Friday, March 15, 2013

Back to Baja, day 20

We complete our last 459 miles from Roseburg, OR back to Birch Bay today. (Since this is being posted after the fact, we have completed those miles.)

It's been a fun trip. Anne and Janet seemed to enjoy themselves. At least in Janet's case, she takes every opportunity to tell people about our trip. She is looking forward, already, to the next time.

I think the motorcycles are a great way to tour such a beautiful and diverse part of that country. The scenery and terrain is astonishing and pictures can't do it justice.

The roads are good, although much more challenging if you're trying to make all 3 wheels of a side car and bike avoid the inevitable bumps and pot holes on the minor roads. I think the experience would have been as good, just not quite as much fun without bikes.

At every turn we met lovely people. In no way, at any time, did we find that any of the stories of drugs of violence are anything but fabrication.

We talked to many locals about this. It boils down to the US government has ruined a once vibrant tourist trade by needlessly frightening the American public. The locals explained that if you go looking for drugs and trouble, you can probably find it. Much in the same way you could find it in Seattle, Denver or any bigger city in the US.

Having not burned up long miles, becoming saddle sore by sitting on a bike for way too long, I'd do another trip tomorrow. (Well, maybe I'd need a couple of days to get ready?)

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Back to Baja, day 19

Sleeping at a rest stop, wedged between a freeway and railroad tracks doesn't offer the most peaceful and quiet environment. We did manage to get adequate sleep in spite of the constant traffic on both sides.

Up a little after 7:00, it didn't take long to find the asphalt.

The first stop we had planned was at Delicato Winery a good couple of hours north. That would put us there, shortly after opening. Purchases made, we continued on.

About 11:00 or so, I received a text from my friend Dave. He was heading down to visit his daughter and son in law and family in Willows, California. He noticed we were about as far from Willows, south, as he was north. He suggested we meet for lunch as we would be crossing paths. Perfect!

We both exited the freeway within

seconds of each other. We had a great lunch at "The Last Standup

Bar and Grill". The place is exactly as the name implies. It looks like an old drive restaurant that is now a bar and grill. Super nice to be able to visit for a while. Thanks buddy!

I received an email from Mark who we had planned to meet in San Felipe. It seems that busy times at home kept him from heading south of the boarder, so it all worked out…. Mark even offered us a place to park the rig overnight at his place in San Jose, CA if we needed. Talk about an Amigo!

The remainder of the day was spent heading north out of California and calling it good enough by the time we made Roseburg, Oregon. Most of the tough steep and twisty roads are behind us so it be a pretty smooth sail from here.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Back to Baja, day 18

Up bright and early, we got ready and waited until it was time to take the ladies to the airport.

It was quite a blustery day but most of the freeway time was spent facing a headwind. Buffeting but not too bad. The winds began blowing across our path and that made travel a little more interesting.

Anne thought she was going to be blown off of the bike. I was tipping almost all the way over and still was just barely able to keep going somewhat straight. I was actually afraid to stop, figuring I'd be blown over.

Finally off of the freeway, we made our turn toward the airport and were all pelted with blowing sand.

Once parked, it was a simple matter to get the ladies checked it and off towards security.

992 miles traveled, airport pick up to drop off.

Back to bacheloring it! But what to do? We hadn't heard from Mark, nor were we able to get ahold of him so didn't know what his schedule was.

We have been gone for quite a while so the first suggestion of "to heck with it, we could just head home", was met with an enthusiastic "lets go".

We weren't on the road until 3:15 or so. It took a little time to retrieve the motor home, get it all packed and tie up a couple of loose ends.

The winds are just as strong this afternoon and it is a real handful to only occupy one lane. Luckily the winds subsided once we were our of the desert. Of course a little later we hit some winds and twisty, hilly roads with a light sprinkle of rain thrown in.

We press on until almost 10:00 PM, just shy of Fresno. Parked at a rest stop we'll hit 'er again in the morning.

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Back to Baja, day 17

The only thing on our plate today is to return to Palm Springs so we could get the ladies to the airport on time on Wednesday. I was finally feeling human again so I could make the trip too.

An easy day for the most part. About a 4 or so hour ride after breakfast and packing our goods.
The only hitch was crossing the border. Our NEXUS cards are now compatible with the SENTRY system used at the southern boarder. Peter and I had walked into Mexicali a few days earlier and verified that it does, in fact, work. This time the issue was our vehicles. They didn't have the SENTRY seal of approval sticker. Of course, how could they because we have NEXUS instead?

After probably an hour of the CBP people ignoring us and/or scratching their heads, they let us proceed. We'll have to look into this short coming when were back home.

Back to the house, we grabbed a bite and settled in for the night.

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Back to Baja, day 16

Our plans have changed a little. The wives were scheduled to leave Palm Springs next Saturday, March 9th. We spent a very frustrating 3/4 of the day trying to and finally changing the reservations with Allegiant to Wednesday the 6th.

During the time Peter and I were hauling the bikes down to California, I sent an email to our old Tequila buddy Mark, asking him if he was going to be down in San Felipe for the Baja 250? Well, it is best to have Mark explain it, himself; his response is below:
Hello there my fellow beer and tequila lovin Amigos !!!
I am very happy to hear from yall.
I was not contemplating going to the next baja race, however , because you guys are comin all the way down from the far, far north, I simply wont have any excuse for not being there. Wouldnt you agree ???
Hell, it just wouldnt be right !
Im gonna check my calender and try to move things around so that we can hook up out there.
Be sure to bring your drinkin helmets on !!!

Your Amigo Valiente,
As you can easily see, how could we not go back to San Felipe? The wives, having seen the town and didn't have any desire to go see guys playing I'm the dirt. After discussions, they felt that they had enough pending business at home that needed their attention that they would return a little early and attend to it.

