Bajaaaaa 4 from Yurts to Motorcycle Crash
Full of fish and with a few sandy tip overs and now it was time to pinball west to east coast up the Peninsula. We were off! Southerly sun at our back and joyous only to smack into the steady north winds, ugh! Our great mileage (60 mpg loaded!) plummet to 38 mpg. I learn that a 75 mph travel speed with a 25 mph headwind is like holding a steady 100 MPH wind blast (see, mathematical genius!). It basically whips yo’ ass!
Of course proprietors see the comfortable joshing and wrongly presume we are a gay couple. Hmmm . . We got to a north Sea of Cortez location, rented a yurt and had to insist on separate beds.
I sometimes wonder why even Brad’s wife shares his bed. But I ain’t nobody to talk. I was thankful there was no mirror but Brad had a cell phone ready.
The yurt was nice because we could cook out of the wind and sleep soundly with waves crashing just 40 meters east of us.
Some of the Cahon cacti (not Saguaros) seem to be sending me a message . . . “Get home to see your wife!”
We wrangled a little wireless and found that our Alberta Italian friends Alviza and Paola were in the area just north of us in their homemade land yacht. These folks are serious cooks and if you haven’t noticed, a big part of our trip is eating our way through the Baja with a little motorcycle riding. Certainly, this looks like an eating trip but really, lots of fun stuff happened that never got photographed. It was when we were sitting back around food and beer that the cameras came out.
We eventually left the desert and entered the uber-desert area that is too dry for even large cacti. Basically dry, salty, wind-blown rocks. We took a beautiful new road past Playacito and up toward Fisherman’s Cove. Here, some good and some bad things happened.
The hot springs needed a little help. Icy cold ocean, 115 degree F springs. So, with buckets of hot water and rocks blocking outflows we made a little bit of Heaven.
So once we had a suitably hot crack of water, in we all piled and it was lovely.
Then, a bad thing happened. Well, not terrible and frankly, a little funny after the fact like so many close calls. The bikes, camper and my sleeping pad were up on the seawall. Brad opted to pitch his tent out of the wind down on the beach. Now, depending on who you ask, he may or may not have been cautioned that the tide would return in the night. Thus, at 11:30 when his sleeping pad inside the tent (with him on it) began floating I heard the muffled call “Lee, get up right now!” I figured he had seen the Italians arguing in their camper and he wanted to go for a jog, but when his ground pad flew off in the wind, I chased it down. A few arm-loads of gear lofted up on the seawall (after Brad escaped the tent) and all was secured if wet. Then, we had 3 days of jocularly pointing out that his tent was below the level at which we secured oysters for supper, and that the high tide lines in the photo below encompassed his tent.
The tidal patterns and gull roosts out in front of us were kinda cool.
Paola made a delicious Italian pasta dish and we fire-grilled some small (!) oysters we harvested (ahem . . . down by Brad’s tent).
Paola made traditional Italian Pasta Arribiata and just to show these Mexicans what spicy is, she doubled down on the red pepper!
Finally, it was time to burn to the border. The much dreaded border because we realized we had not secured our vehicle carrete certificates on the way into Mexico. We opted for Mexicali and truly the ride north through the Mexican wine country was delightful. Clearly aimed squarely at San Diego yuppies, but we were almost ready for modernity. A stop at a bakery/upscale coffee shop produced a new pastry — Chi Chi rolls the proprietor leeringly said were modeled after his voluptuous (or as a good southern might say, volumptious) server.
On to the Mexicali border! But where is it? Truly a poorly marked route through town but Brad’s iPhone led us right there . . . to the pedestrian crossing. Seems he had it set on pedestrian. So, I yelled over the bollards to the armed guard asking if we could just wheel our bikes through the barricades ahead of the 50 cars lined up and he looked around and motioned us through! Bang, no Mexican vehicle check, US Border guards did a quick passport check and waved us into southern California. Easy Peasy but no photos. So we sailed into the US, rolled into Mexico without a stop; rolled out of Mexico into the US with a 15 second passport scan; but later when we hit the Canadian border to get back into our country, we had a 20 minute ArriveCan, Passport, Covid recovery form, polite questions about van ownership, not to mention the $65 antigen test we picked up in Portland. Whew!
