Pot Holy Land (Feb 6 2016)

DSC05331First it was very quiet… then the party gang showed up. We had watched 2 episodes of House of Cards on the iPad and were in bed by then. One group parked right next to us and there was loud mariachi music and squealing girls cutting the quiet night to shreds. The boys sang along to the music. It must have been a CD because they would skip through songs to their favorites. But why bother? It’s all the same song!

The manager of Molino Viejo who had come out to greet us last night had suggested we park further back, rather than waterfront for this very reason but at that time, it seemed so unlikely.

Other cars arrived and it got quite loud but strangely, I fall dead asleep. Mariachi Dreamland! In fact, I slept so hard I didn’t even know when they all left.

In the morning, the boat trucks begin arriving early to launch. I also hear gunshot from the waterfowl hunters. Time to get up and see what the place looks like.

DSC05332It’s a small bay within a bay. Across the water is the tip of the peninsula that curves around the bay – it’s lined with small volcanic cones. There are birds, shining water, and…quiet. AND in the boat truck parking lot, what do we find but PORTA-POTTIES! Yay!

DSC05335After some decent coffee and mediocre pastries from that Ensenada supermarket, we are off, back down the dirt road. Construction is going on in one part and Big Dog has to pass the big truck with millimeters to spare. Near the highway, a black dog barks and chases Sprockets but Big Dog suddenly stops, rolls down his window and shouts “Go home!” It does! That cracks me up. “Go home” must be universal dog language – all the dogs on our ranch understand what it means.

DSC05337The highway hugs the coast for a while – there are nice, long, surfable waves. It turns inland at El Rosario, a tiny town where we fill up on Mexican diesel. In Mexico, there is only one automotive fuel company: Pemex, which is government-owned. So no matter where you get gas, it’s the same price. Also, because it is not a private business, they don’t really care if you use their facilities without buying gas. We’ve also heard other travelers saying that you can always park overnight at a Pemex station. They are well-lit, (mostly) manned places, thus, relatively safe. Here, I fill up the plastic water cube with water from their outdoor tap.

The road keeps going further inland where it is deserty but very green right now with lots of cacti and desert shrubs. It’s spring and the tall cirios are leafy and flowering. These plants, also known as boojum trees, are native to this region. Tall and tapering, they might split into two or more “fingers” near the top. They are a member of the ocotillo family and have similar flowers at the top of the taper.

The yuccas are flowering and the palo verdes are…verde. There are big multi-armed cacti, cholla, big barrel cacti with red spines, a small flame-colored multi-armed cacti, thick sprawly cacti, things that look like Joshua trees but are not (they are datilillo.)

DSC05339Near Cataviña, the boulders appear. Big, rounded boulders. In some areas, there are mountains of piled up boulders.

“Someone left his toys out…”

“Wouldn’t it be cool to shoot a movie here about the Boulder Zombies?”

“Instead of blood or brains, they want your water!”

“And once quenched with all the water in your vehicle and body, they start growing mossy!”

DSC05352It is terribly windy up here – we are on a high plateau – and the road is super narrow with no shoulders. It is freaky passing anything, especially a big truck or bus. Instinctively, we both squeeze our knees together to make ourselves smaller.

That’s not the only hazard. The road is riddled with potholes. Some are gigantic. Some parts are so densely potholed, you have to pick your poison.

“This is Pot Holy Land,” says Big Dog.

“Ruled by the Great Potholio!”

“I feel like I’m piloting the Millenium Falcon through the asteroid mine field,” Big Dog references Galaxy Quest. I don’t know if in the movie it was an asteroid field or star mine field. Either way, I’m glad Big Dog is amazingly adept at this.

“White knuckle driving,” he says, showing me his sweaty hands.

This can’t be easy, not even for the Natural Born Driver.

At many points, the road will take a “dip” which is usually but not always announced by the “vado” sign – two vertical lines with three wavy horizontal lines in the middle – and in one vado, there is water running and date palms. It’s a real desert oasis!

NOT a Pemex Gas Station

We stop in the middle of Boulder Town for a lunch of granola and milk, then continue to the turnoff to Bahia de Los Angeles. Down this road, there are more cirios, cordón cacti and elephant trees. The elephant trees are short trees with smooth, wavy, tapering branches.

DSC05361Down, down, down to the coast we go, with layers of mauve mountain ranges in the distance, until we get to Bahia de Los Angeles. It’s the Sea of Cortez out there!

It’s kind of a ghost town. There’s not much to the “town” – a couple of stores, restaurants, hotels which don’t look like they are operating. A long sandy beach curves along the bay from town to Punta La Gringa.

Thinking we’ll “explore” the town a bit, we drive south but there is next to nothing there.

“This is Nurio North,” I sigh. Nurio was the zombie town next to Cocucho where they make cocuchas, the giant pottery storage urns. Nurio not only had nothing to offer, every building was shuttered and you would have thought it deserted if not for the one or two zombie-like indigeños standing or squatting in the street.

DSC05364Striking out on the south side, we go north, towards Punta La Gringa. Long ago, an American woman tried to build a campsite there, unsuccessfully. Could have been a hurricane, or finances, or boredom. Maybe she ran off with someone. We hear it’s a free camp today. And the road out there is newly paved.

Along the way, there are many other camp sites. “Daggett’s” is well advertised, but there are many others, too, offering showers, boats, and so on.

DSC05367When we get to La Gringa, we see one other RV there but closer up we see that it is either unoccupied or abandoned. There’s a shack that looks lived in, but no one is there. We find a spot behind this shack, on the other side of the knoll, where it feels a bit more protected from the wind, because it is very windy here. The entire area is deserted except for birds on shore and on the water, and a fleet of dolphins I momentarily espy.

Huddled in hoodies, we stroll the bay. There are hundreds of red starfish on shore.

“Starfish Varanasi? Do they come here to die?” wonders Big Dog.

DSC05368There are also lots of clam shells and birds picking at clams. It is lowtide and I want to get the shovel and start digging for clams in the tidal muck but it’s too chilly. We also come across remnants of the RV park – crumbling concrete pads, outhouses.

Back near the knoll, there’s a new truck.

“Hola!” we yell and a man comes out.

We ask if it’s alright to camp here and he says, of course, but it’s very windy. No shit.

DSC05375It’s a meager dinner of leftovers from LA with the last of the leftover wine, but the night is full of stars. And quiet.

End of Day Miles: 433.5 mi



Author: ontheroadwithsprockets

I've been traveling since I was born -- the first big trip was before I was two, across the Pacific, from my native Japan to Los Angeles on a cargo ship. There have been many journeys since then, through many continents and cultures.

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