We were having our new found friends visit this evening. We needed to pick up supplies to prepare some snacks. It seems that the major food store is at the opposite end of town. No problem, a cab ride got us there in a typically Mexican death defying manner.

Supplies purchased, a little lunch and we were ready to return and prepare our offerings. Another death defying ride only this time the driver was falling asleep. He put his sun glasses on after Anne caught him the 1st time.

About an hour before our guests were due to arrive, my stomach began telling me I had been stupid. I had purchased some smoked swordfish in Ensenada. Good at the time, but I drug it around in a bike bag, baking it in the sun for a few days.

I served it to munch on the night before, had a piece that didn't taste quite right, and threw the rest away. Luckily I was the only one who ate it.

I may have invented the next new diet sensation! Before long, I could keep nothing in, felt faint and anything but ready to play. I excused myself from the night's festivities and dealt with more pressing matters…

The remainder of this blog is presented by combined efforts of the rest of the group, as follows:
Monday, March 4, 2013. Today we have guest writers for the blog Ken seems to of eaten something that has put him down for the day. Our guest writers for the blog today are Janet, Anne and Peter.

Our day started rather casually went for a late morning lunch at the Mall. We hailed a taxi and had him bring us to the Mall when asked what his fee was, he stated give me what you think it was worth. we had asked at our Hotel and they recommended 35 pesos we gave him $4.00 U.S. and he said he would wait. After lunch we walked to the CaliMax grocery store to pick up appetizers for a party that Janet had decided to host for some people ( new friends) she had met in the Bar the evening prior. We hailed another Cab to take us back, as we drove narrowly missing cars weaving to get onto the coast highway Anne exclaimed the driver had fallen asleep, he turned and told Anne he was putting on his sunglasses so she could not tell if he really was sleeping. Once at the Hotel Ken decided he was not feeling well and went down for the day, and rest of the night. Janet's guests arrived around 7:00 P.M. Drinks, appetizers, and conversation ensued.

Our guests suggested a restaurant called Suzanna's in Rosarito hailing another cab, (van) we all boarded.

This restaurant was about to close, But welcomed us in anyhow. The atmosphere, cuisine, and staff were exceptional. Once finished the owner asked is to view the wine cellar, it was beautiful, and she was very gracious.

We decided it was getting late and time to get home and see ken. Hailing another cab Peter, Anne, and Janet jumped in. The driver was finished for the day, as was very talkative and proud of his city, he told us about a few other great restaurants. Arriving at the Hotel we disembarked and asked his fare. He said on the house,. What a great evening, well except for Ken.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Back to Baja, day 15

A very relaxing and low key day. We have been on the go, steady, for quite some time. It feels good not to have any big plans. At a leisurely pace we got up and ready, had coffee in the room and finally went down for some breakfast.

We realized we hadn't even been down to the ocean right in front of our ocean front resort at this point. We set out to solve this issue. Very nice. Surfable waves and lots of sand. People walking, riding horses and ATV's.

Town was not too far away.

Janet, Anne and I decided to make the walk while Peter thought it would be more entertaining to watch.

We entered town from the high pier. In town, we explored a number of nooks and cranny's, appreciating the creative ways they build and decorate their buildings. It is done with

whatever material happens to be available. We found some very interesting places.

We kicked back for a while upon returning and in late afternoon we made our way out again, but to go and look at some of the houses for sale close by.

The neighborhood we wandered through had some attractive prices on not so attractive properties. If we get more serious later, we'll definitely have to dig a little deeper.

It was getting close to dinner time by now, so we continued our walk into town and found a very unique place. El Nido is owned

by Lupe, who also owns farms and ranches in the Guadalupe Valley where he grows and raises most of the items he prepares in his restaurant.

We were asking our waiter, Manuel, about the woods used to decorate many rooms. At the conclusion of our delightful meal, Manuel offered us a tour including their new wine cellar that just about complete. Extremely nice and a fascinating place.

We opted to go to the bar for a tequila before heading home. After a couple, we began talking to two other couples in the bar. They were husband and wife and the wife's parents. Dave, Kim,

Judy and Ron. Great people! We talked for well over an hour and hit it off very well. So much so, we accepted their invitation to go out to dinner the following night and even invited them to come over for tapa's before hand.

It was almost 1:30 am by the time we went to bed.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Back to Baja, day 14

A pretty easy day, really. After partying with Elvis the previous night, we may have started a little slow today. No worries, our big goal was to move the 32 miles between Bajamar and Rosarito Beach.

Never being people who take the easiest route, we opted to go back into the Guadalupe valley and sample some more wines first. Our room wouldn't be ready until the afternoon so we had some time.

Actually, most of the wineries were closed for sampling on Friday, so we barely scratched the surface. Our drive took on the old highway where we first came upon a Russian winery. Apparently, a fair number of Russian families had settled in the area. Nice place. Talking to one of the shop owners, we learned of some other interesting wineries along with the wine museum, which we had seen but not stopped at the previous day.

The museum was a new looking building and the displays were very nicely done. What the displays were actually depicting was a little hard to gleam, as they were, of course, in Spanish.

Off to the last winery stop of the day, Vinas de Garza. This was a beautiful estate originally settle by a Swiss immigrant. Once the ladies had finished their samples, we made our way to Playa de Rosarito.

We had a little confusion finding

the correct resort but the cerveza at the first stop helped clear our heads.

Once checked in, a couple of cervezas and little dinner, and we called it a day.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Back to Baja, day 13

After having been crooned by Sinor Elvis at last night's dinner, we decided to become groupies and follow him to his gig at Bajamar, a community about 22 miles north of Ensenada. Miguel was performing at the Bajamar Ocean Front Golf Resort in the clubhouse main room!

