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Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Nothing is written in stone…

Southbound again…
Memorial Day is approaching rapidly and I’m in the final staging of my annual drive south to Baja’s East Cape where I will relocate the “Roadtrek” in Baja Sur for the next seven months. It’s hard to believe that almost half of 2017 is already a fading memory.

THIS YEAR … THE first since 1973 … I actually have a choice of highways!

This year … the first since 1973 … I actually have a choice of highways; I’m going to let each of you do the math, because when I did it I was stunned. Where did all those years go?

Last year, after a weekend stay in Ensenada with Yvonne, where we attended a SAC (Sportfishing Association of California) sponsored remote broadcast of “Let’s Talk Hook-up” at Hotel Coral and Marina, at the last minute I decided to explore a new route (to me) — going east of Mex 3 and heading down Mex 5 until it intersected with Mex 1 at Laguna Chapala.

Last month, a friend Lizzie Crookham messaged about her trip on Mex 5 to the border, “Only 23 miles, about one hour, of rough dirt road. A great deal of Easter traffic. Love saving three-hours of travel time north to San Felipe from our home at Rancho Leonero.”

Since then I’ve been weighing my options, both as to border entry and the route to take.

Departing from Lake Elsinore, my options are varied:

1. Mexicali down Mex 5 to Mex 1;

2. Tecate down Mex 3 intersecting with Mex 5; then Mex1 farther down at Laguna Chapala.

3. Otay and “El Chaparral” border crossing at Tijuana; then down Mex 1 to Ensenada before going east on Mex 3; turning south on Mex 5; then after approximately 23 miles of unpaved under-construction road back on Mex 1.

Decisions…decisions…decisions. Each option has pros and cons for me.

• Mexicali is tempting; Chris Wheaton assures me that Mex 5 from there to San Felipe is well-maintained. However, I’m not familiar with the border crossing and not interested in wasting time figuring it out on this trip. Maybe on my return in November.

• Tecate also has some appeal as far as direct access to Mex 3; still two lanes and limited hours seems to be a drawback.

• All things considered Option 3, “El Chaparral” is the best choice for me. Open 24 hours, easy access to crossing and the ability to purchase FMM before crossing. Plus there is a straight shot around the outskirts of the city to the “Toll Road” and Mex 1.

Seems like every year the number of stops along the way increases. I definitely plan to take a short breather at Coco’s Corner to say hello and catch up on the locals’ opinion on the timing of the completion of the final 23-mile-stretch of dirt road that is left.

Next stop is Las Casitas Hotel, Santa Rosalia, where Brenda Goodson, the owner, has promised introductions to some of the local patriarchs who are willing to bring me up to speed on local history.

Then farther down the road at Mulege, a much-anticipated interview over lunch with 91-year-old veteran Baja entrepreneur and Hotel Serenidad owner, Don Johnson.

Following that interview, I’ll be hooking up with the Sportfishing Association of California team along with Pete Gray and Rick Cutler for a remote “Let’s Talk HookUp Show” broadcast on Saturday June 3 from the Port Captain’s office in Loreto. Tune in on Radio 1090 at 7 a.m. PST to hear the latest scoop on Loreto sportfishing and tourism.

That afternoon, it’s back on the road (Mex 1) again. Destination: Tailhunter Restaurant on the Malecón in La Paz to visit my buddies Jonathan and Jilly for a little R&R watching another magnificent sunset over the Baja Peninsula before a to-die-for fresh seafood dinner while catching up with the gang.

The last scheduled stop of the trip is Rancho Leonero at East Cape where Pete Gray will be hosting his 21st Annual Rancho Leonero “Let’s Talk HookUp” Spring Tournament sponsored by Rick Jensen’s Sportfishing Financial and Statewide Stripes.

The final leg of the 1,015 mile Southbound Tour ends at Theresa Comber’s “East Cape RV Resort” in Los Barriles. Always a welcome sight, a home away from home, where I have stayed off and on since it first opened years ago.

This trip should provide me with plenty of material for future columns and features at all the stops and it just whets my appetite for more. I’m certain I’ll find additional destinations and interesting people who I will want to revisit for future stories. But for this trip, I can’t wait to dig in to share some of the stories and places. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy discovering and writing about them.

Buena suerte y muchas gracias hasta la próxima vez.

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