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Author: Subject: Summer San Juanico Trip June/July 2021
aburruss
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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 12:46 PM
Summer San Juanico Trip June/July 2021


We were in Baja for 3 weeks. This is going to be a long report. :) If you aren't interested in a long story, go ahead and move along.

The short version.. Baja.. good times. More trips to come... :)

Now for the long trip report:

We left San Diego on Friday, June 18. We had been in contact with Steve5555 (who actually lives just a few minutes away from me, but I've never met him), and he was planning on going to San Juanico the same day! We discussed caravanning, but weren't sure if we'd meet up. We exchanged photos of each other's vehicles, and figured that if we ran into each other, we'd caravan. Otherwise, we'd see each other down south.

With our trailer loaded up with two RZRs, two motorcycles, and a bunch of other stuff.






We decided to NOT go down the Rumarosa. We headed east to Calexico, and crossed there. We stopped at customs, got our FMMs, had all of our registrations and VINs checked, and were on our way with ZERO issues through the border. We fueled up at the Chevron, just on the way out of town, paid with credit card, and were on our way. The last "bad" section of road that I had experienced just south of San Felipe has been finished, and the pavement is fantastic all the way south out of town (really, I don't know that I hit ANY potholes from the border all the way to San Ignacio).

We stopped for a quick "pee break" for the 2 year old at the turn-off to Percebu. While pulled off, we saw Steve go past. A couple horn honks and waves, and he continued on. We did the same "honk, wave, and drive by" when we saw Steve pulled off just past the new Coco's location. I pulled over a bit later, because I got a random "Check Engine" light in the dodge. The truck was running fine, so we continued on. Once we got to the intersection of MEX-5 and MEX-1 at Chapala, we pulled off again to let the kids and dogs stretch their legs. Steve continued on, planning to camp in Guerrero Negro, while we were going to head on to San Ignacio. We stopped at the PEMEX in Villa Jesus Maria for fuel, and, as ALWAYS, was told that they did not accept credit card. I asked multiple times, but still no luck. Pesos only.

As a note for the ENTIRE trip: All military checkpoints were a BREEZE. All military agents were SUPER friendly. Most didn't even ask to look in the back of the truck. Typically, I'll at least get someone rummaging around through things, since we have a shell and the back of the truck was COMPLETELY packed with "stuff". On our return, I had one agent at the San Ignacio checkpoint who took a fairly "unusual" interest in my RZR (asking if it had 4wd, asking about the dirt bikes, asking about my ice chest...). It seemed like a bit of a "diversion" tactic for something... but nothing happened. Many asked if our dog was friendly.. I'm sure that may have been part of the deterrent. :)

We pulled into San Ignacio, still in daylight hours. Checked into La Huerta, let the kids and dog play for a bit, had dinner, and then had a great night's sleep.



We fueled up in San Ignacio before leaving (Diesel and 87 octane only, credit card accepted). We took the north road, and it took about 4 hours, including the time to air down, towing our trailer. Road was in good condition, but there were a decent amount of washboard sections. There are a few bypasses along the side of the main road which we took, that made for a smoother ride. If you're not towing and can hammer down, the washboard sections probably aren't too bad.

Coming out of Cadeje, the check engine light came on again, and it was having a hard time climbing the last hill out of town... Maybe a transmission issue?? I had fingers crossed that I'd get to town fine. Once I hit the pavement into San Juanico, the truck wouldn't shift out of first gear! This might be a LONG drive back home in a couple weeks!!

We arrived in San Juanico, and got settled into one of the palapas at second point.








Once we arrived, Leana's uncle came to visit us at our palapa. We exchanged stories about our trip down, and discussed the plans for the next week. As we were talking, steve5555 came up to say hello. He was actually camped RIGHT across from our palapa. As we were talking to Steve, he turned and saw Leana's uncle. He said "Phil _____?????(with Phil's last name)" Turns out Steve and Phil used to work in the same cubicle 25 YEARS ago... and it just so happened that they were both in San Juanico, camped a few feet from each other, at the same exact time. Baja is a small world!

Leana's uncle Phil knows some people at the hotel, so he had a nice dinner prepared for us one night



We had a good few days hanging out with cousins, uncles, and other relatives and friends. The surf was fantastic, for once... my other trips to San Juanico have had SUPER lame surf... this trip had some pretty epic waves. Our kids, the relatives, and Leana all really enjoyed surfing.