Miguel's performance didn't start until 6:30, so that gave us all day to explore Ruta de Vino. The Guadalupe Valley is the area famous for Mexican wines, some quite renowned.

Before venturing off, we did a

little shopping, had a little breakfast and did a little shopping. In that order.

All packed and off we go. It was a pretty short cruise to the beginning of the valley. To visit any of the wineries requires you to leave the pavement and navigate dirt, gravel and/or sand roads and some almost paths. A little tough on bikes built for the highways but doable with care.

We attempted to visit quite a number of wineries and none were sampling the fruits of their efforts. After talking to other people on a similar mission, we learned that L.A. Cetto, at the far end of the valley, was open and sampling their wine. It was not all that far, so off we go!

The valley is dotted with hundreds of wineries ranging from big to micro sized. We have been told of places so small that they don't even yet have labels. Just a piece of tape hand written with the pertinent information. As success has met the first wineries in the valley, many newer establishments have sprouted up to chase that same success.

L.A. Cetto's wines were pretty
good and our server, Gilberto, made sure we sampled as many as possible, all while doing a nice job explaining the grapes and the process. Since we hadn't had lunch, we purchased a loaf of olive bread, a great queso (cheese) Gouda and a bottle of

wine to accompany it. We snacked on the patio before heading off.

While talking about other winery

possibilities over our snack, Hector and Bernard at the next table, overheard the conversation and offered us a wealth of knowledge about the area and the best wines to visit. ...Mañana.

The valley seems to have about as many olive trees as grape vines. We sampled some of those olives and the oil extracted from them, at the winery. Very nice. Top notch oil and olives.

We found Bajamar and cruised to the hotel. After checking in we headed toward the restaurant where we dined and were entertained by the velvet tones of Miguel (Elvis) Ray all evening. Boy was he surprised (and I think pleased) that we actually made the trip.

Bajamar is a huge community populated, at least mostly, by retired Americans.

We wined,dined and danced until closing, along with some very frendly locals. Nice times…

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Back to Baja, day 12

Today was a day for touring the area around Ensenada. It has been a beautiful warm day. After getting ready, we wondered across the street for a terrific breakfast buffet. Everything under the sun was available. After eating too much, we decided to stress the suspension of the bikes and head down to Bufadora to see the world famous "blow hole".

The little town is situated on some of the most picturesque hillsides that you'll find anywhere. Turquoise water and rugged volcanic cliffs support a smattering of nice looking restaurants and souvenir and food vendors packed tightly lining

the street to the end where the blow hole is just a short distance from.

All of the vendors enthusiastically line the street, encouraging you to visit their establishment because they happen to have the very best merchandise at unbelievably low prices. Boy, were we lucky to have stumbled into this Mecca of bargains!

YouTube Video

The blow hole is quite amazing. The lookout is perched at the very edge of the water spout. Larger waves would soak the viewers every so often. The power of the incoming waves helps to put in perspective how storms can do so much damage. You could feel the wave front of the spout.

On the way in, we tried samples of a piña colada. It was so good the we had to stop and have one. It just doesn't get any better or fresher. The drink was served in

a hollowed out pineapple, fresh coconut and your choice of tequila or rum. A little whipped cream garnished the top and a straw to make it all accessible. Yum! They were also barbecuing large clams garnished with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, Monterey Jack cheese and a little butter. Tasty little bite.

After taking advantage of some of the fantastic bargains we were insured we were getting, we started headed back toward Ensenada.

Along the way we stopped at Punta Banda to take a look around. We didn't have time to explore it all, but we did stop at a

beautiful but unfinished hotel on the beach. The gardener opened the gate to the beach for us and even ran to the caretaker's house to fetch him so he could show us around. Again, more delightful people. We chatted for quite a while as he showed us around.

The hotel is built on the grounds of a formerly lovely but isolated single family house. The old house is included now as what will be a lovely bar off of the lobby. According to the model of the finished project, the hotel has been put on hold at about 80% complete. We promised to visit it as soon as it is completed.

Back into Ensenada, we stopped at what used to be a casino that was built during prohibition and rumored to have been run by Al Capone. It is now a museum that also sports a still working bar where the original Margarita was created.

The bartender is a delightful fellow who made one of the best Margaritas I have ever had. We talked him for quite some time about the history, his job and everything else imaginable. Great afternoon!

We parked the bikes back at the hotel just in time for Peter and go to wrap some business in town. The other 3 of us waited for him at a bar. We finally all hooked up

again, finished our happy hour and headed off to a bar/restaurant that someone had recommended to Peter. It was 8:00 by this time and as luck would have, the grill was off. No food.

YouTube Video

We wandered around a bit and decided on a taco place close by. Well, the Mexican Elvis (Miguel Rey de Ensenada) served the wine and graced us with a few songs. He's amazingly good. We might even head up the road tomorrow and watch him perform at his show.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Back to Baja, day 11

We woke up this morning to blustery winds blowing off of the water and across town. The whitecaps on the water confirmed that it was a good day not to go fishing. Instead, we enjoyed a nice breakfast, packed up and hit the road.

We pointed the bikes north to catch Highway 3 across Baja to Ensenada. The high winds slowed progress somewhat but seemed to largely be head winds so at least I, wasn't being blown from one lane to another.

The desert varies greatly all across Baja. At some places rocks and cactus dominate the terrain. Other areas can be grass and sage brush while others are a mixture of any and all. Interesting and enjoyable. I had thought of stopping to cut some fresh aloe vera and prickly pear cactus but didn't take the time. I'll try to take the time at the next opportunity.

