April 26 - April 29, 2019:  Baja Peninsula Drive North

On our drive out of the Baja we were going to originally take 7-8 days and travel 102-170 miles per day.  This was so we could stop at a lot of cool camping areas along the way.  As we started driving the first day, we got an early start at 7:45am and with the longer days, we realized we could cover more miles and stay longer in one location vs. moving every night.  So our trip out of the Baja was much quicker than we originally planned.

Day 1:  April 26-27  Los Barriles to Los Cocos Playa in Bahia Conception = 355 Miles

Since we started at 7:45am the first day, I failed to think about our departure time and Zopilotes (San Bartolo ice cream shop) and of course Zopilotes was not open that early - doh....so I failed to have my last ice cream from them.  Next year!  

 

The reason we got on the road so early was we were meeting Manolo (our builder) in La Paz at 9:30.  So it gave us a good excuse to get going quickly.

The drive from Loreto to Bahia Conception is absolutely gorgeous with oceans, rocks, and mountains.  This is one of the prettiest parts of the Baja.  The cacti in the picture below is TALL....I cannot believe some of them in this section are probably 25-30 feet tall!

Today we encountered 3 military checkpoints.  Two we passed through with no stop or inspection, the last one of course we were inspected and they all want to see the inside of the trailer : )  

Temps today ranged from 72 - 100f based upon our location.

We camped for two days at Playa Coco's in the Bahia Conception, near KM 114.  We had an awesome location right on the beach with our own little private palapa.  The price was 200 pesos ($10 USD) per night.  The first day we just relaxed, read our books, and watched the waves and water.  It was pretty surreal as I was making salsa and cutting the tomatoes, my view was of the bay and I could hear the gentle lapping of the waves on the shores.  What a peaceful and awesome feeling that brought a smile to my face.  And of course, we watched the stars, oh man...there were a gilzillion stars - what a gorgeous day.

The second day we decided to pull out the stand up paddle boards (SUP) and cruise around the  bay.  What a fun experience!  We paddled over to one of the nearby islands and then decided to row to another nearby island.  The second island was home to local pelicans and there were a TON of on it, of course as we got closer they didn't like that and were talking up a storm.  Once we started back from that island, the winds picked up and we were bucking and fighting the wind the entire way back.  We soon realized that we needed to kneel vs. stand on the board and get close to the shoreline to help block the wind.  Let's just say that we now realize you go early in the morning when the winds are low and....you don't paddle board when it is windy  : )

View from the SUP back to our trailer and camp spot

Heeeeemannnnnnn  : )

Look at how clear the water is, you can see the bottom for most of it.  Except, where we crossed to the islands.

Craig on his SUP.  Some of the islands you see in the background are the two that we paddled over to

One of the islands we paddled to, sitting and enjoying a cool drink of water

Picturesque

All good things must come to an end.  The SUP's are my responsibility on our trip, so getting ready to deflated, fold and put back under the trailer storage

Once back on the shore, we read our books and enjoyed our local neighbors.  They had their music playing, kids swimming and laughing - they were all having a good time.  At first I was thinking, man...I want quiet, however, it  was pretty cool watching how they were enjoying life and family.  The family was all very nice, respectful, happy, and shared their cameron (shrimp) cocktail with us.  They turned out to be great neighbors for the day.

Day 2:  April 28  Los Cocos Bahia Conception to San Quintin, Baja = 433 miles

As we drove into Mulege there was a marine layer that was pretty cool.  When we drove through Santa Rosalia the marine layer before, in, and after the town was pretty dense.  It was like driving in thick fog back home.

After Santa Rosalia and into Guerro Negro we passed a lot of agriculture.  Mostly in greenhouses but also a lot of tree farms.

Mulege area

The worst part of the fog in Santa Rosalia

Notice the green Kia Soul in front of us?  This is one of our neighbors from Los Barriles that lives on the same street at us.  Just happened to see her.

Santa Rosalia shoreline

Coming out of Santa Rosalia there is a steep hill, single lane each direction, and...the semi's were having a hard time.  We were going 5 mph

Former Federal Prison near Santa Rosalia

Driving from Guerro Negro To Catavina, the landscape is just awesome.  I am sure I mentioned this is our post on the drive down, but the variety of cacti is huge!  We counted at least 15 different types of cacti alone and this was what we could see from driving by!  Below are some example of the variety available.

The Mighty Caldron

The tall cacti look like something from Dr. Suess

Notice the red barrel cacti?  They were EVERY WHERE!

Near Catavina with palm type cacti and palm trees

The road from Guerro Negro to Catavina was horrible (notice the picture of the road below).  Absolutely no shoulder in most of it and many potholes with most of them being pretty deep  It definitely jiggled the crap out of the trailer.   On the back of the trailer we have a tray that holds the generator and propane tank in a milk crate.  Somewhere this day, we lost the milk crate and the propane tank and generator were flipped on their side.  Luckily, Craig had them strapped down pretty tight we we did not lose those!  However, this is one of my favorite spots in the Baja because of all the boulder fields!

