November 15, 2006 GMT
mulege

ok..finally i'm at an internet cafe.
getting to the border from reno was a serious challenge.
so the first day, i headed out of reno with my riding buddies, chris, kimmie and reiner. we had breakfast at bully's in reno and met up with steve lotsofsky (he legally added a T to his last name to change it from losofsky to lots of sky). he inherited a huge house outside of mulege from his buddy Jake, who was an endurance rider. Jake's Place, as it's called, has amazing views of the Bahia de Concepcion. he left it for Steve to continue on in his tradition of hosting motorcycle travellers riding down baja. it has a old bus and an Rv in the driveway, a bmw R75/6 with a sidecar in the garage and an old mercedes benz 240 diesel with no windshield to pick people up from the airport or go into town for dinner (like we did last night). all the locals laugh when we pass by with googles on and our hair blowing in the wind.
well, steve was leaving for baja the same day as me, but he went down in a pick-up with supplies for the house.
so i was thinking i would catch up with him...wrong!

we left reno, took the old dirt, Toll road up gieger grade to virginia city. then the dirt road to Dayton. another dirt road along the carson river to fort churchill in dayton. there chris and kimmie turned around to head back to reno. i continued on with reiner to camp outside of hawthorne, NV. the next day we were going to head into bridgeport, CA, have breakfast and say our goodbyes. instead we tried to take a dirt road to the old ghost town of Bodie, CA. we never found Bodie. we got lost, the road got really bad, huge rocks, deep sand. at first i dropped my bike and laughed it off as something fun. twenty minutes later, i had dropped my bike 10 more times. it was no longer funny. we ran out of water. i continued to drop my bike. i broke a saddlebag, my skid plate and finally my shift lever snapped off leaving me in first gear. at this point i was swearing, sweating profusely, my heart was pounding from picking up a 600 lb bike over and over again. reiner and i were butting heads, both out of fear and frustration. we decided to ditch my saddlebags and gear in the desert so we could get my heavy bike out to a road. 20 miles and 7 hours later we finally reached Mono Lake, tired and thirsty as hell. we had food, pitchers of water and then took off back to reno. i managed to get the bike into 5th gear and rode it 3 hours back to reno with one gear, even stopping and starting in 5th. so that's how my trip began, the 1st day!!!

i returned to reno, had the aluminum shift lever welded back on for $25. reiner fixed my saddlebag with some epoxy and pop rivets. chris fixed my skidplate and told me about the aluminum welder. and reiner also drove me to mono lake and back in his truck to get all my gear, scratching his truck up on the sage brush in the desert (nevada pinstripes he calls them). this diversion also forced me to rethink my whole strategy. kimmie encouraged me to ditch everything i wouldn't use everyday. so i ditched to camping gear, the stove, the sleeping bag, making my bike much lighter..


so in the end maybe it was fate that i screwed my bike up. a few days later i was back on the road, this time solo. i took 395 south through nevada and the eastern sierra scenic byway. gorgeous horse ranches, rode through snow outside of mammouth lakes (i had left just in time)

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spent the night in bridgeport, hit up the hotsprings then headed south to san diego. spent the night in hemet. i couldn't wait to get out of the US, i was spending a fortune just getting to the border. at the border, i rode down highway 94. this is an unbelievable road to ride. those horse ranches along the border are spectacular. and this road was loaded with motorcycles, i saw lots of GSs. Here`s a photo of a uniquely designed house along the border.


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crossed into mexico monday morning. it wasn't that bad. i had to get a tourist card at the border for $20, i got a years worth of riding insurance (because i'm returning through mexico too) for around $100 (essentially required in mexico - if you get into an accident without it they can detain you until the issue is settled). then after the border crossing, they sent me into town to find a Banjercito to get a vehicle import sticker. very easy too, just had to show my docs and my tourist card and then pay. they asked me, cash or credit card. i replied credit card - thinking this would be easier. $300 they wanted! i was floored. i said "habla serio!"
then they let me know that it's $29 if i pay cash and $300 with a credit card. i laughed, told them it would be cash and left. this was my first experience with what steve calls "the M factor".


tijuana is a dirty town with lots of poverty. 20 miles south it gets nicer. ensenada is a dusty little town with lots of little taco stands, llanteras and lots of school children. all the young boys would come running out to wave as i rolled through.
then there's the beautiful vineyards. then it turns to farm land with little towns that highway 1 rolls through every 20 or so miles. i really like going through these towns. i would flip open the helmet to take in all the smells, sights and sounds. i felt like mad max and i looked like him too!

i spent the night in a little town called El Rosario de Arriba. what a nice town. had 3 wonderful fish tacos at La Mijita where the owners Elsa and Santa suggested i spend the night at Baja Cactus Hotel.


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WOW! this place was gorgeous. one of the nicest rooms i've ever stayed in. modern glass showers, super chic red tiles and high ceilings with redwood. it was a little pricey, 300 pesos or $30 but it was nice so i went for it. here i am thinking i'm the man with my motorcycle in mexico and i roll into the parking lot and what do i see? 25 motorcycles! mostly harleys and a few GSs. turns out they're all Dutchies on a tour of Baja in thier denim jackets and american motorcycles.

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i had fun with them that night reminising of my days in holland as a youngster. i also met some americans who were headed for mulege too, they owned retirement homes there. so the next day i rode out with them in a caravan of gringos headed south.

i had another M factor there. when i got to the hotel, i was nervous there wouldn't be any rooms left because of all the bikes. i went in and asked and Elsa, the clerk, told me i was lucky, there was one left (for 300 pesos). well that night, i was sitting there shooting the shit with manuel the bellhop and a car drives up with a family of four. they asked if there was a room and maneul says "yes, any of those four" pointing to the four ground level units. how much? 250 pesos. i was a little outraged. apparently when i asked if there were any rooms left, elsa thought i would only want a nice room because I'm a fancy american. there were cheaper rooms, but not for americans. M factor!


i'm learning...the next day we travelled 7 hours to mulege, 2/3rds down baja. most of baja is empty desert. there was one stretch where the motorcycle would not make it to the next town for gas. so there's an entreprenuer who sits on the side of the road in the desert with an old pick-up full of gas for sale. this was my first time getting gas out of a pick-up, but an experience for sure. of course he charges an arm and a leg for it. $15 for 2 gallons, but i got some good photos out of it.


so that's where i am, mulege. i'll write some more later. i just wanted to get something on the blog so my family and friends don't think i'm forgetting them...


photos coming later. the ones up there are from the first day, before we got lost in the desert. that's reiner riding through a creek! super bad ass off roading!!


sorry for the crap writing style, i'm whipping this out here. there's so much to do, i hate to waste my time in an internet cafe. at some point i hope i get into a groove, where i find time to write in my journal and then post prettier, more eloquent postings....but until then, i'm just getting out the facts.

Posted by Christian Burrows at November 15, 2006 08:06 PM GMT
 


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