Sunrise at Campo Percebu


Baja -- Dec 24th 2011 through Jan 1st 2012

The particulars...

Me, Taylor ( ) , Chris ( ) , and Al had a kickass week in Baja Norte for Christmas and New Years. All the images open in a new window to a larger image. Hold your curser over an image for the caption.


Dec 24th 2011

Having the week off of work between Christmas and New Years was all the justification I needed to go to Baja again. I was in Phoenix anyway to see family for the holiday, so what's a few more hours driving... ;)

My buddy Taylor rode with me again. He lives in Flagstaff, so we met up Saturday morning near Carefree. We met up with two other friends, Chris and Al, who were coming from the San Diego area. The plan was to all of us meet in San Felipe on Saturday afternoon.

The border crossing and immigration was easy and uneventful at the Mexicali East crossing. We stopped in town at a Calimax to get groceries and liquor for the trip. The prices were great. I made a huge blunder at this point in the trip. I walked over to a HSBC ATM to get some pesos and I got my money and my receipt and walked away. I left my card in the ATM and didn't realize it until 2 hours later and called it in. My ATMs back home are the swipe kind, not the ones that take your card, so I just simply forgot it. There were not any charges on the cancelled card when I got home. At least I got my money out before I lost it!

I snapped a few pics with the iPhone on the way down. Just south of Mexicali Crossing the dry lake bed on the way to San Felipe Taylor and I arrived in San Felipe around 2:30 local which was earlier than we thought we'd be. We made our first stop at the fireworks shop on the north side of town to get some fun boomers for the beach camp. It's the red trailer, ya can't miss it!Yeah, we had a lot of explosives. ;) We then made our way on into town and parked on the boardwalk. It was time for some much needed fish tacos. The taco stand called Adriana's is the place to go. Good stuff!! Six fish tacos of happieness was only 70 pesos. The view of the beachfront along the malecon in San Felipe. Later on in the afternoon Al and Chris arrived in town and we all caravanned south. The light was failing us and we didn't get far. We ended up driving out to Campo Percebu to make a quick camp.


Dec 25th 2011

Merry Christmas! I was SOOO hungover this morning. The awesome sunrise that is the banner for this report greeted me though, so it was not all that bad of a morning.

Percebu was closed and nobody ever came and collected a fee and we were on the road early. Leaving PercebuDesolate desert landscape

Because the new highway is almost all the way to Gonzaga Bay now, we made great time. We wanted to make it to Alfonsina's for a late breakfast if they were open.

The checkpoint just north of Gonzaga was open and the guys there were nice as always. The checks were somewhat thorough but nothing too invasive. Just looking for drugs and guns.

Me chatting with the military. Photo by Chris Marzonie.

A plane parked at Rancho GrandeAn Old Man Cactus Turns out Alfonsina's was open and they had a number of tourists staying in the hotel there. I had a regular bacon omelet, but I should have went for the shrimp omelette, it looked way better!

We hit the road south and got to Coco's Corner pretty quickly and Coco was there. I had missed him on my last trip. For those of you that know Coco, he had just gotten back from an extended hospital stay where he said that he suffered a heart attack and a coma. The guy can't wear any of the prosthetics any more and gets by somehow. He's a tough yet nice old guy. He said that the doctors wouldn't let him leave because he doesn't have much time left and he left anyway and he wanted to die in his patch of desert when it finally comes to that rather than in a hospital room. I hope he was just being dramatic and I hope he is around for years to come. We left him some food and provisions and I also left him a bird guide that I had in the truck. He asked if I had any books with photos that I could leave for him to read and pass the time and a bird guide was the best I could do. I'll bring better stuff next time.

Coco's Corner, Photo by Taylor Cotten

Me and CocoCoco's customized ride. Photo by Al WalterCoco showing me how he drives. Photo by Al Walter.

We left Coco's and headed to toward Calamajue. The plan was to stay on dirt all the way to the Bay of LA road by driving up Calamajue canyon and then across to the El Desengaño mine.

The drive toward Calamajue and then down toward the canyon was through some dry but striking desert landscapes.

Awesome geology I love the landscapes in BajaOld man cactus Road to nowhere...

Once we reached Calamajue canyon the light was getting low on the horizon. Shockingly there was water in the canyon too and as we drove up and out the canyon the water crossings became increasingly deeper. Unfortunately the light in the steep canyon was too low to get any good photos of the water crossings but I plan to come here again in warmer months to look for frogs.

The bottom of the canyon. There was a soda dam forming here from all of the minerals in the spring water.

The vegetation was really dense when the canyon narrowed and there was more water.  The soda dam, Photo by Taylor Cotten

We made camp in the desert somewhere north of El Desengaño and at some point there was an imaginary line that we passed. The line was between dry desolate desert and wet lush desert. There had been a lot of rain in Baja Norte recently but not everywhere and we finally passed into the desert that had received water.

