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Author: Subject: Winter 2016 - 3 weeks to La Ventana and Back
BajaBlanca
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[*] posted on 4-22-2016 at 05:27 PM


ok I get it! next time, God willing.



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[*] posted on 4-22-2016 at 05:28 PM


Quote: Originally posted by WideAngleWandering  
Quote: Originally posted by BajaBlanca  
I am so disappointed that you didn't say hi.....and share a beverage with us on the porch


This is the downside to group travel. Cat-herding and decision by committee. Next time for sure!

Quote:
David K:
It is a place for people who need NOTHING in the form of amenities other than what Nature provides.

It was perfect! I just wish I could have talked my companions into spending a couple nights there. This is my #1 camping destination near SF from now on. It's delightfully perfectly empty with just enough risk of getting stuck to make it interesting.




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[*] posted on 5-4-2016 at 04:56 PM


We left San Ignacio and headed for the Sea of Cortez. Even though it was daylight, the mugging of some other travellers just east of the San Ignacio checkpoint was on my minds. I just figured if someone tried to cut me off in an old pickup, I'd just let ol' Betsy run them down, bull-bar first. Of course, there were no issues.

Our first stop was in Santa Rosalia for a combination bathroom break and baguette shopping trip. I've always wanted to spend some time in this town, photographing the architecture and all the old industrial equipment. Maybe I'd even get a chance to find some interesting minerals outside of town in the old mine tailings. Not this time though. I had only a few minutes to check out Eiffel's church before we loaded up and headed out.


Eiffel's Mission by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

Back on the road, we made a brief stop in Mulege to stock up on beer. I've always meant to stop and explore the place, but I'm afraid it's another spot I have to leave for another trip. I recently picked up a 1985 AAA guide to Baja. Here's how they described it:

Quote:
The oasis community of Mulege is located in the bottom of a lushly vegetated arroyo surrounded by barren hills. The town, which has a population of about 6,000, sits astride the north bank of the Rio Santa Rosalia about two miles upstream from the Gulf of California. With its air of tranquility, abundance of date palms and many thatched-roof houses, Mulege exudes the atmosphere of a sleepy tropical village. Dates are the principal crop, but figs, oranges, bananas and olives are also grown here."


Sounds like my kinda town.

Just past Santispac, south of Mulege, we pulled off to enjoy some time on the beach.


Playa Escondida by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr


Landcruiser at Playa Escondida by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr


Playa Escondida by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

It was a very relaxing afternoon for us and the hounds. Originally I was hoping to spend the night camped along the coast, but lost time compelled us to move on. Next stop, Loreto.

Driving along Bahia Concepciˇn is one stunning desert seascape after another. Despite the development, there are still places where you can find a bit of solitude. I dig it.




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[*] posted on 5-4-2016 at 05:08 PM


As we pulled in to Loreto, I heard a suspicious squeal from under the hood. I figured it had something to do with the power steering. Finally, my first mechanical failure of the trip. I have to admit, I love a good breakdown.

Still, we set vehicle repairs aside and drove into town to find Don and Karen, whom I hadn't seen in years. Don treated us to some fresh fish tacos while we talked about our trip, and plans, and life in Baja. After tacos and beer, the Cherokee friends set off to find a dog-friendly hotel with their hounds and we settled in for the night.

The next morning, we had breakfast at Orlando's, the same place where I always have breakfast in Loreto, and then wandered back to Don & Karen's to sort out my power-steering. Sadly it turned out to be a simple fix; the power-steering belt was coming apart. I had a spare and we were ready to get on the road within minutes.

Before heading out, I snapped a photo of Don's fantastic V10 Triton Samurai.


Triton V10 Suzuki by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

On the way out of town, we stopped to ogle the incredible views of the Sea of Cortez. Stunning.


Sea of Cortez Views #1 by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr


Finally got some dirt on the Cherokee by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

Sea of Cortez Views #2 by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

Our next stop would be either La Paz or La Ventana, depending on the hour.




