In November '99, the road was in very good condition down to La Paz.
There were only a few potholes in the northern state (south of
Cataviña and south of the LA Bay Junction), and none
in the southern state.
The paving south of Maneadero has progressed to Km 166, and come
to a halt. There was no evidence of the highway reconstruction
extending further south at this time.
Just southeast of Santa Rita (between Constitución and La Paz)
the large vado is getting a bridge. The construction process
will be continuing for some time. There is a short paved detour which
is in good condition (a situation which can change in the event
of heavy rain).
The construction which has been making the entrance to La Paz
difficult for over a year, is now finished! At least as far as
the intersection with Colosio and Abasolo. When you reach the airport
turnoff (coming from the north), you'll find a wide four-lane concrete
highway with a speed limit of 110KPH. The speed limit quickly
drops, however, as you approach a long string of new stoplights
on the Abasolo route into La Paz (left at the dove/whale monument).
These stoplights are not coordinated, nor are there vehicle detection
sensors buried in the street - the lights have a fixed cycle
which just repeats - day and night! This can lead to frustrating
waits, something many locals have learned to cope with - by just
charging on through if no traffic is crossing.
Along Abasolo, from Colosio to Colima (CCC supermarket), the road
is torn up and very rough. For large vehicles, the recommended
route would continue to be Las Garzas/Olachea (right at the
dove/whale monument) and a left on Jalisco.
Side trips (November '99):
San Javier. On the trip north we traveled up to San
Javier to see the mission as it was being prepared for the
300th year anniversary (I believe the
celebration is scheduled for December 5). There was lots of
activity going on as stands were being constructed, the interior
was being cleaned and painted, and sod had been planted in the
courtyard in front. (Yes, you read that correctly! Squares of sod
had been carefully placed to fill the corners of the courtyard.
I can't imagine where it might have come from within 600 miles.)
Click photo for
a larger image
The road from Highway 1 to San Javier was in generally good condition.
The only obstacles were four legged ones, and these were in abundance.
L.A. Bay. The road to LA Bay was in generally poor
condition (no surprise). The good sections were long enough to sucker
me into too much speed for the pot holed sections - lots of
dancing the pothole polka! Following a recent recommendation in
a Travelers' Report, we stayed at Larry and Raquel's Motel and enjoyed
the place very much. A great fish dinner served on the second
El Mármol. The road in to the old onyx mine is in
good condition. The trip could be made in a sedan with just a bit of care.
Punta Baja. The road from El Rosario out to Punta Baja
was smooth - it appeared to have been recently graded. The
eastern crossing of the stream bed was dry due to a culvert
which I don't recall from my last trip out there. The western crossing
of the stream bed should be attempted only with four-wheel drive
Ensenada. While it's hard to think of Ensenada as a side
trip, on my trip south I was passing through town thinking
mostly of breakfast. Suddenly I came upon a large crowd and a
large inflatable Tecate can. Well, breakfast came first, but
then I returned to the scene of the commotion and found
. . . check in time for the Baja 1000 off-road race!
I've added a few photos I took wandering around the lineup of
vehicles. The first is interesting in that it shows the
multi-faceted nature of modern Ensenada - a cruise ship is
docked in the background, and race fans are milling about the
lineup. The second shows Gary Dubin posing with his car, and
the remaining two shots show some unidentified vehicles.
Click photo for a larger image
Topes (Speed Bumps):
The topes which have been a hazard in Maneadero for a number of
years are now completely gone! However, to illustrate the
"Universal Law of Topes," which says that the number of topes in
the Universe can only increase, the topes of Maneadero have
headed south to warmer climates - and multiplied.
Note (November '99): The topes which have been a fixture in
Ensenada since sometime before I first visited there in 1966,
have been removed, except for one on each side of the street.
This is the area next to the boatyard as you enter the city
along the waterfront.
Topes are now to be found on the highway in:
- Santo Tomás (2)
- Vizcaino (5)
- San Ignacio (3)
- Santa Rosalia (3 topes north of "Y" intersection)
- Mulegé (3)
Note that some of these speed bumps have no warning
markings! There may be a sign announcing an area of topes,
but nothing marking the individual bumps, except some faded
paint on the street or the bump. The count of topes
given reflects only those topes found on the main highway -
there are often more in the towns.
On my trip south in August, an immigration official was
present at the checkpoint south of Maneadero. While it appeared that
this may become a permanent screening point to enforce the new Tourist
Card procedures, there was no official there in November.
Construction Delays: When you encounter
road work going on, you can expect some delays.
Two types of "detours" are found: single-lane traffic through the
construction (either a flagman or a guiding vehicle is used);
or dual-lane traffic around the construction, using a dirt road at
the side (these can be very soft and dusty).
In November, there were only one detour of note.
In south Ensenada a section of the southbound highway is
being reconstructed. This involves a detour of about a mile on
a slightly bumpy dirt road.
Note: New paving may lack any center striping - such areas
should not be driven at night.
Construction on the new Pemex station at the Eagle monument seems to have come to a halt.
Fuel: In November of '99 I encountered no fuel
In June of '98, I did
encounter one fuel shortage on the trip south. The station at Vizcaino was out
of diesel fuel. This forced me into continuing on to the station
at Santa Rosalia, a station I usually try to avoid because of
their reputation as "thieves." I could have made it to
Mulegé, but wanted to play it safe.
I pulled into the Santa Rosalia station with two ideas in mind:
either get a small amount of fuel so I could reach Mulegé
with a good reserve, or fill up and watch the attendant
like a hawk. I elected for the second course of action (a
mistake in retrospect).
I made certain the pump was zeroed before pumping began and then
watched the operation closely . . . until a kid
washing the windows distracted me. When I returned to the
pumping process the attendant was moving the hose from the front
tank to the rear tank (my truck has dual tanks), and seemed to
have zeroed the pump again, except it read 80 pesos. I made him
stop until we agreed he'd pumped 80 pesos worth of fuel into the
He then filled the rear tank and went to "top off" the front
tank (not zeroing the pump in this case). The bill for the
fueling was 306 pesos, very close to what I had paid at my
previous stop in El Rosario (300 pesos) with about the same
amount of remaining fuel. I felt like it had all worked well,
and that I'd not been cheated.
After leaving the station and getting back on the highway I
switched the tank selection from the rear (now quite full) to
the front. I'd been nailed again!!! The front tank showed less
than three-quarters full. Since the price of fuel was the same,
the needed amount of fuel about the same, and the total cost
about the same, my only conclusion is that they've set the
pump(s) at Santa Rosalia to read about 15% high.
November 3, 1998. Dave Stogner has provided an
explanation of the particular scam I was subjected to. The
matter was not an inaccuracy of the pumps, but a clever use of
the "emergency stop" button.
Here is Dave's explanation:
The "emergency stop" button is pushed while you're not looking.
This resets the register to some even amount ($90, $80, etc.), and
then the attendent explains that you owe that amount and it
will be added to the amount from the remaining fillup. He must
then reset the pump by holding the button down, and at this
point you will see the register counting down by 10's to zero.
This is probably most frequently used when there are two tanks
Message: I'll continue to strongly recommend that you (and,
especially, I) avoid the Santa Rosalia Pemex station.