An agave blooming. The bloom That's a big cardon! Photo by Taylor Cotten

Even the elephant trees were leafed out! Everywhere you looked grasses and forbs were coming up.

Seeing incredible lush desert really made my Christmas for me. Merry Christmas!! :)


Dec 26th 2011

The next morning the green desert was even prettier in the morning light.

Beautiful! Baja fairyduster (Calliandra californica) Thanks for the ID help Carianne!

Just a few miles away was the old mining operation at El Desengaño.

An old arrastra Not much left... The adventurers...

We then explored up into the Yubay wash hoping to find some rock art that Al knew about. The road across the mesa and into the wash was ridiculous! I wish I lived right here..

Chris ahead of me in the cardon forest Awesome...

Once in the wash we parked and hiked for a few miles looking for the rock art but we never found it. I took a few pics of some weird looking forbs growing in the wash. I'll bet these guys don't get enough water to grow very often...

A couple small forbs growing. Lots of nice rocks, but no rock art.

This one looked like kale! Is this devil's claw maybe?


After we finally hit the pavement it was well after lunch. We rolled into Bahia de Los Angeles and gassed up and hit the mercado for more beer and goodies. Then it was back out of town. To get to Ensenada Alcatraz you have to cross a large dry lake called Laguna Agua Amarga about 20 miles or so out of town.

This is looking back about halfway across. The highway is at the base of the far mountains.

We arrived into camp after dark and we were all pretty tired from a long full day. The mud flats right near camp were a little sticky bit not bad enough to continue.


Dec 27th through Jan 1st

This beach is one of my happy places that I escape to in life when times are shitty. I'm glad I know about this place and I'm glad that it is hard to get too. It keeps the riff raff away. I've spent many nights here over the years.

We spent the next 6 days here, exploring, hiking, paddling, fishing, relaxing, and simply enjoying life. The rest of this small report is simply photos and videos from the 6 days on this awesome beach.


Pretty Landscapes and Hikes

Our beach looking west.The coastline to the south toward BoLA.Sunset at Alcatraz

One of many beautiful sunrises...SunriseOur beach looking east.

Some days the water was as smooth as glass...The south side of Isla Alcatraz

The north side of the island.Another view of camp.Another beautiful beach beach to the north that we hiked to.


Paddling and Fishing

One of dozens of spotted sandbass I caught. Most were released.No clue what this little guy is.Taylor had even better luck the whole trip.

Tearing 'em up! We had a fish feast this night!Ocean whitefish

A diferent sandbass called goldspotted.This large cobble beach was about a 3 mile paddle and I found some cool stuff on it.

A Giant Jawfish or Bigmouth Bastard, we had a lot of these guys too. Coming in from a paddle. Photo by Chris Marzonie.

A couple of videos....

Here is me giving a fishing demo, trying to be like me hero as a young man, Bill Dance. :) I know, it's not that big a fish, but it was fun!

Fishing video (13mb)


Also, here's a video of some dolphins that came toward us when we were paddling in to camp after fishing all morning. A great experience.

Dolphin video (18mb)


Chris got in some paddling time too.

Chris nearing Isla AlcatrazI took these next few photos from the cliff using a long lens.Chris and Taylor are fishing deep way out there.

Chris landing a fish


Camp Life

Camp Hobo! Wake up Taylor ya lazy ass! hahaChris and Al sharing a laughWTF, my truck's hood is not your personal storage!?


The Hobo Camp
Hobo Camp! Photo by Taylor Cotten


Sometimes you just want to mess with your buddies. Chris was on a walk on the beach one night so we shot a 3 foot long boomer firecracker at him. The video cracks me up!! (2.2 Mb)

Chris's Oztent in the foreground.Me whipping up some venison burros and taters. Photo by Chris Marzonie.

Me and Al watching the birds in the bay. Photo by Chris Marzonie.Al's new Tacoma and Adventure Trailer Flippac

The bar
The bar was needing restocked with tequila!Over the 9 days we went through 5 bottles of tequilas. Great trip!!

Fireworks fun on New Year's Eve!!! *Note: All fireworks debris was cleaned up, the beach was left cleaner than we found it.

We did a little product test on the Rio Adventure small camp table to see how well it would handle a Mexican cherry bomb. Here is the video link of the event (8Mb) and a few photos.

The results of the table test. The table was totally still functional!

I hated that teapot...It took a lot of searching to find all of it.

New Year's Eve, Photo by Chris Marzonie.



A Raven watching over campHe brought a friend too

Turkey VultureEared GrebesGreat Blue Heron

Our camp coyoteHe had a lazy earPatrolling


Since this trip report was posted in early February 2012, my buddy Chris is only just beginning his adventure driving to Central America on his 6-month trip and Al just finally retired from his job and will be in Baja lot more. Damn, I am jealous...

Taylor, Me, and Chris









© 2007