49.6 mi / 13.6 mph / 1015 ft. climbing
Home: Lorena’s AirBNB
We got breakfast in the restaurant again, and then I dropped over to the abarrotes next door for a couple provisions while Rett returned to the room. When I got back, a friendly blue-eyed husky we had met the day before was sitting right in front of our door. “That’s kind of cute”, I thought, until I opened the door and Rett told me she had just been attacked! The dog had given her at least three bites, none vicious enough to break the skin, but one was enough to leave a long visible and painful welt down her leg through her pants. What the fuck?! That husky had seemed so friendly!
And that’s when Rett specified: it had been another dog who attacked her (perhaps in a form of overzealous, but unrelenting and unacceptable play). And when I was unable to respond to her yelling to come protect her, the husky had come running in my stead, getting between Rett and the attacking dog, and escorting her back to her room, where it then laid down to stand guard.
Rett likes to say “dogs are better than people”, a phrase that infuriates me (forced to choose between a planet without dogs or a planet without other humans, I don’t think there is much doubt which planet most people would choose). And here was an example where we were both right. Thank you, Sentinel Husky, for doing a better job than even most good humans, and fuck you, asshole dog, for being a bigger jerk than even most bad humans. And thanks to us, for giving the husky (who was, unusually for Mexico, wearing a harness) some good pets yesterday that must have let her know that we were people worth protecting.
Speaking of dogs. When we arrived at the abandoned-looking motel yesterday, I had noted a couple of black running shoes hanging from a couple posts of rebar sticking out of the cinder-block wall at eye-level. Whatever, just some weird random junk left behind by someone. But this morning, I noticed that they had moved, and were now neatly placed on the rooftop above one of the motel rooms. Ah ha! It is someone smarter than me (or someone who had simply learned his lesson sooner): you gotta protect your shoes from the dogs! Well, he may be smarter, but his feet must also stink at least as much as mine do.
More-interestingly, we had noticed a single gringo guy also getting breakfast at the restaurant, but I hadn’t noticed a car pull up when he arrived. And there wasn’t a car anywhere in the lot of the hotel. Is it possible that he’s another bike tourer, with his bike in his room like ours? Too bad we didn’t talk with him in the restaurant! Either way, we didn’t see any more of him before we rolled out.
The ride today was scheduled to be the longest we’ve done in more than four months. But hopefully not the hardest, since the amount of climbing was relatively low, and, more importantly, the strong winds were forecasted to be giving us a good push for much of the day.
It began with a continuation of yesterday, an unexpectedly green form of desert, with enticing mountain valleys beckoning on the horizon. And soon we could see the source of the greenness: hints of the ocean glimpsed through the cuts of those valleys. Which made the sight of osprey nests (perched both on electric poles, and purpose-built platforms to keep them off the electric poles) make a bit more sense: although the nests are surrounded by dry land, a flight of a mile or so will let the osprey find some fish to carry back to the nest. After doing that commute a dozen times a day though, I bet they really wish that the Mexican government would have built the highway (and thus the power lines) just a little closer to the water.
We went through our third military checkpoint, and the first one where they paid any attention to southbound traffic. The two uniformed service members, one holding a large automatic weapon, asked where we came from and where we were going, but limited their inspection of our luggage to looking under the bright yellow rain-cover that I put around my left-rear pannier for visibility. Just enough to make people aware that they could really do a thorough inspection, which seems to me like the right way to do security. It’s initially a little disconcerting to see the military vehicles traveling the highway, which we see once every day or two, always in pairs, and always with at least a half dozen desert-camouflaged soldiers sitting in the open rear truck bed with their large guns in their hands, ready to fire at any moment. But they frequently wave and give us thumbs-ups, just like everyone else, and surely contribute to the overall feeling of safety that we have here in Baja.
Even before we began to see new wildflowers amongst the green, Rett referred to this area as the “cheerful part of the desert”. Add some bright colors to the mix, some frisky cows, and finally miles of flat plain, and it became yet another “new” landscape in this land of ever-changing views. What visual wealth this is in this narrow ribbon of earth!
The winds really picked up as predicted, letting us cruise the flat lands at nearly 18mph. The problem was, we were getting hungry, and in this open desert, there was nowhere to stop and eat a relaxing lunch without the wind ripping things away from us. Finally we found a large bush on the left side of the road that we were able to backtrack to, and with the bush behind and the bikes on either side of our chairs, it made a surprisingly-effective shelter. So much that every time we stood up, we were shocked at how much the wind was blowing.
The lunch break let the winds blow even stronger, pushing us through a whole lot of nothing. Perhaps the flattest stretch we’ve seen on the entire Pacific Coast, with some slight sand dunes visible to the right, and absolutely nothing to the left but flat and sky.
Near our destination, we crossed the border into Baja California Sur, our second state in Mexico! For a long time we’ve told people that one of the guiding elements of our nomadacy was to ride through all 50 US states. Well, now we’ve been in 2/3rds as many states in Mexico as we have in the United States. Whoops!
And beyond that, we made it to Guerrero Negro, home to the largest gathering of migrating gray whales, which was the draw that pulled us into Mexico in the first place. We even made it a day ahead of the extremely-rough and tentative schedule I had sketched out in Redlands when we were trying to decide when we would need to start riding south again in order to make it to Ojo de Liebre before the whales migrated north. And unlike Palm Springs, where Rett sequentially sacrificed every muscle on her posterior trunk in order to make it to Christmas on time, this time all those muscles remained firing and healthy, pushing us at our fastest speed so far and bringing us to some days off that won’t be filled with pain.
On top of that, we didn’t even need to go rushing to an ATM, because we reached the end of the ATM-desert with $3500 MX to spare! Apparently our money-stress and extra $1900 MX we acquired in Cataviña had been completely unnecessary. Largely because our 50-mile push compressed two days into one, and also because we ended up going through with many of the contingency plans we had come up with (like more free camping) anyway, as if we hadn’t been able to add to our cash stash. It makes us feel a bit silly for freaking out so much and then ending up with unnecessary excess, but also gives some comfort that we have the ability to adapt to unexpected constraints if it truly becomes necessary at some point. But for now, let’s just go pet some whales!