The Unimog Wherehaus

E-mail Dirk Rautenberg




Dec 26

The beginning of a new experience is always a little exciting. My husband Bill has just acquired a new vehicle called a Unimog. I didn't even realize there was such a thing until a short time ago and now I am going camping in one along with our daughter Kathy, our 3 year old granddaughter Hannah, and good friend Bob McCue. Bob has talked the family into spending the New Year doing something different - boy, was he right!!! Bill and Bob shipped their Mogs to San Diego via a semi-flatbed truck.00Baja_01.jpg (70489 bytes) We're finally packed and off. We're sad to say goodbye (for the century) to the rest of our family. Our flight to San Diego was uneventful unless you count losing Bill at DIA and waiting at the Hertz rental car in San Diego for 2 hours. After meeting with part of the group (Brendon Daley, Dirk Rautenberg, Andrew Dreossi, and Jennifer Watson) and going grocery shopping, we headed to the Old Town Mexican restaurant for supper. There we met Christie Valenti and our guide Frenchie LeChance.

Dec 27

We are packed & ready to go - but the rest of the group is not here. The Mogs are stuffed and we are too after a great brunch at the Hilton Bill & Bob are filling up gas cans. 00Baja_02.jpg (110055 bytes)I've just discovered that part of our group don't have their trucks yet so I guess I'll go join the beach crowd already playing in the sand on the beach. Bill and I decided to go look at the San Diego Mission. It was the first one started by Padre Serra. When we got back, there was good news. We are a GO!00Baja_03.jpg (108592 bytes) About 3 we left the hotel to go meet up with the other trucks that have finally reached San Diego. We were supposed to meet in a shopping mall parking lot. Unfortunately by 5 the others had still not shown up so we made the decision to go on to the camp ground at Potrero County Park. We set up camp in the dark. By the time we finished our sloppy Joe's the others finally arrived. Good night all.

Dec 28

We are up at 7 feasting on a breakfast of pancakes. Today we are getting our first glimpse of all the trucks that we will be traveling with. Our group consists of 5 Unimogs and one Jeep Cherokee. There is an Orange Pumpkin Mog (404 camper), a Dalmatian Mog (404.0 crew cab), a Blue Bomber (Swiss 404), the Canuck Truck (German 404), and Rocket Mog (416). After breaking camp we crossed the border at Tecate. Crawling through passport, immigration, visa, & money changing - we are finally on our way. Vamanos.
We stopped at a bakery and for lunch at LaRumarosa. From the cafe at LaRumarosa we turned down an alley and headed down a dirt track towards the Parque National Concepci—n.00Baja_04.jpg (66530 bytes) We stopped along the side of the road to let air out of our tires. I don't quite understand the concept but I'm sure that I am learning something about unimogging. After trekking along for 2 or 3 hours, Bob had a blowout. To those behind him it was a pretty spectacular explosion. A spare tire was put on with little trouble and we were on our way again.00Baja_05.jpg (91223 bytes)
By 5 pm we had made it to one of the two natural lakes in Baja. It was almost too dark to see. Since it was getting dark we had to make a decision of whether to camp or push on another 4 hours to Mike Sky Ranch. The decision to push on was made. I know it is not recommended to travel in Mexico at night but here we are 4x4ing in the dark. We climbed to ??????feet to a rancho in the sky. Hurray, we finally made it about 10 pm. Aargh !!!!!! No one is home or else they are asleep. We pitched our camp anyway, made supper, set up the TV for Hannah ( I hope no one sees our telly). We ate cereal for supper.

