This is your last Wagonmaster bulletin before the 2019 Rolling Rally sign up begins on September 1, 2018. Therefore, it is time to answer some of the questions that I have received from SKPs eager to join the Rolling Rally and clarify the registration process at the same time. Please also reread the Rolling Rally bulletin #1 to mark your calendar for dates and locations as needed.
And, yes, due to pre-signup indications, it might be a good idea to be at your computer on September 1st when signups begin promptly at high noon CDT. The registration form is scheduled to be up one week prior on the website so you can familiarize yourself with the questions that need answering.
Camping at Potrero County Park: The electric/water spots will first go to “special volunteers” in the order of how much time they have dedicated to making Chapter 8 and, particularly the Rolling Rally 2019, a success. This will include some Board Members, all Group Leaders, the Parking Chairperson, and other special volunteers. Without volunteers’ teamwork, a rally of this magnitude would not be possible, especially at Chapter 8 rates. Of course, everyone on the Rally is a volunteer to some degree, but special volunteers go above and beyond! If you choose to sign up for special volunteer duties be prepared to arrive at Potrero County Park 2 – 3 days before the rest of the attendees. The cost of the “early bird” camping for special volunteers is covered by the Chapter in appreciation for stepping up for the benefit of all. The remaining electric & water sites (Potrero County Park has a total of 36 electricity & water sites) will go to those in the order in which they have signed up. The remaining rigs will be dry camping for the four nights we will be there.
Camping at Zoológico Parque del Niño Jersey in the Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico: Everyone is dry camping for four nights at Zoológico Parque del Niño Jersey, but there are excellent hot showers, restrooms, and picnicking facilities available. The Parking Crew will separate solar rigs from generator-only rigs, which have to be placed further from the zoo animals.
Camping at La Jolla Beach Camp, Punta Banda, Ensenada, Mexico: There are 10 spots with 15amp electric (good voltage) available at La Jolla. They are not beach front but located on the second row. Since we will be there nine nights, people with medical needs will have first choice for electrical hookup with special volunteers having second choice. There are approximately 35 beach front sites available with priority given to special volunteers followed by signup sequence. Again, we will have separate solar and generator only sections. We encourage you to consider purchasing some solar to keep generator hours down and make the beach experience nicer for all. If you are an extreme generator user (more than 4 hours a day), this rally will NOT be for you but we look forward to seeing you on future rallies. If you are a prolific generator user (but still under 4 hours) you most likely will be parked away from the others so as not to disturb your neighbors with fumes and noise. The Parking Chairperson may direct you to move to a more remote parking spot at his/her discretion.
Please keep in mind that the temperatures should be moderate during our visit. No air conditioning will likely be needed. In the many times we have visited this area, we have not needed A/C or added heat. Picturesque Potrero Park is up in the hills so bring some warm clothes for layering. Also, a good wind breaker is always a good idea for Pacific Oceanside camping. A Rolling Rally jacket will be included in your registration fee.
Since Mexican camping will mostly be dry camping, we will go over good boondocking practices and give some educational information for all who wish to attend at the beginning of the Rolling Rally. We will cover ways to conserve water and electricity and go over safe battery charge/discharge practices.
Water and Dump: We will have access to deliciously fresh well water at Potrero Park and a modern dump station. We will all fill up our fresh water tanks and dump before heading across the border to our second rally stop. At Zoológico Parque del Niño Jersey water fountains are available in the park but not for filling RV water tanks. Additional reverse osmosis water is available in town for filling portable containers. No dump station is available for these four nights. A dump station is available at La Jolla Beach Camp. Also, a honey wagon and a potable water (reverse osmosis) delivery truck is only a phone call away for a small fee when a minimum amount of rigs need filling.
Showers: All three campgrounds have hot showers available.
