Baja California Sur
Los Cabos, Todo Santos, and La Paz
Feb. 17 to Apr. 1, 2009

Michael J. Ferguson

Journal Index


1  Introduction
2  Montreal to San Jose del Cabo, Tuesday, Feb. 17
3  San Jose del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas, Wed. Feb. 18
4  Cabo San Lucas, Thurs. Feb. 19 to Sat. Feb. 21
5  Cabo San Lucas to El Pescadero Sun. Feb. 22 to Tue. Feb. 24
6  El Pescadero, Wed. Feb. 25
7  Todo Santos, Thurs. Feb. 26 and Fri. Feb. 27
8  Todo Santos to La Paz, Sat. Feb. 28 and Sun. Mar. 1
9  La Paz to El Triunfo, Thurs. Mar. 5 to Fri. Mar. 6
10  El Triunfo to Rancho Verde, Sat. Mar 7
11  Rancho Verde to Los Barriles, Sun. Mar. 8
12  Los Barriles, Mon. Mar. 9
13  Los Barriles to Santiago, Tue. Mar. 10
14  Santiago to San Jose del Cabo, Day 1, Wed. Mar. 11
15  Santiago to San Jose del Cabo, Day 2 Thurs. Mar. 12
16  La Playita to Antonio's, Fri. Mar.13
17  Fiesta 2009, San Jose del Cabo
18  San Jose del Cabo and Puerto Los Cabos Estuary
19  Antonio's Camp to Montreal, Tues. Mar. 31 and Wed. Apr. 1
20  Maps

1  Introduction

This trip is the last of my ``frequent flyer'' jaunts. It replaced my aborted trip from Seattle to Sacramento in May of 2008.. That trip was cancelled because I cut the end off my finger with a circular saw two weeks before I was supposed to leave. A flap of skin stopped it from falling off, and it was sewed back on at the Montreal General.

American Airlines reinstated the frequent flyer miles for $100 but I was about 300 miles short for the trip to San Jose del Cabo. I could have flown to San Diego but I didn't really want to ride through Tijuana??. For another $100, I was able to get another 1000 miles so I was able to avoid the most dangerous places in Mexico.

2  Montreal to San Jose del Cabo, Tuesday, Feb. 17

American Airlines changed my reservation several times but finally ended up with a 6:00am departure to Chicago and a 50 minute connection to San Jose del Cabo. My neighbour, Tony, drove me to the airport at 1:00am and I waited, with several others for the gate to open at 3:00am (3:30am really). I worked very hard to keep the bags below the 23kg (50 pounds) limit and, was delighted that they were not even weighed. Even with deicing, we arrived essentially on time in Chicago, and left after the pilot said all the baggage was on board.

When we arrived in San Jose del Cabo. indeed my bicycle and trailer were there. There was some damage though. I left some wheels on the trailer to allow me to easily move the bicycle and trailer if their were no baggage carts. There were no baggage carts and the wheels were ripped off. A porter moved my stuff to the lounge, and I put it together to a very attentive, and inquisitive audience.

My campground, for which I had GPS coordinates, was only 10km away. Unfortunately, when I arrived, it was not there. I asked about it and the answer was ``No se'' - I don't know in Spanish. It may have been replaced by a plant nursery, but I am not certain.

The kindness of the day was the gift of a bottle of spring water for a guy who stopped his pickup while I was debating about buying some. My hesitation, as I was outside the store, was that I had no pesos.

Unfortunately, my Lonely Planet was at the bottom of my trailer so I didn't have the spirit to attempt to dig it out and find the possible hotels. Those that I passed obviously would cost more than my flight. I probably would have eventually dug it out, but I found a huge, undeveloped area, opposite the Mega Shopping Center. There was development up the hill, but not in the flatland where I was able to find clean, isolated spot. That was my place for the night.

3  San Jose del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas, Wed. Feb. 18

I had intended, when I broke camp, to go back to a large store to find some camping gas. However, I wanted to see if there might be a better place for camping, but I found none, and the road going south to Cabo San Lucas was very difficult to cross so I ended up continuing all the way.

This route is the Cabo Corridor, where almost every beach has been encroached upon by huge hotels.

There were a few beaches that were still public and devoid of hotel development. The hills had real cactus scrub, but some of the gardens by the road showed some help by the owners.