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[*] posted on 5-6-2016 at 06:56 AM


Always enjoy your trip reports and photos.. Sorry I missed you while you were at Don and Karen's though..I stopped by to see you there, but you had already left. Dale and I were in Asuncion when you were there the first time we met. So, next time your in Loreto, will make sure to hook up with you again.. Great shots of the whales..If you don't get your body work done in the Norte this year, there is a very good body shop in Loreto..
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[*] posted on 5-6-2016 at 07:40 AM


Quote: Originally posted by WideAngleWandering  
Recounting this trip is an excruciatingly painful activity right now as I've just returned to work. I spend most of my time making spreadsheets and powerpoint slides when I'd rather be designing improvements to the baja travel rig.


Awesome trip report, but this comment really hit home with me - been there don't that. You get home and are expected to pound on a keyboard, even though your mind is 600 miles south.

Can't wait for more!




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[*] posted on 5-6-2016 at 08:14 AM


Interesting!
When I get back from Baja, I love doing the trip report because it puts me back in Baja (mentally) all over again! Heck, I never want to leave Baja!
Thank you all for the time you do devote for sharing your trips with us, whenever you can!!

:light::light::light::bounce::bounce::bounce::biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:




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[*] posted on 5-6-2016 at 05:58 PM


Terrific Post! Love it! Two criticisms:

1. MORE pictures and MORE story.

2. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE post from La Ventana! Had some of the best times of my life there and haven't been for a while.




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[*] posted on 5-17-2016 at 09:34 AM


La Ventana's coming up next.

I think I have time to knock out one more post this morning before I go back to spreadsheets or some such nonsense.

'Till then, here's a bonus photo I just scanned from Baja 2015. This just goes to show how long it takes me to get around to the black & white film.


Essential Gear by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

[Edited on 2016-5-17 by WideAngleWandering]




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[*] posted on 5-17-2016 at 10:44 AM
To La Ventana


We set off from Loreto, after a nice breakfast, and some sight-seeing, and started up to cross the Sierras yet again. This next leg is one of my least favorite drives, with that long-straight stretch though Insurgentes and Constitucion. Looking at the map, I realized I was driving right past the roads to Comondu and San Javier. I'll have to circle them for next time. Just like I did the last time.

My old truck may not look like much, but if I'm not fighting the wind, I can maintain 80 on a flat highway with the turbo running full bore. I prefer to back off a little and keep the boost pressure under 12psi but this stretch really tests my patience.

When we reached Constitucion, I pulled over and waited for the Cherokee to catch up. My buddy told me that the last time he'd driven through here, he'd had burro tacos at a street stall. We then drove very slowly through town, obeying every stop sign, hoping not to get rear-ended, while simultaneously looking out for overweight motorcycle cops and burro tacos. We spotted neither, and instead consoled ourselves at Carnitas "La Selva".

Back on the road ... making great time and enjoying the cloudscape. Everytime I've covered this stretch I've found myself driving along an endless highway with puffy clouds scooting overhead. It's really the only thing to look at around here.

We reached the edge of La Paz at about 4PM. I pulled over again and consulted with the Cherokee. We could either divert to La Paz for a night, spend the morning at the beaches up past Pichilingue, or keep on trucking. We decided to push on, which I have to admit I kind of regretted as I have fond memories of La Paz, but I reminded myself that with only three weeks, I wouldn't be able to see it all.

At this point I had to rely on the GPS to navigate us around La Paz and catch highway 286 southeast for the gulf. I love how many times I criss-cross the peninsula while heading south. Fascinating geography.

286 is an interesting road. It's in fairly good condition, paved and potholed, but very passable. It's definitely a secondary highway though. It basically goes straight up the mountains on one side, and straight down on the other. I don't think I used any fuel getting down the east side.

We finally pulled into La Ventana around 5:30. We had no plans other than a desire to find the tidal hot springs and camp hear them, hoping to relax in a hand-dug thermal pool while admiring the bioluminescence. My first impressions, however, were not great. There were a lot of ecohotels, and it all struck me as quite expensive. We drove through La Ventana, eventually finding a campground on the north end of town. It was getting dark though, and the skies were looking ominous. The Cherokee aborted to go find a hotel. We kept on, driving through El Sargento. We kept heading north on a dirt road winding along the coast, until we found a beach with a few 4x4 expedition vehicles parked, with the occupants inside avoiding the rain, which was steadily increasing.

