Saturday, January 14, 2012

Last To Cross - 1979

We decided to head to Baja and as we did one of the biggest winter storms to have hit Baja in many years was about to unload on  us.  It was a winter trip back in 1979.  It was myself, my girlfriend at the time and another female friend of ours, headed to one of my favorite spots.  

As we passed through Ensenada and on through the small town of Meneadera the rain started coming down pretty hard.  But not knowing how severe the storm was I thought maybe in a few hours it would lighten up.  Well it didnt and as we got to San Quintin it was still raining steady.  I kept driving and then we came to the small town of El Rosario.  We got gas and I figured by now it has to start letting up so I continued on.  In those days there wasn't any bridge to cross the river bed beyond El Rosario, just a concrete river road raised about 4 feet above the river bed.

Water was running across it but it was nothing more than about an inch or 2 above the cement.  Easy enough to cross so long as I drove slow so as not to splash water on the engine and stall it but not to deep and fast enough to have it in 4 wheel drive to keep from slipping.  The river bed at El Rosario is about 400 yards wide and when you cross a body of running water that wide your eyes and equilibrium can play tricks on you and if you don't keep your eyes fixed on something across the river on the other side, you can easily drive your car off the underlying road and down the river enough to get into trouble.

So we made it to the other side but by now it was starting to get dark and the rain was coming down even harder.  So much that the sides of the road, where they cut through the hills, the mud was starting to slide down across the road so I decided that was enough and we pulled over for the long night ahead of us.  My truck was fully packed and not set up for sleeping, but with all the rain and slow driving we were still a long ways from our destination, so I thought it wise to pull over and make the best of a bad situation.  We were cramped in every possible position to try and get some sleep. 
When morning came it was still  raining and the road was a mud slide mess so I decided to head back to the states.  Didn't look as though it was gonna get any better any time soon.

As we got to the El Rosario river it was now about a foot and a half to 2 feet deeper and that was alot of water moving.  In those days there was a Mexican who would take his tractor and pull people across in their vehicles until the water got too dangerous for even him to cross.  So we pulled up and he was on the south side and getting ready to pull a truck and trailer across which was perfect for us.  I could then follow the trailer across and keep my truck in the right spot while focusing on the trailer.  At that time I was driving a 1963 Dodge Rower Wagon 4x4 so I had good clearance but at times the water was coming in on the floor a little and I cold feel the river tugging at my truck wanting to take it away.  

I had it in 4 wheel drive to hopefully keep it from slipping in the fast moving muddy river water but it was a little nerving crossing that river.  As it was we were the last vehicle to come across that river for the next 2 or 3 days if not  longer.  People were stranded on the south side headed north as the river rose to high to cross.  Water and food had to be helicoptered in for the ones on the south side.

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