I arrived in Cabo in mid-afternoon, and found my campground of choice, Club Cabo. The GPS coordinates on the website I consulted were wrong, but I had found the correct ones using the Club Cabo map and Google Earth. I gave the correct coordinates to the owner, and after several days, we found the errant website. Hopefully they will be corrected.

4  Cabo San Lucas, Thurs. Feb. 19 to Sat. Feb. 21

My three days in Cabo were spent wandering around town and trying to find some camping gas, and replace my Swiss Army knife that I managed to lose. I was unsuccessful on both counts. The only gas I could find were the large Coleman cannisters. However, I did not have to do without morning coffee, because Martin, the owner of Club Cabo gave me an old cannister he had around.

The center of Cabo is really the Marina. It is filled with small yachts,

Outside the harbour, is the anchor points for the huge cruise ships.

The huge point at the end of harbour is Land's End. The road to it, straight up the side of the cliff, dissuaded me for riding up. I did continue to the circle at the end of the road, passing a naval station and avoided running into the sailors that were out training.

There was a public beach at the end of the road with families that had to walk in because of training.

The developers seem to be optimistically building up every hill around Cabo. Some are definitely to arduous for me and my bicycle.

Sometimes the optimism outruns the funds.

The Plaza Bonita, near Starbucks, reminded me, in spirit of Waikiki.

5  Cabo San Lucas to El Pescadero Sun. Feb. 22 to Tue. Feb. 24

I was warned by Martin that there were very steep hills on the way to Todo Santos, the major town on the west coast, and indeed there were. In all cases, someone walking could make it up faster than my riding/rest regimen up the hill. The first two days had no services at all and I was more than a little worried that I would run out of water. I started with about 8 litres (2 gallons) and was down to less than 2 litres, on my third day, with two days to go before Todo Santos. Fortunately, I found a small store and was able to buy enough for the next two days.

I saw several people with packs and bags walking along the highway. One caught up with me while I was resting, sweating profusely, and obviously needed some water. I gave him my water bottle and he drank half of it.

Although there were no services, the desert was well fenced by the road with Private Property signs. However, there were occasionally wide highway right of ways so I was able to find two, nicely secluded places. The first overlooked a canyon and second was deeply inside some brush.

This is very dry country, and the first trip I have been on when I did not use my rain fly.

Although dry, there seem to be many birds. I saw frigate birds, and vultures, and even a hummingbird, and a cactus wren. Although there were many warning signs for cattle, the farm animal of choice is the goat. It is hard to believe that they can get any nourishment from these shrubs.

I fully expected to have to find another place by the side of the road, but arrived, unexpectedly, at El Pescadero. I had been told at Club Cabo that there, indeed, was a campground at the top of the hill. Coming into town was almost at the top of the hill. The sign for the Pescadero Surf Camp, and it was about 30m up a dirt road. This was passable to pushing, and I made it up. Ordinary unpaved roads in Baja are sand, and they make snow seem benign. It is a very pleasant place and welcome change from the past two nights.

6  El Pescadero, Wed. Feb. 25

I had intended to go to Todo Santos today, but after a long morning writing the journal and first report, and a lack of a wifi connection I could use, I decided to stay. It is indeed a pleasant place. In the afternoon I was allowed to use the ethernet in the office ans was able to send the report. I will try to leave early tomorrow morning.

7  Todo Santos, Thurs. Feb. 26 and Fri. Feb. 27

It was a short, and early cool morning ride to Todo Santos where I found El Litro exactly where the GPS said it should be. The campground is pleasant and clean, but not very inspiring.

Todos Santos is small, and over run with tourists. These were obviously off a bus, probably from Cabo San Lucas, with their pontificating guide, waiting patiently to go in the Mision Santa Rosa de Las Palmas

The mission is probably the central feature of the town.

Under ordinary times, the plaza would have been a feature attraction but today there is some interference.

The gazebo, or palapa, sits at the east end and is rather difficult to appreciate at the moment.

This is the center of town, full of stuff shops, art galleries, and bougainvillea.

The Centro Cultural Prof. Nestor Agundez Martinez is not really for tourists but for teaching and activities for the residents.

