Hey, Spike! braves Baja, with Paperboy in tow
Special to the Daily
Accompanied by pinata kid Paperboy, we continue our Hey, Spike! spring saga of driving from Cabo San Lucas, up Baja California, and back to The Summit, and here the tale concludes:
“Our next stop of the adventura de Baja came with the overnight stay at the San Ignacio Springs B&B yurts and Canadian expat hosts Terry and Gary Marcer. They moved down from British Columbia in 2001 to build their nine-yurt (so far) accommodations business right in the middle of a date palm tree orchard alongside the spring-fed river,” we reported on Facebook.
Along with pinata niño Paperboy, we stayed in the China-themed yurt — large and nice. Our limited stay didn’t allow us to use the kayaks or take a swim.
We did go into to San Ignacio, founded in 1728, and home to the Mision San Ignacio Kadakaaman, built in 1786. Another highlight of the area are the cave paintings known to Spanish missionaries in the 1700s, but only became known to the outside world in 1962, when an expedition was initiated by mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner.
That evening we dined downtown at Tootsie’s Bar and Restaurant opened last November by Terry’s and Gary’s lovely daughter Toni. A single 35-year-old, Toni and Paperboy hit it off right away.
The next morning we enjoyed a “whatever you want” family-style breakfast with our yurt neighbors. A former Mexico City resident and her two daughters — one a Washington, D.C., UN ecologist and the other a Boston pediatric oncologist — related their exciting Pacific Gray Whale-watching (and touching) tour at the San Ignacio Laguna arranged by the Marcers.
We continue our journey from San Ignacio to where Baja south becomes Baja north on Highway 1. A quick stop at a Mexican army outpost for a photo had a guard politely saying the rules did not allow any. During our chat, the wind blew Paperboy over and made his nose an “innie” instead of an “outtie.” So we “folded up our tent” and went to the nearby Pemex station for the shoot with Mexico’s big flag flapping in the background.
Continuing onward, we drove past Guerrero Negro, followed by a right turn at Chapala, onto the (in)famous dirt rock road — Highway 5 — leading back to the Sea of Cortez via Coco’s Corner.
We’re talking 35 miles of very slow going that takes about three hours. Some sections of the road are soooo bumpy, it’s better to travel off-road to the sides in the sand. The 4×4 trek nearly made a stutterer out of pinata boy. We only saw about six vehicles. Not quite half-way through this portion’s drive, you come to Coco’s Corner, an “eclectic-o” commercial outpost run by a guy named Coco, who is now a double-amputee at the knees due to diabetes.
Coco was off doing a water re-stocking someplace when we arrived to join a group of six guys from Los Angeles. They were dressed in full-body armor — like robots, enjoying bien fria Pacificos, while giving their dirt bikes and quads a rest. “Maria” and “Kilometers” enjoyed the beers — even Paperboy took a swig to wash down the dust.
This road is due for paving sometime in the future as the pavement has reached just north of Alfonsia. The Baja 1000 runs this route.
Here’s a youtube video link to Coco’s: http://youtu.be/yV82nlgEm54
Continuing northward, the destination this day was San Felipe, which would mark our last night in Mexico before crossing back into the US at Mexicali. San Felipe’s el Cortez Hotel, right on the beachfront, was most welcome after this day’s travel. We dined at the hotel restaurant.
We gassed up at one of the ubiquitous Pemex stations, where the staff demonstrates the true meaning of full-service. We made it a practice of never passing the chance to refill whenever we got one-third of tank down. Our Garmin GPS, with a Mexico package add-on, which we bought back in 2010 for the trip to San Carlos, performed again as promised. We also had guidebooks and maps.
The Highway 5 road north to Mexicali is wide and smooth. Off to the right you can see where the Colorado River used to be visible in a wide desolate plain. Our final military checkpoint proved as easy as the other five, with the soldier looking inside and having us open up the backdoor. He chuckled at the pinata kid.
The desert and mountainous terrain gives way to agriculture and more towns as we near Mexicali, the bustling city plays host to the border crossing into the US. It took us 50 minutes in a line of vehicles at the entry, where vendors hawk their wares one last time.
While in line, large photographs by E.H. Davis and the Huntington Library mounted on a steel fence are on display. A US federal border agent asked us for anything to declare — “nada.” He zipped our passports through the magnetic reader and warmly said, “Welcome home.”
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to email@example.com.
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Spoiler alert: There was almost no drama whatsoever during my recent test of the accomplished, practical and even vaguely sexy-looking Hyundai Sonata hybrid.