Ok we are now entering into week six of our vacation but this is also just the first week of our “Baja Adventure“. And waking up to a view like this out the windshield of our coach is almost more than we could have imagined or hope for.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022: It was an early rise for me this morning, shortly after four o’clock, now you may wonder why, but I really don’t have a reason, it was not even a call of nature thing this morning. I’m struggling with our internet hub, yesterday after crossing into Mexico it showed an error (SIM locked PIN required) so I sent off an email on my phone with my new TELCEL SIM card, last night and to my delight I received a response and I went through the procedure to reset the SIM card in the Hub. Now I’m picking up the TELCEL network here in Mexico but the speed is so bad it is almost unusable. After sitting by the fire last evening, I just decided to go to bed and deal with the problem this morning.
So, it’s shortly after four o’clock in the morning and I’m running speed tests on the internet connection, and it is still terrible, so I put together an email with the information and send it off to our service provider, and almost immediately I get a response, not something I was expecting at four o’clock on a Wednesday morning. But I worked through every task as asked, and by five o’clock I had responded to a half a dozen emails, as I understand we have to work through all of the stupid possibilities first. Then we get to the actual settings on the hub, and the last email asked me to copy and paste a dozen pages of code that, I had pulled from the hub, I have not heard back yet, so I’m thinking this could take a while.
The sunrise this morning was beautiful, and I snapped several photos, looking out over the Sea of Cortez, and I watched another day come to life. Our departure time today is near eleven o’clock, and involves one of our shortest days, as we are only moving approximately fifty miles down the road to Puertecitos and campground with some hot springs, it will be for one night only, dry camping, overlooking the bay. We have no reservations, as this is one of those places that is basically off the grid, No cellular service, Limited power, one of those places you are afraid to ask about the water, and they need to run generators in the evening to supply lights and operate what ever electrical equipment that is required.
And before eleven o’clock we are venturing further south on Mex-5, the road has narrowed considerably, and the condition of road has deteriorated, to a level that would make one think more of a “Mexican” road. We land at a little campground and we all get a ocean front view again today, the cost for dry camping here was 600 Mexican Pesos ($30.48 American or $41.57 Canadian) but as we pulled up to this view, it made the price seem like a reasonable amount for the view and free hot springs.
The tide is going out now and we are going to walk over to the hot spring this afternoon, but I just felt it was time for a dip in the Sea of Cortez, so now I have had my first official swim of our vacation, the water was lets just say refreshing, but felt wonderful at the same time. We kind of skipped lunch, a couple of adult beverages a few potato chips and we were good to go. We sat under the palapa that was in front of our coach and we were joined by a few people, as we watched the tide continue roll out, Deb & Randy were trying Paul’s paddle board and Deb fell off the board and lost her glasses in the water. Randy & Deb got their masks and snorkel gear and went back out to look for them, we suggested we would all walk out and look at low tide, so at low tide the majority of the group wondered out to the area that we thought we had seen Deb fall, and by luck we did find her glasses in about six inches of water. Luckily it is sand based so they were easy to spot and were not damaged, next we gathered up some towels and headed to the hot springs, the springs had suffered some damage from the last hurricane that hit this area just around a month ago. Workers were still working on repairing the damage this afternoon when we got there, there are a number of different little pools of varying temperature, all but one seemed too hot for this old guy and as luck would have it, it didn’t seem to be hot enough, but it was still a neat experience. The pool we were in actually gets flooded by the high tide so it is only available at low tide, there was a more pungent Sulphur odour around the hotter pools, but didn’t seem too bad at the pool I was in. We headed back to the coaches just before dark and Miss Laurie prepared a chicken dinner as we sat and relaxed, the only people with any connectivity are those with Starlink, the generator is now running at the campground to power this little village, and most of the lights are now on.
The group is going to have a fire again tonight around seven o’clock, it is 6:30 now and it is almost dark already, this is the time of year that the shortness of the fall days really start to stand out. It was quite windy this evening so it kept people moving about to avoid the smoke, by nine o’clock we all headed back to our coaches for the night.
