Category Archives: San Felipe
by: Bryon Dorr of Exploring Elements
I’m a newbie to Baja and desert racing, but have quickly caught the bug for both. It was just under a yr ago that I first visited Baja, and I’ve now been 3 times, for a total of over a month on the peninsula. I’ve personally driven hundreds of miles of Baja dirt in that time, and been a passenger for over 1,500 miles, not to mention the well over 2,000 miles of pavement. This last trip was in support of some badass moto riders, some prerunning support for the Desert Assassins trophy truck team and the Baja 1,000 race.
The scenery, local culture, gringo culture and race scene are all quite amazing to behold. While the general observer will see much of the same scenery mile after mile in Baja the true explorer will discover the amazing diversity and hidden gems that Baja has to offer. The locals in Baja come in a wide variety of flavors, but the large majority are super friendly, show amazing hospitality and want to share their love for their home. The gringo culture also comes in MANY flavors in Baja, but again in the end it is mostly filled with kind people trying to get away and take in the peace and tranquility that Baja exudes. The race scene on the other hand takes on a life of its own with big egos, mega dollar signs and huge horsepower.
I’m sure that this will not be my last time to either Baja or a major desert race. I can even envision being behind the wheel, or handlebars, in a future Baja 1,000. The enthusiasm and passion for desert racing by all that are involved is contagious. I’m also the kind of person that likes to push mental, physical and mechanical boundaries, and there are very few places where you can test those boundaries like you can at the Baja 1,000!
-RIP Kurt Caselli-
(Bryon is a photographer, overland traveler and adventure sports athlete. He shares these passions on his website www.ExploringElements.com. He currently lives in a 4×4 van traveling across North America, with his sights set on a round the world driving adventure.)
Exploring Elements’ Bryon Dorr’s inside look at the Baja 1000
By: Christine Sanchez
Beautiful photos of Baja during a spring break adventure.
It has been four hours since we turned off the pavement and all that’s in sight is endless desert and dirt. As we head further south, the scenery changes ever so slightly as different species of cacti and vegetation appear and disappear. The sun shines golden beams of warmth onto my legs in the passenger seat. With the windows down and the radio on, I take a deep breath and am reminded again why I love this place so much.
For 15 years I have been traveling to Baja California, Mexico, and never before have I been more amazed by the wonders of this beautiful place. There is something unique to the peril you experience combined with the exquisite beauty that makes these adventures so incredible.
Equipped with all the necessary survival tools for an off-road excursion through the desert, mountain, and ocean terrain of Baja, the journey begins. From Gonzaga Bay, to a pit-stop at Coco’s Corner, and through Calamajue Wash, spring breaking on the Baja peninsula is certainly the way to go.
With approximately 350,000,000 people crossing the Mexico-United States International Border annually, few are privy to the unique experience of bountiful adventure, culture, and life that thrives in the most desolate and deserted areas of the Baja Peninsula.
Gonzaga Bay, roughly 100 miles south of San Felipe, sits on the east coast of the peninsula, on the Sea of Cortez. The bay, split in two by a sand spit during low tide, is nearly the perfect beach. The warm water and white sand, accompanied by the gentle sound of breaking waves and dull roar of the few locals performing their daily activities makes for a great place.
Traditionally named, Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, the bay is a sweet little reward after a challenging day in the dirt. Alfonsina’s, the town’s only hotel, sits right on the water. What could be better than sitting outside on the shaded patio, popping open an ice cold Pacifico, and relaxing in the cool ocean breeze? “Absolutely nothing,” most Baja lovers would reply.
A short 20-mile trip from Gonzaga Bay, down the main dirt road that heads south to Highway 1, is the infamous Coco’s Corner. Upon arrival, what looks to be a dilapidated shack in poor condition, is a home and one of Baja’s unique sparkling gems.
Coco, a Baja legend, just recently celebrated his 75th birthday. Despite losing both legs and his diminishing health, Coco maintains the most incredible spirit and demeanor. The very minute a truck turns into the driveway, Coco’s face widens with a grin of excitement.
