Monday, February 6th, 2017 – San Felipe, Baja California North to Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California North: ~210 miles
Most of yesterday was spent crossing the peninsula from west to east. While it made for great scenery and riding, it didn’t do much for our need to make progress in a southern direction. We’ll rectify that today. First, I enjoy sunrise. They always seem to be prettier when you’re on the road.
In preparation for a video he’s filming for RevZilla, Spurgeon mounts a couple of GoPros to his GS. Note that he’s putting this one on the right side – that will come into play later.
We spotted this sign on the malecon last night but it was dark and there was too much foot traffic around to snag this shot. I’m suspect we aren’t allowed to ride up on the giant sidewalk, but there weren’t many people around so we tried to make it quick. Time to head south!
The last time I was in the area was about a decade ago, and I tried to explore a cactus farm called Valley of the Giants. The “road” was sand, I had street tires on a BMW K75C, and I didn’t have any real off-road experience. As you might expect, this ended up with me getting very stuck. I bring the idea up of going back there with Spurgeon but we decide that after two days of goofing around we need to make sure that we cover some distance today.
About 70 miles south of San Felipe we stop at a bar called Cowpatty. It is closed when we arrive, so Baby Jack and I make friends with a cactus driving an International Scout (or in this case, “Scow”).
Traffic is just about non-existent and the BMWs are absolutely devouring the adequate pavement. One of the nice things about high-speed touring with ADV bikes is that imperfections in the road don’t bother you at all. Our speeds keep increasing until we’re occasionally flirting with triple digits. I jump out ahead as Spurgeon records some footage for his video, so I enjoy the long straights and gentle sweepers at my own pace while I listen to a song called Dark Ritual by Whale House. Aaron introduced me to this band a couple of years ago and used this song in our Indian Scout video. I often use it as part of my travel playlist:
I check my rear view mirror every few beats and always see Spurgeon’s headlights – until I don’t. I pull over and wait…and wait…and wait. OK, something’s clearly up. I turn around for a bit of backtracking. Within a minute I see Spurgeon’s bike parked on the side of the road and feel relieved that he didn’t have an accident. Turns out, I’m only partially correct. Spurgeon came around this right turn with some significant lean and it and his GoPro had hit the ground and disappeared. After 5 minutes we track down the GoPro (with the memory card still inside of it) and part of his case, but the rest of the case and the battery have been sacrificed to the gods of Baja.
While Spurgeon handles his camera misfortunes, a truck plods along at 20 miles per hour, precariously carrying two crashed cars in the process. I make a mental note to stay well clear when we inevitably catch up to it.
We pass that truck in just a couple of minutes, and then it’s smooth sailing for 30 minutes. I notice a dirt road that could take us out to the beach, so I break away from the main road and Spurgeon follows. I pull over here because I want a photo of our bikes near the water. What I don’t tell Spurgeon is that a few days ago I had a conversation with a buddy of mine named Jon Beck. Jon is an incredibly talented photographer who often covers motorcycle launches for OEMs, and right before Spurgeon and I left, Jon was doing a story with Husqvarna in Baja. He posted this photo, and I asked him where he took it.
He responded by saying that there were several during a certain stretch of the east coast of the peninsula, and that’s where Spurgeon and I find ourselves at the moment. I know we don’t have the right bikes to just ride down the sandy beaches for miles at a time, but it is my hope that when get to the coast, we might be able to see something worth struggling in the sand for.
We can’t see any whales, but I still think it’s worth getting a riding shot along the water. I ask Spurgeon to head out into the distance and he gets stuck immediately. I swear, the pelicans started laughing at us.
It takes both of us to get the bike out but we’re quickly back on the road and meeting some locals. They let me go through with no trouble, but they take special interest in Spurgeon and his luggage. They must be good judges of character.
As we approach Gonzaga Bay, I talk to Spurgeon over our Sena headsets about Alfonsina’s resort. While I’ve never been there myself, I’ve heard many people say that Alfonsina’s has the best fish tacos in Baja. We have to stop there, right? As we approach the restaurant, I notice this Sport Copter in a driveway. I believe it’s a Vortex model – if I’m correct, that means it features a two-stroke Rotax 582 (580.7cc) motor which is not certified for use in aircraft. Rotax themselves have the following to say about it: “This engine, by its design, is subject to sudden stoppage. Engine stoppage can result in crash landings, forced landings or no power landings. Such crash landings can lead to serious bodily injury or death…This is not a certificated aircraft engine. It has not received any safety or durability testing, and conforms to no aircraft standards. It is for use in experimental, uncertificated aircraft and vehicles only in which an engine failure will not compromise safety.” Try not to think about it too hard when you’re up in the air.
My thoughts shift from air to sea as we sit down and enjoy some fish tacos. I don’t see what all the fuss is about – these are good tacos but I don’t consider them to be significantly better than similar meals we have had during the trip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! I’ve got delicious tacos, a couple of Pacificos, and a wonderful view. Baja’s feeling pretty fantastic right now.
I embrace the impending food coma by relaxing on a chair and taking in the view.
All the gas stations here are owned by the government under the brand of Pemex. We feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere, but when we pull up there’s a Tacoma from Virginia, a VW camper van from Alaska, and a Dodge Dakota with a camper on the back from California. It’s a meeting of Americans all having fun in Baja. The father/son duo in the Dakota takes a particular interest in Spurgeon and me. The dad used to ride and we can see all kinds of happiness in his eyes as he shares a couple of stories from his past. We’re trying to make some stories of our own, so we bid everyone else adieu and continue south on Highway 5.
The GS is perfectly suited for this terrain. While four-wheel traffic slowly plods along trying to find the smoothest lines, we just stand up and let the suspension (7.5″ and 7.9″ of travel front/rear) take care of us.
Somehow, none of it matters. This place could just be cardboard boxes and it would still be just as magical because it’s all about the man himself. Coco is an 80-year old Baja legend who’s willing to host anyone that stops by. He’ll also make sure that you sign one of his many guestbooks. Coco’s lost both of his legs from the knees down due to diabetes, and he’s got an interesting life story.
Coco offers us some Pacificos to enjoy while he tells us about himself and the area. Spurgeon and I can’t spend too much time here, so I suggest that you head on over to Tasting Travels for more about the man, the myth, and the legend.
As we get back on our bikes to leave, I feel the deep bass of a truck and I assume it’s a semi. A quick peek at the entrance of Coco’s makes it clear that I assumed incorrectly. A freaking Unimog rolls in! It’s piloted by a sweet German couple that’s traveling around the world.
Baby Jack enjoys sunset with another Pacifico. There’s not much going on in the bay, so Spurgeon and I grab dinner and make our way back to the hotel – the Costa del Sol.
The advertised wifi in our lodging does not work, and that’s a bit of an issue. A fellow hotel guest lets us know that we can buy 10 minutes of internet at a time at the local grocery mart, so we walk over with some pesos. The security cameras keep track of Spurgeon and his illicit online dealings.
By the time we get back to the hotel, we’ve re-upped our internet a couple of extra times. Despite the 30 minutes of internet, we’re only able to send out a few emails. Anything not critical will wait till tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, that’s when we’ll cross into Baja California South!
On to Day 4!