Good Morning Everybody,
WE MADE IT!!! 3,400 miles and 5 days later. That's right we arrived safe and sound about 8 p.m. What a joy to drive on a 4 lane illuminated highway for the last 20 miles home. The girls were waiting for us with an adult beverage in hand, candles glowing around the pool and dinner in the oven. We just relaxed for the evening which, by the way, is what we plan to do for the next 10 days.
It was an exciting day of travel yesterday. Let me give you the full account below.
Getting A Super Early Start On The Day
We had planned the Baja run to be about 1,000 miles. In reality, it's more like 1,100 miles. That meant we had to lay down a lot of miles yesterday. The day before we managed nearly 500 miles. That meant 600 miles of travel today - we needed a BIG push if we were going to land in Cabo without too much night driving.
We set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. but I was up at 5:00 a.m. to get the blog up yesterday. Only one problem, sure we could get an early start but would have to be in the dark - a BIG NO NO for Baja driving. It's just too dangerous as we found out the night before with only 1 hour of night driving.
Anyway, the sun, although not yet above the horizon, started to make it's early morning presence know by about 6:30 a.m. - we jumped in the Jeep and heading east to San Ignacio, the true half way point of the Baja run.
Heading east in the morning, Mr. Sun coming up over the horizon, uhmmm.... you guessed it, another BLINDING 2 hours of driving till the sun was high enough in the sky to ease the retinal pain. We laughed about it and just pressed on.
Across The Mountains, A White Knuckled Drive
We had spent the evening in the seaside town of Guerero Negro and were now heading east through San Ignacio in the middle of the mountains and hoped to pop out on the other side of the Baja at Santa Rosalia.
The drive across the mountains is always the most challenging. Cows wondering the road, steep fall offs, big trucks, the list goes on. Remember, the road is only two narrow lanes wide without any safety apron of any kind on either side.
The wind continued to gust up to 35 mph. You could easily be driving along on a long flat stretch at about 65 mph, have a gust of wind blow by, and shift the Jeep several feet to the right. If you were already to the right, two more feet off the road could be disastrous! We stayed near the center line.
The other challenging situation when doing the mountain part of the drive is contending with the full size tractor trailer rigs running the Baja constantly - MEX 1 is the only north/south road through the Baja. The big deal is this. A big rig coming down the winding roads is doing the same thing you are trying to do, not fall off the side of the road into the revenue below so they are riding the center line as well. They are also carrying tons of weight in their load and hate to lose speed so some truckers may cheat a little and take a bit too much of that center part of the road. That's when tragic disaster can strike - a head on collision with one of these highway monsters.
It was sad to see all the memorials to loved ones who had lost their life to one of these horrible accidents. Anywhere there was a bend in the road you could spot a small memorial - the memorials can be seen on MEX 1 throughout it's length.
The Most Beautiful Views In The World
After about 4 hours of driving we made one last final turn, and there it was in all of it's magnificent glory - The Sea Of Cortez, just an amazing site. We had been driving across the mountains at a fairly high elevation so to see the Sea of Cortez at this altitude was amazing.
We wound our way down the mountains and finally arrived in Santa Rosalia about 11:00 a.m. We gassed up, tried to pick up some road grub, but pickin's were kind of slim. That's breakfast you see on the counter. BTW, lunch was more of the same. Our dilemma was the fact that we would have loved to stop and explore more of these cool little areas down the Baja, but the clock was ticking and we knew how much time we had to get to Cabo San Lucas - no time for exploring.
Our next stop was to be Loreto, about 3 hours away. This was simply the MOST BEAUTIFUL part of our journey. The road took us in and out and up and down through the mountains. Travel was slow but the views were breathtaking!
We thought we would grab a quick bite, something like a fish taco or two, at this little restaurant we found along the way - no such luck. The owner wanted to make us a big breakfast or a chicken dinner. No time, we had been up since 5:30 a.m. - it was 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon and we still had 8 hours to go - we pushed on.
Getting Directions - Creatively Speaking, That Is
The next stop was back across the mountains, yes - back across the mountains for the third time heading to Ciudad Constitucion about 90 miles away. Checking the map showed that we would have covered nearly 80% of our Baja journey once we arrived. Looking at the map we were almost home.
The interesting thing about this part of the Baja, because of the much more southern lie of the land, the scenery changes from green cacti and some beautiful green areas to a stark gray and tan landscape. The change came rapidly too - very interesting.
After Ciudad Constitucion we were in the home stretch heading down to the capital city of the Baja, La Paz. We wanted to get there before dark so we could find our way through the city and get right back on MEX 1. We made it with time to spare landing about 5:00 p.m. Traffic was heavy - it was "rush hour". Our map told told us we needed to turn right soon after we arrived at La Paz. We passed one unmarked road and continued around the city. We saw lots of traffic make the upcoming unmarked right hand turn so we decided to follow the crowd.
We decided to ask for directions - neither one of us speak Spanish. I spotted a street vendor trying to sell birds - live birds - by the side of this very busy road. Our strategy was to slow down at the intersection, shout out the town we need to head towards, in this case Todos Santos, and see where he pointed.
It worked like a charm. I shouted once, he tried to sell me the live bird, I shouted again more loudly. He heard me, through his arm in the direction we need to go and we were off. Within 1/2 mile we saw the sign to Todos Santo and were on our way.
Finally - 3,400 Miles Later
We began the dash to Todos Santos - the road was a pristine, brand new 4 lane highway. What a joy to drive. We arrived at Todos Santos in what seemed like no time at all. It’s amazing how a good road will make the time and the miles fly by.
The sunset was once again spectacular over the desert and, since we were out of the high mountains, we got the benefit of the sun's twilight till about 6:15 p.m. The good road and slight additional daylight made for a nice drive.
Todos Santos to Cabo was only about 90 minutes away - we could almost see our girls and taste the adult beverages already. The challenge is to not let the excitement get you carried away and get careless driving. The road changed to a very challenging mix of construction and detours. It was hard to see, but we found ourselves in a car caravan behind a very slow moving tractor trailer.
It was dark and the road was winding - we were stuck. Several more miles down the road, it straightened out for just a bit and all ten of us at the mercy of the big rig, kicked it into high gear and went sailing around him. Such is life on the Baja Highway.
There they were, the lights of Cabo - we had nearly made it! One or two more turns through the city and a short 20 minute drive on the main highway and we would be home. It felt so good to see a real highway with real highway lights lighting our way. It felt like, "Ahhhhhh...." - the knuckles eased on the steering wheel.
We gave LaDawn and Sarah a call and let them know we were heading their way. You could hear them shout in the phone. 20 minutes later, 3,400 miles, 5 days, 66 hours of driving later we landed at our home away from home in San Jose del Cabo where we will spend the next 10 days just relaxing, enjoying good friends, great weather, and the sights, sounds, and tastes of this beautiful area.
Hey gang, that's it for me today. Plan to stop by tomorrow for a quick re-cap and some of my thoughts on this fantastic drive.
Thanks for hanging in there's with me this week - I just thought it would be fun to share the trip with you instead of pretending all was normal with regular blog posts. I promise I'll get back on the regular DPT schedule next week.
Have a great one and I'll see ya' tomorrow.
p.s. Hey folks, I’ve had horrendous time getting my laptop on-line down here. In fact, I borrowed Kent’s laptop to get the post on-line today. I get this past Monday’s post populated with images tomorrow.
See ya’ then, David