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Entries about gravel

Heading North to Coco’s Corner

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

sunny 33 °C
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Admittedly it was hard to leave Playa Cocos and we officially waved and said good bye to this magical place. Bahia Conception had been our first stop on the Baja and it was fabulous that we had the opportunity to return to it.
Santa Rosalía (this is where our ferry had landed from the mainland) made a nice stop for lunch. And we were amazed by the change in scenery once the road headed inland form Santa Rosalía into the mountains. Suddenly the ground seemed reddish and contrasted nicely with the green cacti.

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We had initially planned to go all the way to Guerrero Negro, but once we turned off the highway in San Ignacio, we realized that it was a really nice place. Lots of palm trees along a river, a mission church of which our guide book says that it is the nicest example of historic architecture on the Baja and a central plaza featuring enormous old trees. So what was intended to be a short stop, turned out to be a nice place for biking, an excellent place for getting ice cream and in fact a very nice mission church.

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So we figured that we might as well just stay overnight in San Ignacio. Our guidebook was very positive about Rice n’ Beans and so was the internet, so that’s where we went. As in most of the official Baja campgrounds with the exception of Cabo, we were the only guests. Still, the pool was ready for us and even more importantly: the restaurant / bar supplied us with fries for Max and cold beer for Sam and me. And a bit later we were treated to margeritas ‘mexican style’ which seems to imply just more tequila than usual. This compensated for the fact that the campground itself was nice, but not quite as scenic as the last one – which admittedly is hard to beat. After all Playa Los Cocos had managed to move into the number one spot of nice campsites even surpassing the marvellous Valley of the Gods.

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As the campground featured a wifi connection, this was to be the place where we wanted to publish the most recent blog posts. So Sam spent much of the evening with editing pictures. Unfortunately, the next morning, somehow the wifi or the laptop or the combination of both kept him busy for quite some time, just to realize that it will not work. So we gave up and headed north.
Up to now the roads on Baja had been quite ok. A pot hole here and there, but nothing severe. And the roads were sometimes very windy, but still wide enough to pass cars or trucks without being too afraid. As of Santa Rosalía that changed: the roads did become significantly narrower and the density of pot holes increased significantly. Driving was not nearly as much fun as it had been. The landscapes were great, but the amount of concentration dedicated to driving did not allow the driver to divert his attention for too long from the road.
Our first stop for the day was at one of those mega cactus. They are all over the place, but mostly just very hard to get close to. But this one was easy to get to!

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Lunch break was in Guerrero Negro, a town which is usually known best for whale watching. We were not in the right season to do that – the last whales were passing back in April. So we limited ourselves to a tour of the town and the surrounding salt pans, had lunch in a park and headed on to Baja California Norte.

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It seems like the roads in BCN even got worse than what we’d seen in the last couple of hours in BCS. This is a bit surprising – after all there’s only one paved highway along that stretch of the Baja. That means that all supplies that are not brought in via a ferry or airplane need to pass that road. Still, the great landscape compensated for everything!

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But after all, we should not complain about the MEX 1. We had taken the conscious decision to make Coco’s Corner our next stop. The place and the guy is legend. I had read an article about the Baja a couple of years ago (this is when actually the Baja started being a place on my ‘where to go list’) and it featured a bar in the middle of nowhere along an unpaved stretch of road – that’s Coco’s Corner. In addition, our beloved freecampsites.net had an entry about his place dating from Jan ’16 saying that you’d better hurry to see his place before the paving of the road will change everything.
So we figured we might as well go there. It sounded like being ‘just’ 21 km off the main highway. Given that we’ve done our share of dirt driving in places like Namibia or Chile, we also wanted to do at least a bit of gravel / dirt / sand driving here in Mexico – that’s what the Baja is famous for after all. It turned out that the road was NOT good. At least not in the kind of van we’re travelling.

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Still, in a bit over an hour we made it to Coco’s Corner and already got a glimpse of his collection of paraphernalia. And he was home, happy to meet us. So we sat down with him, had something to drink and immediately got to see and sign his famous guest book.

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There’s not really anything to do at Coco’s Corner, so we spent our time just chatting along with him, having a look at the bees he’s feeding water, his kitten and eventually having dinner.

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And a bit later, due to the absolutely remote location really far from any town or larger settlement, we once again enjoyed a clear starry sky with its share of shooting stars.

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And like it happened so many times before, our travel plans changed as we talked with people. When telling Coco that our plan was to go back to MEX 1 and to travel up the west coast of the Baja up to San Diego, he suggested we rather go north along the east coast. We’d be having less of a bad gravel, as the newly built highway starts 16km north. Plus, as the MEX 5 is still not finished all the way, he promised to have little traffic. We liked the idea, took some last pictures and headed off.