One of the things Peter and I had been told about traveling in Baja and probably all of Mexico for that matter, is to fill up the gas tank when ever you see a gas station. The reason is, you never know when you'll see the next one. We left San Felipe with less than full tanks. Both of us remembered seeing a gas station at the junction of Highways 3 and 5. It turned out that it was just a store/taco stand instead. Should have topped off in town.

We hit some curves and I decided to blast off and carve some of those corners. The side car can't perform anywhere near the performance of a bike designed for sport. After I had cleared the corners, I pulled over in front of a small store to wait for the rest of the troops.

As Peter pulled in has was glad to

see me, as he was almost out of fuel. If worse came to worse, I could run up ahead and bought some gas and brought it back. Me, having blasted off could have left Peter and our all important female cargo stranded. No need to worry. There was a truck, where I stopped, that was towing a desert buggy. They were filling the truck's gas tank from bottles of gas they had in the back of the pickup. Peter asked, and they were happy to share a little gas with Peter and wouldn't even accept any money for their kindness. Fantastic people everywhere we have been in Mexico.

We arrived I'm Ensenada and were able to find the same hotel the Peter and I had stayed at, both north and south on our last Baja trip.

Magically, it was cerveza time! Off to a favorite bar of Peter and mine. They serve the best Mexican Caeser complete with clams. A few of those, a few cervezas, maybe a vino or two and we were ready for the rest of the evening.

Down to the malicon and a walk through the fresh fish market and finally to a restaurant, Italian in this case, for dinner. Afterwards we went to a little bar down the street for an after dinner drink. We struck up a conversation with

a most delightful couple from Mexico City, here on vacation. Great times!

Just after 10:00PM, having deciding not to watch the pole dancing, we turned in for the night.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Back to Baja, day 10

Today we toured San Felipe and some of the surround area. After a nice breakfast we hopped on

the bikes and set out to find the aeroporto road. I was sure I had seen a sigh for it on the was into town, the trouble is, I couldn't remember exactly where on on the road that was. We followed our previous route in, but the opposite direction and couldn't find a sign anywhere. When it was obvious we were now way too far north, we turned around and headed back. Low and behold, just as we entered the round-a-bout at the town's entrance, there was a sign pointing to a road leaving diagonally from intersection.

The quality of the side road diminished substantially from the main road. Probably an old oiled gravel pavement but with rocks used instead of gravel. It wasn't so bad on my bike but the sidecar rides more roughly over the bumps.

We pressed on and began to cruise the neighborhoods. Lots of houses ranging from small to down right stunning. Many signs too, of dreams and projects gone bust. Unfinished resorts and

hotels dot the area. We did stop at one condo complex that had some finished units and plans for many more to be completed in two additional phases. We were shown a number of the 2-4 bedroom units. Absolutely beautiful condos built on a terrific section of beach. They'd all be nice!

Buy the time we were done with our tour, it was magically cerveza time!

We headed to the north end of the malicon and went to a nice place a little up the hill at the end of the bay.

We met a few Americans there (even the bartender was from

Bremerton, WA). Some of the people spend months here and some just a week or so. Nice people and fun talking to them.

We just relaxed the rest of the day. Wandering through some of the shops and a small bit of dinner. Back to the rooms early.

We decided not go fishing in San Felipe. White Sea Bass is the local fish along with their famous shrimp fishery. A 1/2 day trip is only $30 per person. If you venture much further out, other species can be found.

Instead, we have decided to head towards the wine country near Ensenada. We'll pack up and head towards the Guadalupe Valley tomorrow.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Back to Baja, day 9

We woke up in Tecate, well rested after a good dinner at a local restaurant and a night cap at a local disco bar. We had

arrived too late to visit the Tecate brewery and now it was too early. We did drive by and the smells of the boiling wort were wonderful.

Breakfast at a local taco stand had us ready for the road.

Our travels took us from Tecate through La Rumorosa bypassing Mexicali and on to San Felipe. About 4-1/2 hours of travel.

San Felipe is a very pretty little town situated on the north end of the Sea of Cortez. Lots of hotels, shops, restaurants, bars and vacation property a plenty. A grand Malicon boarders the waters edge. The trouble is, with the falling of the US economy, San Felipe has suffered.

Apparently weekends are busier but for us on a monday, its pretty quiet. The Baja 1000 off road race fills the town for a few days and a shrunken tourist trade remains. The place is kept spotless and ready for more people.

We had a great dinner at a steak

and seafood place next door to our hotel followed to a walk to a seaside bar for a nightcap.

Peter and I will be checking out the fishing. Shopping and sight seeing will fill the remainder of our time here.

Lots to see and do. Should be fun.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back to Baja, day 8

Today, we began our journey to Mexico. Our route took us over highway 74 to highway 371 to highway 79 and on to some other astonishingly twisty roads. The altitude and temperature change of our ride was somewhat unexpected. We went from the relative sea level of Palm Springs to the twisty roads over mountains defining the area to the high flat land of Tecate.

The temperatures ranged from a promising 70or 80 in Palm Springs to freezing and probably below above 4000 feet (which we reached several times.) We stopped several times in a smattering of small towns or what ever was convenient, just to get off the bikes and restart circulation. Cold! Startlingly cold. We were dressed for much warmer temperatures than we encountered.

The countryside is beautiful and goes through numerous variations along the way. A geologist could explain it, but a well chosen route none the less. Highly recommended for anyone else who has shelved their sanity and opted for adventure.

When we finally dropped down to Tecate, we saw a very pretty area. A sprawling town draped over rolling hills As of this writing, we haven't yet explored much of the town. Just enough that we know we want to see more.

