Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mexican Ironbutt Part 2 - the journey home.

(Part 2 – the trip home)

Well,  There I was in Loreto, BCS.   With my bike,  and no riding partner.   What to do?

Might as well pack up and haul back home.   JUST IN CASE----  I’d pull receipts, log mileage, get signatures,  and essentially make back-to-back Ironbutt rides.

If nothing else, it was motivation to go.

5:00am (pst) Departing La Mision Hotel  - Odometer 14043
I wish the guys good luck on their fishing, and have loaded up and head out.  Stop #1 really is the Pemex station in Loreto.

Remember all those tight, scary, dark turns on the way IN to Loreto?   Well, waking up fresh and relaxed?  They were a bit “sporty” on the way out.   I rode to Mulege with a rapid pace and a the bike out and going.

7:30am (pst) Santa Rosalia – Odometer 14170
I’ve passed the crash site in Mulege, and continued on Mex 1 north.  The road is still tight and curvy, but in the early morning, it is not too hot, and the road is relatively empty.  I am getting good, consistent mileage.

9:45am (pst) Guerro Negro – Odometer 14307
This is my favorite stop, and maybe favorite story of the whole event.   All gas stations in Baja are run by the nationalized distributor.  Pemex  (Petroleum Mexico)   They set prices every morning and prices are same at every station.    All stations are full service.  You cannot pump your own fuel.    All stations also seem to be staffed by nice, middle aged ladies, in very tight polyester britches.

I pull in, get my helmet off, and ask for fuel.
The attendant lady asks me “are you a movie star”
I answer the ONLY way I could “why YES, Yes I AM”
She asks “are you in any movies I’ve seen?”
And I reply “No Ma’am, you don’t seem like the lady who would watch THOSE kinds of movies”

And?   She immediately looks DIRECTLY at my crotch!


Crossing the Los Cirios again,  I stop to refuel from fuel cans in the exact same spot  - the sun is getting hotter, I am getting inland, there are no cool ocean breezes.  This is not the most fun.  But I continue.

1:15pm (pst) El Rosario – Odometer 14530
I’m just coming out of Los Cirios,  I could go a bit further, but it’s a good time to stop, refuel, stretch and eat a fig bar.

4:10pm (pst) – Magusa? – Odometer  14675
I’m not exactly sure of the name of this town, but I know I am south of Ensenada, and the receipt says Magusa.   It seemed like a good idea to stop and refuel before the madness of Ensenada.

This is also the stretch where road construction begins.    I remember, I am on a LARGE dirt bike, by myself.  I turn OFF traction control, turn ON sport mode, and it’s Game FREAKING ON!

On this next section, I am passing 5, 7, 10 cars at will in the dirt,  standing up for balance, the rear is sliding sideways, the front is floating over the dirt and gravel.    I am making great time.     At every small town stop, guys in look-a-like trophy trucks are honking horns and shouting “go man go”  they are enthusiastic about some solo loco gringo hauling buns.

Passing Ensenada was problematic.   Brad had Mexican maps pack on his GPS.  So I did not download it for mine.   All I have as brown background and a black line for Mex 1.   This does NOT help in town.    Ensenada does not have great markings for Hwy 1,  and I get a little lost, but realize, follow the ocean north, and I’ll get there.

1D is still closed for construction, so I am on 1.    And continuing to pass like mad, and keep out of the way.  I’m making great time, and having fantasy about my home, my bed before 10pm.

THEN I get lost in Tijuana.  It seems simple enough   mex 1 north to US 5 north.  But?  I miss a sign, or a turn, or something.  And spend 45 mins to an hour circling around Tijuana.   Finally a guy on a bike takes pity and says “follow me”  and leads me to the checkpoint.

A bunch of interesting stuff happens here.   I BELIEVE I will cross the Mexican custom station, have my passport stamped,  then go to the US side to do same.  

But?  I do not SEE any Mexican checkpoint.  Only the madness of about eight-million Mexican teenagers selling things off carts and wagons.   Snacks, hats, sun shades, souvenirs,     I want out of this!

One well meaning young man says “hey, Moto!  You go around the outside, then to the green line”

I am not sure what that means,  but I go around the outside, pass all the cars, and get to a dividing point.   Green and blue labels, I cannot make out what they say.   I ask a Mexican official, “which way to customs”   he smiles, and points north.

Well, the blue line is less full than the green line, so I pull in.  When I get to what looks like a toll booth, a US Customs and Border officer is there, and immediately starts yelling at me.  Dude is dressed in full combat ops.   Boots, vest, tactical head to toe.

“why are you here, what are you doing, give me your passport”

I hand him my passport, and try to explain I feel I am lost,  I have not checked out of Mexico, and am not sure where I need to be to get back to the US.

