Jan 14, 2020
We were up and moving around 7 am. Since the sun sets so early in the evening, the sunrise is pretty early in the morning. Eva made pancakes for breakfast and we hung around camp for a while and burned our trash in the remnants of last night’s fire. In Baja the rule is you burn or bury your trash. This is to reduce the amount of trash collecting everywhere. Near the cities and towns you just see trash everywhere on the ground, but in the backcountry, there is not as much. We still find it near the road, and occasionally we passed a trash heap that a fish camp or ranch used, but it was not too bad.
We continued on the dirt road from Catavina to the coast. It was pretty rough and the going was slow. The road continued over several mountain ranges, and we kept expecting to see the coast, but there was just another mountain range. We passes a drug smuggler runway where the government had dug ruts across so the smuggler’s planes couldn’t land. The road was not real difficult, but was just rough enough that we could not go faster that 5-10 mph. Finally around lunch time we saw the Pacific Ocean. We pulled into an empty fish camp that sat above the beach. The beach in this area was made entirely of cobblestones. I have never seen a beach like that. It was very steep and the stones were about the size of a grapefruit. It was very interesting. We ate lunch at this beach and then continued down the road.
Frenchie, our guide, has driven this road, but in the opposite direction, so he was a little unsure how far we were from Bahia Marron, (Bahia is Spanish for bay) where he wanted to camp that night. The road followed the coast, but was still pretty rough. Frenchie said it was the roughest he had seen, so our progress was slow. We drove for another 3 hours, but were still 45 miles from Bahia Marron. Since everyone was tired we stopped at a beach north of Bahia Blanco. We were near the beach, but behind some sand dunes, so we could not see the ocean, but we heard it all night long. It must have been windy on the ocean because the waves were crashing and it was like living next to a train track. But at camp it was not winding and after dinner we enjoyed the evening talking with others. Again, it was cold once the sun went down, so we were in the van by 8:30 pm and went to bed after 9 pm. Even with the noise of the waves, I slept pretty good. I set the furnace at 55 deg and it kept us from getting too cold at night.
Jan 15, 2020
Today was another full day of traveling the road that takes along the Lost Coast of Baja. It is named that because of the remoteness of area. The road we are on is the only one that access the area. We are traveling a lot slower than Frenchie expected, mostly because of the roughness of the road, but also because we are a bigger group. There was a hurricane about 18 months ago and it had left the roads in bad shape. There must have been rains earlier this month because there were sections of mud that we had to find our way around.
So far, we are the only ones who have been stuck. The group ended up going the wrong way on a trail so I backed onto a grassy area to turn around and the rear tires sank into the mud. I had to put it into 4WD to get out.
We had left camp around 9:45 am and by noon we were a little anxious about not being at camp yet. So at 3 pm we camped just south of Punta Lobos, which is north of Bahia Marron. We were camped behind the dunes, just off the beach. Eva and I walked the beach and she collected some shells and sand dollars. I found a live clam and we took it back to camp and pried it open. We had never seen one before, and it was difficult to open, but with a couple of screwdrivers, I was able to open it. I could not get Eva to eat it though.
We had beef stroganoff for dinner that Eva cooked in the Instapot. Later in the evening we had a good campfire and we spent the evening around the fire until about 9 pm. As we were putting out the fire, we saw lights from a boat signaling someone on shore. Next we saw lights from the hill just south of us signaling back. After 15 more minutes we saw a truck traveling down a road, shining a spotlight from side to side. They came within 1/4 mile of our camp. Frenchie had us turn off all the lights so they could not see us. We all assumed they were drug smugglers, but they could have been just fishermen. But drug smugglers sounds more exciting.
We started to have some problems with our driver side front brake the day before. I could hear it rubbing whenever we were driving slow. I though that the rotor had a slight warp and that was the issue, however at camp later that evening I took a closer look. Somewhere we had lost one of the bolts holding the caliper in place. Fortunately the other bolt was still there. In the morning I will put some loctite on the remaining bolt and hopefully it will hold until we get to a town where I can find a replacement bolt. I am not too worried about driving, since the bolt has been missing for 60-70 miles of rough dirt trail. We only have 20 more miles of dirt until we hit pavement. I am worried about gas. It’s only about 40 miles to the next town, but if there is no gas there, the next town is 50 miles. I only have enough gas for about 80-90 miles, depending how rough the roads are. The good news is the road looks smoother from here on out.