We had a very good dinner at a

restaurant close to our hotel. It was night capped by a drink at a dance club just a little further down from that.

Back to the room, we will explore and travel on mañana.

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Back to Baja, Day 7

Our better halves arrived today. Our most important task was to make sure to be at the airport on time.

Tougher than you might think as the airplane, for once, was early. We had a couple of errands to take care of before hand and got there just as the plane was touching down. It all worked out.

We thought we would show the ladies around a bit and grab some lunch. From the airport we were blocked by a parade down one main streets so we had to detour a bit.

Peter spotted a neat little bar & grill while cruising around that worked great for a quick stop. From there we cruised around looking at some of the homes. We finally made our way to El Paseo Dr. which is the Palm Springs equivalent to Rodeo Dr. in Los Angeles. All the high end stores.

Finally to the house for a little cocktail hour, a bite to eat at a local restaurant and back to the house for the night.

We begin our journey to Mexico in the morning so we're all ready for a good nights sleep.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Back to Baja, day 6

We finally had a chance to play tourist today. Up early, we decided to head back to a little mexican restaurant that we had lunch at the other day. We had noticed several landscape trucks parked in front while driving by on a previous morning. That led us to believe that the food would be good. It was. Chorizo and scrambled eggs is a great way to start the day. From there, we hit Highway 111 heading south toward the Sultan Sea.

The goal was to drive around it just to explore the area. The GPS was programmed for Niland, CA, just a short way down the east side of the sea. We took the "Old Highway 111" which took us through all of the old towns that had thrived when all thr traffic had to pass through.

Plenty of commerce still appears to take place, but signs were there that many tourist attractions were no longer viable. We also pass by hugh fields of Date Palm trees. It appears to be a sizable farming industry in the area. Further on we happened to merge with 6 other bikes heading in the same direction. They turned off at a road labeled "Hot Mineral Spa Road". We kept on going the remaining 16 miles to Niland.

Peter had heard that Talipa fish were farmed in the area and upon stopping in Niland we learned that it takes place at the Hot Mineral Spa Road, 16 miles earlier. Oh well, something to go and see the next time we are in the area. Next stop was Brawley, CA at the south end of the Sultan Sea. We were told of Ramey`s Meats in town that was a must see. Nice place with friendly people. We thought we would cook in tonight so a couple of steaks were in order. We were traveling on however so purchasing them now would have been a problem. Our route back would again take us through Brawley so we would (and did) make our purchase later.

Calexico was our next stop. This is right on the Mexican boarder across from Mexicali. Since we were in the area, why not walk across the boarder and take a look at the town. Walking into Mexico was easy; just walk in. We did notice, however, a mile long line of people waiting to walk across into the US. Verbalizing or concern that out 2 hour parking limit would expire long before we could return, a helpful bypasser informed us that "old people" could head to the front of the line. Fealing great now, we walked on...

Mexicali reminded me of the stories you heard about Tijuana many years ago. Lots there for the drunk sailor. Apparently, many touriests also go there for medical and dental procedures as well as their prescription drugs. There were a number of establishments providing those needs. We decided to stick with having a quick beer and purchasing a bottle of liquor to take back across the line.

It was difficult to find a bar without dancers to entertain the sailers. We finally found a place that seemed to lack entertainment and went in. We ordered a small beer each that happened to be an entire 940 ml!  One was plenty.

It was more difficult to find a liquor store than we thought it would be. We had asked a number of people after failing to see signage. Most people didn`t want to understand our butchered spanish and failed to understand english. Finally Juan happened to hear us askng questions an stepped in to help. Not only did he personally take us to a liquor store but also helped us "old folks" to the front of the return to the US line where we found the SENTRI line (the Mexican equivalent to NEXUS). Juan was rewarded nicely for his tour guiding and his efforts left us with plenty of time on the parking meter.

We headed back on the west side of the Sultan Sea. We took a short detour to see some of what used to be a thriving vacation area. Back home we cooked up our Brewley steaks and had a fantastic dinner to cap off a very nice day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Back to Baja, day 5

Thank Google for the lack of pictures. I will edit the posts as soon as I figure out how to work with or around their latest changes.

It's amazing how well rested you feel when you're not on the side of the road in the cold and snow with diesel trucks blasting around and through at any and all hours of the night. Not that I'm complaining, its been a great trip. But this morning, I felt very well rested.

Our day was filled with mostly errands. The motor home developed a crack from top to bottom of the drivers side windshield after navigating some rather nasty parts of highway 99. As we were heading towards Palm Springs, Peter had made arrangements with his insurance to have it replaced. Great. The challenges come in because the place that is going to fix the glass, can't store the motor home. Okay, so we can find a place to store and luckily, the glass company is willing to install the glass where ever it's parked.

We had been told that Bermuda Dunes Executive Airport (a local private airport), would store motor homes. They told us that they try not to. Fortunately they did have a place that gave a discount to people from the airport, which we had now just become…. We dashed over and made arrangements. All good. Now, we were on bikes rather than the motor home. So back to grab one of each.

Parked. Now back to sign the contract for the glass. Good, except they can't do that until they have a price for and order the glass. Okay, so we head off to find the airport that our wives will be landing at and we might as well grab some lunch.

Great lunch, some touring around, back to sign the contract they finally had a price for pretty much filled the rest of the afternoon.

We did manage to find our planned route from Palm Springs toward Tecate. Highway 42 is a twisty road that was paved over the existing rocks, hills and valleys of the hills that boarder one side of the Palm Desert. Should be a fun trip.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Back to Baja, day 4

We woke this morning to a light dusting of snow on the ground. There was a brisk wind blowing the falling snow sideways across the city. People were out building small snow men and the lady at the convenience store told me that they hadn`t had snow in Barstow since 2008. The traffic and weather reports are telling of closed freeways at the passes and accidients-a-plenty ...boy can we pick `em!

