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Driving the Baja Peninsula, Part 2


View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

And our trip down the Baja continues.

Day 3: San Ignacio to Mulege

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LAGUNA DE SAN IGNACIO
Prior to heading out, we decided - well maybe I decided - that I wanted to see the Laguna de San Ignacio before we moved on. It's a very popular grey whale watching spot in the winter. There was a sign on the edge of town pointing to it and I just assumed it was - you know - right there. Well 50+ km later we finally found it. We don't call it Arrradventures for nothing! The drive out was stunning as you cross the desert and then hit the extensive salt flats before actually reaching the lagoon, even if about 20 km was rough dirt road!

Salt flats!
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The Lagoon
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We saw some of the biggest cactus of the entire trip in this stretch.
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Tree Cactus (Joshua Trees)
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Thankfully, after that adventure, we had planned two short driving days so we could enjoy some of the oasis towns on the Sea of Cortez. But first lunch. Fish Tacos!
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MULEGE
Mulege was the first stop and the road to it was highlighted by views of Volcan Tres Virgines. It dominates the view for miles before you actually got to it.
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Mulege is another oasis, this time on the coast where a river empties to the sea. It was the first real river we saw after tons of dry river beds all throughout the drive.
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As a side note, I would love to see the landscape when these rivers are flowing.

We had heard Mulege was a beautiful town and it was pretty but - well - not all that. It has a lighthouse and a mission that are interesting and it does have a small beach.
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We had not booked in advance here, thinking we would try the "let's just see what we find" approach. After an hour and a half trying to find something, we decided we really don't like that approach! We finally found a small hotel with a pool for $25/night and were very relieved. It gets soooo hot here (even for us) that afternoons are best spent doing nothing and sitting in the shade. Add a pool and a cold cerveza and all is right with the world.
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Once it cooled off, we set out for dinner and had surf and turf with some of the best langoustines ever and a wonderful sunset.
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After dinner, we happened upon an indoor soccer match and sat and watched for awhile.
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Day 4: Mulege to Loreto

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This was also a short drive day and maybe one of the most beautiful. Our route took us along the Sea of Cortez and Bahia de Concepcion for some stunning views.
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We stopped at the first cove we hit on the Bay, Playa Santispac, and had breakfast at Restuarante Ana.
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Later in the day we saw this "sand tornado" moving across an open area of desert!
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LORETO
Loreto is a beautiful town on the Sea of Cortez. It's bigger than the others along the way and has a lovely Malecon. We treated ourselves and stayed at a hotel with a bar and restaurant right on the beach. Of course, after a swim and some sun, Margaritas were in order to accompany the sunset.
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Then a walk down the malecon to the Loreto sign. Many towns along the coast have these colorful signs.
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The next morning treated us to a spectacular sunrise and we were on our way.
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Day 5: Loreto to La Paz

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Our last day and another long one. It was highlighted by more spectacular mountain passes as we had to cross back over the Eastern ranges to the center of the peninsula for the run south. The middle was dominated by very long, very straight stretches of road through the countryside, farmlands, and two significant farming towns before cutting back across the mountains to the east coast and La Paz.
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LA PAZ
And we made it!
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We have a wonderful little one bedroom apartment a half a block from the water and the Malecon in the historic center with tons of restaurants, bars, and shops. More to come on life in La Paz...

Remember to subscribe and follows at @Arrradventures on Instagram!

Posted by mrb430 13:30 Archived in Mexico Tagged baja Comments (0)

Driving the Baja Peninsula, Part 1


View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

This is overdue but we made it to La Paz Saturday, September 1st. We've been settling in and getting to know our town and I can see many posts in our future about life in Mexico. But for now - the Baja Road trip. 914 miles from Tijuana to La Paz through some of the most amazing country we've seen.

A few observations first.

The roads were much better than we expected as far as road conditions. Here and there where there was road work and detours onto dirt tracks to get around it we were glad for Ruby's 4x4 suspension and tires but otherwise it was very pleasant driving.

That is not to say there aren't parts that are dangerous. High mountains with switchback curves, no shoulders (at all!), and no guard rails were the norm in many areas. Needless to say 80 kmp (50 mph) was about the average with times at 40 kmp (25mph) and highs of 125 kmp (77 mph) on strait aways.

Passing is really at will. There are designated passing zones but no one cares. They pass when they want to and so did we after awhile.

