Retreat, Recovery & Rescue. Baja 500. The Bizarre Outcome.

After scanning the maps and confirming with The Weatherman the Race Mile position last reported for Darkcyd Racing’s Desert Warrior, Raff led our convoy west toward Heroes de la Indenpendencia, a tiny village about halfway between Ensenada and San Felipe on Baja California’s Route 3. Without an accurate GPS position and useless GPS maps, Raff relied on a detailed map book of Baja California. Tara identified what looked like a road that led in towards Race Mile 25, but without elevation information it was hard to identify the validity of such a road, and assess whether it would be accessible in our vehicles.

While the Buick SUV rental was outfitted with 4-wheel drive its ground clearance was meager, to say the least. Raff’s pickup also was fitted with four-wheel drive, and had more ground clearance. Problem was, we had 9 total passengers. If we were to pull Robb and Ben out of the desert, we would have eleven. Raff’s truck could carry six passengers. Our crew not including Tara or me numbered five. Tara wasn’t about to stand back and wait. She’d be a nervous wreck. I was the only team member who could speak spanish, so I was essential to the extraction crew in order to communicate and locate the car and drivers.

IMG_0777 - Version 2.jpg

Raff tries to explain to Tara anything and everything. But where’s the road in to Robb & Ben?

Things were complicated. We soon found ourselves driving up and down Route 3 going west, then east and then west searching for an elusive road and a “town” that Tara saw on the map. The sun was making its descent. And tensions were flaring. A cloud of uncertainty weighed heavy on the team. We knew Robb and Ben were stuck somewhere in the desert, we were burdened with finding out where. Though Raff had been to Baja races several times before, he was bewildered too. In my gut, I knew we had to find someone who’d crewed or raced this course many times before. We needed to talk to someone. Yet we seemed bent on chasing an elusive road.

From Robb’s Journal:
We were dazed, confused and stunned. With the Desert Warrior smashed and resting hopelessly in a massive bush, we assessed the situation. Ben thought we had good fortune because his calculations indicated there was a SCORE Baja 500 hard-checkpoint about a mile from our crash site. These checkpoints are set up to ensure that each vehicle stays on course. Not that anyone would “cheat” on a race like this, but failure to check-in at these hard checkpoints would mean disqualification from the race. We figured we’d walk the mile to the checkpoint and call for help from there. Our radio had stopped working and we reasoned something happened to it in the crash. We figured best case we’d be rescued in five hours or less. Ben volunteered to walk the mile while I stayed with the car and protect it from wandering banditos with sticky hands. We’d both read the stories of these banditos robbing stranded racers and were told of racers being kidnapped and held for ransom. 

It’s no wonder the locals see the stranded vehicles as an opportunity. The average wage here in Baja is $600 monthly while some of the vehicles racing cost nearly $500,000. Other locals take a different approach to finding opportunity during Baja Races. I encountered some shortly after Ben departed for the check point. I flagged down a group of Mexicans driving a Jeep Cherokee. These enterprising locals monitor the toughest part of the course and help anyone stuck or in trouble. The offered to pull pull the Desert Warrior out of the bushes, but because of the weight of the vehicle and the soft terrain, the Jeep lacked the pulling power to move it. Though I thought it was futile to try, I was shocked when the Desert Warrior fired up after turned the ignition. Wow! I locked the differentials and pulled out of the bushes while tearing off the remainder of the quarter panel. Unfortunately, the hood (note: very expensive hood) took its toll during the crash, so I asked the locals if they’d carry it and follow me to the check point.

Taking care with the Desert Warrior, I slowly crawled toward the check point. After about a mile, I caught up with Ben who had encountered a a stack of cars stuck in Baja’s infamous silt beds — a nasty stretch of talcum-like powder, each grain weighting about a tenth of a grain of sand. Here there seemed to be about 100,000 pounds of silt stretched nearly to the horizon. Driving into the silt is like rolling into quicksand. Cars simply sink and without enough inertia, possibly disappear for good. Ben was adhering to the Baja code of ethics and was trying to push one poor soul out of the stilt. Surprised that the Desert Warrior is alive and kicking he asks me to try to push a massive F-150 pro-truck out. Though my gut tells me that this isn’t a good idea due to damage sustained in the crash, I give it a whirl. Just then the clutch gives way and blows. Damn. Now we’re stuck, too.

