Spectating the Baja 1000
The summer of 2005 was exciting and tons of things happened as I was getting ready to head to Baja to watch the 1000 but I want to talk about that trip. It is impossible to explain that trip in a few words so this post is going to be a little longer.
Ruth and I boarded our flight for San Diego and settled into our vacation. we picked up our rental car and headed South. Neither of us had ever been to Mexico so this was going to be an adventure for sure. I had heard that the toll road on the coast from Tijuana to Ensenada was the best so we bumped over to the coast and drove on down. I can say that it is a beautiful drive and I highly recommend it if you are headed that way.
We pulled into Ensenada and drove around to find a hotel. I love not knowing what exactly is going to happen when you go somewhere new. I almost never book a room or anything in advance. I love adventure and even that tiny one is fun. You never know where you are going to stay, if they will speak English, what the room will look like, how many giant cockroaches will be sharing your bed! After we got checked in (this hotel actually didn’t have roaches) we kicked it around Ensenada to see where all the race stuff was happening and find my friends.
I forgot to mention that some of the people that my friends wanted me to meet were the FACTORY Honda team. Yeah, that dude in the mountains was friends with the Honda boys!! So cool! We found the San Nicholas hotel (which is where Honda always stayed) and strolled in. Bob was there and happy to see us. It was great, a little familiarity in the midst of a brand new experience was just what we needed. He introduced us to a bunch of folks but the one I treasure the most was Bruce Ogilvie. If you don’t know who he was then google it. Bruce is a true legend and I am so blessed to have gotten to shake his hand.
Tech inspection was the next day and I couldn’t wait to see all of the race vehicles! Tech is NUTS, there is more money in vehicles there than the GNP of a small country. I was blown away by the number of high-end race rigs. Until this moment I had never been to a race this size so it was a shock, to say the least. Ruth endured me drooling over all the cool guy stuff and then we started to head back to the hotel. We were walking down the street and I looked over and there was Chip Foose! What?? Ruth and I are big fans because of his talent and his show Overhaulin. I couldn’t resist and I walked over to him and introduced myself and Ruth. He was great! He talked to us for a minute or two and we went on our way. That is the crazy kind of thing that happens during the Baja 1000. The coolest of the cool are there and normal people like me get to meet them occasionally. I don’t know if it is being out of the country, the Baja 1000 mystique or just the fact that it's off-road racing but people are just super nice and friendly.
The next morning was race morning! Since it was a loop race we were going to be able to watch at a few different spots and still get to see the finish. I don’t really ever want to race the loop but spectating it is great. We were up early and headed to Ojos to see the craziness at the road crossing that was made famous by Dust To Glory. It was just as nuts as you can imagine. People running in front of bikes and trucks, trucks almost hitting spectators on the side of the track, all of it. The day was so much fun! We drove all over the upper part of the course and then watched as the Honda boys won it again!
The plan for the next day was to head to San Felipe for a few days on the beach and do some relaxing. San Felipe is a relatively short drive from Ensenada so we packed up in the morning, went out to breakfast and then headed South. We were talking about how cool the race was and how excited we were to have some beach time to actually unwind from life. We pulled into town and it was super quiet. After the race leaves, that peninsula dies down fast. We found a hotel right away and went to grab our bags out of the car to put them in the room. I popped the trunk and… NOTHING! It is hard to put into words the pit in my stomach that developed right as the reality of the situation hit. We both quickly looked in the back seat of the car (where we definitely didn’t put out bags) and then back into the trunk. It was ALL gone. No broken windows, no signs of messing with the lock, just an empty trunk. Someone had gotten away with literally everything we had taken to Mexico that we didn't have on our bodies. Passports were gone, clothes were gone, extra money was gone. ALL of it.
I would like to talk about how well I handled this set back. That I shrugged it off and said “At least we are ok” like my son Ewan but that isn’t how it went. I was furious! I am not exactly sure how it all went down but I can tell you that I definitely acted like a child. Ruth was trying to calm me down and help me see things rationally but I was having none of it. There was lots of door slamming and yelling and then I exclaimed “We are getting out of this crappy country right now,” although I am sure I used less kid friendly language. I drove like a maniac North. I just wanted out of Mexico right now! I was talking about how we would have to buy new plane tickets and get back to Colorado right away. All the while Ruth was calmly trying to talk me down off the ledge. Then as if God Himself decided to make a small comedy of my situation, we hit the Tijuana border crossing at the exact wrong time. It was 8 lanes, bumper to bumper gridlock for as far as you could see. Imagine: here is this irate, irrational child who wants nothing more than to leave the country and now he is locked into traffic that he has NO WAY of overcoming. Looking back its freaking hilarious. At the time, not so much. The time in the line was good for me and our situation though. It is amazing how things work like that.
It forced me to calm down because there was nothing else to do. Then (if you’ve ever been in that line you’ll understand) the shenanigans that happen in that line brought some humor to the situation. There were people selling everything you could possibly sell as they walked through the traffic. If I had wanted to, I could have purchased everything that had been stolen plus a mounted deer head, a sponge bob blanket and a statue of the virgin Mary. As the rage escaped from my body through laughter, Ruth and I made a plan. She talked me into not going back home early and spending some time in San Diego. She reminded me that we had some money and we could purchase clothes and that San Diego happened to be quite the destination for vacationers too.
We got through the border crossing with no problems (remember that our passports were stolen) and drove into San Diego. We found a hotel that we could afford (not all that easy really) and went to bed. The next morning’s sunrise brought with it a new attitude and a refreshed look at life for me thanks to my amazing wife. We decided that we were going to do San Diego up right. Sea World was right around the corner so we bee lined it there. Ruth loves sea mammals more than anything so this trip was amazing. We saw every show they had, touched every sea animal you could, and even pushed kids out of the way to race up the line for the log ride! There were even some tears of sheer joy when Ruth saw the Orca! We had a few days before our plane left so we had time to do a ton of cool stuff. We saw the Midway, we hung out in the Lamp Light District, we “surfed,” we walked on the beach, and we even went sea kayaking on Thanksgiving day in La Jolla with sea lions. It was fantastic!
To have a vacation go from so much fun to so much anger to so much fun again was out of control and so memorable! While I don’t recommend ruining and then salvaging a vacation as a strategy for memories, I do recommend that if you have a wife like mine that you should freaking listen to her when she tells you to calm down. There were so many more moments on that trip, both on the good and the bad side but to pack them all in here would take too long.
Hope you all enjoyed that rollercoaster ride as much as I did. Give it a like, a share or comment below if you feel so inclined and remember to write down your 3 things you are grateful for. Mine are : A comfortable bed, My sweet boys and Star Wars : The Last Jedi! We saw that last night!