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Author: Subject: Trip report SF Bay Area to La Ventana in one day

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[*] posted on 7-15-2020 at 05:55 PM
Trip report SF Bay Area to La Ventana in one day

Road trip report from San Mateo on the San Francisco Peninsula to La Ventana Baja California Sur in the Municipality of La Paz July 14th 2020

Left my house at 21:00 hours Monday the 14th.
Got to the Calexico / Mexicali II (East) boarder crossing at 06:18. Drove right up there was no one in front of me. Went through the nothing to declare lane in my covered pick up that was loaded with stuff.
The customs guys just looked at me as I drove by but a guy in a white shirt came across the front of my truck motioning to stop. I did.
Two days before I left I filled out the visa application form on line like I normally do when driving in. It has several choices for trip info like: tourist, health, business and other. I thought that since this isn’t a vacation trip (going to hurricane proof my house and sail my boat north out of hurricane country for the summer) I would choose “other” but that led to two more choices: religious and some other one I can’t remember now but also didn’t fit. I heard that land crossings were closed for tourism purposes that’s why I didn’t want to pick tourism.
Any way tourism seemed to be the only choice so I picked it. Filled out and submitted the application as normal. Normally I am then directed to pay by credit card. This never happened. I got an email saying my application had not been approved and when I paid for it it would be. OK what ever I figured if I had two I could handle the whole thing at the boarder.

Last time I was here in March I flew in. I had planned on flying out but decided to drive back because the virus was ramping up and I didn’t want to be at an airport or on a plane. Therefore, I still had that tourist visa which if I had flown back they would have taken when I boarded the plan.
Ok back the the boarder and the white shirt. He rounds the front of my truck and in English says “good morning I am immigration. Are you a resident?” I say no I am a tourist but I own a house in La Paz. He says “ok please pull over here. Can I see your tourist visa?” I hand him the one from the flight in March. He reads the March date aloud and hands it back to me and says “ok have a good trip gracias”

Point of that story, that airline visa works to re-enter the country, or it did this time anyway. Also this was the first time I have ever been asked for my visa and I’ve been coming here since 1999.

Traffic was very light in Mexicali but the pollution was as bad as usual.
San Felipe by 08:15 Military check point. Army guy “where are you coming from?” San Francisco. “where are you going to?” My casa in La Paz. “Oh you have a casa in La Paz?” si “have a nice trip”
Pulled up the a female Federale twenty feet away from the Army guy. Same questions same responses. On my way.

San Felipe was deader than I ever saw it. I didn’t stop just drove through.

Military check point north of Gonzaga Bay. Same questions same reply from the army but they did want to look in the back of the truck. It was full of boxes but he only looked in the cooler then wished me a nice trip.

Pop up Military checkpoint on the new road just south of Gonzaga. Two guys in the road one orange flag wave me to a stop one M-16 or something like that. Same questions same answers. He wanted to “inspect” the bed of the truck. Again he only looked in the cooler. There was a third army guy kicking back in a Hummer off the side of the road. These guys have no shelter where there’re at. It was already very hot even though it was morning. I asked if there was three of them “si” would you like a cold coke? “Yes” three cold cokes handed out and on my way.

Military check point well north of Guerrero Negro. Same questions same reply and a look in the cooler. There were too many army personnel here to offer them a coke so I didn’t. On my way.

Guererro Negro. No check other than the agricultural one where they charge you to spray the bottom of your vehicle. In March they were taking the temperatures of people headed south at the ag check point but they weren’t yesterday. I asked and the guy laughed. On my way.

