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la paz

"The Devil's Road" Expedition: Days 1, 2, & 3

MARCH 1st (DAY 1)

We woke to a beautiful and chilly day in Santa Cruz to start our two-month trek into Baja California. Bill Sylvester (a retired fireman and friend of ours and one of our adventure consultants) showed up to send us off. Our friend Eric Doughty and his 5-year-old daughter, Gia, accompanied us for the ride through California. All went smooth until we were swallowed up in the greater Los Angeles traffic and the trailer started to wildly fishtail. A slower speed, faster speed, or use of another lane did not help. It was on the second safety stop when we found
that the nut holding the ball onto the hitch has loosened and we were millimeters away from catastrophe. Tragedy adverted!

We arrived at the Potrero County Park (San Diego County) at about 9:30 pm and went about setting up camp, starting a fire, and cracking open a bottle of whiskey. Even though it was very windy and a little chilly through the night, we slept great.

Camp at Potrero County Park (San Diego County)

Camp at Potrero County Park (San Diego County)

Campsite at night or arrival. 

Campsite at night or arrival. 

MARCH 2nd (DAY 2)

A sunny and warm day greeted us and allowed the needed time to pack. We spent the morning organizing, packing, and finalizing any last minute storage issues and drove the bikes to the town of Campo for fuel and a treat for Gia. We are surprisingly calm and excited for the journey ahead. Baja is a magical place for us and we both always feel at home when we are there. Can't wait.

MARCH 3rd (DAY 3)

The wind was blowing hard this morning when we woke up. The area looked like a garage sale, our stuff strewn about from the wind. A whole roll of paper towels was flapping in the wind as one end wrapped around a tree. After a quick breakfast and several cups of mocha, we packed the bikes were sadly saying goodby to Eric and Gia.

We didn't make it but a mile down the road when we had our first blunder. My Sena camera fell off my bike, hit my foot, and slammed onto the pavement while accelerating to 30 mph. The case blew apart, camera parts flying everywhere as JT and I madly tried to keep the other cars from running over the parts. We think we got all of them!

Today was as much about working out problems as it was about getting the filming started. JT forgot to put the locks on the top box as he drove off and nearly lost them. I just about dumped my bike twice while standing still! Our phones are not working. The GPS coordinates appear to be about a mile and a half off. It was all trial and error while figuring out how to use our Sena 10c cameras.  

We had a great ride along the Ruta de Vina. A beautiful road that winds through Baja's wine country and the Guadalupe Valley. This route was the road that Goldman took in 1906 at the end of their expedition. The pair took a steamer from La Paz to Ensenada once the expedition was complete. Nelson continued on to San Diego via steamer and Goldman took a stage coach from Ensenada to Tiajuana through the Guadalupe Valley.

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja's wine country.

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja's wine country.

Ensenada is a huge city. In 1905, there was only about 1,000 people living here and life centered around the waterfront. Now, the city thrives on the shipping industry, tourism abounds with the cruise ship bringing thousands of visitors daily, and one could find just about anything you desire here in this bustling and sprawling community.

Excerpt from John Steinbeck's "The Log from the Sea of Cortez"

And we wondered why so much of the Gulf was familiar to us, why this town had a "home" feeling.  We had never seen a town which even looked like La Paz, and yet coming to it was like returning rather than visiting.  Some quality there is in the whole Gulf that trips a trigger of recognition so that in fantastic and exotic scenery one finds oneself nodding and saying inwardly, "Yes, I know."  And on the shore the wild doves mourn in the evening and then there comes a pang, some kind of emotional jar, and a longing.  And if one followed his whispering impulse he would walk away slowly into the thorny brush following the call of the doves. Trying to remember the Gulf is like trying to re-create a dream.  This is by no means a sentimental thing, it has little to do with beauty or even conscious liking.  But the Gulf does draw one, and we have talked to rich men who own boats, who can go where they will.  Regularly they find themselves sucked into the Gulf.  And since we have returned, there is always in the backs of our minds the positive drive to go back again.  If it were lush and rich, one could understand the pull, but it is fierce and hostile and sullen.  The stone mountains pile up to the sky and there is little fresh water.  But we know we must go back if we live, and we don't know why.

Day 5, Preliminary Expedition: May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016 (Day 5)

I woke to the sound of birdsong this morning. The song of a quail in the desert will always bring a smile to my face. As the sun rose, we were quickly on the move again, wanting to get to Loreto to get the boat fixed. When we arrived at the welding shop the owner told us his welding machine was broken and there was no one in town that could weld stainless steel. So we kept on, driving south and heading for La Paz. Being a big city and a large boating community, we were confident that we could find someone to fix the Zodiac.

Staying true to the film's name, The Devil's Road, we rounded the corner in the middle of the desert to find a dead cow in the roadway. There were car parts strewn all about the lanes and a dozen vultures perched in a nearby tree. We pulled over to film when a trucker passed, then stopped. He backed up, jumped out with a tow strap, and pulled the dead cow out of the roadway. We caught this on camera.

Truck driver pulling cow from roadway.

As we pulled into town and turned onto the Malecon, we rolled down the windows to take in the atmosphere. Every other bump produced a loud bang coming from the trailer. We pulled over to find that the leaf spring on one side of the trailer had partially failed and the axle was banging on the trailer rail. Fortunately we were only four kilometers from the boatyard that could fix it.

We were graciously greeted by Able Pino at Berkovich Boat Works. He agreed to do the work for us and committed to having it done by morning. We were very grateful for his help.

Able Pino of Berkovich Boat Works working his magic to weld the T-top on the Zodiac!

The director stopping to take a few shots of the scenery.

Tonight, we will go out to the point and camp on the beach for the night to prepare for tomorrow’s adventure. Our plan is to launch and visit Isla Espiritu Santo to spend the night. The next day we will head south to Isla Cerralvo.

We keep our fingers crossed that all goes as planned . . .