Sunday, December 27, 2015

Day 3: A little bit of night driving- never a good idea.

After scoring our tourist visas we hit the pay road towards Mexicali. We’d eventually take the cutoff for San Felipe, Puertecitos and out to Laguna Chapalla. At Laguna Chapalla the road would reconnect with the main north to south highway in Baja, Mex 1. We prefer this longer but more scenic route because it allows you to avoid the dreary agricultural region between Rosarito and San Quentin, we call that area Baja Sorrow. Baja Sorrow is a long stretch and it’s really ugly and boring. There are no ocean vistas just lots of small towns with topes, stoplights, slow trucks and slower buses. No thanks.

This is where you come off the road, back onto Mex 1 at Laguna Chapalla. See that white SUV right at the tire shop across the highway? That was the dumb gringo who was hauling ass on the road when he should have aired down and taken it slow. He shredded two tires and drove the last couple of miles on bare rims. Dummy.
Our route is much more pleasant. There are very few trucks so you don’t have to make any sketch pass maneuvers. The highway is new, it’s wide (sometimes four lanes) well paved highways and the Sea of Cortez over your left shoulder once you get past San Felipe. It’s our route of choice every time we drive south. Gassing up in San Felipe we continued south through the desert. The road here was a bumpy dirt road just a couple years ago, in the last three years, the government has been going full time trying to get this stretch paved all the way to the Laguna Chapalla reconnect. It’s both cool and not so cool. On one hand, the road will be a high speed work around to avoid Baja Sorrow. On the other hand, it’s sad to see the beautiful and pristine desert being gouged open for a road and there’s always the reality of the “good roads bringing bad people”. For example, take a look along any of Baja’s well paved routes and you’ll see plastic trash bags snagged on cactuses, dumped vehicles and garbage. Change and progress are inevitable, I guess. I’m glad I got to see it when it was still a little bit wild.

Can you see CON KSO down there? This is the end part of the Laguna Chapalla road, you can see how excavators are cutting up the hillsides.
Hitting Tecate put us behind a couple of hours so it was getting dark by the time we reached Mex 1. The CO2 PowerTank that I carry with me allowed me to air all four times back up to 80psi in about ten minutes, which is fast but is still a time drain when you’re trying to race the last light of day. I hoped we could reach Guerrero Negro, the halfway point in our journey before dark but it was no becoming obvious that we’d be driving in the dark part of the way. This is never a good idea in Baja. It’s not the cartel, or bandidos that you have to worry about here, it’s the two ton black cow that’s standing on the road just around the next corner. Cows on the road cause all kinds of death and destruction down here. 

That cooler lid is all the warning you'll get before you bottom out in this pot hole. See the previous post and you'll get to see how deep that hole really is.
Figuring that we only had a couple of hours in the darkness to make it to a nice hotel in Guerrero, I told the girls we were going to roll the Baja road dice and go for it. Bad decision, we almost didn’t make it. Two thirds of the way there, we hit a very deep, very gnarly pot hole that I missed as I was dodging a couple others. The right front tire banged down into the hole (which is why you buy the best tires you can afford before you drive into Baja- a blow out would have meant rolling the truck) and threw CON KSO to the left- straight across the dividing white line! If there had been a truck in that lane at that instant, we would have all been dead. CON KSO being slightly top heavy went into a wobble, weaving in the road. Being cool paid off here because jerking the wheel to the right would have increased the wobble, maybe rolling her. With stability control warnings beeping and a couple of girls hollering, I eased her back into the proper lane and made the decision I should have made earlier, we were getting the hell of the night road.

Shell Beach, at least that's what we call it. A safe place to camp half way down and a way better option than driving at night.
I knew that a couple minutes up the road we could take the Punta Rosalilita turn off out to one of our favorite camp-over spots. We call it Shell Beach. There’s actually a goofy, mushy, dead-end right hand point off the beach if you were amping to surf you could have at it. We, on the other hand had just finished almost ten hours of hard driving and we just wanted a safe harbor for the night. Safely tucked in into CON KSO, we called it a night.

Liza got one at shell beach. The surf's been pretty small so finding other things to do is important. The girls like to collect shells and stash them all over the truck in plastic bags. I'm not so sure if I'm a big fan of the collections.

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