Monday, July 10, 2006

July 7, 2006 - Day 1 Baja Trip

I do believe in Heroes. My buddy Nik from Loreto Bay came to my rescue and agreed to drive from Phoenix to Loreto with me. This is us and my “new” car starting our trip. While I was loading up the car, I somehow lost my watch. This was a definite sign that I should no longer have a need for it … hmmm…. Anyone want to place bets on how long I will last before replacing it??

Phoenix has been over 110 degrees in the past few weeks, but as we are leaving we encounter a gale force winds that imprisoned us in a dust storm outside of Gila Bend. Following which there torrential rains for not the usual 5 minutes, but a whole 35 minutes. The skies were black and I thought I was in the Pacific Northwest! Then the sun came out and things heated back up to the normal 109 degrees as we approached Yuma.

Being the ultimate organizer and traveler that I am … I decided that a map wasn’t necessary since there are only 2 roads to Loreto … Hwy 2 West and Hwy 1 South. Nik didn’t think this was a good idea when we didn’t know where to cross the border. Oh well. We saw a sign on top of another marked “Border Crossing” and headed down a dirt road to what looked like a farm. Finally realizing that the Border Crossing was coming up, we still had no idea of where we were, but made sure we had our stories straight. Yes, I’m bringing in used goods for my Loreto home on an FM3 and just visiting. Being a Canadian, I am used to being highly interrogated entering the USA even though I have legal alien status. So we were prepared for the normal barrage of questions. We picked the lane that said Nothing to Declare… and indeed it was NOTHING. We slowed down to 5 mph as we reached the gates, chose the right line and just breezed through without anyone so much as looking at us, let alone a check point person talking to us. We certainly were not about to stop and ask directions. Just keep driving and get the heck outta here!!

We didn’t know where to go or which way to turn, but what the heck, the hardest part was over. Well, we figured out that we were in Mexicali and ended up going round and round for almost an hour following signs that said Tijuana and then abruptly ending. Nik was good enough to break out of the guy habit and ask for directions in Spanish. Whenever he asked for Hwy 2 or the way to Tijuana, the look he got was incredulous. His Spanish was perfect, but for some reason they couldn’t figure out why he wanted to know! Uggghhh… the answer came … turn right at the round-about. Now imagine this … this is a huge circle, with at least 5 exits off of it. Where do you turn right in a circle without signs!! Finally, we figured it out and were never so happy to get out of Mexicali. It’s a big city not unlike most crowded, congested cities, only much dustier.

The drive improved dramatically after that. We climbed about 1000 m. up some mountain ranges and the road and scenery were spectacular. Miles of big boulders as beautiful as Scottsdale, yet hundreds of peaks. The road from Mexicali to Tijuana was great, smooth, fast, and lots of different types of topography from lush greenery to desert mountains. If you do this drive, make sure it is in day light, and you have lots of extra change, as it is toll after toll after toll.

Since we were visiting my friend Tracy at Rosarito, we thought we would go through Tijuana. Sounds simple enough, except once you get through freaking Tijuana it’s a maze. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to visit there, as the one redeeming feature is that you may eventually get out. Signage was non existent, at least for us, and just when we thought we were getting close, we would end up in another "Not so Master Plan" community. Nik got a lot of serious White Boy stares as we drove lower and lower into the depths of local neighborhoods. Again... get the heck outta here!

After many illegal turns and cross overs, we ended up in Rio del Mar. Great new development!! More tomorrow...

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