Day Two dawned sunny and cool. The first morning waking up in the rooftop tent afforded us a beautiful view of the mountains across the not-so-dry-lakebed we gleefully avoided. We had breakfast, packed up camp, downloaded the day’s checkpoints and were off.
Eight out of the first ten conversations of the day involved whoops. Predicting how much of the day would include them, verbally strategizing the best ways to drive them, grudgingly agreeing that the paths running alongside whichever path we were on only looked better but really weren’t, that sort of thing. Yup. More whoops.
We eventually made our way to the coast, yay! Our first view of the Sea of Cortez was stunning. We stopped for gas at the first town and grabbed a photo of a particularly cute stray dog. There are stray dogs a’plenty all throughout Baja, a real challenge for bleeding heart dog lovers (looking at you, Judy!) and they almost all seem oddly healthy.
Back on pavement now, we made our way to San Felipe, one of the bigger towns on the inside of the peninsula and home to many a retired gringo. We’d decided to stop for groceries here (translation: beer run) which turned into a bigger deal than it seemed. The first grocery store had all the groceries…except beer. The second grocery store HAD beer but apparently can’t sell it before 10am. So, we went to AutoZone because they are allowed to sell car parts and fluids before 10am. Back to the store and I went inside for supplies while Jon made an adjustment to our tracking device. It had been beeping almost nonstop for the entire morning, so he made some… wiring adjustments… and quiet tracking was re-instated.
Not long after leaving San Felipe, the route took us back onto the dirt. We were starting in on a series of checkpoints that had to be crossed within 100 minutes. The beginning of that drive was on a sandy road that was blissfully free of whoops and we were haulin’ booty! 100 minutes? No problem.
Three checkpoints in, they were back. You guessed it – The Return of The Evil Whoops. Our speed slowed to a mere crawl and we admitted what we knew all along…that we were probably not going to make this series in 100 minutes. We slogged along, fighting the sinking Ship Morale, slowly knocking them out.
But look at the map! Surely there’s another way! That nice smooth pavement is just…over…there. We made the decision to veer off the route and find the tar via what looked like just a short little friendly wash. It was actually a long, windy, semi-grumpy wash, but it did get us back out to the highway, where we turned south and carried on. 100 minutes was in our rear-view mirror, but we were having fun and the views were amazing!
At some point we were again facing the reality of hitting the 8-hour timeout window and wondering if that really meant something or if we should carry on collecting points. We were somewhat less enthusiastic about that today, picturing another 7 days of very long nights and maybe not so many points. We decided to play a little Checkpoint Leapfrog and skip the ones that were way off the highway and just grab those that were closer.
We continued powering south on the road, skipping the iconic Coco’s Corner, almost missing the advertised Last Place for Gas (we flipped around and went back because running out of gas in the desert is not on either of our bucket lists). As the sun started to sink towards the mountains, we finished the last few road checkpoints and arrived at the little fishing village of Bahia La Concepcion. Cute little town that is strangely hard to navigate. We could SEE the lighthouse at the end of the spit whose photo was the last checkpoint but just couldn’t wind our way there. After a stunning amount of zigzagging around very small dirt roads (was that actually a driveway, oops, sorry!) we got as close as we were allowed to go. Camp was just around the bay and we were ready!
An hour or so later we pulled into the second camp. The first step is to go to the lead car where there is a device that wirelessly picks up our tracks for the day. Only on that day they didn’t pick up ours because, well, remember that grocery store parking lot back in San Felipe where we fixed the beeping tracker problem? Turns out you gotta plug wires into the spot on the fuse block that actually has a fuse……So we lost many of the points (that we might have been too late for anyway) but we didn’t really care. Our scores for Day One came out and it turned out that it was indeed true that any checkpoints you got after the 8-hour timeout did not count, so we happily re-strategized our upcoming days into “do what we can do and don’t miss anything cool to see.” We’d had such a great couple of days that this mishap was a total non-event for us.
We went to find our campsite but were flagged by the drivers of Team Voodoo, aka the most awesome vehicle in the group. An off-road limo, really? So cool! But…stuck in the sand. We put a tow rope on them and yanked them out and they came round our campsite later with thank-you margaritas. Delicious!