At that point, my new local Mexican friends realize I’m stuck again and decide that they’d rather keep my hood (replacment value: $3,000) than accept any cash that I’m going to pay them. So they drive off leaving us stranded in the silt with all the other vehicles. I find this funny, because the Desert Warrior is the only vehicle that could’ve ridden through the silt without getting stock. If the clutch hadn’t blown we might’ve been able to get closer to an accessible location. Instead we pull out shovels and the Desert Warrior’s sand slats, large rubber matsthat provide need traction in sand and silt, to help get the other guys out of the silt.

While doing my duty as a Baja participant, I cannot hide my frustration from not having a satellite phone. It was on our procurement check list and therefore should have been in the car. But chaos and confusion combined with some degree of planning snafus, we had no way to contact the outside world. One of our competitors who we pushed out of the silt agrees to send a message to our team and let’s us use his radio to relay our status to The Weatherman. Unfortunately, The Weatherman has his hands full and is busy coordinating air support for a motorcyclist who was critically injured on El Diablo. By the time I get through to him, he is annoyed and angry with me for not following proper protocol. I’m trying to give him phone numbers, but all he relays back is the wrong car number: 321 instead of 221. After the static clears and we’re finally communicating he apologizes and confirms the correct car number while promising that the information will get to my team.

At that point two more groups of enterprising local Mexicans seemingly appear out of thin air. They agree to give me a lift to the next remote Baja Pits location about 20 miles away. I figured that more support would be available there rather than the remote check point. Happy to make perhaps the best “ransom” of the race, I join Luís and his compañeros, including fellow bandito Gambino, in their Jeep Cherokee. Luis explains that they made an 8 hour trip the night before so they could come watch the race and help anyone stuck or needing help.

IMG_0401 - Version 2.jpgPerhaps I spent too much time in Miami, but I found this hard to believe. But it’s true. They give me water, food and even a Milky Way bar while we make the grueling 20 mile journey to Baja Pits. Along the way, we have to stop several times because Luis’s friend, also in a Jeep and following us, has problems with his transmission. We reconnect the transmission line and continue on our way. The fourth time we pull over

I realize the Luís has lost his muffler, requiring furhter repairs. I am amazed what these locals can do with little or no tools and how resourceful they are. To think they simply come to watch the race and look to help drivers and teams is also mind-boggling. But they want to feel part of the action. Live the dream and experience Baja off-road racing. It takes us two hours to get to Baja Pits at Race Mile 140. I believe my luck has finally changed. I’m rescued and finally free.

Feeling comfortable and happy now that I’m at Baja pits I figure my problems are over and I’I think my problems are over and I will simply radio for help, and they will send someone to pick up the car and Ben and we’ll simply need to wait 4-5 hours for our crew to pick us up.

We were still following Raff and now had passed pit stops for other racers several times. Why won’t he stop, I wondered. We need to talk to someone. Finally he pulls into a parking lot in front of little market and tiny restaurant. There are trailers, racers and locals. While I go to talk to the locals, Tara chats with the racers. We learn that the racers are part of a motorcycle team. Their rider had a crash on El Diablo and was seriously injured and had to be Medivac’d to a hospital in San Diego. “Don’t even think of it,” one of the racers told Tara. You’ll never get in. And you’ll probably never get out. Reality was setting in. I could see the pain in Tara’s face. Desperation. Raff and the others were lost for words.


IMG_0798 - Version 2.jpg

With the sun setting, Heroes de la Indenpendencia Turned Us Around.

IMG_0801 - Version 2.jpg IMG_0794 - Version 2.jpg

Gary was mesmerized by the glow on the mountains, and in the distance, the nasty and naughty El Diablo.

