Saturday, January 28, 2017

Jan 28--Giving My Princess Shoes a Workout

today we took a Day Off in Mulége.

Morning in Mulége 

We interspersed chores with sightseeing. After eating breakfast at the bakery/cafe, we decided to actually go to the Misíon (remember, yesterday we thought we were going to the Misíon, but we went to the prison). Tom told Brent about a path to get up to the Misíon. We walked out from the town arch, and went a short way to where there was a dam of sorts across the river.
We walked across to the other side of the river. As you can see in the photo above, there were stairs down to the lower part of the dam. However, on the other side, there were no stairs. There was a path that went around and up. The path came up to the back of the Misíon. There was also a promontory that we could climb up to. The view of the river and palm trees was pretty great.

We went around to the front of the Misíon. We peaked inside, but there was a service going on, so we didn't go in.

We went back across the river the way we had come. Brent took this photo of me. The weather is still rather chilly, hence the long tights and vest.

Next up was the chore of buying food for the next section. We both had pictured a good sized abberotes, but could find neither of what we had pictured in our minds. We think they might have been in another town (it's bad when the towns start to run together in your head!!!). We ended up, after walking around town, at the aberrotes closest to our hotel. They had enough of a selection for me. 

Back at the hotel, Brent did some cleaning on his bike. I cleaned my Salsa bags (a gel had leaked in the bottom of one making it very sticky, and the other was the side that fell in the river), then packed up my food. By then it was time for some lunch. First we went to Ponchos, a place that advertised tortas. It was closed, so we ended up coming back to the restaurant across the street from the hotel (I would have done a lot less walking if we had just gone to the places near the hotel first!). Both Brent and I had delicious tortas. 

After lunch we had the crazy idea to walk out to the beach. We should have just ridden our bikes. It was at least 2 1/2 miles. My princess shoes were not really the best shoes to walk that far! But, we did it anyway. We had planned to hike up to the lighthouse (which looks curiously like a water tower), but when we got out there we decided we really didn't need to hike all the way to the top (our feet were already protesting, and we still had to walk all the way back). Here's a couple of photos.

In the first photo, you can see how far away the lighthouse is. We had already walked quite aways. The second photo is at the beach (obviously). Instead of going up to the lighthouse, we looked around the beach for cool shells. There were tons of shells on the beach, but the best one I found was a quarter sized dried out sea urchin. I hope I can make it home with it intact. They are pretty fragile. I also found a small cowrie. I really need to stop picking up shells. But, they are so cool! 

We made the long trek back into town. Our final chore was to get water from the purificada. 6 liters cost me three pesos. We saw Harry, and decided to meet for dinner at 6:15 at the place we ate last night. When we got there it was pretty crowded and there was loud music. We decided, instead to go to Ponchos. When we got there he wasn't open yet, but said in about an hour. We looked at another place, but it was deemed too expensive. At this point, it was me, Brent, Harry, and Heike. Jan, and Ryan and the guy from Mexico City were sitting at the expensive place (it was also a hotel, and they were staying there). Jan joined us, and we went back to the first restaurant to see if we could sit by the fire place. There wasn't room, so we just hung out until Ponchos was open. The five of us had ordered, and were sitting waiting for our food when Tom and Sarah showed up. They had ordered a pizza from a nearby place, but also ordered some tacos while they waited for their pizza. We had a great time chatting, and eating. 

Finally, we couldn't stand the cold anymore, and all headed back to our hotel rooms. Tomorrow, Tom and Sarah are taking a boat across the bay to Los Hornitos. Brent and I, and Heike are taking Mex 1 down this side of the bay. Harry hasn't decided yet if he is taking the boat or riding with us. We'll see in the morning. 

It was one of the best days off I've had, but my feet sure are tired! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Jan 27--Such a Great Day, It Has to be Broken up into Three Parts!

Part one of today was the ride into Mulége. We didn't have anymore river crossings today, thankfully! However, we had some scary as hell descents! I managed to ride all but one, that both Brent and I walked down (not an easy task either). Brent crashed on one, but he was okay. I just hung on, and talked to myself the whole way down (sit back...slower...more brake...SLOWER...)! Again, the scenery was beautiful.

Mountains as far as the eye can see!

