BAJA DIVIDE 7: A Long Way to Go

“Rosarito to San Ignacio”.

After picking up Neon’s new bike seat in Guerrero Negro we took the bus south to Mulege to meet family for Thanksgiving. We swam in the Bay of Conception on the Sea of Cortez, watched a parade, and drank margaritas on the beach. The bus ride back north (after Thanksgiving) to Rosarito (where we had left off before Neons seat rail broke) was long, too long. It was near 10:00 pm, and dark, when we arrived. Not wanting to stay at the hotel with the wet floor again, we headed out into the desert. This was our first night ride in Baja. Riding at night felt like hovering over a dark abyss, and the photons from my bike light were just teasing me as they bounced around the darkness. It seemed like we had ridden forever, wobbling down the dark dirt road, but when we finally stopped to camp, my odometer only had two kilometers on it.

I woke the next morning feeling stiff from the long bus ride, but it felt good to be back on the bikes again. The roads were good and we made it to Mission San Borja before lunch time, feeling overheated from the from the hot mid-morning sun. Neon headed straight to one of the palapas (palm leaf roof / structure), while I stood in awe staring at the stone work on the mission. When I got to the palapa Neon was already crashed out on his sleeping mat. I followed suit. When we woke, Jose (the property owner), introduced himself. He asked us about where we had ridden from; we replied, Rosarito. He told us the bicycles were easy, that when he was a boy he used to walk to Rosarito once a week to get supplies. He told us stories about the history of the area, how there used to be more Indians that inhabited the land, but when the Spanish arrived they brought sickness and many died and the rest were enslaved to work the land and build the mission. He said he is mixed, Cochimí Indian and Spanish, and that he was born on the land, and his ninety year old mother too. He told me that I looked like his niece, and that that made him happy. We are all related, he said with a smile.

He invited us over to his place to fill up with cold water from his cistern, noting that it’s the original cistern. We asked about the warm springs on the property, and he directed us down a trail, past several water catchments and pools, that led to the springs. When we returned, he invited us into the mission to look around. He smiled and told us that everything is original from the time it was built. I rode off into the desert trying to imagine what it would have been like to have been born at Mission San Borja.

We camped early, nestled in a wash, surrounded by cirio trees, cardon, chollo, and tall yuccas that look a little like joshua trees. We woke the next morning to misty fog rolling in from the pacific coast. The ride into Bahia de Los Angeles was a mix of easy dirt roads and fast downhill pavement into town. We found a cheap hotel with a big porch facing the Sea of Cortez, a hundred feet from a sandy beach. I woke to a pink and orange sunrise, drank my coffee on the porch, and watched dolphins leaping through the sea.

The dirt road leaving town was an easy cruise through a beautiful valley. Our route slowly climbed into the mountains, down into another valley, and then back to the sea. Late the next day, a truck, with a couple of locals, stops. The driver asks (looking at our bikes), in a thick Mexican accent, “where are you going?” I reply, Argentina. He laughs, in a deep laugh, and says, “oh, that’s far, long, long, way from here”. He reaches back into the vehicle and hands Neon a beer, reaches in the truck again, and then hands me a beer. We thank him. He smiles and says, “well you have a long way to go; you’d better get going”. We rode for a little longer before rolling off into the desert to camp. We opened our beers and toasted to “our long way to go”.

The next day started with a slow uphill grind before coming to a pass, then a long downhill to Rancho Escondido where we stopped for water. There was no one around, and the place had sort of an abandoned eerie feel to it. We found a hose to get water from and then headed back on route . The road was sandy and slow going. We set up camp, in a narrow wash, in soft, cushy, sand. The clouds were thick and we fell asleep hoping it wouldn’t rain.

We woke to a beautiful sunrise. We stopped at Rancho Piedro Blanco for a meal and a few snacks, then turned left and took an alternate road that parallels the route. We climbed a small pass and rode through a beautiful desert garden with a mix of Tree Ocotillo, Cardon, cholla, creosote, and Torote. We camped under moody skies and fell asleep to the sound of crickets.

The roads got sandier the closer we got to Vizcaino. We rested in town, ate dates, watermelon, and other street foods. The route out of town was a mix of paved highway and sandy dirt roads. We pushed our bikes, a lot, through sand and fluffy silty volcanic ash before deciding to cut back to the highway, away from the route, for the final kilometers into San Ignacio. We stayed at Fong’s Motel. Nano Fong was a circus performer and had set a world record for Unicycling, 56 hours.

We touch so many lives and places on this journey. It is truly an amazing world out here, and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to be out in it, experiencing the nuanced textures that make up its beauty.

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Parade in Mulege: Dìa de la Revolucìon

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Palapa: palm leaf roof (from the underside)

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We spent Thanksgiving hanging out on the beaches south of Mulege…

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Playa Ventura…

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Ocean in the Sky (Ephemeral no.6)

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Playa Requeson…

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Playa El Coyote…

Baja Note no.1 & 2

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Back on the bikes, after Rosarito…

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Mission San Borja …founded in 1762, the church was completed in 1801.

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A third species of Fouquieria… the Baja California Tree Ocotillo (Fouquiera diguetti)

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Candelilla ‘euphorbia lomelii’ has cool looking fruit…

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Old Man Cactus…

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Sunrise on the Sea of Cortez in Bahia de Los Angeles, beautiful morning complete with dolphins leaping through the sea…

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Baja Note no.4

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Zopalilotes (vultures) roosting on a Cardon Cactus

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He likes to read in bed…

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Soft desert textures…

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I’ve been seeing a lot of these fuzzy critters…

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Elephant Tree (torete) is in the Frankincense family. This species leaves smell like peppermint with a hint of citrus.

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Moody Skies…

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Traffic on the Baja Divide…

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Abandoned buildings looking ominous with moody skies…

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Neon trying a local street food in Vizcaino: corn, slathered in mayonnaise, rolled in shredded cheese, and sprinkled with lemon chili powder. He said it was quite tasty…

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These mountains southwest of Vizcaino captured my interest. I’d like to climb them someday…

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We pushed our bikes through deep sand, and fluffy silty volcanic ash, on the roads after Vizcaino…

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Riding up on a plateau above the sandy layers…

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Sunset, Tree Ocotillo, Cardon, and Joshua Tree style yucca

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Sunrise, waiting for the sun to warm…

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Mission San Ignacio, founded in 1728…

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the posting. I like your abstract mini paintings Plein air bike pack painting.

    Lee

    On Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 5:08 AM, The Redheaded Nomad wrote:

    > The Redheaded Nomad posted: ““Rosarito to San Ignacio”. After picking up > Neon’s new bike seat in Guerrero Negro we took the bus south to Mulege to > meet family for Thanksgiving. We swam in the Bay of Conception on the Sea > of Cortez, watched a parade, and drank margaritas on the beach” >

    Liked by 1 person

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