There is no highway patrol. We only saw police in the towns. Not one in all 900+ miles on the highway.

There are military checkpoints. We went through about ten. We had read about these and were somewhat apprehensive as to what to expect. Of course, all you read about are the bad times people had and from lots of travel reading we've come to expect things to be better than described in travel blog comments but still.. When you pull up to a checkpoint and the military is there with machine guns you have to wonder. In the end, we had no issues at all. Generally we were asked where we were coming from and where we were going and waived through. One time they wanted us to roll down the tinted back windows to see inside, once I opened the tailgate, once we were asked for identification (I used my driver's license), and once we were asked for the registration for the car. We were polite; they were polite. Our ritual when approaching was: remove GoPro from window, remove sunglasses, turn off the radio, act quiet and attentive. I'm sure they have a profile and we clearly didn't fit it! Thank goodness because doing a detailed search of everything in Ruby would have taken hours!

There are roadside memorials called “descansos,” which means “resting place” in Spanish. The dictionary defines “descanso” as a roadside marker or memorial to a victim of an automobile accident. They are really interesting and a little unnerving. Almost every bad curve has at least one, some two or three. Of course, if everyone that died in an automobile accident in America had a descanso, the roadsides would be littered with them and I'm sure not every Mexican victim has one but there were enough to keep you cautious. Some were obviously for truckers, who must be totally fearless to travel these roads!
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Others were simple crosses, elaborate shrines, or even carved out rocks. Many incorporated parts of the wreckage. You can see many images on Google and I'm sure someone has done a mile by mile look. We didn't get any pictures because they are often in places you absolutely can't stop!

Day 1: San Diego to El Rosario

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We had a rather inauspicious beginning to our trip! Crossing the border at Chaparral there was no line at all. This was good and bad. Bad because it didn't give us time to stop and think what we needed to do. As a result, we entered Mexico without stopping at Immigration! Oops! No passport stamp, no tourist card stamp! So we then proceeded to search out the Immigration office in Tijuana, NOT and easy thing to do! We were successful in finding it after many false starts only to learn they don't actually process immigrants there (?); we would have to go to the port in Ensenada. No big deal, it was on our way. But we did spend our first three hours in Mexico as illegal immigrants! As it turned out, we had an amazing lunch along the playa before continuing our trip.
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And the views from the cliffs down to the Pacific along the Tijuana scenic highway in this stretch were beautiful.large_IMG_2737.JPG

It was interesting how little real development there was in this part. We had expected this to be an area with beach resorts, condos, etc. for vacationers from the U.S. but there really was very little of that. Here and there were attempts at it but nothing like we expected.

From Ensenada to El Rosario, just above Baja Sur where the road turns away from the Pacific, is the most crowded and least interesting part of the drive. It's all crowded farming towns and huge agricultural operations. El Rosario is a thriving small town stretched out along the highway that offered us a great hotel, Baja Cactus, and a nice breakfast. Bloggers had said there wasn't much there but we found it very sufficient for an overnight stop.

Day 2: El Rosario to San Ignacio

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The road to San Ignacio first takes you across the Pacific range into the central plains between the mountains, across the Catavina Boulder Fields, then out to the Pacific again and through a huge area of sand dunes near Guerrero Negro, and finally back inland to the oasis of San Ignacio. It was a beautiful but long drive! So long, we had heard you need to buy gas to be sure you make it and Catavina is the only place with gas on the whole road. Seriously?!large_fullsizeoutput_1b3c.jpeg

This is what getting gas in Catavina amounts to! Muy interesante!
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Th boulder fields were beautiful and the variety of cactus just mind blowing.
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SAN IGNACIO
Built in an oasis in the desert (our first!), it is a quant town with a central square and about 700 inhabitants.
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It is a very historic mission town and very welcoming.
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We passed the afternoon and evening drinking cerveza on the square and watching the local activities, which included a volley ball game, children playing, people cruising by, and - of all things - a film company remaking the town to use as a set for a Mexican film on drugs called "Polvo (Powder)". Set in the 1970's, they were removing anything that looked more modern than that and renaming restaurants and stores to be appropriate for the movie. It was pretty interesting to watch. The film crew were all staying at our hotel and we got the very last room available!

Next up, days 3 and 4. Don't forget to subscribe and check us out @Arrradventures on Instagram.

Posted by mrb430 12:02 Archived in Mexico Tagged baja Comments (2)

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