8  Todo Santos to La Paz, Sat. Feb. 28 and Sun. Mar. 1

My neighbour from British Columbia, was very enthusiastic about the new 4 lane upgrade of the Mex19 that was being built on the way to La Paz. The Baja Sur 4 lane roads have generous paved shoulders so they reduced the hassle dramatically from big truck drivers worried that the oncoming truck is about to cause misfortune. From his description, I thought it might have been just out of town, but it had only been arrived about halfway from the Mex1 junction. It also confirmed my worry that the right of way had been completely denuded of vegetation making camping impossible.

Only one side had been completed when I found it so I rode, easily, against traffic on the shoulder. I opted to stop very early in a huge area that had been bulldozed and graded hard for the extraction of sand. It had the feature, after some examination, of having a thicket of shrubs on the far side that made me invisible from casual people coming in to look around. Virtually anywhere in the area was invisible from the highway.

In addition, they had left a tree, that, perhaps had been deemed too pretty to demolish.

The next day was relatively flat, on the paved shoulder, almost all the way to La Paz. The old road near town did not have shoulders, but now had a parking?? lane.

The desert is mostly scrub green, but there are the occasional flowers.

I found the Cresta Blanca trailer park and set up my tent. It is expensive, has some huge motorhomes, but has free wifi and even toilet paper. My rig is a little smaller than the others.

La Paz, Monday Mar. 2 to Wed. Mar. 4 The office was closed when I arrived, so I had to pay and obtain the WIFI code on Monday morning. I made my first of several restocking runs to the Walmart that was a km or so down the street. The food, and wine, supplies are good, but the camping supplies are abysmal. The rest of the day was very lazy, watching six huge motorhomes all arrive together, evidently a touring caravan, and cooling off, occasionally, in the pool. The caravan people had a pool party with ``tapas'', to which I was invited. It was sort of fun.

On Tuesday, I rode into the centre of town, and along the entire length of the maleçon, which Lonely Planet claims is the most beautiful in all of Mexico. I went from south to north.

About half way, there is a pier that whose arch reads Puerto de Ilusion. Perhaps it is not really a pier for boats.

A little farther north is the Parque de la Amistad which has a gazebo that appears to be a favourite picture spot for tourists.

Right beside it the beach was being used for a pickup game of soccer, and in the afternoon, as a class exercise area.

This pigeon?? commemorates the establishment of the national park on the nearby islands.

Not all boats relied on petro power for locomotion.

This part of the maleçon had an abundance of seabirds. Perhaps the major reason was that there were three fishermen cleaning a catch and throwing the remnants to them.

The egret was not really participating.

The last two features were a small park with a fake bridge, and a play area for children.

Later, I stopped by the city hall to enjoy a rare bench in the shade.

Much to my delight, the store behind me sold real Swiss Army Knives so I was able to replace the one I had lost. Just around the corner was the Zocalo or main square.

On the way to a taco lunch, I passed this house.

Other buildings have been reduced to a facade.

9  La Paz to El Triunfo, Thurs. Mar. 5 to Fri. Mar. 6

I stopped to get a cold drink at the Mex-1/Mex-19 intersection, and found that every truck went down Mex-19. This made me hope that the truck traffic would be minimal on Mex-1. It was indeed low, but not minimal. In fact, it was more than made up by huge motorhome caravans, each of 6 to 8 motorhomes that passed me. I found a place to camp behind an open farm type post gate, without a chain lock, and broke my rule about going through gates. The place I found was deep in the scrub and out of view of the beehives, internal roads, and highway. The gate was open when I left.

There was nothing really steep on to El Triunfo, which is a town of 320 souls. It has, of course, the mandatory church, and quite unusual paved side streets.

From its glory days, it has two smoke stacks, the round one designed by Gustav Eiffel.

It also has a music museum.

After a beer at the only restaurant, a pizza place, I went a short way out of town and found a place to camp. Any alcohol wipes me out while riding. It didn't many years ago but does now.

10  El Triunfo to Rancho Verde, Sat. Mar 7

The old road must have been a little rugged.

I also noted that not all in the desert is brown and scrubby.

and some of the insects were quite colourful, even in death.

The morning started with a short downhill, followed by a long slow climb, and a long steep down from the top of the mountain to the major town of San Antonio. It was not really very big, with few services, and the farm animals right downtown by the main road.

