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Old 03-26-2008, 07:23 AM   #1
inte
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A dog, a satellite dish, a castle, and a tractor-trailer Volkswagon…

…and that’s Baja wrapped up in a single photo.





Details on the way...
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:24 AM   #2
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Re: A dog, a satellite dish, a castle, and a tractor-trailer Volkswagon…

So I was just down in Baja last week and hit the crazy snowstorm in the mountains. Another group called up & was interested in heading down – was really curious what the conditions would be like this week. Turns out the snow had melted, but there was a completely different type of storm going on down there – Spring Break.

And we were headed directly through the eye of the storm – San Felipe.

Why?

Good question, you’ve every right to ask.

ANSWER: I was in San Felipe last week and had to return the key to my hotel room.




That particular hotel, along with every other hotel, motel, hostel, resort, private home, and park bench had been long since booked up for spring break – our plan was to avoid this entirely & seek a different kind of accommodation. We were going to sleep in a castle.

The crew would consist of 2 Yamahas (450 & 426), a Kawi 300 2-stroke, and my KTM 950. I rolled out from my place sans truck on the already-spent 908 that was already done before last week’s trip. (Those tires to get nice & smooth on the freeway when they wear down, so long as you don’t turn.)


Perfect weather to head to Mexico…





Pulled in when the fuel light came on shortly before the border – last quick check of email & such on the phone & then it’s off to Outer Darkness…





Rolling through the border…





One of the HUGE reasons to like the big twins … they’ll get you through the rough stuff with a little determination, and make a few hundred miles of this a joy to ride as well…









Quick stop to visit a friend of mine in town…interesting place – one of the few advocacy groups for the deaf in Mexico. I’m told the area is a little sketchy, but so far so good…





Then diving down into the fray of Ensenada…





I stopped to grab some dinner just off the Malecon when dustjunkie called asking if I wanted to go for a ride
(Where’s the report from that anyway? … I’m curious to see how the Eco-Challenge bike did in it’s adv debut…)





After this it was off to run a few errands in town & take care of some last minute arrangements before the crew arrived.

That night they pulled in & the guy at San Nic let them park the truck right in the locked bike cage for the night :thumb





Those three bikes … and mine





Next morning it was a 7:30 am departure for Santo Tomas. We had a bit of an ambitious plan … leave from there & ride up Uruapan, fuel in Ojos, then up in to the pine forrest, down to the dry lake, follow racecourse to the Cortez side of things.

We weren’t too concerned … at least Steve wasn’t…











Unloading at Sto. Tomas.








From there we started up Uruapan … it’s a famously messed up trail/road, but sure starts out inviting…


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Old 03-26-2008, 07:25 AM   #3
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Re: A dog, a satellite dish, a castle, and a tractor-trailer Volkswagon…

Everyone seems to be aware, somehow, that the US in general has a more hectic pace of life than many other regions on the planet. It’s funny, but I’d swear that the further south you get from the border, you can actually hear the din that arises from chasing after smoke gradually fade away…

However, one way to increase the volume I suppose is to do something like this to your truck … I wonder how this was explained to the adjuster. ”Your truck is where? Euro-pan?”




The trail got rough enough to explode Jeremy’s pack.

This is where the infamous Cheeze-it incident (as it would come to be known) took place.





It was fantastic weather for a ride in any case!!










The wildflowers in the hills were amazing …








Quick stop in Ojos for gas & goggle cleaning & we were then off to the pine forest. Just before this gas stop would be the 1st of at least 3 times we’d encounter other tour groups on this same route … popular time to be down there for sure!!





Lot of people vacationing & camping in the hills on the otherwise empty trails.














Up in the pine forest was the 2nd tour group we ran into … funny as I’ll be guiding for these guys along this same trail in just a couple weeks.





There was apparently some McGyvering that had to be done to this Honda in the group – something about a brake line becoming a clutch line & so on…





I had been trying to get a phone call made to those guys for a while now … what better way to leave a message than riding up into Baja’s pine forest & purely by chance running into the guy who’s answer machine has your question waiting on it nearly 500 miles away…





Bit of a snafu here – group was waiting a turn a mile or two back – I was waiting at this intersection … just long enough to realize I need to change that back tire (yes it really is that bald).





You really feel the lack of knobs in this stuff…





Wrong way didn’t apply so much to us now that the race is a week removed … just ignore the signs & take whatever road you feel like …

















And before long … the Sea of Cortez …





Taking the stupid-fast Zoo road toward the pavement…





And then the dirt just suddenly stops.

Unfortunately Jeremy’s 426 was also threatening to “suddenly stop” as well. This guy knows engines, so when he says he can “feel it starting to seize”, action is merited…




Looking down at the skidplate, it’s quite evident by the river of oil that had completely cleaned a portion of any dirt that something wasn’t right. It was decided we’d gas up, but some extra oil, then stop someplace to grab a drink & discuss options.

