Posted by: Beemer Bob | February 28, 2010

2010/02 – Old Geezers do Baja


The following is a trip report of a trip that my brother (Hap) and I took to Baja.

Hap, who has now earned the nickname “HapHazard” and myself (a recent BMW convert), am known as “BeemerBob”.

Both of us being in our 60’s thought this would be a boring trip report titled “Old Geezers do Baja”. This trip, however, became more interesting than either of us had expected.

This is a picturesque tale of our venture south of the boarder, broken bones and bike and the challenge of getting an injured rider and disabled bike back home.

Both of us are home safe. One of us, however, is slightly broken, but will heal. Bones may have been broken, but not spirits. We ain’t dead yet, so we plan to continue adventures.

This is our story… Hope you enjoy this trip report.

Day 1 (Feb 6, ‘10) – We are off!

Ok, we are cheating a tad. We are trailering our bikes to the boarder. Our plan is to drop off truck and trailer with some friends in Yuma, AZ and ride from there. This way we would get to Baja sooner and be able to spend more time drinking cerveza in Baja. We will stop some where for the night and hope to be in Yuma Sunday late afternoon.

Our detailed plan is to go to Yuma, turn left, go to tip, turn around, go to Yuma turn right.

This is my brother Hap after we loaded bikes. We left from Fredericksburg about 9:30 this morning.

An unexciting dash due west on IH10. Stopped about 50 miles west of AZ border in the small town of Lordsburg, NM. No restaurants served wine, so we had to settle for raspberry ice tea.

We stayed at Budget Motel. $35 and overpriced at that unless you really liked the sounds of trains. I was a little upset with Hap waking up at 4 am. He explained to me that it wasn’t 4am because of the time zone change it was really 3am. That didn’t help.

As we loaded up, I discoveredI had lost the key to unlock the cable used to secure my bike. Hap thought it funny until I mentioned that I had chained my bike to his. The key was finally found and now we are west bound to Yuma.

Day 2 (Feb 7, ’10) – Party in Yuma

We made it to Yuma mid afternoon, dropped our truck and trailer at a friend’s house then went in search of a motel. Just west of Yuma, right after crossing into CA we found the Quechan Cassino & Resort.

Pretty neat for only $79 for the both of us! They were having a big super bowl party that we got to go to for free. They had three very large screen TV’s to watch the game. Yea Saints!!!

Danny White (ex Cowboys Qtrback) came and joined the party and I got to meet him. Eat your heat out Brian.

Day 3 (Feb 8, ’10) – Cross the border into Baja!

Mexico at last. Crossed at Mexicalli. About 60 miles SW of Yuma.

This is at Mexicali right after crossing the border. Here we had to buy visas and stuff to make our journey into Mexico legal. The process was rather painless and we were able to get this business taken care of quickly.

We had a difficult time getting out of town, kept taking wrong turns.

We then followed Mex 2, to Tecate. This route basically parallels the US border. Went through a very rugged and steep mountain range. The road was 4 lane and perfect for an exciting moto ride.

This is where we stopped for a photo op as we crossed a mountain range on our way to Tecate. When we first pulled in, Hap parked at a too steep incline and dropped his bike. I tried to take a picture of that but some Mexicans stopped to help and it didn’t seem right for me to stand there and take pictures while these nice folks helped my brother lift his bike, so you will just have to be happy with these boring scenic pics.

From Tecate, we headed south on Mex 3 thru another mountain range. This range was green and the valleys were full of wineries and veggie farms.

Adjusting the load

Our main goal today was to get far from the boarder so there was very little stopping. Well, we did stop for one immigration, one Federal Police, and two army check points. All were very professional and non threatening. That is, unless you find teenagers holding AK47s threatening.

South of Tecate we stopped at a roadside taco stand for some fine dinning

Many folks have felt that some day I will end up in San Quentin, well I did spend the night in San Quintin, Baja. This was our motel. Pretty nice digs

This motel had a very nice restaurant that specialized in Italian food. I thought this to be odd for Mexico, but oh well. We bought a bottle of local wine and enjoyed pasta and shrimp. Eyes closed early.

Day 4 (Feb 9, ’10) – Heading South

We left our villa in San Quintin and headed south, then south-east. We still in a very mountainous area but have now entered into the desert area. As you can see that cactus here are a bit larger than the ones in Texas.

This is a Boojum. Not a cacti but another plant that survives in the desert.

This is me by a boojum

This is Hap watering a boojum

We took a side trip to see the ruins of the Mission San Fernado Velicita. This was an old mission that was built in 1769 and active until about 1818. The dirt/sandy trail to get there was a little challenging but fun.

We continued down Mex 1 through an area called “valley of the boulders”.

In the middle of no where we found this resort with a nice restaurant. We stopped for lunch but Wallace just wanted to drink his lunch.

