We'll rendezvous early for breakfast in San Diego, where if you didn't ride down with us, you'll meet and greet for the first time the GripTwister crew and your fellow riders before crossing the border together in Tecate and obtaining our tourist visas as a group. Then we'll head east a few miles on pavement before turning south onto dirt into the mountains, as we make our way towards Mike's Sky Ranch, the legendary off-roader's oasis perched high in the mountains by a beautiful stream.
Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you'll marvel at the swimming pool in the manicured courtyard while dining on a huge steak dinner, followed by some bench racing with new friends over a drink or two in their unique bar before hitting the sack. If it's a clear night (and it usually is), you'll want to take some time out to stare up at the beautiful Baja sky for a truly awe inspiring moment.
In San Felipe, rapid new land developments have been spurred on by Americans who've discovered that a warm, beachside getaway is available for less than half of what they'd spend in California. We'll gas up and grab lunch at one of it's restaurants on the "malecon", or boardwalk before continuing south. At one time, the road leading to Puertecitos was one of the most horrible paved road in the world, with man eating potholes impossible to avoid, but this stretch has just recently been paved. However, the new "vados", or dips in the roadbed are so steep and abrupt that careful attention must be paid so as not to hit one at high speed unprepared for it. On the other hand, if you are prepared... they can be utilized as motorcycle launching pads! Before too long, the nice new pavement ends at the small town of Puertecitos, where many an American expat calls home.
From here to Gonzaga Bay, the road is harsh and winding, with huge rim bending rocks sticking out of the roadbed everywhere and occasional stints of long straightaways with washboard so stiff and tall you'll forget you're on a "highway", but the views of the Sea of Cortez meeting the desert are simply spectacular, and you'll realize in quick order that this road was just meant for a motorcycle!
Reaching our destination, we'll enjoy a tasty dinner as we look out across beautiful crescent shaped Gonzaga Bay towards Punta Final from Alfonsina's, a fly-in restaurant and motel that's popular with private pilots from the US.
Wake before sunrise, and you are in for a real treat here, as they don't get any better than this. After breakfast, we'll mount up and head south to Coco's corner, where we'll stop for a cool beverage while enjoying the company of this Baja icon. After chatting for a bit and signing his book, we'll head to the beautiful Arroyo Calamajué to take an "off the beaten path" route out to paved Highway 1.
Bighorn sheep, the "Fountain of Youth", ruins of an old Spanish mission, and a large vein of green slate cut by the arroyo are but some of the things we'll likely see in this, one of the most difficult bits of terrain on our trip. After a bit of a workout, we'll turn onto Highway 1 and head up to Cataviña as our journey takes a northerly turn.
As we approach Cataviña, you'll see enormous boulders scattered about the land as if by the hand of a giant, -some in large piles forming small mountains- while growing everywhere in between are a myriad of cactus and the fabled cirio trees of Baja, nicknamed "Boojum".
The Boojum is the strangest tree you'll ever lay eyes on, some growing into all kinds of stange contortions.
Passing by an occasional spring, we'll even see the rare "blue palms" of Baja. We'll grab lunch in Cataviña, where after filling our bellies, we'll fill our tanks before continuing north on Highway 1 through high desert country. Nothing boring about this stretch of pavement, however, as we're cruising through some stands of cactus that could only be described as "forest"... it's so thick.
Heading off pavement once again, we'll pass several turquoise mines in the hills as we take the "backway" up to Camalu, where we'll stay in a great hotel right on a bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean. A hearty seafood or traditional dinner and some drinks inevitably leads to some of the best bench racing, but the fresh ocean air and the roar of the surf will soon be lulling you to sleep...
We'll grab a taco lunch in Erendira before continuing up the coast. Soon though, the route turns inland as we make our way through some of Baja's "wine country". A few more miles and we're gaining some serious altitude quickly, as our route meanders towards the Constitution National Park once again.
The increasingly thick pine forests are an indication of our altitude as well as our proximity to our last night's destination. We'll do a little sight-seeing from our bikes as we drive through the National Park that surrounds Laguna Hanson, with it's nice campgrounds at the "lake's" edge before heading to the nearby lodge we're staying at.
A fitting dinner of venison, if you like, awaits you at the day's end. A soft bed combined with the fresh mountain air should be all you need to combat the thoughts rushing through your head of the good times and great riding you've enjoyed over the last 4 days that threaten to keep you awake all night.
It's a good bet we'll see other off-road riders on our way out, as the mountains in this area are loaded with good riding of the single track variety as well. Approaching the border, a brief stint on a high-speed tollway gets us to Tecate, where you'll enjoy all the tacos you can eat as we take our last meal together as a group. We'll cross the border in Tecate and enjoy the winding road through the California countryside back to San Diego and the staging area before saying goodbye and exchanging contact info with new friends.