Monday, January 26, 2015

1,000 Miles to La Paz

Millie and I completed the final leg of our “Baja 1,000”-mile journey from the U.S. border to La Paz on New Year’s Eve.  It was about 220 miles from Loreto to La Paz and would have been an easy 5-hour drive had it not been for a couple diversions along the way…

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It was a perfect driving day—overcast, and a bit dreary.  Nothing else better to do than put the pedal to the metal!  After driving along the Sea of Cortez south of Loreto for the first 30 miles, we turned inland and began to climb up over the coastal mountain range to a high plateau.

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As we reached the farming town of Ciudad Insurgentes, I was surprised by two rare Baja phenomenon -- a four-lane highway,,.. and some rain drops!

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After getting through the town of Ciudad Constitución (which likely has more stop signs per capita than any town in Mexico!), Baja 1 turned southeast to head back towards the Sea of Cortez and La Paz.  The landscape now was a series of sandy/rocky dune-like desert scrub.  Pretty D-U-L-L!

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But around 30 miles from La Paz, the fun and excitement began— 5 miles of detour on a temporary 2-way dirt road.  Plenty of washboards and pot holes for everyone to enjoy!  I took it very slow as did a small Kia car in front of me, but many others were whizzing around passing cars and churning up large clouds of white dust that made us drive even slower!

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Finally, some new asphalt appeared about the same time I spotted the bay of La Paz in the distance ahead!

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Soon, we arrived to the town’s distinctive Welcome sign—a whale tail!

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So nice to return to a real city again, with a Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and monster-sized supermarkets with lots of imported specialty foods—hoo-ray!

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I rolled into the friendly, super clean AquaMarina RV Park by mid-afternoon and was honored to get the RV space that the Bumfuzzle family had just vacated, just a few spots away from my fellow View friends. 

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Hans and Ursula kindly invited me over to their View for a New Year’s Eve Thai dinner, and we somehow managed to talk and laugh the night away.  At midnight, we walked up to the RV park’s rooftop terrace with a few other RV park guests.  The terrace had a great view of the city and the bay (unfortunately, by then, it was a bit too dark and the photographer was a bit too inebriated to get any photos!).  There were no official city fireworks, but plenty of townspeople were sharing their private stash of pyrotechnics, and church bells were ringing.  A great start to 2015 for us all!

While we gringos called it a night soon after midnight, the Mexican locals were just getting started!  When Millie woke me up around 6 am for a morning pee, I could still hear some party music playing in the distance!

New Year’s Day was warm and sunny.  Millie’s first walk beneath the palm trees to the back gate of the RV park was just gorgeous.  Oranges and Bougainvillea in bloom!

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The gate lead us to a sandy beach overlooking the bay of La Paz.  Lots of sailboats in the bay, and pelicans to guard them!

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A large high-rise condo development is next door to the RV park.  Sadly, a reminder of the financial crash from a few years ago, the developers went bankrupt before they could finish the interior of the buildings, and the exteriors are now slowly being peeled away with every passing hurricane.

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But at least one unlikely local calls it home—this heron!

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In the afternoon, Hans and Ursula took me on a quick tour of the town and beaches.  La Paz has a lovely malecon along its bay with bronze statues every few hundred yards.  It reminded me of a mini-Mazatlan.

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The malecon road continued beyond town along the coast to where the big ferries come to dock (that take trucks and passengers across the Sea to Mazatlan and Topolobampo).  The road continued on to the large beach overlooking Isla Espiritu Santo—Playa Tecolote.

Tecolote is a free camping beach, so I wanted to check it out for a potential boondocking stay the next week.  As it was New Year’s Day, the beach was hopping with activity and we even spotted a fellow Skinnie Winnie owner from British Columbia who gave us some further details about the boondocking there.

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Next, we headed over to have a look at Balandra Beach.  The waters here are so shallow, that when the tide is out, it’s a long walk indeed to reach the water!  But a gorgeous and very popular beach nonetheless—and protected from the northern winds.  The parking lot was jammed!

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On our way back to La Paz, we found ourselves behind a slow-moving pickup truck filled with a large family coming home from their beach party.  Whenever the pickup started climbing a hill, large clouds of stinky gray smoke belched from the exhaust.  The dad in the back of the truck started gesturing (holding his nose and shrugging his shoulders) to apologize for stinking us out.  We laughed and reached for our cameras, to which the man motioned his whole family to smile and wave back to us!  What a riot!

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This is one reason I love Mexico so much—the many friendly and lively people!  This month in La Paz should be a good one!

17 comments:

  1. Really enjoying your Mexico posts. Taking notes for a future trip (without the beast).
    Nina

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    1. Very wise to drive Baja 1 without the Beast, although, I was shocked to see a 43' tag-agle quad-slide Class A in the RV park I just got to here in Loreto. Driven by some (no doubt) crazy guy from Alberta. But, it still had its mirrors on and no dings or dents, so I gotta hand it to the guy-- he sure knows how to drive it very well!

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  2. A wonderful account of a great trip. Thanks for sharing this..

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  3. If I was a beach person, that would be a great location.

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    1. Well, Millie is more of a beach girl than I am, but I bet you'd find plenty of interesting stuff down here. Today, I watched a flock of Blue-footed Boobies diving for their dinner, while a competing group of Brown Pelicans tried to chase after their catch rather than dive and catch their own. Who knew pelicans could be such thugs? Fascinating!

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  4. What a great way to start the new year!

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    1. Indeed, it was! No winter coat or snow shovel required!

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  5. What a great adventure! Thank you for allowing us to follow along, Lynne!

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  6. Wow, your trip down Baja is as great a distance as from San Miguel to Houston, which I drive a couple of times a year, roundtrip.

    Breaking it down as you have makes all the difference, as my drive to Houston only has one stop..........La Paz looks interesting.

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    1. Baja is quite a change from the mainland, and yet the people and culture are very familiar. I sure wish the Baja could be driven as quick and easily as SMA to Houston, but then again, the journey is much of the adventure!

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  7. Love the beach picture with mountains in the background, beautiful!

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    1. Balandra has the clearest water I've ever seen-- stay tuned for shots of our kayaking there!

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  8. Not sure if anyone already asked you, but how does your View deal with the Mexican Diesel fuel. I read that newer diesels don't do well on the Mexican diesel fuel? Thanks.

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    1. Mine is an '06 chassis ('07 View), so no ULSD or DEF requirements, and I've had zero problems in 2 years of Mexican diesel. My travel partners this year are driving an '09 View that does require ULSD, but not DEF. He's had no problems in Baja so far, but we still won't know for another week until we get back to the border if that holds true. Supposedly, all the diesel in Baja Norte is ULSD from the US, and Baja Sur (the lower half of Baja) is the only area you need to worry about. So far, we've met 2 other newer Views down here (both '08's) and they've not had any problems either. We did, however, see a guy with a brand new 2015 Ford pickup that towed a big new 5th Wheel down to La Paz just fine, but as soon as he unhitched and was driving the truck around town it went into Limp Home Mode, and Ford has yet to solve the problem. Not sure if its due to fuel or some computer issue (due to being a brand new vehicle).

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    2. Thanks Lynne, I think eventually Mexico will move to ULSD in all areas, but it may take awhile. Happy Travels!

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