The Tierra Del Sol 4 Wheel Drive Club of San Diego has been putting on its annual Desert Safari for 38 years, and the event always seems to be popular. The old, faithful four-wheelers and the newest to the sport all gather in the desert some time around the end of February or the first of March every year. This is a good time to visit the desert where summer temperatures can climb high enough that even the jack-rabbits carry canteens. Over the years, the event has grown to the point that it now has the largest attendance of any single event in California. Not bad for a small club.
The four-wheelers who flock to this event annually are interested in not only the two days of serious four-wheeling, but also in the camaraderie that is just as refreshing and sometimes more necessary. People gather in groups of old friends so all you see from the main camp is a sea of tents, motorhomes, and trailers. These groupings make finding old friends or making new ones easy.
At TDS you'll see all kinds of 4x4s. Anything you can dream up is likely to be here. No matter what you choose to drive, you'll find a trail suited to your liking. Trails are broken down into three categories indicated by color. Green trails are for those in larger 4x4s looking for some fun on an easy route. Red trails are a little tougher and are for those looking for a challenge. On these trails, you should have some experience and a little more than a stock rig. Blue trails are the toughest and are for those who want the most challenge the area has to offer. These trails are not for the faint of heart.
While many four-wheel the area on Thursday and Friday, both in the daylight and at night, the big event is Saturday when everyone lines up for the controlled departure at 8 a.m. sharp. The monstrous gathering is spread out through the desert as people enjoy some of the best four-wheeling Southern California has to offer. The maze of valleys and hills makes communication by CB radio difficult at times, and separated friends often find themselves hooking up with another group to finish out the day. No matter what, everyone is out to have fun and meet new people.
At the end of a dusty day, everyone returns to camp to clean up, eat dinner, and attend the annual raffle. Many lucky four-wheelers go home with a prize, and if they didn't win something they need, they often trade with another prize-winner for something they did. The support shown by the manufacturers for this event is always outstanding, and the raffle gets bigger every year right along with the event.
Last year, the weather played a trick on everyone and the desert got cold and wet. The wind whipped through camp, but the light rain that followed kept the dust down. In the morning, another front swept through, bringing even more rain, and many participants elected to take down their temporary homes and run for the pavement. The truly dedicated felt this was just an opportunity to avoid the usually dry and dusty conditions and went four-wheeling. After all, the worst day on the trail beats the best day at work.
Editor's Note:The annual TDS Desert Safari is an event for the whole family. Shouldn't you attend soon? For more information on the 2001 Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari, contact the organizers at P.O. Box 81304, San Diego, CA 92138. This will be the 39th year of the event and is sure to be the best yet. Why not start making plans to be there next year?