I found someone in town with a code reader, and hooked it up to the truck. I had a transmission fluid pressure sensor issue. I wasn't sure if that was a sensor issue, or a fluid pressure issue. I asked the guy if he'd be willing go do a fluid and filter change. He said he was going into town in the next couple days. For $800 pesos and the cost of fluid and filter, I was back in business. No more code, no more shifting issues for the rest of the trip!

We took the UTVs and explored the area. We drove south on the beach to Punta San Gregorio. We found some fun stuff on the beach, including a HUGE lobster. Kids found a lot of cool shells and shark teeth!








After about a week in the palapa, we "moved out" and relocated out to camp on a property out at 4th point. We have a spiffy new rooftop tent - a Roofnest Falcon XL - and decided to see how it was camping with 6 people for 2 weeks! :) Leana and the big girls slept in the tent, while I slept with the two babies in the truck bed. It worked out quite well!!! Waking up each morning to the sound of crashing waves and surf was pretty amazing!





Leana's step dad, Gus, was also on the trip with us. He had his 2-seat RZR 1000. At some point, he asked us if Jolene, our 9 year old, could drive. We had her take it VERY easy down the beach, and she did pretty well! More to come about this later!!!



We decided at one point to go do some longer off-roading trips. I'll take this time to make a comment about the new Baja Road Atlas from Benchmark. I brought this with us, and it was fantastic. I also loaded the digital version in the Avenza app. Here's my two cents. First, the app is FANTASTIC. It's so cool to be able to see your exact location, overlaid on the atlas. Having your position shown in relation to the roads/trails/etc is extremely useful. That being said, I also believe that there is a LOT of data in the atlas that is extremely out-dated.

We planned a big loop. South from San Juanico, highway to Las Barrancas, east towards highway 1. Then off-road over to the road that takes you up to San Miguel de Comondú. Then north and around through Carambuche, San Isidro, La Purisima, and then back to San Juanico.

Unfortunately, a lot of the paths (roads, trails, 4x4 paths, etc) shown in the atlas were either completely NON existent, or so overgrown and un-used that they were completely worthless. I'm not at all knocking the atlas' information, but I realized that it cannot be relied upon for "exploration" type trips. We ended up on a marked trail that was LITERALLY a cow trail thorough a bunch of boulders and cholla. We ended up in a river bed that had literally NO way out, but the map showed a trail heading through. 2 hours of bush-whacking, avoiding cholla and cow patties, and circumnavigating multiple locked gates later, we ended up on the paved road that headed north to San Miguel de Comondú. I'm EXTREMELY happy I had the app. I'm happy I could see where I was. MANY of the "smaller" roads listed in the atlas, though, were completely bogus (non-existent or overgrown beyond recognition). I'm assuming that it was just very old data used. But there were also many places where it's obvious that there was NEVER a path where the atlas shows a path. I'm going to start another post on this to have some discussion about accuracy and/or thoughts for edits for this atlas.

Anyway, once we finally found the highway north, it was smooth sailing. We stopped for lunch at the Hacienda Don Mario Hotel and Restaurant. The staff seemed kinda of "bummed" that we were there? No great hospitality shown. However once we sat down for food, the food was great!!! The Bistec Ranchero here may have been one of the best dishes I've had in all of Baja!!

After a great meal, we headed back north and made our way through San Jose de Comondú, then on to San Isidro and La Purisima, then back to the highway to make our way back to San Juanico. We arrived just before dusk.








Cameron Steele and his Trail of Missions crew were at the Scorpion Bay Hotel when we drove past. We ended up crashing their party that night; nothing of real consequence to report there -- except about 20 amazingly decked out Ford Raptors. :) For the record, the Scorpion Bay Hotel has some amazing margaritas. We also crashed Cameron Steele's party on the beach the next day. Leana and the kids spent the day surfing and boogie boarding.