Thursday, November 3rd, 2022: Today will be one of our biggest days with over 300 kilometer (185 miles) it’s not bad for distrance, but as our leader Paul explains today will be the day with some butt pucker, because of the roads being so narrow and have NO shoulder, if you fall off the road here you could have a drop of anywhere from multiple inches to beyond where we don’t want to talk about it. We have a nine o’clock departure time for today, but we will have lots of breaks today, taking advantage of pull offs where available.
We will pass through two military check points today and cross the state line into Baja California Sur, we will also change from Pacific Time Zone back to Mountain Time Zone, this will be our first time zone change this year, rather unusual for us. But todays end destination is Guerrero Negro, which is on the Pacific Coast of the Baja. So as much as our direction of travel will remain south, because of the shape of the Baja we will go from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean today before heading back more eastward toward the Sea of Cortez again tomorrow.
Well the journey today was everything that Paul had promised, and while meeting a transport truck Paul clipped mirrors and lost his drivers mirror, making the last hour of driving a little more difficult. And yes there was moments of the preverbal butt puckering but most of us survived unscathed. We drove down the coast of the Sea of Cortez this morning and then through lush desert forest, a Boojum tree forest, we seen a wandering pack of burros, as well as millions of desert flowers before catching a view of the Pacific Ocean. Our home for the night is certainly not a glamorous as the first two nights as we are parked behind a hotel/restaurant, but the rate was 350 pesos ($24.45 Canadian or $17.82 American)
There are actually hook ups here for water, sewage, and 15 amp power. We dumped our tanks but did not risk the power supply at 140 volts, and we will also pass on filling the water for a few more days. We all gathered in the restaurant for beverages and a bite to eat I had a sea bass dinner, soup, rice, vegetables, garlic toast, and a good portion of sea bass for 185 pesos ($9.42 American or $12.92 Canadian)
Friday, November 4th, 2022: Today was to be a short day, only traveling 150 kilometres (90 miles), moving from Guerrero Negro to San Ignacio, a small village located at an actual desert oasis. But getting there would prove to be an adventure all on its own, as this section of MEX-1 had suffered extensive damage during the last hurricane, so we will have some detours off of the highway. We are aiming for a ten o’clock departure and we almost made it on time, when we hit the road we did not travel far down the road when we had our first off road adventure. In fact we enjoyed a number of these little adventures as we traveled inland as many sections on MEX-1 were washed out, but other than the dust and the rough road the caravan trudged on.
Above are a few photos of the off-road adventures and below are some photos around San Ignacio, the town square and the mission from 1760.
Our stop for today was at the “Campo Rice & Beans” which is basically a hotel and restaurant with camping sites, again we selected dry camping as the facilities offered for campers were somewhere between poor to nonexistent. And you must love the truthfulness of the Mexican people, as the manager told us that she was waiting for another caravan to arrive and would have to keep the “good” sites for them. Now this could very well be a caravan operator that stops there every trip, and maybe deserves the better sites, but it’s just not something that most would say, but we made it easy for her and we all went into San Ignacio to explore the town square, the mission, and get some dinner before returning to the campground for a surprisingly quiet night just off of the edge of the highway.
Saturday, November 5th, 2022: I had some doubts about our travel today, first it is the weekend, secondly we are driving to a dry camping area at Playa Santispac on Bahia Concepcion. The drive is only 159 kilometers (99 miles) but it also includes the “Grade to Hell” and it actually has a number of similar references and I was thinking traffic could be heavy, and camping spots scarce, but none of these items were an issue and we departed at ten o’clock and were at our destination before one o’clock. The camping fee is 200 pesos per night ($13.97 Canadian or $10.18 American) no hook-ups, but we are literally nosed right up to the beach for an unbelievable view into the bay.
