DAY 5 AFTERNOON Highway 1 west to the Pacific, almost!

Of the several roads across Baja from Highway 1 down the center to the Pacific coast, the Rancho San Antonio road may be the scariest to do solo!

I was glad I had an inReach communicator so I could contact my friends who offered to come help or coordinate help if needed. I can send or receive short text or email messages which help the day go by. My evening chats with ‘Baja Angel’ (my wife Elizabeth) are comforting and make my being away so far not so bad.

I leave the highway at Km. 270.5, and I drop the air pressure in my tires to 24 psi. It is 3:15pm. I will just go to where I find a camp spot, or do a night drive in order to give my new LED lamps a workout!


A welcoming boojum tree. [This photo appears in the 2021 Benchmark Baja Road Atlas]
Fresh green coat on this tall one.
It is 9.3 slow miles on this short cut road to the one that is on most maps, 11 miles south of Chapala to San Antonio and Bahía Blanco.
It’s like Dr. Seuss must have visited Baja this far south?

Some neat cardón trees in here, too!
Semi-abandoned ranch down on the left, 1.2 miles west of the junction with the two choices to Hwy. 1. The one I used from Km. 270.5, or the one from Km. 252.
I am seeing fewer tire tracks and more animal tracks.

An oasis is a mile past the ranch. Soon a dam and reservoir are in the gully below. Another oasis is in the distance, but the road I am on turns away from it before I am motivated to drive to it on a very unused track I saw. That would be the true Rancho San Antonio (Formerly ‘Los Codornices’). It was 4:18pm. Some have called it a mission because of the old adobe building and graves. Alas, this site was both far removed from the mission road system (El Camino Real) and void of any farmland to grow enough food on. It was strictly a cattle ranch that dates back 100+ years.

The big down-grade!

A dozer was obviously employed to improve the old ranch road, but all the rain has eaten away at the fill dirt and base leaving gullies and landslides. I didn’t stop to photo the worst.
Going down, down, down. My big concern was what if I came to an impassable gully or boulder? There was one boulder in the road, but I could get around it. Near the bottom was this huge one. Just one more grade ahead and it had the most interesting blockage… a Ford Ranger. I just got by it by an inch between the mirrors. It was 5:18pm and I was 9 miles from San Antonio and just 3/4 mile from the bottom of this big bad set of grades.
Nice drive through a cardónal before reaching the roadblock and help sign!

La Miseria (The Misery), did Stephen King come to Baja?

The abandoned Ford truck on the grade, trying to go uphill, with the window down and some items on the seat and in the bed was a hint of weirdness.

Coming to a barricade in the road a few miles later, including an orange construction cone and a handwritten note with the words AYUDA (HELP) and COMIDA (FOOD) included.

The barricade forced anyone to a side road that dropped down to the wide arroyo plain and soon a good looking ranch came into view. This ranch has solar panels, a swimming pool, and a hot tub! See it from space.

Two people (a man and a woman) appeared and waved their arms as in distress. My mind is absorbing these fresh sensations and making quick decisions to escape while I can or …

I drive up to the front of the ranch which is on the right side of the road and lower my passenger window. A flood of sad stories begins to flow to my ears: “We have no food”, “My husband is out of his heart medicine”, “You are the first vehicle we have seen in four months”, “We have been stranded here for 6 months”. I learn that the Ford Ranger is her husband’s truck and six months ago he was going for supplies when the distributor failed.

They are Leo and Lorena Durazo. They were hired in Tijuana to manage this ranch, La Miseria, for its owner, a man in Tijuana or thereabouts who owns a taxi business in Rosarito Beach.

I let them know I can send emails or text messages anywhere in the world. They do not have a phone or email for their boss, just a Facebook address, which I cannot do more than post on my own page with the inReach device.

I contact Antonio* (‘BajaCactus’) via email and he responds!
* Antonio Muñoz, owner of the Baja Cactus Motel and Pemex station in El Rosario and the Desert Hawks Emergency Rescue service and volunteer fire department in El Rosario.

Here is the exchange, in part, beginning with:

Apr 23, 2017 6:02 PM
Hola Antonio tengo emergencia with the couple at Rancho Miseria de Candelario. Their truck broke miles away. They need heart meds and food 2 months. … Señor Candelario Aguire Arce is the owner. He has taxis in Rosarito. … They have no food or medicine. … Can you get ahold of him to bring help to his employees stuck here? On the San Antonio road, east of Bahia Blanco. … Leo y Lorena Durazo.

Antonio asks if they have a phone number for him.

Apr 23, 2017 6:25 PM No. They were hired 6 mos. ago and have not heard from him since. They have seen no one here in 4 months.
(I may not have heard the details correctly, they may have been there longer)

As it turns out, this couple knows of Antonio in El Rosario and know that Antonio’s brother knows someone else who works for this Candelario guy.

