Matt Ahrens' trip from San Francisco through Baja California, Mexico, and back

The idea of this trip was planted in my head when a friend gave me Adventure Motorcycleing Handbook by Chris Scott. The book talks about truly hard-core adventures - riding across the Sahara desert, or traveling around the world on a motorcycle. It inspired me to seek out an adventure of my own (and on a scale that I could manage).

Since I had time during the winter holidays, I decided to head south to warmer weather (or so I thought) - Baja California, Mexico.

Other books I used in planning and executing my trip were The Best in Tent Camping Southern California by Bill Mai, which provided detailed descriptions of 49 campgrounds (2 of which I stayed at). Lonely Planet's Baja California had up-to-date information on places to stay and things to do in Baja. Motorcycle Journeys Through Baja by Clement Salvadori has great information on dirt roads and general motorcycle road trip advice, although it is a bit out of date (1997) and doesn't cover very many ``traditional'' Baja tourist activities.

I made my journey on my 2000 Kawasaki Ninja 250. I strapped on some dry saddlebags, a duffle bag containing my tent, sleeping bag, and water, and an inflatable (Thermarest) sleeping pad. My bike survived amazingly well, pulling strong through 2742 miles, including over 100 miles of unpaved washboard dirt roads. It burnt a lot of oil, and shook off a few non-essential pieces on the dirt roads, but it never gave up. As a reward I now give her medium grade (89 octane) gasoline and promise to stop neglecting to clean and oil her chain.

This journey was overall one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I felt so many new feelings that I could never experience in my everyday life -- being completely alone and having to rely on myself to accomplish my goals; being in awe of nature's majesty; facing unexpected obstacles and changes to plan on a daily basis and needing to believe in myself in order to overcome them.

I hope you enjoy these pictures and stories. Please don't hesitate to email me with any questions or comments.
mahrens at alumni dot brown dot edu

Day 1 San Francisco to Los Padres National Park
Day 2 Los Padres to Lancaster, CA
Day 3 Lancaster to Ensenada, Baja
Day 4 Ensenada to Cataviña
Day 5 Cataviña to Campo Miramar
Day 6 Campo Miramar to Stalton Sea, CA
Day 7 Stalton Sea to Las Vegas, NV
Day 8 Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park
Day 9 Death Valley to Minden, NV
Day 10 Minden to San Francisco