Food: Bring some food for a potluck or two at Potrero County Park, otherwise please shop in Mexico to support the local economy. You will find modern grocery stores like Costco, Smart & Final, and Walmart in the city of Ensenada and plentiful grocery stores of all sizes with everything you need near our second and third campground locations. Street vendors also offer a variety of delicious fresh food.
Border crossing: Remember to leave your guns, ammunition, tasers, recreational drugs, etc. at home or rent a locker near the border as they are absolutely forbidden in Mexico! A moderate amount of food of any kind in your refrigerator should be okay. You are allowed to bring up to three liters of liquor or beer and six liters of wine per adult into Mexico. However, you may not bring extra gasoline or diesel across the border. You may bring empty fuel containers and fill them in Mexico, but extra containers filled with fuel are not permitted. You will find ample American top tier gasoline and Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel at ARCO, BP, Shell, and Chevron stations in most of Baja California.
Yes, your household pets are welcome to come on the Rolling Rally. You will need a health certificate (not older than 10 days from border crossing date). Most vets will fax/email this to you for free, some will charge a small fee. No one had to show proof last year. Dogs will have to be on a leash in Mexico except for beach time. (see Summer 2018 newsletter)
Your passports need to be current through September 2019 (approximately six months past the likely reentry date). We will all need an FMM tourist card for our trip into Mexico. Please do NOT purchase your FMM before arriving at Potrero Park. We have scheduled time with your Group Leader to cross the border during our stay at Potrero to go get the document. This will also be part of a group outing and involve other highlights and sightseeing in Tecate. This will be a good time to get to know your Group Leader and others in your group. Please be advised that some of our group outings will require walking up or down a slight hill and for distances totaling about three quarters of a mile.
How much change should I bring? Mexico is a cash economy, personally we recommend taking $1,000 to $2,000 along per rig. You will have the opportunity to get pesos in Tecate in exchange for your cash dollars and or at an ATM with good rates. Your Group Leader will show you the way. ATM machines and exchange banks will also be widely available in the greater Ensenada area. Many places also accept good old U.S. greenbacks… but you most likely will get a better price paying in pesos. Actually, using a foreign currency can be a fun experience. At the exchange rate in early July 2018, you will get 1,953 pesos for a $100 bill.
Please bring your toad, it will give you the freedom to be independent and go exploring on your own or invite others to carpool with you. If you do not have a toad, do not despair, we have always found a ride for everyone. You are also welcome to bring your ATV or off-road vehicle. While you are not allowed to ride them on beaches near Ensenada, there is a trail near La Jolla Beach Camp with great ocean views and fun exploration.
Mexican liability insurance is mandatory! In fact, a non-Mexican citizen is in violation of the law if there is not a driver with liability insurance from a Mexican company. Please read about insurance options on the Mexican Connection website. In Mexico you have the option to insure your “driver’s license,” which means that you are covered driving your vehicles, a friend’s vehicle or even a rented ATV. Insuring your driver’s license is the least expensive and most valuable Mexican liability insurance we know of (Less than $200 for two adults for one year). Full Mexican coach and toad insurance coverage can be very expensive. Progressive insurance is one of the few companies that extends full coverage to Mexico (except for mandatory Mexican liability!) and Canada at no extra charge. Make sure to activate your insurance before crossing the border and allow for extra time on the policy to explore on your way back to the United States.
Safety: We will once again travel in groups of approximately six rigs, each having a Group Leader and a Tail-gunner. Each group will have 30 minutes in between the next one to allow for a smooth traveling experience. Remember to leave plenty of room between rigs so that the locals (who generally exceed the speed limit) can pass safely. We travel at or under the posted speed limits since we are foreign drivers with generally larger rigs.
