South California - Preparing for Central America

USAPosted by Espen Thu, November 18, 2010 23:27:36

Hey everybody!

We have been hanging out in LA and San Diego for a few days now, trying to prepare and get organized before crossing the border to Mexico and head south. Traveling in North America is easy when it comes to things like drinking water and electricity, but we kind of expect that to change as we travel south. We also start to see some wear and tear on some of the equipment we have been using so far, and in particular on our tent. Fortunately, ARB wanted to help us out and replaced the worn parts. Marc at ARB even helped us out with a shipping contact in San Diego, so when the parts arrived we met up with Rodel (driving a really nice Nissan Pathfinder!) that gave us all the stuff we needed. Big thanks to you, guys!

Another stop was at Currie for an adjustable link to our rear sway bar, as the in-cab-disconnector stopped working a month or two ago. I guess I’ll open up the control box and see if I can make it work again a little later (on a nice beach in Baja with a cerveza…)

The parts for the roof top tent were a new transport cover, as the one we’ve been using for the last 7 months was wearing out at some points, a new hinge/lock for the fridge, and an aluminum bar with some plastic locks. I would say that I don’t think any of these repairs would have been necessary for normal weekend or a couple of weeks holiday use, but putting the tent up and packing it down almost every day for 7 months is hard on some parts of the equipment.

From San Francisco, we had got hold of some extra mounting brackets for the roof rack. This is also one of the things that have been on our minds for some time now, as we want to make sure that the weight from the roof rack is distributed as evenly as possible on the vehicle body.

Well, enough about repairs and maintenance! We also bought some new goodies that we hope will make our days of camping even better. With our setup (fully charged), we can camp for 3 or maybe 4 days if we only run the fridge and water pump. If we’re also using our laptop, it will be shorter. So in order to extend our stay “off line” for another day or three, we decided to get a solar panel. The Piranha isolator we have to separate our battery circuits, also has a small built in solar controller. This can take up to 50 watt, so even if we would like some more juice, we decided to go for a 50 watt Kyocera panel. It is not mounted on the car, so we can move it around with the sun when we camp. This way we probably get about the same effect as from a 80-90 watt panel mounted flat on the roof. So far the panel works great!

The next issue we wanted to solve before heading south was drinking water. In North America we have been filling up our tank from taps at campgrounds, and the water has always been fine. Going south we kind of expect this to change… After debating for a while if we should go for chlorine and a cheap filter for the taste, buying filtered water, or get a filter that would actually remove all the bad stuff, we decided to get a Seagull X1 that supposedly will remove all bacteria, all cysts, and 99,99 % of viruses. Will be interesting to see how this works….

The last piece we wanted to change was our propane bottles. We have been using the 1 pound cans from Wallmarts, and this lasts for about 4-5-6 days depending on what we are cooking. Now we mounted an 11 pound gas can in the back of the truck that hopefully will give us about a month or so with cooking. And the availability of propane should be fine all the way to Argentina.

In order to get all this stuff sorted out, mounted, and tested before setting off, we camped for a couple of days in Anaheim, LA, and in San Diego. In Anaheim we met Franc and Isabel from Switzerland in a really nice 1976 VW bus/combi, now on their way to South America. Check out their blog on http://travelpod.com/members/seeyou2011

The last preparations were made in a KOA campground just south of San Diego, and here we met Tiffany and Jamie also on their way south along Baja in their Chevrolet van. We crossed the border and drove the northern part of Baja together. More about that in the next post!

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