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  • Total days on the road: 586
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  • Miles Driven: 36821
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We're Not in Kansas Anymore

Written by Kobus on November 11, 2011

A big ol' cactus in Baja California.Start: Tuesday October 30, Lake Havasu, AZ
Finish: Monday November 7, Ensenada, Mexico
Borders Crossed: 1
Rainy Days: 3
Street Tacos Consumed: 3
Cameras Broken & Repaired: 2
Most Spent in One Day: $325.81

Since our whirlwind tour of the Grand Canyon we've survived a night camping in sand with 40 mile per hour wind, a beer brewery tour, two broken cameras and the world's busiest land border crossing.

We're currently driving down the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, and will reach Cabo San Lucas in a couple weeks. Much has changed, and much remains the same. In any case, it's safe to say we're not in Kansas anymore.

Windy Lake Havasu.

We spent three uneventful days in sunny Lake Havasu, mostly working. I'm fairly certain that when the three of us drove into town the average age dropped by at least fifteen. Our last night the wind kicks up with gusts around 50 miles per hour. It blows enough sand into our tents that we wake up covered in dust.

The next morning we pack up and drive to Escondido, California. Our destination: the Stone Brewery. A wonderful place full of magic and mystery, and beer that is awesome.

Unfortunately, the night before Kobus broke his camera, and I proceeded to break mine, less than 24 hours later, as we step out of the taxi in front of the brewery. It was not good times.

Inside the Stone Brewery.

Thus I give you the only photo we took during the tour of the brewery, using my less-than-spectacular cell phone camera. After the tour we sample a few beverages in an attempt to drown our sorrow. It worked, for the most part.

This may prove to be the most expensive day (in terms of food & lodging) we have on this trip, but the food is amazing and the beer menu is endless. I can't recommend a trip to the Stone Brewery enough, especially if you're anywhere near southern California.

Our campsite at the San Diego KOA.

We spend the next two days at the San Diego Metro KOA. The first day is quite pleasant, nice weather, odds of getting cameras repaired looking good, no noisy neighbors, cheap firewood, beer at the camp store, couldn't ask for much more.

Day two brought a troop of girl scouts, a pack of rabid Green Bay fans, and a day of torrential downpours. Luckily we are able to have the cameras repaired and finish preparations for crossing the border into Mexico. We turn in early due to the heavy rain, and mercifully so do our noisy neighbors.

Tomorrow is the start of a new adventure!

A view of the border fence from Tijuana.

We get to the border early, around 8am, and cross the line in about five minutes. After a bit of hectic scrambling to find the immigration and vehicle registration office we brace ourselves for our first taste of Mexican bureaucracy.

Relatively speaking, the process is quite smooth. An hour and a half later, mostly spent standing in the same line twice, we have our tourist cards and temporary vehicle import permit.

The photo above of the barrier wall between the US and Mexico was taken from the car as we left Tijuana. It was the best I could do considering 1) taking pictures at border crossings is never a good idea and 2) being a gringo tourist in Tijuana is not on my to do list for the day.

Our first campsite in Mexico, in Ensenada.

Ensenada is our first stop in Mexico, a large town about 90 minutes south of Tijuana. We spend a couple hours in town setting up prepaid cell phone and data modem plans. It goes surprisingly well, and is cheap - we now have a Mexican phone number and wireless access on both our phone and laptops. After a stop for lunch, our first meal in Mexico, we head out to find camp for the next couple days.

Our plan A campsite north of Ensenada is closed due to rain and rock slides, so we move on to plan B. About five miles south of Ensenada is an estuary, a sort of bay within a bay. Plan B is located on the southern edge of the estuary and comes complete with wifi, palm trees and more stray chickens, dogs and ducks than you can shake a stick at.

The estuary next to our campsite in Ensenada.

Kobus and I try fishing in the estuary, using corn as bait. Once the tide goes out we see why we aren't having much luck. The water is at most two feet deep, and the main channel is far beyond our reach. The bird watching, however, is quite good.

A shot of the beach from Punta Banda.

The afternoon of our second day we drive out to the peninsula, named Punta Banda, to visit the local attraction - a giant blowhole. It's allegedly capable of shooting water 100 feet into the air.

Predictably, the blowhole turns out to be overrated. And the street to the coast is lined with touts selling junk to tourists, much like the path to the leaning tower of Pisa. We munch on a few delicious street tacos, grab some local pastries for breakfast tomorrow, and enjoy the sun on the coast for a couple hours before heading back to camp.

The castle next to our campsite in Ensenada.

The owner of our camp in Ensenada is an interesting fella. He built a castle, styled after the missions of southern Baja, mostly by himself, over a period of 22 years. He says that half of his earnings have been devoted to his childhood dream. He bought bricks 500 at a time, and made slow progress as money allowed.

Jess and Kobus working at our campsite in Ensenada.

He was kind enough to let us use his patio to get a few hours of work done and recharge our laptop batteries.

Our campsite in San Quintin.

Our next stop is San Quintin (pronounced San Kween-teen), about two hours south of Ensenada. It's a pretty trashy town, not much to see, but it gets us two hours closer to our next stop which is a long drive south.

Buzzards in a tree next to our campsite in San Quintin.

In the morning we shower and pack up to leave while a tree full of buzzards gathers ominously above our campsite.

Up next, we head for Baja California Sur (southern Baja). A couple longs drives are in front of us, and hopefully a few white sandy beaches!


#1 Chuck 2011-11-12 21:06
I'm very impressed that you figured out "your not in Kansas anymore." I am loving the great pictures and stories. Keep it up. I am impressed with the drive into town set up local phones and wireless access in short order!

Kobus, is your work routine settled? I have been waiting for your trip to become more "routine" -- I know, I know that's a joke. I want to try and do some real work (as in I pay you) on my project with Ann Kramer, Integrative Economy. Let me know when and how you want to proceed. Chuck

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