Just then Tara’s phone rings. Amazing. It’s Robb. He’s made it to one of the Baja Pits and asks us to retrieve him. The phone connection drops several times before Tara starts talking to some guy Chileco. She’s speaking so loud in the small restaurant everyone in there and the market can hear her. Frustrated due the dropped connections. She paces frantically. “It’s a blocked number,” she screams. “Why is it blocked!”

Finally the phone rings again and she’s now talking to Chileco who gives her directions to the Baja Pits. We’re several hours away he tells her. The sun is setting. She noodles out some directions on a paper, but gets cut off again. She wanted to speak to Robb one more time.

I meet Chileco who thankfully lets me use his satellite phone and I’m amazed to connect with my wife, Tara, on the first ring. She explains that the team is having difficulty trying to find us and a way to extract us. I learn she is still 100 miles on the other side of El Diablo and can’t find any road that will get her near us. I ask Luis to explain the options since he knows how to get into this god forsaken place. He looks at me sideways and agrees in theory that guiding Tara and the team in here is technically possible, but since we were losing daylight it would be close to impossible for anyone unfamiliar with the terrain and the desert to get here timely and safely. He agrees to try and explains that the team must drive completely around the mountain, some 200 miles or so, feasible but improbable.

At that point, I realized that whether or not Tara and the team could get here, I had to get back to Ben and the Desert Warrior. I knew it took us two hours to get here, so I figured it would be four hours round trip to fetch Ben and return—ideally with the Desert Warrior in tow.

I proposed the idea to Luîs. A huge request, a favor. He looked at me with a deer in headlights kind of stare. Up to this point, he’d already gone out of his way to help me, but this was asking too much. About that time a large red faced American sporting a grin that was enhanced, I figured, by the daylong consumption of many beers or alcoholic beverages, walked up to me and said he knew a guy who knew a guy that could possibly help me get Ben and the Desert Warrior to Baja Pits. His t-shirt, dirty and dusty from the day of racing, said “Los Locos Mocos”, and his demeanor, loud and slurred, sounded to me like a setup.

Tara explains to Raff the plan. We’ll ride Route 3 until it ends at Route 5, just north of San Felipe. From there we’ll head north until we find the second of two dirt roads some 50 miles from the intersection. We bid the bikers farewell and send good vibes to their buddy in the hospital and begin our search for Robb and Ben. Though we don’t know it at the time, the sun dips behind El Diablo and adjacent mountains. Now we’re traveling by twilight and losing light fast. I wondered if we’d ever find them out there.

As I’m blasting east Tara’s phone rings, so I pull over hoping to preserve the location and signal. But she gets cut off, so I take off again. The phone rings again, so we pull off and Tara now is in deep conversation. “Are you sure?,” she says with a quiver in her voice. “Is that what you want?” Next she’s explaining yet another reality. Raff and the entire crew save Allan have flights leaving San Diego early the next afternoon. “You don’t understand,” Tara is explaining. I won’t have anyone to help us tomorrow. We must do this tonight.” She’s talking to someone named Stuart. “Thank you Stuart, thank you. We’ll be there.”

She explains that Stuart warned us from trying to rescue Robb and Ben. He guaranteed that we’d get lost and stuck. He advised us to meet them the following morning at 11am with a trailer. He said there’d be plenty of help getting the Desert Warrior loaded onto the trailer. This meant that I’d be driving Raff’s massive pick-up and towing an equally massive trailer over these winding and twisting roads.

We sped up the road hoping to find Raff pulled over and waiting for us so we could explain the plan, turn around and head back to our hotel and camp in Ensendada. With each bend of the road we looked for a truck pulled over. Nothing. Tara was worried Raff might try to go into the desert without us. Gary thought he’d wait and ultimately figure it out and head back to look for us. But we motored on. All I could think about was backtracking on this road for about the fifth time today—but now in the dark. It was nearly 45 minutes when we finally found Raff pulled over at yet another Baja Pits location.

