(Thanks to Carla Gallaway for the above photo.)
Just in case you had not already discerned my feelings about Baja, I thought I’d pen one more post before closing the Diario Mexicano for good. I’m proud to say I crossed the Tropic of Cancer and drove to Lands’ End and back. But here’s how I would sum up my Baja adventure:
“Baja In An RV Caravan – Ten Fun-Filled Days Packed Into Four Weeks!”
Three weeks ago I breezed through the border back into United States and hit the road to Palm Springs. I was positively intoxicated by freedom and speed. Lanes and roads were wide. Potholes were few. I was a scofflaw of the speed limit. I was no longer Rig Number Three in a ten–rig convoy, traveling an average of 27 miles per hour (2000 miles in 75 hours).
That’s right, folks. In one month I spent behind the wheel the equivalent of two work weeks in an office. That’s just fucking ridiculous.
One week after Palm Springs, I embarked on the journey back to Seattle. I feared one week of R&R in Palm Springs was insufficient, still feeling road-weary from Baja. (Yes, I needed R&R from a vacation – also ridiculous.) But when I hit the freeway, I was so thrilled to be on my own, making my own schedule, the trip north was actually just when I needed to cleanse my Baja palate.
Many of you have asked if I would take the trip again. Absolutely not. As with many things in life, if I had really known what I was getting myself into, I would not have done it. At least not in Nellie. Nellie is my home and my one and only tangible asset. I am still repairing the things that shook loose on that Baja highway. Let’s just hope there are not other things, invisible for now, which reveal themselves as I drive from Seattle to New Orleans.
Take, por ejemplo, my sliding battery drawer and corresponding basement bay door. I carry six batteries – two chassis, and four house. Combined, that’s a weight of over 450 pounds. In Baja the latch on the tray broke simultaneously with the latch on the basement door. One steep left-hand curve and the entire tray could have slid out, slamming into and opening the door. With the help of fellow travelers (Thanks, Jon and Keith!) and some baling wire, I made it back from Mexico. The problems were “repaired” in Palm Springs.
I used quotation marks because the repairs did not hold. I was on a Los Angeles freeway when a semi began honking frantically behind me. I looked in the side mirror to see the basement bay door opening. Fully open, it is 2 1/2 feet wide. Amazingly it was not torn off by passing motorists and did not cause any accidents. I stopped immediately, in a rather unsafe place, and re-latched and re-locked the door. Three miles later, it happened again! I crawled under the bay and secured everything with zip ties, then used Gorilla duct tape around the entire door. That got me back to Seattle, where the tray and door were finally repaired with Newmar parts today.
Yes, I knew the roads were bad, but I thought they were I-5 from Federal Way to Fife bad. I knew the roads were narrow, but I did not know that I would be praying for my mirror’s safe return to the United States (which miraculously made it home intact!).
(Photo by Deborah Moore)
I knew I would need to bend my will to the needs of the group, but I had no idea how much. I also did not know that Baja Amigos would be so unprofessional and chintzy.
Still and all, there were those 10 glorious days. Days filled with beaches:
(Photo by Maria Denzin)
(Photo by Debbie Keohone)
And good people:
And in the words of Gershwin, “They can’t take that away from me.”