We ride east to the gulf side and reach Bagía de Los Ángeles at the Sea of Cortez

We find a hide-a-way beach cabin called Rachael & Larry’s.

This is us with “Larry”

This is Wallace with his new friend Ruth. Wallace likes the ladies.

G’nite y’all – Beemer Bob

Day 5 (Feb 10, ’10) – Lluvia Frio

Based on what I see on weather reports back home, you won’t be sympathetic to our temps not getting over 65. Still not what we expected. A cool front had blown in over the area coating the area with fog.

Our plan was to take a back road (dirt/gravel) for about 50 miles south to hook up to Mex 1. About 5 miles in it hit us how isolated and vulnerable we would be. Then we spotted a suspicious looking truck stopped on side of road ahead. We made a hasty retreat. Sure it would have been fine…but.

We are in east coast town of Santa Rosalia. we drove mostly thru desert. While the northern desert was rocky and rugged, the southern desert is what we expect. Dull, except for the last stretch thru big mountains which ended in a pass called “grade of hell”. Very steep decline through a tight twisty section of the highway descending to the coast.

Day 6 (Feb 11, ’10) – Down the Gulf Side

Our hotel was at the top of a hill, so last night we walked to town. This is me with the cityscape in the valley behind me.

In the morning we had a great breakfast served at the hotel. Following are some pictures of the hotel in the light of the day.

We get on the road and head south on Mex 1. Not that there was a choice. There are very few highways. We either take Mex 1 or try to cut through the countryside and mountains. We took Mex 1. Leaving Santa Rosalia, we are now in flat land with mountains in the background.

As we continue south we are in the mountains again. What great riding! So far, Baja is not what I had expected. I had envisioned flat desert and straight roads. From everything I have read about biking in Baja has been about the off-road adventures. I find the on road travels great riding. Well maintained highway, lots of twisties and fantastic views as you wind through the mountains.

We arrive in the quaint fishing town of Mulegé. We go down the town’s muddy dirt roads to the coast line. This is a picture of a light house and fishing boat on the Bahia Concepción.

We work our way to a seaside shack for a beverage.

And of course, Wallace enjoys his new favorite beverage as well at the seaside shack.

From Mulegé we continue south. This time mostly mountains as we look down on the beautiful beaches and blue green water of the Bahia Concepción.

We have a great ride and ended at the city of Loreto by mid afternoon. After Loreto we would be heading eastward thru desert area with very few good stops along the way, so we decided to just stay here and smell the roses (or in this case, palm trees)

We toured the town for a while and had a lunch of cactus with shrimp.

At lunch, Wallace made some friends.

We find a great hotel on the shore with a large room facing the private beach area.

End of day 6

Day 7 (Feb 12, ’10) – Camping on the beach

Our villa in Loreto at sunrise.

The interior courtyard of our villa was beautifully landscaped.

As we were leaving Loreto we meet a guy from Sweden at the gas station. He was riding a BMW 800 GS. We all traveled together for the rest of the day.

And as always, we head south. We follow Mex 1 (of course) and stayed by the coastline for a few more miles with fantastic views. Then the road cuts west through the mountains with fun twisties and views.

After a few hours we reach the flat desert area and the ride becomes boring. Oh well, sometimes life is hard

We stopped somewhere along the way and enjoyed a Mexican smoothie. God only knows what was actually in it, but it was good and none of us got sick (yet).

We are now in warmer climate and the temp got as high as 80 for a while. Very nice. I have heard that north and central Texas is receiving record snow fall. Well that is not our concern here. Eat your heart out folks. Weather here is great

The highway finally heads back east to the gulf side and we make it to the city of La Paz (the capital of Baja Sur).

We take a break in La Paz and decide with this nice weather it would be fun to camp on the beach. We meet someone there that tells us of some nice free camping areas at the tip of the bay (Playa el Tecolate). We head up to that area, find a nice area and set camp. There was a nice Mexican restaurant right on the beach. We had some great food and some beer (ok, several beers). Make it back to our tents and call it a night.

End of day 7

Day 8 (Feb 13, ’10) – Hotel California

This was where we had dinner last night.

Some pics of our campsite area in the morning.

Following are some pictures of the Swede friend we made. Very interesting fellow. He was on a journey to go from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. Not all at one time though. He world do a part, then store his bike, go home and then return when time permitted, he would return to resume his journey.

After we get packed up we headed back to La Paz for breakfast at a neat place that overlooked the bay.

We had great trouble finding our way out of La Paz because of heavy traffic and not much in the way of directional signage. Problems became complicated due to problems with my bike. At a light in heavy traffic I had accidently killed my engine and it would not restart (battery seemed to be dead). With the help of a local, they were able to get me started again by pushing me.

We had agreed on a meeting spot with our Swede friend, but by time we finally got back on the road, we had wasted a lot of time and our friend had already giving up on us and went on (rightfully so).