“I’ve got the directions!” he yelled showing the most emotion since hearing about the crash. He quickly sobered up when Tara explained the plan. At this point Raff was concerned about his trailer. “Have you ever towed a trailer?” he asked me. He explained how easy it would be to cook the brakes. I told him we’d be meeting Robb from the North and traveling a different road. He was concerned. To make the flight in the next day, the crew would need to leave Ensenada first think in the morning. There’d be no way any of them could help get Robb or drive the truck. Changing flights would cost a fortune. There were no other options. I’d have to drive the truck to meet Ben and Robb. Ben would drive the truck to Florida and Tara, Robb and I would return to San Diego as their flight departed the following day—a much better buffer after a grueling off road race.

I asked Luîs again and told him he’d earn $500 if he helped. Luîs talked in incredibly rapid spanish to his friends. And though he didn’t say no, something in the tone of their communications indicated they might counter me with a higher offer. But nothing. He is balking at the idea of going back into the desert — and at the $500. At this point I feel I must appeal to his conscience. “Luis, my wife, my wife,” I explained. “My wife is freaking out I must get Ben and my car and get to my wife to show her I’m alright.” All this was true, but I really just wanted out of this desert wasteland. Luís avoided eye contact and just mumbled while his friend tried to repair their transmission line. So I upped the offer. “Luís, I’ll give you $1,000 dollars.” I figured this would be a significant amount of money to an educated Mexican whose salary was perhaps $1,000 or $2,000 per month. Would he turn down $1,000 for a four hour extraction?

“Lo siento, Robb,” he said with a sad look on his face. “I’m sorry. But I need to stick with my friends who are desperate to get out of here.” Boy did I understand that. I asked him if he’d just take some time and think about it a little more. I spotted the buzzed American who “knows this guy, that knows this guy.” Comfortable and happy in his drunken glow, Stu finally reveals that HE is THE GUY, chuckling at his own sarcasm. He’s confident and relaxed about making the adventure to retrieve Ben and the Desert Warrior. Yet he’s aloof and not providing much more detail. Stu neither asks nor quotes a fee for such the task. I’m feeling hopeless at this point and running out of options.

Stuart shows me a map and says he can get Ben and bring the Desert Warrior back to Baja Pits. But then he gave me a dose of sober reality: it would be impossible to out of the desert at night. And the safest way to get the Desert Warrior to pavement would be across a dry lake bed which meant going a lot further than the race route, but it would safer and easier. And we could tow the Desert Warrior within just feet of pavement; Baja California Route 1 just west of Mexicali.IMG_0876 - Version 2.jpg

He explained that trying to tow it through the upcoming silt beds on the race route would be impossible. Then I remembered Chileco giving directions to Tara and knew she was on the way with the team. Stuart laughed when I told them they were on the way to get me—going against the race route and ultimately through the silt beds. He patted me on the back and with his red-faced grin just shook his head.

“They’ll never find us, Robb,” he said. “And they’ll get stuck,” I gulped and worried. “Who’s going to extract them, Robb, if that happens?”

Worrying there’d be two of us stuck in the desert , I desperately tried to connect with Tara on her mobile. Each time I tried, her phone went directly to voice mail. She was out of cell range. After fifteen minutes of frantic attempts, I finally connected and told her not to come. I gave Stuart the phone and he explained to Tara in no uncertain terms that any attempt by the team to come extract us was the equivalent of suicide. They’d certainly get stuck in the desert, and unless they had plenty of water, they’d be doomed.

Despite Tara’s pleas otherwise, I insisted that we would meet the following morning at the other side of the dry lake bed—at a mid point for both them and us—through only 60 miles of dirt and dust. I knew by the tone in Tara’s voice that she was worried. But this was the best course of action. Though he was clearly extremely buzzed by the booze, I trusted Stu because he’s been coming to this race for years and seemed to know better than anyone I’d met, just how to get out of here alive. So with that out of the way it was time to rescue Ben.

I finally handed the driving over to Gary and proceed to drive the more than two-hour jaunt back to Ensenada. The trip took even longer due to the slow moving cargo trucks on the twisting hair-pin turns. Before I dropped Tara at her hotel I asked her to call Robb or Stuart and see if we’d be able to tow The Desert Warrior with a tow bar and that way I’d be saved from pulling the heavy massive trailer over these gnarly roads.