We head out toward Palm Springs after we stopped at a truck stop just on the edge of town. A little breakfast and top off the tank. It appears the road could be icy. We see some accidents in the opposite direction and police have the road closed to clear the damaged vehicles. The back up goes on for miles! Luckly, we just need to avoid the compact snow and potentially icy lanes. Peter does a great job making sure the trailer doesn`t try to pass us up.

We do run into a backup a couple of towns further on. Listening to the CB radio we learn that a semi had jack knifed just up ahead and was being cleared. And this is supposed to be sunny southern California! The weather is supposed to warm up later in the week so hopefully the rest of our trip will be without snow.  The little bit of snow we experienced didn`t look all that bad.  Because of the number of incidents we saw and heard of, it must have been worse than it appeared.  Possibly just agressive California drivers on summer tires...?

We finally navigate our way to the low desert and find our way to the lovely new home of Peter`s aunt and uncle. We off load our bikes and stow the motorhome a short distance away for the night. We took an evening ride out to what suposed to be a quaint little restaurant in Rancho Mirage. It turned out to be a night life hot spot in a shopping mall. Good food however. That and a couple of beers had us ready to head back and settle in for the night.

Tomorrow`s mission will have us find a place to store the motor home for the rest of the bike portion of the trip and explore our surroundings.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Back to Baja, day 3

Alcohol makes people do strange things. Perhaps this night in particular.

Peter and I spent another day on the road heading south. Somewhere during our conversations, Barstow California came up. As luck would have, that became our next destination.

To get to Barstow, you have to travel south. Our GPS had us leaving I5 at Merced, heading to 99.

99 is well worn in places and some of the bumps and divots were severe enough to crack the windshield of the motor home. We have checked, and the motorcycles have thus far survived the ride.

We hit some convincing cross winds once we hit the high desert of the Mojave. That will make a smart driver of you in very short order. We both had a chance to show our driving prowess.

Before too long we reached Barstow. Must admit, a little nicer and bigger town than either of us had imagined.

Out first destination was some place to wet our whistles after having endured the arid desert. iPhone app took us to "Hooz on 1st". Nice looking place that conveniently had a gravel lot net to it, perfect for parking a huge RV. The trouble was, the place had a "for sale" sign above the door and appeared closed.

The next distinction on the iPhone app send us off with a somewhat ambiguous address that looped about 5 miles around town and brought us right by "hooz on 1st", but this time we saw the OPEN sign. Back to the gravel lot we go, but this time we DO wet our whistles.

We seem to meet some fine folks whenever we stop for a quick one and this was no different. First was a guy who had lived in Mexico with his family and loved it. Good information and ideas on where to visit. The other guy we met is a chef who has started many restaurants and had some good ideas we might be able to use at our place.

It was soon about time to find some dinner. Our restaurant buddy recommended a place that we had been considering and wasn't too far away (well, about 1.3 miles). I talked Peter into walking there.

About half way there, Peter started repeating the mantra of one our dear friends:, "I can't make it! It's too far". The iPhone GPS app kept saying its only 80 feet more even though we still had 3/4 miles to go.

We both had great dinners and after the checks were payed, I asked Peter if he wanted to hike back. He opted to take the "Hooz on 1st" shuttle back.

Well, I'll show him, I thought. I challenged Peter that I could walk back faster than he could get the shuttle and drive back to the bar. We are sitting at the bar right now and it seems I'm buying…

Tomorrow we'll try to find a way around the promised snow and head to Palm Springs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 18, 2013

Back to Baja, day 2

Staying at a rest stop, close to the freeway, along side a dozen or two big rigs doesn't afford the same comforts as a Four Seasons Hotel. From a purely functional standpoint, it served the purpose just fine. A little noisy but we woke up well rested.

We were on the road by 7:25 and found our way to Sacramento by about 6:30 this evening.

Traveling all of the ups, downs and curves of Grants Pass, Ashland and Mt. Shasta made for some slow going but we chugged along at about the same speed as the Semi's and found the pace comfortable. Pulling the 5250 lb trailer behind us helped define the capabilities.

On our way to Sacramento, we looked up Truck Stops. The thinking is, this would be a good place to stop for the night for some dinner and a shower. We pulled into a popular one on the search engines and found it is a huge city in itself (the Sacramento 49er Travel Plaza).

Seemingly thousands of Semi's encircled the several buildings that made up the stop. We drove around, looking for a place to nestle among big rigs but it appeared that every nook and cranny was occupied. After initially giving up, a second lap found a spot actually designated for motor homes.

Tummy's now full and all cleaned up, we wonder out for a beer.

First thing in the morning we'll continue south. We should end up close to Palm Springs. Once we find a spot to park in Palm Springs, we can pull the bikes out and start riding.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Back to Baja, day 1

February  17, 2013

Loaded up and ready to roll, we hit  the dusty trail at almost exactly noon.  Driving a rig this big takes a little getting used to so no land speed records have been attempted so far.  It took us most of the day to get to Vancouver, Washington.  Good time for a quick bite to eat and a cold one to wash it down. 

I had stayed in Vancouver a year or so ago and found a nice little bar to have dinner and libations.  Peter had remembered that I told him about it so he wanted to go there as long as we would be in the area.  Fine with me!  We navigated the big rig off of the freeway and managed to find the desired destination.  Trouble is, it was closed.  Sunday and all...  Next door was another bar, teaming with a single patron.  Good enough.  We satisfied our thirst and began to study the menu.  Very limited.  Just a couple of burgers, some sandwiches and the verbal promiss of soup.  The bartender then began telling us how good her nachos were.  So good, in fact, that  it seemed to us that it was the only thing that she wanted to prepair.  We ordered nachos...  Good enough; it cured our hunger.