By now, having misplaced our Swede, we head to Todos Santos and Hotel California, such a lovely place, such a lovely place …

This is one fancy place. We have some beverage in the patio to quench our thrust from a ride on a dark desert highway (cool wind in my hair warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air…)

After some beverage, a restroom might be in order. Now which, I wonder, is the little boys room?

An interesting observation about Hotel California and the main area around Todos Santos was the abundance of Anglos. I have not seen so many Anglos only in any place in Texas. The only Mexicans I saw were the shop owners and staff. Too many tourist!

After a break, our plan was to head south down the coastline. But … My bike would not start and it battery was dead again? Perhaps my alternator is out, bad battery, who knows?? A local ex pat that lived across the street came to offer assistance. We pushed my bike into his courtyard, hooked up a charger and hoped for the best.

This is our new friend Carl and his battery charger.

We decide the best option at this point was to leave my battery on the charger overnight and hope for the best in the morning. We got a well priced hotel in the area and took our new friend our for dinner. We went to a place where the owner was a good friend of Carl’s. We had a great dinner and great conversation as our new friendship grew. Carl’s friend makes a mean margarita and we had one or two or three. Actually I don’t remember but I do know before the night was over, we were felling no pain.

End of Day 8, g’nite y’all

Day 9 (Feb 14, ’10) – Made it to the tip!

We took a walking tour of the town, found a place for breakfast and the headed to Carl’s to get my bike.

This was our hotel. Nice large rooms

Today is Sunday and this church had bells playing

As common in Mexico, many folks have small shrines in their courtyard. This is Carl’s. When we asked him why it was decorated with tail lights from a Cadillac, his only response was “why not?”.

Above Carl’s place he had a sign advertising Real Phony Mexican Art

Needless to say Carl was a unique individual but someone I now consider my friend.

We head south again and reach the tip of Baja at Cabo San Lucas. Cabo was very touristy but interesting. We paid to take a boat tour out to the tip to see the arch. Following are some of my pictures.

The rock you see with the sea-lion on top, marks the point where the sea of Cortez meets the Pacific.

More pictures from our boat

Yet more pictures from our boat tour.

Back on shore we take a short walking tour of La Paz with the goal of trying to find stickers to put on our side boxes, but no such luck. We did, however, find a Hooters.

We left La Paz and having now made it to the southern tip, it’s time to now head north. Oh BTW, it’s about 80 now, great weather!! Sure happy to be missing the winter back home.

We have a nice ride by the gulf coast side and mountains, we go through Los Barriles and stop at a fancy resort for a break. It’s late afternoon and Hap wants to stay here but I talk him into heading onward to the Baja town of San Antonio (an adventure, I tell him). When we reach San Antonio, we find there are no hotels and by then the setting sun is in our eyes and we can’t see the road. Hap is missing his 5 o’clock drinking time and getting down right grouchy. Plus he thought that being able to see the road and not drive off a cliff was important (where is the adventure in doing that?).

A local there told me that there was a hotel about 20 kilometers north of San Antonio and I thought that would be a fun challenge to forge ahead, but grumpy Hap was having a fit, so we turned around and returned to Los Barriles. By time we got back it was dark and we go searching for a hotel. For some reason, all the hotels here have very serious cattle guards at the entrance. By serious, I’m meaning about 3″ to 4″ gaps between the bars. OK if you cross it head on, but at a slant, the gaps are wide enough for a motorcycle tire to fall in. Well, as we pull out of one hotel we were checking, Hap hits it at a slant and then … Yep, you guessed it. Timber! In addition to his pride, he also hurt his thumb when he hit. This did not serve to improve his mood much.

I’m trying to hurry and turn around so I can take a picture, but Hap tells me that if I take a picture that he is going to find a tire iron somewhere and hit me. So, no picture. What a grump.

After some searching we found a nice hotel by the beach. When I killed the engine to go inquiry of rates, my bike would not restart. Good thing they had a room and we were in walking distance of a nice overpriced restaurant.

Great motel with nice view of the beach.

End of day 9 – G’nite Y’all

Day 10 (Feb 15′ ’10) – Slowly working our way back up

This is a view of the beach from our hotel at sunrise.

We had a nice breakfast at the hotel restaurant and then worked to get my bike started. Several attempts at pushing it were to no avail. Finally we found someone with a charger and we were able to get it started. We then were able to find a well qualified mechanic with a shop downtown that was able to diagnose that the battery was not working correctly and he was able to replace it. While he did this and charged the new battery, we returned to play at the playa (beach). Nice warm weather, a tad cool for swimming but good for wading and soaking in some sun. It was great.

After a while we got my bike, paid for another night and went to explore some of the back roads in the area.

We went through some interesting out of the way towns via some chalanging sandy roads. At one little town where we stopped for brake, a boy was taken by our bikes (motos) and with the encoragement of his father wanted to be taken on a ride. Hap agrees.