Road with NO SHOULDER, but a fresh paint line in the center and fresh pavement!  YEAH!!!  Nice mountain range in the background

And...cows....cows...and more cows....

Umm...ya, it was about Guerro Negro that I realized by cutting our days and changing our route, I failed to recalculate about 144 miles.  So what we thought was going to be a 300 mile day turned into 433 miles.  We thought about stopping sooner but decided we wanted to push on through since we had the daylight and get to El Pabellon RV Park near San Quinten.  We thought we would spend 2 days here. 
 

Once we got to El Pabellon, the weather had turned cooler and there was a storm coming in.  It rained a little setting up and then off/on that night.  The next day was suppose to be cloudy and raining again, so we decided to stay one night vs. two.  We thought we needed to either go back South or to Scottsdale, Arizona to get warm weather again!

El Pabellon RV Park near San Quinten.  We stayed here on the way down and enjoyed it.

Only one other camper in the area.  Off to the left are sand dunes that lead to the Pacific Ocean.

Interesting tidbit, today our elevation change was 1 up to 1926 feet.  We encountered 3 military checkpoints and were inspected 2 of the times.  Of course, they wanted to see the trailer again : ) 

Day 3:  April 29  San Quinten, Baja to Winterhaven, CA = 332 Miles

As we headed out today, we knew we would be crossing the border and we were not sure how long it would take. So got up early and headed out.  Our original plans was to go from San Quinten to Boulevard, California.  However, the weather was cloudy, raining, windy, and we decided to push on to Winterhaven, California where the weather was sunshine and warmer!

Today we encountered one military checkpoint plus the border crossing. 

Below are various pictures from the drive today. 

Near Santo Tomas road construction.  One the way down in November, we waited here for about 1 hour.  This wait was only about 30 minutes.  It gave us time to stop, go into the trailer to make lunch and have it almost all eaten before we started driving again.  As you can see the skies are cloudy and rainy.

Around Ensenada there is a TON of farming, agriculture, and wineries (Valle de Guadalupe).  The white structures in the background are all greenhouses.

Our last stop for gas before crossing the border (close to Tecate) and...it was the cheapest we have seen in all of the Baja.  Remember, this is per liter and we run Diesel.  So...about $5.00 USD per gallon.  Ouch!

Notice which restroom Craig is coming out of?  He "claims" the men's room handle was broken....

As we got ready to cross the border at Tecate, we got our first and only stop by the policia.  We have been in the Baja for 5-6 months and....it finally happened.  We have heard that around the border cities they are really trying to shake you down and...they did.  Supposedly, we were speeding and stopped at a stop sign past the crosswalk area.  The fine was $1,500 pesos (roughly $75 USD) and they were going to take us to the police station.  However...we didn't want to mess around with that since we still had to cross the border and get to our next lodging, so....Craig asked if he could pay here.  Of course, we could!   We probably could have fought it, but...wanted to get on our way.

Notice the fence or "the wall".  At least it is painted with cool stuff so it is entertaining to look at.  There two rows of razor wire.

The line waiting to cross.  Passenger vehicles on the left, Commercial on the right.  It took us about 13 minutes in this line.  We had produce and eggs which we forgot about so had to go through a 2nd inspection which was about 10 minutes.  Of course, most of that time was chatting with the US Border Patrol Officer about our camper.

Once we crossed the border, we stopped in Campo, CA at Oak Shores Malt Shop for dinner (comparable to Big Juds in Boise).  Awesome burger and chocolate milkshake!

Our plan was to stop and spend the night in Boulevard, CA.  However, look at the temperature gauge...47...raining, winds at about 25mph.  I turned on the heater the instant I got in the trailer. So...we decided to get back on the road and head to warmer weather!

Gorgeous terrain as we headed  on US 8 towards Winterhaven, California.

Nice little dust storm that made visibility poor

Felicity, California - supposedly, the Center of the World

Near Calixico, California in the background you can see the fence that separates the US from Mexico

The white fencing is the border between US and Mexico, but this looks like it is to keep cars from crossing

And finally, we made it to Winterhaven, California which is near Yuma, Arizona.  We boondocked at the Quechan Casino which is where we stayed on our way down.  We never even went into the Casino and just enjoyed the warm sunshine. 

 

Today our temps went from 47f to 77f.  Brrrr...so nice to be back in the warm weather after a few hours of cold!

We took 4 days to drive out of the Baja instead of the 8 we had planned.  There is just so much to do along the route that we decided next time, we will have a smaller vehicle and stop more along the way. 

We had an incredible 5 months in the Baja and really enjoyed our first 'snowbird season' there.  We look forward to many more years of snowbirding between Boise and the Baja!!!

Thanks to all of our family and friends (new and old) that helped us enjoy this season!!!

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