Baja Virus Run – Part 2

March 17, 2020

Tuesday March 17. “This is a pandemic,” President Donald Trump said at a March 17 press conference. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

The nice thing about travelling in Mexico is that we very seldom watch any television. The hotels have them, of course, but after a day of riding we are usually too tired to even turn it on and if we did, my limited (but improving) Spanish made the content rather useless. We were becoming more and more isolated from the cares of the “civilized” world and focused our energies on the road ahead.

Ahhh, the first day riding in Mexico. My thoughts of warmth and sun were washed away buy drizzle and clouds. I thought of typical Seattle weather as I zipped my waterproof jacket and noticed my thermometer reading of 47 degrees F. The Ruta del Vino (Wine Route) is normally a beautiful ride through nice hills laced with vineyards. Instead of enjoying the scenery, we focused on the road for water filled potholes through our foggy face shields.

The rain was short lived and by the time we dropped in elevation from the hills into Ensenada the clouds parted and we saw our first glimpse of the sun.

The first tourist stop south of Ensenada was a blow hole called La Bufadora. According to Google Translate Bufadora means Snorter. Ok then, we went to visit The Snorter! We detoured off of Mex-1 and rode west to check out this natural wonder. As we got closer we realized this was a popular tourist location by the vendors along the road.

We ignored the people imploring us to stop and shop at their booths, rode past the parking spots on the far end that would have required us to walk the gauntlet to the blowhole and continued in the increasingly narrow road to the final parking lot next to the water. A nice guy on crutches came over to collect a parking fee and offered to watch the bikes for a small propina when we returned. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the owner of the lot but an enterprising local person. This is how things work, all normal.

It was impressive. We found a rooftop restaurant and had a delicious lunch of authentic Mexican food while we watched over the bay which I now learned is called the Bahia Todos Santos (All Saints Bay).

All too soon we were back on the bikes for our destination for the day. Deby ran across this guy along the way.

These kids were interested in the bikes and were glad for some stickers we were handing out. Nice kids until they started asking for money to go with the stickers…. oh well.

Our destination for the night was Hotel Jardines just outside of San Quintin. It was some distance from town so we needed to stop at the local Oxxo to get some basic supplies for our overnight stay.

cerveza y hielo, two important words for this group.

We tucked in the bikes for the night and celebrated our first day riding in Mexico. Job well done!

Here’s the bird’s eye view of the day’s ride.

March 18, 2020

2:14 AM / MARCH 18, 2020 (cbsnews.com)
U.S. and Canada reportedly set to partially close their border
Canada and the U.S. are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries amid the new coronavirus pandemic, a Canadian official said late Tuesday. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss details amid discussions and ahead of an announcement and spoke to The Associated Press on condition anonymity.

Day two riding south in Mexico. We weren’t paying much attention to the news back home but caught bits of information through “breaking news” e-mails on our phones. Clouds of uncertainty were forming to the north but we had our own clouds to contend with.

We put our rain gear back on, plugged in our heated liners and flipped on the heated grips. This was going to be a long day, 348 miles to the town of San Ignacio. With an early morning start, we rode for about an hour and had breakfast at the famous Mama Espinoza’s restaurant which has been a stop every year for the famous Baja 1000 race. The restaurant has a small motorsports museum of sorts that was interesting to explore. Mama Espinoza, an icon to the Baja race crowd,  died at a reported age of 106 in 2016.

Good food = happy campers

The happiness didn’t last long as we returned to Mex-1 riding south. The clouds darkened and let loose with a vengance that I’ve never seen in Baja Mexico. As we approached Catavina I wanted to stop to see some impressive cave paintings but decided to skip that and ride directly to a small hotel that I knew had a restaurant. We parked under the overhang reserved for check-in’s only and left a local dog in charge of watching our stuff as we went in for some hot coffee.

Catavina is a wide spot in the road that has the strategic advantage of being the midway point between a 250 mile stretch without a gasoline station. Catavina could possibly be the most “middle of nowhere” place there is in all of Baja Mexico. It took just a little bit of math to figure out that some of our bikes with about 200 miles of fuel range wouldn’t make the 250 mile jaunt to Guerrero Negro so we took advantage of the vendors selling gasolina out of cans across the street to grab a few gallons.

I knew it would be a long day of miles but the cold and rain just made it that much longer. When the rain finally subsided the wind picked up as we crossed the border between the Mexican states of Baja North and Baja South. We were on a mission, get to San Ignacio to meet our friends from mainland Mexico who took the LaPaz ferry to join us. We ground out the miles until a mid afternoon lunch stop at a very rustic truck stop.

This place was as Mexican as it gets. A small building that was popular with the truckers and even the local police. Of course the food was fantastic.

Finally, we arrived in San Ignacio late in the afternoon. We parked our bikes at another famous Baja 1000 stop, Rice and Beans hotel and restaurant. There were a handful of other motorcycles in the parking lot so we knew to go right to the bar where we found Art Bone and about a half dozen of his fellow riders from the Motoclassico club in San Miguel de Allende. What followed that night was a blur and doesn’t really matter. Beer, food and good friends are the best antidote to a tough day riding.

John finds a new friend

Here is the video overview, whew!