Having now done our part for international peace we swing back to the highway and stop at the Tropic of Cancer monument.

The roads have several shrines of sorts scattered along the way. I’m not sure of their significance. I wondered if they were memorials of someone killed on the highway. Some are small and some are very elaborate and all seem to be built on what would seem to me to be part of the highway right-of-way.

We ride some back roads for a while that hugged the coastline. We were thinking we would see nice views of the coast, but all we saw were washboard roads with lots of sand. It was, however, fun to see if we could conquer the road. One of us did, but one of us spilled in the sand.

Gee… Here is a rut in the sand that looks like a motorcycle may have lost control. I wonder who might be at the end of this trail.

If we follow this trail, we find …

I’m a better man than to give a count of drops so far on the trip. It would be crude for me to say something like;

Hap Hazard: 3

Beemer Bob: 0

But that would not be nice to say and I am a better person than that. :-).

There was supposed to be a good place to go whale watching in a small out of the way pacific coast town by the name of Puerto Mateo, so we head there. Through some nice mountain twisties we head north, north east. We arrive too late to go whale watching that eve, so we find a small hotel and check in. Having some time to kill, we go on a walking tour of the town. What fun!

There was a lady with a stand in front of an auto parts store selling a very odd sort of corn casserrole. It was a cup of corn with a bunch of stuff thrown in. Cream, cheese, chilli sauce and several unidentified items. But it was delicious. We even went back for seconds. At the town square, we watched some boys play soccer. Afterwards we visited with them for a while. It was fun trying to communicate and in this small town, griengos were not that common. We had a great time.

End of day 10 – g’nite y’all

Day 11 (Feb 16, ’10) – Back to gulf side, Mulege

We walk down to the pier and have breakfast at a stand.

Even Wallace enjoys a nice cup of cafe (coffee).

We then check on the status of a whale watching tour.

The cost for the boat rental is about $80 but the boat holds 7 people so we decided to wait for some more folks to show up willing to share the cost. We waited until about 9 and no other folks showed up not already part of a large group plus it did not look like whale watching at this lagoon was all that good, so we headed on.

An interesting lighthouse on the coast.

On our way back to our hotel, we pass by an pretty church preparing for ash Wednesday services.

We started a shortcut that someone had suggested, but after a few miles of that we turned around and returned to the highway. Our travels took us back through the mountains on the gulf side. We followed mex 1 up to the town of Mulege. There we found a neat hotel with a lot of character next to a great resturant.

End of day 11- g’nite y’all

Day 12 (Feb 17, ’10) – MisHap!!

Today I get to use some new Spanish words. “medico” and “doctora”. More on that as the story continues.

We the head to San Ignacio because we were told it was a very pretty town and a great spot to go whale watching. We arrive about noonish am have lunch at a famous Baja 1000 pit stop, biker bar, etc place called “Rice and Beans”

We then talk to a local whale tour company and they tell us of a neat camp about a 2 1/2 hours drive away. We could have taken their van in the morning but being that we are tough old farts we decide that we will just ride our bikes there and camp on the beach tonight – sounds like the beginning of an adventure to us.

We had been warned that this was very rough road, but like I said, we are tough old farts, so we are off on an adventure.

The road in the beginning was not all that technical but it was very a rough washboard that was bouncing our kidneys from side to side as we bounced down the road. After a few miles we stop for a break and Hap is questioning the worth of doing this adventure. He states that we there is no doubt we could do this road (famous last words), but wonders why we would want too.

Me, I’m thinking this is a great adventure and test of skill and endurance. Hap, a bit grumpy at this time, reluctantly agrees and tells me to lead the way. So off we go.

The road starts to become more technical with patches of soft sand. I’m sliding around at times but thinking what great fun we are having, Hap, however, is reconsidering his choice of brothers.

We hit a heavy spot of deep sand going through a wash out area….

And then ….

And then ….

I’m in front so I can’t see Hap but we do have helmet-to-helmet communication and I hear unHAPpy sounds in my helmet speakers. I stop and turn around and find a HapHazard situation.

I am able to help him get his jacket and helmet off and get him to a spot on the side where he can half sit/lean on the hill side. As I am trying to lift his bike to get it out of the road, a Mexican tour van come by and some folks help get his bike up and off to the side.

It is obvious that Hap is hurt and in great pain. The tour van agrees to take Hap back to town to receive medical assistance (medico) and to see the lady doctor (Doctora).

But now the vans battery is dead and won’t start. Great, what else can go wrong!

We are able to find a way to hook up some jumper cables to my brand new battery and get it started. And finally my brother is riding off in a van full of Mexicans perhaps never to be seen again and I’m in a desert with two motorcycles.

This is the site of the MisHap. The road that cuts through the dune in the background is where Hap tasted sand.

