To The Wild Side (February 1 2019)

Bailey: I’ve been trapped inside Sprockets a lot. The Woman doesn’t want me roaming around here on my own. She’s afraid I’ll get into a fight with one of the resident dogs. We’re on the move again and I’m hoping the next place will be a big open empty place where I can run, run, run again.

After driving through a busy town, we go up, up, up the steep curvy road. It’s wide open space again, with pretty flowers lining the road. After a long drive, we go through a small town and into a marshy area, then to ocean. It’s a different smelling ocean from what we had the last few days. It smells…wilder.

From Sprockets, it looks like there are people walking on the water but when The Woman and I walk down to the water, I see that it’s really shallow and that they’re just walking in it, stooping down to pick something up.

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Just when I’m starting to have fun, I notice some dogs up on the ledge above, looking down at us. They aren’t at all friendly looking. They’re tense and growling and looking like they might attack. I must be in their territory but if I back away, they’ll come chasing me so I have to stand my ground, even when The Woman keeps saying, “Come on, Bailes! Let’s go! Gotta get out of here!”

I’m standing, glaring back at them, tensed up. But then The Woman picks me up. How humiliating. I wiggle loose and walk to Sprockets on my own. The dogs are barking now but at least they’re not running after us.

After sticking me in the RV, The Woman goes back out and comes back with shells she picked up from the shallow water.

“Look!” she says to The Man. “Scallops and caracoles! Akagai!”

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“We can’t stay near the lighthouse,” he says. “Let’s find a spot out of the dogs’ territory.”

We drive to another spot on the other side of the empty buildings but the dogs get hip to it quickly. I see now that they’re a family. You can tell mama’s had too many puppies from all her titties hanging down. Thank god mine aren’t like that.

We finally find a spot beyond The Local Dogs’ Range and The Woman makes dinner. The Man plays music, sings and then they both start dancing. Inside Sprockets! It’s kicking up dust and hair and shaking the rig like crazy, but they’re laughing and happy, so I am too.

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West Coast – East Coast (January 21 2019)

Tanuki: Just as I sort of suspected, the palapa we parked under was a gathering point for fishermen/dealers. A big trailer came to set up while still dark. Bright halogen lamps light up the interior of Sprockets. They work right next to us, yakking all the time. I am amazed that B isn’t at all concerned — maybe Spanish is her native language?! Just as amazing is that Big Dog can sleep through it all.

But after daybreak, I take B out for a short walk. There are so many birds. And lots of dead stinky things to roll around in so I am vigilant!

There’s a sort of campsite up on the cliff, just beyond town. Right now, it’s just a few scattered rigs and a restaurant.

“Should we stay here?”

“What would we do?”

“It’s kind of boring, huh. The fisherman area was far more interesting.”

“They don’t have any facilities… And there’re more flies and bitey bugs…”

“Why stay here when there’s El Requeson?”

“Exactly.”

So before long, we’re driving back to Cd. Insurgentes, getting stuck and having to back up out of construction zones several times.

Insurgentes also has a Ley’s. We call it “Ley’s” as in “Ralph’s” or “Albertson’s” (which are both actually “Ralphs” and “Albertsons,” i.e. plural rather than possessive forms) but it is really Casa Ley with a big red logo reading “Ley.” It’s a supermarket chain we’ve seen all over Baja and Sonora. Interestingly, it was founded by Juan Lee Fong, a Chinese immigrant from Guangdong, in Sinaloa. Senor Fong took his “Lee” and changed it to “Ley.”

Like all supermarkets, each store differs and at the one in Insurgentes, Big Dog could not find any of the pastries he usually buys. Just donuts. I get some tamales and beer. When we come out, a boxer-like dog (short wide face, tiny ears) follows us. He’s been in a fight. He has a fresh scar on one side, under his eye. We give him bits of the mediocre tamales, then B’s leftovers from breakfast. He seems really hungry so we give him a big scoop of her premium dog food (the stuff which SHE is turning her nose up at these days!) and he is in heaven. By the time we leave, he is lying on the sidewalk, looking very satisfied.

