We finalized our plans for our gig in Phoenix. It was too short notice to think about driving, and we’d planned to spend the next month enjoying our drive back up the peninsula anyway, so we chose to fly again from Cabo. We had a couple days before the flight, so we went to San Pedrito beach near Todos Santos, a small town also known for surfing. San Pedrito beach was kind of a locals and surfers hangout, and there were quite a few resort style houses around there, so we were not the only ones camping or using the beach, and there were even people playing music all night. This also might have been because it was two days before Christmas! This was the first time I hadn’t been with family for Christmas and for Blake it had been a while. We probably wouldn’t have remembered it was Christmas day if somebody didn’t remind us, especially since we were sitting on a beach. For Christmas Eve, we hiked to some of the surrounding hills by the camp site, and went into the nearby town to buy a pint of Haagan Daaz Strawberry Ice Cream as our one Christmas treat, and because we couldn’t believe that the little markets even had Hagaan Daaz. On Christmas day, we did a spectacular hike from Punta Lobos to the Old San Cristobal Port. It was just a couple miles up a dirt road from an old fishing village, but gave us the most spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and we were able to see water spouts from whales during the entire hike. It ends with an overlook above the really blue water where the old port used to be. We ran into a few people on dirt bikes who were also camping at San Pedrito, and ended up having a beer with them later that evening. They were in the film industry from Vancouver, and stayed at that beach for the winter months. We’ve since discovered that this is a trend in Baja. So many retired Canadian and Alaskan “snowbirds” come to stay in Baja for 6 months to escape the harsh winters. We see so many license plates from these areas and from Washington and Oregon. A lot of these snowbirds come down in RVs, or store their RVs here and just fly down, and post up on a beach for 6 months. Or in some of the towns, a lot of really nice homes have been built up in the hills overlooking the beaches, and the streets are flooded with gringos, so we imagine that those snowbirds have upgraded from RVs.
Our 4 day trip to Phoenix turned into a 9 day trip by adding a stop in San Diego to film another property. If I didn’t already mention it and it is worth noting, the only way we make all of these flights economical for us is because we have the Southwest companion pass. I fly free for 2018 and 2019 when Blake books a ticket. We don’t normally play the credit card game, but when we made the move into the camper and decided I would join Blake filming full time, we did everything we could to earn that Companion Pass. It’s already got me at least 15 free one-way flights.
First thing we did when we got stateside again was go to Chick-Fil-A. We had about three free items in our Chick-fil-a app needing redeeming that would’ve otherwise expired before we originally thought we would be back from Mexico. Meals in the next days also included Chipotle, ModMarket, and Chick-Fil- A again- clearly catching up on all our American fast food favorites. We had two days to kill between our Phoenix and San Diego projects, so we got to go spend a couple days with a friend from high school that I’d always said we’d meet up with when we’re in Phoenix, and rarely actually had the chance to do so! We had fun catching up and they took us out into the desert in the Butcher Jones Recreation area with their dirt bikes and two little boys. We were sad that the time we do get to visit them for two days we didn’t even have our bikes with us, but we took turns, and had so much fun watching them teach their 4 and a half year old how to ride his first dirt bike.
New Years Eve we flew to San Diego, and spent the evening in a Rodeway Inn Motel in Encinitas, California with…more Chick-Fil-A …and went to bed at 10 pm, ready to film at sunrise the next morning. Constant travel has some sacrifices.
After a couple more days filming in San Diego, we flew back to Cabo, having been gone 9 days and praying for no issues with the camper when we got back. All was well, but we had one more decision to make. We were still hoping for at least two weeks to be able to drive back up the peninsula, but we had made a couple commitments for mid January a while ago when we thought we would be back by then. Since a couple of these trips back to the US had delayed our Baja plans, that meant we would only have one week to make the drive. After mapping out all the locations we wanted to hit, we decided it wasn’t worth rushing it, and made some changes to our commitments. This would mean flying, one more time, from Cabo, for one commitment, and moving our other commitment to February. Luckily this all worked out, and we made a promise to ourselves we just simply wouldn’t be able to accept any more work during the last two weeks of January so that we can actually get this trip done the way we wanted to. So we had a week between flying back from San Diego and our next flight out, which would be to New York. For this week, we hit three of the spots we wanted to see within a couple hours of Cabo, but we started the week on a wild goose chase for a moto shop that would know how to install a NitroMousse in Blake’s dirt bike tire because his old mousse was is disrepair since the Cerritos beach house. Blake had a new dirt bike tire and NirtoMousse tubeless system mailed to our hotel in Phoenix, and we carried that on the plane with us to San Diego and all the way back to Cabo. With Blake’s bad back and still partially torn wrist, we had no desire to change it ourselves, and knew that shops in Mexico would only charge pennies to get it done. We wanted to stop at the store of the guy who took us dirt biking in Cerritos because he was familiar with the system. Most shops will tell you they know how to do it, but it won’t be until the bike is already unloaded and hours later they say they can’t do it, so it was worth it to drive to Todos Santos again to see the guy we knew. But in Mexico you never know when shops are actually going to be open. We made the hour drive just for it and everything around it to be closed, and couldn’t get ahold of him. We were trying to maximize every minute of our week, so we didn’t have time to wait around. Blake had actually been in contact with a friend on Instagram who lived in La Ventana and dirt bikes and kite surfs, who offered to help change the tire, so we directed our drive to La Ventana the next day, and bucked up to doing it ourselves. Changing the mousse would’ve been a lot easier if we had the right tools from the beginning, and we essentially took up the entire afternoon trying to get it done with our friend’s help and only successfully after a trip to the local parts store to get a massive size clamp. It was dark when we were done, but planned to meet the next day for our friend to show us the trails in La Ventana.
