After spending one year of weekends building our Teardrop body we decided to make our off-road maiden voyage to Canyon de Guadalupe in Baja, Mexico on November 10th and 11th, 2000. As we crossed the border at Mexicali, we were stopped by the Mexican Customs and they were impressed with our little trailer and checked it out in detail. We then headed south and west on Mexican highway #2 and went off-road at Laguna Salada, which is a large dry lake bed. Since I haven't been here in 6 years, I took the old route into the lake bed and noticed there weren't any fresh tire tracks, especially from my friend the night before. We ended up in a dead end road that dropped down into a dry wash which was too steep for our Blazer. So we drove 20' further while the Teardrop was clipping the bushes. Since there was no backing out, the Teardrop had to run over a bush that was larger than itself and then we drove down into a steep drop off into the wash. The Filon siding did as advertised, which is awesome stuff. All painted surfaces, chassis & anodized window frames did not handle so well. We finally reached the floor of Laguna Salada [salted lagoon] but there were no fresh tire tracks. We drove awhile and started hearing a sound that puts chills down my spine....mud slapping the fender wells! I've been there and done that before and didn't want to get stuck. We picked up our speed and finally found the main road on the lake bed. This is the reason we used so much stainless steel in our construction. After driving 27 miles south on Laguna Salada, we headed west towards the mountain range that is the back bone of Baja and entered the mouth of Canyon de Guadalupe.
We then drove up the 7 mile road that was built by hand by the Loya family in the early 1900's. There was severe wash boarding in spots and we were grateful our Teardrop was built so sturdy because of the violent shaking it was exposed to. We could have driven slower but it would take too long to travel any distance. The best way to travel over wash board roads is to drive fast with lowered tire pressure. Our locking cabinet latches and hold down straps worked great. I ran over some very large rocks and even some that weren't planned because I forgot I saw it by the time the Teardrop's BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires hit it. The tire pressure was kept at 20psi which cushioned some of the shock on the Teardrop. I had to drive the Teardrop over a vertical 12" rock with straight edges with no problem. The 2000# axle-spring combination worked perfect and glad we made that choice. I'd like to add some gas shock absorbers later which will require some research and planning.
Our Outback Teardrop passed the abusive driving test with flying colors but mother nature was not done with us just yet. Rain was in the forecast along with winds in the desert passes. Every afternoon the desert canyons of Baja have some pretty strong winds that kick up around 20-30 mph, sometimes more. The gas support shocks on the hatch worked great and we kept it open the whole time while the stainless draw catches kept it secure and sealed against the elements. The hatch is not only water tight, it's air tight as well and no dust came in while driving down the powdery dirt roads. Our decision to make a straight tongue instead of the 'A' frame type came in handy while turning around on the narrow dirt roads. Every turn around required a full jack knife of the trailer and if we had a 'A' frame tongue, we'd have to unhook the hitch and turn the Teardrop around by hand.
Over 1000 acres of Canyon de Guadalupe is owned by the Loya family. My high school buddy, Robert Williams married into the Loya family. They provided us with a private camp spot that was under construction on the side of the canyon. At the end of the canyon, there's a large granite monolith with a tall rock spire next to it which resembles the Virgin Mary when the sun is shinning right, which the Mexican's named the canyon after. There is a year round running stream with huge granite formations, water falls and pools. There's a native palm tree forest with natural hot mineral springs that makes the canyon such a unique tourist attraction. The hot mineral water is piped to each individual camp site and into your own private cement hot tub. Each camp site is provided with all the comforts of home, including palapas [palm leaf roofs], picnic tables, sinks, fireplaces and flush toilet restrooms throughout the campground. The Loya family has 2 general stores and a cafe with everything to make your stay enjoyable. Guadalupe and near by canyons are loaded with Pai Pai Indian artifacts, petroglyphs, pictrographs and caves which makes hiking very rewarding and worthwhile.
Just 2 weeks earlier, Baja was 90 degrees and due to this fall's La Nina's weather pattern, the nightly temperatures dropped down to 39 degrees. Our insulated sides, floor and roof really paid off and kept the inside temperature at 60 degrees with our body heat. The best part is that the interior walls did not sweat condensation from our breaths. Non-insulated Teardrops do sweat so adding the insulation has more than one benefit. As we came back across the border to Calexico, the US Customs agents swarmed all over us. Our first thought was they were thinking of what a great little trailer to stash drugs! 'Why are your walls so thick?' went through our minds. But they were excited just to check out our little trailer and asked many questions. Even agents from near by lanes came over to check us out and stopped traffic crossing the border.
Our off-road maiden voyage was a total success and all of our hard labor and expenses paid off. Some people thought we over did it while building our heavy duty Teardrop, mainly from people who never camp in the remote wilderness like we do and had no idea what our final intentions were. Guadalupe Canyon will be the most civilized campground we'll be camping in and cars with regular Teardrops can take this trip as long as they drive cautiously. We enjoy remote dry camping and all of our trips will be away from all man made things, including man himself! This is just the beginning for the Outback Teardrop Trailer and all of our tent less adventures that lie ahead.
Happy dirt Trails to you all.