The next day, we decided to take the road from La Ballena over to Mulege. About halfway there, I lost a bolt on the RZR that holds the engine to the transmission. This was causing an issue where the front driveshaft was rubbing on the skid plate -- metal on metal. I knew that this was a recipe for disaster, so we pulled over and I hooked the tow strap up to the jeep, to get towed the last 20 miles to Mulege. The contact was still occurring, so now it was "Baja Trail Fix" time. We found a random bolt on Gus' RZR roof rack that was a similar size to what was missing on my car. So we got the tool boxes and surgical tools and got to work. Within about 45 minutes, we were all set, and running with no more interference. Shortly later, we made it to Mulege, and made our way to La Serenidad. After a long, hot, dusty day, we were all excited to have a swimming pool. Unfortunately, the bar at the hotel was out of ice!??! Finally after about 30 minutes, they found some, and we enjoyed some nice ice-cold beverages to end the day. For dinner, we ate at the hotel. The fish tacos may have been the absolutely WORST tacos I've ever had in my life.








The next day, we continued south, along the Sea of Cortez, towards Loreto. We explored a bit of the coast, took a swim at Playa el Requeson, and ended up in Loreto a few hours later. We tried La Misión hotel, but they wanted a $100 US dollar deposit for our dog. We promptly moved along to the Oasis, who wanted $200 pesos. The stay was great. Food at the hotel was good. Kids loved meeting the local gato and playing on the beach and playground. The next morning, we hit a rainstorm from Hurricane Enrique... which was not so much fun in the RZR - but I guess it cooled the weather down nicely for us! We proceeded north on MEX-1 to the El Rosarito road. We picked that up, and headed back across through San Isidro, La Purisima, and back to San Juanico, stopping in La Purisima for some ice cream bars for the kids.








Over the next few days, I tried surfing for the FIRST time ever, the kids played a lot, and we just did a lot of local stuff in San Juanico. We also celebrated the 4th of July, by hearing some random fireworks, and going to sleep early. :)



A few days later, we headed north to the La Ballena cut-off, and headed WEST. There's a lava flow there that you have to hike down to. It was super cool, and the kids explored the tide pools and exploring. It was a VERY neat destination.





I did have to take a supply run into Constitucion. I'm quite certain that the stretch of MEX-1 between the turn off to Las Barrancas and Insurgentes may be the WORST road in all of Baja. HUGE potholes, messed up asphalt, just a disaster. It's so bad, that many places people have driven OFF of the pavement to drive in the dirt along-side the road.

Over the 2.5 weeks we were in Baja, we put over 625 miles on the RZR. Jolene continued to drive the 2-seat RZR and got to be VERY good, very confident, and is pretty much ready to step up from the "puny" 170. :) Gus said that it's pretty un-nerving to be sitting in the passenger seat while a 9 year old is blowing down a dirt road at 50mph. HAHA! She did about 130 miles behind the wheel.

Meanwhile, Julianna (11 years old) had very little interest in the off-roading. While we were driving, she was reading. She finished Lord of The Rings, about 4 of her "Wings of Fire" books, and the first Harry Potter book during out 2.5 weeks there. 1500+ pages?

Great stay, but alas, it was time to return home. We packed up our compound and headed out of town, back again on the north road.

The first night of our return, we stopped in Guerrero Negro and stayed at Hotel Los Caracoles. Our room was clean, the staff was friendly, and they didn't care about the dog. Breakfast the next morning at Nautilus restaurant next door. The food was fantastic, and the service was quite fast.



The trip home was fairly non-eventful, however just like last trip down in December, we found ourselves at the scene of an accident that had just happened - less than 10 minutes prior. This was less than 1 km south of the MEX-1 and MEX-5 intersection at Chapala. A very new, full-size SUV was lying on it's side, blocking both lanes. People were dropping off of the road, driving in the dirt and going around. We checked, and the family of 5 (including 3 young children) that was inside were all OK. Since we were driving back in our truck AND our jeep, I took the jeep and winched the vehicle back onto all 4 wheels, then pulled it off of the road. The family hopped into a waiting semi -- apparently driven by a good Samaritan -- and they took off north.




We decided to go on MEX-1 this time, along the pacific, rather than cut over to MEX-5. I've not gone this way in quite some time, and I now remember why. The drive on MEX-5 is just so much less to think about. The traffic through the San Quintin area was insane. It took for EVER to get through that stretch. I enjoy the people and vibe running through that area where there's so much "action" along the side of the highway (shops, food, etc).. but man it's exhausting sitting at stop and go traffic through the endless line of stop signs.

