Suspension. That’s all we have been dealing with the last few weeks. Both trying to fix the van’s suspension. And feeling suspended ourselves being stuck in southern Baja for a few weeks dealing with this problem. So that’s why there has been no updates for a while.
I’m glad to say – it’s fixed! We are on our way to mainland Mexico!
To recap, the short version goes like this:
We got some new shocks right before we left on this trip. But it turned out those shocks were not compatible with our leaf springs system. The front shocks only had 1.5 inch of compression before bottoming out. Also the bump stops were not aligned, only 1/4 of the rubber was stopping the impact which then caused the various breakages on the suspension parts. On separate occasions after traveling on bumpy roads, we broke the mount, the track bar and cracked one side’s leaf.
Over several weeks we went back and forth between Cabo San Lucas, Los Barriles and San Jose. In Cabo, we got help from a guy, Ramsey, who owned an off-road conversion place in San Diego. He responded to one of our online forum postings and he happened to be around Cabo. On the last day of his family vacation, he dragged his whole family over and spent an hour in the hot sun looking at our van and gave us advice. Then we got a welder to weld the track bar back together. In Los Barriles, we found a Baja off-road race car builder, Patrick, who turned out to be a mechanical engineer. He fabricated new mounts for us that extended the compression length by a few inches and modified the bump stops. We are super happy with his work and were very lucky to have found him by chance.
Being consumed by car trouble we were quite stressed out for a few weeks. At one point we thought we might need to head back to California to get everything fixed. But we did try to have some fun. In Cabo we made the best of it by drowning in margaritas and tacos. There is really nothing to do in Cabo except eat and drink, unless you are at a fancy resort. So at the end of a week of camping in a local family’s backyard, we splurged and spent a night in an all-inclusive to recoup.
Then my sister came to visit with a friend and we all went back to our favorite spot in Baja – Los Frailes. They brought lots of supplies for us and gifts for Ty.
Los Barriles, a small kite surfing/snowbird town on the Sea of Cortez about an hour north of San Jose, served as a base for us while we sorted out our vehicle problems. There is really nothing wrong with Los Barriles but we spent way too many days there and by the end we couldn’t wait to get out. The most fun we had here was on the beach in front of the campground. It’s the best natural playground for the kids. We also met some wonderful people here, including Patrick who fixed the van’s mounts, and a couple from New Mexico, Tico and Marge, whom we became very fond of. They have been traveling full time in their Airstream for four years!
After almost two months, our days in Baja are coming to an end. Even though we have spent quite a bit of time here I don’t think we have done it justice in our travels. Baja is endless open country and blue waters. We have yet to explore the entire Pacific coast and much of the coastline on the Sea of Cortez. Plus, so much of Baja is actually mountainous to our surprise. There are remote hot springs and rock climbing in the Guadalupe Canyon. And we met travelers who hiked into the Sierra de la Laguna mountains who described beautiful granite formations and crystal clear deep springs pools. There is so much more to do here. For now though, it’s time to move on. Here is looking back at some of our favorite places in Baja.
San Felipe – where there was amazing seafood and the only place where Ty caught baby octopus.
Bahia de Los Angeles – we spent only 3 days here at the start of the trip. Next time we will venture out to the more remote parts of the bay. Many travelers we met come back to this place year after year.
Bahia Concepcion, Playa Requeson – Shallow bay, warm water, no development, almost free camping.
Los Frailes – our favorite spot. We came here three separate times for a few days each and liked it more every time. Miles of beach, sea life, sense of community, absolutely free camping. What’s not to like?