After several more ups and downs, we came out to the flat section. The ever present headwind became much more noticeable on the flat. In fact, it was horrible! It was also quite sandy, and the sand was blowing. We were plugging along, Brent aways ahead of me, and Harry about the same distance ahead of Brent, when I looked at my Garmin and realized we were off route. I hollered to Brent, and he hollered to Harry, but Harry could hear us in the wind, and just kept on riding. When Harry got out of sight, we turned around and went back to find the turn we missed. We figured Harry would eventually realize he was off route, or he would find another way (it's said that all roads lead to Mulége). The sand was blowing so badly that we covered our mouths (me with my buff, and Brent with his bandana).

Once we got off the river plain, we were in the shelter of some trees. It was much better. We were also no longer going into the wind. Before too long, we came to the pavement on the outskirts of Mulége. We rode on into town. We came to the arch into Mulége proper.

Part two of today--Meeting Heike Pirngruber (aka Push Bike Girl)
We were hungry, so we started looking for a restaurant. Who should we see walking down the street? Tom! We followed him to where Sarah, Joe, and Leah were sitting. They told us where they were staying, and that there was a laundromat nearby. They had come in the day before and were hoping to get a boat to take them across the Bahia de Conception, but it was too windy, and no boats would be going until Sunday. Sarah said she had met Push Bike Girl in a cafe just around the corner. Heike Pirngruber is another gal who I follow through her blog. 

We really wanted to get something to eat, so we went in search of some food. Around the corner was a bakery. We bee-lined it to that. As we choosing what to have, this gal comes out to say hi. It was Heike! She said, "Hi, I'm Heike." I said, "I know! I know you, but you don't know me!" I told her she was famous. Just like Tom and Sarah, and Nick and Lael, she laughed. She has been on the road for 4 years. 
Eventually, we decided to have some lunch there. Harry had rolled up (he also knew who Heike was), and we all joined Heike at her table. Her and Harry discussed their plans. They both want to ferry to the mainland after the Peninsula. It was great getting to meet Heike in person! I'm meeting so many famous bikey people here in Mexico!

Part three--Going on a mission to the Mission

Tom, Sarah, Joe, and Leah were all staying at Hotel Mulége. We decided we would stay there too. We rode over and checked into the room next to Joe and Leah (this is the second time we've stayed in the same hotel). Harry decided to find his own place since they only have two beds in a room here. After we showered, Tom said they were going to go check out the Mission. We said we would go too. On the way, we dropped off our laundry at the laundromat while the others went to a place where they could get ceviche. The shop was closed, so we went back to the bakery/cafe. I got a delicious oatmeal/raisin/coconut cookie. Joe and Leah saw a boat on a trailer headed toward the water. Joe went after it to see if they could take them across the bay (nope). In the meantime, Tom, Sarah, Brent, and I started walking toward the big white building up on the hill. We were looking for a road that went up. We finally found one--I'll call it dachshund alley. We saw three dachshunds. The first one was a puppy. He was very cute.

Then we saw the daddy, and later, the mama. There were a number of other dogs too (there always are in Mexico). 

After passing a cool cemetery, we came to a dead end.
We turned around and went back through dachshund alley. Back to the main road, we saw a sly-dog route that seemed to go up to the big white building.
We walked up the hill, but came to a spot where there was a sign in Spanish that said please do not pass through. We were thinking of going anyway, and just saying no habla espanol, if someone stopped us, but a bunch of little dogs came barking at us like mad.

There was even a pug barking through a drain pipe! Sarah got a video of that one. We had turned around, when a lady came out. We asked her how to get to the Mission. She said, "The Museo?" Figuring the Mission must now be a museum, we said yes. She told us how to get there, and we finally made it.

Couldn't tell if this was an original Frida Kahlo

Boat from a tree

                                                                The cells

Much to our surprise, the big white building on the hill was not the Mission, but the old prison, now a museum. We checked it out anyway. We could see the Mission across town on another hill! When we walked back down, we came out pretty close to the hotel, but we saw some interesting things the way we went!

Later, Brent and I went to find dinner. We ended up at the same restaurant that Heike and Harry were at. Then Tom and Sarah and Andrew (who we last saw in Vizcaino) joined us. There was a fire in the fireplace and we all huddled around it as it is pretty cold here. Brent and I had fish tacos. They were pretty good. 

Mulége is very much a "gringo" town. I heard more English speakers today than I have the whole trip. 

Oh, one other thing. Brent got a good sized puncture in his front tire this morning. He stopped to pump it up, but the hole was too big for the sealant to plug it. He actually got to use one of the tire plugs!
See the hole?

Tire plug inserted--worked great!