Dec 29

00Baja_06.jpg (96031 bytes)We awoke to gray skies. We found the showers although we had to climb over the gate to get to them. Wonderful! Breakfast of chorizo scrambled eggs, beans, & tortillas prepared by Mike sky ranch. We started the day by driving over steep, rough, narrow, mountain roads. I found out later that this road was included in the Baja 1000 Race. 00Baja_08.jpg (66010 bytes)We stopped at the bottom of the mountain to repair the radio antenna on the Blue Bomber. The resourceful German (Dirk) finally engineered a good idea of bailing wire and bubblegum that seemed to work. We continued along down the mountain00Baja_07.jpg (104320 bytes) until we crossed over to Hwy 1. Then we followed the coastal road further south. Just before El Rosario our truck (the Blue Bomber) threw its pulley (don't ask me what that was for) which broke the fan blade. 00Baja_09.jpg (101535 bytes)Andrew pulled us quickly out of the truck and chased down the rest of the group to help fix the truck - another 2 hour delay. Then we trucked on to Catavina along Hwy 1 after dark unable to see the giant cactus forest that we were driving through. An owl did fly over us though. A beautiful hotel with warm showers and a great dining room greeted us at Catavino.

Dec 30

We woke to a beautiful day to find ourselves still in some cactus forest. 00Baja_11.jpg (118812 bytes)Our great hotel room didn't have a working potty. Oh well - Mexico!. After breakfast we boarded our trucks and drove up above Catavino to visit an ancient place. It was a cave shrine that had pictographs in it. We climbed over the rocks and took some photographs (people putting their heads through a hole in the rock). Some of us are easily entertained. After our short sightseeing jaunt,00Baja_10.jpg (140067 bytes) we climbed back into the Mogs and leisurely headed on down the road to Guerrero Negro. About mid-afternoon we arrived at Mario's Palapa restaurant and bar close by the side of the road. Badly in need of some relaxation we enjoyed a few beers on Mario's porch. Mario said that we could camp behind his restaurant. You will not find a more unlikely spot to want to camp but it did serve our purpose. So we pitched our tents out back in the sand. Mario had found some giant scallop shells and was making a kind of driving area with the shells. Interesting. The supper menu included spaghetti sauce, bow ties & rellenos. Bob & Dirk took Bob's tire into town to see if anyone could repair the blowout.

Dec 31

Breakfast was at Mario's and then we were off for some whale watching. 00Baja_12.jpg (82756 bytes)Mario's van drove us to the bay where we boarded boats. We spent the morning watching the dolphins cavorting and the gray whales relaxing. We saw a pelican diving and playing with a seal. About noon we arrived back at Mario's to break camp. Dirk and I left early to go into the village to pick up Bob's tire and to find fireworks for Brendon ( which were found to be prohibito).00Baja_15.jpg (59527 bytes) The tire still was not fixed (the workers broke early for lunch) so Dirk commandeered the car wash attendant to finish the tire and then had to finish it mostly himself. What an interesting fix-it job. The tire had been stitched with a piece of wire. I hope we don't need it! We are finally off to Mulege. There were no rooms in the inn so we found a beautiful campground. 00Baja_13.jpg (101795 bytes) Bob found a restaurant in town. Half of us had time to shower before we stuffed ourselves into Frenchie's jeep and hurried into town for Ano Nuevo dinner. We were served terrible margarita's but great fish. We arrived back at the campground before midnight. Kathy & I put on our glitzy sequined clothes that we had brought along to celebrate the New Year in our tents and then we passed out the party horns and hats. Bill opened the millennium champagne - Happy New Year! Century! Millennium!

Jan 1

We slept in a bit then ate English muffins for breakfast. After breaking camp we drove to the Mulege Mission. The mission was closed so we just walked around outside and enjoyed the scenery. 00Baja_16.jpg (103268 bytes)We encountered a couple who had just had everything stolen. Bob said that that was what happened when you went to church! We loaded back up and began our jaunt to LaPaz. 00Baja_17.jpg (110354 bytes)The drive along the coast of the Sea of Cortez was beautiful. Frenchie drove ahead to LaPaz to pick up Cy Bassett( Christie's friend). The trip was LONG but uneventful. Frenchie found us a great hotel/yacht club with wonderful showers. The pool area was beautiful with cages of iguanas and tropical birds.00Baja_18.jpg (105692 bytes) Everyone was looking forward to real beds. Supper at the hotel restaurant was also a nice break from camp cooking. Kathy didn't make it because Hannah decompensated. Poor thing - we are wearing her out. At supper Andrew bought Jennifer a rose and gave one to me also. How sweet! Thanks Andrew! Night night.

