Thursday, November 26, 2015

To Tecate and into Baja!

I traveled through the mountains of extreme southern California to stay one more night near Tecate, CA (USA side) in order stage for a morning crossing at Tecate. Potrero County Park is apparently a common place to spend a night before / after crossing based on the ranger comments. It was a pretty basic county park, but with ‘KOA’ style cabins, as well as normal camp spots with water and electric!
It was interesting being so close to the border. During the drive in I went past a secondary border patrol station, probably 25 miles from the Mexican border. I guess to check for any hitchhikers etc… picked up along the road. Additionally, there were numerous aircraft in the air most of the evening. Once I was asleep though, you’d have to land next to the van to bother me.

Here we go! Tecate California USA

Tecate is apparently a pretty quiet crossing as was suggested by Adian and Madison. There was no line of cars to cross, and a short inspection of my vehicle before I was waved through. It was good to read up a bit though, and realize that I had to go back after crossing and get a Mexican Immigration Card, which is required if you venture outside of the ‘tourist zone’ (basically along the border, as far south as Ensenada), or if your stay will be longer than 72 hours. Trouble will apparently be had if you don’t have this, and they did not make it well known as they waved me through in the vehicle.
Once through a traffic detour in Tecate Mexico, I was on the road (MEX 3) heading south toward Ensenada through the northern Baja wine country. There were some beautiful vineyards and modern wineries as the road wound through the hills toward the coast. It was not as well marketed as Napa Valley, but definitely had some of that same feel.

MEX 3 hits the coast just north of Ensenada proper. I continued south and stopped at a few placed to check out the beach. During my 2nd stop, a local approached me and asked to take a picture with Byron. He said that this was his dream vehicle. I obliged and we chatted for a bit. I gave him my card and he promised to send a couple of shots.
The beach at Ensenada, BC.

I picked up a few things at the super market and headed south of town to camp at Las Canadas, which is really a water park with a few camping spots. For my first night camping, I wanted to be around some others, and in a secure location. With this not being prime camping season, the place was actually empty, and unfortunately in view of the highway, however they did have a controlled front gate and perimeter fence. Being my first night camping in Mexico, I won’t say that it was my most comfortable experience, but all was good in the morning. As I went to the shower house in the morning, I met a couple of folks traveling in a EuroVan style VW, but with German plates! Turns out they had shipped it over and traveled up through Mexico, were heading up into and across the USA, and would ship the vehicle back from Baltimore and fly themselves home. Cool stuff!
Traveling south of Ensenada got much more laid back. Small towns, less traffic, and smaller roads. My destination was Punta San Jacinto, a reputed surf break known as ‘Shipwrecks’. Maybe the photos show why!

The ‘road sign’ to Punta San Jacinto.
After about a 10k drive on a rough dirt road, a row of houses appeared near the shore, and some fisherman were pulling a small boat out of the ocean with their take of Urchin for the day. I met a couple of American surfers watching the same and checking out the waves. They pointed me to the north of the row of houses where the camping area was, and explained that Ramon would be around to collect the $5 fee later in the evening. I got settled, setup the surfboard, and hit the waves. 

Punta San Jacinto from the road about 3k out.

Closeup view of the shipwreck.

And a wider angle…
The row houses along the shore. A couple were for sale at US$ ~50,000

I found that I’ve got just enough warmth (wetsuit etc…) with me for the water temp here. The bottom is rocky, and by the time that I got my gear ready and went out, the other surfers were done and walking back to their villa. I went out for a short bit and caught a few waves, though I did not get up this time. I decided that it would be best to not surf alone in case of whacking my head etc… and went in, however satisfied that my warmth will work here.
The surf break at Shipwrecks

Dwayne up and on a wave!

A couple of sunset shots, and the nearly full moon on Tuesday evening.

Trying for an artsy shot of Byron.

Wednesday was a semi-stormy day with lots of wind and no realistic waves for someone of my (lack of) ability. I did some long walks along the beach and met up with some nice folks. Ernie comes down every few weeks from San Diego. He was heading into town, so I caught a ride with him to pick up a few things. He’s quite a character, and is all about surfing, though he wants the condition to be prime in order to be bothered.

Breakfast with a flock of pelicans nearby on the rocky beach.
One of my beach walks encountered ‘La Casa Grande’ in progress! My estimate ~6,000sf. REALLY big for down here.

Sunset on Wednesday.
It’s now Thursday and I’ll wait it out here until at least Saturday for conditions & folks to surf with. To go south in search of warmer water is a substantial undertaking that I’m not sure I want to do this trip. I’ll make that call on Saturday. For today, I’m watching the conditions and getting ready to hop in the water, while preparing for a Byron-special fish-tacos meal for my holiday meal.
Happy Thanksgiving and Hasta luego!

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