Jan 26--Too Many Crossings to Count, and an Unexpected Swim

The narrative had said it didn't get any worse. Well, I suppose that was correct. There was still the boulder sections, then deep sand sections, and soooo many river crossings. The first one, the guys rode through it, but it was really long. I attempted to walk, stepping on the dry rocks while MC wheeled through the water. I almost made it all the way across, then one foot got soaked. I figured there was no use trying to keep the other foot dry, and just walked in the water the rest of the way.

I don't remember if it was the next one, or a little bit later one (like I said, soooo many crossings), but I watched the guys ride across. I decided to ride too. It wasn't as far across as the first one. Well, I got about a quarter of the way, and fell over. Man the water was cold! I got up as quickly as I could because the right pannier was in the water (they are waterproof...when upright). I picked up MC, and slopped my way across the river. I was completely soaked on my right side. I also had a nasty goose egg on my right shin. It was only bleeding a little, so I left it alone. I had my wool arm warmers on. Even though they were wet, I left them on. Otherwise, I'd have been freezing. There was a headwind blowing, so it was rather chilly. I did switch out of my soaked long finger gloves to my fingerless ones. Water had leaked into the right pannier. Fortunately, my food was in a plastic bag, but my toiletries and long sleeve jacket were pretty wet. I left them until later. I wanted to get riding so I would dry. I'm very thankful my Stio vest is not down. It was wet on the right side.

With the wind and sun, my outer shorts were mostly dry pretty quickly. The bike shorts took a little longer, as did my t-shirt, but eventually everything was dry. As for the remaining river crossings, I walked all but the obviously rideable ones. There was one crossing that was all the way up to the middle of my thighs! We all walked that one for sure!!! For being repeatedly soaked, the bikes did quite well. Just a few squeaks here and there.

At lunch I tried to ring the water out of my long sleeve jacket. It was very wet in the bottom of the pannier. It didn't get dry during lunch.

At one point we met a guy in a Toyota Tundra. He said the going was pretty rough in the direction we were going. We told him the same.

However, the road did improve for us (poor guy, if he thought what he had been on was rough...). It was still not great, and there were still several river crossings, and lots of deep sand, but in general, it was getting better.

Once we started going by the occasional ranchero, the road improved more. Finally, at the turn to Rancho San Miguel, the road improved dramatically. Of course, now, instead of a bad road, we had to climb. I think it was better climbing on a better road than bumping our way over baby head rocks.

Brent and I got ahead of Harry. I passed him when he was fixing his saddle. We didn't see him again until we had decided to stop for the night. We had come down the highest part, and done 31 miles.
Here comes Harry!
We were starting to have to walk up the hills because we were tired (okay, they were pretty steep too). There were more hills ahead, so we stopped at a flat spot next to a crossing. Harry showed up 10 minutes later. About  45 minutes later, the Jan, Ryan, Justin, and three others group rode up. Jan was ready to call it a day. They were all pretty tired. They went up the next hill and down and camped somewhere close. We could hear them.

The one thing this day had going for it was beautiful scenery. It was probably the prettiest day since being on the Coast. Tomorrow we should be in Mulége (back on the Sea of Cortez) by noon. The guys are running low on food. I have plenty, but I'll be very glad to get to Mulége.

Oh, we saw horses (including a little foal), pigs, cows with impressive horns, and goats. Brent and I seemed to be herding the goats down the road.

Jan 25--How Many Times Must We Cross the River?

Well, four times for today. We left El Datíl and continued on the Coast for several more miles before turning inland. Even though I was carrying and extra 12 pounds of water, it wasn't bad on the hard pack. Then we began climbing away from the Coast.

 We rode a pretty  decent road until a ranch called Ballena. As we came down to the Raymundo River (I think this is the first good size river we have seen), Harry rode across, and I followed. Then we noticed we were off the route, so we rode back across to where a road went north. It was not the best track at first, very sandy, then it improved...for a short bit. Then, it sort of disappeared. We knew there were washouts that we had to deal with, so we assumed this was one of them. We walked the bikes down a steep section to the riverbed.

We continued walking through deep sand to the edge of the river. Since it was just sandy mud, we walked through barefoot. After we got our shoes back on, Harry walked up a steep, bouldery, bit to see where the road was. He thought it was about 100 yards away. We helped each other get the bikes up (well, Harry and Brent helped each other, and Brent helped me). Then we had to continue dragging the bikes over the boulders to get to the road. When we got there, we noticed the road came from the other direction too. But, how would we have gotten to it? We think maybe it was on the other side of the river where Harry and I first crossed. So, that was some gratuitous boulder hike-a-bike. We went a little further before stopping for some lunch.

