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Thread: The Long Way South- A Pan American Adventure

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Wyoming
    Posts
    2,558
    Very similar story myself. Blew an air bag from San Felipe to Guerrero Negro. I limped it to Mulege and ordered new ones on the internet. Picked them up in Cabo and installed them. Continued south but they failed me again in Belize!

    Cheers and enjoy your trip!!
    My YouTube channel
    1991 FJ80: Vortec 5.7L v8, FZJ80 locked axles, 4L60e trans, split case and plenty more!
    1988 FJ62: TD-S/C-I/C diesel, NV4500, Atlas T-case, portal axles, FZJ80 chassis and lot's more! A long term work in progress.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Phx, Az
    Posts
    4,810
    pretty cool timing to get your parts brought down to you
    great write up and neat to see that you guys are in Baja now after the fun travels through the US

    looking forward to more in the future
    cigar smoking, wilderness first responding, ham talking night nurse who is overland certified and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.....
    now everyone say "so what where have you been lately?"

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    Quote Originally Posted by Happycamper View Post
    Nate, are you happy with the suspension package overall now that you have experienced a bit of varied driving.

    Did you just get a bad shock that blew out or do you think this is normal given the terrain?

    I would expect that a bit more than 4000 miles (my estimate) would be indicated by a quality Fox shock.

    I have a similar vehicle, but a shorty with a camper on the back, so am very interested in a suspension improvement (comfort and reliability) for my trip to Ushuaia.

    Ross
    Hi Ross,

    I am really happy with the suspension package overall! We swapped out the shock yesterday and realized it was a frayed hose which I could not see with the shock in the truck. We have a total of 7000 miles on the suspension and I couldn't be happier. The Foxes we have are valved a little heavy for a street truck, but off road they perform really well. The rear shackle set up from Dodge Off Road made the most noticeable improvement as far as comfort but when you really get into the bigger stuff that's where the shocks and longer travel coils come in. Also we are not running a sway bar.

    The only downside to having custom shocks it when you have an issue with them...they take a while to get to you. Let me know if you have any other questions about anything.

    Nate

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    Too funny! Mulege is at least a cool town to hang out in huh? I'm really hoping we don't have the same problem in Belize.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    Our day at the Baja 1000
    by: Nate

    This year was the 45th anniversary of the Score Baja 1000. For those who have been living under a rock, it is considered by many to be the most grueling off road race in history. This year it ran point to point from San Felipe to La Paz. Guys enter everything from 1/2 million dollar trophy trucks to stock VW buggies.

    Since we were in Baja, it was on the must do list! We had spent the last week waiting for our shocks in Playa Santispac, and the call finally came in. They were in Ensenada with one of the guys chasing for the Wide Open/BF Goodrich car. We were told to meet in Loreto and we could pick them up there. We packed up camp and headed the 85 miles south with our one front shock holding us steady.

    We pulled into town mid-day to grab a bite to eat and to check our phone and email. We got a message from Parker saying his route had changed so he would just leave them in Mulege for us. Crap, we just came from Mulege! A series of events over the next 48 hours would allow us to meet some of the coolest people we have ever met, see some things we could have lived without seeing, and get our truck back up and running.

    I gave Parker a call on his cell phone, he now has to change course out into the desert to go fix one of the cars. I told him Mulege wouldn’t really be an option for us that day but we could head back tomorrow. A quick call on the radio and bam, the shocks would be in another chase truck headed for Loreto that day. He said I could meet them at the Wide Open driver change at Race Mile 835.7. Awesome! Now where the hell is race mile 835.7!?

    Cruising around town we happened to spot a couple of guys pulling some BC cars on a trailer that said Wide Open on them. In Mexican fashion, we pulled a quick U-Turn and sped up to chase them down at the gas station. Between our Spanglish and their Spanglish we were able to figure out where the course was in Loreto and where Mile 853.7 was.

    After stocking up on junk food for the race, we headed back to the course. We spotted mile 853 and clicked the trip odometer. At mile 853.2 I got this feeling I should stop and ask what the exact mile was. I walked over to a crowd of crusty race guys and asked, no one knew. Next question, where is the Wide Open pit? One of the guys spoke up, “Go park with us.” I guess this is the spot then. It turns out we were at the Wide Open pit, but only two of the guys were here so far.

    The Wide Open guys were awesome to us. They took us in like we were part of their team, offering to feed us, letting us hang out in their spot and Steve one of the co-drivers, heard our story about the broken shock and camera (oh yeah, forgot to mention we broke our camera while taking a picture of our broken shock) and he forced us to take his camera. We owe you big time, Steve!

