Happy New Year from La Paz!

Charlotte and the GoWesty Gang heading out from Agua Verde, where we camped on the gorgeous (and totally deserted)  beach for 4 nights. We have traveled with Lucas many times in Baja and Charlotte always stands out as the only one not sporting a Westfalia pop-up top. Happy New Year everyone!  After 12 days on the road and almost 2,000 miles we finally have (somewhat) reliable wifi and are able to get a blog done.  It’s been an amazing trip already and we haven’t even left Baja.   At 6am, December 21st, right on schedule, Ned and I looked at each other in the pre-dawn dark of the bus, gulped a couple of times and said goodbye to all the comforts of home.  The future was now an immense unknown.  I felt this crazy fluctuation of feelings bouncing around somewhere between the anticipation of elated excitement and the apprehension of sheer terror.  But how incredibly fortunate we were; the road ahead was not so much a black hole as a blank canvas. Our first stop was Placerville, California where we joined the Flat-Fender Jeep Club for our annual Christmas tradition of delivering food and good cheer to some wonderful, elderly people who needed it very much.  Then, for the next 3 days we drove south through California enjoying wonderful visits and tearful send-off’s with friends and family. At 11pm on December 23, we met up with Lucas Valdes, the owner of GoWesty (all things Westfalia Camper Van) and his gang of 9 people and 4 Westfalia Syncro Vans.  Of course, we barely made it to the campground just outside of the Tecate border crossing into Baja, but we will let the pictures tell the story from here…

Charlotte and the GoWesty Gang heading out from Agua Verde, where we camped on the gorgeous (and totally deserted) beach for 4 nights. We have traveled with Lucas many times in Baja and Charlotte always stands out as the only one not sporting a Westfalia pop-up top.
Happy New Year everyone! After 12 days on the road and almost 2,000 miles we finally have (somewhat) reliable wifi and are able to get a blog done. It’s been an amazing trip already and we haven’t even left Baja.
At 6am, December 21st, right on schedule, Ned and I looked at each other in the pre-dawn dark of the bus, gulped a couple of times and said goodbye to all the comforts of home. The future was now an immense unknown. I felt this crazy fluctuation of feelings bouncing around somewhere between the anticipation of elated excitement and the apprehension of sheer terror. But how incredibly fortunate we were; the road ahead was not so much a black hole as a blank canvas.
Our first stop was Placerville, California where we joined the Flat-Fender Jeep Club for our annual Christmas tradition of delivering food and good cheer to some wonderful, elderly people who needed it very much. Then, for the next 3 days we drove south through California enjoying wonderful visits and tearful send-off’s with friends and family.
At 11pm on December 23, we met up with Lucas Valdes, the owner of GoWesty (all things Westfalia Camper Van) and his gang of 9 people and 4 Westfalia Syncro Vans. Of course, we barely made it to the campground just outside of the Tecate border crossing into Baja, but we will let the pictures tell the story from here…

Around Long Beach on our night time drive to the border, we noticed our voltage was dropping and realized our alternator wasn’t charging. This was the forth time we’ve lost an alternator which is part of the Premier Power Welder system we have installed on Charlotte. The company has been great in supplying warrantee replacements, but Ace Alternator, who builds the custom, high output alternators for them, doesn’t seem to be able to build one that will last. Very frustrating. We managed to make it to the campground at the Tecate border crossing on battery power alone. The next morning I installed our only spare at the campground. I also made the decision to give up on running the welder and ordered a stock Bosch alternator and new brackets to be shipped to us in La Paz.

Around Long Beach on our night time drive to the border, we noticed our voltage was dropping and realized our alternator wasn’t charging. This was the forth time we’ve lost an alternator which is part of the Premier Power Welder system we have installed on Charlotte. The company has been great in supplying warrantee replacements, but Ace Alternator, who builds the custom, high output alternators for them, doesn’t seem to be able to build one that will last. Very frustrating. We managed to make it to the campground at the Tecate border crossing on battery power alone.
The next morning I installed our only spare at the campground. I also made the decision to give up on running the welder and ordered a stock Bosch alternator and new brackets to be shipped to us in La Paz.

