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Thread: www.walkabout2408.com - The adventure so far...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Caloundra, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    76

    Default www.walkabout2408.com - The adventure so far...

    So where do I start... as this is my first post on ExPo and the travels/adventures are well under way.

    Lets start with some background. Why overlanding? Well, as all good ideas this one (the original trip) was conjured up in a pub over a beer. The subject was, where to go travelling after finishing my degree studies. At the time I had been reading a couple of books on different adventures and projects and the common theme linking them was Africa. Whether it was growing up there or travelling through and the mental and physical images I found enticing and evocative. So destination Africa it is. But how to travel? So I started by researching all the places I wanted to see and pin pointing them on a map. This soon produced a tentative route covering a vast area, a continent in fact! Backpacking I thought. But the more research I done into the different types on transport available in the many locations (often remote) I wanted to visit. The more I figured the main danger was getting hurt or killed on the rickety trains, clapped out cars and mini buses, being driven too fast over bad roads or tough terrain. So could I take my own vehicle? The more I looked into this the more this seamed possible, but involved extra costs and lots more paper work. But I could see many advantages too. The ability to get off the beaten path and to those remote spots I so wanted to see. So to the practicalities. I would spend more money initially out fitting a vehicle, but would save (or reduce) costs in the long run by having my own accommodation and cooking a lot for myself. I was sold on the idea. So the next decision, was what vehicle to take? You can always take just about anything with wheels. But obviously the vast majority of common vehicles are not cut out for off road and heavy loads. When you look at the currently suitable vehicles from manufactures around the world, the list ends up being surprisingly short. Whilst I had enjoyed many a short adventure on a motor bike and figured that for better self reliance (more water and fuel) I was better off with a 4x4. It this category there were true options. Toyota Land Cruiser, Land Rovers and Mercedes G Wagons. The Mercedes was clearly out side my budget and being based in the UK meant the find the right model and mileage of Land Cruiser was also very expensive. So a Land Rover soon became the apparent choice and with England being there home, there is plenty to chose from. So which model. Having grown up learning to drive a 1972 series 3 109, I knew they were tough as old boots and simple to fix. But very basic, uncomfortable on long journeys with not brilliant mpg. So following its evolution to the Defender models, with better comfort, better mpg and more powerful engine, seamed the obvious way forward. So by the end of my academic year, I convinced the bank to give me my full student overdraft, borrowed money from my girl friend and parents and bought a 1992 TDI 200 Defender. Its body work was in bad shape but all the mechanicals were in good running order. I packed my things and headed home that summer to Jersey (Channel islands). From there it infact took nearly two years to rebuild the Land Rover, kit it out, pay off the loans and save enough money to go. Along the way my girl friend had got cold feet about the trip and with 3 months to the off, she pulled out. After two years of working and dreaming towards this trip, girl friend or not I was determined to go.
    So there I sat on the 20th March 2004 with the Land Rover ticking over, starring at the on ramp of the ferry leaving Jersey. I was filled with mixed emotions. Excited, scared, proud to have seen the project through this far and sad to be leaving friends and family (plus girlfriend) behind. But as those wheels rolled forward on the ferry I knew I wouldn't rather be any where else in the world and for better or worse I was going to see it through. So started my first great overland journey.

    So where am I now? Well actually on my third great overland journey. This time from North to South America, with plans to ship onto Australia.
    You can follow my adventures on here (from now on) and at www.walkabout2408.com

    So hopefully I will meet some of you out on the road. Happy Travels, David

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    Last edited by Christian P.; 10-24-2012 at 11:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Caloundra, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    76

    Default Goliath - TD5 Defedner 110 in front of one of the gates at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

    Cool photo of my Land Rover at Angkor Wat
    Attachment 116142

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Caloundra, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    76
    Attachment 116521
    Peli Factory Visit

    Recently, I was lucky enough to be shown round the Pelicase factory in Torrance. After a invite from Nora Wainwright, there Consumer sales person. Who I had met at the Out Door Retail show a week before. During my visit I asked if all Peli cases over the years have been manufactured there. The answer was yes. At which point I realised the interesting travels my trusty 1510 case has had over its life time, and the fact that it was now again sat outside the factory it was born in back in 2003. My 1510 case has been keeping my laptop(s) safe since 2004, when I first bought it for a overland expedition from North to South Africa and back North again. It done a fantastic job of keeping the laptop safe from heat, vibration and dust across for 33,000miles across the African continent. After which it was put it a cupboard for a few years. Before being put back into service for my latest adventures of driving across Asia last year and now driving the length of the Americas this year. Over the years the laptop has changed a couple of times. But buy just buying new foam I have reconfigure it each time to house the newer model. Still today the cases is going strong, and I'm sure I'll be using it for years to come.