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So we headed north along the coast and were amazed by the contrasts of seeing the path of the old road vs. the new highway. And when stopping for lunch, we were simply amazed by the enormous size of the bug which was flying around.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 21:24 Archived in Mexico Tagged landscape cactus north highway coco gravel cocoscorner sanignacio margerita Comments (1)

Exploring the Kimberley

Dampier Peninsula, Broome

sunny 32 °C
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After a relaxing weekend in Broome, we headed north on the Cape Leveque Road to explore the Dampier Peninsula. We had been pre-warned that roughly 90km of the road are not paved, but it was still surprising to see that it was not really in a very good state. Lots of corrugated sand board along the way.

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Along the way, we passed lots and lots of termite mounds. And quite a number of abandoned cars in various states of destruction. Shortly after we hit the sealed part of the road, we had to pass through a bush fire. We could see the bushes and the ground burning right up to the road and could feel the radiation. Luckily enough, after a couple of hundred meters, the fire stopped again just like that.

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We stopped had lunch at the local store of Beagle Bay and noticed with a bit of amusement the sign saying that children are not allowed in the store during school hours. While we were sitting there, school ended and a whole group of aboriginal kids entered the store before they got picked up from their parents. We then had a peek into the church, which is beautifully decorated with mother of pearl. Considering the selection of books for sale in the church, it seemed that the catholic church is conscious of its role in relation to Aboriginal development and specifically the ‘stolen generations’. Still, knowing that Beagle Bay played a role in history in that respect, did put the very nicely decorated church into a context that was anything but shiny.

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Our next stop was Gambanan bush camp in the very north east of the peninsula. We picked a nice spot for our van on a rock just above the ocean. We could see a very strong current going out into the sea, so even though it looked like being low tide already, the water was still going out. After consulting the tide chart, we realized that tonight the high tide would be almost 10m above low tide. We were not quite sure anymore if we’d be cut off on our rocky outcrop and rather did not want to take any risks. So we found ourselves another spot which was for sure high enough above the ground not to be affected by the high tides.

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That evening, we had full moon. Even a super moon, very close to the earth. With the full moon rising over the mudflats at low tide, a phenomenon called ‘staircase to the moon’ is created. It did look pretty cool.

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Up to that point we had been alone at the huge bush camp and were already looking forward to a quiet night. Well, shortly after the moon came up, a group of German girls arrived and set up camp 20m away from us. That was strange – after all they could have picked from dozens of free campsites. Sam eventually came up with the theory that they were afraid of so few people being around, such that they set up right next to us for security / safety reasons.
Despite the heat and humidity, we had a good night’s sleep. But we had to rise early as well: with the direct sunlight hitting the tent around 6am, Max was wide awake.
We took it very easy and had a slow, relaxed and lazy day. With the heat, humidity and the pestering bush flies, the place reminded us a bit of Motu Mahare. Even though mosquitoes might seem at first glance more of a pain than flies, at least they don’t crawl into your ears, eyes and nose. It was more than just a nuisance, it was nerve-wrecking. We could have set up our awning with the screen room, but unfortunately due to fairly extreme wind gusts (seems like bush flies don’t mind the wind), this was not an option. Unfortunately the frogs only lived in the bathrooms whereas the bush flies only stay outside. Otherwise they could have had quite a meal.

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Eventually we left for Cape Leveque and spent the remainder of the afternoon at the beach and the edge of the water – luckily without any flies around.

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A bit later we moved to our campsite high above the cliffs with a nice view of the sunset. And luckily enough the sunset also marked the point in time when the flies retreated for the night. So we were able to enjoy a very nice, pleasant and calm evening pretty much on our own – thanks to it being low season.

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The next morning, the sun was up again and with it, the flies were back. And we were happy to just pack up and leave after breakfast. We had originally considered spending a day in One-Arm-Point and to see the beach huts and the fish hatchery there. But we figured that our patience to endure these potentially beautiful sights while being constantly pestered by flies would simply not be sufficient.
We just want to leave and we knew already where to: our beloved spot in the ‘Cable Beach Caravan Park’ with the beautiful pool and – what we had not even realized during our first stay – no flies at all. Instead a nice variety of birds: ibis, finches, cockatoos, parrots and even a flying fox.

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At the caravan park, Sam was also able to get some parts which had been missing on Max’ bike such that Max could finally try it out. It will take him a bit of time getting used to the new bike. Even though it has exactly the same frame as his ‘Cars’ bike in the US, it is a steel instead of an aluminum frame and it has huge (and heavy) sand tires. And after six weeks of not biking, Max is definitely out of practice.
Our first outing with the bike was to Cable Beach where we had dinner in a nice restaurant with an excellent view at the sunset.

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After one more day of just enjoying being in such a nice place and enjoying all its luxuries, the adventure genes started itching again and it was time to bid Broome and Cable Beach good-bye and to head on South.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 05:49 Archived in Australia Tagged birds sunset park beach pool moon flies lighthouse cape gravel corrugated Comments (1)

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