steep drop and a moment of inattention and you are pretty much dead if you drop a tire off the edge.  The incredible number of crosses along the road remind one to be 100% focused.
 Curious abandon Fontar Marina complex on the Pacific side of the Baja near Santa Rosalita, yes the spelling is correct and near these Google style coordiantes 28.665, -114.24.  Marina basin is filled with sand... Opps didn't design that one too well.  All the infrastructure is there including 16kms of nice new road, a power station, marina basin, hardstand, port captina office, fuel tanks and even a huge and unused travel lift.   Looks like there is a nice surf break at the point.  This could be an interesting anchorage in calm conditions.
Taco stand in Guerrero Negro has some superb shrimp tacos.