Back over to the Cortes side… Down, down, down…the road is STEEP…to the coast. One of the first public beaches is Ligui, after Villa de Palmer and Danzante golf/spa resorts.

Ligui is a pretty beach, albeit rocky at water’s edge. Islands close by, sierras close by…when we get there, there’s only a Sprinter at one end, a Canadian couple coming out of the water with their boat, and Mexicans going in with theirs. The far end stops at a rocky hill that has a sanctuario.

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B loved the big beach — all to herself — until she got into an encounter with the husky-like Canadian dog with pale blue eyes.

It starts to dog us and we don’t want trouble, so Big Dog picks B up but the dog’s “person” tells us, “Oh, she’s friendly. She’ll probably just back away.”

Believing her, he lets B down and of course, she growls. Louder. Bares her teeth. But the other dog doesn’t get the message so B has to get super aggro. (The other dog was sniffing my crotch and that might have pissed off B some more. “How DARE you sniff My Woman’s crotch!!!”) She got so bitey that she was snapping and snarling even as Big Dog picked her back up.

While we’re having drinks, first the municipal police drive through, then the marines in camo. We wave to everybody but the marines stop, take photos of our rig, talk to us, want to see inside.

Big Dog plays Ritchie Valens “Come On, Let’s Go” for them on his guitar.

“Saben Ritchie Valens? La Bamba?”

When the marines hear it’s a Ritchie Valens song, they tell him to do it again. Well, sure. You’re the ones with the machine guns! How can we refuse?

The marines didn’t talk to any of the other campers – by now there were several on this beach – or check out their rigs. So why us? Were they just wanting to chat? B who was so aggro and bitey with the husky was amazingly cool during this whole thing, even when the men came close and made Big Dog open the back doors.

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Sunrise at Ligui

Scorpion Bay (January 20 2019)

Bailey: I’m not sure I like this place. Every house on this street has a vicious dog or two. It’s hard to find a place to poo or pee in peace. When I think I found a spot, a rabid dog pops out from behind the wall. Plus, The Woman and Man are gone a lot, leaving me in Sprockets for hours.

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We DID get to go to this great rocky beach where I finally got to run around a bunch, sniffing at dead fish and birds. It’s warm but really windy here.

Tanuki: Shu went all out for us – taking us to an empty beach where B can run free, roasting a whole chicken for lunch, and then, after everyone’s siesta, doing bodywork on Big Dog’s shoulders and back. Then, this morning, Shu and Trav have 2 big glasses of freshly squeezed grapefruit-tangerine juice waiting for us when we walk over to their house. Mmmm.

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“Let’s go to El Chile for their breakfast buffet,” they suggest. We seem to be the first customers at this semi-open air eatery and have our pick of eggs with ham, a cheesy enchilada egg thing, chilaquiles, poblano pepper with corn in a cream sauce, quesadillas, waffles and 2 kinds of soup (frijoles and mariscos). I was hungry and wolfed it all down. Shu gets two tubs of soup for take out, without paying extra! I was amazed that they’d let you do this at a buffet! (“We’re regulars and we tip them really well,” explained Trav.) The staff not only brought out two large cups for the soup but a styrofoam clamshell for the other stuff, too.

“Why don’t you take some with you?” Shu suggests but I decline. It’s hard to take more when you are stuffed. (Later, of course, I regret my hasty decision…)

The house battery is dead again so we are moving on. Through town, and down the coast…past El Juncalito and all the other playas…Ligui…the big resorts…and into the sierras… up up, up… to a high plateau. From there, you can see the flat farmlands around Cuidad Insurgentes and Constitucion.

B seems happy to be on the road again, jumping onto my lap to stick her head out, exhaling and sending “snottle” flying into my face.

