Baja 1000s or San Diego Dash

If you are Googling for the Baja 1000 rally, this page is NOT it.

Amazing boulders near the border of the northern and southern Baja states

Lots of photos of the diverse scenery here for you to peruse…

It has often been discussed among cruisers here, if there is a critical boat part that you really need in Mexico, it can be quicker and cheaper to go back to the U.S. to get it yourself. We tested that theory recently with a drive from La Paz to San Diego and back in less than 5 days. Our boat’s GEL-type batteries had given us 9 years of great life and were starting to act up. Not wanting to spend 4-5 months up in the Sea of Cortez (and mostly unplugged from a dock) without good batteries, we decided it was time to replace them.

Nosy raven, our ride for the trip

Over a 2-3 day span while at anchor, we worked up a shopping list of other items to collect while we were up in the states, both for ourselves and a few friends. If we were going to save some money (versus mexican prices) on the batteries, we might as well save some more money by buying other stuff – either things we can’t get in Mexico or can’t bring down on an airplane.

Plenty of wide open spaces. Mostly 2-lane road.

On Monday we returned to our slip at Marina Palmira in La Paz and made calls to vendors in San Diego to arrange to pick up various items on Thursday or Friday (including a few goodies for friends). A few items (, Garhauer) were expressed shipped to one friendly vendor for collection. On Monday afternoon we traveled to the “Banjercito” office at the nearby commercial port (Pichilingue) to update our boat’s import permit (allows us to bring in parts without duty), and by first thing Tuesday we were on the road.

Many, varied cacti can be seen

Our only miscalculation was trying to do this all during the Easter “Semana Santa” holiday; every rental car in La Paz was spoken for and if there were any available, they were more than double the usual price. Delaying until after the holiday week would have meant a waste of a week’s marina rental, helping to cancel out our cost savings.

Approaching an agricultural region

Fortunately one of our wonderful cruising friends loaned us their vehicle (thanks!!! you know who you are!!!). As you’ll see in the timeline below, we took two daytimes to drive “up,” we spent about 40 hours in the San Diego area, and two more daytimes to drive back “down” the Baja.

If you like to drive you’d probably enjoy the trip. There is very varied scenery … otherworldly geology, farm country, a (very) few scattered views of the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean. Many twists and turns and mountain passes to cross. Almost all of the roadway is two-lane, and is in decent shape for making good speed in daytime (occasional livestock along the road can make it a bit hazardous for driving in the dark). The minimal scruffy bits of the highway (some due to the extreme rains in 2012), didn’t slow us down below 45-50 mph.

Many military checkpoints are placed up and down the Baja, makes one feel very secure. There doesn’t seem to be much reason for bad guys to be around. Most checkpoints were more interested in “locals” but we did have to get out of the car a few times. On our southbound trip, a few stations were closed (day before Easter) and all except one waved us on through with no contact.

Mass transit

The timeline at the bottom of this post will give you a bit of feeling for the trip. The more time you waste, the less money you save during the “run.”

Grape fields in northern baja

Some of you enjoy a little retail therapy from time to time, which is something we only indulge in while in the states. Most of our shopping in Mexico involves edibles, boat fuel, and occasionally misceallanous boat parts and supplies. Here are some highlights from our shopping list. Keep in mind we could do without some of these things, but as they were convenient to collect, we did.

3 – 8D AGM batteries
2 – 140w solar panels
upgraded solar controller (our existing unit would not operate with 3 panels)
Western Digital video player & HDMI video cable, 13 ft.
compact Canon printer
macerator pump (for marine head)
French (coffee) press
U-Bolts to mount solar panels
block and tackle set (Garhauer) for lifting a dinghy on davits
prescription refill from Kaiser (not recommended if you are out of your “network”)
vacuum bag sealer, (Ziploc brand), our old one hasn’t “sucked” for a long time
Maker’s Mark Whiskey, Mount Gay Rum, a few bottles of California Sauvignon Blanc
Trash compactor bags, super thick, great to store garbage on your boat while cruising
Electronic bug zappers
Drill bit set
Bicycle playing cards
J&J “no more tangles” – conserves water after hair washing
latest: New Yorker, Food Network, and Rachel Ray magazines (paper is still nice and it’s
hard to find adequate internet bandwidth to download digital publications)
Liquid Benadryl (relieves bug bites!)
Dark chocolate covered espresso beans (yay,  Trader Joes!)
Brown jasmine rice
Canned portabella mushrooms

