Woke up in the Hobitat next to Getz and Cumper. Crack the tent door. Another beauty day. Dwaaaaah! Streeeetch. Outside is K-ButtS in the hammock and WD with the bucket on his head. Grab a morning recovery beverage. Click! Ahhhhhh Mexico. The boys rabble together and grab some MRBs as well. We slump in the camping chairs and design our day: More wineries, more bocce, Celestial Party!
First thing’s first. We hoof it through the Bibayoff vineyard, past the curious goats, to the road, and down to Sa Lu again for another killer breakfast. WD waits outside guarding our MRBs.
We toss the rest of our tecate box in the back of The Butt Ranger. Cumper and I hop in the back with WD on his dog bed, and our beers spill around in the back as we bump through the dust and out the gates of Bibayoff. The first ‘winery’ we decide to hit is actually a Co-op place we’d passed several times to the Tecate shop/Marco’s. It’s this fun, funky joint very artistically decked out with cool murals, buildings made from wine bottles and barrels, and a retro Winnebago parked in the yard.
The place is being run by a handful of spirited youngins who seem to be having a blast working there. They offer us up some menus and we decide to go with a cheese plate and split a bottle of wine. One of the guys takes us over to the Winnebago. This is where they keep their wine? We head in and check out what they have. The interior has been refitted with wine shelves and maintains the funky vibe from the rest of the place. It’s also nice and chill in there compared to the sunny day outside. We nab a bottle, head back outside, and crack it at our table.
As we’re sitting there enjoying our wine and cheese a number of different groups of people start filling up the joint. A tall, all smiles, black guy comes in with his wife and 2 kids and instantly recognizes us. He comes right over to our table and shakes Agent Getz’s hand “What are you doing here?” His name is Leon. Leon used to work with Getz before Getz became a full time Adventure Detective. An outgoing fella, the last time we saw him was in the middle of a gigantic full day hike in Montana de Oro. He was heading in the opposite direction up on this mountain we’d spent hours getting to the top of. Funny how that works, running into people you know in the most unexpected places. We play some catch up as his kids get antsy. “I’ll let you get back to your wine”, “See you in the next random place.”
We finish up and take our assigned seats back in the Butt Ranger. Our next stop is a winery called Monte Xanic. The grounds at Monte Xanic are gorgeous, mostly in part to the small lake they’ve built in front of the place. There’s a brand new main building on top of a hill overlooking it and the architecture is modern, spacious, and impressive. We hop out of the BR and stroll over to a lakeside tasting area with white table-clothed tables. The servers are all done up fancy pants and the place is looking pretty classy. Especially for a few guys who’ve been camping for a number of days, not showered, and have been pounding Tecate in the back of a pickup truck non-stop. One look at WD and the bartender tells us there are no pets allowed on the property. Well damn. We head back to the BR and toss ol’ WD in the back. That sucks.
We decide to walk up the hill to the main complex. The walkway has those awkward steps that are too far apart to reach in one stride but slightly too narrow for two, so you end up doing this stupid looking shuffle step all the way up. The view is worth it though, and the newly built building is top notch modern style.
We head inside and grab a tasting from a well-spoken guy who used to work up in the Napa region. He’s flowing with all of our silly banter and offers to take us on a tour of the place. Yes please! We take some glasses and head back to the processing and barrel rooms with him explaining things the whole way through. Pretty impressive operation they’ve got going, and from the looks of this new building and the grounds below, it seems to be fairly lucrative. On the way back to the main room we pass by a full wine tour doing the same route we just took. Nice of this guy to give us our own walk through!
We finish our tasting and hit the road back to Bibayoff. We stop by ‘town’ to re-up on Tecate and Tequila. And, of course, we take the opportunity to crank the taco count up a little more with a some help from Taco Master Marcos. Back at the Pine Grove we crack some cans and start up another round of bocce. While Getz and I continue to dominate, a large number of folks at Bibayoff are setting up telescopes and mini observatories, huge screens, tables, and all sorts of shit. Looks like there will be a huge party tonight after all!
(My phone was dead by this point so unfortunately there is no photo documentation of the rest of this ridiculous evening. If you can’t read, now is a good time to stop.)
