Baja California, Mexico // No. 4

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Our trip up the east coast was totally different from the west. More dirt roads. More dry river crossings (read: you will catch air if you don’t slow down). More glimpses of the ocean. We quickly stopped at Bahia de Los Angeles for one night. Antonio, the camp owner was the sweetest man who was so excited to see Winston because his daughter up in Ensenada has a pug too. His camp had the cool stone palapas too. A change from the palm woven palaces. We wanted to take a dirt road shortcut which happened to be part of the Baja 1000 route! Super cool. That road turned into another “more improved” dirt road. The Mex 5. Anyone who takes the Mex 5 is going to drive right by Coco’s Corner. Coco (an ex crop duster, who no longer has his legs) has taken this spot of desert and turned it into quite the pit stop. Rumor is you can see it from space…… Old trailers, toilets, tv’s, and aluminum cans are placed in strategically decorative places. Bras and panties hang from the ceiling of his porch. Cold drinks are ready to be purchased and stories from the road are meant to be shared. It was the perfect spot to stop after traveling the dirt road for a while. We made lunch at Gonzaga Bay (which has the NICEST pit toilets we had seen, by the way). We debated staying there for the night, but ended up pushing on for San Felipe. We’d heard the Baja 250 was happening up there and thought it way be worth checking out. This was kind of a mistake. It was cool to see the rigs, but the crowds were insane. A few too many sunburned necks ;) if you catch my drift. And monster energy drinks. And alcohol. All of the campgrounds were full near town so we drove a few miles back the other way and found an empty palapa down a hilly beach that wasn’t taken. The sand was sooooo deep! We cooked the Trigger fish we’d purchased from the guys who drive along the beaches selling goods (fruits, vegetables, water, blankets, fish, etc), and settled in for our last night in Mexico. Fireworks, and noisy engines, and cop sirens (catching the speeders) were the sounds that lulled us to sleep that night. Jesse had to gun it to get the truck up the sandy hill onto the road the next morning, one last ode to the Baja. We had to drive into the heart of town again for gas which was a nightmare, trying to weave in and out of the bumper to bumper traffic. In all honesty it probably wasn’t that chaotic, but after two weeks of quiet beaches and sleepy fishing towns, it was kind of a shock to the system to be in all of the commotion! 

Within a few hours we had crossed back over the border which was a slower, but painless, process. 

Now it’s on to planning the next adventure!

Destination: unknown.

Baja California, Mexico // No. 3

There was one other beach we knew we wanted to check out on this trip, Requeson. It was beautiful. Different than Coyote, but beautiful. We had a bit more room to spread out. The beach was even more shallow. The palapas more available. When the tide is out, a sandbar is revealed connecting to a small island. The wind had picked up and that made it a little miserable, but we took the time to just chill out and enjoy the view. The pit toilets left much to be desired (both at Requeson and Coyote) but the beach was clean. Winston even braved the shallow waters all on his own. The stars were showing off one night so we sat outside just taking it all in. The moon began to rise over the horizon, looking more like a sunrise. It was magical. 

On our way out of Concepcion, we stopped in Mulege one more time for quick wi-fi fix and a stop at Marios for more fish tacos. Oh man. Those fish tacos. Best we had.

Baja California, Mexico // No. 2

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We were finally making our way to the bay side of the peninsula, where the beaches are unrivaled. Along the way we stopped in Rosalia, which I LOVED. It was vibrant. Full of life. Colorful. Busy. We grabbed a few treats from the famous french bakery, stopped at the prefab church designed by Eiffel himself (as in the Eiffel Tower) where a beautiful choir was singing during a church service, and wandered the streets. I loved the colorful buildings and town square complete with gazebos and trees bursting with purple flowers. 