The second time we had to cross the river, we were following the route exactly. We came to yet another washout. This one was worse because the road just dropped off. Harry went kind of sideways down to the edge. Brent, who had already taken his shoes and socks off, just walked across the river.
I, had my own stupid plan. It looked like the bank got a little less steep further up the river. So, I stayed up on the bank dragging MC over big boulders and woody debris up to where Harry said I could get down. Except, there was a big pile of debris in the way. Harry came up, and helped me get MC over the debris. Then Brent came over so Harry could hand MC down to him. Once down to the river's edge, we took the water and panniers off. Brent carried the water, and I carried the panniers. Harry took MC. We got back over to the road only to look back and see there was a road to the left of where we had come down!!! More gratuitous boulder hike-a-bike!

The third crossing we got smart, and looked for the road first. Yeah, it went through the river. Harry tried to ride it, but couldn't do it. Brent tried to ride it, also didn't make it. I walked across from the beginning.

The last crossing wasn't too bad, and we all rode it. Once we got across, we saw a nice sandy spot, and decided to call it a day. About 45 minutes later, Joe, Leah, Sarah, and Tom caught up. They made the same mistake we did on the second crossing. Joe tried to ride down off the bank. He went over the handlebars (he's okay though).

We made 40 miles of the 90 miles to Mulége. Apparently, we have more of the same tomorrow...yay...

Jan 24--A Long Day of Salt Marsh Riding

As expected, we were the first ones up and packed this morning at the bike hostel. Rich was up when we left, but no one else was.

We headed back into San Ignacio to pick up the route. We rode a paved road out toward Laguna San Ignacio for the first 38 miles. The road then turned to hard packed dirt. There was some road construction going on that we maneuvered around, waving to the workers.

We made it out to the lagoon, then rode a little bit south until we came to a good spot for lunch. There were a bunch of pelicans down on the rocks. The gulls were making a hilarious cackling sound.

There were a number of tracks. We just followed the purple line of the Garmins. Eventually, we came to the salt marsh (sand flats). We just rode across them. It was surreal! There was one spot where it was a bit mushy, otherwise, just a flat expanse of packed sand. We dodged a few puddles, but generally, it was easy riding. We also had a tailwind.

After the sand flat area we were back on more of an actual dirt road. At one point, the track became quite sandy. Then we realized we weren't on the route. We bushwhacked a hundred yards or so to the road we were supposed to be on. It was much better.

Originally, we figured we would just get as far as we felt like, then camp, and go through El Datíl the next day. Well, with all the pavement, and the tailwinds, we managed to make it all the way. That was 75 miles! We pulled into El Datíl, a fishing village, at about 4:20. We stopped at the aberrotes and got something to drink. I asked the gal if we could camp in El Datíl. She said we could camp wherever. Well, we rode around the village. There are a surprising number of people here. Lots of fishermen and boats, of course, but also lots of kids.

We kind of did a loop, looking for someplace out of the wind. What we settled on was a partially built cinder block building. It even has a roof over most of it. It also came with a bed frame and a box spring! Don't worry, we're not sleeping on it! We set up our tents inside, using rocks to hold the corners down.

I stayed with the bikes and tents while the guys went and got 4 gallons of water. We have 90 tough miles until the next services. We figure it'll take three days.

We're pretty proud of our 75 mile day, and pretty tired too!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Jan 23--Pacelining to San Ignacio--An Oasis and Mission

We did sleep a little longer this morning as it doesn't get light until closer to 7:00. We didn't have to take down tents, so we were on the road by 8:00. We stopped at a small mercado to get water (and for Harry to get food) before we completely left the town.

We were riding Mex 1 a lot today because of a couple of very large agricultural farms (there aren't any roads). There were a couple of off road sections--mostly just to get off Mex 1. When we got to the first short bit off Mex 1, Harry suggested just staying on Mex 1 since the traffic was light. We were fine with that.

When we got to the next section off Mex 1, we again decided to stay on the highway. It would get us to San Ignacio today instead of tomorrow (45 highway miles vs 66 highway/off road miles). Harry had said he would hang with us as long as he could. I thought if we could paceline, he would be able to recover when he wasn't in the lead. I decided 2-mile pulls would allow for good speed, and good recovery. When Brent was in the lead, I'd tell him to rotate to the back after two miles (he doesn't have a computer). I'd do the same with Harry. It worked so well, that our average speed at around 38 miles in was 15mph! You'd think we were riding road bikes instead of plus bikes!

