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Gumball 4000 - Roadtrip to Mexico foor a beer

2 March 2010
Edmonton, AB
Gumball 4000 - Roadtrip to Mexico for a beer

Last summer I conjured up the idea of driving to Mexico for a beer, but was convinced to take the NSX on a western USA road trip instead (http://www.nsxprime.com/forum/showthread.php/167359-7-days-7-321kms-Western-USA-QPDO-style!!). The thought of the Mexico trip had not escaped my mind, so once again this summer… plans started to come together. Gumball 4000. Initially it was going to be Greg, Raj and I making the journey, but we elected to trade up one token brown guy for Sanjay when Raj bailed on us for a wedding instead. At that point the rental car idea was scrapped for a Sanjay’s badass TL.

Given the fact I took a similar route only 11 months ago, I had a good idea of how long certain sections would take and the places/roads to hit along the way. So with some input from Greg, Sanjay and Keane, we came up with this hit list:

  • Zion National Park
  • Grand Canyon
  • Phoenix
  • San Luis Rio, Mexico
  • Las Vegas
  • Valley of Fire
If this wasn’t ambitious enough, we tacked a timeline of 4 days to the trip.

Fast forward to this past Thursday. With Phoenix being the end destination on the first leg of the trip we were eager to hit the road as soon as possible after work. Greg, the part time service advisor, was ready to go at noon. Sanjay didn’t expect to be able to get off work until 5:00, but was ready at 4:00. Here I was, holding up the departure as I only managed to escape the office at 4:45. Pulling up to Sanjay’s house we started round one of Tetris and tossed on the magnets. With only the two of us, the trunk was already surprisingly full. By the time we picked up Greg and his cripple sticks from the south side, the car was already pretty full. I hopped into the driver’s seat and by 6:00pm we were heading down the QE2 with the border in our sights. The first stretch, that I’m sure 93.6% of you have driven, is about as boring as it gets… so I took the car from Edmonton across the border to Great Falls, Montana. From there through until Idaho are some fun roads so this is where Sanjay took the wheel and pushed the TL through the long sweeping twisties of the Montana Rocky Maintains. In need of gas north of Idaho Falls, we pulled off the interstate into some small eerie town, whose name escapes me, to an unmanned and poorly lit gas station. Thankfully the pay at the pump option was available so we filled up and were on our way. Greg took over at this point and we were off to Utah.

After a quick greasy McDicks breakfast in Tremonton, Sanjay took us into Salt Lake City where he showed the TL a little love in the form of a car wash and fresh oil. By 10am we were back on the road again, en route to Zion. A quick pit stop in Hurricane for ice, beers, water and gas is where Sanjay once again took the wheel for what I believe to be the best part of the drive. Carting the TL through some tight turns and long tunnels warranted a stop to enjoy some scenery and a cold one. We made some stops throughout the park and soon enough we were en route to the Grand Canyon.

Along the way to the Grand Canyon, we made a quick stop at the same location where I got my favorite NSX shot of my trip last October. The goal was to replicate it as best as possible… though I’ve seemingly forgot how to edit pictures, this will have to do for now.

Coming in from the east side of Grand Canyon National Park, we caught an beautiful sun shower, thankfully we avoided the majority of it as the car was still looking picture perfect. Swinging into every lookout, both Greg and Sanjay got to see the Grand Canyon for their first times. I don’t think people quite understand what its all about until you’ve been there… and they were prime examples of this. After finding a picture perfect lookout for the TL, we enjoyed a beer and were on our way to Phoenix for the night. Landing in Phoenix at around 10pm local time, we snagged a room at the best western and called it night… 3,000kms down. *Tip: if you ever have to share a hotel with Greg, bring earplugs. That guy sounds like he’s dying when he’s out cold.

Waking up at 8:00am we gobbled down a continental breakfast and were on the road to Mexico. Today was f’n hot… with the temperatures reaching 40 degrees, us white boys were dying. Sanjay on the other hand, was in his glory. Darting down the I-8 we found ourselves at the San Luis Rio border crossing shortly before noon. For this leg of the trip, we decided to go on foot. The border crossing was fairly quiet so we simply walked towards it and without even ‘hola’ we walked straight into Mexico. I guess they don’t share the same concerns the Americans do when it comes to illegal immigrants. Needless to say, the place was nothing short of sketchy. Traffic lights didn’t work, beggars, taxi drivers hassling us, run down stores, and quite possibly people following us for blocks (according to Sanjay). Neither of us felt compelled to eat down there, so we cut the crap and found a local pub for a beer. There wasn’t a soul in this dimly lit little hole in the wall… not quite sure how I felt about that… but fuck it. We drove here for a beer, I’m gonna damn well enjoy it. We were all quite relieved to head back to the States at this point so we picked ourselves up and walked back to the border. This time around, the border patrol had a lot more questions. So after an hour of questioning us all, we were back on American soil, thank goodness. Time to head to Vegas!

