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Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Baja Multihull, a novel option
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
It’s all about the kids


A Preface for Budding Mex 1 Road Explorers
Baja roads have been a significant part of my life since 1973 when a couple of buddies and I decided to get an up-close look at the recently- completed Mex 1 that had opened that year.

Mex 1 was a two-lane asphalt highway stretching 1,063 miles from the border between the U.S. and Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.


It was hard to believe that we could drive from border to tip on a paved road instead of the often unmarked, rocky, dirt track that wound through the desert and mountains. Ray Cannon’s, “The Sea of Cortez” and his weekly WON‘Baja Beat’ columns fanned our imagination, and we set out to see for ourselves.


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ONE THAT IS relatively new and handy to bookmark in your browser ishttps://tinyurl.com/BajaRoads. It offers locations of reports of storm damage, road construction and detours for the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico.


Little did I know that Mex 1 would become forever woven into the fabric of my life.


We crossed the border in a bare, mid-60s Dodge van with two bucket seats, a curtain that hid a mattress on the floor in the rear, along with duffel bags, an ice chest, folding chaise lounges and sleeping bags — and we were off on the beginning of our adventure.


Looking back at faded black and white photos of that initial road trip, I realize that they confirmed Cannon’s stories, which were not only true but very likely understated.


I have since made countless trips up and down the highway, exploring, camping, guiding and of course, fishing, at every opportunity.


In the early days, few travelers trickled down, and everything was a question. Road conditions, availability of gasoline, places to eat, (restaurants were few), where to camp and so forth. It was common practice to stop along the road and exchange information with other travelers going in both directions. New friends were made.


The adventures have been priceless. I shared coffee and a Baja sunrise with Ray Cannon on the porch at Rancho Buena Vista Hotel and caught my first white seabass in the surf with Tom Miller (author of the “Baja Book” and WON columnist of the ‘Baja Beat’). I chased sierra with Chuck Walters, while his father, the “Colonel,” looked on … (the Colonel was one of the pioneers who made Rancho Buena Vista Hotel famous in the 1960s). I swapped Baja stories (and secret fishing spots) with Fred Hoctor, another WON columnist of Baja Beat, while watching the sunset at Punta Bunda. I fished with Gene Kira and his son, Gifford, at Magdalena Bay and was with Gene when he caught his first Baja snook.


Yvonne and I made frequent trips driving Mex 1 while we had “Rancho Deluxe” at East Cape. Eager to arrive at our Baja beachfront home, and driving “pedal to the metal,” we allowed little time for exploring and wore out several vans in the process.


Judging by some of the questions I hear at shows and see in social media, many newcomers planning their first Baja road trip down the Baja Peninsula consider it as daunting today as we did 46 years ago.


However, it’s astonishing the amount of information that is now available for those Baja Mex 1 and Mex 5 explorers. First, there are two very active travel clubs: Vagabundo del Mar and Discover Baja. Both provide tons of information and services to help newcomers as well as seasoned veterans, either in person, on the telephone or online.


Add the convenience of good cell service most everywhere (except between El Rosario and Guerrero Negro) and better Wi-Fi and internet, which all allow travelers to be able to check online for current road updates on Travel Club sites, as well as some Facebook groups.


In addition to localized groups for different areas throughout Baja, some cover the entire peninsula. Several to look for: “On the Road in Mexico,” “Talk Baja,” plus “Talk Baja Road Conditions,” along with the “Baja Weather Channel.” These are all favorites of mine that I check frequently.


One that is relatively new and handy to bookmark in your browser is https://tinyurl.com/BajaRoads. It offers locations of reports of storm damage, road construction and detours for the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico.


Also, for anglers, many of the sportfishing fleets and individual charter companies that WON mentions have FB pages where up-to-date information about conditions and catches is available. And, if you search “Baja Fishing Groups,” you will find many that share your interest in Baja and sportfishing.


If you have been on the fence about driving to Baja, take it from someone who has made hundreds of trips over the past five decades. It has never been easier, nor has there ever been as much information so readily available for you to research and plan for a smooth, pleasant and memorable trip to Baja.


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Reader Comments

The best times of my life have been in Baja.
cooke Bausman
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