Back in the USA! Yeah! But hey, wait a minute, I am Canadian! Well, dual citizen really (“duel” citizen we like to say, sorta like “nuculear” weapons, PO-lice and SI-reen. Talk is funny.) So up through an interminable number of white and green border patrol suburbans we rolled through windy scrub, alighting in Riverside, California.
The next day we rolled 720 km, mostly at 125 KPH through the Grapevine past a zillion miles of orchards and into Hale and Beth’s house in Alameda, CA and here, the trip takes a different tone. We are joined by Senor Matt — a Provincial biologist from Edmonton, chef extraordinaire and much loved larger than life character. Interestingly, he gets off the airplane with a backpack full of FROZEN MOOSE MEAT in preparation for a Canadian feast at my brother Hale’s house. I am sorry he didn’t have a beaver under one arm and a gallon of maple syrup over his shoulder.
After deplaning, we headed straight to the Hog Island Oyster House where Matt declared he was going to eat the west coast free of oysters. 2 dozen later with lots of sides, we closed our shells and trundled out to shop for supper supplies.
Kids and grandkids arrived and a house party broke out. Moose stroganoff, good wine, sourdough bread, Italian moose meatballs, rice, green salad, sweet potatoes, and we stuffed ourselves.
Hale and Reverend Beth are our virtual Hudson Bay company resupply and hosting site. Over the years Hale has stored now 3 motorcycles and a van for us, fed, bedded, and driven us hither and yon. Really the perfect brother to impose on. Big house, kids gone, great cook, casual person, and well located. Thanks!
Now we have two bike riders and one meat wagon driver to head up the coast to Eureka/Arcada to a cheap hotel. Brad is self-contained in the van. He has everything in there, (including snowshoes — how very Canadian!).
The next morning, Matt and I lead off for a ride up the coastline. Me on the 1250, Matt riding my R1200GS and then things got interesting.
In the first set of sharp turns north of Eureka, Matt over-cooked a 30 mph turn and took the old Beemer into the gravel on its side and into a ditch. A good tumble but one that left him with a broken ankle. Sigh . . . Motorcycling is dangerous!
His full BMW gear saved everything else just fine but his Blundstone-style boots lacked sufficient armor or padding for the ankle rap. All motorcycle concerns are secondary to the unknowns of an injured ankle (the most complex joint on the body). Yet, some readers here will be interested in the bike so here goes:
I feel fortunate that the bike made 75,000 miles (120,000 km) without a wreck but now it is broken in. The damage looks to be scratched up valve cover, broken beak, bent brake pedal, loosened plastics, but the real concern is whether the forks are bent (a possible bike-write-off given the complexity of the telelever front end on these bikes). The engine is still sound, burns no oil, good compression, turbine like power, 60 mpg if driven gently, and the Russell seat is still worth $550. Panniers were not on the bike, and tires at the 60% remaining so I will just ride it until something bad is indicated.
A couple of horse farmers/Volunteer Firemen were happening along and turned around to help us. Sam is a strong guy and helped me muscle the bike out of the ditch. Thanks!
I rode it back to town to get Matt casted at the hospital, park the bike at the Eureka airport for later retrieval, and haul Matt’s carcass the last 700 miles up to Canada where he can fly home for surgery. He seemed to enjoy the bed in the back of the van alright. Brad got to ride his bike at last as he froze his way north in mist and +6 degree C weather. Meat wagons are a luxury.
This was a 6,000 km trip in 20 days so we had to average about 200 km per day. Very reasonable actually. Although it is nice to be home, it has been great fun to travel and ride with these two guys through weather, camping, hotels, wrecks, and lots of food. I still have a bike to retrieve up the coast too so I guess there could be yet one small addendum to this trip.
All told, it is great to have riding pals that are (a) old enough to be post-testosterone poisoning; (b) are financially solvent and generous, © know how to use cell technology, (d) have a sense of humor, (e) understand if someone needs to just stop for a day or two, (f) have a deep ecological sensibility in nature, (g) like odd foods, and (h) have understanding wives that like each other. It really makes getting older fun.