Hap’s bike is in some pain as well. Windshield is in pieces, turn signals and piaa lights are pointed in odd directions. Worse is that the front wheel and handle bars don’t point in the same direction.

I am about 3/4th way to the camp so I could reach there in about 30 – 45 min to find help, and that seemed a better option then trying to return to San Ignocio. I make it near the camp and am able to flag down a tour van from our tour company and with the help of one of the bilingual passengers I was able to communicate about my need to get Hap’s bike towed into town. The driver states that he will radio the camp when he gets to town to send some people with a truck to load Hap’s bike. We agree that I should go wait by his bike to make sure no one steals it. So back I go to site of the misHap.

I wait for about an hour but it is now starting to get dark and even if the truck showed up now, by time we got the bike loaded and on our way, I would be riding this trail in the dark – not a good ideea.

I decide Hap’s bike is most likely better insured than I am. So I secure Hap’s bike as best I can and head back to the camp.

And then….

Oh my goodness!! I forgot to show you pictures of San Ignacio before our adventure ride. So for right now, we will leave Hap in a van full of Mexicans in search of a doctor or to be held ransom. Not much I can do about either of those possibilities right now, so let’s take a short picture break.

In San Ignacio there is a famous old cathedral built in the early 1700’s still in use today.

A few more pics of the catherdal

It is common for towns to have a central gatering area called a zocala. Much like our town squares of years ago. Very few people have television, computers, or video games to rot their minds. Instead, in the evenings people gather at these areas to visit, listen to or play music and the children play. Way cool!

This is the zocala at San Ignacio. Also in this pic is a picture of Hap before. Before what!, you say…. I’ll get back to that story later.

Ok, now back at the ranch

I make it back to the camp just as the truck from the camp is leaving to come recover Hap’s bike.

A message had been radioed to the camp and translated to English by the bilingual foreman. The message informed me that Hap was stable but had broken his clavical and perhaps his ribs. The note also informed me that he was now staying at the Rice and Beans hotel.

I explain to the camp foreman that this is a heavy bike and will need more help to ift bike into a pickup truck. So a few more men load up and we all return to the misHap site. It is almost dark and this road is too bad for me to attempt to ride at night, so I leave it at the camp and ride with the other men in the truck.

We find Hap’s lonesome bike and the 5 of us lift it up to the pickup truck and head to town.

On the trip to town, they drove too fast through the sand, rocks, and boulders. Very scary. They spoke no English and I did not know the Spanish translation for “slow the f**** down you crazy f***ing Mexican”, so I just held on and hoped for the best.

We arrived at the hotel unloaded the bike and I get to see first hand that my brother is alive (not a Hapless condition) but slightly broken.

End of day 12. Stay tuned, things are very interesting, stressful and scary for the next several days.

Good night for now. The adventure continues.

Day 13 (Feb 18, ’10) – Plans to take a “shortcut”

Oh! I forgot to mention wounded Wallace. He too was injured, he was afterall, on the same bike with Hap.

BTW: yes, Hap and I were having a contest to see who could look the scruffiest after our trip. Hap wins.

After a few margaritas for medicinal purposes, we call it a day. The next morning we start trying to figure out logistics of how to get Hap and his bike home. First task is to get all bikes in the same place. Mine is a few hours away at the camp so we pay someone to transport me out there to retrieve Scarface.

Following are some pictures of the camp that we almost got to stay at:

Anyway, I pick up my scooter and head back to San Ignacio. Since Hap is back at the motel drinking margaritas and popping pain pills and not able to complain about me stopping to take pictures all the time. I take this opportunity to take some pics.

In the middle of no where I stopped for this photo op. Apparently these folks remember the Alamo.

On the way back I find this very remote church that I find interesting because it does not seem to be more that 3 people who live for miles from this location, but yet here is this church.

When I get back to San Ignacio I take a pic of my bike in front of the cathedral. previous pics did not have my bike in front of it, and it just don’t count unless Scarface is in the picture.

Wallace was upset because he did not get to see a whale, so I got him this whale from the gift shop at the camp and that seemed to make him happy.

Well now back at the hotel we have the task of trying to figure out the logistics of getting injured bike and biker back to the U.S.

As it turns out, Hap has some insurance that will ship his bike back home but not him. His insurance would only ship him home if he was in the hospital. I suggested that we could toss him off the hotel balcony to get him hospitalized, but Hap declined. What a fuddy duddy.

With the bike now taken care of, we explore options to transport Hap. One option was a rescue pilot from San Diego would fly down and get him and then take him to Yuma. At the time. Hap thought that he could find less expensive option (a decision, he later regretted). Besides Hap did not trust my lack of impulse control to leave me in Baja. I tried to convince him that I would not take any side trips and would stay on the main roads until I crossed the border. But, Hap did not want to separate. Kinda funny if you think about it. He has broken his collar bone, rib and perhaps his thumb, crashed his bike – and he thinks he needs to stay and take care of ME!! I think I’m doing OK. Besides, if I had some problems on the way back, what in the hell could he do to help me? – Shit, he’s broken! I think the real reason is that he has discovered that he can’t button his pants without my help and he did not want to wonder around Yuma with his pants around his ankles for 3 or 4 days until I showed up.

