No…. not these kinds of whales!
Not humanoid biped whales but the more majestic kind that live in the ocean. But I’m going to save that for later. If you just can’t wait, scroll down to the end for a whale of a story (get it? ha ha).
With the wedding over we decided to leave the newlyweds to have their honeymoon without their parents hanging around and departed for the Baja Sur state capitol of La Paz. We were invited to hang out with our friend Richard and his wife Jane. You may remember Richard, he rode with us last year to Copper Canyon. We also rode with him last year in Canada. Richard is also a fellow Norton motorcycle enthusiast and a member of the Northwest Norton Owners. Richard and Jane spend winters living abord their 32 foot cruiser that they keep in the LaPaz marina. We couldn’t resist his invitation to dinner and a day on the water.
We spent the day going to Playa Balandra, one of the most famous beaches in Mexico. Known for it’s beauty, sandy beaches and shallow, warm waters. They even have whale sightings.
Deby was glad to stay onboard and soak in the perfect warm sun.
Dang, this motorcycle adventure travel stuff is rough work.
I don’t really know much about boats so I let captain Richard and first mate Jane pilot the ship. I did fully question him about the navigation equipment and technology onboard. I was also impressed that is was powered by twin turbo Cummins diesel engines. Fast, but I assumed the mpg wasn’t that great. Thanks Richard!
We had more to explore. We had heard from years about a place called Playa Aqua Caliente or in English, hot water beach. It’s almost two hours from La Paz on the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula. We decided we had time to check it out.
We rode down a long and somewhat sandy dirt road to and AirBnb we booked at the end of the road. We checked into the Kite Ventana Casitas. Little casitas on a nice piece of property. After sunset the moon had a fantastic moonrise.
In the morning we were treated to a nice sunrise.
It was a fun place to stay with a nice common area kitchen.
But the main attraction was the hot springs along the beach.
Our new friend Alphonso, the grounds keeper at Kite Ventana, walked with us to the beach and showed us how the hot springs work. There are a number of places where very hot, scalding water percolates out of the ground near the water’s edge. When the tide is just right it goes into pools that have been made with rocks and mixes with sea water to get the right temperature.
The temperature is adjusted by moving the rocks around to let more or less sea water into the pool. The result is a nice soak with a beautiful view of the bay.
As the tide goes out the first pool becomes too hot and we had to move to the second pool.
We claimed our own little pool and after adjust the water to the just right temperature had a good soak.
We had a lot of fun with Alphonso the grounds keeper. The grounds were fantastic and he was very knowledgeable about the local plants. We felt bad that he was sleeping in his car on the property because his tent blew away. He was quick to point out that his employer was working on getting him housing. Things work a little different in Mexico.
Somewhere about that time I received a text message from our friends Jeff and Nancy. We met Jeff years ago on a GPSKevin ride and have kept in touch since. Jeff said they were camping in Los Barriles. He read this blog and knew we were in the area and invited us to stay with them. Hey – great deal, yes! They had their 4X4 van/camper parked in a gated property close to town that had a combination of campers and houses owned by ex-pats. Jeff made arrangements for us to stay at a small apartment rented out by one of his friends in the complex. We spent three days exploring the area and hanging out with Jeff and Nancy and their friends Scot and Tina. The complex had a really nice heated pool where we spent a lot of our time hanging out. Hmmm, I like this idea of not riding every day and taking time to have some fun. Deby wholeheartedly agreed.
On Friday night they took us to this awesome “pop-up” restaurant that is basically in someone’s backyard. Lillie’s is a secret spot mostly only known to the people who live in the area. We had to get there early to get a table for six, it was worth it.
I couldn’t resist ordering one of the hamburgers they are famous for.
On Saturday night we drove Jeff’s rig on the beach to a concert by a touring band The Lack Family. Los Barriles is on their regular tour circuit and have a big following. Left to right is Jeff, Scot, Tina and Nancy. We were just two of probably a hundred trucks and side by sides lined up on the beach for the concert.
Another interesting thing about this part of Los Barriles, there is a heard of cows just wandering around the neighborhood. It’s customary for everyone to save their food scraps and then leave them on a big rock on the corner for the cows. Deby had a leftover sandwich that needed disposal before we left so we walked down to the rock and did our part.