Late afternoon hits and the whole grass area between the pine grove and the tasting room is packed with people. We decide to walk over and see what’s up. This Celestial party is blowing up! Abel was right, hundreds of people had turned out. There were food vendors set up like a music festival. Wineries had booths and were giving out tastings. All sorts of telescopes were trained up into the sky, focused on specific constellations and planets. There were lots of random science displays where people would give demonstrations and explain the significance. Projectors were showing clips of various astrophysical phenomena. Walking past I caught something on gravitational lensing, another time it was Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity. And there was a wooden dancefloor set up where they were giving demonstrations of various dances too. It was a formal attire tango when we walked up, followed afterwards by some sort of choreographed, 5 girl Russian dance. What a random, eclectic party! Bocce tournament was off. It was time to mingle with the local Astronomers.
We spend some time tasting all of the wine and taking things in. I grab a cardboard pizza hot sauce vehicle from one of the vendors. The dancefloor switches to full on line dancing. A few girls come up to us with bracelets that say “Noche de estrellas” and we slap them on our wrists. They’re quite talkative and their English is bueno. They are astronomers from Mexico City (I’ll just call them Mexinauts). I ask them about the event and they say it’s quite well known. That astronomers and astrophysicists from all over Mexico come to it. It’s one of the best times of year to observe the sky and this is the best place in Mexico to do it. I guess we lucked out big time by picking a camping spot at Bibayoff. Might as well line dance? Yep.
After a round or two of really uncoordinated, awkward line dancing the DJ set turns into something more like club style dance hits. The day of wine tasting starts to set in and we’ve carved out a good spot on the wooden floor with our new astronomer friends. But.. Cumper thinks our moves could be better. “Should I run to camp and grab the Corallejo?”, “Well yeah, that’s an excellent idea.” So now we’re busting out all our best white boy moves while passing around a bottle of tequila. Turns out these Mexinauts love tequila! Soon there’s a conga line going through the place. We’re dancing up a storm and laughing our asses off.
After a solid, sweaty hour of dancefloor devastation things start to wind down. We throw out some high fives and head back to the pine grove for some midnight relaxation beverages. Not soon after, the 3 Mexinauts we’d met are back at camp too with a guy friend in tow. “Our ride left without us”, “Well that sucks. We can probably make some space here. Drinks?” We hand out some MRBs. After some clumsy guitar playing and tumbleweed burning an idea starts forming with our new Mexinaut friends. We should go to Ensenada! And that’s when things took a turn for the stupid..
We all start piling in the Pilot for an after midnight jaunt to Ensenada 30 minutes away. K-ButtS is out. Not only does he think it’s a terrible idea (it was), he won’t be able to bring WD anyways. The Mexinaut’s guy friend turns out to be the nicest fella in the solar system and offers to stay home with K-ButtS even though they’ve never said a word to each other in their lives. The inertia of our terrible idea slingshots the rest of us around the gates of Bibayoff and out onto the highway on a trajectory towards Ensenada.
Now I can’t quite remember who was responsible for the next layer of idiocracy, one of the girls I think, but I do remember the phrase “It’s final, we’re going to a strip club!”
The drive is a dark mess of road rockets and blaring dance tunes. Half hour later we’re on the strip in Ensenada and its going banonkers. Loud, drunk people everywhere. We find a place to park a few blocks away and head towards the night life. The Mexinauts stop for some hot dogs. We hit a few little places but nothing is really doing it for us. Then somehow we get sucked into Papas and Beer. Getz and I know this scene, we’d been here on a trip to Baja before. Straight up the stairs to Mango Mango we go. Bust into the place and it’s a cranking dance party with balloons everywhere. The type clowns make animals out of. Phallic behavior ensues. I hit the bar for a round of margaritas while everyone else lands on stage and starts an insane clown balloon dance. We romp it up for a while until all our balloons are popped and our moves exhausted. While we’re slamming another batch of margaritas the curtain on stage goes up and a full blown Mariachi band takes over the scene. Looks like a 20 piece band with a full brass section, strings, big guy in a tuba up front and two male singers. They are excellent. Getz and I caught them last time we were here. So maybe that’s why its now time to hit the rippers.