A CB radio with an outside antenna is mandatory for safe communications during the Rolling Rally. Not all antennas require drilling of a hole such as the “Midland 18-258 glass mount CB antenna.” The antenna is glued to the outside of the window and the receiver cable is glued to the inside of the window. This will also work with a handheld CB that accepts an outside antenna. Wilson also has a tri-band glass mount antenna for only $49.99. While we will do a CB check and tuning at Potrero County Park before crossing the Border, you will need to purchase and install this before reaching Potrero since no stores are available near the park. The CB is important because it allows for continues communication between the entire group while traveling. Cell towers are infrequent in Mexico and thus unreliable communication while traveling. (see Summer 2018 newsletter)
Both campgrounds in which we will be staying in Mexico have security fencing and a 24/7 security guard on duty. It is our intent that the entire Rolling Rally route be safe for your travels in Mexico. We have direct contact with the Mexican Secretary of Tourism, which dispatches the “Green Angels,” who are mechanics in trucks with tools, fuel, etc. paid by the government to help tourists at no charge.
Road conditions: If you are longer than 40’ you might want to choose which way to drive up to Potrero County Park or you might have to straddle the lane as some roads get a bit curvy. The roads from Potrero to Ensenada are mostly newly paved with shoulders and all in excellent condition. There are a few deep pot holes in the city of Ensenada due to heavy city traffic. There are a few kilometers (yes, Mexico is all metric) outside of Ensenada with potholes and somewhat narrow lanes on the road to La Bufadora (North America’s largest ocean “blow hole”) where La Jolla Beach Camp is located.
Phone and internet: We encourage all of you to call your phone provider before you cross the border and turn on the international roaming option. This most likely will not cost extra or can be purchased for a small daily fee. The same goes for your hot spots. You need to do this BEFORE crossing the border.
Maps/Directions: We encourage all of you to print out detailed directions to each Campground location early on and bring these with you. Please bring these printed google maps to our first Group Leader meeting so we can go over our travel route together and mark stops as needed. We will provide one Baja California travelers book per rig (by Michael and Terri Church) and one detailed Ensenada city map per rig with your registration package.
Politics/Religion: Since Chapter 8 is neither chartered as a religious nor a political organization, it is especially appropriate while traveling in Mexico to not make religious or political waves. Obviously, you are welcome to your own beliefs and sharing them openly in the United States or traveling with friends in Mexico as you choose. However, please be courteous, respectful, and sensitive to Mexican customs, sensitivities, and religious heritage while being a guest in their country. While most Mexican people will not initiate conversations on political beliefs, the current sensitive situation between our two countries calls for a concern for caution. Many respectable Mexican people we know will feel disrespected by media rhetoric that speaks of Mexican immigrants in particularly demeaning ways. Over the last several years we have noted Mexican Connection members who chanted, “Build the Wall, Build the Wall, etc.” and one who defiantly displayed an oversized “Trump Flag” and a rash of companion bumper stickers on his rig. We are in Mexico to explore and observe… which does not mean we have to agree with anything. Part of the Mexican adventure opportunity is to see the world through their eyes… if only to reaffirm the convictions you had before you crossed the border. What you keep in your head is your business.
The Rolling Rally Registration Form will be posted online approximately one week prior to signup opening at 12 noon CDT, September 1, 2018. As it was last year, the registration form will contain all the latest information, rally costs, volunteer preferences, etc. Please bear in mind that our final pre-rally scouting trip won’t occur until December 2018. Chapter 8 Wagonmasters have learned over the years that a final scouting trip within a month or so of the actual Rally is the most valuable precaution. Planning a Mexican rally a year in advance requires some flexibility not only from the Wagonmaster but from attendees as well. If, as the rally progresses, costs are higher or lower than anticipated, the Treasurer and the Wagonmaster will minimize some things a bit or add extra fun things as necessary.
Once we receive your registration we will send you a confirmation that your spot on the Rolling Rally is secured or that you have been placed on the waiting list. Life happens… and cancellations do occur. You will receive more Rally specific information during the following months including a check list and other helpful travel hints.
Bring your cheerful attitude and be prepared to travel with a great team. Have fun and be open to explore something new amid warmhearted Mexican people in a fun and safe environment.
Wagonmaster 2019 Rolling Rally