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February 19, 2019

When Nick Zupancich was presented with the opportunity to spend the holidays traversing the Baja California Peninsula in Northwestern Mexico, he couldn't pass it up. Hear the story of how he and his ultra-fluffy Samoyed, Pushkin, said yes to this wild adventure.

LuminAID on dash

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We were told by friends, family and from the media that Mexico was incredibly dangerous. We were warned that driving for long stretches into the country was treacherous and travel off the main roads was downright foolish. Weeks before the trip began and before we even knew about any trip to be had, I received a DM on Instagram from a friend I had met a few months prior at a vanlife gathering in Idaho. The message was straight and to the point- “Baja for the Holidays?”

"We ate the most delicious food and interacted with some of the kindest, most hospitable people I have ever met in my life."

Maggie and I had wanted to venture into Baja for a while now, despite how it was portrayed in the media, so it was an easy decision for us to make. Our friend, Josiah, had explored Baja a handful of times previously so we were eager to jump on board and follow his lead. We spent the weeks leading up to the trip in the Lake Mead, NV area, where we got everything squared away that was required for a month in Baja, including veterinary paperwork for Pushkin, purchasing Mexican auto insurance, getting tourist visas, securing additional necessary outdoor gear, etc.  From there we made our way to the Mexicali border crossing to rendezvous with our new companions for the adventure. We had only met Josiah very briefly at the vanlife gathering and didn’t know anyone else at all, so everything that was to come for us was largely unknown, including what the people we would be traveling with were like.

LuminAID Baja Solar Lantern

Pushkin made the border crossing and each consecutive military checkpoint on our route a breeze. Border agents and military personnel spent more time trying to get a good photo of our dog than they did searching our vehicles. We were able to jump from beach to desert oasis to alien cacti-filled landscape and back again for over a month, darting our way down to the tip of the peninsula and back. We ate the most delicious food and interacted with some of the kindest, most hospitable people I have ever met in my life. The locals were caring, resilient, hardworking people that welcomed us into their country with open arms, and we were thankful they did because Baja is a gem.  


It’s important to note that while wilderness camping is amazing for so many reasons, there are many challenges that go along with it. One of the biggest challenges we faced in Drifting House was trying to ensure that we had enough power to stay off-grid for long stretches of time. We come equipped with solar panels on our roof but considering that there was a limited amount of daylight that time of year it was important to preserve our house battery as much as possible. We were making a film, documenting our travels in Baja, so we had plenty of equipment, from cameras to laptops, that we had to keep charged up and ready to go. So being able to charge our LuminAID lanterns via their built-in solar panels in the dash of our van during the day meant that we were guaranteed light all night long that didn’t draw from our house battery, keeping us off-grid for longer. The added ambiance they gave around camp was a nice bonus.



Follow Nick on Instagram to see more of his beautiful photos: @nazpicture

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