It was three o'clock in the morning. Stars glistened overhead. The silent, animated glitter dotting the night sky contrasted sharply with the maximum-decibel mariachi music permeating the air. "Didn't I just hear this song a few minutes ago?" I asked, half aloud.
No one answered. I was out of earshot, and my query was rhetorical anyway. I was a guest in Baja. What was I going to do? Tell the locals to turn their music down? No way.
I should've at least been in the truck trying to catch a few winks, but such was not the case. Instead, I was hiding in the Baja chaparral with a shovel and a roll of toilet paper, riding out a storm in my digestive tract.
The uncertainties of traveling often upset my digestive system, and the only way to get the ship righted is a good night's sleep. That wasn't going to happen; not this night, anyway.
Not too many miles distant, sleep was also in short supply for the more than 400 teams who'd thrown their hats into the ring of the 2006 SCORE Baja 1000. The '06 Baja "Mil" was especially tricky for the teams: The race was going straight from Ensenada to La Paz. No doubling back to Ensenada in a massive, sinewy loop like the previous year. Drivers, codrivers, and chase teams would have to work together around the clock to get their race vehicles successfully across the La Paz finish line. Shuteye? Whether driver, codriver, chase crew, or photographer, a few catnaps would have to do. Deep, regenerative rest would have to come later. Now was the time to race.
Why go through the sleepless, tiring ordeal in the first place? One word: adventure. The adventure to be had at the Baja 1000 is unlike any other in off-road motorsports. No two corners are exactly alike. The terrain varies from fast and smooth to slow, rocky, and punishing. The Baja 1000, like all of the SCORE Baja races, is run on existing routes through public and private land. Those routes are not closed for the race, so local traffic can pop up on the racecourse at any given moment. Adventure? The Baja 1000 delivers in spades.
After the adventure concluded and I was north of the border, I got the rest I needed. Jimmy Vasser's encapsulation of the 2003 Baja 1000 comes to mind: "A couple of months after I got home, I realized I had a great time!"
So it was. Mine was the privilege to see spectacular scenery, feel the roar and the roost of the Trophy Trucks, and chat with some of the friendliest (albeit loudest) people on earth. Will I go back? Absolutely. Just not without my trusty shovel and a roll of t.p.