I knew just the place





Last week it did have a great deal more orange to it …





The bike was running, but it was clear the top end was gone & not going to get better on it’s own. At this point it was simply a judgement call for how long to push the thing on or off the road.

Any case, step one was to get someplace for the night – sun was on the way down & we still had a ways to go. We stop to fill camelbacks … the fray of Spring Break was in full swing.








A few late-night repairs…





And then we hit the road … note the 426 in true MX form … without lights . Glad I got the Euro light on the 950





Then just over an hour later … our home for the night …





It was late, rather than try to figure out the bike situation in the dark, we went up & laid on one of the towers to look at the stars for a bit … this is Mananaland.
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:26 AM   #4
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Re: A dog, a satellite dish, a castle, and a tractor-trailer Volkswagon…

The sunrise the next morning was unreal – you east coast guys are used to the sunrise over the water, but out west here it’s the other way around. Fortunately, if anyone is curious, the Sea of Cortez is only a few hours ride away …

Morning view from the tower:










Unreal spot…








Little bizarre, but nice place.








California, Washington, and British Colombia all in a row…








Dining room…





Transportation…





After an unhurried morning it was finally time to check out the troubled Yamaha… sure enough the top end had not healed during the evening & there were still issues.

It was still running, so it was decided we would just try to limp it back to the truck on the pavement … the truck happened to be on the opposite coast of Baja though…








The bike was blowing a crazy amount of oil out the breather, we tried a fix ….





Our tranquil evening had made us all but forget about the insanity of Spring Break that was happening just an hour or so to the north. Our work area at the Pemex reminded us … every car you see in the background is waiting in line for gas!





The next line we would hit is for the military checkpoint at the 5/3 junction. Insanity.

Just before the junction we see a few cars start appearing … didn’t realize this was going to be a line of cars, stopped, stretching for miles.





Thank goodness for dualsport motorcycles and Baja terrain … we lane-split for a while until realizing that this line of cars stretched far enough that you could probably just detect the curvature of the earth between where it started & ended, at that point we just turned & headed off into the desert. I wasn’t quite sure how appropriate or not this was, and there was a lot of Mexican military & police around to manage the crowd. It seemed that in the midst of this fray the officials would have far more to be concerned with than a couple motorcycles taking offshoot trails along the side of the road – turns out this was more than correct. After briefly hopping back onto the road at one of the paved offshoot/crossings we were greeted by a soldier, who seeing us slowing down & heading back toward the traffic, turned & pointed us back down the dirt offshoot trail! Makes sense I suppose, the more people they get off the road the more potential problems are eliminated … either that or he was just curious to see if we could ride through it


After more time than I expected the checkpoint appeared on the horizon. The trail meandered through some small dunes created by grading equipment & eventually deposited me directly in the middle of the military compound – on the wrong side. A soldier walked over and explained in no uncertain terms that I could not be there. Playing the whole “dunno where I am or how I got here” card worked quite well & he pointed to the fasted way out of there – the front of the line at the checkpoint

Stopped & waiting just after being waived through.





After regrouping past the checkpoint, we started down the pavement …








Not to be deterred, Steve was still going to have a good time, offroad or on…














…and the aforementioned fix?





The breather tube simply pressurized the bottle & blew nearly all the oil straight back out the vent holes cut in the top. You could tell the order the group was riding in (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) by the amount of oil on the boots…





The taco stand in Ensenada was just before out splitting point … the group would ride back to the truck just to the south & I would turn right & head north back to California on the 950.








I'm heading back down tomorrow.

My mission = find that bag of Cheese-Its.
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:52 PM   #5
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Re: A dog, a satellite dish, a castle, and a tractor-trailer Volkswagon…

what a great adventure. Nice photos of you and your friends having what appears to be a fantastic time in Mexico.

Good luck in finding the cheese-its
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Old 03-29-2008, 04:13 PM   #6
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Re: A dog, a satellite dish, a castle, and a tractor-trailer Volkswagon…

Jon, this is great! Love the narration and the pics!

Those panos, are those a single shot cropped, or stitched pics? Can't find any seams.
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:58 PM   #7
inte
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Re: A dog, a satellite dish, a castle, and a tractor-trailer Volkswagon…

Quote:
Originally Posted by pashnit View Post
Jon, this is great! Love the narration and the pics!

Those panos, are those a single shot cropped, or stitched pics? Can't find any seams.
Thks for the comments ... they're stitched. Have shot a TON of these & the trick seems to be not in the software but in deliberately composing each of the frames for the pano before hand - makes life in post much easier.

Have a *hopefully* Pashnit-worthy trip coming up. Leaving day after tomorrow to test a couple bikes in Arizona, then the plan is to hit a 1000 mile day ride from Southern CA to Los Mochis, Mexico for a photo shoot, then taking the hard way home. Shooting 100% 120 & 35mm for this one.
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