There was no way. When he heard Raff was heading out early in the morning and wouldn’t be there to tend to the Desert Warrior he was unsettled. “Tell Raff to change his flight,” Robb insisted. “Only Raff. And let him drive the truck and trailer.” Phew. It was settled. I’d drive the Buick and Raff would follow in the pick-up with the trailer. The entire crew would leave together and we’d bid farewell in Tecate, as I suggested this border would be much easier and faster to cross than Tijuana. We agreed to meet first thing in the morning at Tara’s hotel.

Tara explained she felt weird. She couldn’t remember ever traveling with Robb and spending a night in a hotel alone. She wasn’t scared. But she said it was weird. She was worried about Robb.

IMG_0877 - Version 2.jpg

Before leaving Chileco pulled me aside and tried to warn me. He said he didn’t know Stu very well, explaining that I must be careful about going off into the desert with strangers. “He’s been drinking, Robb, a lot,” he cautioned. But I had no other option. I thanked him for his concern and jumped into the Dodge Dually with Stu and we went off toward the Dodge dually that was going to bring my co driver and the Desert Warrior home. Stuart enlisted the support of his friend Bethel, an older gentleman with a calm sense and demeanor. Stuart wasted no time drumming up conversation. Feeling like he’d been put down by a high-school football coach, Stuart was disappointed that Chileco had pulled him aside and questioned his ability and warning of the danger in the desert night, advising that there was a good chance we’d get stuck, too. Plus, Chileco had called Stu on his drinking. I admitted I was concerned too.

“Do you have Jesus in your life, Robb?” asked Stu. The question came out of nowhere. I felt things going south, and while I know that certaintopics of conversation are best set aside, I couldn’t lie. “No, Stuart, he isn’t.”

That’s when Stuart started throwing epithets of judgement at me, questioning my lifestyle choices of not drinking nor eating meat. He hypothesized that I was an atheist, like he was for thirty years until he found Jesus, who Stuart said, “saw the error of his ways.” I wondered why drinking didn’t fall under that umbrella. I imagined that perhaps the entire group back at the Baja Pits were very religious. And that’s fine. But I’m offended when it’s preached and attempts to convert me are overt and in my face. I am not buying what they’re selling. But he kept selling, explaining that Jesus WAS in my life and I just didn’t realize it. I wondered if this was a reference to the the fact he was helping me and this is the Lord’s miracle.

Under a flood of bright stars against a deep black sky, we drove along doing our best to follow the course. It wasn’t easy to see to distinguish what was the course and which were just random sandy tracks. It was clear that Stu’s advice about warding off the Tara and the crew from attempting to attempting me prudent and spot on.

We lost our way following wrong tracks requiring us to backtrack. I sensed frustration as he questioned me where Ben and the Desert Warrior were to be found. “Race Mile 125,” I said referring to the tracking system installed in the car. After about two hours his frustration was building. When I suggested that he didn’t have all the race files downloaded to his GPS, he snapped back and angrily referred to me as a used car salesman and suggested I was misleading him. I didn’t understand his point but then we finally found Race Mile 125 there was no sign of Ben nor the Desert Warrior. Stuart was fuming. I thought he was going to flip.

He accused me of lying in order to get his help and being “part of the con artist club.” At this point he realized that we were at 2,000 feet and climbing in elevation. He believed that Ben and my car were crashed on El Diablo—a location much further away and virtually impossible to recover a vehicle from. I assured Stuart I knew the deference between a large mountain and silt beds, and I was not lying or trying to con him.

He thought I was lying and I felt he was about to throw me out the car. I told him the story. I crashed at Race Mile 122 and then drove the car to some silt where the clutch failed when trying to push a truck. I told him I couldn’t have driven much more than a couple miles from the crash, but the tracking system clearly had me at Race Mile 125. He didn’t believe me and was seconds from slamming on the brakes when he spotted a campfire and what for a second seemed like an alien, but was simply Ben wandering about the wrecked car in his boxer shorts. Both directly in front of us.