Jan 2

After a relaxing breakfast around the marina, we had a little GPS instruction. Kathy and Hannah went swimming. Sherry decided not to go home but to stay for the duration of the trip. 00Baja_19.jpg (101621 bytes)So we stuffed dirty clothes into the laundry ( they didn't come clean). About noon some of us went shopping in LaPaz. Others repacked the Mogs. We left around 2:30 to go north to a beach camp. 00Baja_20.jpg (52301 bytes)While camp was being set up I hung up and folded laundry. Our beach camp was a great site. Flocks of pelicans were fishing. I have never seen so many pelicans diving into the water at the same time. While the camp was being set up, some local fisherman were so intrigued by our group that they came and stood in the midst of us while the camp was being set up.00Baja_21.jpg (58132 bytes) Frenchie cooked supper and the rest of us enjoyed margaritas. Kathy and Hannah made a sand castle with Christie. After supper everyone sat around the campfire and watched fire works. Brendon & Christie squirted spaghetti confetti all over us. It is the last night for Kathy, Hannah, & Brendon. The wind started to come up. It blew all night long. I don't think I slept much..

Jan 3

Frenchie left early with Kathy, Brendon, and Hannah. We had to break camp in the horrible wind. Big gray waves made the sea look angry. The fishermen came back to watch us.00Baja_22.jpg (77221 bytes) I think they are mystified by our Mogs and tents. We started up the road N from our pelican beach camp and then took an inland rural road over the mountains. The terrain was another change for us. It was arid and there was lots of green coloring in the soil and in the rocks. It was stark and beautiful at the same time. We are climbing steadily from sea level to the top of the world. Unfortunately I discovered later that I had left my camcorder at the top of the world (on the Unimog bumper). El Stupido. Using our GPS's we headed for Cd. Constituci—n. On the way we passed a caballero on horseback in the remotest land that I have ever seen who was trying to find some gasoline to take his sick friend to a medico in a small nearby town. (I think) So we gave him some of ours. Also along the way we spied a pancake cow (dehydrated, dead, and flattened) propped up against a tree. What a strange site!! We met Frenchie at a taqueria about 5 hours late.00Baja_23.jpg (91016 bytes) Just before we arrived in Cd. Constitucion I realized that the camcorder was missing. I wanted to just let it go but everyone insisted that we try to recover it because that was the only video we had of the trip. So Frenchie took me back to the top of the world. He is a real trooper. Andrew and Jennifer even wanted to go for me but I figured that it was my stupidity. We left at 10:40 pm and got back to Cd Constituci—n about 5 am.. Aargh! I was looking forward to a hot shower to wash my hair but that was not to be. It was a Mexican hotel with cold showers. So I stuck my head in first and then groaned loudly when I jumped in the rest of the way. What a day! Maybe that was my reward for being so dumb!

Jan 4

00Baja_24.jpg (98226 bytes)We loaded up and left for Loreto. Andrew had truck trouble. Bill wanted to ride with Dirk so I drove Bill's Unimog. I hope that I don't have to go backwards. I know 4 gears and all of them are forward. Bob babysat me over the mountains in case I get into trouble. He is so patient. We met up in Loreto to eat lunch.00Baja_25.jpg (81954 bytes) We sang Happy 4th Birthday to Hannah (even though she had to go home). During lunch it was decided that the girls were to select the next campsite. So the Missile Mogettes (Sherry and Jennifer) led the Rocket Mog to the next beach camp site at Playa Coyote for supper of ham, green beans, and pasta and margaritas. A campfire on the beach completed our day. Buenos noches.