    The first bike came through at about 9:30 PM, hauling some serious rear end! I still can’t figure out how these guys can go so fast at night and not go flying off a cliff. After four or five of the bikes came through, the trophy trucks started coming. These things sound like a pissed off Nascar on steroids with 40” tires and suspension that could soak up a Prius like a speed bump!

    We were camped out right next to a fuel stop for one of the trucks. To watch their pit crew in action is a thing of beauty. They can refuel, change all four tires, clean lights, do an inspection, and get the driver some food/water in less than a minute. All while off camber in the dirt!

    Around 4:30am it was time to crash. Sarah and I slept like babies in the back of the truck while what sounded like hell on earth passed by about 25 yards away. Once the sun came up, we crawled out of our silt encrusted truck and ate some breakfast while watching the race. The funny part about some of the people we were hanging out with this whole time is they are world class athletes, all sponsored by Monster. We were all joking around like we had known each other for years. At about 9am, I figured we might as well get the bad shock changed out while we had the time.

    Tools out, blanket on the ground, shock tower disconnected, shock pulled. No sweat. Meanwhile the trucks had still been raging by this whole time, the sound was almost soothing after a while. The pit next to us had their second truck coming in to refuel. Sarah, Brady and I are near our truck then all of a sudden…”OH MY GOD!” Someone screamed. Woooosh! One hundred foot tall flames were in the air and hundreds of people were running. There were two guys on fire rolling on the ground and a pickup truck loaded with race fuel was now on fire. Tires were exploding one by one. People were instantly in panic mode, some running away and some running in to help. We grabbed the dog and stood at a safe distance until a guy came running over, still smoldering. He had extreme burns on his hands and head but his fire suit saved the rest of him. A couple of guys plopped him down into a chair, and we ran to grab the scissors. We managed to cut him out of his still hot to the touch suit. His hands looked like cooked hamburger, and his forehead was a massive peeling blister. Another guy was seated on the trailer while they put damp rags on his back and head to cool him off. Everyone was yelling about the driver, the driver! The driver’s net was still up, and no one saw him.

    Over at the pit there was now a Mexican man with a front end loader dumping dirt into the fire. He picked up and pushed a fully loaded chase truck out of the way to get the remaining fuel away from the fire. The race was still under way with buggies flying through. There was smoke so thick and nasty you couldn’t breath. And to top it off, Brady was taking full advantage of the situation and eating a chicken carcass he found in all of the commotion.

    There were now ambulances, and fire trucks on site taking care of the rest. It turns out that the guy refueling the truck spilled fuel all over himself, the tire changer and the hot engine while refueling, causing the explosion. The co-driver and driver both got out of the passenger side, and the driver was over with us. We had no idea we had been taking care of the driver the whole time. The fire department got the fire out and anyone who was injured was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Although they will all suffer from serious burns and be hospitalized for a very long time, everyone is going to live.

    The amazing thing during and after this event was that business continued as usual. The race didn’t not stop, or even slow down for that matter. Shortly after Parker showed up in his sexy Dodge, he and his crew mates gave us a hand getting the shocks in and getting us back underway. We owe a huge thanks to Parker for getting our shocks to us, Wide Open Racing for their hospitality, assistance and entertainment and Strapt Performance/ Carli Suspension for making us a priority in getting the shocks valved and out the door on short order. We are now back on the move!

    Full write up and pics here

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    TODOS SANTOS TO EAST CAPE
    by Sarah

    After the Baja 1000, we headed South towards La Paz. This is the city to take the ferry out of but first we wanted to finish our drive throughout the rest of Baja. We stayed a night at Maranatha Campestre RV Park in La Paz (the only RV park still standing in the city). We caught up on laundry and got our fill on internet- they had a great signal which can be hard to find in Mexico!! After throwing together a soup made of odds and ends in the fridge, we hit the hay. The next day, off to Todos Santos!