    Over its time it has saved at least two different laptops from certain destruction. The first time was when I rolled my Land Rover over in Namibia. During which the whole contents of the rear of the vehicle were sent flying. Including heavy a tool box and steel cases holding vehicle recovery gear. The second was when fording a river in Mongolia. Which turned out to be deeper that expected. The result was river water flooding into the rear load bay before I managed to drive out. If the laptop hadn't been in a Pelicase it would have been drowned for sure. The torrent of water that poured from the back when I opened it, made me certain of this.

    So thanks Peli for making great cases to protect my important and some times delicate gear, from the riggers of expedition life.

    Happy travels, David

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Caloundra, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    76

    Default Mexican Border - Baja

    Hi All,

    I'm on my way to the Mexican border and plan to cross into Baja.

    Any advice from people who have done it before would be nice to hear.

    Cheers, David

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Montreal & San Francisco
    Posts
    5,619
    have as many fish tacos as you can!

    Christian

    CTO Expedition Portal
    www.expeditionportal.com
    www.overlandjournal.com

  6. #6
    Awesome experiences. I briefly skimmed over your site, I will be emailing you very soon as I'm about to start a pretty similar journey myself..
    My Travel Page: Facebook.com/ajctraveler

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Caloundra, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    76
    @ Christian, Cool, will be sure to try the fish taco's.

    @ Tony, checked out your photo page. You got some nice shots there. Look forward to your e-mail. When are you hitting the road?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    196
    very nice, David; I will spend hours reading your trip reports

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Caloundra, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    76
    My Mini Baja Adventure

