Baja Mexico Road Trip Advice

When you cross the border into Mexico, all of the stresses and worries of hectic United States living evaporate, leaving you instantly refreshed and rejuvenated.  Do you stay feeling so awesome after hitting your first pothole, the first American tourist that flies past you over 100mph, the first time soldiers with machine guns are digging through your car?  Here is a quick recap of problems, suggestions, annoyances, and misconceptions and general Baja Mexico Road Trip Advice.

-If you drive into Mexico your car insurance is no longer valid.  You can buy Mexican insurance at the border and there are several different options.  Since we have an old dumpy car, we got the cheapest available plan, $6 per day which would at least keep us out of prison in the event of a fender bender.  No one ever asked if we had this or not and I think a lot of travelers skip it. I wouldn’t take my chances.

-To travel south of Ensenada, tourists are supposed to get a card from immigration for $25 each.  We got them but this was also probably unnecessary, as no one once looked at our passports.  One soldier at a checkpoint did ask for my passport once but I told him “No tengo (I don’t have it)” and handed him my California driver’s license without a problem.

-Everyone told us to keep a $20 bill in a visible spot in the car.  Apparently $20 is “the fine” if the Federales (Mexican federal police, notoriously corrupt) stop you.  We were also advised to never give them your passport because to get it back you’ll have to pay much more than $20.  We never had any encounters with the Federales.

-Watch out for potholes!  We hit some bad ones but were lucky enough to not blow any tires.   Some of the worst we spotted had to be more than a foot deep.  No recovery after hitting that.  Also, there are a lot of unmarked speed bumps.  If you were driving the speed limit these wouldn’t be a problem.  However, you won’t be driving the speed limit.

-Don’t run out of gas!  Most Baja maps show you which towns have gas stations.  There are some very long stretches without and you’ll need a full tank!  Plan wisely, or you’ll end up stranded!

-No one drives the speed limit.  If the sign said “40 km per hour” I tried not to exceed 40 miles per hour.

-People hassle you to buy tours and souvenirs, especially in Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas.  Just say “No gracias,” firmly and continue like they aren’t there.   If you make eye contact you will never be left alone.

-Drugs will be offered to you all the time (especially if you have dreadlocks or other hippie-ish characteristics).  Rarely do tourists ever have a problem in México unless they are looking for that stuff.  It’s a great way to get robbed, kidnapped, or jailed.  The booze is cheap and legal!  Stick with that.

-There are about eight military checkpoints (different from the Federales) along the way.  Headed south we were searched at two of the checkpoints.  Northward we were searched at all but one stop.  We always hid our money but at times we forgot to put away the bribe $20 bill.  The soldiers never took it or anything else and were always pretty polite.  Just don’t bring anything into the country that you don’t want found.

Waiting in line at one of many military checkpoints. Baja Mexico road trip advice
Waiting in line at one of many military checkpoints.

-When you’re eating and drinking you should tip around 15%.  Nothing is expensive so don’t get cheap on people.

-The tap water is safe to consume in some places.  Ask the locals!

Mexico is a lot of fun, and actually really easy to travel in.  Don’t let the scary news reports keep you away from a good time.  We hope this Baja Mexico road trip advice article helps all our fellow travelers out there!

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Moving to California – The Final Day

We spent a restful day at my parents house in Williams, Arizona, then made the last push to San Diego, our final destination, the end of the continent.  Arizona was our home for about a year, and when we woke up after a night there, it was as if we had never left.  I was offered a stable job at the Grand Canyon.  We thought “are we stupid to leave here?”  But those are the times when you must push forward, the times when most would take the easy road instead of doing what they really wanted.  We almost always do what we want, so found ourselves on I-40 west with Los Angeles on the highway signs, only hundreds of miles away.

Mr. Moose hates the heat.

Usually we take the old Route 66 to L.A. and then cut south to San Diego.  This time we chose to take a shorter but slower direction by turning south right after entering California.  The desert got CRAZY – super hot with dust storms as we passed through abandoned towns, dried up and shriveled remains of old dreams and desires.  We had a CouchSurfing hose in Moab tell us a story about a guy he knew that went out hiking in the desert and they never found him.  “When the desert decides to take you, there is nothing you can do about it,” he said very seriously.  The desert sure is a strange place that demands respect.

With that said, we were worried about the car, making sure we wouldn’t run out of gas, sweating and sweating and… but we got through and soon were gazing upon the beautiful palm trees near Palm Springs.

Mr. Moose near Palm Springs.

The last bit was the longest, as it always is.  We hit a mountain range that was unexpected and we again worried about our brakes smoking.  But, all of a sudden,finally, FINALLY WE MADE IT WHOOO SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA YEAH WHOO GET US TO THE OCEAN YIPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our new home, Ocean Beach!!! (or for the locals, simply OB)
Our main drag, famous Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach.

Stay tuned for more from one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. of A.  Be ready to get jealous as we leave you with a picture from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, near our new home in Ocean Beach.

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Moving to California – Day 1

We changed plans.  Between planning a wedding and really wanting surfboards, we decided to cancel the big looping road trip and settled on a more direct route through the center of the country.  There isn’t much new for us to see this direction, but we really just wanted to get to sunny California as soon as possible.

Ohio cornfields and the bobblehead moose that relaxes on the dashboard of our car. 

After turning in our apartment keys in Toledo, we started west on the Ohio Turnpike (80/90), stopping to say a quick goodbye to my family.

Toll roads, toll roads.

Just about one uneventful hour later, we made our way into Indiana.  Not much different than Ohio.  Near the end of Indiana the landscape became more and more industrial and soon we were entering Chicago, our destination for the night.

The Windy City

We stopped in Lincoln Park to meet up with a good friend and spent the afternoon walking the city streets.  It had been a long time since we had been to a big, American city.  Hunger set in so we found the closest pizza place and the three of us dug into a 12 inch deep dish.

Mr. Moose didn’t help us with the pizza.

It was good to see our friend and his family.  They always take us in during our travels and they’re always a good time.  The first day of traveling never feels quite right, with our minds all jumbled up with work and the stresses of life.  Chicago was a good start, but still only a start.  “TO THE WEST!!!” we yelled.

 

 

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