Aside from his extremely witty, charming and spunky personality, the aluminum cans strung in every way possible, the decorated trailers, campers and old cars, and of course, the ceiling full of underwear and panties makes a stop at Coco’s almost impossible to forget. And to continue the tradition, there are two things you must always do before you can even think to leave: one is to buy a nice cold beer or soda while you chat with Coco, and two is to sign his guest book, as to never be forgotten.
As you journey south from Coco’s Corner, many may continue along the well-traveled dirt road to Highway 1; but the true Baja adventurer would take the road less traveled and trek through the incredible Calamajue Wash.
Also known as Frog Canyon, Calamajue Wash is a truly beautiful sight. Unlike many washes you may come across during the springtime in Mexico, Calamajue Wash is abundant with water, animals, and life.
The slowly moving stream of fresh mountain water and mossy green foam covers the typical rocky terrain of the wash. As you continue further, the wash bends and curves between the sheer slate rocky mountains. The stream widens and deepens as you move into the heart of the wash, almost losing the trail in the tall green grass that flourishes in the water plenty oasis. Quails and lizards scurry around, disrupted by the adventure seeking folk trudging through their quiet home.
As you emerge from the wash and journey deeper into the middle of the desert, you realize your complete solitude. No one’s around you or near you, in fact, you haven’t even as much as seen another vehicle for at least 3 hours. What if you break down? Or what if there’s an emergency? These questions race through your head, and while you keep them in the back of your mind, you remember that they are also a part of the thrill-seeking adventure.
The complete isolation and seclusion of these places, and the journey it takes to get there makes Baja so exceptional. The need to be able to survive on your own combined with the immaculate beauty makes for the best memories and experiences an adventurer could ask for.
Over a slight horizon in the distance and as we dropped down to the shining Sea of Cortez at Bahia de Los Angeles, the islands were illuminated in the setting sunlight. Peering into the maze of islands guarding this quiet oasis you realize LA Bay is a mystical and magical locale. Situated in this beautiful bay, the small fishing village has survived for several hundred years. Teenagers darted across the main drag known in Baja as, the Malecon, as we clambered into town. The hustle and bustle north of the border is noticeably absent as most raise their hands to welcome you to their world.
White sand beaches strewn for miles line the Bahia de Los Angeles in each direction. After setting up camp right on the beach, of course, we sought out the red and white lighthouse in the far off distance to adventure to.
Despite the stiff wind the piercing sting of the blowing sand onto our legs, backs, and stomachs, we continued to the lighthouse, beachcombing along the way for anything that caught our interest.
Majestic in stature, the lighthouse is so much more than to the naked eye from afar. We circle it for a few minutes and ponder the countless adventurers who have used the sight of this monument to forge their way back to a barren civilization of Baja’s east coast.
After a long and tough adventure on foot to the lighthouse, the only thing in mind is food. Food, food, tacos, and food. After glancing at the lighthouse one last time, we continue on our journey along the bay and into town, looking forward to the delicious fish tacos filled with tangy salsa that awaits us in town.
The offerings of the Baja Peninsula are vast. Spring breaking away from the rigors of the bustling Western cultural is refreshing and adventuresome all at the same time.
From getting a flat in the middle of nowhere, drinking far too much tequila, warding off sketchy vendors, experiencing a slight sense of fear as you cross the border or wait for the 16 year old Federales with machine guns to inspect your vehicle, to meeting the most sincere and wise people in your life, to eating the most delicious queso tacos con carne you’ve ever tasted, to being able to bounce from coast to coast in a days’ adventure, and to being able to explore at your own free will, Baja allows you to create your own adventure and find what it is that makes you happy.
I have found that the hardest places to find, the ones that require the true determination, skill, and adventure, the ones not discovered by the mass population, are the most rewarding. Finding these places is the true essence of Baja. In Baja, your inner explorer is exposed. You discover a trail and follow it until it ends; and from there you create your own path. In Baja, you are not limited. You are open to all the possibilities you can dream up. And you are open to all of the possibilities and adventure this world has to offer.