Jan 5

Frenchie insisted that we get up before dawn. He was good enough to cook pancakes and bacon. Yum! 00Baja_26.jpg (80294 bytes)Then we 4x4ed out of camp. After gassing up, we drove to Mulege. Bob's truck seems to have major clutch problems. 00Baja_27.jpg (81677 bytes)So Bob, Dirk, and Bill and Sherry drove back to the Orchard Campgrounds in Mulege to try to fix the faulty clutch. The rest of the group went on to Santa Rosalia. Since I didn't feel like I was much help with Mog gears I decided to grab a quick shower in the camp ground. We finally made it back on the road. Bob had to drive without a working clutch. I can't imagine how he did it. We met up with the group in Santa Rosalia. Bob was unable to drive over bad roads. 00Baja_26.jpg (80294 bytes)Everyone decided to stick together and just do the best we can. We hit the road to Laguna de Libre for a night on the beach. Frenchie cooked burritos. Yum! We turned on the CD player and danced on the beach to Mexican & German melodies. We are out of tequila mix so we drank tequila sunsets around the campfire. We sang Happy Birthday to Kathy in absentia. What a great day!

Jan 6

00Baja_29.jpg (96864 bytes)We slept late. Frenchie cooked up pancakes. Everything is soaked from the fog and humidity. 00Baja_30.jpg (68825 bytes)The decision is made to pack up and move north about 4 hours. So we packed up and were ready to go nowhere. We didn't move due to Andrew's truck (bad hose). I wondered if we would be able to go but we finally did go and camped on a very windy beach. 00Baja_31.jpg (98388 bytes)We made a Mexican habitaci—n to block the wind. It actually worked pretty good. We had a supper of ham & veggies and more tequila sunsets. Deadwood cactus was gathered on the way in for a superb campfire. Bob continued to do really well in his crippled truck. Camp closed down for el noche.

Jan 7

Early to bed early to rise. We threw tent and the other stuff in to the trucks and left. The wind was still pretty bad. Bill and Sherry were dragged up the hill by Dirk (slip streaming). The roads are narrow and the shoulder is basically nonexistent. He was very patient with us. We are off to Ensenada. 00Baja_32.jpg (66384 bytes)The military check points and the cow horse signs that we have seen all through Baja are still with us. About 60 miles before we got to Ensenada, Christie blew a fan belt. Dirk went in to San Vincente to get belts. The rest of us continued on towards Ensenada. 00Baja_33.jpg (99264 bytes) Just south of there we checked into Estero Beach Resort. It is a beautiful resort with great rooms. The showers were even nicer but the room was colder than a morgue. We had our last supper at the indoor restaurant with the whole group. I forgot to take a picture. Tomorrow we will head back for the border and separate lives. It will be sad to break up. I hate going back to reality.

Jan 8

I was awake most of the night - the room was just too cold. I wished that I had taken my sleeping bag to bed. I got up around 5 and stood by a very inefficient heater. Bob and Bill played truck around 6:30. I finished the family Christmas newsletter a few weeks late. We drove on into Ensenada for some shopping. Most everyone parked their Mogs along a busy boulevard. 00Baja_34.jpg (91346 bytes)Dirk took Bob, Bill, and Sherry to a furniture store. When we returned to the parked Mogs they were surrounded by the policia and the Cobras (Mexican Special Forces) who had their lights flashing and were crawling all over them. I guess they thought that we were drug running. We all started laughing and taking photos. Possibly we didn't have the proper attitude to be in trouble with the officials. Then we went to Housong's Cantina which Frenchie assured us everyone had to go.
We are off to the border. While we are waiting to cross the border we encountered long queues with vendors selling all kinds of worthless junk. Bob's truck hobbled across with no problems. Frenchie was kind enough to let us meet at his house to load Bob's & Bill's Mogs onto the trucks to be trailered back home to Wyoming. We figured that the round trip totaled about 2200 miles. Whew!00Baja_35.jpg (73342 bytes)
Then Dirk drove us to pick up his pickup and leave his Mogs. We drove back to San Diego for a motel and dinner. During supper at the Fish Market Dirk, Bill, and Sherry presented Bob with the Dumb Shit award (just a silly thing to do because we weren't quite ready for the trip to be over). He informed us that it was a traveling trophy. Our last night in San Diego came to an end.

Jan 9

Dirk dropped us off at the airport for the final leg home. I'm not sure that it is good to be back. What a great trip!

Sherry Gibbens

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