Having made it across the border on our spare alternator, we spent Christmas camping near Laguna Hanson (which looks a lot like Tahoe and nearly as cold!) in northern Baja.

Having made it across the border on our spare alternator, we spent Christmas camping near Laguna Hanson (which looks a lot like Tahoe and nearly as cold!) in northern Baja.

Crossing the Diablo Dry Lake, a staple section of both the NORRA Mexican 1000 and the SCORE Baja 1000.  Dry lake beds are beautiful, vast, open and silent (when you’re not racing through!).

Crossing the Diablo Dry Lake, a staple section of both the NORRA Mexican 1000 and the SCORE Baja 1000. Dry lake beds are beautiful, vast, open and silent (when you’re not racing through!).

Kat speaking: “Baja, a beer and a good looking man…does it get any better?”

Kat speaking: “Baja, a beer and a good looking man…does it get any better?”

The whole gang on the way to Gonzaga Bay and yummy fish tacos at Alfonisa’s.

The whole gang on the way to Gonzaga Bay and yummy fish tacos at Alfonisa’s.

On December 27, we stopped for the night at Serenida, a lovely old resort in Mulege.  We drank lots of great margaritas, ate lots of good food and took much needed showers.

On December 27, we stopped for the night at Serenida, a lovely old resort in Mulege. We drank lots of great margaritas, ate lots of good food and took much needed showers.

What else do you do on a beautiful beach in Bahia Concepcion?

What else do you do on a beautiful beach in Bahia Concepcion?

Ok, that’s better!

Ok, that’s better!

On the dirt road leading to Agua Verde, a tiny, remote fishing village south of Mulege.

On the dirt road leading to Agua Verde, a tiny, remote fishing village south of Mulege.

The dirt road to Agua Verde is one of our favorites.  It is steep, winding, and incredibly picturesque.  It was nearing twilight as we descended, but still beautiful.

The dirt road to Agua Verde is one of our favorites. It is steep, winding, and incredibly picturesque. It was nearing twilight as we descended, but still beautiful.

One of the many deserted beaches near the village.

One of the many deserted beaches near the village.

At the village of Agua Verde we asked around and were able to score a beautiful Yellow Tail which fed 9 people for two nights.  Yumm!

At the village of Agua Verde we asked around and were able to score a beautiful Yellow Tail which fed 9 people for two nights. Yumm!

Greg made amazing ceviche on the first night on the beach near the village…not bad for camping food!

Greg made amazing ceviche on the first night on the beach near the village…not bad for camping food!

Words just can’t express…

Words just can’t express…

Shell shots anyone?

Shell shots anyone?

A second wave of butterflies hit me as we parted ways with our GoWesty pals.  They headed back north…home…we headed ever southward, on our own.

A second wave of butterflies hit me as we parted ways with our GoWesty pals. They headed back north…home…we headed ever southward, on our own.

Mexican McGuiver. Besides these Ace Alternators just quitting, they also vibrate like hell at around 3000 rpm where Charlotte likes to run. This vibration has caused our mounting brackets to crack and break multiple times. (and is probably leading to the alternator’s failure) This is my last “fix” using Vice Gripes and tie wire (thank you Allen Hewett) to hold it all together. Its lasted 250 miles! The booger weld was done with a borrowed buzz box in Mulege, 400 miles ago. It’s pretty bad when one carries a welder but has to borrow one to weld on his own, broken, welding equipment.

Mexican McGuiver. Besides these Ace Alternators just quitting, they also vibrate like hell at around 3000 rpm where Charlotte likes to run. This vibration has caused our mounting brackets to crack and break multiple times. (and is probably leading to the alternator’s failure) This is my last “fix” using Vice Gripes and tie wire (thank you Allen Hewett) to hold it all together. Its lasted 250 miles! The booger weld was done with a borrowed buzz box in Mulege, 400 miles ago. It’s pretty bad when one carries a welder but has to borrow one to weld on his own, broken, welding equipment.