I pulled over and asked some kids about the hot springs. They pointed to the far end of the beach, so we drive down through the arroyo to the beach, and followed the road to the far end. There we found a group of people sitting in a giant tarp-lined pit. The guys doing all the work to dig the whole and fill it with water were Australian. They worked for one of the ecohotels and were taking a group out for a "hot spring experience." I tried talking to them; most were frosty, but one of them explained how the springs work. You either dig or wait for low tide. If you dig, you can make a hole to sit in and a separate hole to get at the hot water, using buckets and pumps to get the right temperature water, or you wait for low tide and sit amongst the rocks, letting the tide dictate the temperature.

At this point the sun was setting and there was lightning in the far distance. I thanked the friendly dude and headed back towards town and cell phone reception to call the Cherokee friends. They were having a margarita. They'd found a hotel room but it was going to be pricey. I decided to stop at every place that looked like they had rooms for rent and inquire. Many were closed - this was the end of kite season. However, I did find a place in La Ventana that had a rack rate of nearly $100USD, but they offered it to me for 100 pesos. The grounds were beautiful, the restaurant closed for the season, and only one other room was occupied.

There are no photos at this point because today was spent mostly driving. I have to get back to the grind, but here's a teaser photo from the hotel parking lot.


Buggy and Landcruiser by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

[Edited on 2016-5-18 by WideAngleWandering]




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[*] posted on 6-22-2016 at 11:25 PM
La Ventana


Sorry for the hiatus. Work. Life. Saving for the next trip. So little time it seems.

La Ventana, continued
After scoring a room to stay, we went up the road to a small restaurant with a big margarita sign out front, ordered some fish, and commenced drinking. Getting a hotel turned out to be a pretty smart move as a really ugly storm moved in and the steady rain turned into a downpour. After fish and beer and margaritas, we ran across the road to Playa Central, grabbed more delicious beer, and sat back on the couch to listen to the band. It was greatly amusing to hear them singing kite-surfing songs. I had no idea that genre even existed. After a while, the rain really started to pound, and the fugas in the metal roof started dripping on us. No worries though - at least we weren't in tents out on the beach. I was really surprised when the clatter on the roof turned even more metallic. Everyone in the bar went to the door and we were amazed to see hail coming down. Really that just kicked the party up a notch.

Eventually we retreated to the hotel. Only three rooms were occupied - two by us and one by a couple from Los Cabos. We chatted on the patio overlooking the ocean and watched the lightning strikes. They told me all about Cabo Pulmo, which is now officially circled on my map for next time. My map has a lot of circles on it. I need at least two more lifetimes to cover them all.

In the morning, sadly, the Cherokee friends had to head back north. We still had a week longer to spend, however, and it was a groovy week indeed.

Adios by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr




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[*] posted on 7-26-2016 at 09:54 AM
La Ventana & El Sargento


After waving goodbye to the Cherokee friends, we slipped back in to Playa Central to grab a beer from the bar and go out back and watch the kite surfers. The rest of the morning and afternoon drifted by. I paused the kite watching only to change film and change beer.


Kite Surfers in La Ventana by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

I've seen people wind surfing in the Colombia River Gorge but this was the first time I'd seen any kite surfers up close. It looks like a ton of fun, but a pain in the ass to learn.


Kite Surfers Behind Playa Central (Cinestill) by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr


Kite Surfers Behind Playa Central (Cinestill) by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr


Kite Surfers Behind Playa Central (Cinestill) by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

I'm told that in the high season, the coast is packed with kite surfers. This was a light day.


Kite Surfers Behind Playa Central (Cinestill) by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

My favorite piece of kit, an old Canon F1 with a fixed lense. I zoom with my feet.


Photographing the Kite Surfers by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

Eventually we headed back to camp on the far end of El Sargento. It was getting late to dig a hot tub, and we were not prepared with tarps and buckets. The tide was up and covering the tide pools, so we just relaxed by the sea, alone, quiet, and happy. After night fell, I spent a bit more time with the camera and the stars.


Ursa Major over Camp by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr


El Sargento Big Dipper Startrail by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr




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[*] posted on 7-26-2016 at 10:04 AM


Great!:bounce::bounce::bounce:



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[*] posted on 7-26-2016 at 03:50 PM


Fabulous story and photos, Wideangle. The stuff that Baja travelers dream of.
You are one of the reasons Bajanomad is the number one www site for Baja wanderers.

