Stuckyville (Feb 11 2016)

DSC05518Brilliant sunrise!! Most of our homes near the coast (LA, Los Osos, Arcata, Honolulu) have gorgeous sunsets but it’s a bit of a treat to see beautiful sunrises. The calm day brings more fishing boats, not just local Mexican ones but gringo boats.

It’s time to move south, but before we depart, we go and check out Joanne’s watercolors, passing by Ken working on some bluegrass picking outside their big rig. Their motorhome seems as roomy as Unimog, just in a different configuration (and without the all-terrain chassis) – a big roomy kitchen and living area, plus a smaller bedroom.

Joanne is not only a talented watercolor artist but teaches on various cruise ships and such. Seeing her artwork is very inspiring, making me wonder what masterpieces will be born on this Baja Adventure. (none. ha ha.)

After a last check on emails, we are off. First, looking for beer. With so many places to buy beer on the highways (more plentiful than gas stations for sure!) I am disappointed when the first place I enter only has bottles and the second place no beers at all despite the ubiquitous Tecate sign. We turn off to Punto Chivato and there, in the little town at the turnoff, buy 4 Tecates and cookies in an abarotte in someone’s house. This is really rural now.

It is a Rocky Road to Punto Chivato. After a mile or two or three of this, with Sprockets pitched left and right, we are “rewarded” by miles of washboarded dirt that makes our speech vibrate like an alien being. Then, it gets sandy as we cross a (now) dry riverbed.

For all the really crap roads, it is amazing how built up this area is! Real homes – nice ones – line the bay. A sign points to “Vacation Rentals.” A worker at one of the homes tells us there’s nothing here but you can camp just south of there. There are three short access roads to the beach, he says, but don’t go down the fourth one, it’s very sandy.

DSC05541The beach is a light beige color, strewn with shells of all kinds and the water is an amazing shade of blue – almost like Caribbean turquoise. Fish glint in the sun as they leap. It’s hot and barren and shadeless out here but the sea is gorgeous.

DSC05542Big Dog thinks it’s too open and boring and wants to keep moving, so we stop just long enough to have some granola and pick up some shells. Just as we are about to roll out onto the terrible washboard again, a van pulls up. I think we are either going to get kicked out or someone is here to ask for money but, no, they are just blanket vendors. Who wants a blanket when it’s this hot? Not a good time to be peddling these things. On the other hand, Baja nights are cooler so they might have a better chance in the early morning.

Back down the miles of dusty, dirty, rocky, washboard-y road and back on the highway. The road hugs the coast, winding around the mountains. There are cacti and shrubs but no real trees.

DSC05544The highway dips down to the town of Mulege, along a “rio.” It’s not really a river but a long, thin inlet. Still, it gives Mulege a lushness other towns do not have. The town itself is a tiny village crammed into a thin strip between the mountain and rio. It seems tidier than most Mexican towns, perhaps because they have little land to sprawl on. The usable land is too precious for the village to have too many abandoned buildings. The village roads are paved but very narrow. Big rigs would not be able to drive through, but Sprockets does fine on our way to the lighthouse. (We never make it to the lighthouse, turning around when the pavement ends. We’ve all had enough dirt roads for the day!)

In town, we stop for shrimp tacos at “Dany’s.” The elderly couple sitting at the next table are from the Truckee area of California but have been coming here for 18 years now, living in Posada Concepcion. They tell us how it used to be just a beach where people parked for the season but now there are real homes.

DSC05553Outside of Mulege, we get diesel at a Pemex and Big Dog washes all the dirt from all the windows. Then, back on the highway heading south. Our outdated camp guide makes Playa Los Cocos sound great so we head that way, passing a fair few RV parks just south of Mulege. At the northern end of Bahia Concepcion is a beautiful cove with a camp area called Santispac. RVs, big and small, line the beach but it doesn’t feel too packed and the beach is quite long. South of that is the tiny hamlet of Posada Concepcion, another cove in the bigger cove shared by Santispac. Next to it is Playa Escondida, the “free” camp the Oregon couple at the Whale Camp talked about. The turnoffs are hard to see on the winding, cliff-huggin road and we miss the turnoff to Cocos, going on to Burros with large cabañas blocking the beachfront. After that is Coyote, a pretty cove that is a bit crowded.

DSC05556DSC05557“We should go back to Escondida,” I say. “I don’t know where the turnoff to Cocos is.”

It’s a steep drop from the highway onto what I think is Playa Escondida. There are a couple of broken structures but nothing else. No campers, no people. We drive around to explore the area on the far south end, fringed with mangroves. People are on the beach and there is a small car. When we try to turn around… uh oh.

The back left wheel (driver’s side) is deep in muck. It all looked so solid before the weight of Sprockets broke through the dry, salt encrusted top layer. We get out and start digging, hoping to use the car mat trick to get out. Big Dog had packed a small garden shovel “to cover up poo like a cat” but it’s really too small for this job. And the ground is mucky muck, getting wetter the deeper we dig.

A local gringo couple come by and after a while the guy says, “Wait here. I’ll be back.” While they are gone, a Mexican in a truck stops by and offers advice: dig, put in rocks, then rock yourself out. Sprockets is buried to its axle so only my smaller hands can get in to dig and I am doing it with bare hands. Dig, dig, dig. Fill with rocks… OK, let’s try it.

It doesn’t work. Sprockets is deeper in the muck. Better to wait for Gringo Man. While waiting, I walk to the beach to rinse off my mucky hands and pass a small pond surrounded by mangroves. No wonder the ground is so mushy!

DSC05559When I get back to Sprockets, Gringo Man is back with his 4×4 Tierra, a heavy chain and a big shovel. He is Ivan, originally from Czechoslovakia but now living in Posada Concepcion and Big Bear, California. Big Dog says he will dig but Ivan insists on doing the digging, saying he wants to work like a Mexican. When he’s dug enough, you fill the hole with rocks, Ivan attaches the chain to his vehicle and Sprockets and pulls us out. It works!! We’re free!!

DSC05558DSC05560We share cold Tecates with him and chat for a moment, in the relief of getting unstuck. Ivan left Czechoslovakia in 1969. Is that the year the Russians came in? Thank god he was here today and had a 4-wheel drive vehicle! He saved the day!

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DSC05564Free from the muck, we drive back to the middle part, away from the mangroves, park and set up. Sitting there with our beers, I suddenly notice that the photo on the front of our AAA Baja map was taken right here.

DSC05572“Hey, isn’t this island in the photo that one there? And the island beyond… And these mangrove clumps are those over there!” The photo looks like it was taken a few meters to our left.

DSC05570While we are amazing ourselves with this coincidence, a young man approaches and introduces himself as our neighbor. He’s the one with the small car but was out rock climbing while we were stuck. He is from Belgium but speaks nearly unaccented American English.

“I learned my English from The Simpsons,” he laughs.

Ay caramba!

End of Day Miles: 836.7 mi.

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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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