Ok, I have to post a picture of Scot and Tina’s dog Petie. Most dogs live for food, not Petie. All he wanted was for someone to throw his toy and play fetch. Over and over and over and over… Who could say no to that face.
Oh, that whale picture at the top of this post? That’s us with Jeff giving us the rabbit ears. Here we are fully clothed. Thanks for your hospitality Jeff and Nancy.
So where to next? We heard from the honeymooners and they were heading to La Paz after a week of backcountry camping. Lindsey said she could use a hot shower and a warm bed. Hey, we could arrange that, so we rented a house on AirBnb with two bedrooms, a laundry room and it even had a hot tub.
It was good to see those kids and spend some more time together. For some reason I didn’t take too many pictures. Here is one of the sunset behind the Marina. One of those boats belongs to Richard.
From La Paz we rode across to the Pacific side of Baja to San Carlos to search for whales in Magdalena Bay. We booked two nights at Hotel Brennan. I’m not going to dwell too much on San Carlos, the whales in Magdalena Bay or Hotel Brennan. The city is a small fishing village that also hosts a oil fueled power plant. It’s not really setup for tourists. We found one restaurant that was mediocre. The hotel helped us book a whale watching trip for the next day. We were told to be ready at 8:00 in the morning and plan on being gone for 6 hours. Right on time our guide showed up with his pickup truck towing the panga style boat we would be using. After pleasantries and payment he told us to hop in. The boat? He looked at me like – what else? We had a nice 20 minute tour of the city from the boat.
We did see some whales, stopped for lunch on a remote island and made another stop where we climbed sand dunes and searched for shells. The whale watching was just ok. I’ll save the fantastic whale watching for the end.
The was absolutely nothing to do in the town at night so we grabbed some pork shops and snacks to eat and settled into the lounge area of the hotel for a rousing game of crazy eights!
Slightly disappointed in the San Carlos whale watching experience we decided to be sure to stop in Guerrero Negro where we heard there were more whales. It would be a really long ride between the two bays so looking at a map we saw Loreto was about half way. Hey, why not. And for an added bonus, we found out that there was a Blues Festival in town. We found ourselves back in Loreto, the same town where the wedding had been a few weeks before.
We happened to be in the main square with the sunset and the color of the municipal building lit with almost the same hue. The stage was ready for the next day’s festivities.
The next day we were again walking in the main square when we turned around and there was Jeff and Nancy standing there! What the? Jeff said it was getting too hot in Los Barriles and wanted to head north. What a surprise. We hung out with them all night at the blues festival and then later sat around the campfire at their campground. Ha. Here is a picture from the blues festival. We seem to fit the prime demographic for most of the people.
We did take some time to ride to the San Javier mission. It’s one of our favorite rides and we had perfect weather to enjoy it. I did manage to get a couple of motorcycle pictures to remind everyone, including myself that this is a blog about motorcycle travel. Here is Deby with her F750GS.
Here is the other side. Someone in the comments asked about her center stand that fell off on one of the first days. If you look closely you can see it securely attached to her soft pannier bag. I’m sure it will stay there for the rest of the trip.
If you look closer to the front you will notice a big piece of plastic is missing. How? We never figured it out. Did it just fall off somewhere? Did someone pull it off? Who knows.
I might as well add a picture of my BMW R1250GSA. Dirty, but a great ride.
Ok, blah blah blah…. What about the Whales????
On Deby’s birthday we rode to Guerrero Negro and checked into a “hotel” I found online. I had to make the reservations using WhatsApp which was a little odd but, hey it’s Mexico. We found ourselves the only tenants in a huge house with a big garage for the bikes, living room, kitchen and lots of room. Luxury accommodations even for the bikes.
We managed to make reservations for a 7:30 pickup for whale watching. Promptly at 7:30 a van pulled up to the house. What, no boat? Ha, not this operation. We drove to their office where we were supposed to meet another group of five for the boat. We were brought into a room with chairs where we were given a presentation about the whales and the area. The other group never arrived so our guide said it would be just us in the boat. Whoa, ok that sounded good.
The weather was overcast and a little cool. There was even a few drips on the windshield as we drove to the launch point past the salt plant that is the main industry in the area. The wind was dead calm and the water in the bay was like glass. Perfect.