    Our first night was spent at Playa Cerritos. Through the grapevine, we had heard that there was free camping there. After finding a parking lot that looked promising, we pulled in and asked the attendant in our broken Spanish if we could camp there. “Si, si! Sesenta pesos!” Sweet! We pulled in and parked in a shady spot. After grabbing a couple cold ones at the restaurant, we headed back to the truck with a strange feeling in our gut. There were no more cars in the parking lot and the restaurant was closing (at 6pm). Puzzled, we went back into the restaurant to clarify that it would be okay to park overnight there. The waiter told us it probably wasn’t a good idea and asked us if we had the paper the attendant gave us that said we paid. I told him that we weren’t given a paper so he kindly filled one out for me and told us to go park on the street parallel to the parking lot for the night. While leaving the lot, a rough looking man with glazed eyes came out from behind a dark building and demanded “el recibo” from us. Graciously giving him our fraudulent receipt, we got the hell out of there. The only place that looked acceptable to camp was the public beach entrance, a little sketchy feeling but we had a nice Mexican family to camp next to, so why not? We found a spot to park for the night, made some macaroni and cheese out of the “don’t feel like making dinner” reserves and plotted our revenge on the little sneak who stole our 60 pesos. The next morning our plan abated us. Deciding that it was probably better left alone, we packed up and headed into town to explore.

    Driving into town, something seemed a little different than the day before. There was a strong police presence and road blocks. Looking a little farther up the road we saw a huge parade coming towards us! We quickly dashed the truck to the side of the road and hopped out to join the party! The parade was a celebration of the Mexican Revolution and it was put on by all of the schools in Todos Santos. The kids each put on a little show from their extra curricular group they were involved in at school and there were even some mini banditos mixed in!

    Since it happened to be my birthday, we splurged on a hotel for the night. Nate ran all over town looking for a good hotel for the right price. We stayed at Bentley’s Boutique Hotel. It was a little on the expensive side, but it was an occasion and it was right downtown. There was a safe place to park the truck and they allowed dogs too! The hotel was absolutely gorgeous. It was like a little oasis once you stepped through the gate. The room was clean and tastefully decorated with the owner’s tile and woodwork. There was a common kitchen area so you could cook, a pool and little gardens scattered around. That night, we went out to eat at El Zaguan, a delicious restaurant that was recommended to us by Tranquilo Adventures.

    The next morning, we packed up the truck and headed South towards Cabo San Lucas, which was not for us. Cabo is a super touristy town, and was hectic. After about 5 minutes, and a couple of photos we were out. Continuing down the coast was the town of San Jose del Cabo, it was the perfect place to stock up on groceries and head out to East Cape. The coastal dirt road wound along desolate beaches and up and around mountains. It stumbled through small, desolate villages and towns that offered the freshest pescado and, of course, cerveza. It was absolutely one of the highlights of Baja for us! It was hot that day and with no a/c we were truly learning what “swamp ass” was all about. We spotted a nice beach, pulled over to take a swim and hit the road again. Just before sunset we pulled up to camp at Shipwreck.

    The next morning was off to Cabo Pulmo for some world class snorkeling. Cabo Pulmo is home to the only reef in Baja and some wild sea creatures as well. While here, Brady received his first test of solitude away from the truck. We grabbed our snorkels, filled one of his bones with peanut butter, tied him to a saggy palapa and took off before he could see us disappear. Once satisfied with our sightings, we swam to shore. We were greeted by a wiggle-worm of a dog who was so happy to see us even though we just left him for dead tied to a broken palapa Wanting to make it to Los Barriles before dark, we dried off and continued on.

    We pulled in to Martin Verdugo’s RV Park in Los Barriles on Thanksgiving day. Having stocked up on food the day before, we were planning on making the most extravagant meal The Long Way South has ever created while on the road…but first, it was time to explore the town. The long winding dirt roads make a traveling team real thirsty so we decided to grab a beer before heading back to prepare our Thanksgiving feast! But before we knew it we were walking away with bellies full of fish tacos. Oh well, when in Baja I can officially say that was the first time in my entire life that I did not eat turkey on Thanksgiving!

    After a few nights in Los Barriles the time had come to move on. Next destination… mainland Mexico. We camped for free at Playa Tecolote which is only about 20 minutes from Pichilingue, where our ferry would depart from the next day. We got up fairly early that Monday morning and made our way to the ferry terminal. We still needed to figure out our vehicle import permit, since we never got one in Tijuana. It’s actually a pretty easy process, they just need you to give a deposit of $200-400 based on the age of you vehicle. Apparently they don’t want people entering Mexico with their car and leaving it behind.

    They told us to come back around noon time to go through customs and get our ferry ticket. When we returned, we got in the customs line, pressed the button (green means go, red means search), green this time!!, and got our ticket. We decided to go with the TMC Ferry rather than the Baja Ferries because it was cheaper and we could have Brady with us the whole time. Had we chosen the Baja Ferries, Brady would have to go in a crate for the 18 hour ride with no food or water and we would have no access to him so he wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom either. No bueno. The TMC ferry company is designed for truckers and cargo companies, and the occasional stray gringo, so pretty much anything goes on their boat.