La Ventana is a smaller town on the Sea of Cortez side between La Paz and Cabo known for kite surfing. Its a very windy town and full of gringos. Lots of Americans and Canadians have built houses there to spend the winters. We actually felt completely like outsiders when we walked into a highly recommended seafood restaurant in La Ventana, and it was full of gringos. Almost every single gringo turned their head to look at us, almost to ask who were these new people in their town. This was not what we were expecting, but we were heading to camp by ourselves anyway. There’s a really neat place to camp in la Ventana next to a natural hot springs along the coast. The information we had from online says that people dig holes into the beach to get to hot water. We parked at the edge of the beach, and in the morning went to check out the hot springs. We saw people had dug giant holes into the sand on the beach and a little bit of water was exposed. The water came in so hot we couldn’t even stand in it; online says 140 degrees. We attempted to dig more to see if we could get any more water, mostly out of curiosity, but any of our progress just quickly got covered when more sand fell down into the bottom of the hole. We were about to give up on the idea of the hot springs when it started to become low tide, and we walked along the rocky coast. We could feel the heat of the hot springs under our feet along this area though, and realized that the best way to experience the hot springs would be to build up a pool in the rocky coast. We were dedicated to building ourselves an epic rock pool, and spent a while building up rocks to keep most of the waves out. The secret was to let in a few waves to mix with the hot water though to keep it a manageable temperature. By the time we had built up our pool, the tide had receded so that there was no water left in our pool, but we realized it had exposed several other pools that people had previously built, and as the water kept getting lower it kept revealing other pools. No one else was on the beach, so we just pool hopped from pool to pool, and kept a bucket with us so that we could bring in cool water if it got too hot. What a relaxing morning, and an experience we’d never had before with hot springs on a beach. If this was in the US, we could only imagine it would be built up and developed into a resort by now.
We were the only people to park at the hot springs camping spot on the Friday night we arrived, but by Saturday midday, at least 13 other cars had showed up to get into the hot springs as well. Some of them being vans with several people. We’d taken our turn, so for the afternoon we geared up to ride on the bikes. Our friend wasn’t able to meet us after all, but pointed us to some trails above our camp site, single track weaving in and out of cactus. We also went down to the beach for Blake to practice some wheelies right in the sand. We’ve been getting better about finding time in our day to exercise, as well, and set up the yoga mat outside the camper to do some exercises, and ran along the beach road.
Unfortunately that night the hot springs camp became the local’s party scene. A group of young Americans (we think) showed up at midnight and started a bonfire with plenty of music and drinking. I was surprised I did actually sleep through it, but in the morning we woke up to the smell of smoke because they hadn’t even put out their fire and it was raging on the beach still. I felt pretty sad about this to see so much blatant disrespect. Nothing could catch fire out there, but some people sure don’t have any respect for those around them, especially when you are a guest in another country. We thought about sticking around to do the hot springs again, but didn’t want to wait until low tide, so we rolled out and headed to our next destination for the week.
The next destination we found out about from watching some of the BFGoodrich 50 Best of Baja Youtube series. A bunch of racers of the Baja 1000 who have spent copious amounts of time in Baja compiled a list of their favorite locations on the peninsula. We watched their entire countdown of their top 50, and were happy to know that we had already been to quite a few, and found a few new places we really wanted to hit. The problem was that the series didn’t wan’t to completely give away all of their Baja secrets, so for some of their picks, they didn’t actually give away names or directions on how to get there. However, Blake and I have great detective skills. We took what information they did give us, such as which part of the peninsula, or near a certain town, and scoured google satellite until we found what they were talking about, and compare it to our iOverlander app where a lot of great places in Baja have already been explored and people post about it. It was actually quite easy for several spots. This is how we found out about some epic cliffs along the Sea of Cortez north of La Paz they referred to as “El Mechudo,” so we headed there!
