Breakdowns and Beaches

What can we say? Not only is Plan C a long ago dream, by now I think we might be on about Plan H or J! What has delayed us you ask? Breakdowns and Beaches to be sure.


The best laid plans are never quite what they would seem. We planned to be in Mexico for New Years Eve. We planned to cross the border at Tecate. We then planned to cross the border at Mexicali. Now it appears we are FINALLY crossing the border tomorrow (happy dance) in Tijuana. We planned to take Mexico 3 through the Guadalupe Valley to Ensenada. Then we planned to take Mexico 5 to San Felipe. Not we are taking Mexico 1 to Ensenada and THEN taking Mexico 3 to San Felipe. Confused yet? WE are!

The road, so far, has been lined with challenges. Colds. Bad weather. A non-working heater causing an unexpected stop in Eureka, California. After a couple of more days trying to re-determine what our heater issue was, we discovered our solution and felt we were home free. We spent two nights in the most unlikely place, the KOA RV park in Santa Cruz. We had only been on the road a week but we were feeling done in. The challenges of leaving combined with ongoing sickness and cold, rainy weather had us searching for sun, good facilities and a hot shower. We got all three and the very best staff we have ever met, barring such luxury resorts as Sabi Sabi in South Africa. It is, indeed, rare to meet an entire staff of employees that are friendly, hard working, and more than willing to go out of their way to make your stay enjoyable. Despite the outrageous camping fee, it was actually worth it to spend two nights here.


Back on the road we had a reasonably uneventful drive south on Highway 101, stopping in Paso Robles for some wine tasting, spending the night on a nearly empty lake near Santa Barbara and rolling into San Diego area for a delightful walk on the beach and rest break. The plan was to continue on to our final campground here in the USA to prepare for our border crossing. But, in case it isn’t already obvious, our “plans” on this trip don’t seem to work out quite right.

As soon as we drove away from Dehony Park we heard a weird thump. The truck seemed fine, nothing appeared in our rearview mirrors. All was fine right? Well, not so much. We had gone back and forth on taking our backpacking gear on this trip for months. On the one hand, we knew we wouldn’t use it for months, in all reality, probably more than a year, when we got to South America. But, we had a Thule cargo carrier. We had a rack on the camper that already held a Yakima skybox. Why not just take it and be prepared. Apparently, the universe had other thoughts.

Even though we had, so far, been on relatively decent roads (although don’t get me started about the crap condition of the roads of California), the weight of the box and a couple of bumps caused the rack system to actually start to pull out of the roof. NOT good. Plan A (here I go with that again) was to drill through the ceiling into the camper cupboards, insert longer screws and washers and secure it that way. We headed to the nearest camp, the expensive Mission Bay RV park, just to get off the road and see what we were dealing with.  A lovely staff and amazing spot set in the bay helped take our mind off our problems, at least for the evening. A sad Ducks lose in the Alamo Bowl didn’t ease our spirits, but an amazing sunset did.


Alas, plan A was, once again, a huge failure, as we started to drill into the roof in the home depot parking lot only to discover that we would need at least 5 inch screws in order for our plan to work. And they don’t make 5 inch screws in the size we needed. Lets just say, it wasn’t a happy moment. In the end.. plan B raised it’s head. We would need to ship our backpacking gear back home for now, and if and when we decided we needed it down the road, have Ron and Dario ship it back to us. Were we happy about the idea of spending several hundreds of dollars on such an endeavor? Let me say again, it wasn’t a happy moment. But already overpacked, we see no other reasonable choice.

Of course, it’s Sunday. And all UPS shipping offices are closed. Which is why I write that from the campsite in Chula Vista, i.e south San Diego, a mere 15 miles from our spot last night. However, we’re in remarkably good spirits. We spent a lovely afternoon cleaning the truck and camper, doing laundry, getting our paperwork in order for the border tomorrow, and of course, redoing our plan!

We will now be crossing in Tijuana… the one place we really did not want to cross. After a first thing stop at UPS to ship our gear, we’ll border hop and head to Ensenada, bound for Clam Beach campground. Sadly, the forecast for the West Coast of Baja isn’t appealing. Rain. NO, no more rain! But, we may endure for one night before heading to San Felipe and the drier Sea of Cortez. However, I warn to not expect most of that to really happen as planned because, as you now know, what we think we’ll be doing and what actually happens are two very different scenarios!


As we prepare to head into Mexico, we are simply relishing feeling better, and the anticipation of meeting up with other overlanders in the next couple of days. The Adventure continues….

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6 thoughts on “Breakdowns and Beaches

  1. Jim and Rhonda…. you are taking the dogs over the border? I was wondering what the protocol for that is? and will there be any waiting period to bring them back to the US?

    • hey Dan! Yep, the pups are with us. They just need to be up to date on shots, have a rabies certificate and, for Mexico, an international vet certificate, although when we passed yesterday the only attention they got was when the customs people wanted to take their picture! Going forward it’s mostly the same stuff… no problems on the return… that generally only applies to island nations, i.e Australia, etc.

  2. I’ve always lived my life by the creed, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Just think of it as getting the kinks worked out now, better now in the US, before you head into Mexico. And even though it sucked to pay to ship your gear home, I’m betting you’ll be thankful you did so. We’ve been to Baja twice and loved it. Our friends built a home on the Sea of Cortez near El Cardonal and we were lucky enough to visit them. It was fantastic! Soldier on and safe travels!

    • Thanks Patti… you are so right. Of course, our luck continued with an accident at the border… post on that to come 🙁 But, we are now settled in for a couple of days to regroup before heading to San Felipe on the sea of cortez to search for sun.

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