Just outside of town there is a bike hostel called La Casa De Ciclista. There's tent camping for 100 pesos. There's laundry, showers, and wifi. Rich and Amy are here, as are Sarah and Tom Swallow (haven't seen them since Tecate). They're not camping here tonight, but we had a great time chatting with them.

After we got our tents set up, we went to explore the town. San Ignacio is a little oasis of palm trees and water. We are about 66 km from Laguna San Ignacio (we'll get there tomorrow). The Mission San Ignacio is also right in town. It is an active church. We saw Rich and Amy. They recommended a Loncheria in town. After riding around the town square, we stopped in at the Loncheria. I had sopas, which I'd never had before. They were pretty good. The owner of the restaurant was pretty funny. He rattled off the menu in English. Said if it wasn't fresh, we didn't pay. Well, it was fresh and delicious! Still, it cost me 100 pesos ($5.00, and that included a Coke). Then we went over to a Datil (date) place and got datil cake (I ate the cake for dinner).

Afterward, we rode back up to the bigger mercado, and bought way too much food! Still, I managed to get it all packed away. Now we are back at the hostel. Shane, from Arizona, is road touring. He is here tonight too. We noticed in the guestbook, that not too many Baja Divide riders have stayed here. I think it's because it's a little off the route (by little, I mean maybe a mile or so).

It was good to get here today, and have time to explore. We'll move on tomorrow.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Jan 22--A Pretty Speedy Day on the Sand

Boy was it cold this morning! I didn't look at the temp on my bike computer, but it was probably a little below 50 degrees. I know, to those of you who are in snow, and all that, 50 seems balmy. However, for those of us without so many clothes, 50 is cold! Anyway, we were back to being on the road by 7:00. Once we got into the sun, we warmed up nicely.

The first 18 miles went by very quickly. Before we knew it, we were in El Arco. El Arco is an old factory town that is kind of dying. We think it used to be a mining town because we could see old rusted equipment. We also came upon the church. Because we were looking at the church, and there were two roads, we missed a Baja Divide sign. As we started going the wrong way, a guy came walking toward the church, pointing to the other road. Then we saw the sign.

The church in El Arco 

The next part of the route was supposed to be sandy, and a 10 mile section of straight road. It really was pretty straight for a long time. It wasn't too sandy...yet. Here's a photo of the straight road.
The main thing we had to watch out for was prickly bushes growing out into the track (since almost every plant is prickly here, one just assumes every plant can poke you). Sometimes there were alternate tracks. Some we took, some we didn't. Some Harry took, and some we didn't. Here's Harry on an alternate, while we stayed on the main track.
The road wasn't really going uphill, I just took the photo while riding.

There was an alternate at one point that we could have taken to avoid the most sandy part. It was a lot longer, and would have meant riding on Mex 1 for awhile. We were doing the sand okay, and didn't want to ride on Mex 1.

We finally made it to the end of the sand, and onto a much nicer road. From there, we popped out to Mex 1 in the middle of Vizcaino. Vizcaino is a pretty big town--the biggest we've been to since Vincente Guerrero. 

Our first order of business was to get more pesos. There appears to be one bank in town. After we got  pesos, we went across the street to get something cold to drink, and some food (second lunch). I finally had a carne asada torta. Torta is similar to a flat bread sandwich. It was delicious! It had carne asada, cilantro, tomato, avocado, and onion. It's my new favorite!

Since there appears to be no camping in town, we got a hotel room. The three of us are sharing a room that cost 550 pesos (about $27). Since we are splitting it three ways, it's the cheapest hotel yet. Being the solo female, I get my own bed. The boys will either share a double bed, or one will sleep on the floor (although, with three bikes in here, there's not much floor space). The only room left was on the second floor. Leah and Joe are here too. I took my panniers off, and Joe carried Mama Cass up the stairs for me. I thought that was mighty nice!

Brent and I walked down the road to the Super Mercado. It was a pretty large store, but not a Calimex. We don't need to carry much food as we only have 66 miles to the next resupply opportunity. On the way back from the store, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand. They had big bags of oranges, but they also sold some individually. Brent bought three for 12 pesos. I wanted one (for 4 pesos), and the guy gave me two for 5 pesos. I told Brent it must have been because I was wearing my skirt!

Also, apparently, we have passed into the Mountain time zone. That means it will stay light an hour longer, but won't get light until about 7:00. I hope that means we won't be getting up so early!