After a few more hours, we caught a glimpse of our first Concepcion beach. It. Did. Not. Disappoint. The aqua blue water and white sand needed no filter. Coyote Beach had been on our radar, so we continued on just a bit farther. Just as we suspected, the beach was full of massive RV’s driven by snowbirds. Snowbirds are retired couples who head south during the winter months, then head back up in the springtime to plant their gardens. We were worried there wouldn’t be room for us, but luck was on our side and we squeezed right in between a palapa and a huge palm tree. Shade, privacy, and the ridiculously beautiful beach just 15 feet from our door. We had two beautiful days there, exploring the beach, shuffling our feet in the sand to avoid the stingrays, making friends with the snowbirds, and doing yoga on the beach with Lulu (a yoga instructor living down there indefinitely). It took us a minute to learn how to just relax, we’re not used to slowing down. The weather was perfect. Slight wind. Low 80’s. Winston even tried out his life jacket for the first time. Didn’t love it, but we’ll work on that.

Baja California, Mexico // No. 1

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We hoped the beginning of this mini expedition was not an omen for the entire journey. Between the last minute (very expensive) car fix, accidentally giving a McDonalds cup full of Sprite instead of water to Winston, pouring rain in San Diego, frantic run to the bank and other errands in said rain, and a bit of apprehension about crossing our first border in our own vehicle, we were already feeling a little defeated by this adventure. Turns out we would leave the bad luck in the states. 

We (read: Jesse) had done an enormous amount of research on the Baja; border crossings, gas gaps, road conditions, camping options, paperwork for Winston, etc., but this mode of travel (overloading) is new to us, so there were still unknowns. We approached the boarder at Tijuana and didn’t have to wait even one minute. We’d heard horror stories about having to wait in lines for hours and how stressful border crossings can be (though I think most of these stories are from countries farther south). We did have to stop at a specific building to get our travel visas approved. I was reminded that things are still a little serious when I walked near a dog crate (I think it was a police dog) and he went APE. The whole crate was thrashing around like something straight out of a cartoon. Noted. 

We booked it to Ensenada because Tijuana is…well you know what Tijuana is. We weaved our way through town and made our first fish taco run at the infamous Fenix. Every overlander makes a stop at Fenix. We found the Walmart and I braved the shopping trip i was dreading. We loaded up for the next 2 weeks (side note: our custom cabinetry food storage was right on point, exactly what we needed) and headed south. 

The scenery was beautiful, the roads not too horrible, and the temperatures getting warmer by the minute. There were more cacti than the stars. Word is there are like 300 types of cacti along the Baja, many of which are only found in this region. Oh, and they were 30 foot tall, too. 

We made it to our first camp spot, a beautiful little spot along the west coast. The campground was owned by a rancher(?). Clean and modern. Right on the beach. I definitely would have appreciated the flush toilets and warm showers more if I new what was to come! There was only one other camper there, what looked like snowbirds. More on that later. Winston ran along the beach and we settled into the tranquil life! 

Whale watching was on our minds, so we set off early for San Ignacio. It was a long day of driving through endless desert and hours of no gas stations, the “Baja Gas Gap.” We finally arrived in San Ignacio just as the sun was setting. A darling town we promised to explore on our way out. We decided to push on for the lagoon. We knew a portion of the road was unpaved, but those 20km of washboard quickly turned into the lowlight of the trip. It didn’t help that we did that stretch of road at night (breaking our rule of never driving at night). However, it was so worth it. We pulled up to a fantastic campsite right next to the lagoon. Oskar (from Spain) upgraded our spot and we fell silent in hopes of hearing the whales. It didn’t take long for us to hear the not so distant sounds of the whales breathing. 

We woke up to ridiculous winds. We were sure the whale watching would be off. I wasn’t to keen on being in a tiny motorized row boat out in the open waters in those conditions anyways. But Oskar arranged for a guy to drive us to a different spot to launch from. From January to March, the moms are teaching their babes how to whale, so they hang out in this one spot in the lagoon. To say this was a highlight was an understatement. We lost count of how many California Gray Whales we saw and (almost) touched. They literally surrounded the boat, teasing us with a fin or tail just out of reach. We saw them stick their noses out of water, jump and land with a huge splash, and roll around. It was SO incredible.

The ride back to the campsite was a bumpy one, but it was so worth it. We packed up and headed back up that ridiculous washboard road towards the town. San Ignacio was a little sleepy, but so very charming. It’s called a little “oasis,” which is right on. We stayed in a campsite just outside of the center of town, Don Chon, which went right along with the oasis feeling. The giant cockroach I spotted on the wall by the toilet killed the bliss of it all a little, but that’s the Baja life for ya!