Part 7: Punta Final to Guadalupe Canyon and San Diego


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The Trip

The dirt road to Gonzaga Bay from Mex 1 was punishing.  But, the road from Gonzaga to Puertocitos was worse.  We had no choice as there were no alternate routes; in for a penny, in for a pound.  So, we went slow, but the wash board produced damaging vibrations on the trucks.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

We stopped at both Pemex stations, but neither had diesel.  We were fine, but Matt has a small tank and some motor issues so he gets really poor mileage.  At the second station, we encountered a set of "rent-a-racer" folks who were on some kind of paid tour.  As part of their package, they get to use the red four-wheelers and they get catered camping.

The road does not look rough, but trust me it is.  Above, the local vulture crew clean up some road kill.

The road takes its toll.  The vibrations from the washboard broke the mounting bracket for Kai's air tank, tearing one of the lines in the process.

Getting the tank apart was hard as the fittings were rusted and very tight.

Each of us contributed components for a trail-side fix.

The solution was to just connect the tank supply line to the consumer lines without the tank in the middle.  The fix got Kai back to San Diego without other issues.  I can say for certain if this failure had happened on my 1300, we would be still sitting there.  The 1300s use air for a number of sub-systems and without air, you are going nowhere.  Kai's 416 was more tolerant of this kind of failure.

Meanwhile, Matt was addressing a coolant leak on his 416.

We had some nice views of the water from our low speed run along the coast.

The fellow in front of us was going faster than he should and also suffered a failure further down the road.  Whatever happened, he was dead in the water in the middle of the road.  Note the obstacle marker in the photo above.  There is a huge washout there that goes down about 6 feet.  Yet another reason not to 'wheel at night in Mexico.

Most of the small islands were covered in bird droppings.  Note that the amount of vegetation now is down to almost nothing.  Ocotillos can live almost anywhere, so they were expected.  But other than that, nothing.

South of Puertocitos the dirt road turned into new, smooth pavement.  After we hit the pavement, we passed several really nice places.  Note the white caps; the wind is blowing strong again.

The road into San Filipe was in good repair and we made good time.  Note the green color of the water here in the northern reaches of the Sea of Cortez.

San Filipe used to be a small, sleepy fishing village.  Not anymore.

But despite its growth, San Filipe is not immune from the "abandoned construction project syndrome".  Many places had a slab with rebar, but no walls.

I generally like Mexican architecture, but the Kermit green is somewhat over the top.

We got diesel, ice and some seafood for dinner in San Filipe and then headed north on Mex 5 to the turnoff for Guadalupe Canyon.  Along the way, we passed the delta for the Colorado River which is a huge expanse of mud flats and semi-dry salt lakes.  It also provides the sand for the Altar dunes.  The smoke on the horizon is not smoke, but rather steam from the geo-thermal plants at Guadalupe Victoria.  GV is the epicenter of some big recent earthquakes, the largest just a few months ago at 7.2 on the Richter scale.

We took the turnoff and aired down for the trail.  Close to the trail were these dunes on the side of the volcanic hills.

Our trail took us across the south end of Laguna Salada (salty lake).  Above you can see the dust trails of one of the group who where far ahead of us.

Laguna Salad is usually dry.  But, with the recent rains, there were many wet spots.  This fellow cut some deep groves in the lake bed surface.  If you get stuck, you have a whole bunch of work waiting for you.  Having a winch will not help since there is nothing to winch against.

This spot produced some interesting sensations for the driver.

Truth be told, we got lost.  We did several hours of wandering around until we got our bearings and were back on the correct track.  We all had GPS, but without a valid map, all the GPS says is "you are here".  The correct track, however, was part of the Baja 1000 race course and was very rutted and super-slow going.  We did not arrive at the camp ground until 9pm, well after dark.  During our transit of the palm grove at Guadalupe Canyon, I tagged the awning on the side of the camper.  The palm left some small nicks, but I think it is usable as is.  Once we hit camp, Matt and Nancy cooked, we ate and hit the hot tubs.  All in all, it was a 13 hour drive across some pretty nasty roads.  I think this was a new record.  Next morning was a pretty late start.

The winds were calm in the canyon and it was quite pleasant.  Above, a view of Pico Guadalupe.

Kai made chicken fried steaks, hash browns and eggs for breakfast.

As we were leaving camp, we got a nice view down the canyon to Laguna Salada.

There was a small bit of water in Arroyo Guadalupe but nothing to indicate the previous rains.

Since our return path took us right past some cave paintings, we did a brief stop before attacking Laguna Salada.

The paintings are somewhat faded, but it is remarkable that they are there at all.

Laguna Salada was generally dry and provided a reasonable travel speed of about 30 mph.  We might have been able to go faster had we not had low tire pressure.  High speed with low pressure will damage your tires and generate a blowout.  Ask me how I know.

Once you get into the center of the Salada, you are in for the duration.  Unless the surface has been disturbed, it is mirror flat.

Once we hit Mex 2, we aired up and headed west into Tecate. 

We headed west along Mex 2 to the military checkpoint.  We had one of their guys in the camper for 20 minutes demanding to look in everything.  He even made me open a package of MREs to see what was inside.  But, essentially it was for show as he failed to inspect my cargo boxes.  Or maybe he was stupid.  Or both.  Each of us was subjected to the same anal probe, but in due time it was done and we headed on to the border crossing at Tecate.

The line at Tecate was short, moving slowly.  While in secondary inspection, we witnessed a drug bust on the pickup in front of us.  The occupants were taken into custody.  Our check was cursory.

This was a great trip, mud notwithstanding.  But, if I were to do this trip again, I would schedule 2 weeks rather than only one and save the 13 hour drives for someplace else.

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