The alarm clock on the bedside table of my hotel reads 5:45 am. For those who have ever had one to many drinks, sometimes the most difficult conflict is that which rages between your body craving more sleep and your brain knowing it has somewhere to be. At 5:45 my brain was telling me that a film crew had to be in Mexico in 4 hours and I was the one responsible for getting them there. My body, however was begging to go back to sleep.
Cue Vitalyte to the rescue. After downing a couple bottles of Vitalyte, a cup of coffee and a croissant from the hotel bakery, I was ready to begin our trek south of the border. The scheduled departure time was 8:00am and about 8:15 I realized that I wasn't the only one struggling with the decision to get out of bed and begin the day. After 20 minutes or so, the whole entourage arrives and we begin our trek to Ensenadas, Mexico. But first, people need caffeine and grease.
This is the part of the blog that I recommend you pay attention to as it contains some very valuable lessons about driving to Mexico.
Lesson #1 - Not all McDonald's are created equally. 2 miles from the Mexican border we pulled into a McDonalds for a much needed coffee and food break. Needless to say my egg McMuffin had the consistency of a racquetball and my coffee could melt steel. Not the best thing for a sour stomach. Luckily I had more Vitalyte.
Lesson #2 - It occured to me as I was crossing the border that I never informed my rental car company of my destination, so in an attempt to be proactive, I called the rental car company as I was crossing the border. There response was simple: You can't take that car to Mexico. Oh well. Better to beg forgiveness then ask permission I recall someone once saying.
Lesson #3 The 900 plus signs you see in the last 5 miles before you reach the border that say "Get Your Mexican Insurance Here" actually have a purpose. Apparently if an American vehicle gets in a wreck in Mexico, standard insurance doesn't cover the accident. Without the Mexican insurance, the driver gets a one way ticket to jail. So here I am driving in an uninsured rental vehicle in a country where the vehicle wasn't suppose to be in the first place. Sometimes things just get interesting. (By the way, I upgraded to a car with built in GPS so I wouldn't get lost in Mexico. This, of course stops working about 400 yards past the border.) Oh well.
So now we are running late, we have no insurance, are in a car that isn't suppose to be in Mexico and the GPS isn't working. All of this on the heels of one of one of the deadliest border shootouts in recent memory. Border patrol, which apparently is usually fairly tame, now consisted of M-16's, tanks with really big guns mounted to the tops and a lot of soldiers. Not a good day to be hungover.
Luckily the directions to our destination were on my laptop and only 2 hours late, we finally arrive at the Horsepower Ranch to begin our Baja tour with Wide Open Baja.
There have been few moments in my life where I have been truly excited and surprised and this was one of them. After driving through some rougher areas of Ensenadas (more because I was lost) I was beginning to think that this was a bad idea. But then we found our exit, thanks to James who led us off the main road to one of the most beautiful ranches I have ever seen. Tucked back in the mountains and hills of Mexico is Horsepower Ranch, the hub of Wide Open Baja. And parked in front of the ranch were 4 of the coolest machines ever made. This is the reason we are here. Extreme Kellie runs the Baja.
Now this is where you the reader would do well to tune into the live broadcast (or watch online) of the show, for I lack the words to describe the collection of cars they had out for us or how the next 30 minutes went. I will do my best and say that within those short 30 minutes, we were introduced to the amazing staff at the ranch, given a introductory walk through of the cars, fitted with helmets and led off to begin the adventure.
"I can't believe they are letting us drive these things," was the collective spoken idea said amongst us we took off. With little or no training, James put us behind the wheel of these machines and led us out on the off road adventure of a lifetime.
With Kellie and Noah in the lead car behind James, and Brian and me following, we set out to conquer terrain that was, needless to say, quite intimidating. At first I think we are all a little skiddish but once you get behind the wheel of one of these cars, understand what they can do, we were all having the time of our lives. Hitting jumps at 80 miles an hour, taking 90 degree turns almost as fast, watching the beautiful hills of Mexico blaze by as these cars handled the most aggressive terrain like it was simply a long stretch of highway is an experience I'll never forget. After a couple hours of driving and shooting, James takes us to a beautiful meadow where the crew at Wide Open prepared the mos amazing meal.
After fueling up, taking some pictures for future blogging, we were ready to get at again.
For the next couple hours we all took turns driving, slowly but surely get more comfortable with these incredible vehicles. Eventually the sun began to set and the night air let us know it was time to head back. We pulled into the ranch and even before we were all fully out of the cars, one of the ranch guys was there with a beer. After a quick shower we were all once again treated to an amazing meal and after, we sat around with drinks in hand reliving the events of the day. From Kellie's mud facial (you have to see the show to catch this, one of the funniest things I have ever seen) to the high flying jumps and everything in between, it was truly a day to be relived over drinks in front of a fire, and certainly a day that I will not soon forget.
From weekend warriors to the nitro charged metal heads, this a vacation I would recommend everyone take at least once in a lifetime. Go to www.wideopenbaja.com for more info, and thanks to the entire staff at Wide Open for putting this together and showing us an amazing time.