We were given life jackets and rain coats and loaded into our personal panga to look for whales. After about 30 minutes of fast smooth running we slowed to an idle. In the distance we started to see spouts and outlines of whales. Then the occasional breaching and they started getting closer, and closer and closer. Were they attracted to the boat? To us? Were they paid to support tourism? Suddenly they were everywhere and got closer. I’ll let some pictures describe. Yep, thar she blows!
Going down for a dip.
These guys are HUGE and were swimming under and next to the boat. Usually in pairs, mother and baby.
It’s hard to get an idea how big they really are.
Right next to the boat, I mean RIGHT next to the boat. They could have flipped us over if they wanted to.
Then this…. Deby’s new best friend!
Hey, what about me?
Mostly we were alone, just our boat and “our” whales. Eventually another tour boat drifted over and I took this picture to show that the whale is longer than the boat and to show how lucky we were to have a whole boat to ourselves.
Between the two of us we took probably hundreds of pictures and I measured 45 minutes of video with out iPhones. We were so excited I’m surprised neither of us dropped our phones in the water. I used up most of my memory and all of my battery. Today Deby and I watched all the videos and she helped me put together a YouTube video of the adventure. We condensed it down to just under 9 minutes. We hope you like it.
So, whew! Except for the wedding, that was for sure the highlight of our trip. Thanks to Laguna Tours for a great job.
His website doesn’t seem to be working but you can visit his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/LagunaWhaleWatchingTours/?locale=es_LA or e-mail or call.
With that I think I’ll be ending the blog for this trip. At this point we are in Bahia de Los Angeles or as the gringo’s say, Bay of LA. The weather is definitely getting cooler and it looks like rain in the forecast for heading back north. Yuck. I’m glad for a day of good bandwidth to get caught up with this post. We thought about riding straight to the border tomorrow but we need to kill some time to wait for another storm to pass southern California. Wow, storms in CA coming down and returning. Who would have guessed. We’ll probably stop in San Filipe and then decide where to cross into the US.
Thank you all so much for following and the comments. We read them all and enjoy hearing from everyone. I’m not sure what will be next but I know we have some planning in the works so hopefully there will be more to report.
Donn and Deby
The whale video!!! Wonderful. How does it feel to touch a whale? Fantastic!
Very cool! Thanks for sharing. A few yrs back (2019) a friend & I did the mainland down to Topolobampa – Baja Ferry to La Paz then down to the tip & back up the length of the Baja to cross back into USA @ Tecate, & home to Idaho & him to Texas. I’ve been wanting to do something similar again but some other riding pals are scared out by all the Cartel news. What can you tell me (us) about the Copper Canyon ride (east to west) & then down to Mazatlan? Do’s & don’ts – when to go & went not to – Cartel information & concerns????
Keep having a ball riding & sharing. Thanks in advance for your assist.
Thanks for the great ride. Loved the whale video!
Jeanne and Bo
Your adventures are thrilling and fascinating. I love experiencing them with you. Trying not to be jealous, but it’s hopeless! Thanks for sharing, Donn. Hey Deby!
Another terrific trip! Thank you so much for sharing the ride. Have a safe trip home. Norm Leopold
Wow! Deby couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present! What an incredible, unforgettable experience!!
Oh my, just like I remember it. Scammon’s Lagoon. You were lucky to have so few people in your boat. You sound just like I did Deby. When I was listening to you I felt like I was in the boat. Made me want to make the trip again. I wondered if the whales would still be there this late in the year. If I had known you were there would have recommended Malarimos restaurant for great food at reasonable prices. We also toured the salt factory. The main stay of the town. Such a great experience for you. So many whales there and not a long distance from the town. You should check out the history of it all. So happy for you to have had that experience.
Thanks for bringing me along! I actually rode all around those parts on a bike, back in the Jurassic period. I’m thrilled to see how you’re enjoying it. Love, Emily
Absolutely incredible !!
Deby had a whale of a birthday!!! What an incredible experience and trip!
I really enjoyed the video and the excitement in your voices, brought me back to my sailing days and the incredible marine life in Baja!
Nos vemos en Junio amigos!