Day 5: Jan 1, 2003
Cataviña to Campo Miramar (88mi total, 56mi unpaved)

This was my first big day of unpaved-road riding. Once I got to the turn-off, I let about 5 psi out of my tires and off I went. Riding on the unpaved roads was very difficult. It requires a lot of concentration to hold on and avoid the big rocks and deep sand. But the experience was well worth it. Blasting through the desert on the unpaved road, not having seen any signs of civilization or other people for hours -- it's a totally unique and exhilirating experience.

I guess I lied earlier - this was actually my lowest mileage day, but I was riding from 10am until 5pm. The unpaved road was really slow going - a lot of the time I was only going 15-25 mph, and I had to take lots of breaks to rest and drink water.

I saw lots of ``boojum'' trees. These plants are found only in Baja California. They grow to be up to 200 ft tall. This one is about 30 feet tall.


unpaved road to Puertecitos - straight road

unpaved road to Puertecitos - hills

unpaved road to Puertecitos - bike

unpaved road to Puertecitos - over bike's shoulder

Thirteen miles into the unpaved road there's a stop called ``Coco's Corner''. It's basically just a shack where this guy Coco lives and he sells cold beer to travelers. Finding civilization in the middle of nowhere is an oddity to me.

unpaved road to Puertecitos - Coco's Corner

unpaved road to Puertecitos - bike by boojums

unpaved road to Puertecitos - sign to Punta Final and long road ahead

unpaved road to Puertecitos - islands off shore

unpaved road to Puertecitos - bike with crazy bushes and Gulf

unpaved road to Puertecitos - crazy bush

Another bit of civilization in the middle of nowhere. This mini-mart and closed Pemex are by Campo Ranco Grande on the Gulf of California. Thankfully the mini-mart sells gas and water. It and Coco's are about the only buildings on the 80-mile dirt road from Chapala on Mex. 1 to Puertecitos.

unpaved road to Puertecitos - mountains and store through telescope

unpaved road to Puertecitos - bike in front of mini-mart

Riding along the Gulf of California was beautiful. The still blue sea had lots of islands in it.

unpaved road to Puertecitos - large island

unpaved road to Puertecitos - mountain and Gulf

unpaved road to Puertecitos - road ahead and islands

When sunset was approaching, I was still miles from Puertecitos, the nearest town and the end of the unpaved road. I pulled into Campo Miramar, enticed by the sign promising an open restaurant. The campos along the Gulf of California are basically little settlements with a handful of Americans who have brought a trailer down there and come to live some portion of the year on the beach in their trailers. Usually there are a few fixed buildings with a restaurant and maybe houses for the few full-time residents.

The restaurant at Campo Miramar wasn't open, but as I was riding by, one of the residents came out of his trailer and we started talking. He invited me into his home to have some dinner with him (fresh chips made from home-made tortillias and Instant-Lunch ramen noodles). I ate and chatted with him and one of his Mexican friends who lived there full-time. He warned me of the coyotes and the winds and let me pitch my tent next to his trailer. Once the sun was down, the three of us went to the beach to look for clams in the low tide. Unfortunately the lantern went out before they were able to find any, but they had plenty of tales to tell about catching fish, clams, scallops, and squid.

My host was afraid that my tent might blow away in the night with me in it, but I put rocks on the tent stakes and toughed it out. The wind ripped through the tent all night but it wasn't uprooted. In the middle of the night I got up and saw the most beautiful night sky I've ever seen. With no towns for 30 miles in any direction, and little civilization for 100 miles, the night sky was completely unpolluted. There were no clouds and no moon, and I could see every star right down to the horizon, and Venus and Mars, which I had never seen before! Another unique experience not found within the limits of civilization.

camping at Campo Miramar - campsite, Gulf, islands

Next: Day 6 Campo Miramar to Stalton Sea, CA

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