At Insurgentes, we take the highway north. The road is decent except for a bit under construction north of the Lopez Mateos turn off. It’s terrible and super dusty. But thankfully, the pavement returns and only small portions are potholed. It’s the standard Southern Baja desert scene — shrubs and cordon cacti, some senitas…osprey nests on utility poles, some with birds in them. The nests make use of bits of plastic, wire and other human things (trash) in addition to twigs. One cool nest was built in the crotch of a cordon cactus. Livestock graze by the side of the road, sometimes venturing onto the road itself. Cow carcasses also litter the sides — skeleton and hide, after the vultures have feasted. At one point we see a flock in mid-feast.

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Past the (paved) turn-off to Comondu, we get to a (paved) turn-off to Las Barrancas. The sign also says San Juanico (Scorpion Bay) where we are headed, but we don’t believe it. On our map it looks like the long way there, and that there’s a better turn-off closer to Purisima. As we get near Purisima, we enter a big canyon with a river running down it. It’s not as big as the Grand Canyon, but still pretty impressive. There IS a turn-off to San Juanico but it’s a dirt road, so we go into Purisima — a nice oasis town along the river— to ask someone.

We find a sort of police station where Big Dog asks and is told to go back to the Las Barrancas turn-off. So, back we go. I see then that the dirt road gets to a river and there is no way across anyway.

It’s only 8 km from the turnoff to Las Barrancas (which looks like…nothing) and then 48 or 50 km to San Juanico. The road is really good all the way to San Juanico, where it ends at the far side of town. We turn around and go down to the bay where all the fishing boats are. Campers seem to be either way down the beach or up on a knoll but Big Dog doesn’t want to drive down the beach or back up the cliff, so we park under a big palapa in the middle of the beach.

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The moon rises above the mesa — giant and yellow against the pink sky of dusk. Last night was the Super Moon but it was too light at moon rise, and then when we looked again, it was high in the sky and unimpressive. Here, although a day late, it really was… Super!

(Unfortunately, I forget about the lunar eclipse and we completely miss it. It might have been a Real Something! Bummer…)

Surf Dogs (January 10 2019)

Bailey: It’s overcast in the morning when The Woman and I go walking. She pooped in the bushes last night and is trying to cover her tracks. Humans are funny. They don’t like to see poop but will eagerly pick it up. And then they think it’s gross when we chomp on horseshit. Doubly funny when you think of all the crap they eat.

Oh! And I got to that mysterious bag on the beach! It’s got something dead and wonderful in there! I had to get close and personal with it, rubbing my face in the smell. Mmmm. Dead thing! Of course, this sends The Woman in a tizzy.

“I can’t touch you now, Bailes,” she keeps saying, giving me her wrinkly face look. I want to tell her that it’s not a good look; that it will end up giving her more wrinkles. But more than that, I am severely disappointed when she pulls me away from the bag. But I still smell like it. Heh heh heh.

After we all have our breakies, we go out to watch the waves. It’s okay. People on boards, standing on water. Maybe it’s fun for them. Must be, because more and more people are coming, pulling on fake skin that makes them look like seals and going into the ocean.

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Once the sun sets, there are fewer people, which means fewer dogs. I get to run around a bit, do “catch the ball” with The Woman and The Man, but later, the Spanish speaking kids appear and they are dirt biking all around the dunes, scaring the shit out of me. I’m happy when they leave and it’s quiet again.

Tanuki: I get up early and think of exploring Big Nothing but signs say keep out — including people — and I notice there are people inside, looking out. Guards? I don’t know what was in that bag of dog food on the beach but now Bailey who rolled around in it stinks like a dead animal. And so do my hands from touching her! I have to wash my hands. Actually, I have to wash a lot. My face and bod, for one. Clothes. Towels. Most of all, Ms. B!!

More surfers keep arriving. Someone who got here last night said when things are good, you get real nice rides here, but it doesn’t happen often. Said it’s supposed to get better. I read that this place can get a beautiful right side that you can ride for 1.5 miles! From the jetty, we can see the pretty (small) barrel.