The owner at Rice and Beans (Ricardo) tells us that he knows a “shortcut” to get us to the border. I have since learned that if you are in the middle of a remote place like Baja, be very concerned about the term “shortcut”. He first says he can take Hap in his truck with me following on my bike and get us to the boarder in one day, but then agrees that it would be better done in two days.

As we soon discover, his “shortcut” was a more dangerous road than I would have done in my worse “lack of impulse control” moments and the next two days of travel are the most stressful I have experienced for a long time.

But at this time, the adventures that await are yet unknown, so we sit back and enjoy some cerveza, take a taxi to town for dinner and call it a day.

The escape to the border begins in the morning.

Stay tuned, it ain’t over yet. The adventure continues.

End of day 13.

Day 14 (Feb 19, ’10) – The “Shortcut”

We start out in the morning with Hap in the truck with Ricardo and me following riding Scarface. Things start off well enough, we are on good pavement but then a very cold rain and wind storm blow in and I’m not having fun on a bike. I’m wondering if God is punishing me for breaking my brother. I soon find out, the punishment has just begun.

We find a place to stop for a break to allow me some time to thaw out and put on some rain gear.

Back on the road again and after a while the cold rain stops but now we begin the “shortcut”. This shortcut, as it turns out, is actually part of the Baja 1000 race over some very rough back roads.

The road is bad, but I’m doing OK. Not great, but OK. We make it to a rather famous off-road adventure spot called “Coco’s Corner”

Coco is a funny, crazy Mexican that runs this unique stop in the middle of no where selling beer and soda. Coco, had both legs amputated as a result of diabetes many years ago and now propels himself around his place on his stumps.

This is the outside TV viewing area at Coco’s.

Coco’s is an odd collection of things

More of coco’s place.

Coco has us sign his guest register. Then Coco draws a picture of Hap flying off a motorcycle.

This is Hap, Coco, and myself

I am relieved that we have made it to Coco’s as I’m thinking that we are half done with the rough section and surely the road can’t get any worse. I am then informed that we have just begun and we have yet to get to the bad section. Coco (who speaks very good English) tells me that on an average, for every 10 bikers that come through there, 5 of them crash. Color me concerned! Great shortcut!!

No choice now but to push ahead. We start out with me following the truck but the rough road and boulders are causing Hap a lot of pain and they have to go very very slow. I need momentum to get through this and can’t go that slow so I take the lead. Riding through this is very exhausting and I have to stand up on my pegs for much of the trail so I ride on for a while then stop and rest while I wait for the truck to catch up. This goes on for the rest of the afternoon, somehow I am able to make it through without spilling, but I am exhausted and Hap is in some pain.

It is dark by time we reach pavement and we stop to re-inflate our tires (we were running at low pressure to get more traction through the rough sections).

I’m so glad we are on pavement now. That means we are almost to a hotel and the bad riding conditions are over. It turns out I was wrong on both accounts.

The adventure continues …

To back up a bit, following are some pics Hap took of me from the truck before we made it to Coco’s. As you can see at this point the road is not too bad. A lot of gravel, some rocks with patches of sand now and then.

After Coco’s Hap was able to take this pic of the road conditions but had to spend most of his time trying to hold his broken bones in place and pleading with his driver to slow down.

I didn’t take any pictures because I was rather busy. It took so much concentration to dodge boulders and sand traps there could have been nude women along the side of the road and I would not have noticed.

So anyway, it’s dark now but we are on pavement and close to a hotel (so I think), so all is good. NOT!!!

We are on a brand new section of road with no dividing line or reflectors of any sort, just dark pavement on a dark night. Because of my earlier electrical problems, I had disconnected my auxiliary lights so the only lights I had were the stock GS lights which are not that great. As the years creep up on me, I have more problems seeing at night, so that compounds the problem. Through the rest of the evening, I try to communicate to the driver leading the way, that I can’t see the road and to not get too far ahead of me so I can stay on his tail and use the lights of his truck to see the way. This attempt was a total failure to communicate. Every time, he got ahead of me, he would stop, but as soon as he saw me, he would take off again and never let me catch up to him. I’m screaming at no one for the rest of the evening.

All goes OK for a while, but then as we descend through a canyon, things get hairy. A storm has blown in and there are extremely high winds. The winds would come in from the sea, then hit the mountain side and come back. This resulted in winds gusting at me in different directions knocking me back and forth along the road. I am being blown from one side to the other; barely able to keep the top-heavy GS upright, plus I can’t even see the damn road! This was the scariest part of the day’s ride and many times I pictured myself riding off the cliff never to be found again.