There was a paved highway going somewhere off Mex-1, with a nice house.

The penalty for the ride down was a steep, unrenlenting, seemingly endless slog up. About halfway, there was an overlook. I hoped that this was the top, but no such luck.

There are indeed flowers in the desert. The red ones are on the tips of branches on a tree with no leaves.

I arrived at the Rancho Verde RV park in the early afternoon. The GPS coordinates were not exact, but close enough. My neighbour from Red Deer, Alberta has been putting oranges on the saguaros and trees and the birds love them. An amazing collection of cardinals, baltimore orioles, woodpeckers, brown thrushes??, hummingbirds, and even some stellar jays made the afternoon, watching from a borrowed chair quite enjoyable.

11  Rancho Verde to Los Barriles, Sun. Mar. 8

Today was a relatively easy ride with a long gentle climb, before it started down in earnest for the coast. I stopped to take some pictures of these flowers and an erosion gully by the road with my bicycle parked on the white shoulder line when a bus driver stopped, and chewed me out for having my bicycle six inches in the lane. He said it was dangerous and stupid. I wonder what he felt when I was actually riding on the road and using up more space.

The currently dry arroyos must have a fantastic amount of water in them during the wet season.

As I got lower, the saguaros gave way to deciduous trees, and the goats to cows.

This erosion sculpture shows that there is indeed much water at times.

12  Los Barriles, Mon. Mar. 9

Today was a lazy day around town and fixing equipment. This is a fishing and beach area, neither of which really interest me. When I was a kid, we always went fishing for dinner, not for sport.

13  Los Barriles to Santiago, Tue. Mar. 10

There was a climb out of Los Barriles up to the plateau. This was a merciful time because it was cloudy, and even the occasional, only occasional, drop of rain.

The plateau did not last forever, but the drop into the next arroyo was quite surprising ... it had some water.

My destination today was Santiago, a small town about 2km off Mex-1. It was a steep downhill, and I know I am going to pay in the morning. It will take sometime to get back up in the morning.

The major reason that I opted to come down was that the Hotel Palomar allows tenting in their back courtyard. It is really a delightful place.

14  Santiago to San Jose del Cabo, Day 1, Wed. Mar. 11

After an excruciating climb out of the Santiago river valley, it was a day to observe desert flowers.

Even the saguaro's were in bloom.

Baja does not have the equator so it makes do with a memorial to the Tropic of Cancer

15  Santiago to San Jose del Cabo, Day 2 Thurs. Mar. 12

After a short climb out of the river valley, it was mostly downhill to San Jose del Cabo. I arrived there very early in the morning, and after some brake repairs - my rear wheel almost came off - I arrived in the ``historic'' centre of town, the Plaza Mihares. The Mison de San Jose del Cabo Añuiti is the focal point of the plaza, but the plaza angles off in several directions.

They were setting up booths for a celebration in about a week so I shall, hopefully see, what it is all about then.

I continued over to La Playita whose real name is Pueblo La Playa, or possibly Puerto Los Cabos to find the El Delfin Blanco that allowed, according to Lonely Planet, camping, but was unsuccessful, and stayed instead at the upscale Marina Inn at La Playita.

16  La Playita to Antonio's, Fri. Mar.13

The new marina project, Puerto Los Cabos is transforming the small pueblo. There is a large area for yachts, but also a new spiffy area for fishing boats, and facilities for cleaning fish.

One unexpected delight was a plumeria in a small square by the harbour.

Joanne, the owner of the Marina Inn is friends with Osa, the owner of the El Delfin Blanco and phoned her to tell of my problem. Osa told me that they had stopped camping two years ago, but her friend, Antonio, had a place on the beach behind the lighthouse where there was camping. Antonio's main job is working on publicity for the fisherman's cooperative, so she found him there, brought him over to meet me, and have him show me his place. It is definitely not upscale,

but Antonio did have a nice shaded place for my tent under the mesquite trees.

A golf course is just inland, and there are great views of the beach and ocean from my tent.

Antonio's hill is a favourite playground of ATV riders of all ages.

It also has a profusion, in the surrounding desert, of isolated wild flowers.

and some that could only be called flowers if you were quite generous.

and then there were some cactus, one with a yellow rose.