Back at my hotel I download photos, scribbled notes about the day’s events and wondered what Robb and Ben we’re doing. Thinking how beautiful the desert is at night under a star-filled sky. It’s something they’ll never forget and will bond them together forever. Little did I know what they were in for!

I sensed relief and jubilation in Ben’s face as we attached a tow rope and began pulling the Desert Warrior back to Baja Pits. Sluggish but pulling steady, Stuart felt it was too heavy and that something wrong. He was sure that we were dragging because the differential lock was engaged. Twice we stopped to confirm that it wasn’t. The reality was we were dragging a 5,000lb vehicle through the nasty silt beds.

Stuart asked us to check the tire pressure and when he learned we running 40psi he beligerantly asked us “What kind of idiot runs 40psi through silt beds?” He was right. We dropped down the Desert Warrior to 28psi for more traction. If things couldn’t get worse, as we started gaining momentum a wheel flew off the Desert Warrior. At first it looked like we lost the whole left rear control arm. If that happened, I would end up surrendering the Warrior to the desert as there would be no way to pull it out. Luckily, the silt was so deep that when the wheel feel off the control arm just sunk in the sand even though we dragged it for several hundred feet. When we tried to fit one of the Warrior three spare tires, we realized there were no spare lug nuts. WE took one off each of the other wheels and found two others loose in the tool fox.

Stuart spent the next hour babbling and ridiculing me about spending too much money on the wrong race truck for Baja, suggesting I was a victim of marketing and having a “large pocketbook.” Relieved when we finally arrived at camp—and I’m using that term very loosely—but I had an awkward feeling that Stuart wouldn’t keep his promise and get us across the lake bed in the morning.

IMG_0403 - Version 2.jpg

Ben performing duites well beyond the scope of a normal co-driver. Then again, this is Baja. Anything goes.

Though I didn’t think it was possible, here I meet Phil, another of Stuart’s posse was even more combatant than Stu. He turns to Stu, points to Ben and sarcastically asks “How much am I supposed to feed this fat fuck?” There are times I might have rushed him for that, but I realized that would do nothing to help us get out of here. When he realized Ben was my teammate, he walked back to his side of camp with his tail between his legs.

As a peace offering and an effort to bury the hatchet, he offered Ben and I Tequilia, when we declined the offer he tried to push it on us. To be sure, he seemed like he’d been drinking all day and night probably consuming enough for an entire platoon. I I politely told him to phuck off. Ben acquiesced with one shot just to get him off his back. I reached Tara again via the satellite phone. She told me she could tell something was wrong, but I assured her I was fine, even though I felt Ben and I were stuck in the middle of nowhere and two banjos away from Deliverance. No point in worrying her.

We met at Tara’s hotel 7:30 am Sunday morning and began the convoy to Tecate over Baja Route 3. The events of the weekend flashed through our memories and while the crew looked tired and disappointed, we were happy that the end was in sight. I was happy Raff was driving his truck, as the bed in his pick up was filled with two motorcycles a quad and piles of other gear.

Still stewing about me allegedly misleading him, Stu kindly offered his car for Ben and I to sleep in overnight. We took him up on the offer and all I could think was to bite my tongue until we got out of here. The next morning about 6:30AM I loaded the loose parts from the Desert Warrior into Stu’s truck after they loaded up their gear. After surveying the Warrior in daylight, I realized the situation was not pretty, it was going to take quite a bit of work to get it back into shape.

While people were packing up camp, I asked Stu what I could do to help get ready for the ride across the dry lake bed. He told me to siphon about 10 gallons of diesel fuel out of the Warrior and into his Dodge. Now while I was happy to pay him for the gas, this seemed excessive but I gladly obliged. However, siphoning gas from the Desert Warrior was harder than I thought. You see it was difficult to get the siphon hose because the gas tank had a foam barrier in the fill spout to protect the fuel supply from foreign elements, so sand, dirt and the like wouldn’t enter the engine or block the fuel filter. As I sucked on the end of the hose to start the flow, I just had to remind myself this was going to get me out of here. After filling the fuel can I returned it to Stu explaining I’d finished the job. He then proceeded in his obstinate way to give me a math quiz. This was his passive aggressive manner of communicating that I needed to fill the 5 gallon can twice to make 10 gallons. I smiled and went back to start the distasteful process all over again.