On the long straight road after leaving Guerrero Negro there were several cars pulled over in a wide spot. I went flying by at 85mph when I see that there are two cop cars (Dodge Chargers) and two other cars stopped. Three police, one had a radar gun but I didn’t notice that until later. As I went flying by the cop with the radar gun put his hand up in the air but I wasn’t sure what he was doing. The other two cops who were with “customer” turned and looked at me as I went flying by with jaws hanging open. I though gee did those guys want me to stop? I pulled over up the road from them. All three just standing there staring at me.
I made a U-turn, stopped across the road from them and said did you guys want me to stop? I didn’t know what they were doing, I hadn’t seen the radar gun yet. Thought maybe they were collecting for the policeman’s ball or something.
One of them answers “Yes” I make another U-turn and pull in being the four other vehicles. Cop comes up wearing a mask, I was just putting mine on. Mine is an artsy one that make me look like a dog with his tongue sticking out. I turn to the cop with my mask on, I could tell he smiled and then he said in English “there you go” He asked if I would step out of the vehicle. Sure I turn off the truck remove my seat belt and step out. He asks if we can go to the rear of the truck and asks if I can open the camper shell which I do. he doesn’t look in the cooler and doesn’t really look at much. He asks if I’m retired or working, Working. What do you do? Electrician.
Where are you going? Mi casa in La Paz. “Oh, you have a casa in La Paz? Si (this is a southern Baja cop so I elaborate, Actually its in La Ventana. “Oh La Ventana that’s very nice” I say yes thank you I am coming down here to sail my boat which is in marina De La Paz up to Puerto Penasco. “Oh you have a boat here?” Yes, in marina De La Paz.
“Do you work with Mexecano’s or Americanos? Americans. So you work with Americanos in La Ventana? No I work in California. “Oh so you work in California but you live in La Ventana?” No I live in California and I work in California but I have a casa and a boat in La Paz. “oh ok that’s very nice”
He points to my kite surfing harness which is sitting on top of other stuff “What’s that?” I tell him. “Oh so you do that kitting too?” Yes, in La Ventana. “oh very nice.”
We talked for ten or fifteen minutes. I still don’t know what they are up to.
Then he says “Ok here in Mexico we use kilometers not miles and the speed limit here on this part of this road is 80 kilometers per hour not 80 miles per hour. “I suddenly notice that the note pad he’s holding is actually a ticket book. I also realize what there are doing here and that I’m busted.
He says there are many accidents on this road because people drive too fast. He says “But we don’t like giving (long pause as he searches for a word other than gringos) Americano’s tickets because its not good for us. The other two cars up there are Mexicano’s and they are getting tickets. So we are going to wait here until they leave and then we will see if you are going to get a ticket or not”
Oh ok. Just then the other cars leave and his boss and he and I meet back at the front of my truck. He tells his boss that I own a home in La Ventana and I have a boat in La Paz and that I come down here quite often. He says “ok its ok no ticket for you but please slow down there are many accidents along this road.”
Three cold cokes handed out and with my white privilege I’m on my way.

Military check point north of Loreto. Waved me through.

About three years ago I was driving this same truck down the same route. It broke down right at the Military check point north of Loreto. The military said I could leave it there. I got a rive down the mountains into Loreto by some locals who dropped me at a mechanic’s shop they knew. Here is an except from that story:
The mechanic Ramone? was reluctant to even talk about my problems. He was busy working on a 70’s Chevy van and kept saying it sounds like an electrical problem and he hates electrical problems. I said “Please you are my only hope” maybe not true but. He got the same look on his face that I get when a customer says that to me. I knew then he would help me.

I asked if he knew about the cam shaft position sensor on these trucks? He said yes, and that’s probably the problem but I wont find one in Loreto. I told him I have one. At first he didn’t understand. He says yes they all have one. I say no, I have a brand new one in the truck. He says you already replaced it? I say no I brought one with me just incase. He smiled and said bring that to me, I want that. English is not his first language so all this was kind of funny even then.

I ask him if he knows of a tow-truck? He sighed and while still standing hunched over inside the gutted van said “you have to pay for these services” yes I said of course I am going to pay. He climbed out of the van and walked over and picked up his cell phone. While he was doing that his wife came home and I helped her bring the groceries into their home above the garage.

He hung up the phone and said in ten minutes a flat bed tow truck will pick you up across the street. So it did. We got the truck down into his shop. He replaced the sensor. Problem fixed. Total including the tow down the mountain $65.00. $45.00 for the mechanic $20.00 for the tow. Unbelievable!
Ever since I thought that since the mechanic knew about the sensor and he knew it was probably my problem he must have run across this before. He also knew that I wouldn’t find a sensor in Loreto. I thought it would be nice to buy anther new sensor and stop by and give t to him. So Yesterday at 06:18 twelve hours after crossing the boarder I pulled into the mechanic’s yard. He was sitting there with two amigos have some beers. I pulled right into his work yard and he got a look on his face like “on man what’s this? go away” I stepped out with a new in the package sensor and started walking towards the three of them. I said do you remember me? “Hmm no” I said remember that truck? He looks like he remembers slightly, I said cam shaft position sensor. He smiles and says “yes two years ago.” I say three years ago. “That was three years ago?” yes and remember you said I wouldn’t find one in Loreto? “yes” I hand him the new one and say well now you are the only guy in town who has one if anybody ever needs one.
His amigos loved that. They started talking and laughing and smiling at me and patting the mechanic on the shoulder. The mechanic looked like he was getting tears in his eyes and said “well that’s alright” I said thanks for helping me out and went to my truck and left three smiling amigos.
Just a little thing that he may never use but I think it made us all feel good.

