47.2 mi / 11.2 mph / 384 ft. climbing
Home: Hotel Kadekaman
Ever since we’d come out of injury-recovery and left Redlands, CA, in early February, our destination had been Guerrero Negro, with a goal to arrive before the whales departed Laguna Ojo de Liebre. Now that we had reached that destination, we were left with a “where next?” Our initial assumption before entering Mexico had been to turn back north, and head up back up the east coast of the Baja Peninsula along the Sea of Cortez.
But Baja has been so good, and we hear there is so much more to see, that we’ve decided to continue south. Hopefully to the end, to Cabo, where we may take advantage of the airport to fly somewhere, or take a ferry from La Paz to the mainland. We’ll see. Now that we’re in warm, dry weather, and don’t have any mammal-migration timelines keeping up to a schedule, we’ve hopefully reached a true “wherever the wind blows us” part of this journey (though of course the “too warm” period will be the next weather concern).
So onward south! Well, mostly east really, as we are crossing from one side to the other of the peninsula to soon reach the Sea of Cortez anyway.
We had a bit of a slow morning, as I wanted to be really confident in our cash situation, but finding a working ATM was difficult. After a couple tries, I just went back to the Super Ley grocery store that had worked before. It spat out all 500 peso bills, which, somehow we had not noticed until Zihul pointed it out yesterday, feature the gray whales of Ojo de Liebre on the backside! That’s our kind of money!
After a breakfast at Nautilus Restaurant (where I had their “Atlixco”, a wonderful ham/cheese/egg/tortilla thing smothered in mole sauce), a stop at the gas station after discovering that it sold M&Ms (most grocery stores have surprisingly little candy), we were out of Guerrero Negro and back into the flat empty desert.
The time off, plus the big day that brought us into Guerrero Negro, had Rett feeling both a physical strength and a mental confidence that she hadn’t felt in months. While her body had been feeling strong for a while, the fear of things heading downhill again had clung on with more tenacity, but now, even that was fading, making able to enjoy her new strength rather than worry about its disappearance.
The road was so flat, and so straight, that two of the rare “curves” in it, where the road changed direction by 5 degrees at most, were marked not just by a yellow curving-arrow sign, but also by a whole set of black-on-yellow chevrons marking the outside edge of the barely-bending roadway. I figured it’s a bit like a “check your brakes” sign at the top of a mountain descent: maybe a driver just hasn’t used his steering wheel in such a long time, he might not be aware that it’s become disconnected from his wheels!
A few rides ago I had been telling Rett how special the ever-changing views in the desert were, because I had done desert riding where you spend the whole day seeing a single mountain range on the horizon, and feeling like you’re barely getting closer to it. Well, now she got to feel what one of those days is like too!
And unfortunately her confidence eventually took a bit of a dive, as the crosswind-from-behind strengthened and became a serious force into our left sides, an angle she hadn’t dealt with yet. And even with my experience, the effects from passing trucks were quite a challenge to manage. In normal riding against that wind, we’re essentially leaning to the left to counter the force of the wind trying to push us over to the right. So when a truck passes us from behind between us and that wind, it makes the force that was holding us up disappear, which essentially “sucks” us left into the tractor’s trailer. For oncoming trucks, the problem was more just an unpredictable blast to the face, sometimes so strong as to stop us dead in our tracks. So not a lot of fun, and it makes every truck on the horizon feel like an impending terror attack.
Despite the open desert, there was one place to stop along the route, a small settlement at about the halfway point. It didn’t have a restaurant, or even a real store, but there was one little shop where we could buy cold drinks and chips at the window. Even better, there was a soft-smelling green hedge next to it that was perfectly trimmed to provide just enough shade for our bikes and us in our chairs.
Winds had gotten a little better after lunch, and in the last five miles we followed an actual curve in the road to the right that brought our speeds back up.
Vizcaino is a surprisingly large town (maybe even a “city”) in the middle of nowhere that feels “bigger” than Guerrero Negro even though it’s not. Some might be the fact that it has a large Best Buy-like building next to its large Super Ley Express grocery store. And the highway separates into paved “frontage roads”, very much nicer than the sharp descent to dirt shoulders of most other Baja towns we’ve stopped in.
We stopped at the Hotel Kadekaman, a bit pricey at $40USD, but with A/C (not needed), TV, WiFi, and hot water, it was nearly worth it. On top of that, it was quite cute, with wooden accents reminiscent of its German-sounding name (even though I believe the name actually comes from the native Cochimi people who once lived in the region). It was the smallest room we’ve seen in Baja (the clerk properly warned us), so we needed to remove our bags to get the bikes inside. Still totally fine, just smaller than the expansive spaces we’ve become used to, I guess because there just isn’t a big need to squeeze a lot of stuff into a small space in this unpopulated land?
While I was checking in, Rett thought she saw that maybe-bike-tourer whose shoes we’d seen on the roof of the motel back in El Rosarito a week ago. And then sure enough, we saw him again a few blocks down, walking out of the restaurant that we were walking into for dinner. We exchanged a few words (“the food is good!” he said), but somehow neither of us managed to ask about bike touring in our brief passing (or simply how we ended up in two of the same towns 100 miles and one week apart), so he will remain a mystery! What is no longer a mystery is what “arrachera” is (skirt steak, Rett’s meal), or what “empapelado” is (food, seafood in this case, cooked in an aluminum foil packet, which was one of the best meals I’ve had in Baja!) Thank you mystery-man for the recommendation and La Cabaña Restaurante for the food!