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The 54th Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari

Posted in Events on April 28, 2016
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Photographers: Fred Williams

Tierra Del Sol’s Desert Safari is the oldest off-road event in the country. Over the past few decades or so the club has fought tooth and nail to preserve this historical event and protect our rights to use the land we own. TDS is one of our favorite events, and unfortunately the dangers to the event are real and looming. This should demand your attention. We could talk about how misguided environmentalists are attacking the event and the venue (Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, OWSVRA, adjacent to 500,000 acres of protected Anza-Borrego Desert State Park) in an attempt to save us from ourselves. But why acknowledge their illogical attacks against people and organizations that love and protect the land they intend to exclude us from? As soon as one of their arguments gets knocked down as unrealistic and a waste of time and money, some new imaginary excuse to close trails and prevent events will be created. They feel that their right to enjoy the area excludes everyone else’s rights as though they are the sole owners of the land.

Instead of getting mired in weak arguments against off-roading and focus on the use of actual scientific evidence, let’s focus on the good that came from the 54th TDS Desert Safari. While in years past the event centered around the Desert Safari Headquarters at Ocotillo Wells, this year’s headquarters were in West Shores Marina and RV Park. The site allowed for an impressive vendor row, a rockcrawling area, a tire pit, a beer garden, a mud hole, an RC obstacle course, a raffle featuring over $100,000 in prizes, and more, all along the shore of the Salton Sea. Of course, anyone could also enjoy the Ocotillo Wells area and the Truckhaven Hills on their own, just no organized club-lead trail runs were permitted.

At the end of the weekend everyone agreed that despite the venue changes and challenges facing this (and other) off-road events, the 2016, 54th annual Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari was a huge success. We send our thanks to all involved, everyone from hard-working club members to land use advocates such as BlueRibbon Coalition, Del Albright, California Four Wheel Drive Association, CORVA, and ORBA.

The traditional off-road trails and play areas generally associated with TDS's Desert Safari, including the Ocotillo Wells/Truckhaven 4x4 training area and its manmade obstacles, are still open for everyone to enjoy. The 2016 event only lacked an organized and guided trail ride laid out by club members

The Spray-Crete rockcrawling sections of the 4x4 training area are tougher than they look. We don’t know what failed on this rockcrawling CJ, but the driver’s buddy with the bag of tools was followed by some winch lines to help the Jeep out of this gully.

The A-frame obstacle takes wheelbase and commitment. Too much wheelbase can, however, cause a break-over issue at the top of the climb. This big Ford has plenty of tire and wheelbase for the climb, but it may lay frame (or driveshaft) on the top of the A-frame. Still, the driver gets a pat on the back for having the stones to give it a go.

Also open for anyone to enjoy are the notches (nachos), hills, washes, and other natural play areas of years past.

We love checking out all the cool and odd rigs at the usual hangout spots in Truckhaven. They make for a good place to track down future feature vehicles and check out the cool ideas other enthusiasts are playing with.

We love checking out all the cool and odd rigs at the usual hangout spots in Truckhaven. They make for a good place to track down future feature vehicles and check out the cool ideas other enthusiasts are playing with.

This Datsun wearing flat black paint would have fit into the Maxxis Off-Roadrunner DED car chase scenes perfectly. Wait, is it even wearing Maxxis Creepy Crawlers?

This year’s TDS Desert Safari headquarters featured a cool and all-new area to play along the shores of the Salton Sea. Here a well-equipped JK tangoes with some industrial-sized tires.

The mud pit near the headquarters added something new and refreshing to this year’s event. The trick seemed to be to stick to the right to avoid the super-soft stuff. Like near the edge of the Salton Sea, if you went too far left you broke into the bottomless and stinky black mud of the shore. We saw it stick more than one unsuspecting vehicle.

Did we remember to mention rocks? The play area at West Shores Marina also included tons of rocks you could try your hand (or Jeep) at conquering.

The vendor row at TDS Desert Safari 2016 was huge. It was a great time and place to check out all the stuff you want (if not need) and see parts that all our favorite off-road companies have in the works.

From mild to wild, the areas around Ocotillo Wells and Truckhaven have it all. We can guarantee fun in just about any off-road vehicle. We even bumped into and caught up with this super-cool overland-style 1968 Jeepster Commando. Barry Griff’s Jeepster isn’t built for extreme off-road, but you can bet it is driven down many a trail that led to fun and adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for a feature on this mild yet well-thought-out retro off-roader.

TDS is always a great time to catch up with new and old friends. You can bet we’ll be back and will do what we can to fight the good fight to keep events like this going despite our foes.

Sunsets in the desert are almost always amazing. If sunsets don’t do it for you, the fireworks display at the Desert Safari will amaze!

PhotosView Slideshow

Sources

Blue Ribbon Coalition
Pocatello, ID 83202
(208) 237-1008
http://www.sharetrails.org
Tierra del Sol Four Wheel Drive Club of San Diego
http://www.tds4x4.com
California Four Wheel Drive Association
http://cal4wheel.com/
California Off-Road Vehicle Association
http://corva.org/

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