Huh?  Did you ever expect us to stay at a place like this?  Yes, it’s a little over the top, but not a bad view from our room as I prepared this blog!  This is the Grand Plaza Hotel in La Paz where we had GoWesty ship our parts to retrofit a stock alternator to Charlotte.  The only place we could think of to have the parts sent, was to this hotel, which is the La Paz headquarters for the NORRA race where we have stayed several times while racing.  We got a room here to make it convenient to receive our package.  Unfortunately, the parts, scheduled to arrive yesterday the 2nd, will now not be here until Monday the 6th (maybe).  Bummer, what do we do for the next 4 days in beautiful, sunny southern Baja?  We were originally going to make the repairs then go explore some gorgeous remote canyons north of La Paz that we raced through in 2012.  There we would have camped a couple of nights and tested the new alternator setup before heading to the mainland on the ferry.  Now we need to decide if we are going to risk the canyons with our jerry-rigged, iffy alternator…the adventure continues…

Huh? Did you ever expect us to stay at a place like this? Yes, it’s a little over the top, but not a bad view from our room as I prepared this blog! This is the Grand Plaza Hotel in La Paz where we had GoWesty ship our parts to retrofit a stock alternator to Charlotte. The only place we could think of to have the parts sent, was to this hotel, which is the La Paz headquarters for the NORRA race where we have stayed several times while racing. We got a room here to make it convenient to receive our package. Unfortunately, the parts, scheduled to arrive yesterday the 2nd, will now not be here until Monday the 6th (maybe). Bummer, what do we do for the next 4 days in beautiful, sunny southern Baja? We were originally going to make the repairs then go explore some gorgeous remote canyons north of La Paz that we raced through in 2012. There we would have camped a couple of nights and tested the new alternator setup before heading to the mainland on the ferry. Now we need to decide if we are going to risk the canyons with our jerry-rigged, iffy alternator…the adventure continues…

12 thoughts on “Happy New Year from La Paz!

  1. This is great stuff you guys! I have been to Mulege and the Serinedad. Great spot. I won a pig calling contest in Mulege! Basque sheep call with a Sooowweee on the end! I hope the alternator troubles subside soon.

    Scott

  2. Hi Kat, Love reading about your newest adventure. Please keep the great stories coming and you guys have a safe trip!

  3. Your giving me butterflies just reading about your travels. I cant wait to go deep into Baja for my very first time this May with the club! Hope your alternator troubles go away. Love your stories.

  4. Sounds like you are off to a great adventure. I’m sure you will have the alternator blues behind you and be able to enjoy lots of wheeling without the worries of that failing component. Happy New Year and many safe miles in 2014.

    geocan775

  5. Thanks for the great pics you two!!! So many memories already and you’ve only just begun!
    Blessed to be able to live vicariously through you.
    God Speed

  6. Well, you know you have to get all that little crap out of the way in the beginning so you’re not bogged down with it later. Hope you now are using the good old stock alt. (don’t you remember, if you want it to work leave it stock? lol) and keeping the Ace and bracket for when you gotta do some snotting of sort. It will take you longer to weld, but at least you’ll have power. Besides you gotta be a pro on changing the alt. & bracket by now. Oh. & not seeing any pics of you lately Ned, nice belly and yes you are starting to look more like your dad the older you get! Kat you gotta hand Ned the camera so he can take some shots with you in them. God Bless you guys, you are in my prayers!

  7. Love hearing about your travels! Hope the alternator problems are solved! Safe travels and we look forward to the next installment.

  8. Love the photos and traveling along with you three…always good to get the cobwebs dusted off, so to speak, before leaving our sister country Mexico. Cheers to good travels!

  9. Sorry to hear that the “welder gremlins” found Char also. That is the very reason I ditched my system. I hope it gets better for yooos guys. Good trails and big smiles to you both.

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