Back to La Paz


7:20 am depart La Paz

fuel stop at Insurgentes  at 150 miles

12:00 lunch – Ette’s Pies, Loreto berry/cherry pie a la mode, 60 p

12:25 – 12:35  military checkpoint north of Loreto

2:30 fuel stop at Santa Rosalia 345 miles

3:35 – 3:45 military check point…exit car, minor search of car (other military checkpoints not noted – uneventful at each stop)

4:50 fuel stop Guerro Negro 491 miles

5:20 Cowboy motel, Guerro Negro – 450p

5:50 Malarremo Restaurant – dinner…fish and chicken entrees, pacificos   380p

6:40 motel


5:30 am depart Guerro Negro

9:30 observed wrecked semi full of hay about 6 miles south of El Rosario

9:40 fuel stop El Rosario at 718 miles

10:45 breakfast in San Quintin, Mission Santa Isabel

3:45 gas stop Tecate 948 miles

3:50 – 5:15 wait at border crossing

6;20 La Mesa, Motel 6 $51

6:45 Best Buy, Target, Barnes and Noble, Trader Joes

8:55 Carls Jr. – burger and chicken salad


8:30 snacks in the room

9:15 mediterranean market (Vine Ripe in La Mesa)

10   Best Buy – Canon printer

10:15 Target, Kaiser, army surplus store, Harbor Freight

12:20 lunch, Caros: sandwich soup salad combos

12:55 – 2   Kaiser again, wait for prescription to be completed (don’t try to get a quick refill out of your local Kaiser network)

2:20 pick up batteries in El Cajon

3:25 pick up Blue Sky solar panel controller in Vista

3:50 Bed Bath and Beyond in Escondido – french press

4:05 Fry’s in Escondido – HDMI cable

4:50 Grainger in north San Diego (they closed at 5) – U-Bolts to mount new solar panel

5:50 Point Loma – West Marine superstore, Vons supermarket

7:00 Comfort Inn on Rosecrans (nicest room of the trip) ~$71

7:20 dinner, Sammy’s Wood Fired Pizza…great crust

8:30 hotel


(most military checkpoints southbound were either closed for Easter week or much more interested in the northbound drivers)

7:45 free breakfast at Comfort Inn

8:15 Downwind Marine pick up solar panels

8:20 Quantum sail loft pick up 2 packages for friends

9-9:30  meet folks in San Diego airport cellphone lot to collect mail for other criends

9:55 Tijuana border (no waiting, green light at customs)

(Aprox. 214- miles driven in U.S.)

10:20 gas in Tijuana at 1162 miles

10:30 Banamex ATM to replenish pesos

11:30 – 12   Costco in Ensenada

3:20 fuel stop in El Rosario   at 1370 miles

6:55 fuel stop in Guerro Negro at 1592 miles

7:05  Caracol motel 580p

7:40 – restaurant Don Gus, mexican combinations  & coronas 300 p

8:20 motel


6:30 depart

8:35 fuel stop at Santa Rosalia at 1738 miles

10:55 fuel stop in Loreto at 1863 miles

11;05 – lunch Del Barracho, Loreto…chicken sandwiches, fries, slaw

12:00 – 12:15 stop at Puerto Escondido…say hi to some friends on the radio who were anchored in Ballandra, visit with Pedro at the marina tienda

3:35 La Paz outskirts fuel stop at 2085 miles

3:55 arrive Marina Palmira