    So the question is. Why go to Baja for only one week. The simple answer is that my US visa was running out and I needed more time to be able to collect a shipment of new tires from home. This then brings up another question. Why ship tires all the way from the UK, when surely suitable tyres could be found in the US. Yes, tires and wheels could have been bought in the US, that would do the job. But amazingly it was cheaper to send a pallet of 6 tires and wheels I already had waiting at home across the ocean, than buy equivalents locally. So it was a no brainer. Also the tires in question happen to be the legendary Michelin XYZ. A tire which was produced for the military and mining sectors. So is extremely hard wearing, truly chip resistant and very hard to puncher (14 ply). But that’s enough about tries.
    So with the only sensible destination in range being Mexico, the Baja peninsular was and easy option. Plus with the lack of swells in southern California in the summer. I was hopping for some better surf south.
    So which border crossing? I forget who exactly told me, but I do remember it was a sound source. The advice being to go through Tecate. For those of you who are unfamiliar with where Tecate is. Its about 20 miles East of the world famous Tijuana crossing. The most busy land border in the world. Tecate on the other hand is a smaller border town, that sees it fair share of border traffic. But not the hordes like at Tijuana. This is mainly dew to the small roads accessing it from the US side. Which restricts traffic to smaller vehicles and keeps all the heavy trucks and RV's at the other border crossings. Sounds perfect. So with no problems expected I headed south from LA to Tecate. The original plan was to get close and find a campsite for the night. But leaving it too late I couldn't find any decent campsite to stop at on the last sections of the US road there. So before I had wanted, I was faced with the border. Not knowing the procedure I quickly scanned the area for signage to direct me. But the only sign of significance was the stop sign next to the border official. Who was now calling me forward. So I rolled up, and he just waved me right through. Thinking that the official entry process must be done on the other side. I proceeded through, only to find myself in the high street behind. Effectively in Mexico with out any paper work or visa. A quick 180 back to the border post and me waiving my passport, say visa, got the direction I was looking for. 5 minutes later I had a 180 day Mexican visa and not a word said about the vehicle. As I new I didn't need the import document to travel Baja, I thought I would ask about that another day. So in Mexico I was, late in the day and needing to find some where to stay. So I turned tail and drove south down the 3. As the light started to fade and the sun was making a break for the horizon, I was not far from making it to Ensenada. When I spotted a RV park sign. On turning in to the entrance. It soon became clear that this was once an RV site. But now was in a state of neglect. Figuring that no one would care if I stayed the night and with the light going fast. I found a spot to park up amongst the trees and bushes. I checked around the place to find it was truly unused. No water, no power, no working toilets. So I set camp. Whilst doing so, a pickup drove in and a couple introduced them selves as the owners of the site. Camping fee's where on a donation basis and put towards the running of a school for deaf children. So I gave a donation and was left for the night. So my first night out under the Mexican stars.
    The next morning I was up with the light and headed into Esenada. On entering the town I stopped by the Tourist office to pick up a town map. So I could find a bank for Pesos and fill up with Diesel. With map in hand it was easy enough to find a secure ATM to withdraw money from, and after checking the rate inside, I had my Pesos. Next stop Diesel. Strangely, there was only one service station in town serving diesel. I later worked this out to be because they wanted to keep the heavy trucks on the highways. As service stations with diesel aplenty where north and south of town along the main Pacific highway. With a full tank of gas I headed into the town centre to check out Esenada. I soon found myself on the main tourist drag strip of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. Most of which, where still closed at what was now mid morning. So after a quick walk around I moved on south. Next spot of interest was La Bufador. The interesting site being an impressive sea blow hole. A blow hole being a gap or hole in a rock which has water and air forced up through it by the action of the waves. Growing up on a island and paddling along quite a few coast lines, I had seen my far share of blow holes. But this one was by far the most impressive. After running the gauntlet of tat shops and touts. You arrive at the viewing area for the blow hole. I didn't give much hope that it would be working. As the sea swell look unimpressive. So I was amazed when with a whoof a jet of water was forced some 10-12m into the air. I could now see what all the fuss was about. Returning back to the Mexican 1, the coast fog started to burn off and reveal views of sandy beaches and blue water. Now this was more like it. But with no surf in sight I decided to drive across the peninsular on the M3 to San Felipe. As the sun rose, so did the inland temperature, and the climb through the mountain interior was hot with barren desert views. So it was a relief to see the sea in the Golf of California, as I descended the other side to the coast road. At the junction was a large military check point. So I slowed and stopped and had to get out to allow them to search the Landy for guns and drugs. It was a half assed search. But I had to keep a close eye on them to make sure all my gear stayed in the car. With that done, I was soon cruising on perfect tarmac towards San Felipe. Not holding anything of significance I wanted to see, I simply passed though and headed for what I hoped would be more deserted coast line. For 90Km south I found section upon section of holiday homes. With mostly no sign of life in them. Being so hot I guessed it was not the preferred time to be here.
    It was only after this did I start finding just fishing villages and open coast line. Which was just about the right time to start to find a wild campsite. I ended up following an original section of the coast track down to a secluded beach, hidden from the road. Ideal I thought. So settled in with a sunset beer and made camp. During which I was surprised by three young coyote pups. Who looked barely old enough to be away from mum. But for what ever reason they where on their own and doing a good job of scavenging food from the shore line.
    It didn't turn out to be the best nights sleep. Because as dark fell so the wind rose. To a point where the flapping tent was making it hard to sleep. My reward however was a brilliant sun rise over the Sea of Cortez, which it felt like I had all to myself.
    That morning heading further south, the tarmac soon end, and the last 30 miles or so was off road to rejoin the M1. Which I then followed south the town of Gerrero Negro. There I re-supplied and head further south to a turn off which would lead me to the coast and hopefully some surf. By the time I was at Punta Abreojos, it was getting late in the day. So I returned up the road about 10Km to Campo Rene. The only official camp ground in the area. As I rolled into camp I can't say I was impressed. There was a collection of little run down cabins along one side, trailer homes down the other, and at the far end the delapidated looking restaurant/bar. The camping area was all squeezed in to one corner. I found a spot a settled in. The evening was spent chatting to interesting Americans who were also on the camp ground. Some who lived in Baja full time and others who where just visiting. Mostly in search of surf as well. A better nights sleep was had, with lower winds and a beautiful array of stars.
