Trip Report 20140411-13
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Our long time friend
Kai and Tina asked us to join them on a trip to Guadalupe Canyon
for a long weekend. This trip was a bit different because
we had several non-moggers with us and we left late on Friday as
opposed to taking a full day off work. The folks that
joined us were Tim and Markeesa, Adrian and Christie, Scott and
Vicky. The guys worked with Kai at Pratt Whitney, the
women at various places.
The photos below are what we saw.
crossed the border into Mexico without "excessive
scrutiny". Unlike other crossings, the border guys on the
Mexican side wanted to see my license, registration, insurance
and to check the inside of the camper. They also wanted to
cross check the VIN against the registration. We crossed
at Tecate and then traveled east on the toll road to La Rumerosa
for a fuel stop before heading down the Rumerosa grade to the
desert floor. Above, Kai gets fuel.
passed on fuel and got it on the return trip. Thor has 60
gallon tanks and strictly speaking we did not need to get fuel
at all on this trip. But running a diesel dry generates a
bunch of extra work priming injector pumps, so it is better to
not let that happen at all.
the day", La Rumerosa grade was described by the AAA Baja book
as "the terrifying La Rumerosa grade". Before the road was
reworked, that statement was 100% appropriate. Now, it is
just mostly appropriate. The grades are steep, the road
narrow and most folks go too fast, caution signs
only 2 turn on the grade before we reached a bad accident.
We saw no blood, but that does not mean that there were no
got further down the grade we could see a portion of the Tijuana
aqueduct that brings Colorado River water to metropolitan
the tenth curva peligrosa (dangerous curve) sign, we became
somewhat numb to the concept. But seeing that rollover
accident at the top of the grade was sobering.
is carved into the steep mountain side and has many curves as it
winds its way to the desert floor 4,000 feet below.
first sign of ugliness to come. We were aware of the
military checkpoint on this road. But lately, the checks
have become much more onerous and invasive. The truck at
the center of the photo has just disgorged 10 soldiers armed
with automatic weapons.
being what it is, was flagged early on for "special
attention". I expected to be scrutinized but did not
expect having to suffer exposure to gamma radiation from a
Cobalt-60 source provided by the United States. I had to
drive through the beam to have the truck inspected. Given
the harmful effects of gamma radiation, I doubt that this inspection
would be allowed in the U.S. So, what better way to share
the love of the "war on drugs" than to export dangerous
technology to neighboring countries and allow them to irradiate
their citizens and unwary visitors to their country. My
knowledge of the Spanish language goes to zero instantly when I
come to these checkpoints. I just let them struggle and
look clueless (which is not that difficult). For anyone
that is interested, the warning label says" Radioactive
material, Type A package; Special form Cobalt-60 UN3332.
Gross package mass: 204 KG (~0.01gm Co-60). Radioactive
II." Their whole inspection required about 30 minutes in
addition to getting exposed. A photo later in this set
shows the detector array.
receiving what I am sure was an excessive dose of gamma
radiation searching for non-existent illicit cargo, we turned
off the road onto Laguna Salada and headed south across the dry
lake bed for about 50 miles. This trip the lake bed was
smooth allowing speeds of 50 mph. But, beware, there are
still ruts that can damage your vehicle when traveling that
fast. One of these ruts is visible in the foreground of
the photo above.
We did not arrive at
Guadalupe Canyon until after sunset. We had cocktails,
sat in the hot tub and then went to sleep. The wind was
howling all night blowing sand in our eyes and keeping the tents
flapping. Next morning it was calm with high
clouds. Our camp had a nice kitchen with a palm frond
the nice things about Guadalupe Canyon is that almost every camp
site has a concrete hot tub. Our site had a nice one
sitting on the rim of the canyon.
usually camp on the south side of the canyon, but being Palm
Sunday weekend, those sites were reserved. So we settled
for the north side. And, aside from the difficult access
trail, it was a good site. The south side is visible in
the photo above. The structure in the center is
the canyon from us was another site with a large sun shade.
to the camp site was narrow enough that it required careful
driving to avoid damage. But, I still did hit my propane
rack although it did not seem damaged. With the strong
winds at night blowing dust, we were happy to have a hard-walled
camper. The wind did cause the truck to rock but it did
not keep us awake.
Guadalupe accented by palms and a Palo Verde tree in partial
the copter position a bit further up the canyon and now we could
see Thor as well as our hot tub. I am standing in Thor's
of the group decided to hike to the waterfalls, but Tina,
Kathleen and I stayed behind. Above, Tina snags a nap.
later in the afternoon we had a nice view of the Laguna Salada valley
to the east.
was blowing hard and every time we set the camp chairs upright,
the wind would blow them down again.
Later in the evening
after dinner and a few drinks, we all went in the hot
tub. Above, Tim has his "oh shit" moment when he
realized that he gave his smart phone a nice long dip in the
tub. But, luckily for him, once it dried out, it
appeared to work again.
Kathleen got this
group shot in the hot tub. Clockwise from the top:
Bill (with the green glass), Kai, Parker, Christie, Tina,
Jackie, Vickie, Scott, Keesa, Tim.
Next morning, as we
prepared to break camp and leave for home, Tim discovered that
his truck had a puncture. We put tire snot in it and
filled it back up. It did not seal fully and was still
leaking a bit, but the leak was slow enough to manage.
It has been awhile
since we have had tire problems. Doing this process on
Thor would be a big deal, but these small tires were no
A parting shot of Pico
trailer was in the camp below ours.
A nice group
shot. L to R: Vickie, Scott, Keesa, Tim, Christie,
Adrian, Kai, Jackie, Parker, Tina, Kathleen with Bill in front.
We had no choice but
to return through the military checkpoint again. Above
is another view of the gamma ray imaging device. The
detector array is in the vertical assembly on the rear of the
truck. The operator is in the attractive green structure
with the tarp for a roof. A high-quality setup all
We spent 2 hours in
line at the Tecate border checkpoint. We could see the
vendors making churros. The gal on the left is turning
the steering wheel that extrudes bread dough into a huge vat
of boiling oil. After 3 cranks of the wheel she cuts the
dough with the knife. Note the flat tire on the gorditas
The story here is the
new brick under the trailer. Some years ago when we came
through Tecate, the trailer was cantilevered and the entire
area that is now brick was floating. Now the basement is
a snack shop catering to folks stuck in the border line.
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