Friday, September 28, 2012

Mexican 1000 - and back again - part 4 The End

It would be a pretty full day to get back to my folks house in Jamul.  So we woke up early but  due to the time change, between Baja Norte and Baja Sur, what we thought was 6am turned out to be 5am.

It was really really cold and the central Baja hills were socked in with fog.  I had removed the windshield wipers on the land cruiser (they're generally useless), lost my gloves and didn't have a heavy jacket.  On Highway 1, I was quickly soaking wet and blind.  Eventually, I got behind the Lexus and just followed their tail lights.  We came out of the fog and headed towards the coast and breakfast at Mama Espinosa's.

Mama Espinosa wasn't there.  At 105 she isn't at the restaurant much anymore.  I was amazed she was even still around at all.  I remember her being an old grandmotherly figure when I was 7.  I guess she would've been 66 then so it makes sense.

But her daughter was there.  She remembered the zebra striped car and my parents.  We had a great conversation (and breakfast).  We reminisced about the early races.  It was the first time I got really choked up on the trip.

Mama Espinosa's has been a main stay of the races since the start and it was too bad that the corse NORRA didn't go by it.  Maybe next year.

After breakfast we continued north.  I hadn't realized how far south Ensenada had sprawled.  We spent a good chunk of the morning in traffic.  Past Ensenada we headed east to avoid Tijuana and cross the boarder in Tecate.

The last military check point -  Mary has a really good story about this one.

The 3 freeway from Ensenada to Tecate is Baja's wine country.  It's a beautiful winding road with vineyards and small towns.  Some of the towns were settled by Russians in the early 1900s which gives them a really different aesthetic.  

In line at the boarder.

We reached Tecate and got lost trying to find the boarder crossing.  Now days you have to go to the eastern edge of town and crawl along the fence.  Mary was in the Land Cruiser and I was with Arwen and the kids.  Mary went through with no problem but we got searched.  More like "searched."  They glanced at a couple bags but didn't quiz us about the weird over sized tire or boxes of tools.  In the end it didn't take long and we were on our way.

We stopped at the Barrett Cafe for dinner.  My parents started going here in the 1940s so it seemed appropriate.

The Cafe has definitely seen better days.  Everything's working against a place like this.  Between the economy, xenophobia and the drug wars Gringos aren't going to Baja.  The tightened boarders (both legally and illegally) are keeping Mexican from coming north.  There are way more fast food places along the 94.  I've also noticed that these types of cafes have been hurting because of the speed, comfort and efficiency of modern cars - you just don't need to stop as much.  But if you asked the only other custom - an old cranky guy - it's all Obama's fault.

Anyway,  the food was good and the people friendly.  We had fried fish and hush puppies and headed home.

Mom was surprised to see us.  No one really seemed to know when we were coming back.  Even with email they were expecting us a day earlier or later.  It was good to be back

and I think Greta missed us.

What I'm working on - soccer ball roll cage

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mexican 1000 - and back again - part 3

Mulege to Catavina


From Mulege we headed north and stopped in Santa Rosalia for Breakfast

Santa Rosalia was built by a French copper mining company in the 1800s which this gives it a completely different aesthetic from the rest of Baja.  Wood buildings with tin roofs and an iron church said to be designed by Gustave Eiffel.

Supposedly the Santa Barbara Parish was fabricated in France and shipped to Santa Rosalia.

If they ever need to shoot a version of Cannery Row they should use Santa Rosalia

Breakfast was good it was obvious tourists were far a few in Baja.  Between the economy, the tightened boarders and the drug war seeing another tourist was rare and the restaurants appreciated anyone willing to make the trip..

We headed north crossing Baja, passed Guerrero Negro and had lunch at the same truck stop restaurant we stayed/ate at heading down.

Everyone appreciates a fighting zebra sticker.

We reached Catavina before dark and had a chance to run around and climb on boulders.  The kids had a great time.  Catavina is a beautiful spot for geology, flora and a little fauna.

Blue Palms

It's an oasis in the middle of nowhere and has one hotel, an occasionally open gas station and a few houses.  It was one of my favorite spots to stop as a kid but it was a rare treat to stay there.  Dad was usually pushing to get a little further down or up the peninsula.

The hotel was in great shape.  Throughout the years it's varied but now it's probably in the best condition I've seen it.  It was a little sad that there were only one or two other couples there.  