Bathroom privacy all but disappears. But we set up the chairs and table anyway, read and watch surfers. Waves do get really nice and the sun finally comes out.

The surf dogs are at it all day — til sunset. Then, all is quiet.

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Nice when the sun comes out…

Strange Plants, Giant Boulders (January 9 2019)

Bailey: It’s another Beautiful Morning! I do an early morning walk with The Woman, and then with The Man but by then, the tiny flies are back out and he wants to get going. More English speaking people are appearing and you know how all of them like to travel with dogs, so maybe it’s good we’re moving along.

Back on the rutted road, Sprockets is rocking back and forth. There’s farmed land out the window. After we get back on pavement, we stop at a gas station where they fill up Sprockets and then crawl underneath for something.

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IMG_0748The road goes through a lush valley, and then into an area with the strangest plants I have ever seen! Some of them look familiar – those spiny things called yuccas, others are tall wavy cones with soft, thin, curly things sprouting all over. And then, we enter the Big Boulder Zone. The boulders are giant!

We pull over in front of a little wooden building. It smells like smoke and grease and meat and gasoline. After The Woman walks me around a bit, they go inside. When they come out, they smell just like the building.

Sometimes I nap, sometimes I watch the scene from the window, sometimes I stick my head out (“Snottle!” The Woman says every time I snort) and sniff the air. Eventually, we get to another beach. There’s more trash on this one, including an intriguing looking/smelling bag on the beach. I’ll have to investigate it as soon as I can.

More people and cars are here. And more dogs. Ugh. Some of them want to come and say hi. Don’t they get it? I don’t like them. I don’t want them near me. I’m not a dog, like they are. So, just stop it, okay?

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Tanuki: The beach was so deserted yesterday but one after another, North American cars appear. Surfers from BC…Washington…who knew this was so popular. Glad it was deserted when we were there.

At El Rosario, we fill up with expensive diesel (P21/ltr), and then crawl under Sprockets to tie up some loose cables. The area around El Rosario is also fertile ag land. It seems busier, with more restaurants, hotels, etc. than before.

After the fertile valley, we enter the rolling hills of cirios. This is the big cirios biosphere that extends over a vast area. Pretty much from here to Guerrero Negro. But everything is stunningly green and there are pretty wildflowers everywhere. The cirios are so bushy now, they look like furry cones, with leafy stalks boinging out every which way. Yuccas are flowering, barrel cacti are plump… Even when we get to the Big Boulder Zone, there’s a lot of green between the rocks…

Until we cross over to the Marmol Mesa area. Here, it’s more Mojave-like: big boulders, small shrubs and not much else. We stop at a truck stop cafe — a little house in the middle of nowhere beyond Guayaquil. They have a montage of faded photos of big rigs out front, along with chairs made of old truck tires. It looks like it was once an RV park, too. Several pull through sites are on both sides of the house, with sewer outlets (and water inlet?). Once upon a time. It had water. Power, too. Someone’s good idea that didn’t work, I guess. (Like La Gringa RV spot at Bahia de LA?) There is also a pack of dogs lying around on the other side of the house. Glad they didn’t come out when B and I first walked around.

When we enter the “cafe” it’s cold and dark inside but at least it smells like food. Big Dog orders the machaca seca comida and I get the machaca burritos. That’s pretty much all they have and the machaca is really seca! And salty. And expensive. But out in the middle of nowhere, what can you expect?

We still don’t know if we’re going to stop in Catavina or not, but when we get there (and there are LOTS of hotels!) we decide to keep moving.

“We can do it on the way back,” we say.

So, now, do we go to Bahia de LA or??? We finally decide on Santa Rosalillita. I’d read that there’s a beautiful paved road to it. Another good idea that went nowhere, I guess. Mexico is filled with them.

