Altar 2002 Day 1: 02-11-2002

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Leaving the US for Sonora

At first light, the sound of impact wrenches filled the air.  While no occupant of the low-budget RV park complained, it was clear that nobody could sleep through all the racket, with one exception.  The first order of battle was to switch into "trail rubber".  We had to remove 12 of these big-ass tires, switch them and then load them back onto the trailer.  This was a ton of dirty work.  Here Matt and Nancy double-team Kai's tires.

Kai helped all of us, here he is jacking Dan's rig.  I used an air jack, which worked well, but it really needed to be a 2 stage jack.

Below, Kai completes his tire change.

Remember I said that nobody could sleep through all the racket?  Well, there was one exception.  How she managed to do that is still unclear, but we finally prodded her into productive work.

Below is the 1300 with sand tires attached.  The width of the truck was so wide that it required careful driving to prevent an accident.

Once the tire rodeo was completed, we headed into Yuma for fuel and breakfast at Tacos Mi Ranchita.  Breakfast was excellent and a great way to start the trip.  After the fuel stop, we headed directly to San Luis del Colorado and crossed the boarder.  San Luis is a rather low-budget town, even by Mexico standards.  Pavement is in short supply in San Luis and as you can see below, the road along the boarder ends about 100 meters from the main drag.

No matter where they go, mogs attract attention.  Kathleen stayed with the truck while we went to get Mexican insurance (an absolute requirement for travel in their country).  We just double parked and she later reported that the Policia circled the block 4 times checking things out.  They did not challenge her or Scott.  Just another weird day in a border town I guess.

Once we hit the sand at Cesar's, we aired down and were ready to tackle the dunes.  Below, the team is assembled for a group shot.  Kathleen took the photos, so she is missing.

The pre-trip euphoria did not last long, perhaps 2 miles.  My tires have custom rims and in addition to the bead not being fully compatible with the tire, the rims are too wide.  Here, the tire is de-beaded due to hitting the tundra with low air pressure.  Later in the trip, we learned that the front tires needed at least 12 PSI to stay on the rim.  Sadly, as we will see, this was not low enough for all situations.

To show that the Altar is an equal-opportunity-punisher, Dan's tire de-beaded within just a mile of mine.  Only in his case, he had a bad patch in the tire, so a field repair was required.

Here the team attacks the offending tire.  These bad boys are heavy AND awkward.  It took all of us to get that thing off the rim.

All the tire work caused us to get to camp late and using the most direct route.  Like the last trip, we decided to stay in a hard pan valley below the big star dune with the cross.  Here Kai and Dan come down the ridge to the camp area.  This is a popular (for the Altar) area and you can see the tire tracks from other vehicles.  Indeed, we were visited by several Mexicans in their pickups later in the evening.  They were part of a group from Tijuana and reported that one of their group had rolled and they had to do an extrication.

As if to make up for the abuse that it had dealt us, we were treated to a wonderful sunset.  

Dinner was steak and potatoes baked in the Dutch oven.  Plus, there were a few tall beers and many more tall tales.  We slept on the ground; only Matt and Nancy did a tent.  Kai used a lounger; Dan and Scott slept on their futon pads.  We were all tired from the stress of the preparation, changing tires and repairing flats.  Perhaps tomorrow would be a better day.

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