Police check point coming into La Paz, waved through.

I think I’m forgetting a checkpoint or two but the point of this report is that it more that ever seemed to me that the locals and the authorities are more than happy to have Americano’s coming back down. Also it seems to have great influence when you tell them you own a home here. Not saying its in the long run a good thing or a bad thing as I don’t know. Just reporting my experiences yesterday.

1,463 miles
24 hours 46 minutes’ total time
It was a long and interesting day behind the wheel.

Viva Mexico!
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[*] posted on 7-15-2020 at 06:14 PM

Great report, thanks for the details!

"Plan your life as if you are going to live forever. Live your life as if you are going to die tomorrow." - Carlos Fiesta
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[*] posted on 7-15-2020 at 07:19 PM

Thanks for the report. Im heading down to my house in Gonzaga tomorrow for some essential business and was a bit worried with the most recent reports. Glad to hear you made it down!
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[*] posted on 7-15-2020 at 07:20 PM

I thought I had pushed the limits before, but no way I could keep up that pace!

If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space!

"Could do better if he tried!" Report card comments from most of my grade school teachers. Sadly, still true!
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[*] posted on 7-16-2020 at 09:23 PM

Terrific report. I'll bet I know that cop who chatted you up.

Exercise regularly. Eat sensibly. Die anyway.
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[*] posted on 7-17-2020 at 01:07 PM

Why do they keep checking the cooler. Is beer still illegal?
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[*] posted on 7-17-2020 at 03:21 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Stickers  
Why do they keep checking the cooler. Is beer still illegal?

It is July, in Baja. I dont know how many times "they" have looked in my arb freezer, in the back seat, looking for a cold drink, only to be disappointed to find it was a freezer. jaja
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[*] posted on 7-17-2020 at 04:43 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Phil184  

1,463 miles
24 hours 46 minutes’ total time
It was a long and interesting day behind the wheel.

Viva Mexico!

Soooooo, you drove 24.75 hours straight and AVERAGED 60 mph?

Hmmmm, sounds mighty reckless to me, or perhaps wreckfull.

Maybe take a couple, few days to get back, relax, cruise.

Want to adopt a mellow Baja dog or cat? -
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[*] posted on 7-17-2020 at 05:36 PM

Pre-running for the 1973 1000, First time the pavement was done.

We left Modesto on Thursday, started pre-run Friday somewhere down the peninsula. Ran all day Saturday and ended up in La Paz that evening.
Breakfast at Los Arcos Hotel Sunday morning, departed 9 a.m.
Home Monday morning before 8.
Showered and at my desk Monday morning (a bit weary, I might add)

That was before the 55 mph laws went into effect, so it was basically no speed limit all the way.

Yeah, we drove pretty fast most of the way. Somewhere just shy of 1500 miles.
How fast??? Real fast~~
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[*] posted on 7-18-2020 at 05:17 AM

That post reads like "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac.
I met some residents of La Paz who used to drive La Paz to So Cal in one shot, back in the day. They were a couple so could share driving.
Ah, the resiliency of youth.
These days if I were to sit in a vehicle for 24 hours it would take the jaws of life to pry me out of the seat.
I made it from the City limits of San Diego to the Arch in San Felipe in 4.5 hours, once, including crossing Mexicali. That is a comparable speed, made up for the slow traffic sections on the straightaways. Eventually I realized that arriving at my destination a little faster was not worth the risk of an accident, now I drive slower.

[Edited on 7-18-2020 by bajaric]
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[*] posted on 7-19-2020 at 11:49 PM

Phil184 That was a great trip report.

"These days if I were to sit in a vehicle for 24 hours it would take the jaws of life to pry me out of the seat." That is a funny line bajaric!

Blanca and Les
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