After Punta Prieta, the road curves and goes down toward the coast. Out here there are yuccas and things that look like Joshua trees. Yucca brevifolia. A big wide road turns off of Mex 1 and goes down to Santa Rosalillita. There is something big and industrial down there, all kind of in ruins. Was it once a dock? packing plants? Other than that, there is a collection of funky buildings and homes, some abandoned, some not… We are reminded of Puertocitos.

In from the beach, there are little dunes and places to park between them. One spot is already taken by an SUV with tent on top. There are small but beautifully formed waves that look like fun surfing. A few pangas are resting on the small deserted beach.

But then, The Others begin arriving. One gringo vehicle after another, all with surfboards. Is that a caravan of surfers next to us? 4 or 5 vehicles corralled together in one spot. Lots of gringo dogs, too, so we have to be careful, but B still gets to run around a bit, sniffing a big bag of dog food washed up on the beach.

Unfortunately, my stomach begins to hurt so I am running out to poo in the bushes. Not having a useable toilet in Sprockets is a real drag since there are more and more campers and when it gets dark, a local walks around with a flashlight. He says he works here and looks out, so no problem staying. Or something like that. Maybe all the residents are employees of the Big Something That Never Was.

Surfin’ Safari (January 8 2019)

IMG_0605It’s a bright sunny morning! The Woman gets up and we go outside to walk, sniff, pee and look at birds. There are boats on the water and one of them looks like it has a family onboard. I find out that the other strange smell that reminded me of the pile of railroad ties at the ranch comes from the wooden boardwalk. I like it so much I push my face onto it and The Woman flips out. She stops me before I can squirm all over it.

“Ohh, no, Bailey. It’s covered in tar! Look at how black your face is now! And smelly!”

She dips a towel into the bay and starts scrubbing my face with it. Oh, great, now I smell like rotty fish, too. I smell many dogs but don’t see any until The Man joins us on our walk. One big white dog appears out of nowhere and starts walking towards me. Uh-oh. Grrrr. No, you are NOT going to sniff my butt. The Man and Woman know better than to stay there and quickly move away. Good.

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Looks scary, but it’s not real.

We go back to Sprockets where I get my morning yum-yum and they have pastries (The Man gave me a small taste!) and yogurt with bananas.

We drive down some dusty roads, continuing South, then off the pavement bouncing around until we get to another Beach. This one is really cool. It’s almost completely deserted, no dogs, with high dunes where you can go for a better view. I don’t have to be on a leash and I get to run around like crazy. Love it! Is this the kind of trip we’re on? Super cool!

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That’s The Woman, behind me.
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The Man fails to share his sandwich…

Tanuki: After San Quintin, we continue down Mex 1, through a valley of nopales farms. There are a lot of nopales farms here. The grilled ones in our molcajete were great. I must grill nopales more. The land is green now – very much like our ranch area.

After a military checkpoint, the road winds down, down, down through pretty green hills to the tiny town of El Rosario. I think Bocana de Rosario might be something but we find ourselves on the much longer dirt road to the Punta. Big Dog asks how far it is to the coast when a truck passes us. 15km? On this dirt road? It’s pretty well graded but… And then we make another wrong turn and it’s a shorter road to the beach, through a marshy area, then dunes, and finally ocean. Row after row of big waves crash down. It could be good surfing, or boogie boarding. If it weren’t so chilly.

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Bailey is running wild and free and looks so happy, running, running, running. Up she goes, to the top of the dunes. When I call she runs down to the beach and then back up. There are a few guys on the beach loading big round rocks. Later, more rock gatherers appear, as well as guys on a dune buggy, but other than that, it’s completely deserted.

 

Border Crossing (January 7 2019)

The Woman gets up after the sun rises and we go outside. It’s chilly and I have to be on a leash but I find a nice spot on a grassy knoll to do my Morning Business. Why does she pick up my poo whenever we’re away from the ranch? She doesn’t bother to do this at her own home.

Speaking of home, this is a really comfy home and I could stay here forever, but I see that The Man and Woman are packing up again. After I get my breakfast and they have their coffee, fruit and yogurt, we get back into Sprockets and keep driving South.