We definitely felt more remote going to El Mechudo than we’d been so far in Baja. We drove about 50 miles from La Paz and sure didn’t see much civilization along the way. We started the drive on a cloudy day, and we started driving past these cliffs full of low clouds and mist, right along the black sand beaches, and it made us think we were in Ireland or something. When the pavement ended about 20 miles into our drive in a small fishing village, we got onto a dirt perimeter road that continued along the coast. We are always surprised when the dirt roads in Baja are surprisingly good shape, and most have recently been graded, because you never know when you’ll find a small community out in the middle of nowhere that uses the road. We camped at a place known for the turquoise cliffs, because we weren’t sure about the quality of the road all the way to the Punto Mechudo. We could’ve parked right on the beach, but it was so windy we sheltered ourselves near the cliffs, and actually put the jacks down on the camper so we weren’t rocking and rolling through the night. The plan for the next day was to ride the remainder another 20 miles on the dirt bikes to get to Punto Mechudo. Blake’s bike had a different plan though. It decided to stop dead on the road one mile into our ride. We lost a couple hours of time testing and replacing the spark plug and cleaning the carburetor and riding back to camp for spare tools, and finally got the bike up and running again. By then it was 1 pm but we figured we’d still have enough time to do our ride since we’d only be riding on an easy road. We made it to Punto Mechudo, along with another bay with cliffs of many colors, and a section of sand dunes. The road did get extensively worse so we were very glad we camped where we did.
After two nights at our Turquoise beach camp spot, we left to check out Los Barailles on the way back to Cabo. Turns out Los Barailles is another town full of Canadian and American retirees and snowbirds, and every which way we looked there was a gringo riding around town or on the beaches on an ATV, RZR or golf cart. Los Barailles is also known for great fishing, and is far enough away from the commotion in Cabo that people want to settle there for winters. One couple explained to us that apparently John Wayne was one of the first to start coming to that town for fishing back in the 60s. The couple we talked to had been going there every winter since the 80s. It used to be everyone just living in campers on the beach, but now they all have quite luxurious houses built up into the hills. We didn’t need to camp there in that case, but we did find a taco spot that we consider to have been the best shrimp tacos yet in Baja. Blake, who never used to eat seafood, has now taken a liking to shrimp, but only while we are living near the sea, because he knows right where the shrimp came from and can tell they’ll be good. Once we’re back inland, I’m sure he’ll go back to hating seafood. Anyway, he liked them enough to get a feast of 6 shrimp tacos. We camped a bit farther south on a beach called La Ribera to escape all the crowds of Los Barailles. It was perfect weather, quiet, and soft sand so we did our beach side exercises and a beach run. We had a bit of video editing to do before our flight from Cabo in a few days, so we just posted up on the beach and edited for a day as well. Couldn’t have picked a better spot to get our work done. This town really cares for their beach and we saw workers out grating the sand to get rid of any seaweed, and a guy, Hector, actually came up to us on an ATV to get us to sign a guestbook and give any comments about the beach. Blake ended up chatting with him a while. He started talking about how he loves the baja races here and how his friend was sponsored by KC Hilites to race quads and that was a really cool gesture for him. Something about the old KC rep offering to sponsor the mexican team on the spot, showcased the ATV at contingency at the race and provided free product for the team, It created a lot of good will wit him. So Blake showed him the KC brand video he was working on and Hector loved it. Hector also told us about the town and his Dad was out fishing that morning right off the coast. He wanted to return with a fresh fish for us, and told us he would filet it and everything. He did return a few hours later, and gave us a whole tuna, cleaned and cut, and said to cook with butter and garlic. It was so kind of him. So many tourists come to Baja but I’m not sure how many actually take the time to get to know the locals or try to speak the language. Blake is really good about just speaking to the locals as friends and using his Spanish wherever we go, and I think people appreciate that. We were back on our way to Cabo that night for our flight the next day, and we had to stop in at our favorite Starbucks to get some wifi. So I actually ended up cooking our fresh fish in the camper in the Starbucks parking lot, and freezing half of it because we were leaving the next day, which wasn’t quite the atmosphere deserving of this fresh beauty, but at least we got to try something new and thought it was quite delicious.