We grabbed a quick bit of lunch and headed to the water with our chairs where we just sat on our chairs in the water as the tide started to gently roll in. What a marvelous little piece of heaven, and we spent most of the day just sitting in the water enjoying an adult beverage or two. Miss Laurie cooked up a kilogram of blue shrimp which had been given to Lorena by the camp host in San Felipe, so we had snacks while sitting in the water, then a dinner break before campfire time. There were a few generators running during the dinner break as some of these people are not really boondocker’s they may park in the desert but they are what we refer to as “generator people” the ones that true boondockers try to avoid.
We had a great fire on the beach and everyone sat around and told lies about their camping adventures, it’s like fishing tales about the one that got away, but this is early in our adventure and it kind of gives everyone chance to get to know each other. So maybe it is time to start introducing some of the players in this little adventure, as we only really knew one couple of the group before this adventure began.
So lets introduce the leaders of this little adventure Paul & Lorena, a cute couple that we discovered through their YouTube channel. Lorena is Mexican & Paul is Canadian and they were living in Las Vegas, when I first discovered them they were in the process of selling their home in Vegas and moving into a motorhome as an “experiment” for one year (that was all Paul could get Lorena would commit to), that was six years ago. We first met them in person in September of 2017 when they were touring our part of Canada and held a little meet-up in Niagara Falls Ontario, just a couple of months before our full time adventure started. The second time we met them was in the Quartzsite desert in January 2018 when we actually camped together for nearly a week. Then after that we seemed to always be on the opposite side of the continent every winter, but when they decided to put together a caravan to the Baja we were quick to signup, but then that whole covid thing hit and with borders being closed that plan kind of went to heck in a hand basket. So, this spring when they suggested that they were going to the Baja this fall and offered the people that had showed interest in the caravan the chance to tag along, Miss Laurie jumped on the idea, and the rest is as they say history.
Paul keeps telling us that this is not an organized event, but they have planned many little side adventures that they have already done or is on their list of want to do’s. Lorena who is obviously fluent in Spanish has arranged all the camping spots, or at least as much as they can be arranged in Mexico, they have also planned every stop down to our final destination a campground Playa Norte near Los Barriles B.C.S., where they will spend much of their winter. That is where they will cut everyone loose to get back to the border on their own the trip down is around 1000 miles (1600 kilometers) and will take us three weeks to get there, with all the side adventures that they offered to us. The group will breakup for the trek back north with some people leaving on the tenth of December for those wanting to be home for Christmas. Our departure date is undecided at this time but will most likely be latter than most, and had we not had a commitment in Arizona, we would have likely stayed till spring. Having spoken with Paul a week is plenty of time to do the return trip, and we want to spend as much time as possible in this piece of paradise, and allow more time for road repairs to be completed as a bonus.
Sunday, November 6th, 2022: I woke this morning to a beautiful sunrise streaming through the windshield, we could actually see the water from our bed, what an amazing little piece of paradise. Miss Laurie woke shortly after seven, and we made coffee and headed outside to sit in the lounge chairs to enjoy the start of a beautiful day. And then it happened the coach beside us even before eight o’clock on a Sunday morning fired up their generator with the diesel fumes blasting right at us, so much for a quiet morning with a coffee enjoying the serenity of this rugged but beautiful little spot. And we have been boondocking long enough to know that every group has one or two of those people, the ones that have to run their generators for hours on end to recharge their batteries, so how did we get so lucky to be beside the one?
The reality is that coaches that have residential refrigerators are not good boondocking units, unlike RV refrigerators that can just sip propane to operate the residential refrigerator needs 110 volt power that requires an invertor and a large battery bank. And while the batteries may supply power for a day or so they need to be recharged and that takes either a large solar array which recharges them with DC (direct current) voltage or a generator that produces AC (alternating current) that then operates a battery charger that produces DC power, and if they are lead batteries this is a long painful process and if they are Lithium it can be faster with the correct charger settings. But either way solar is simply the best for charging either type of battery, because of the charge settings on good controllers plus there is no power conversion, and of course the bonus of silence.
