TDS is one of those events every Jeeper should experience at least one time. For over 50 years (it’s the longest continuously running 4×4 event in the US) TDS has been bringing families and their 4wd vehicles out to the desert east of San Diego, just a stones throw from the Mexican border on the edges of the Salton Sea. This year the venue changed a bit, but the wheeling was great fun and the Four Wheel Drive club of San Diego put on an epic event complete with live music, fireworks, food vendors, beer garden, and a giveaway raffle for participants that totaled over 150K in prizes given away. Here’s a look at how we spent TDS and the trip that surrounded the event.
We got a late start. We had left our RV in SoCal after King of the Hammers to avoid a 2K mile roundtrip 3 weeks later for TDS. That meant a flight south, that went south. Instead of arriving late Thursday morning we didn’t get into the Ontario airport until nearly 5 PM. It was proving to be a very long day. We grabbed an Uber and 55 minutes later found ourselves at RockStar Performance Garage where our friends had been storing the RV and trailer for us since KOH. Nick and his crew went above and beyond staying late and organizing a detailer to come out and give the Nitro buggy a wash since it was still completely filthy from all that Johnson Valley dust a few weeks before. Despite the darkness Rockstar had it under control with a whole lot of LED light bar power brightening up the wash area without a problem. We left RPG about 8PM and headed for a grocery store, grabbed some food and had a meal then crashed out after about a 19 hour day. We had stopped on the route suggested by our local friends and planned for an early AM start.
Our GPS led us astray. Heading up hwy 79 southeast toward the desert at some point the GPS had us turn, presumably for a faster route than we had been instructed to follow. We didn’t really realize the error until later, but in the meantime we found ourselves with 70+foot of trailer and RV headed up a narrow 2 lane pass. The views were admittedly spectacular, but it was nerve racking and slow going up and down switch backs until we finally found ourselves looking at straight road again in Palm Desert. From there it was an easy run south the the Salton Sea and our intended location for the next couple of nights.
After surviving the drive over we set up for the show, pulled the buggy out and had a chance to speak with club members and attendees of the event. Many had been coming to TDS for generations, enjoying the great weather and dry, harsh, but beautiful desert climate and testing their rigs in the ORV area nearby. Vendors from around the country were out in force making it a great place to check out the newest parts and accessories all in one place. We were certainly enjoying ourselves and though found the 90* day a touch hot it was a welcome warm change from the chilly temps we had left behind a couple days earlier up north.
Saturday morning brought more nice weather and a chance to take the Nitro Buggy out and play. We had plans to do a segment with KrawlZone TV and had a blast climbing the nearby trails, letting the big 40″ Nittos do some work with the tuned LS barking loudly. We even ran into our friends from 4 Wheel & Offroad magazine and their cool Ultimate Adventure Jeep from last year.
After an impressive fireworks show Saturday night we were packed and ready to roll early Sunday morning. We had 1150 miles ahead of us and wanted to be home Monday night, but still opted to check out a couple sights on the way north. If you find yourself headed through Nevada and you’re passing through the town of Searchlight make sure you stop at Gus’s Beef Jerkey. The dried meat is awesome and perfect for snacking on the road. Of course, we also had to hit up an In&Out Burger for an amazing double double meal as well!
Our last pitstop is a must do on I84 just before leaving Idaho and entering Oregon. Idaho Motor Pool is a military surplus place that specializes in vehicles. These guys have everything from Mitsubishi built “Jeeps” to heavy dump trucks and military wreckers. We wandered around and grabbed a few pics of some of the cool machinery available to purchase. We managed to avoid buying anything ourselves, though the M715 was very tempting!
TDS2016 was a great event. Highly recommended as a destination for a bigger trip and a nice getaway for those of us who live in colder climates. We certainly had fun and can’t wait to return next year!