Brooklyn to Baja

My overland friend Brandon Rabbie calls me and asks if he would like to drive to Cabo San Luca in March. There is a wedding he has been invited to and he would prefer a labor intensive 10 day roadtrip over a boring five hour flight. I'm down to go as usual.

Due to last-minute changes, we need to take another car and not only did we run out of time to ship it, but we also need to drive it. In order to ensure we will make it to the border on time, we shift timelines and leave three days early.

I'm not sure how many of you have driven cross-country, but it's a long trip. The length of time is much longer than you would expect. Especially if your Land Rover Defender 120 is a right-hand drive 1985 with a speed limit of 70mph. Every four hours, two drivers alternate for a total of 16 hours of driving a day. In the first two days, we were trying to cover roughly 2000 miles. We would stock up on supplies before crossing the border on the last leg from Phoenix to the border.

The Defender 120 was powered by a 3.9-liter diesel engine from Isuzu and had two fuel tanks, holding 40 gallons of fuel together. Unfortunately, we made this trip during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and fuel prices were astronomical. I believe we filled it up at Yuma, California for $7.00 per gallon before crossing into Mexicali. We were unaware that Mexico still had cheap Russian fuel for $4.00 a gallon. It was a stupid mistake on our part. Overpreparation can sometimes hurt your wallet.

Baja, like the Sahara Desert, Iceland, and Western Australia, is a must-see for any off-road enthusiast. Some of our favorite off-road races are the Baja 1000, and the San Felipe 250. Driving the length of Baja is something of a right of passage.

It was a smooth ride through Mexicali. In the United States, veneers are much more expensive than in Mexico so many Americans were heading south for dental treatments. US residents parked in a lot and walked through a fence to the Mexican side to reap the rewards of the cheaper price. There wasn't much to see in the northern part. As lunchtime approached, we bolted down to San Felipe to get tacos and cervezas.

A drive through Baja is the only way to get there, it's not a city you can fly to. Baja, BCS Mexico, has an area of 55,363 square miles, making it one of the largest peninsulas in the world. As a comparison, that's 5,000 square miles larger than Italy.

We camped along the Sea of Cortez each night on our way to Cabo. We met some great people and shared campfire stories about our trip so far. There was a bit of a post-burning man vibe to the area. While some people escaped reality, others found their own private beachfront oasis.

We would drive back and forth from the east coast to the west coast for 10 hours a day. The main road in Baja zigzags down its length for some reason. At best, it is a two-lane road. There is an art to passing semi-trucks in a right drive Defender. The passenger sits on the left side and you play 'Chicken' with him or her. Can you trust them when they say to hammer down and pass or do you lay up?

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