Baja 12/22/12 – 1/02/13

Throwback Thursday 

Below you will find a trip report from our inaugural trip with our Adventure Trailer Chaser in 2012 / 2013.  I hope you enjoy…

My husband Ryan and I decided to take a trip down to Baja over the holidays to test out our new AT Chaser. Ryan had driven down through Baja four years ago with his brother, but I have never been south of Ensenada. Our goal was to drive along the coast as much as we could from El Rosario to Guerrero Negro. Below you will find my side of the story.

Day 1…
12/22/12 (Saturday)
We decided to cross the border on Sunday, a day later than we originally planned. We set out in the rain, a bit later than expected and headed south to Orange County to have dinner with our friends.

Day 2…
12/23/12 (Sunday)

We left Orange County around 7 am, got some breakfast and headed south. We stopped in Otay to weigh the truck / trailer & gas up. Ryan was curious how close we were to GVWR fully loaded.

We crossed the Otay border without a hitch. We just had to open the trailer for a quick inspection, got our visitor permits from a very friendly man and we were off!

We made our way towards Ensenada and continued on to San Quintin.

We stayed in El Pabellon RV park for $10. We were one of two groups there. The others were headed out to lead a 35 day hiking trip through Baja. There were hot showers and flushable toilets there and we were right on the beach.

Ryan gave me an early Christmas present of LED Christmas lights for the trailer. I love them!

We had a lovely dinner at Taqueria la parcel 12. They had a selection of many pans full of different dishes and you just pick what you would like. They brought us our choice of tortillas and cups of coffee. I myself am not a coffee drinker, but not to be rude, I added some creamer and sugar and to my surprise, it was quite good.

Day 3…
12/24/12 (Monday)

We woke up, had breakfast and headed south. We drove 76.7 miles. We camped on a bluff on the beach and had a Christmas Eve dinner of apple sausage sandwiches, carrots, cookies and milk. The sound of the ocean is lovely!

I have decided that the trailer needs a name. The truck was already named Adventure Tank, “Tank” for short. I thought I would try on a few names out and see if any would stick. First I tried “little Tank” for about 1/2 of the day, then “‘Lil Toot”. So far, ‘Lil Toot has stuck.

Day 4…
12/25/12 (Tuesday)

Christmas day we had breakfast and took a walk on the beach. We saw our first dolphins. They appear much darker in color than the dolphins up north. I wonder if it was just the lighting?

We drove to Point San Carlos and met a man and woman from SLC. They spend the winters here and told us that we would not be able to get to drive up to the Mesa (that Ryan had been eyeing) with a 4 wheel vehicle.

Of course Ryan doesn’t believe that it can’t be done, so we go as far as we can and the two track road, becomes a one track and we decide to hike it. It’s beautiful up there. It’s our own private cactus garden with giant cacti I have never seen. I saw my first Cirio tree too! They only grow in this part of Baja. The first one I saw looked like a Christmas tree, but they can be all different shapes and sizes. Ryan calls them Dr. Seuss trees. They are also very old, only growing an inch or two a year, some are 40-60 feet tall.

We hiked up for a mile or two and decided to turn around, get to the truck and eat lunch. Since we couldn’t make it up to the Mesa, we would have to head out a different route. At least we didn’t have to backtrack the entire way we have driven since we hit the coast.

We found a nice camp site in a wash between large cacti for the night. We took our first shower since we left OC. I am a bit of a prude and I don’t think that I have ever stripped down and showered in the wilderness. It was kind of nice, well except for the breeze. It has been a lot cooler than I thought it would be. I sure am glad I brought warm clothing!

Day 5…
12/26/12 (Wednesday)

It was cold last night. Down to 42 degrees. It was super quiet here. Only a few cows around. Ryan is still scouring the maps / Bing hybrid etc for ways to get up on that Mesa. He really wants to see it. He is so determined that we can get there. We attempt two different ways to get there. The first one I nixed because we would have had to drive over a lot of green pasture to get to the tracks that were on the map, but we couldn’t see any signs of two tracks on the ground. Lessons learned so far. Bing may say it’s a road and it’s not. Maps may not have them and Bing may not see them, but a road it is. We also attempted to hike and find some cave paintings, but didn’t find the cave paintings. What we did find, was our way back to the car. The second way we attempted was cut short by a fence. The road existed, but someone did not want us to go up it. So back to the main dirt road we went. Our new plan was to camp somewhere before we hit Mex 1 and head back to El Rosario in the am for gas and supplies. We decided to take the road less traveled and ended up with another dead end. We camped on the side of the road for the night after we walked up ahead and found the road blocked. We were definitely not meant to go this way! It was a road at one point in time, but not now.