The mesquite trees attracted birds.

The most interesting, though, were a pair of cactus wrens that began, and finished building a nest in the mesquite beside my tent.

This enterprise was not without danger and annoyances. The annoyances were two bigger birds, possibly sage thrashers that insisted on chasing them whenever they saw the wrens on the ground.

The danger was posed by the young feral cats that prowled the area.

Whenever they saw one of them, it was up to the top of the post followed by a call of warning for the other one.

In addition to the birds, the blacktail jackrabbits and chipmunks (really whitetail antelope squirrels) were the only wildlife, other than birds and reptiles, that I saw in Baja.

The whitetail antelope squirrel, was indeed quite different than the Eastern Chipmunk, as it tended to keep its tail folded over its back, even when running.

The golf course was barely used, and Antonio said they are losing lots of money. I stopped playing golf in Hawaii in 1974 when I decided it was too hot, and too expensive at $20 per 18 holes and took up surfing instead. This course is hot, at times very windy, and costs $180. The rough made it quite difficult to find balls, especially when they were hit 50 yards off the fairway as many of these golfers did. In many cases, they did not even bother to look. Occasionally, they would find their ball in the dirt and play it, but many times they would just pick it up and throw it back on the fairway, usually forward, but sometimes backward. Finding lost balls was easy, but some were so far in hell that I couldn't get them out with my bare hands.

It was not even easy to give the balls back for free. The most common reply was ``I am good!''. I find it amusing the moral purity is equivalent to having enough golf balls. My only really successful ploy was to leave them in circle on a tee. Here they usually all disappeared. If I were around when they were being taken, no one would take more than one or two.

I stayed at Antonio's until March 31 when I left to fly back home, and rode frequently to San Jose to get supplies and visit the Fiesta and Estuary. There was water, so there was life.

17  Fiesta 2009, San Jose del Cabo

When I arrived, they were setting up for the 2009 fiesta in the Plaza Mijares.

There were evening rock shows that I missed because it was too dangerous to ride at night, and they are not my style.

This fiesta did not leave out the children. The first shows were a puppet show followed by a clown, and there were several booths set up for the young artists.

The first major event outside the square was a parade. I was having my breakfast taco when it started to pass so I missed pictures of the first floats that all had children. The rest of the floats had adults.

The two cowboys were able to get fancy footwork from their horses, but one horse slipped and fell on the paved road. Fortunately neither it, nor the rider was hurt.

The balloon sellers were impressively loaded

Along with the parade, booths, and plaza shows, there was an Agricultural Exhibition. They were very proud of their livestock, and there is no question that they looked better fed than what I saw in the desert.

18  San Jose del Cabo and Puerto Los Cabos Estuary

Between San Jose del Cabo and Puerto Los Cabos, separated from the ocean by the beach, is the Estuary.

It apparently is an important fishing area, and hopefully, the dead fish I saw were only transitory.

The real attraction are the birds.

One coot was rather badly injured and apparently did not survive until the afternoon.

West of the Estuary was the beach in front of the big hotels. If walking was too much of a strain, you could always ride a horse.

This is the beach in front of the singular inappropriately named Grand Mayan hotel.

19  Antonio's Camp to Montreal, Tues. Mar. 31 and Wed. Apr. 1

Antonio promised, when I arrived, to drive me to the airport. The Puerto Los Cabos development has built a new road that is definitely not bicycle friendly. It goes over a large hill and has 9% grades. I had found a way to finesse it by going through the Marina, and along their private road. It had security guards, and once I was hassled, but never stopped. This totally eliminated the hill, and probably was where the original road went.

I was a little worried when I didn't see Antonio's SUV for a couple of days but he came over on Tuesday, to say his sister would drive me because his car was not working well.

I packed my bicycle and trailer for a smaller car, and she, with Antonio, drove me to the airport. The rest of the trip was uneventful, via LAX and JFK and I arrived in Montreal early. Tony, my neighbour, picked me up and I was home.

20  Maps

This is the link to the Google Earth map of the trip. It starts at Cabo San Lucas because my GPS, for some reason, reset itself and was not recording the track to the memory card. I didn't discover this until I was in Cabo San Lucas.

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.02.
On 22 Apr 2009, 09:54.