We had parked on the side of one of downtown Vancouver streets.  No parking fees on Sunday night and Monday is a holiday, so if it had been level we probably would have used the six parking spaces we were occupying, until the next morning.  We had considered Walmarts for the night but finally made our way to a rest stop just south of Tigard, Oregon where I am typing this. 

We'll hit the sack early and get a start towards California at first light.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Birch Bay Bikes Back to Baja

Our last trip, or more correctly, our first trip down Baja on motorcycles put 2392 miles on our bikes and our behinds. The road wariness has long since dissipated but the romance of the journey remains vivid in our minds. This trip was enough out of character for both of us that I still feel a level of disbelief. The stories, however are still told whenever there is an ear to lend.

Our wives have no doubt tired from hearing about all of the wonderful times we had and all of the colorful people we met. The stories of our Tequila buddy Mark and Poncho the fisherman are often retold. The fantastic street tacos, turquoise water bordered by white sand with a cactus at water's edge to remind us we're still in the desert. These are just some of the things we often reminisce about.

Talks have often mentioned “our next trip”. The definition of which, has only recently become more clear. First, this time our wives will be joining us. Somewhat reluctantly perhaps, but joining us they are. For most of the trip anyway.

With luck, Peter and I will be departing Birch Bay next Sunday February 17, 2013 in Peter's newly acquired 32' motor home. This will be towing a nice new shiny 20' trailer that has yet to be fitted to secure 2 to 3 motorcycles. The navigation of a beast of such enormity leaves us with plenty to learn but over 1350 miles to do so.

Our destination in the motor home is Palm Springs, California. We have 6 days to get there before Janet and Anne arrive at the airport. From there, we will begin our motorcycle journey into Baja Mexico. We will visit some familiar and many unfamiliar places. The plan is to cross the border at Tecate, the home of the world famous Cerveza Tecate. We will then head toward Mexicali and down to San Felipe. Somewhere between San Felipe, Tecate and Ensenada is Baja's renowned wine country. We plan on visiting several of the wineries in the vicinity on our way to Ensenada/ Rosarito. From there it is a short trip back to Palm Springs so the ladies can catch their return flight on March 9th. Peter and I have yet to determine what means we will use to return.

It should be a fun and interesting journey. We will be in some rather remote areas but I will be posting updates on the Blog as often as possible.

...more to come.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Conclusion of Part Deux and beginning of Part Three

You may have noticed that Part Deux of the blog ended a little abruptly. Peter and I have traveled to some of the remote areas of a rather poor country and no matter where we stopped, we found free WiFi. We also traveled through a few small and remote towns in California and no matter where we stopped, we found free WiFi.

We pulled into Reno Nevada and stayed at a Harrah's Hotel and Casino. We payed more for a room there, than practically the combined cost of staying at all of the hotels/motels in Mexico. They wanted to charge us even more to access WiFi! Blame it on my Scottish ancestry, but I refuse to pay for something that should be included in the room. This has been proven to us time and time again in many a small town. There, the cost to these small business owners is actually something that is noticeable to their bottom line.

We are leaving on yet another adventure very soon. Details, along with the story itself will soon be posted to these very pages... Stay tuned!

Published on
9/19/11 4:54 PM
Pacific Standard Time

Part Deux, Day Three

Our intentions were to scout the wine country in more detail today. We had passed through Sonora on the way to Murphys and thought we would start there.

Sonora is a larger, older town with a busy main street and lots of shops, banks, hotels and bars, etc. Since it was early, we thought we could grab some breakfast and do some exploring. It turned out that we could find absolutely no place in town that was serving food. Several of the bars were open, but no food. None of the restaurants opened before 11:00 AM. We walked to the outskirts of town and finally found a taco truck that just opening for business that day. Felt like Mexico. A couple of tacos and we were good to go. Our exploring had pretty much been taken care of in our search for a meal.

Back across town, we pointed our bikes toward Angels Camp for our next stop. Angels Camp is a nice, clean little town with a high number of antique and souvenir shops.

There are a number of small towns in Calavarus County, separated by a smattering of wineries just off of the connecting roads. It didn't take too long to begin suspecting that the remainder of towns in the area would be much the same as that already explored. Peter finally made the suggestion to head off to Carson City rather than continue exploring antique shops. Moments later, we were mounted up, GPS programmed and ready to roll.

The GPS directed us to Highway 4 to cross back over the Sierra Nevada's to drop us on the Nevada side.

Highway 4 must be one of the most unique, challenging and beautiful roads our little electronic guardian mama could have chosen (aka GPS). The road is twisty and passes by lakes and streams, hills and valleys its entire distance. Part way up the scenic west side, the road changed from a two lane highway to what looked just like a generous one lane road. The road became quite narrow. The pavement has fog lines painted on either side but no dividing stripe. It is two lane however. Oncoming vehicles seemed to meet us at the most awkward moments and because it was so twisty, you never knew when that might be. On coming motor homes were particularly interesting. Some of the switch-back turns were so tight, you pretty much took them at an idle. Once through, we entered Nevada and it was short ride to Carson City.

As we entered Nevada, we fulfilled our pact to stop at the first casino we came across, so I could gamble some 50/50 winnings I lucked into a few weeks prior. We soon found a slot machine that wasn't too greedy and left a little heavier than we had arrived. Off to town.

I tried using the features of the GPS to find us a room. It did serve as a suggestion but it's location abilities were outdated. After asking, we finally found a suitable room for the night (thanks to Peter's keen direction finding capabilities).