Day 6…
12/27/12 (Thursday)

We woke up early, packed up and secured everything and headed to Mex 1. We gassed up, ate breakfast at Mama Espinoza’s, picked up some groceries and headed south on Mex 1. A bit up the road, Ryan spotted a yellow Unimog. He says “we know them!”. I have no idea what he is talking about, I have never seen this vehicle before. He pulls over, parks and says he wants to say hello. Then he explains he doesn’t really know them, but has read their blog. We were greeted by Rob and Nina in the Whiteacorn. A beast of a vehicle. They invited us in and we talked about Baja and Copper Canyon and our vehicles. While we were there, a man asked is we had any gas we could spare. They were running on fumes and he feared that they wouldn’t make it the 20 km to El Rosario. Ryan gave him a few gallons of gas from our Jerry Cans and they were off. They had told him that they had been down to Cabo for a funeral and they had brought 2 vehicles, but got into an accident and decided to leave the totaled vehicle on the side of the road as to not deal with the police. So sad.

Well, we were off again, back on the dirt again. We aired down the tires and continued on our journey towards the Seven Sisters. Apparently, they are seven points along the coast, north of Guerrero Negro, that are surfing spots. Ryan doesn’t know exactly which ones they are, but he just wants to drive along the coast as much as we can. Especially if the map says we can’t do it!

We found a spot on the beach to camp and walked down the beach before sunset. It was super windy and we were both hoping it would die down soon. The wind did create an interesting effect with the lighter colored sand floating over the darker compacted sand.

Ryan keeps seeing trash and thinks, “is that a whale bone?”,  he sees a splash in the water and thinks, “it that a dolphin or a whale?”

We stayed up late listening to our Audio book “One Second After”. It’s a book about a EMP disaster scenario. It’s kind of entertaining to listen to.

Day 7…
12/28/12 (Friday)

We woke up early. It was another cold night. Down to 45 degrees. I have noticed that it has taken about 2 hours in the morning to wake up, make breakfast, clean up, pack up, secure / tie down and head out. I think that we definitely have to revamp our storage / tie down options in the AT Chaser. It was delivered a few days before we departed, so we didn’t have a good chance to problem solve / trial different options.

It sure was a beautiful camp site. The sound of the ocean, the scenery, the remoteness.

I have been driving in the mornings. Initially, I was driving 50-100% slower than Ryan was. Lately, I think that I have been a bit more comfortable and have been driving faster. Still not as fast as Ryan, but much faster than a few days ago. I still believe that Tank and Lil Toot appreciate my speed a bit more than Ryan’s. I think that we are both pretty conservative on this terrain, but definitely at different comfort levels.

Well, here we are again. Camped out in the middle of nowhere, next to the ocean. We watched another lovely sunset and walked around exploring our surroundings. We discovered a lot of bones close by. The tide must have been super high to bring these bones up so high.

Day 8…
12/29/12 (Saturday)

It was another cold one last night. No sign of people around us. All was quiet except the waves crashing against the shore and the rocks rumbling down the beach with the waves. We saw a curious seal this morning. Ryan was trying to communicate with it. I think he is losing it a bit out here away from other people. The seal did seam to respond and kept looking in our direction between waves.

We discovered a lot of bones today. A few skulls of what look like coyotes, vertebrae of a dolphin, a whole spinal column of a seal, multiple flippers and ribs.

I have had enough of driving on these roads today, so Ryan did all the driving. For the most part, up until today, I have done maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the driving.

We have had some trouble with the trailer today. The right hub is loose and a bolt in the right A arm had backed out a bit. We were able to tighten that with a bit of team work and the high lift jack, but the hub will have to wait. Hopefully it will be OK until we get home. We have an extra, but no grease to repack this one.

I saw a demo of this at the expo, but Ryan I’m sure would be doing all the work. I would just be the helper as usual.

