We left Ensenada with a bit more Spanish under our belts and maybe a few too many pesos spent on tortas and tacos. The road turned from a four lane main street back into a smaller two lane highway, something we were a bit more used to and comfortable with. What was slightly more uncomfortable was the fact that the shoulders went away the same time as the other lane. It took a little getting used to, but once we realized that for the most part the drivers give just as much room (if not more) as they did in the States we started to loosen up a little bit.
As we moved south, the fauna became more and more sparse, and what was around was either covered in thorns, small shrubs, or a combination of the two. This made it quite difficult to find things to lean the bikes against. Trying to find the least dangerous thing around became the name of the game.
Based on our maps, it looked like we were really about to enter no-man’s land; this was the fabled Baja desert. So we stocked up on food and water, almost acting like we weren’t going to see humanity or any sign of civilization for days. In the end, although the area was one of the most rural ones on the bike trip, our rationing proved rather unnecessary, because there was definitely enough out there for us to have made it between places without having put all the extra weight on the bikes.
The desert is a fascinating place; a place where it rarely rains and the sun can be unbearable, yet animals and fauna still find ways to survive in such a harsh environment. These conditions have created some of the strangest and most beautiful plants in the world. Some of the plants were so odd looking, it made us feel like we were in a Dr. Seuss book.
We stopped at a little restaurant between El Rosario and Catavina, where a nice gentleman by the name of Abraham gave us the lowdown on what was in store for us up to Guerrero Negro. He also informed us that not every cactus in the desert was good for extracting water from, but there was one that he used rather often.
We decided to hang around the area just north of Catavina, which was a land filled with giant boulders, giant cacti, and cave paintings. We took a nice little hike, exploring the cave paintings and rocky hills. We even spotted a roadrunner while checking out the massive cactus!
One of the other tidbits of info that our friends Abraham told us was that there hasn’t really been any rain in this area in the past two years. The day we rode to Catavina had been mostly cloudy, pretty windy, and there was even a few droplets in the morning, but we didn’t really think that much of it. As night began to set in, the rain and wind did as well, turning into a full on storm. So much for the “no rain in two years” thing. The rain kept up for two and a half days and put a bit of a damper on our desert exploration and riding. The plus sides were nice, though; no heat and a completely different way to see the desert.
As the towns began to grow further apart, so did the chances for cars to get gas. A simple solution? Fill up your containers in the bigger towns and sell it in the middle of the desert.
We made it to Guerrero Negro, where we made some new friends who we had been hearing about for quite a while. Nick and Sebastian, two Argentineans heading from Alaska back home (sound familiar?). They have been staying in churches their entire time in Mexico and graciously offered to include us in their group for the night.
The next day was an emotional one for a trip south, being Colin’s last day with the crew. He caught a bus (south, of course) to Cabo to meet up with his family for the holidays and from there head out to Costa Rica with his girlfriend. After six months together, he was hard to let go, but we hope he has a great time and we get to see eachother soon!
After shedding some tears with Colin and making a ton of pancakes, we made a late start to Vizcaino with our new Argentinean friends. Luckily, we had a really strong tailwind that sent us along in record time. The next day we were prepped for more flat, straight roads and a minimal amount of wind. We took another late-ish start and took a nice long lunch about 20 miles from San Ignacio. As soon as we took off after lunch the wind began to really blow, this time directly into our faces. This was definitely one of the hardest bits of riding we’ve had yet, making it into San Ignacio as the sun began to dip below the horizon. After riding through the desert for many days, San Ignacio was quite a surprise; as you drop off the highway you enter an oasis, complete with fresh water and palm trees galore.
We stayed at an amazing Mission that was at least 400 years old, sharing dinner with the Padre and exploring the town.
Being in Mexico, we had to play some soccer, so we asked a local shop if we could borrow one and hit the field. In a couple close matches, the Argentineans/Wyoming Boy took the wins from Team Alaska.
After the match we were invited to eat at a local Canadian owned restaurant called Tootsies by our new Aunt Suzie, who was also kind enough to invite us to a wonderful breakfast which fuelled us all the way to Santa Rosalia.
The road to Santa Rosalia was amazing, holding two of the most fun and scenic downhills of the trip so far. The second hill was very steep and very long, called Cuesta del Infierno, or Hill of the Inferno.
We’re now in Santa Rosalia for the night, happy to have finally reached the Sea of Cortez! Not only that, but we were met by a surprise guest biking through the middle of town! Mike “Spike” Riederer has joined up for a few days while we continue south down Baja!
And Evan has taken a sabbatical from the trip to enjoy a winter of snowboarding in Jackson, but is planning to rejoin the group once they hit Costa Rica!!