Manx's to Margaritaville, November 12-15, 1998

Manx Club line-up near Diablo Dry Lake (Saturday)
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Manx Club line-up at Pete's Camp, San Felipe (Sunday)
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The annual Manx Club Baja 1000 San Felipe run was held November 12-15, 1998. The trip was a mostly off-road "fun run" titled Manx's to Margaritaville. A total of 19 buggies (plus Gus the Bus) made it for the all-driving trip which started and ended at Hacienda Rancho Veronica, just south of Tecate, Baja California. Because the Baja 1000 race course went straight down the west coast of the Baja peninsula this year, we did not get to watch the race.

Friday night the club spent the night at Mike's Sky Rancho after a day of off-road adventure. On Saturday the club headed to Pete's Camp in San Felipe, by way of the Diablo Dry Lake west of San Felipe. On Sunday the club returned to Rancho Veronica via the pine forests and lake at Laguna Hansen.

The event was an international one, with members attending from as far away as Australia, England, and France. The weather was good, the break-downs were few, and a good time was had by all.

Dave Helland has provided us with a few of his photos from the trip:

Hacienda Rancho Veronica. Preparing the cars for the early morning run from Hacienda Rancho Veronica (left). It was cold in the morning with frost on everyone's windshield. The rooms were not heated, so getting out of bed in the morning was a "chilling experience"! Breakfast in the Rancho Veronica restaurant was delicious, as was the dinner served the night before (right).

Jean-Yvan and Michelle traveled all the way from France to take part in this year's Manx's to Margaritaville "fun run". They purchased a "new" genuine Meyers Manx in the US for the trip. The buggy clearly had been set up for street use...a number of Baja-induced problems were identified (and sometimes fixed) during their trip.

Off-Road with the Manx Club. Typical pictures of the club waiting for a minor repair to be completed. Photos were taken in the San Pedro Matir mountain range on our way to Laguna Hansen. (We gave up our quest for Laguna Hansen on the first day. The club did make it to the lake on the trip back.) While someone else is making repairs it is always a good time to tinker with your own vehicle! The buggy at right had its carburetor swapped during the trip.

On the road between Rancho Veronica and Highway 3 there is a place where one has to ford a large stream. Unlike the many other stream crossings that day, mud-bog driving skill was not required for a "clean" crossing. The stream crossing afforded us an opportunity to stretch our legs and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. At this point the club was on its way to Mike's Sky Rancho.

Gus the Bus. Gus the Bus is the newest acquisition of the club. The bus, engine, and lots of labor were donated, and we thank the kind individuals responsible. Gus is a much needed chase vehicle which provided seats for our guests, photographers, and supplies. Gus the Bus mostly kept up with the buggies, but did get stuck in the sand a few times during the four-day trip.

Lost Again? At left is another typical scene during a Manx Club trip in Baja. Our fearless leaders are once again lost and spending time discussing our options. Unfortunately, there are few road signs on the many Baja back-country roads. Plus, local advice is not always accurate. Technology has given us a new option, GPS, which may tell us where we are, but not necessarily how to get where we want to go! The advance scouting team (right) used yellow spray paint on the dirt to provide directions for the rest of the troops. Their directions were even right....sometimes!

In Search of Fuel. Another common occurrence that affects travelers in Baja is gasoline stations with signs reading: "No hay gasolina". What do you mean there's no gasoline? It seems that with a little searching, fuel always can be found...somewhere! "Do you really buy the stuff out of 55 gallon drums?" At this gas stop we were working off of the bottom half of the drum, with fuel being siphoned by mouth into a one-gallon milk jug. We sucked that drum dry, then headed down the road in search of another one!

Mike's Sky Rancho. Mike's is a wonderful little hacienda located at over 4000 feet in the Baja mountains, a favorite place for motorcycle riders and four-wheelers alike. It has a great bar with lots of history. The rooms are clean and heated, and when the generator is on, all have hot water for showers. The rooms come with dinner and breakfast. The food is delicious and served hot to everyone at once...boarding room style. Beware! You get what they cook...there's no menu.

Early morning preparations at Mike's were made (before breakfast) to give us an early departure for San Felipe. A few repairs were necessary at Mike's to get all the cars back on the road. The buggy on the right had a dead engine and was towed in over the 20+ mile dirt road from Highway 3 to Mike's Sky the dark! In the process one of the steering tie-rods was bent. By departure time all was back in order, including the engine.

Pete's Camp in San Felipe. The French contingent chose to drive another 250 miles south with the Y.B.D.B. guys. The Manx Club returned north towards Laguna Hansen, Rancho Veronica, and home. During the trip our French visitors got a new nickname, "The French Air Force", because of their tendency to get airborne when coming over rises and exiting "vados". After the trip their buggy was officially "Baja Ready"...with a few dents and scratches to prove it!

Back home in San Diego. Can you pick out the "real Manx"?

Line-up photos courtesy of Dave Helland.
Last updated Fri Dec 4 13:32:01 PST 1998