We descend from Mango Mango, through P&B, and back into the drunk filled Ensenada streets. A group of people stop and drunk chat us up. Some Brazilian dumps vodka down my throat straight out of the bottle. Guess he really liked me. We get every random stranger on the street that we can find and grab a group selfie. (I think that hilarious pic is floating around on facebook somewhere). We spot a joint called Paris. I think it’s gonna be good. We’re in. Apparently this is the classiest strip joint in the area. The Mexinauts are super excited. They’ve never been to one before. We walk in and their naive eyes jump wide as we pass the curtains into the main area. <Insert typical strip club scene from any movie right here> It’s that. Two poles and a swing between. The girls are naked. They know how to use them. Dudes hustle us for drinks and lap dances. The Mexinauts are so intrigued by the place. I decide the best way to get immersed in the culture is to buy them a dance. $20 and a half naked chick in massive platform shoes is leading the three of them away into the back room.
We sit with a drink and take in the show while we wait for them to get back. When they do they’re looking a little sheepish but giggling up a storm. “So how was it?”, “Well, we weren’t that interested in having her dance for us. So we all took turns trying on her shoes!”, “So you went to the champagne room with a stripper and took turns trying on her shoes?” Bwahahaha! Girls will be girls. Amazing.
It was then decided that everyone should partake in some cultural exercises and one by one lap dances were ordered for each of us. Instead of being taken in the back though, these were performed right on the floor in a chair for two, in front of everyone else at the club. There’s something to be said for the entertainment value of laughing at the worried face of your horribly uncomfortable friend as a half naked woman writhes all over them while the whole bar and a gaggle of giggling Mexinauts are watching. During my specific display of public humility, the busty black mistress that the girls had chosen for me ripped my shirt off up over my head so we could go skin to skin in the chair. Very thoughtful. This probably would have been more embarrassing had I not had the body of a Spartan hoplite. Actually, my only regret in the whole experience is that my favorite beanie was launched off my head when my shirt was torn off and must have landed somewhere on the strip club floor. Somehow during all of this excitement I completely forgot about it. Lost forever. Hopefully it’s living a good life down there in Ensenada. Maybe it’s made it’s way into one of the girl’s acts.
Having had our fill of T&A for the night we make our way back out into the now quiet streets of Ensenada. The Pilot sits lonely on the street waiting for us. We pull up some directions and drop one of the Mexinauts off at her house a handful of blocks away. “That was so fun! Soooo glad we met you guys tonight!”, “Likewise. Keep in touch.” Then we book it, slightly less rowdy, back to the highway and on to the Pine Grove at Bibayoff. When we get there Guy Friend and K-ButtS are still up chatting away. Guess he really is the nicest guy in the universe. We can feel the crash coming in like a meteor so I nab the extra tent from the Pilot and set it up for the 2 girls. Guy Friend takes the back of the BR for the night and the three adventure detectives all crashitty crash crash in the Hobitat.
The next day we’re all fairly lethargic. So we do our now ‘usual’ thing to do in Guadalupe Valley: Take some MRBs through the Bibayoff vineyard, past the curious goats, along the road, and into Sa Lu for a killer breakfast. Then it’s time for the worst part about camping. Packing it all up. The girls and Guy Friend help us out and we get things tucked back in the Pilot. We bust dust out of Bibayoff and give the remaining two Mexinauts and Guy Friend a lift out to a bus stop along the Tecate-Ensenada highway so they can get a bus back into town where Guy Friend’s car and the rest of their stuff is. We exchange goodbye hugs and facebook details so we can keep in touch with our new Mexican friends. It was a good night.
Some sleepy adventure detectives roll into L.A. Cetto winery one last time on the way out of Guadalupe Valley to pick up some nostalgia Nebiollo. There’s a wedding going on but we’re way too tired to entertain crashing it. Back through the windy pass and into Tecate and Bam! The line up for the border hits us like a brick in the face. Sunday afternoon. Thanksgiving Weekend. Damn. We probably should have just left at 4am when we got back from Ensenada last night. Instead we spend 5, count em 5, hours in line at the border, half falling asleep, inching our way back towards SoCal and our fabulous showers and beds.
All in all it was an incredible weekend down in Guadalupe Valley. What a quaint, beautiful, vibrant, and relatively unknown spot (for now). Not too far away but it really felt like we got away. Drank a lot of good wine, met some new friends, and had the best damned tacos in Mexico. I’d say that’s some successful reconnaissance. And the love affair with Mexico continues.