He yells,  not talking,  not talking loudly,  but YELLING “you are in the US NOW,  we don’t give a FUCK what the Mexicans want – you are in the WRONG LINE.   There is a $5000 fine for being in this line”

So I ask him “I am sorry, I will go to any line you tell me,  please tell me what to do”

Again with the yelling: “you assholes always fuck this up.  You need to go to inspection”

He throws my passport at me, and puts an orange paper on the windscreen of my bike.  And yells “go over there”   and points, in a way I cannot actually see.

“I’m sorry, I did not see where you wanted me to go?  Can you show me”

Yelling “get out of here now before I have you arrested”

Hooray, welcome home.

I pull forward about 10 feet,  then another 10,  till I see a line of cars and trucks parked at inspection tables.   Well, I kinda know what this means,  but I am not sure where to go.  So I stop.

Another guy in attack-wear walks by and starts yelling “move move move”

“Sir, if you point and tell me where to go,  I will happily comply, I am lost”

he points?  Forward.

I pull forward about 10 feet,  and stop again.  I still cannot figure out where to go.   I feel like the biggest dumbass in the world,  and I do not want more yelling.

Finally a female officer walks by,  again yelling.  I’m close to total breakdown now “Excuse me officer, I am totally lost and confused,  If you could just show me where to put the bike, I would happily do so” 

She must have had a shred of humanity and mercy left, because she pointed, and said “pull in behind that blue car”

Directions!  Input!  I know what to do,  I pull in, and start to get off the bike.

ANOTHER US Customs and Border Patrol agent in full black tactical gear starts yelling at me “stay on the damn bike,  did anyone tell you to get off the bike,  stay right where you are”

So I did.  I turned off the bike, and sat for almost 45 minutes.   Till the same guy asked for my passport.

I hand over the passport, and he yells “do not get off the bike”  as he walks to some computer kiosk and starts punching in info.

He comes back and yells “get off the bike, open your luggage”  So I do.   “What is in there”?    well,  sir,  my laundry.

He pulls the orange sticker off my windscreen and yells “next time you go in that line it is a $5000 fine.  We have you recorded – now get the hell out of here”

“Uhm, sir, may I have my passport back?”

Again, throws passport and points to the left.   I grab and do not drop it,  zip passport into my chest pocket on the Aerostich,  and slowly move forward, and left.  There is a road that leads to ?  Hwy 5 North.

I am not worried about anything other than getting the HECK away from that horrible place of intimidation and yelling.

I drive about 3 miles, and stop under a bridge over 5.   I readjust my earplugs, helmet, gloves and gear.

Now I am back on track.  Hwy 5 north.   Will not stop,  I want to be as far away from San Diego as I can.  

8:30pm (pst) – Laguna Madre – Odo14855
Stop to refuel and rest some.  The experience in customs was just bullshit.   I thought about how friendly all officials were in Mexico.  The guy at Customs,  the kids at the military checkpoints.  All doing their jobs.   Not on some weird power trip to intimidate and scare.   

11:55pm (pst) – Buttonwillow – Odo  15024
Stop to fuel in Buttonwillow.  I used to roadrace with the AFM at the Buttonwillow track.  I KNOW this part of Hwy 5.   I’m not home, but I know, I have about 3.5 hours left.   

1:35am (PST) – Santa Nella  Odo 15175
last stop before I cross 152 to hwy 101.    I know it will be cold and windy.  There is a minivan fueling,   If he goes a reasonable speed?  I will follow him.

2:30am (PST) – Brad’s house ODO-15239
quick stop to get Naomi to sign my form, then gas stop for receipt and home

2:54am (pst) – Almaden Expressway San Jose – ODO 15243
refuel at my neighborhood gas station.  I am moments from home.

HOME.   I park in the garage, strip all my gear off and leave it in the garage.

Sara and Saul are in Wisconsin visiting her mom.
Penny is still at the doggie boarding place.

I walk into the house,  sit in the bathtub, and let the shower pour over me.  I may fall asleep, I am not sure.   I jerk with a start,  and realize, brown water is still coming off me.    I stand up and scrub,   clean off and go to sleep.

I am done.

You ARE a movie star. You wrote the script and directed, too.

Is there such a thing as a yelling addiction? They got all the border patrol from the 12-step dropouts, then.

I am sorry you got yelled at. I would have just started crying. I bet there's a $5,000 fine for that too.

A trip well done. Better than that, well written.
Heh, sounds like you were treated as a boot in Basic Training. Good story :-)
Bummer at the border. Hey - that could be a song title!

Mark Walker
Santa Barbara
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