Day 1
  Day 2
  Day 3
  Day 4
  Day 5
  Day 6
  Day 7
  Day 8


Motorcycling Baja Peninsula

Motorcycling Adventure #17

9 days, 2,034 miles, Nov 2015

Ray & Jenny Jardine

 page 7 of 9

Day 7

Nov 7, 2015

San Ignacio to camping in desert north of Catavina

We were getting low on pesos, so we had planned to look for a bank with an ATM where we could make a withdrawal. However, we passed by Guerrero Negro without driving through town.

North of Guerrero Negro we began to see more American tourists driving south, in RVs, in camper vans, in trucks loaded with surf boards and other toys.

The highway wound through the mountains. As usual, it was an enjoyable ride despite the narrow road and the high-speed traffic.


We stopped in the busy village called Catavina, hoping to get a room the fancy Hotel Mision Catavina. First, though, we each got one gallon of gas from a woman selling gas from jugs. She carefully poured the gas into our tanks using a large funnel. A Baja 1000 truck pulled up to get gas also. It was a pretty amazing machine. What caught my eye was the breathing tubes attached to the driver's and passenger's helmets. The dust must get horrendous out there on the race track.

Baja 1000 truck stopped for gas while doing pre-runs.

No Pemex station in isolated Cataviña, but they do have barrel gas, poured from one-gallon plastic bottles.

Then we drove across the street to the Hotel. The parking lot was busy with Baja 1000 trucks and motorcycles, and people. We inquired at the front desk about a room: yes, available, USD71 per night. Parking? Only in the big parking lot out front. There was no way to park in front of our room. The front desk guy offered that we could park our motorcycles in front of the lobby, just outside, but no thanks.

So we determined to camp out that night, since the day was getting late. We drove north a short ways and stopped at a store to buy food and water for the evening. We bought a can of tuna, crackers, cheese, 2 apples, a bunch of snacks, water, and fruit juice.

Then we rode on north, looking for a secure place to camp for the night. About 30 miles north of Catavina we turned off to the south on a good dirt road, crossing a sandy wash and back up a loose rocky section of road. The we turned off to the right and rode out into the bush, where cattle had been grazing. Here we found a safe and secluded to make camp. We looked around for ants, but saw none. Ray parked the motorcycles facing east so as to minimize any reflections that might show toward the highway to the east. We were at least a mile away from the highway, but we could hear the traffic.

We took a short hike west toward a ravine, but didn't find much of interest. The vegetation had been heavily browsed by the cattle. We set up camp, reclining on our bedrolls, eating our dinner and being careful not to drop any crumbs. The sun set, the sky darkened, and stars began to show. Our bedrolls faced east so we were pretty much enjoying that view of the night sky. The large tree we were camped near was blocking some of our view to the west.

Looking straight up at the sunset sky.

Camped in the desert near Pénjamo (not a town, but just a place name). View in Google Earth

Just after dark, I looked toward the west and saw a bizarre sight in the sky. Ray got up, and went into a clearing for a better view. "Come over here and see this" he beckoned. What we saw was a surreal, pale blue-green glow that seemed to expand, with what looked like an immense halo surrounding it. Below this glow there was another bluish light, but this was a streak of light that went from the horizon upward, vertically, toward the blue-green glow. Neither of us had ever seen anything like this. Gradually the vertical streak faded. And even more gradually the blue-green glow dissipated. The show that we observed lasted about 45 minutes. Later we found out it was a missile test.

Taken with a point-and-shoot, I should have brought a DSLR for this shot. After sunset we saw this bright ball in the western sky. It was far brighter than what the photo shows, and colored blue-green. It was about the size of baseball held at arm's length. It was most spectacular and unusual, and lasted for 20 minutes, very slowly diffusing. It happened Nov 7, and we later learned (thanks to Curtis) that "they shot a rocket from Vandenburg and then shot the rocket down with a missile." "The San Diego Union-Tribune said police were inundated with calls". The newspaper said the light was seen as far away as Nevada and Arizona. CBS-LA reported sightings in San Francisco, 380 miles (600km) to the north. Story here.

The nighttime temperature dropped dramatically. We were chilly most of the night. We should have put our riding clothes on to stay warmer.

The story has 9 pages. This is page 7.
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