by Steve Kassanyi
Photos by Janice Kassanyi
PLAYAS DE ROSARITO – Imagine yourself behind the wheel of an-off-road UTV (they look like beefy off-road versions of golf carts), and you’re on top of a high ridgeline looking at awesome rolling verdant hills of the valleys to the southeast, and the surf line on the beach at the Playas on the left coast. An incredible view, and an incredible adventure so far. Your UTV and some motorcycles and quads are part of the of the Baja Grape Adventure 2, having left from the Corona Hotel downtown on an off-road trail 60 miles long, on your way to Baja’s wine country at Valle de Guadalupe. You are participating in a unique event designed for fun, personal challenge, and some breathtaking views and experiences in a part of Baja you didn’t know existed!
The Baja Grape Adventure 2 was a major success last month, a time of year when the beauty of the land unfolds in front of you with fields of wildflowers still in bloom, verdant hills and lush gorges in the canyons, and top of the world views to die for!
For a fee you could participate in this one of a kind experience, and see areas of the Baja not usually available to the average person. One could arrange for everything to be covered by one entry fee, including the rental of the UTV, (or bring your own), overnight lodging and dining at one of Rosarito’s finest hotels, participation in this two day event featuring on-trail rest stops with food and beverages, a truly fine carne asada lunch at a working cattle ranch, a personally guided tour of one of the many wineries in the valley such as Barón Balch'é where stored underground wine barrels were sampled for their content, followed by an incredible fine dining experience at internationally renowned chef/restaurateur Javier Plascencias’ Finca Altozano vineyard palapa restaurant, and finally an overnight rest stop at the Posada Inn at Rancho Maria Teresa in Valle de Guadalupe, OH, and with a fine breakfast before you hit the trail once again to return "home".
Have I gotten your attention? If not yet, allow me to describe the "ride" itself. It is not an exercise in gluttony, but it is definitely enjoyable. It is all run off-road (no pavement) escorted along dirt roads and trails to the east of Rosarito, transiting through incredible rancho landscapes and over some “technical” terrain where you test yourself and what you thought were normal driving talents…until you get to some viewpoints on top of ridgelines and get a better understanding of what brakes and gears are used for downhills, and then the challenges of loose shale uphills that remind you to use all of your brain power and talent to navigate. Like I said, some personal challenges...
The Baja Grape Adventure is held on privately-owned lands, and Armando Carrasco (the owner of Too Much Fun Promotions and a delegate for State Tourism) had been able to secure all the keys to the locked gates along the way.
Of course, this not a "race", (although we’ve heard rumors of incorporating some of this unique mileage into the next Baja Mil,), yet it becomes gratifying to see the children at the various ranchos come out to cheer you on as you throw some hard candy out to them. The kids love you, and you in turn can’t help but feel the same way. You’ve just added a bit of unexpected fun to their lives (we assume no liability for future dental problems).
Portions of the route you drive over will put you on line with the high-volume natural gas underground pipeline running from the Rosarito processing plant all the way down to Ensenada, over hills and through valleys that leave one wondering about the human effort to build this pipeline for that distance. There are some challenges along the way that reminded me of my racing days old adage of "when in doubt, gas it!"
As your day on the "trail" progresses, you’re wishing for a little siesta time after the lunch stop at Rancho La Mentada, or the wine tasting experience at the winery. (Let me assure you, no stunt drivers were injured in the making of this production). Then, you find yourself even more pleasantly stuffed from the vast array of appetizers at Finca Altozano...then they bring the entrees for dinner, and more wine of course. This experience is not for the tame, you’ll want to enjoy every minute of your journey. Besides the cattle and others of farm life, we managed to capture a photo of a snoozing bobcat who seemed a little put out at the interruption of his siesta.
No matter what, you’ll sleep better than you have in a long time, smiling...
For future event schedules, rate structures and such, contact Armando Carrasco at Too Much Fun Promotions