We had a good dinner, watched the Mexican presidential debates and hit the sack.  We would get up early the next day and drive our final leg back to the states.

the story continues here

Monday, September 10, 2012

Old Ghosts - 1971 Honda CL175

I pulled my old Honda CL175 out of my side yard and decided to get it running.  I'm thinking of using it for a piece.

I bought it in 1989 for $50 from Kenny Younghusband.  Kenny was (and I assume still is) my dad's best friend.  He was also the co-driver for most of the Baja races.

It started up today but still needs a lot of things cleaned up.  It has poor compression on one cylinder,  one of the carburators is leaking and the front brakes are frozen.  Greta doesn't know what to make of it.

I road it from 1990 through 1997 and it's floated around from studio to storage to the side yard while I thought about pieces to make with it.   Here are some thoughts that didn't quite make it.

A sketch of it even wound up as a cover for a 45 by the Champagne Socialists (later Never Ever).  I still haven't heard the songs behind the drawing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Album of the Weeks - Los Freddy's

With all the writing about the race, I've been avoiding the "Album of the Week" well here's an attempt to get it going again.  I give you Los Freddy's.

I found this about 20 years ago in a goodwill dollar bin and since then it's been one of my favorites.  It's a 1975 reissue of Los Freddy's 1964 first lp.

I couldn't I resist it, with the Beatlesque suits and the photo of them at the Tijuana boarder crossing plus I recognized some of the songs.  

According to Wikipedia this album was released in 1964 even though most of the songs they covered were released in 1965.  I think I need to do a little investigating

Anyway, here are the tracks  (you can find most of them on youtube)
- here's a start.

Lado A

Wooly Bully  - fine but not my favorite.  It sounds a bit too much like the original which I don't really enjoy to begin with.  There's also a little skip at the start of the song that irks me.

Sin Razon Para Vivir (Tired of Waiting for You) - Google translates it as "No Reason to live" which is a better title.  I actually enjoy this version of the song more than the Kinks'.

Si Ti Tu Vas (Just a Little) - A pretty solid cover of the Beau Brummel's tune.

Sueno Feliz - nice up beat toon penned by Los Freddy's.  Not great but could hold it's own against most 60s pop.

Ven Dame Tu Fe - More of a 50s ballad.  Slow and moody.  Arturo sings

Divina Maria - slow jam

Lado B

Un Mundo Sin Amor  (A World without Love) - A pretty great cover of The Peter & Gordon song penned by Lennon/McCartney

Muchachos (Boys) - Probably my favorite song on the album.  "Muchachos" sounds so much better than "Boys."

Traeme Mi Amor (Bring it Home to Me) - A little slower and just not as good as the Sam Cook original.

Diciendote te Quiero - Another nice ballad penned by Los Freddy's.  A song that really grew on me.

El Diablo En Su Corazon (Devil in Her Heart) - Tweaking "Devil in Her Heart" into Spanish proved to be a bit challenging but the energy's great.

Estoy Muriendo (Under the Boardwalk)  -  Translated as "I'm Dying" it's probably the funniest song on the record.    "Devil in Her Heart" was a challenging translation, this song is almost impossible.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweet Wednesday - Rowher Flats

I woke up this morning and the weather was amazing.  Overcast with a few drops of rain but still in the 80s.  I put on shorts and a t-shirt and decided to take the car for a drive.

I would drive one hour out then turn around and drive back.  That way I wouldn't waste the rest of the day bumping around the back country.  I hit the road at 8:54.

In a half an hour I made it to camp 1 at Rowher Flats.  It was virtually empty, one lonely truck parked in the corner.  I decided to see how far I could go on the loop trail.  I turned down Texas Canyon then up Fall Canyon Road.

Fall Canyon Road

At exactly an hour I reached Sierra Pelona Road and there was a motorcycle and the only other person in the park.  I stop and said "hey."  We talked cars and bikes and racing and Mexico.

Sierra Pelona looked rough ahead so I got ready to turn around.  I was alone, I'd met my hour limit, but the cyclist explained to me that what I saw was a side road and the main road was no worse than what I'd been on.  Also, the view from the top was amazing.  He lead the way and I headed towards the top.

I stayed on the fire road and avoided the short cuts (which later, I would see, would've been a piece of cake).  Who would've guessed there would be a grove of oaks on the top of a mountain.  The view from the top was pretty incredible.  On a clear day I'm sure I could've seen the ocean and well into the desert.

The whole trip made for a very sweet Wednesday.