From Jan. 5, 2012:

Baja Angel and I headed south Saturday morning, crossed the border at Mexicali about 12:30 and loaded our ice chests with all the beer they could hold (Dos Equis, Carta Blanca Light) from a distributor at Km. 5.5 who added free ice above what we had. Very nice man runs the place who moved back to Mexico when business in the US soured.

The highway to San Felipe was in super condition with just a very short detour about 50 miles south, near the sand dunes. However, that was finished yesterday… so no detours at all now.

Gasoline in San Felipe was 9.42 pesos/ liter for Magna and 10.20 for Premium. The station at El Dorado Ranch was giving an exchange rate of 13.65 pesos per dollar. Making the cost of Magna US$2.61/ gallon… a dollar a gallon less than in California.

The time was 3:30 and we headed directly to the Malecon (beach front street) for some tacos and beer. The town seemed nearly deserted from tourists (Mexican or American) and it was a sad scene. The taco stand plaza has morphed into just two restaurants from the original dozen fish taco vendors of up to 10 years before.

We were invited to stay at BajaRob and Connie’s (Bahía Santa María) which is 24 miles south, and we arrived about 4:30 pm and enjoyed the sky changing color and the Sea of Cortez. Rob and Connie arrived about an hour later from an event put on by the South Campos Community, called a White Elephant… Rob can describe that to you guys!

The night was wonderful and we were asleep before New Years (well, unless you go by a different time zone).

The next morning (Sunday, Jan. 1), was an awesome sunny day… Good omen… I helped Rob and his neighbor Jim bring up fresh sea water for the clams for a final purge. Rob ordered 100 dozen clams and has the ‘clam thing’ down to a science… There were up to 100 people at the New Years Day party (1-4 pm) and the clams were perfect in both quantity and flavor. It is a pot luck, so many dishes and salads and Rob’s black eyed peas add to the bowl of clams and butter everyone enjoyed.

Before the party, Baja Angel and I drove to Shell Island and enjoyed some quiet time before the party.

Who says ‘Baja is for the birds’?
A giant sand beach which is almost always void of people, Shell Island.
We just want to chill a bit on our favorite beach before the party at Rob & Connie’s beach home (about 3-4 miles away).
Noticed how my truck tires sink less than my foot prints, in sand!
New Years Clam Feast, hosted by Rob & Connie Nickel.
Paul López (‘Tunaeater’) and his dad Rudy (‘El Comondante Loco’) at the party.

Monday, we hooked up with ‘Chick’ Mills and his wife Cheri who live at El Vergel to visit the fossil beds nearby. ‘Baja Rob’ (Rob Nickel) tried to show us the place 2 years ago, but we missed the correct path… but had fun four wheeling anyway!

Rob (with Connie and Cheri next to him), Elizabeth, and Chick looking at fossil shells.

Next, we hiked further up the wash to see petrified sand dollars!

Super Rob! One of the great ones. It was so sad when he left us, back in March 2021.

After seeing the sand dollars, we drove over to an entire hill made of oysters and other shells…

Near the top of the fossil hill.


No exact directions, but the general location is close to the Old Puertecitos Road, south of the sulfur mine.

Checking out Arroyo Grande:

As part of our searching for the grave of Melchior Diaz, we wanted to see how it looked going into the search area using Arroyo Grande. Read about Melchior Diaz and his 1540-1541 expedition in my 2015 Baja Bound article:

This is the water pipe that goes from Arroyo Grande to the La Fortuna gold mines, 40 miles north of San Felipe. The power lines go to the well at the end of the pipe. The access road leaves Mex. 5 at Km. 107… just south of La Ventana.

In ~6 miles you come to the water and power lines… ~6 more miles is the end in Arroyo Grande. The 2011 Baja 1000 course was in Arroyo Grande, heading south.

It is pretty slow going in anything but an off road racer in Arroyo Grande, for ~5 miles to where it turns east out of the arroyo. We soon turned around to continue on home. I returned in 2015 for a more serious search with amigos.

The desert is beautiful…

Like all my other Baja trips, this one has me wanting to go back… just to experience it one more time!