Barreling up Highway 95 we dipped into California where I regrettably dipped Sanjay’s car onto a speed bump going through a random check stop. I cannot stop feeling terrible for this, and I’ll let the broken record say it again, sorry bud. After this we had our only run in with the State Troopers. Stopping on the side of the road to take a picture, the cop rolls up behind us and gets out of his car. “Would you like me to take a picture of you guys?”. Awesome. Further down the highway I stopped in at a random abandoned building for another photo-op and Greg took the wheel from here. Here’s the thing about rocky deserts and rainstorms… flash flooding. We dredged the poor TL through upwards of 6-8” deep rivers crossing the highway. Sanjay was understandably concerned and at the next gas station, took over the driving privileges. Almost every time he chose to take over the wheel, we encountered MILES upon MILES of roads as straight and as far as the eye could see. Making good time, we took a detour to the Hoover Dam and strolled around there for a good hour. Keane now asking for our ETA meant it was time to hit Vegas, so off we went.

Vegas. 2 nights and one full day of beers, gin, Smirnoff Ice, food, shopping, drinking, laying by the pool, swimming, drinking, gambling, eating, strippers, gin, beer, more gin, and lots more food. Thanks again Keane for taking us hooligans in, and another big thanks to Carey for being the ultimate babysitter haha.

Monday morning came far to soon, actually, not really. We slept in and then were forced to get up and play a mad game of Tetris repacking the car with the ridiculous amounts of cheap booze and our outlet mall finds. Amazingly, it all fit in the trunk… still not sure how it did, but it did. And with one quick detour on the way out to the Valley of Fire State Park, we were back on the I-15 barreling towards Edmonton again. A few more stops for gas, and a couple stops at grocery stores buying out 12 cases of Cherry and Vanilla coke the car was at maximum capacity and we were running short of time. Narrowly avoiding a deer at highway speeds in the middle of the night was enough to keep Sanjay and I on our toes… while Sleepy McSleeperson was out cold in the back seat. Vegas took a toll on the poor guy. The border crossing at 2am proved difficult when we announced our haul of liquor, so after a questioning, a car search, and paying $275 in duty, we were on our way again. Pulling back into Edmonton at 8:05am, I was already 5min late for work. We hastily got back to Sanjay’s where I changed clothes and had an Italian shower and I raced to the office for 8:45am.

4 days, 3 countries, 7 states (1 Mexican), 1 province, 6,700kms… for a beer in Mexico. Babooom!

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MOst expensive beer ever. But definately well worth it. Great write up!
~$700 in gas for $7 worth of Dos Equis. Most people would think that's retarded, and, well, they're right. But this is how ridiculous stories and memories are made!
Something every driving or drinking enthusiast would love to say they have done! I can gladly say I am much more the driving enthusiast. Thanks for telling the story. :)
It was certainly worth it! It's taken a few days to catch up on my sleep... but I have zero regrets. With that said, I also have ZERO desire to go to another Mexican border town haha
^Yes, and it's not really the lack of population, it is the down economy(same as here), and policing issues. Large cities such as Tijuana are still not desirable...can get a little shifty and unfortunately have lost a lot of the bustling business and people everywhere that existed 7+ years ago.

My dad recently went across to TJ and when he came back he basically said, "remember [insert memory of a place/event here]? Yep, it's dead and there's nobody around anymore." And he just kept going. A lot of the border towns have really gone down hill, and that's just compared to what they used to be....much less compared to American/Canadian cities/states.

For fun in Mexico you need to visit the many west coast/baja towns or obviously the southeastern tip of the Gulf. If you enjoy Los Angeles freeways and sitting in traffic, you could always try Mexico City.

Thanks again for the post, very cool.
^^Precisely. I crossed into Tijuana 12 years ago or so... and it was more than fine. Now, I wouldn't even think about going there.