Antonio (who is in Tijuana) cannot find any of the names Leo has provided, yet the connection between Antonio’s brother and another is valid.

We are getting nowhere with getting the ranch owner to make an emergency visit to his ranch and hired help. So, as the sun is about to set, rather than find a place to camp near the coast and drive out via the Chapala road (which Leo said is worse than the one I just arrived on, and it was pretty bad), I volunteer my services as emergency evacuation. I make room in my truck for them both. They attend to their animals, including a little dog, which Lorena says will be okay, and I tell them I will drive them to Santa Rosalillita (where they know people). It is only about 15 miles to the good dirt highway at Punta Cono, then pretty fast driving the near 35 miles on to Santa Rosalillita.

I send this message to Antonio and also notify my wife and Nomad friends who are following me on the Internet.

Apr 23, 2017 6:44 PM I am taking them 50 dirt miles to Sta. ROSALILLITA. TONIGHT. THEY NEED FOOD AND HEART MEDS. Sorry about the caps, accident.

Apr 23, 2017 7:07 PM Ok, we 3 are leaving in my truck for Sta. Rosalillita now. I will stop to answer you.

Apr 23, 2017 10:07 PM At Sta Rosalillita now. They are trying to find someone that knows them.

The people they knew were not there.

The town was pretty dark on a Sunday night. They talked to someone by the church. They said they know people in Nuevo Rosarito. I was willing to drive them to another place, but not south… I would even take them to El Rosario if necessary. They said Punta Prieta would work!

Apr 23, 2017 11:09 PM In Punta Prieta now, 11:09.

The south Punta Prieta restaurant (busses stop there) knew Leo and Lorena and they assured me they were in good hands. Lorena called me their angel. It was her birthday tomorrow! While we were driving those hours, she requested 80s music (I have XM Satellite Radio) and she was a good singer, Madonna, etc.

My need now was for gasoline… I could make Cataviña but probably not El Rosario. Would I have any luck at 11 pm in Punta Prieta?

YES! At the north store, on the west side of the highway at the Punta Prieta sign, they sell gasoline out of cans, similar to Santa Rosalillita. I was lucky they were still up. I bought 5 gallons for 380 pesos (US$4.29/gal), very fair and again only 80 some cents profit per gallon for having gas where it is needed.

Now, what is odd, is that I told the man pouring gas in my truck what I just did, and he knew them! Is it really that small a world or are these people famous for getting rides? He even knew that Lorena speaks English pretty well (she told me she self-taught from watching Sesame Street).

Well, I was in good shape and Antonio said I had a room waiting for me at Baja Cactus, 3 hours away! What a day (and night)!

It wasn’t over!!!

Apr 24, 2017 1:21 AM Was doing great and got a flat tire about km. 128. Just fyi.

It looks to be a puncture. I will plug it and fill it. No worries!

It wasn’t as easy as I had hoped… it took two plugs, and a couple times refilling as it went flat again on me in the dangerous curve area around Km. 90.

I arrived at Baja Cactus at 3:40 am! SAFE at HOME, my home in Baja, anyway!

Monday, I sleep in… for a while!

DAY 6 (MON APR 24, 2017)

Having driven all night and arrived at Baja Cactus Motel, El Rosario, at 3:40 am, I was inclined to sleep in as much as possible. Since I was still working, I wanted to get in at least one side trip for the guide that I hadn’t been to since 2011, Punta Baja.

However, the first thing was to get my tire properly repaired and have some breakfast. I was out of my room after 10 am and saw that my plugged tire (passenger side, rear) held air since the second repairs I made on it around 2 am! I thought I would need to pump it up again. Great!

The tires shop called ‘San Borjas’ (Km. 58.5+) is on the left (southbound) just past the town plaza and Pueblo Viejo restaurant, before the Km. 59 marker.

A patch was put in the tire. Then, I tried a new (to me) place, El Faro (The Lighthouse) located just past the Sinahi motel, about Km. 59.5, on the left.
I had a good breakfast of hotcakes and eggs with some excellent coffee. 100 pesos, incl. tip.

I drive up and down Hwy. 1 making notes of the many restaurants, motels, etc. as to their location along the 4 kms. of town that is along the highway (just before Km. 57 to Km. 61).

Much more town is to the west of where the highway makes the sharp turn by Mama Espinoza’s plus there is El Rosario de Abajo, the older town that is 2 miles west and across the river. Developed around the mission that was moved there is 1802 when the water spring failed at the 1774 mission site, which is just a block north of the highway at Km. 58.5+ on the concrete street that goes uphill from the highway (only a fumigation sign is next to that street).

Then, I take a drive out to Punta Baja… the road is wide, smooth, and fast!