    After waiting approximately three hours, they started loading the ship. Free wifi in the parking lot kept us entertained while waiting. We did start to get a little nervous once we realized that everybody except a few larger trucks were loaded onto the ship except us. Nate attempted to ask when we would be able to board in terrible Spanish. The man responded with a big grin and in flawless English said “I will come and get you.” When we finally got the go ahead, we were parked right on the top deck next to a couple we had met earlier in the day and had an amazing view! We spent the evening talking with Joan and Dave on the deck while watching the sunset. It was so nice to be able to keep Brady with us the whole time and we even got to sleep in our truck! They provide you with two basic meals(really basic), bathrooms and even hot showers!

    Once we pulled into mainland, we bid farewell to our new friends and drove through Mazatlan to continue on our long way South.

    Gallery

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    For anyone who is interested in checking out our other photos...I uploaded the US section the other day. The link to it is here

    Sorry for all of the links! It's much easier than loading all of the photos to the Portal

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Wyoming
    Posts
    2,558
    Crazy stories and exciting! Thanks for sharing!!

    I was told the same thing about my dog for the ferry, ie put him in a crate ect ect. Once I paid for my dog though they didn't care about anything and I left my dog in my truck where he was comfortable and happy.
    My YouTube channel
    1991 FJ80: Vortec 5.7L v8, FZJ80 locked axles, 4L60e trans, split case and plenty more!
    1988 FJ62: TD-S/C-I/C diesel, NV4500, Atlas T-case, portal axles, FZJ80 chassis and lot's more! A long term work in progress.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Newcastle under Lyme, England
    Posts
    353
    Great write up, thanks, don't stop.
    Kat and Greeni, UK.
    Defender 90
    My album. http://picasaweb.google.com/letsoffroad

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    SO LONG SAYULITA
    by Nate

    After leaving Mazatlan we were on the hunt for some quality beach time! The closest beaches to us were south toward the town of San Blas. Rumors have been floating around of an interesting old town that had a little bit of a bug problem but we figured how bad could it be? Strolling into town, the crowded streets were packed with taco stands serving typical street food such as tacos de pescado and our newfound favorite, tortas. The food served out of their makeshift taco stands in the back of their trucks is unbelievable. After binge eating at one particular stand, we headed back to our campsite. Little did we know that the next 14 hours would be some of the worst ever experienced. We tried everything to get away from the pesky biting little devils. Suffocating ourselves in the back of the truck so that they would not fly through the screen didn’t work as it was close to 90 degrees that day. Once we gave in and opened the windows, we spent the rest of the night dousing ourselves in bug spray; we even tried spraying the screens so that they would not fly through the holes! You can imagine being huddled under a down comforter for the rest of the night to evade the bugs made for a sleepless night. The no-se-ums in San Blas can only be described as the spawn of Satan!

    Once the sun broke we got the hell out of there! Next stop, the lovely town of Sayulita. Our initial impressions were not good, in fact we despised the town in the beginning. At first glance, it seems like an over priced, gringo laden tourist trap. Cruising around town looking for a place to camp, we spotted the Sayulita Trailer Park. Some overlanding acquaintances had mentioned the park with good reviews. Although a little on the expensive side for our tastes, the park has a beautiful spot right on the water with hot showers and free wifi.

    We met some incredible people in the trailer park… several couples the same age as us as well as an older generation, all traveling throughout Mexico. Sayulita has a little bit of everything from high end resorts to tiny little taco stands, to a farmers market on Friday mornings. They have all types of restaurants offering up delicious food. We visited the Public House for delicious beers and the best mushroom swiss burger we have ever had! The beach is a beautiful cove with white sandy beaches and lots of surfers, fisherman and salesman trying to sell you a variety of goods.

    We spent quite a bit of time with our new friends Tanner and Bryn (http://thestelladream.blogspot.com) from British Columbia and their friend Billy. The five of us spent the days surfing, eating fresh coconuts from the trees in the park or trying out the slack line.

    The evenings were spent browsing the local cuisine or making some delicious tacos at camp with blind tequila tastings and lots of laughs, mostly at Sarah and Bryn’s quirkiness. We really enjoyed hanging out with them, it felt like we had known them forever and we were sad to say goodbye.

    In total we were in Sayulita for almost two weeks despite our failed attempt to leave after four days. But finally it was time to say our goodbyes and move on…next stop Guanajuato!


    Mas photos aqui

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