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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