Finally we come to a restaurant to stop for a break. The owner offers me a beer and I order a glass of milk. I ache all over and need to take some Ibuprofen. I again attempt to explain to the driver that I can’t see the road and to not get so far ahead of me. Again, a failure to communicate.

We continue to forge ahead and finally come to a hotel in San Felipe by about 9:00 – 9:30 pm. Given the amount of hours driven, I doubt that we are any closer to the border than if we had not taken the “shortcut”. Hap is feeling pain and I am exhausted and slightly pissed.

End of day 14 – G’nite Y’all

Day 15 (Feb 20, ’10) – Run for the border!

We have breakfast at the Rice & Beans restaurant of Sam Felipe owned by Ricardo’s brother. This is Hap and Ricardo.

We then proceed to the border crossing at Mexicali. We think it is all downhill and easy from here. NOT!!

Ricardo does not has a US passport and cannot take Hap across the border, so we had thought that Ricardo could just take Hap to the border and Hap walk across. As it turns out, that is not possible and Hap would have to walk a long distance to be able to cross on foot. So, Ricardo tells us, no problemo, senior. He takes us to a hotel in Mexicali and has the front desk call a cab to take Hap across.

Problem solved. NOT!

The cab arrives only to inform us (through Ricardo acting as interpreter) that Mexican cabs are no longer allowed to cross the US border even if the driver has a passport.

For a long time, Ricardo, the cab driver, and the front desk clerk discuss in Spanish what to do with this wounded gringo. I have no idea what they are saying, as far as I know the conversation revolves around what remote place to take these gringos to rob and kill them.

They emerge with a new plan. The cab driver has a passport but cannot take his cab across. So we are to go to his house to get his wife’s car and then he will take Hap across the boarder. There is of course a fee for this. This is the beginning of a series of $100 bills that Hap keeps producing to get him where he wants to go. Hap’s new phrase is “For $100, will you take me to …”. He finds this to be an international phrase and works in any language and understood by all.

We then go to this guy’s house to get his wife’s car in his cab. Color me VERY apprehensive about this arrangement. After a little problem about where to cross and returning to the hotel to get my moto, Hap peels off some more money and the problem seems to go away. The driver does not understand English, but he does understand American dollars and recognizes Franklin’s picture.

With Hap and gear loaded in this guy’s car, we make a run for the border with me following. I am not at all comfortable with this arrangement. I write down the license plate number, make and model of the car and then take this picture while we were stopped.

The above picture was taken in anticipation of having a conversation that goes like, “Well officer, the last time I saw my brother, he was in this car …”.

It’s rather quick to pass into Baja, but returning to the US side takes much longer. There is a long line of cars waiting to clear the border inspections, checking of passports, etc. While we waited in line, there were Mexicans of all varieties selling snacks, wanting to wipe down your car or just plan begging. This included young boys and girls as well as elderly. I found this quite sad. Occasionally there were kids playing musical instruments (very badly) in hopes of tips. They were so bad, I thought about giving them a tip if they promised to stop playing.

We finally cross the boarder. Our plan was to have the cab driver take Hap to a major hotel on the US side, then I would go to Yuma, get the truck and trailer and return to get him. On the way to Calexico (The first town on the US side), Hap decides this is not what he wants to do. Hap is now of the mood to get far away from the boarder and closer to home. In a conversation that involved Hap peeling off more Franklins from his roll and using his new phrase, he now has the driver take him to Yuma. They stop to tell me the new plan, then off to Yuma we go.

On the way to Baja, we had stayed at a nice gambling resort this side of Yuma with reasonably priced rooms. So that is where Hap has the driver take him.

Hap and his gear are dropped at the main check in and I go park my bike. Hap pays the driver and we go in only to find there are no rooms available. In the meantime, the Frito Bandito is already gone in route to tell his wife of his very profitable day.

I then call the nice folks in Yuma that are storing our truck and trailer for us and he offers to come get us in our truck and trailer. He does that, we get my bike loaded on trailer and take him back to his house. We then go in search of a motel.

I have no idea what the big attraction in Yuma, Az on a Sunday night, but now rooms were available. We have to continue east for another 100 miles or so and finally find a room where we crash for the night and thankful to be on our way home.

End of Day 15. G’nite Y’all

Day 16, 17 & 18 (Feb 21-23, ’10) – Beemer Bob’s Boo Boo

Day 16 was uneventful (Thank goodness), we make good time and make it to Van Horn, TX before we call it quits for the day. We are on our way home and now in the great State of Texas. Yea!

Day 17, however, had a surprise for us that eventually led to a Beemer Bob Boo Boo.

We woke up to find everything covered in snow and ice!