We FINALLY got into Tijuana just after dark. We were trying to find our way to the Ready Lane. We tried the google directions AND the discover baja directions, and neither were of tremendous benefit. (for that matter, the street signs weren't that great either). The navigation was that much harder since I was towing a trailer, and Leana was driving in the jeep, following me. We had to make sure we didn't get separated, and also didn't end up in the Sentri lane - the whole family has Sentri, but the trailer would have been a sure trip to secondary. Anyway, we spent about 20 minutes driving in circles to get where we needed. It turns out, you need to do some Dale Earnhardt moves to get to the correct lane from the way we were coming in. Finally got in line, and the border wait was less than 10 minutes. It's funny when it takes you longer to FIND the crossing than it does to actually cross!

We got home about 930, and spend the next week SLOWLY re-adjusting to life north of the border, and even MORE slowly unpacking the truck, trailer, and toys.

Next trip,.. December??






[Edited on 7-24-2021 by BajaNomad]
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Don Pisto
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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 12:57 PM


thats quite a flock of towheads you have there! great report, gracias!:D



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Bajazly
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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 01:08 PM


Nice!



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aburruss
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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 01:08 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Don Pisto  
thats quite a flock of towheads you have there! great report, gracias!:D


Thanks.

The dog and I are trying our hardest to off-set the truck full of long flowing blonde locks. :)
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AKgringo
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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 01:14 PM


Epic journey, and a great report! I always look forward to your trip reports.



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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 01:23 PM


Great read, thanks for taking us along!



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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 01:30 PM


Thanks for sharing!!

As for the Atlas, yes the base map is from Mexico but with data submitted from travelers like you, the next edition can reflect your report and be better. I was able to check all the roads I drove in the new Atlas, but there are more roads that I did not drive.

I will u2u the contact email if you would like to submit your findings. I think we would all like to see what you discovered, too. Maybe copy the area of issue and highlight or circle roads that were not roads.




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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 03:44 PM


Living your best life.





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[*] posted on 7-24-2021 at 06:30 PM


That is how it's done. Nice work posting all that!!!!!!!!!!! Looks spectacular. Thanks for posting the photos. It's not easy!
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[*] posted on 7-25-2021 at 12:04 AM


Great trip and photos! A classic family Baja adventure.
I got to the part where your truck showed “Check Engine” and went into the reduced speed mode and thought Uh Oh. You must have a diesel with the DEF system or maybe not.This has been a huge problem with Diesel RV owners using DEF being stranded hundreds of miles from home and going into complete shutdown because of problems with the system and no parts available for fix. Your symptoms seemed identical but you got going thankfully. I have attached a link to an RV forum where it is discussed you might be interested in seeing.
https://www.irv2.com/forums/showthread.php?p=5805168
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[*] posted on 7-25-2021 at 07:14 AM


Way to go. You''ve given your kids "stories" to tell their friend later in life. They'll remember this for ever.



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[*] posted on 7-25-2021 at 07:41 AM


Most epic trip report! The memories created will carry you through to your next trip and beyond. Shoot, your trip will stay with me for many years.
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[*] posted on 7-25-2021 at 07:47 AM


Great trip and a fun read. Good job! Those kids are getting the best Baja experiences and they will forever remember these trips!!
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[*] posted on 7-25-2021 at 05:43 PM


Muy bueno.....you saw some of the best parts of Baja.
Wrangling the crew seems to have gone well... and the toys worked without too much wrenching. :cool:




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[*] posted on 7-25-2021 at 06:04 PM


I LOVED your trip report and all the photos...my favorite was the crazy sunglasses one! What a wonderful adventure for your family....those lucky kids!



for info & pics of our little paradise & whale watching info
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Bajaboy
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[*] posted on 7-26-2021 at 06:41 AM


Nice trip report amigo!



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[*] posted on 7-26-2021 at 02:48 PM


Great trip report and photos.

We were in San Juanico the same time as you, I saw you guys roll in and out a few times, we were camped just overlooking 2nd point. My wife commented how cool it was that the kids had their own RZR to drive.

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[*] posted on 7-26-2021 at 08:09 PM


nice one!



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