Let’s go to Baja and have a great time along the way
Dom and I are on the road again; taking new friends on old trails to Baja. Seeing Baja again and again through the eyes of our group makes it a brand new experience for us as well.
At Potrero County Park a vibrant crew of intrepid travelers awaited the arrival of their Wagon masters, who would, like the last piece of the puzzle, complete the scene for this grand adventure.
With pre border business and final preparations complete, Day 0 culminated with a sumptuous Rendezvous Reception, where the lots of careful prep by Diane was evident. Everyone feasted on tasty morsels and beverages, then began introductions, stories, fun and laughter, it was quite amazing we got through all the orientation before darkness set in.
Potrero County Park is the perfect staging place for our tour and the warm sunny afternoons make it possible to enjoy the ranch like setting although once the sun set the nights became cold.
Day 1 started on time with a brisk morning pre driving meeting; just a few minutes to review the day. The border crossing went smoothly with quick rig inspections and a few questions then we were on our way.
Winding through Tecate was an easy feat for these folk; good and capable driving skills kept everyone on track and soon we were on our way on Mex highway #3 via the wine valley route, an alternate route for our first leg due to the damaged highway #1.
Our first body break found everyone just as eager as ever and loving the sights and sounds of Mexico. Onward and forward to Ensenada, another big city to navigate a caravan through. The group stuck to us like glue aside from red light holdups when we slowed down and waited for rigs to catch up. Two behemoth cruise ships grace the harbour today; the tourists are here in droves.
With good sightseeing opportunities of the port and city along the malecon in Ensenada the caravan made its way to Costco and the Commercial Mex stores for an hour and a half break for grocery shopping and lunch. ATMs in foreign languages, strange banknotes!. The policeman in the Costco lot was very nice and helpful in getting us all parked.
Back on the Mex #1 we were on our way again through rapidly thickening city traffic and more red lights to thwart our best laid plan, but soon we turned onto the much quieter newly built highway to Punta Banda, and our first night in Baja.
In Villarino RV Park everyone quickly setup camp and hopped into the Van with Dom to go to La Bufadora, a spectacular blow hole spouting sea water high into the air through a gap in the rocks, one of the largest marine geysers in the world which is a major attraction in the Ensenada area. The walking path to La Bufadora is a gauntlet of touts and food vendors, where all kinds of touristic wares are offered. Dom bought the obligatory pullover hoodie.
After such a picturesque and adventurous first day the group is quite happy to have a quiet evening. Many enjoyed the good and HOT showers available at this campground.
Adolpho, our gracious and accommodating owner of Villarino RV Park, handed out complementary coffee coupons for the morning at the on site Cafe; a start to our new day of adventure: The cafe is open for breakfast!
Day 2 was a day of slow travel, enjoying the scenery and driving through much road construction, although we did notice some gains in the process since November. In Lazarro Cardenas we arrived to Fidel’s Campground on the beach for a late lunch and a walk on the beach. The day was warm and sunny with light winds, just nice for sitting and relaxing in the sun after that walk on the beach. Even the dogs enjoyed a leash free romp on the beach, chasing seagulls and surf until they were happily exhausted.
Jim and Vicky brought a large map of Baja and attached it to the outside of their RV. We marked all the stops for this tour and got a photo of all of us around the map. Later on we will all sign the map, maybe we can get a copy? This was such a thoughtful idea for them to have organized this to share with the group.
Fidel lit the campfire and joined the group for munchies, as the sun sank on this perfect day. A wiener roast and a good time around the fire for all.
Day 3 takes us to the high desert where blue sunny skies, boulder fields and cacti forests feasted the eyes. At the Rancho Santa Inez campground everyone set up camp and doned hiking shoes and walking sticks to tackle the short but spectacular trail through the boulders to see cave paintings that are about 7000 years old. Back at the campground everyone spent a leisurely afternoon. The day wound up with a traditional Mexican meal at the onsite family restaurant (no menu, one choice, tastes good!). After lots of stories and laughing and satisfied tummies we all meandered our way through the darkness to familiar lights of our RV’S. The evening was marred however, because a couple of generators disappeared. They were left out in the open unattached to the RV in some way. Quick action on Dom’s part and cooperation from Oscar the campground manager soon had the police on site and they were on the trail thanks to the groups keen observation of vehicles driving through the campground during the day. Crimes of opportunity can happen anywhere. Lesson learned; keep your valuables locked up!
Every day is worth it!