We assume that all would be OK in I-10. Being a major interstate, surely the highway would be safe to travel. NOT!

The snow and ice continues and a few miles outside of Van Horn, I hit a patch of ice on a bridge and then …

While my mind is telling my hands to “turn into the slide”, the message does not get through or what ever I did, was not the right thing. After swerving back and forth, the truck and trailer do a complete spin and then…

Hello Mr. ditch!

That section of highway is now short a mile marker post. Fortunately, I am able to pull out of the ditch and get pointed in the right direction.

Poor Hap probably thought he was about to be in another wreck. I did not break Hap any more than he was already broken, but his truck could use some first aid.

We make it to Hap’s house near San Antonio and deliver Hap to his thankful wife. I stay the night there, drink all his wine and in the morning, (Day 18) I unload my moto and head home and deliver myself to my wife (hopefully thankful).

This (mis)adventure now ends.

Baja Trip Summary

All in all, this was a fun trip, at least until Hap decided to go for a dive.

There is always a lot of concern on the safety of travelling in Mexico so we made a concentrated effort to stay away from border towns.

Once in inner Baja I never felt in danger or threatened. Whether it was assistance needed for directions, assistance with a down bike or the need for medical assistance, I found the Mexican people willing to bend over backwards in an effort to assist. The language barrier was at times a problem, but for the most part, we were able to communicate sufficiently.

Will I ever return? Well that is a question I’m not ready to answer. Had the incident with Hap not occurred, I would not hesitate about returning. But, I am now aware of the problems that can arise if one gets injured in a third world country. As previously stated, the Mexican people are great and very helpful, but in an emergency the lack of good medical facilities, language barrier and the problems with getting across the border are concerns.

An accident could occur anywhere but anywhere else, I don’t think the return home would have been as difficult. If needed, transport to a good hospital would be easier and there would not be the language problem or border issues. Of course, the language problem could be solved by my leaning more Spanish. But, on the other hand there is so much of US and Canada left for me to explore. So for now, my future trips will probably be in that direction.

As a beginning ‘adventure’ rider, I can now claim that I have conquered some of the rough back roads of Baja without incident. Even without even dropping my bike, which for me is a major accomplishment because I frequently drop my bike is much simpler situations.

As far as Hap being hurt, of course I feel very bad about that. Had I not talked him into going down that road, he would not have been hurt. In past years, my job has always been for me to be the person that gets hurt. I guess I failed on my normal role as well. This is the first time, Hap was the one to get hurt.

An update on Hap: When I got home last light, I received an email from Hap after he was able to see an English-speaking doctor with x-ray facilities. His collar-bone is badly separated that necessitated a “torture” brace to try to pull the parts together. Additionally, he has at least one rib very badly broken (perhaps more). He is to undergo some additional x-rays Friday for further assessment of his condition.

If you want to purchase a slightly used motorcycle, he might be in the mood to make you a good deal.

End of trip. Will I continue motorcycle adventures? YOU BET!!

One last entry from Hap.

“Upon arriving home I checked the old family bible. It is pretty clear I was an only child. I don’t know where Beemer comes from.” – Hap Hazard
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Responses

  1. Great story, enjoyed it thoroughly! You ought to consider sending it into one of the major bike mags or publish it yourself. I’m an amateur photographer and really appreciated your pics. GOOD STUFF!

  2. Wow! You had me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next!

    Great writing! Great photos!

    Heal well, Hap!

    Voni
    sMiling

  3. Awesome story…I’m still jealous!

  4. excellent ride report! sorry to hear about HapHazard and his bike, and his arm, and his truck……….
    but otherwise you guys did manage to experience the beauty and splendor of Baja and met some great folks and that is why we do the rides we do.
    Get well soon Hap. Bob……….quit beating up on your big brother!! take care guys. Maybe one day we will meet up on the road.

  5. Being a long time fan of Wallace, I was very excited when Kelly told me about your blog. Thanks for sharing! I too was on the edge of my seat. It is now way past my bed time! Really enjoyed “living” the trip with the 3 of you. Hap and Wallace, get well soon. Bob, stay safe! Remember guys, “Leather side up and rubber side down!”

  6. A group of us were at Rice & Beans for breakfast not many days after you and Hal. Saw Hal’s bent Beemer sitting outside waiting to be picked up.
    Glad to hear the story and glad it ended alright.
    We left a Beemer in Loreto, but that’s another sotry for another time.

  7. Well I have read your first and last adventures. I know about your problems at the Eastex450 as I was there and noted your troubles. At first I thought gee sure would like to ride with great adventurers like you and your bro. On second thought you seem to be like a magnet to the law and misfortunes….LOL Naw just kidding!

    Hope to run into you at a future TWT outing and swap yarns, but you have a head start on me with this blog. Will read more as I can, you are good at suspense and descriptions, good workups. So from one Senior to another good riding and keep the rubber side down.


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