We connected a tow strap to the vehicles and before taking off I decided to wear my helmet and the five-point racing harness, figuring Stu would reach speeds in excess of 60mph while pulling us across the dry lake and I figured the probability of rolling was high.

As we raced across the lake the loose parts of the Desert Warrior bounced and flew up, I was worried they might fly out of the back of Stu’s truck. Then I worried that if we flipped, Stu would drag us behind his truck and ultimately just cut the strap and leave us. But Stu stopped not once but twice, first in a thoughtful gesture, he gave us respiratory masks because of the silt we’d inhale, and a the second time to offer to charge my iphone so I could call Tara when we got close to cell signal.

Was this the same guy who gave me the math quiz less than an hour earlier? The guy who accused me of lying and misleading him. It was bizarre. This Jesus loving , alcoholic with a manic temper went out of his way to make sure we wouldn’t breathe in dangerous silt and charge my iPhone so I could communicate with Tara. Yet he tower us in the Desert Warrior at near race speed risking another crash. I could not explain the dichotomy. When we hit the dry lake bed we know we’d be free in thirty minutes or less. I texted Tara the good news and hinted at our crazy experience in the night. When we arrived finally arrived to Route 1 just west of Mexicali, the capital of Baja, I didn’t care if Stu cut the strap and left us. We were close enough to civilization. But Stu kept his word and waited with us until Tara, Raff and Allan arrived. But Paul couldn’t keep quiet, constantly compaining about waiting and insisting on calling me Jerry, because I was with Ben.

IMG_0407 - Version 2.jpg

Thanks for the masks, Stuart!

IMG_0409 - Version 2.jpg

Stuart found plenty of things wrong with The Desert Warrior. But he was never absent of his beer and cigarette.

IMG_0404 - Version 2.jpg
All we asked for was a little slack. But 60mph plus without power? Maybe we were asking for too much?

IMG_0875 - Version 2.jpg

You want me to do what? Tequila? Okay. Twist my arm. But only once.

Route 3 turned out to be somewhat better going north than it did in the other direction five times the day and night before. But then we climbed a high pass, very scenic and offering incredible vistas to the desert below. It was just a little after 11am when we pulled up to find Robb, Ben and the Desert Warrior waiting patiently with Stuart and his posse from Locos Mocos.

I kept thinking that there was no ways these guys could have met in a church. I was sure it must have been the “Loony Bin”, and that’s why they call themselves the “Locos Mocos”, spanish for “Crazy Boogers!”

It was at that point Tara, Raff and Allan pulled up with our trailer. High fives, introductions and joy. Ironically, Stu ran up to my wife and gave her a big hug, as if she rescued him. Everything was surreal and bizarre. But I didn’t care. They helped load our crashed Desert Warrior into the trailer, I gave Stu a small stack of hundreds that he never even asked for, and closed that chapter of our Baja 500 adventure.

We then met up the road for tacos on me, and returned to San Diego and a little slice of Americana. Back to the real world vs. bizzaro land I lived in during the last three days!


IMG_0867 - Version 2.jpg

Reunited finally after a Bizarro experience in the night somewhere in the middle of the Baja desert.

IMG_0862 - Version 2.jpg

IMG_0858 - Version 2.jpg  IMG_0830 - Version 2.jpg

Legendary Locos Mocos from Mexicali, and on the right, Phil was never without his beer, nor his attitude.

IMG_0817 - Version 2.jpg  

Robb fixes things for the ultimate ending of seeing the Desert Warrior pushed into the trailer.

IMG_0825 - Version 2.jpg IMG_0845 - Version 2.jpgIMG_0882 - Version 2.jpg

Tacos for everyone and anyone. The ordeal comes to an end.

IMG_0405 - Version 2.jpg

Stuart . Stuart. Stuart.

IMG_0878 - Version 2.jpg

Ben looks with wanton at the accompaniments to the great tacos found in the middle of nowhere.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.