The Fast Road becomes a Slow Road as it goes through some buildings and The Man shows papers to a uniformed person outside. We’re heading to the side. The Woman and I have to get out while The Man drives Sprockets onto a kind of platform. Eventually 4 vehicles are on this platform and a loud metal thing goes over them as lights flash and a siren goes off. This happens again and again.

All during this time, The Woman and I walk around. It’s boring here. Just a lot of metal and concrete. The rubbery plants I walk on make me want to poo again. The Man is in a shed near the platform, with 3 other men.

Still no Sprockets. I have to poo again!

Finally, The Man gets back into Sprockets and drives to us. We get in but in no time at all, they are out again, walking to a Big Building, leaving me inside. It smells different out here. I can’t quite tell what it is…

After The Man and Woman get back to Sprockets, we are on the road again, still going South, still with the ocean out the window but it feels warmer now. The towns are dusty and loud but outside the towns, it’s not too different from home. The sun goes down while we’re still driving, driving, driving…until finally we stop at a small bay. Seagrass, birds, fishy smells… The Man and Woman leave me inside for a while and return, smelling like food – something creamy, something fishy, something boozy. I guess we’re sleeping inside Sprockets tonight. Nice and cozy!

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Tanuki: After our night in Encinitas with Dano, who helped Big Dog film his documentary about the Great Pyramid, and his lovely wife, we tank up at the last cheap diesel station north of the border and then get to the Tijuana Border Crossing. I had expected delays because it’s Monday morning, but things weren’t too bad until we get picked to be x-rayed. 4 vehicles are randomly selected (we are the only non-Mexicans) and everyone but the driver is asked to step out. Then, the vehicles line up on a pad where this metal arch on rails moves down the length of the pad. It goes back and forth, stopping for minutes, then again. And again. How long is this supposed to take? We must have been there for an hour. Long enough for Bailey to poop twice in the ice plants. Ha, take that!

When it’s all over, we have to go to the immigration office for our visas. They cost $59, I think for the 2 of us — seems like the price is different every time! Now we finally get rolling! No one has asked for Bailey’s papers.

There are 2 layers of walls at the border. The US wall and the Mexican wall which is being built by Mexicans! We see that there’s a lot more rolled up razor wire everywhere. Did they bring these in when the border was being stormed? There’s a tent city next to the main road out of Tijuana not too far from the border. Guess this is where the migrants are housed. There were tourist police cars around the area. I want to believe the police are there for the migrant’s protection rather than harassment.

We take the cuota for the first time. It’s nice and goes along the coast all the way to Ensenada. It’s an easy drive along a sunny coast. After a quick taco stop in Ensenada, we continue south towards San Quintin. The road is mostly good — pot holed in only a few places — but just beyond the valley of Santo Tomas (wine country!) as the road goes up and over towards the coast, there’s major road work and we’re stuck for a LONG time. There are all sorts of vendors — ice cream, veggie sticks, yaca (I find out later that it’s jackfruit), candies, candied apples, elote (fresh corn), drinks…

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The land is very very green and lovely. As we get into Camalu valley — a major ag area — there is more traffic and we’re slowed down by slower vehicles. The sun is setting, in a blazing ball. Once again, we find ourselves trying to get to San Quintin before dark! The sun sets before we get there and we have to find the turn off to Molino Viejo in the dark but we do and SURPRISE! The road is paved all the way to the restaurant and boat launch. It’s only 5:30 or so but already dark. It’s chilly! Big Dog really wanted to come here for the molcajete, he loved it so much the last time we were here. I order a Bohemia (for me, wanting to go “lighter” after all that wine last night) and a margarita (for Big Dog, a reward for a big day of driving), clam chowder and molcajete de mariscos. It is still really good, all hot and volcano-bubbly, with grilled nopales and queso fresco.

There are a few partying in the parking lot but they disappear quickly. We settle down to a movie and then sleep.