We saw surfers today and a few more signs of life here and there. We saw our first coyotes. We have noticed their tracks in the mornings around our camp, but have yet to see one, until today. One in particular appeared very used to humans and just stared at us for a while.

Tonight, we camped at Punto Prieta. The almost full moon is shaded by clouds tonight and it’s pretty chilly out already.

Day 9…
12/30/12 (Sunday)

We made it to Guerrero Negro! We woke up this morning at Punto Prieta or “black point” which is a surf spot. We walked the beach, had breakfast and packed up to leave. Ryan wanted to head along the beach as far as we could. I was driving and it started to rain. The first precipitation we have seen in Mexico. I was a bit nervous due to mud, being in the middle of no where and traveling on a narrow road in a thick cactus forest. A road, most probably don’t travel on. Well, we came to the end of the road and we had to turn around. Eventually, back on the main dirt road, we turned off again and pushed through mud and washouts along the coast as far as we could until we were back on Mex 1 and the foreign terrain of tarmac. Once back on the tarmac, we soon saw an expedition rig on the road. We wondered if it was someone coming back from the Maya Rally and sure enough, it was. We pulled over and chatted with Anthony and Bryon from Team Astrid. They were on their way back towards the US after 30+ days in Mexico. It’s funny how small this world is.

We pulled into Guerrero Negro, had a nice meal and decided to spend the night at the Malarrimo RV park. We asked if there was camping on Laguna Ojos de Liebres and set out to see if we could find Rob and Nina from Whiteacorn. After driving through interesting salt flats, we found them and chatted about Copper Canyon and their experiences in Baja since we saw them last. It has been raining on and off today and we were hoping the rain would wash off some of the thick mud we have collected today.

Unfortunately it did not. We are going to have to find a car wash tomorrow after the whale watching tour.

I’m sitting here, catching up on e-mail and really enjoying feeling clean after my first hot shower in 8 days.

Day 10…
12/31/12 (Monday)

Today we went on a whale watch in Laguna Ojos de Liebres or eye of the jack rabbit. We saw a few females and their calves, but as our guide told us, it is just the beginning of the season and there may only be 200 or so whales right now. At the height of the season there should be around 2000.

When we got back we got the truck / trailer washed at Los Bebo’s for a whopping $4. We gave them a $4 tip. Tank and Toot really needed it.

We walked to get some delicious fish tacos at Mariscos Mazatlan.

When we got back to the Malarrimo RV park / hotel, I cleaned and aired out the truck. We had decided to get a hotel room and had a lazy rest of the day.

Day 11…
1/1/13 (Tuesday)

Well, we woke up early today and set out to fix the hub. Ryan had e-mailed the AT guys and watched a YouTube video on how to adjust it. It took just about an hour. Not bad! Hopefully that fixes it until we get home.

We packed up the truck and set off for Catavina. We planned to camp among the boulders and cacti for the night.

We camped at Rancho Santa Ines which isn’t much more than a large dirt parking lot, some tree shaded camping areas and toilets which were not in the best condition. For a 100 pesos we spent the night nestled in between acacia trees to shield us a bit for the bitter cold wind.

We decided to hike along the wash into the town of Catavina (approximately 2 miles). There wasn’t too much to the town, but we were in search of a taco stand for dinner. We found a market that appeared to be without power and purchased pan dolce for breakfast and a tube of Pringles. For some reason I love Pringles when we are out and about. We didn’t find a taco stand, but stopped at the one hotel on the Mex 1, right next to the closed PEMEX and ate in their restaurant. The restaurant had a beautiful wood ceiling and decent food. It also had a cat named Catavina as a mascot who was perched outside my window. It looks like a nice hotel with rooms around $80 USD. We walked back to the campground and settled in for the night. It sure was a cold one again!

Day 12…
1/2/13 (Wednesday)
We woke up with the sun, made breakfast, packed up and headed north towards the border. Our goal today was to cross the border before the sun went down. It’s always good to have a goal!

Well, we made it to the very long line before the border just as the sun was going down. It took us just about 2 hours to get to the border and than about 30 minutes at the border while the US border patrol looked through our truck and trailer.

Everyone we have encountered both in the US and Mexico seem to be very interested in the trailer. Most of the Mexicans, including the Federalies that we spoke with thought the Chaser was a large portable BBQ.  I found it very amusing.

Since this trip, we have been down to Baja numerous times.  It’s a magical place!

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