    Next morning feeling fresh I broke camp to find water and look for surf spots. The only water solution which I had been tipped off about by fellow campers. Was a store in town which sold it by the litre, through a filtration system. Lucky for me I had my water jerry can on the roof, which I filled inside the shop and then poured into my water tank on the Landy. 3 trips later the tank was full. So I headed out onto the point to look for surf. Following tracks through the sand dunes and coastal homes and trailers. I soon came across two surfer camps close together. Feeling this was a good spot to stop I parked the Landy amongst the dunes and checked out the break by foot. This was defiantly the best option I had seen in the area. So unloaded the surf kayak and got ready. Whilst doing this 2 American surfers returned to there camp and as we chatted I picked their brains on what the surf breaks where doing. They had already been there some 19 days and one of which had been coming to this spot for 15 years. So later that afternoon, when the point break was working I went out in the surf kayak and had some good rides.
    Camping amongst the dunes turned out to be a windy and gritty affair. I ended up digging my tent into the sand to stop it blowing away. But with the Landy and dunes for protection, I still had a good nights sleep. When morning came with another stunning sunrise, it was soon evident that the swell had dropped. But it was my Birthday and I wanted to go into town and Skype home on the internet. It was really nice to talk to my Mum and Dad and see all the birthday wishes friends had left on Facebook. Which really made my day. I even managed to find some freshly baked cake in the store. So a bought a couple of slices. I returned to the head land to check on the waves. But nothing interesting was happening. So I decide I would following the coast dirt track North and check out other villages and surf spots along the way. So thats how the afternoon pasted. Enjoying the desert views inland and the sea views to the West. By evening I found myself in the town of Bahia Tortugas or Turtle Bay in English. There I found a reasonable little hotel and treated myself to a room for the night. After a shower and shave I hit the town looking for food and found the perfect spot only meters round the corner with a harbour view. Fish Taco's where the order of the day. Sent down with a cheeky beer. During dinner I got chatting to the owner Maria. Who later showed me her amazing collection of dinosaur teeth, which she had found locally. They were apparently from a predecessor to the modern day White Pointer, called Megladon. It also happened to be her sisters 50th birthday party. To which she dragged me along. So after a bit of silly dancing to traditional Mexican music and a few more beers. I was exhausted and crashed out back at the hotel.
    Morning brought grey skies, and so I followed the off road track to the end of the peninsular, to see if a world famous surf spot was working. Unfortunately with the weak swells the fabled island of Natividad was not producing any decent surf either. So I turned East and took the road and off road tracks back to the M1. Then followed it North, filling up again with fuel in Guerrero Negro, and then taking the M12 to Bahia de Los Angles. As I descended the mountain road towards the Bahia de Los Angeles I was confronted with an amazing blue sea, dotted with dusty burnt brown and red islands. After doing a couple laps of the town I found a place where I could camp right on the beach. Perfect. So I made camp and enjoyed a beer relaxing in my camp chair as the sun went down. As it was just getting dark another vehicle pulled into camp and I soon met a couple of American surfer lads, which had seen on a surf trip further south. So we decided to head out for dinner. Finding this great spot by the pier, we tucked into a mountain of fresh fish for dinner. All the time swamping stores of our travels and me explaining about my travels so far.
    As the sun rose the next morning I decided it was a great place to launch my new Trak folding sea kayak and go for a paddle round the bay. By the time I had put the kayak together and got all my other bits and pieces sorted it was mid morning and already very hot. Sun screen and bush hat were the order of the day, with plenty of water packed into the boat. I set off south along the shore line. Passing the town and then out past private homes and beaches to the dunes in the far south. Then I continued round the bay, passing a second settlement of private home on the east side. All the time the views where amazing with rocks which looked like they had been burnt in the fires of hell, contrasting with the warm crystal clears waters. As the days wore on, so the wind came up, and I had to punch a Force 4 head wind for 1.5Km before I could get into the lee of the head land. There I was protected until I had to cross the open water from the headland back to the town. So it was a tiring last stretch to constantly fight the quarter stern sea for course I wanted to keep. But after 4 hour and 15 minutes, I had made it round the 27.5Km of the Bahia De Los Angeles. The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling out in the shade of a canopy I had attached to the side of the Land Rover. As night fell I was soon tucked up in bed until sleep finally got the better of me.
    The next days I broke camp and spent most of the day driving West and North back to Esenada. Where after a stop at Starbucks for internet, I carried on to find fuel and a camp spot for the night. In the end I ended back up at the donation camp round along the M3 heading for Tecate. With the plan to cross the border back into the US the next day.
    I woke early and was soon out on the road, covering the remaining K's to the border town of Tecate. After finding my way around town to the border post and waiting in line for around 30 minutes. It was my turned to explain my story to US officials. After much explanation for another hour and them stating that I had not stayed long enough in Mexico (30 days) to get a 90 visa. They kindly granted me 10 days to return to LA and get my tires. So this is where I write this from. Having already completed the majority of the customs and shipping procedure and hoping to get my tires in a couple of days. With the new tires fitted, I will be looking forward to more adventures south.

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    More trip photo's available at http://www.walkabout2408.com/America...PhotoPage.html

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    BC and AZ
    Posts
    1,230
    Great trip report David, and having the map was really helpful to follow along.
    *********
    Ray Hyland
    Explorers Club Member, RCGS Fellow, Member of Overland International Inc.
    www.nwoverlandrally.com www.expeditionportal.com www.overlandjournal.com
    1993 D110 (Diesel), 1954 86" Station Wagon, 1954 86" Pickup, 2004 Ford Explorer
    1969 Suzuki AC100 Wolf, 2005 YZF250F, 1971 Carabela

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