March 19, 2020

‘If I get corona, I get corona’: Coronavirus pandemic doesn’t slow spring breakers’ party USA TODAY March 19,2020

This had all the makings of a great day. The sun was peaking out and the further south we got the warmer it became. We picked up a few extra riders from Art’s group and now had a string of motorcycles along the mostly vacant Mexican two lane road. And…, although nobody really knew (but me) it was Deby’s birthday! It’s her favorite thing to celebrate her birthday in another country where nobody can make a big fuss. It worked once again.

The first stop on Donn’s magical Baja tour was only a few miles away. The historic downtown district of San Ignacio. Deby and I had been there many times but it’s always magical. We were excited to share it with our group.

Beautiful tree lined square.
One of the oldest missions in Baja
An easy life for the local sidewalk sweeper
Even the local dogs were laid back
Bikes parked in the square

The plan for the day was a relatively easy 220 miles to Loreto so we would have time for some stops along the way. The first tourist stop was in Santa Rosalia. In the past Deby and I always thought of Santa Rosalia as a sort of gritty town just to get through on our way south. It’s a working port town of about 14,000 people that is the terminus of the ferry from the mainland Mexico city of Guaymas. The major industry is a huge mine that spills from the mountains directly to Sea of Cortez. It’s so close to the road that at points we are riding next to large mining equipment and dodging huge potholes created from mining traffic on the road.

We learned there is one interesting thing to see in the city that made a stop worthwhile.

Iglesia de Santa Bárbara

There is an unusual church in the middle of the town that is made of a metal frame with stamped metal panels. The history of this building is maybe a little unclear…. The city claims it was designed by the famous architect Alexander Gustave Eiffel, yes that one. Most people agree that it was built in 1887 for the 1889 Worlds Fair in Paris where it was on display for a while before it was shipped to Santa Rosalia where it was assembled in 1897. The rumor that is told around Baja is that the church was shipped in error to Baja and once it arrived was too expensive to return and therefore erected in town. Wikipedia has a different version of the story you can read HERE. The book Baja Legends by Greg Niemann tells a slightly different story including that it was a “mail order” church the city bought from France. We may never know the truth, but it’s worth checking out.

Interior of the “kit church”

The road south from Santa Rosalia gravitates towards the coast of the Sea of Cortez and once south of Mulege comes to some of the famous beach coves that Baja is famous for. We decided it was time for a break and turned down the dusty road onto Playa Santispac for a small break that ended up being a couple of hours!

As a reminder, we are all here as a group because we know each other from the Northwest Norton Owners group and we all own, or have owned Norton motorcycles. We are sitting at the table and someone rides up on a dirt bike with no helmet and wearing shorts and sandals. Obviously from the nearby campground. He saw somebodies Norton shirt and asked, “hey, who here has the most Nortons?” What? We looked at him and each other and did some mental math. “Four”, is the answer John shouted out with. Our new friend responded that HE had four Nortons as well, it was a tie. Who was this guy? Someone from Oregon who is a member of the Oregon Norton Owners club. How about that? After about an hour of “do you know… and do you know… ” we figured out we had a lot of mutual friends. Small world.

It was only a short ride to the hotel so I wanted to take a detour to the San Javiar mission just outside of Loreto. It’s a fantastic ride up a narrow twisting road to the mission at the top of a 1300 foot peak just miles from the ocean.

For 20 pesos Deby, Greg and I were permitted to climb up the stairs to the top of the church.

This is just one of my favorite places to visit. The first time Deby and I rode there nearly 10 years ago the road was just a sandy track and the trip there and back took most of a day. We felt like we earned the right to visit it then but were glad to see the paved road hasn’t changed the charm of the old mission.

The road down is even more spectacular with view of the Sea of Cortez in the background.

Garry S. with the mighty KLR

Finally it was time to make the last few miles to our hotel in Loreto but of course, we had to make one important stop along the way.

Before we ended up at Hotel Oaisis for a relaxing evening on the beach.

Ahhh, warmer weather, great riding, good friends and a happy birthday for Deby. Another day for the books. Here is the video overview.

Thanks everyone for following and I hope everyone is safe and well. More to come.

Donn and Deby

13 thoughts on “Baja Virus Run – Part 2

  1. Great pics and blog as usual Donn. Thanks. Love all the old old missions. Love even more that their purpose was to announce to the people that Jesus Christ is alive, that Jesus Christ is Love, that Jesus Christ rescues, that Jesus Christ redeems and that Jesus Christ restores LIVES. Bless His name forever!

  2. Hi Donn & Deby,
    It is great knowing you are out enjoying life at its best. This is a great write up with great photos.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Jesse James

  3. spent a lot of time in Baja but never got as far south as you guys. Thanks for the blog.

    BTW I have a 70 Commando and belong to oNe.

  4. Looks like a fun time, I recognize a lot of those places. Glad to see you make it an adventure in spite of what the world has going on. gpsKevin

  5. While doing some internet “research” I learned Jayne Mansfield had one of her marriages in Mulege, she must have stayed at La Serenidad at the time. If so, too bad we weren’t able to go inside the restaurant and look for pictures.

  6. A belated Happy Birthday to Deby from the California couple that helped her celebrate her birthday in Guanajuato!

    Jeanne and Bo

    • Jeanne, that was one of the most memorable birthdays for Deby. I seem to remember we were up so late and so loud that the hotel management had to ask us to get off the roof about midnight! You still get down there???

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