Victoria BC to San Felipe, Baja, Mexico
- by Kent and Lynn White
We don’t quite fit into the retirement classification
yet, but we really look forward to our vacations with
our travelling buddies, Ed and Gabriella Pakos. Our plan
was to catch the Coho ferry to Port Angeles, WA. We planned
to leave on Saturday, Feb. l9th, on the l0:30 a.m. ferry,
but being excited, we all agreed to knock off work early
on the 18th instead, and take the 4:30 ferry that evening,
"just to get a jump on things". Then we all
figured if we were going to go Friday afternoon, we might
as well take the whole day off and go in the morning.
As it worked out, we ended up taking our motorhomes down
and spending the night in the parking lot Thursday, and
starting our trip with dinner in the Charles Dickens Pub
in the Empress Hotel. Great hamburgers!
Once in Port Angeles, we searched
out the lowest priced gas and fueled up, $1.34 U.S. per
gallon. We thought that to be very reasonable, and headed
for Hwy.101 to Olympia. Along the way, you pass little
villages where the homes are right on the water’s
edge on quite calm bays. The occasional pub and stores
are on the opposite side.
Our first stop for the evening was
Eugene, OR and more gas. As we were on limited time, we
did not look around Eugene and left bright and early after
a peaceful night at the K-Mart RV resort. Not too fancy
but the price was right.
Before leaving Victoria, we both installed
this PVI thing. That’s short for Platinum Vapour
Injection, a miracle invention that claims to boost your
mileage by 15% to 22%. Along with this, we installed a
K and N air filter. Prior to all this I was lucky to get
7 or 7.5 mpg. After my first tank-full I shot up to 8.20
mpg. Depending on the terrain and headwinds, I averaged
8.8 mpg, with my highest being 9.9. All in all it is worth
it as you get 25,000 kms per kit. Look it up HERE.
Our next stop was in Redding, CA.
The weather was getting a little warmer and we all stepped
out of the motorhomes in shorts and T-shirts to go and
explore the Liquor Barn. What a store, even for someone
who only drinks those fluffy umbrella drinks! We were
$80 poorer when we left. Gas in Redding was still reasonable
at $1.36 US a gallon. After a long day on the road we
pulled into a vacant restaurant, had dinner with our friends,
watched a movie and hit the sack.
It’s now Sunday morning and
after an hour or two of driving, we pull into Coalinga
CA for fuel. Wow! Only $1.65 a gallon. We are assured
by the attendant that it’s not quite as high down
Next morning finds us in San Diego.
I guess this is one drawback of being too young to retire
- you drive long hours each day so you can squeeze as
much time in at your final destination, and then turn
around and do it all in reverse so you can make it back
to work on time. Once we stock up at Costco and refuel
at a more sensible $1.34 a gallon, we’re off for
Calexico, which is a small town on the border, with Mexicali
on the other side.
By the time we get our Mexican insurance,
it’s almost 2 p.m. We flip a coin to decide whether
to head across today or wait for first thing tomorrow.
Heads wins and we head for the border, knowing it’s
going to be tough getting to San Felipe before dark. As
it turned out, the road through Mexicali was pretty straight-forward
and we were on the open road in no time. We had done some
research on the Internet and found the Eldorado Ranch
and RV Resort just 7 miles north of San Felipe, but did
not make any reservations as we weren’t sure just
when we would get there. We arrived at 5:15 p.m., the
sun just starting to set and we all felt a little easier
as we got out to stretch and check out the Sea of Cortez.
As it turned out, the Eldorado was full but they offered
us the use of their parking lot for the night as well
as camp passes so we could wander around and have a drink
down at their own private cantina. It’s true what
they say about Margaritas down there, the tequila does
The next morning the tide was out
and all you could see was sand, sand and more sand. We
decided to venture further south and see the city. San
Felipe is very quiet compared to other Mexican towns;
its main street has shops and restaurants on one side
and the water on the other with a nice esplanade. You
can walk along it and hire a fishing expedition or buy
jewelry or shirts, etc. from the vendors. We felt quite
comfortable parking our rigs on the side of the road.
As we looked around, the Canadians and Americans almost
outnumbered the locals.
As we headed further south towards
the airport, we turned left towards Puerto Puertecitos.
As the tourism is down in this part of the Baja, we found
many deserted camps and resorts. I’m sure we could
have camped there forever and nobody would have cared.
After many attempts at finding the right spot on the right
beach, we settled for the Villa Marina Resort, about 8.5
kms. from the turnoff to the airport.
We were to be the only residents there
for the next four days. We had water and septic but no
electricity. As everyone has heard, the water on the Baja
is okay for cooking and washing, but for drinking and
making coffee or tea, get purified water. We paid $10
a day but later found out we could have bartered and probably
paid about $5 or $6 a day. As I mentioned, we were the
only ones there, so we had the whole beach to ourselves
and took advantage of it at low tide when we went beachcombing
for shells and sand-dollars.
The sand-dollars are indigenous to
San Felipe and are the most unusual design we’ve
ever seen. I’m told they will make great wind chimes
when dried and painted. We have so many shells and sand
dollars stored in our rigs that Ed thinks we will be called
into the scales for weigh-in on the way home.
The temperature was in the mid to high 70s while we were
there and we always had a nice breeze off the water. As
we left our private resort, we were already making plans
to return next year, hopefully with a dune buggy so we
can explore further down the beach, and also head into
town if we were to hear the calling.
It’s now Saturday and the plan is to camp at one
of three campgrounds in town. We chose the Baja Mar, and
after walking around the city and checking out the other
two we all agreed we picked the right one. The cost per
night was a negotiable $12, including showers, hydro,
sewer and water. While sitting at an outdoor bar having
a margarita, we hear this big Ola! and it’s a close
friend of Ed’s and Gabriella’s. They knew
we were down in the area so they drove up from Mulege
to search us out.
Dennis and Dorothy had left Surrey
BC in early January and were touring around the Baja in
their brand-new 35-foot Landau motorhome. After a few
more margaritas in town, we all ended up back at our campsite
for a few more fluffies. The next day we moved to the
Eldorado Resort and found two spots right next to Denis
and Dorothy, Ed’s friends, again overlooking the
ocean. We spent our last two days here and had a great
time. Each evening we would go down to Juanita’s
cantina and sit around this big firepit in the middle
of the room and listen to the entertainment or just talk
to all our newfound friends from the campgrounds. Oh yeah!
And have a margarita or two. The shrimp are out of this
world; to say they are JUMBO is an understatement. The
vendors come around to the campsite each morning and you
can expect to pay about $20 U.S. per kilo.
We left San Felipe after nine days.
Coming through Mexicali we couldn’t believe our
eyes! They have a Costco! We decided we had better stop
and check it out. Well, you would think you were in any
other Costco in Canada or the USA, except it’s all
in Spanish. After stocking up on hot peppers and sauces
we made it to the border and had no problems getting back
into the US.
The trip to San Felipe can be done
on one tank of gas, but we saw plenty of Pemex stations
along the way. We came upon two army check-points on the
way down and one on the way back - each time they were
very friendly and polite. The Mexican people are all very
friendly and kind and love to hear us try speaking Spanish,
and they like to practice English. By supper time we were
all set up at the Westwind Resort in Yuma, AZ, where I
have my first ever game of golf and then the slow journey