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Wheeling the 51st Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari

Flat Fender Rear Shot
Verne Simons
| Senior Editor, Jp
Posted June 10, 2013
Photographers: JP Staff

Unintended Consequences

Tierra Del Sol’s annual Desert Safari is one of the country’s longest running off-road events. It is also one of Jp’s favorite Jeep events. Hosted in northern Ocotillo Wells—just west of the feted Salton Sea in California—the event known commonly as TDS, a shortening of the San Diego-based Jeep club’s name, affords fun for almost every Jeeper ranging from novices in stock rigs to Jeeping experts in fully built Jeeps. Feature Editor Simons has a strong love of Tierra Del Sol’s Desert Safari and the type of wheeling in the area that the event is held. The notches and eroded ditches near the Salton Sea allow for tons of flex, and if you do flop your Jeep in the dirt, usually the damage suffered is less than tipping in the rocks.

This year’s event was supposed to be covered in the pages of Jp as a retrospective on the very different rigs that crawl through the eroded dirt gullies and hills the event. This story should have a title like “Old Jeeps and New Jeeps of Tierra Del Sol’s Desert Safari,” with a comparison of the old school rigs like flatties and CJ-5s on smallish tires to TJs and JKs with multi-port injection, big tires and wheels, coil-over suspension, and so on. At least that was the assignment Editor Hazel handed down. But per usual, things don’t always go as planned. As your intrepid Jp editorial staff was heading out into the desert on Saturday morning hoping to catch some of the Desert Safari action, all went haywire and a run out to take pictures quickly became a vehicle rescue and attempted repair.

Simons was behind the wheel talking to Hazel in the passenger seat about how awesome Jp was as they rounded the top of a smooth rolling hill. On the back side of the hill there should have been a smooth decent, but instead a dry wash had cut a 6-foot vertical drop. Stopping at the top of this drop and backing up would have been nice, but Simons’ ’49 CJ-3A was carrying a touch too much speed, so over the drop they went. What happened? Was everyone okay? How’d they get the Jeep back to camp? Could they fix it and still hit some trails? Follow along to see the answer to all these questions…and maybe more! Then we’ll show you some retro rides and modern rigs from this past 51st Tierra Del Sol’s Desert Safari.

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Some Event Coverage
While Simons was out breaking his flattie’s rear axle and trying not to kill his boss, Trasborg was diligently out on the trail snapping shots of some cool Jeeps. Here are a couple of rigs that typify the cool and unusual stuff you can see at Tierra Del Sol’s Annual Desert Safari. The trails out at the Desert Safari are great for all rigs, from beginners to experts. For info on next year’s event, keep your eyes peeled at tds4x4.com.

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