Today was a day to explore the Bahia Concepcion, so we put the kayaks in the water for some paddling and exploration, there were lots of birdlife all around with pelicans diving for fish continuously indicating that the fish were plentiful. Everyone spent the day in and around the water with kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling gear, or just swimming of course followed by a beverage on the beach in the sun. There were multiple venders selling their goods either food, or products, we purchased a kilogram of fresh shrimp from a vendor.
There will be no fire tonight as this evening was designated as a movie night we are going to watch “The Millers”, so everyone gathered their chairs around the projector with their favorite snack and beverage. We had not seen the movie and it was quite entertaining and with it being dark before seven o’clock it did not make for a late evening, good for the senior citizens of the group like myself who was back in our coach
Monday, November 7th, 2022: And we have to struggle through another day on the beach, the majority of the group is heading into the nearby village to explore the area, tour the mission, pick up some supplies, and have lunch/dinner. We have decided to just stay at camp and watch the water as the tide comes and goes, in simpler terms just enjoy this beautiful spot in peace and quiet.
It was a wonderful day, we watched a pod of dolphins hunting in the bay, and while a fair distance off the beach Miss Laurie was able to snap a couple of photos of the dolphins just the same. The group returned from town and the generators fired up again, I’m sorry you can not consider yourself a boondocker if your coach has a residential refrigerator and you do not have enough solar to power it. We had a lovely fire on the beach, and we listened to the generators till after ten o’clock
Tuesday, November 8th, 2022: I was up at 4:00 this morning, as there is a total eclipse of the moon this morning so I thought it would be worth a bad photo or two from my iPhone just to document the event.
Today is a travel day, we are leaving our little piece of paradise and heading to Loreto a reasonably short journey of 113 kilometers (70 miles) this part of our adventure will take us south along the Bahia Concepcion before venturing inland just to bring us back to the sea of Cortez and into Loreto. We have a campground booked here for two nights with full hook-ups, awe no generators! Our departure time is ten o’clock and while it will be difficult to leave, we have more adventures to explore.
We passed through another military check point again today, in fact we will travel through five of them in total before reaching our final destination. And while some may find them intimidating they are looking only for drugs and guns. They may ask to board the coach and inspect but we have found they do not show any interest in tourists and usually just wave us through, the main question is where are you travelling from and where are you going. And I’m thinking a few of these style check points back home could solve a few issues, but would not be as effective because here there really is only one main highway to patrol in the Baja
Our journey today rolled along smoothly, there was only a couple small spots of road construction or repair, the highway MEX-1, twisted and turned through the mountains along Bahia Concepcion, offering up great views and a few photo opportunities along the way, and around two hours into the trip, Paul radios back that the Sea of Cortez has just came into view as well as the village of Loreto our destination for the day. Next is the snaking from the highway to our campsite on the shore of the sea, not as rustic or beautiful as last nights site, but we are just steps from the shore and this camp ground has a pool with a view of the Sea of Cortez. It is a warm day 85°F (30°C) and feels warmer because we no longer have that breeze off of the water. It is obvious that the RV park is not their top priority here which is fine, and the generators running have been replaced by barking dogs and crowing roosters, a good day to take advantage of the power supply and run one of our air conditioners.
We ventured to the downtown square of Loreto at five o’clock this afternoon, for a walk through the town square, before our dinner reservation at a restaurant downtown. The town square has just been redone and is beautiful, with the traffic being removed from a number of blocks to allow pedestrian traffic to enjoy the small shops. There was band setting up in the actual city square, and when we returned after dinner it was full of people and music and it was actually an orchestra playing and many of the seats were full, after walking to the water front we ventured back to our vehicles and headed back to the campground and our cooled off coach. Mister Sam was in the windshield looking for his dinner upon our arrival, we settled into our coach for an evening of closed windows with the air conditioner on, enjoying the cool and keeping the outside noise to a minimum.
Of course the credit for all of the good photos in this blog goes to Miss Laurie and her eye for seeing the artistic factor in virtually every shot, the crappy ones are created by my iPhone and myself … lol
Bring on week two of the Baja