Baja by Van

by Matt McAdow February 23, 2017

Baja by Van

I’m thankful Bedrock believes in play, specifically time spent out of doors. So sometime in the Fall when I mentioned I was hoping to take off to Baja for a week, Dan suggested I’d need more time down South. By the time February came around, the one week trip naturally turned into needing two. My sights were set on the Seven Sisters, a series of right point breaks a good 10 hours into Mexico from the border. As a recent transplant from the Midwest, I’m a novice surfer at best, but the idea of uncrowded breaks and surfing for a week straight still beckoned me.

We had slight hesitations about heading into Baja as a group of first-timers. The good and tall surfing tales we’d heard far outweighed the horror stories, but muddy relations with the US in the wake of the new administration, coupled with recent gas strikes in Baja gave us some pause. Nevertheless, when the time came to send-it on south we felt just fine. Armed with the “Surfers Guide to Baja” and beta from a handful of Baja frequenters, we crossed at Tijuana as the sun started to rise. We headed for San Miguel, a surf spot just north of Ensenada where we got in the water with the locals and waited for the last mobile in our caravan to rendeasvouz after experiencing some Vanagon hiccups in Ventura.

This past July, our group collectively linked up for camping weekend outside of Tahoe. We were brought together because we drive and live out of old Volkswagen vans but really connected over adventure away from the van. We hiked and bushwhacked around in search of an elusive swimming hole that cascades into an alpine lake, surfed in Santa Cruz the next weekend, climbed at Smith Rock in the Fall, and quickly started scheming of a trip to Baja for surf and sunshine in the new year.

For us, most Baja days went like so: Wake up before 8:00, big breakfast you don’t have time for back in the city, waiting around for the surf, tecate, light lunch, 2-3 hours in the water, tecate, a second surf sesh if you're lucky, dinner, hiking to find a good sunset view, more tecate, then off to sleep by "Baja Midnight (8:30)." 

Collectively we caught a lot of waves, but didn’t get many good shots of them. When it’s firing, who wants to be on the sidelines snapping photos?

After a week on the Pacific Side, catching waves on six of seven days and finding our arms growing tired, we headed east for the Sea of Cortez.

A few hours later, traversing the Southern reaches of the Sierra's and having some serendipitous link-ups with other travelers, we arrived in Bahia De Los Angeles. What it lacked in swell, it made up for in scenery, wildlife, and local hospitality. We ditched our camp stoves a few times for fish tacos and desayuno in town. We made friends with the keeper of the land our campsite was on and spent our days hiking and snorkeling around the chilly waters, using Hawaiian slings to catch dinner.

When it was time to go back, we all the shared the same sentiment, “can we just live here?” Time moved slower, food tasted better, rides were cleaner. We packed our temperamental vans and high-tailed it for the border as a major storm was rolling in. We didn’t want to get caught on dirt roads hundreds of miles away from the States.

If you’ve been thinking about Baja, the answer is Vamanos!

Photos from the trip by Mak & Owen of Bound for Nowhere and Allison Salas. Words by Matt McAdow.




Matt McAdow
Matt McAdow

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