A little non-productive gambling, dinner at Mo & Sluggo's Bar And Grill, a nightcap at The Blue Bull and that was about it for the night. We meet the girls in Reno tomorrow.

Published on
9/7/11 10:15 PM
Pacific Standard Time
Part Deux, Day Deux

We woke up with the intentions of visiting the Movie Museum just down the road from our room. We arrived at the door at 9:00 AM hoping they would be opening about then. Although we did see the proprietor wandering around inside, the sign on the door said that we would have to wait until 10:00 to find out about all of the movies that had been filmed in the area. He had no interest in starting his day too early.

The morning air was fresh and a very comfortable temperature. To wait around another hour would mean the sun would just be heating things up. Instead, we packed up and headed off to Bishop to take advantage of the cool morning air.

We were told that Bishop had some good barbeque. We didn't find any of that but we did grab a bite. Afterwords walked around and noticed the 10 or 20 sporting goods and fly fishing shops. Apparently that is very popular in the surrounding lakes and streams up in the hills.

We talked about a guided fishing trip but that never materialized. Dead fish in our saddle bags might just be a bad idea anyway.

Reno isn't all that far as it turns out. We could have ridden the rest of the distance fairly easily. The GPS had been programmed to take us to Murphys, CA which is in the Calavarus County wine country. The route it had selected had us bypassing Yosemite National Park and taking a road that followed the northern park boundary. Peter had the great idea of working our way through Yosemite instead. Terrific idea!

If you haven't been there before, everything you had heard about it is true. It is a stunningly beautiful place with some truly unique and amazing scenery. The road through the park is a very pleasant ride and since we were there just after Labor Day, the tourist traffic was delightfully minimal. Out of the other side of the park was an easy ride to Murphys, California.

Murphys was our planned destination for the night. We had talked about making a wine-touring trip at some point and Peter and I had the opportunity to explore the area and report back to the “better halves”.

Murphys, just a few years ago, must have been just a bump in the road. The “old town” is actually a short block off of the highway and most of the highway frontage is occupied by modern, rather sterile buildings. So much so that we couldn't find a saloon! Imagine that! We couldn't find a cold beer! We actually had to double back and cruise the “Business District” (which is what they now call their old Main Street) and stop at a wine shop to ask where we could get a beer!

The staff at the wine shop suggested we could find a fine beer at a restaurant just a few doors from where we were. Very nice people at the wine shop and we chatted for quite a little bit. They did also mention that there was a rather horrible place, just “kitty-corner” to the place they mentioned, but that only the less cultured folks in the area frequented that establishment.

We wandered down to the most highly recommended place. It turned out to be a slightly snobbish restaurant that served rather snobbish beers as well. A pint each of a couple of beers neither of us had ever heard of and we decided to visit The Nugget (that seedy bar just across the way).

As soon as we entered, we felt right at home. Friendly people in a typically tavern-ish place. We chatted with the locals over a couple of pints and finally felt properly quenched.

Off to find a room, grab a little dinner and back to the Nugget for a “night cap” filled up the remainder of the evening. 545 miles on the odometer. 259 miles traveled today.

Published on
9/7/11 6:21 PM
Pacific Standard Time Part Deux, Day One

September 5, 2011

Normal is defined as results meet expectations. Under those criteria, today was pretty normal. Peter and I were at the airport on time and had plenty of time to catch our flights from Bellingham to San Diego. The cab driver from the airport to the BMW Motorcycle dealer did demand a somewhat handsome reward for his efforts; surprising but not out of the realm of plausible. A reasonably short visit at the dealership had us on our way to the Sierra Nevada's.  
We did encounter a few rain showers. Nothing torrential or anything to really slow us down. So we rode through that like not so seasoned troupers that we are.

On a bike, you get the wrath and the benefits of being exposed to the elements. The rain hit us but the smells released by the moisture had us engulfed in grasses and sage brush as we cruised through. We haven't hit the hills just yet and the desert has been pretty hot and rather humid after the showers.

A couple of gas and water stops later had us 286 miles down the road at Lone Pine California. By the time we arrived, the heat had taken it's tole.  The only means of survival was to find a beer as soon as possible. Luck was finally with us as we eventually found Jake's Saloon well into town. A couple of pitchers later had us properly rehydrated.

We met a couple of climbers [hikers?] as we were just about to head off. That seems to be a popular activity in this area. Nice guys. They saw my helmet sitting on the bar and made the mistake of asking where we were riding to. After we force fed them the key details of our whole adventure, they admitted that, what we are in the midst of, is something they have been talking about too. It'd be fun to see them on the road some day.

Tourist season still seems to be in full swing in the south-eastern California regions. Peter met some Dutch tourists at the bar and some French tourists at one of the gas stops. (For the record, Peter was not rude to the French tourists, but rather was helpful.)

Hunger was an important issue to attend to but so was a room for the night. Following the recommendations of the bartender, we rode down to a nearby motel and booked a room. Luggage into the room and off for a bite to eat at the recommended diner.

We shared an ostrich burger, salads and fries. Another, for the record; ostrich tastes like beef, not chicken...

Our room was a half block the main road and on our wanderings back to the room after dinner, we turned in one block too soon. That was okay however. We met Tony who was just about to close up his auto shop for the evening. His shop is mostly a body shop that is doing some fantastic work on some vintage cars. A couple of Studebaker and a collection of other vehicles are being customized, restored and worked on. Tony was nice enough to give us the grand tour and chatted with us for quite a while. Great shop and nice guy.

We will be exploring this town a bit before we head on. The movie industry seems to have been big around here. At least for westerns. We will do some of the tourist stuff tomorrow and find out more.