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November 29, 2015

San Felipe BC

I had a deadline at the office that prevented our usual trip to San Felipe for the annual Shrimp Festival.  For some details on last year’s click Shrimp Fest.  However Thanksgiving week was free, a traditional week for the windsurfers and kite boarders to invade Bahia Santa Maria.
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San Felipe Baja California

The first stop in town is often Bar Miramar for a strawberry margarita, no one makes a better one!  and a fish taco from Adriana’s.  No Strawberries! Adriana’s is closed today?!  Grrr not a perfect start, but with an ice cold margarita and this view, still hard to complain.
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Bahia Santa Maria is our destination, which is located 31km south of town.  The tide is out as we arrive to open up the Beach House and sunset was quickly upon us.
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Although this was once one of the best campos with wide beaches, there has been serious storm damage and loss of beach and the homes on the Sea of Cortez.  At least on the bay we remain protected … at least for now.
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As I mentioned Thanksgiving week brings the Kite Boarders and Wind Surfers to our little corner of paradise.
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But what to do when the tide has gone out?  There’s yoga or more fun the kids have discovered there is a waterfall in the back bay as it empties.  Yes it’s muddy back there, my vote for mom-of-the-year award – the kids are covered with mud and fun … and mom? she took pictures!
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For a bit more exercise take the kayak, or a swim to the point and back; ~1 mile round trip.
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A local shrimp seiner was working the outlet of the bay the entire week.  Must have been a great spot to do some shrimping.
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For myself I’ll go clamming in the bay, or Shell Beach (a short walk when the back bay empties), or check out the early birds in the back bay.
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Another option is a quad  ride to explore the dunes – Hey Sue - that’s my quad!  Sue and Brea are off, I’ll have a coco loco.  There are a several trucks that come down the beach offering coco locos, piña coladas, shrimp or tamales.
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But not wine!, bring your own.

And so we did.  Edwards Vineyards offers up a very respectable Syrah, from Ramona wine country not far from home.  We picked up this bottle on our way back from Ocotillo Wells mentioned in my last post.  And enjoyed it with BBQ turkey under the rising full moon.
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I know Mexico offers some very good wines.  Monte Xanic Merlot is truly world class – just try to find it!  Santo Thomas is our go-to wine and available in town.

The Valle de los Gigantes are just before the ‘Oh Shit Dip’ at km 17 and home to the worlds largest forest of cardón cacti.
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The final sunrise as we pack up to return home … until the next visit.P1050686 (640x478)

Homeland Security advertised a 70 min wait at Calexico West, 90 min at Calexico East and 45 min in Tecate on their Border Wait Times website.  What the heck, Calexico West is on the way home … nope it was 3 hours!  It’s always 3 hours!

To compensate we splurged with a glass of wine and dinner at Camacho’s Place.
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Road Conditions: are really good, there is some asphalt resurfacing south of Rio Hardy and along Laguna Salada, be advised not to drive at night as much of the lane markings were not yet in place.   Check out the Road Conditions San Felipe website.

Tourist Card: Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) are now required for all who enter Mexico – as of Sept 2015 there is no longer a ‘Tourist Zone’ in Baja.

November 08, 2015

Ocotillo Wells SVRA, CA

Ocotillo Wells SVRA is a great OHV area on the west side of the Salton Sea.  Although well known for its OHV activity the park offers hiking, biking, geocaching and an unlimited area for dispersed camping (boondocking).  But I really appreciate the uninterrupted view to the east, with little light pollution it’s a great place for the night sky.

It’s been a bit since the last post.  Rufus has now been serviced at the Commercial Vehicles center at Mercedes Benz of San Diego,  along with maintenance on our home … it all takes time.  But now it’s time to prepare for the upcoming adventures.  Ocotillo Wells is an easy shake down test.
The route from San Diego passes through Santa Ysabel, the home of Dudley’s.  A wanna be Erick Schat’s, and like the stops at Erick’s, ordered the turkey sandwich.  
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The park has a nice 11” Celestron that they will have available in the Spring for viewing our solar system in evening sky.  However with all the recent solar activity they only had their solar scope out this weekend for viewing that pesky sunspot causing the beautiful Northern lights.
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Sunrise with a view from the campsite.
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Today’s ride will be a loop and include some of the main highlights of the park.  Shell Reef has rocks with the fossilized remains of clam, oyster and scallop shells.
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The ride from Shell Reef to the Pumpkin Patch has a few ‘technical’ spots along ‘Cut Across Trail’ with some great views of the expanse of this area.
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Since it is just past Halloween, what better stop than a Pumpkin Patch?  The globular sandstone balls are formed similar to a pearl with the cementing of outer layers over a smaller object.
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And critters!  This is on the back side of Devil's Slide.  These prints were pristine early in the morning, but by the time I got back with the camera the wind all but covered them.  Earlier this morning bird and snake prints were also visible in the sand.  Just a guess but it looks like a young Jack-a-lope (jack rabbit) avoided a fox.
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The Gas Domes are bubbling mud pots.  Unlike the mud pots of Yellowstone this water is cold.  The Salton Sea is visible to the east.  If in the area sure it’s worth a stop, but there are way better ‘mud volcanoes’ on the south-east end of the Salton Sea.
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Just south of the Gas Dome is an Artesian Well.  The ‘Wells’ in Ocotillo Wells is not from the artesian wells but from the extensive efforts to find oil.
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But even with more water than oil found, the drought takes a toll on what is already a dry desert area.
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I forgot to mention that Santa Ysabel is also home to the Julian Pie Company, try the Apple Mountain Berry take-n-bake.  yum …
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Ramona is home to some 30 tasting rooms servicing some 60 vineyards and growing.  My favorite – without doubt – is the little Edwards Vineyard Syrah.
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But with all the new competition maybe it’s time to reevaluate that choice – want to help?

San Felipe next …