That was an excellent photojournalism rendering of your great trip.

Most of us who have traveled in a similar manner in our younger days have experience what you have, and are the wiser for it. Some of love Baja so much (after all the travels, rigors, winch-outs, broken equipment and flat tires, etc.) have decided to make this land our permanent home. You sound like such a candidate in the future as well!




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[*] posted on 7-26-2016 at 05:09 PM


Excellent trip report and pictures. I really need a trip like that to relax.
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[*] posted on 7-26-2016 at 06:31 PM


Most of your kiting pictures are of kite foil boards. These have the vertical post sticking down with the foil attached to the end. This is much harder to learn than straight kiting which uses a mostly flat board. If you put your mind to it, you could probably be kiting in a few weeks but then La Ventana would end up being a very addicting place.
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[*] posted on 7-27-2016 at 02:06 PM


Thanks for the kind words. I have more to post ... once I get some more free time. Hot springs, San Felipe, Valle de Guadalupe, Laguna Hanson, oh yeah.

Quote: Originally posted by Udo  
Some of love Baja so much (after all the travels, rigors, winch-outs, broken equipment and flat tires, etc.) have decided to make this land our permanent home. You sound like such a candidate in the future as well!


That sounds like a great idea to me. If only I knew of a house for rent somewhere in Asuncion ... :lol:




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[*] posted on 1-17-2017 at 10:21 PM


Thanks for the kind words. This is just he kind of encouragement I need to finish this trip report.

That and the fact that I'll be leaving in about 4 weeks to start my 2017 trip. I gotta get this one wrapped up! More to come ...




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[*] posted on 1-19-2017 at 10:42 PM


The next morning, I got up early and photographed some more kite surfers, this time from where we camped at the hot springs.


Kite Surfers (Ektar) by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

The tides was out, so conditions were right to finally check out the hot water. We stacked up some rocks in a spot that had clearly been used before and soaked while pondering the nature of the universe and what to have for breakfast. The water alternated from near scalding to quite cool as the waves rolled out and back in.

The views were outstanding, and we had the place all to ourselves.


Tidal Hot Springs at El Sargento. by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr


Geothermal Tide by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

While we were still at the beach, we saw another 60-series Landcruiser. This one I recognized from Stockton, California, where I'd seen this very nice HDT-powered beast at Valley Hybrids. I love serendipitous Baja encounters.


Landcruiser Beach Camp by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

Eventually we decided it was time to start meandering north. We booked it up to Ojo de Liebre, stopping for the night to surprise Shari and spend one last night on the lagoon. I didn't do any more photography though until we'd made it all the way back up to San Felipe. I'll save that for the next post.

I just finished processing some infrared film, and have some cool cactus shots coming up.




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[*] posted on 1-20-2017 at 08:49 PM


I just finished processing and scanning the infrared film. That's coming up shortly. But first, San Felipe.

I had a couple of purposes in coming to San Felipe. First and foremost, to get one of Danny Clamato's michelada's from outside the 7-11.


Danny Clamato by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

But secondly, in the hopes of getting some body work done on my truck.

The last few times I've come to Baja, I've tried to get some work done at Taller Carroceria "La Curva", by the police station just past the arco going north out of town. Carlos Cruz Bejarano at "La Curva" was recommended to me by the dude at Taller Barney. Anyhow, the last few times Carlos has been too busy. This time I made an appointment on the way south, and stopped to see him on the way back.

Only this time, he came back and offered to do a crappy job for $500 USD, or a good job for some unknown amount after he started chopping it open. He seems to have a steady stream of RVs and gringo customers, but that was just a wee bit too much uncertainty for me. He doesn't seem to have much help around the shop so I was afraid this would turn into a drawn out job. If I lived in the area it would probably be different.

No worries though - I had a great michelada and nice views before we headed up to Laguna Hanson via Laguna Diablo.


San Felipe Beach by Wide-Angle Wandering, on Flickr

[Edited on 2017-1-21 by WideAngleWandering]

[Edited on 2017-1-27 by WideAngleWandering]




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