May 25 to 28 — Long Beach, California to Alfonsinas, Mexico
This year my two week vacation was to Baja California with my friend Mark and his family in Long Beach. Kayaking the BC coast will have to wait until next year (but I am planning a big 8 day bikerafting trip through the Chilcotins in August, so stay tuned — hey, that’s in a week!)
The flight goes right by Yosemite.
Mark picked me up at LAX, then we ran some errands, including going down to the Marine Institute at Los Angeles Harbour…
… to pick up a bottle of Nitrox we’d use to refill the tires at some point on the trip, after we leave the gravel and get back on pavement (for a smoother ride off road, you air down the tires. But this low pressure isn’t good on sealed roads).
First wildlife sighting of the trip.
Feral parrots are still living in the palm trees at Belmont Pier in Long Beach, right where I used to live.
Getting my stuff together at Mark’s house. We left 3:30 Sunday morning to avoid freeway traffic and to arrive at our destination not too late.
We zoomed down to San Diego, then turned east on Interstate 8. Over the pass into the Imperial Valley is windy, and the turbines appeared against the sunrise.
Dieseling up at Calexico before crossing the border. I’m a conspiracy buff myself, but are they “chem”trails, or just “con”trails from water vapour from combustion in the plane’s engines? C6H14 + O2 –> CO2 + H20
Marathon in Mexicali
700 km later, we hit San Felipe for breakfast and did some tourist shopping. Here we are, stuck in traffic on the strip.
They are paving the road all the way south from San Felipe. Very sad to see the gravel road go, that was a classic. They want “development”. The problem now is you can’t get off the highway down to the little coves we used to go to.
Finally hitting gravel, and airing down. They have only gotten so far with the paving.
Once across this arroyo with a bridge, the pavement will continue.
Shortly afterwards (150 km from San Felipe) we got to Alfonsinas, which is a spit a few kilometers long that has a row of beachfront houses along it. Alongside the spit is a runway and many people fly in rather than drive.
At the end of the spit is a restaurant / hotel. But the tide was extremely high that afternoon so we couldn’t get over (that’s the runway submerged).
Oh darn, we had to wait it out on the beach.
Finally … dinner.
Looking back down the spit from the restaurant
These gigantic 2″ wasp things were quite common most places we went.
We didn’t have a proper bike rack so we just lashed my bike to the front grill. I thought I had put padding on all the rub points…
Damn! Missed one! Ouch! That was nasty, but it didn’t seem to be in a critical location. The perils of owning an aluminum bike…
It rides very well on the sand, much better than on snow. The tidal range here is huge, wider than anywhere I’ve seen.
This one is shorter:
The palapa I set my tent up in. There are a few reasons it is open on this side, and closed on the other. One is the view of the beach, and the other is…
That evening, all of a sudden, the winds shifted from a nice gentle sea breeze to coming from the desert, blowing out off the interior. It got stinking hot and ferocious for most of the night. I got to set my brand new tent up in the dark, for the first time, in the windy palapa. I was peppered with a fine dusting of sand that made it through the thatch.
Here are a couple pieces of video stitched together showing the wind and the sand dollars (I don’t have the resources right now to turn them into little movies):
The sand dollars are a little different down here.
Up from the beach at the road is a store / restaurant. We were sitting there eating dinner when this monstrosity pulled up.
It was John and Betti from the UK! They shipped it over to Halifax and drove around Canada in winter, then made their way south through the US. They had just entered Mexico en route to South America. One of the first things he said to me was, “You must really love the sun!” If you’ve seen me in Mexico you actually haven’t seen much of me, because I cover up. You don’t want to mess with skin cancer! There’s a reason the Arabs wear sheets. I’m a pasty northerner, I’m not sand people.
It’s a Mercedes fire truck that he converted over. He made the box himself.
Being from the UK, he really doesn’t like Range Rovers. Of course, a whole pack of them pulled up beside us.
We spent a few days at Alfonsinas with some of Mark’s friends from work, and their friends, all marine biology people (all Colombian too). They weren’t going further south though since they didn’t have the time or proper vehicles for it.