Day 4 started on a good note because the generators were recovered and a joyous thankful group embarked on another days journey through more fascinating desert and cacti forests. Our destination for the day brought us out of the high desert back to the Pacific Ocean to Guerrero Negro. Here the group replenished food and water supplies and took in a whale tour. We take very opportunity we have to eat out and be around the happy cheerful Mexicans and eat their proudly prepared food, and naturally we did right here at the on site restaurant and bar of the Malarirmo RV Park.
Day 5 greeted us with cool misty weather but by mid morning the clouds moved away and sun prevailed. Comments from the group about the whales were : “incredible” and “amazing” and ” next time I’ll bring more batteries for my camera” and “a very touching and spiritual experience” and Cheryl’s comment “I cried and laughed at the same time”. On the boat they thought perhaps there would be no whale show but suddenly beneath the Panga a whale was spotted – a mama whale with her brand new baby. In Baja, this is where to come to see the Gray Whales up close when they are calving, although whales can be spotted in a few places along the way. These gentle grey giants make your heart leap.
A shorter drive today left the desert behind and took us to the date palm Oasis of San Ignacio. At Rice and Beans Oasis RV Park we set camp and everyone piled into the van for an excursion through town with a visit to the magnificent Mission Church and walk around the zocolo. Once again, an awesome experience to be walking around a Mexican town and viewing its historical monuments. Here in the town square of San Ignacio is an old Jesuit Mission built of Lava rock and founded in 1928.
The old date palms rise high almost obscuring the town itself. Dates are ready for eating and of course, we bought some bags of them, enough for WEEKS.
Some of us dined in the Rice and Beans Restaurant and just had to have one (or more) of Oswaldos famous margaritas; touted to be the best in Baja. Jim showed us photos from the whale tour as we munched our way through a good meal, sipping those huge margaritas.
Day 6 found an excited group because today we headed for a 2 day stint on one of Baja’s perfect beaches. A fairly short drive today took us through Santa Rosalia where we parked the rigs in the ferry terminal and took a leisurely walk about through Santa Rosalia, an old mining town with one of the worlds biggest copper producing mines. Our walk took in a visit to the metal church designed by Gustav Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame. He built the church in 1897 for the 1898 Worlds Fair in Paris. Later it was broken down into sections and shipped to Santa Rosalia to be reassembled and used as a parish church. Also on route we drove passed the nice little town of Mulege where hurricanes and tropical storms repeatedly hit this town with wind and water. But, life goes on; they pick up and put it back together.
Another day in Paradise!
By midday we arrived to Playa Santispac, one of 12 beaches along Baja Concepcion. Some wind blowing around us did not deter the group from lounging in the sun, bird watching, reading a book and strolling on the beach and by late afternoon the wind stopped. Darcy and Allan had fun walking the beach with their metal finding wands but no treasure was found. After a disappearing act into our rigs to eat a quick supper we all returned to sand between our toes and more lounging around a campfire watching the sunset and stars. Darcy had his telescope on the beach; we all had a look at Jupiter with its four moons. Also, we looked at the moon with its mountains and craters.
We have a basket stuffed with bird books, historical books and other good books pertaining to Mexico and Baja. I am so happy to see the books being borrowed and enjoyed.
Day 7 found most of the group poking around to watch the sunrise over the bay. Glistening water soon had everyone out and about. Kayaking, sup boarding, leisurely walks and more lounging in the sun pretty well filled up our day. The beach vendors Paleo and Adolfo came by daily with their vans full of wares. Blanket sales were high; we all bought something including fresh vegetables, fish and bakery items.
Dom, Darcy, Shelley and Vicky used the Kayak. Elaine and Cheryl bravely got on the SUP board; a first time for both and both did really well. Cheryl lost her balance once but landed on the board avoiding a cold dunk.
The beach filled with RV’s as 2 more caravans arrived but there was plenty of beach for us all.
Our last day on the beach wound up with a potluck and bonfire. It is quite amazing the delicious foods that can be created in an RV on the beach. Darcy and Shelley gathered shells on the beach, boiled them to clean them, then filled them with scallops and other ingredients and barbecued them. We feasted and enjoyed a bonfire complements of Bruce (the best fire maker on the beach) and Marion; a couple who travelled to Baja 4 years ago with Baja Amigos, now they return here every winter and have remained family of Baja Amigos. We continue to enjoy their friendship and resourcefulness.
People walking along the beach stopped to chat awhile; its always fun to swap stories. There is nothing like a bonfire to unite people.
With yawns, one by one the group said their good nights until their was only Brian. He just couldn’t let those last embers go to waste.
PS. We have so many lovely photos which we can’t get loaded yet but they will follow soon.