The owner is from Faro San José, where I had been to recently, far south.
The road to the “other” El Rosario turns right where Hwy. 1 curves sharp left at Mama Espinoza’s.
The second Rosario mission is in Abajo.
One mission bell is preserved and hangs at a church near the mission ruins in Rosario de Abajo.
The road passes by the mission ruins, preserved in a park setting with gravel walks and information signs.

Punta Baja lighthouse

After my dusty run to Punta Baja, I have my truck washed at El Popeye (Km. 57) just north of the Pemex. They had up to four guys working on it, and I do this not just because it was dirty, but because excessive dirt can be a reason to not allow your car back in the United States (bugs live in dirt being the reason). The charge for an excellent exterior wash was only 120 pesos, which I bumped up to 200 for great service.

Well, that was a good day after quite a night and early morning!
For dinner, I go back to El Faro and have the bacon-wrapped shrimp dinner. It was great… and almost too much to eat!

DAY 7 (TUE APR 25 2017)

Had a great night sleep at El Rosario’s Baja Cactus Motel. To save time, I ate a bowl of cereal in my room and had freshly brewed coffee (Baja Cactus’ main rooms have coffee makers).

I was on the road at 9:30.
Here are some of my trip notes as I checked out a few sites near San Quintin:

Km. 12.5+ Campo Deportivo concrete road west (0.6 mi). A baseball stadium. Past the stadium, the concrete road goes 0.3 mi further to a store and beyond is a swap meet/ flea market area.

Km. 11 Pemex, Los Pinos farm, paved road west (distances in miles):
… 0.0 Hwy. 1
… 1.0 Cross original route of paved Hwy. 1, former parador and gas station site.
… 2.1 Paved road turns left for Hotel Misión Santa María (0.9 mi). The dirt road continues ahead.
… 2.9 Cielito Lindo (motel, restaurant). A road (signed) continues past the Cielito Lindo to the beach.
… 3.5 wide sand beach, past the former Gypsy’s RV park and Wet Buzzard cantina. Now a fisherman’s storage area.

Km. 3.5 Restaurant Boca del Rio.
Km. 1.5 Road west to Los Olivos RV Park (just after the turn left in 1.0 mi) and Baja Jardines (motel and restaurant, 1.2 mi). Road was a bit rough.
Km. 1 Paved road west to Molino Viejo (Old Mill) restaurant and motel, Don Eddie’s motel, and Campo Lorenzo. 0.5 mi from Hwy. 1 is a dirt road south to Los Olivos (0.3 mi) and Baja Jardines (0.5 mi) providing less dirt road driving to those places.
Km. 0.5 Oxxo market
Km. 0 Highway widens northbound. This was the southbound start of the final section of Highway 1 construction, all done in 1973 between here and San Ignacio.

On the drive north, I also began noting kilometer markers for one of the next areas to be ‘mapped’ for the guide.


Abandoned Parador San Quintin and Pemex, along the former route of Hwy. 1, 1-mile west of Km. 11.
Tree lined drive to hotels (Misión Santa María and Cielito Lindo), west from Km. 11.
Sign, 2.1 mi from Km. 11 junction.
At end of pavement, 3 mi. from Km. 11.
Just before Cielito Lindo. Beach is 1/2 mile away.
The former Wet Buzzard Cantina. Pacifico was on tap and Laura made awesome chorizo burritos! Last ate there in 2004.
The beach is huge. No facilities.
Looking back at the former Wet Buzzard Bar

Km. 0, San Quintín is also Km. 196 south from Ensenada (122 miles).

On the way north, I sent a text to Larry (‘bajatrailrider’) in San Vicente to see if he was home and wanted a visit… and he was.

We had a nice chat about all things Baja and his wife Alma made us a great spaghetti lunch thank you! I was there for nearly 2 hours, great hospitality.

The traffic through Ensenada is never fun, but not so bad today and instead of every signal turning red on me, only about half did! Oh, how I love using Hwy. 5 to go up and down Baja instead of Hwy. 1, in the north!

Sign in Ensenada where I turn left to get to the route by the harbor, which I find faster to get to the highway north.

Naturally, I like to cross at Tecate going north so I take Hwy. 3, just north of Ensenada. In Tecate, I use up the last of my pesos to add gas to my tank and the price was 17.06/ liter and I have 600 pesos left from my trip money… and that gives me just over 37 liters.

I get to the border street and never know how long the line will be, well at 5:30 this afternoon, no line. Just one car at the booth when I get there. Fantastic! Great border guard chat/ exchange and I asked him for the paper on what is permitted into the U.S. for the new book project.

I think I got home about 7:30 and had a dinner date with my wife! Nice to be back home! When can I go back to Baja???

Thanks for joining me on this Trip #4!

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