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Old 11-11-2011, 06:21 PM   #31
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Learn to ride. Ride to learn.
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:31 PM   #32
Jimmy the Heater
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It looks like they also have a blog a little additional info.

OP, Forgive me if you didn't want this posted, just PM and I will remove it.
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Old 11-12-2011, 08:14 AM   #33
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Awesome keep posting!

I for one would like to see the set up inside the truck, what does it look like? what do you carry?
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Old 11-12-2011, 10:22 AM   #34
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:24 AM   #35
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Nice 4Runner.
"I'm going to shift gears now.... This will involve man touching." - Jeremy Clarkson
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:48 PM   #36
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I would imagine that you are going to find yourself on some pretty desolate roads in the near future. While you may not plan to drive at night, it probably will happen. I would seriously consider a pair of offroad lights up front. Even an inexpensive ($50) pair of Hella 500's will out-perform those sealed beams about eleventy billion times over.

Also with the added stress of the electronics you've added and dual batteries, did you upgrade the charging system? the stock Yota alternator was barely capably of keeping up with the stock truck.
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:38 PM   #37
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Wow! We had a great response to our first post. I am glad you guys are enjoying our adventure. I know in our last post we said that the Sierras and Death Valley is some of the majestic scenery in all of the U.S. I think I need to keep my mouth shut because the past 7 days of traveling the “4 Corners” area of the U.S. has been AMAZING.

The Colorado Plateau is a geographic region of the U.S which covers over 130,000 sq miles of land shared between Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. This area has the greatest concentration of National Parks in the U.S and it is easy to see why. Developed over billions of years and uplifted and modified by faults and receding oceans this area is chock full of geological, ecological, and historical splendor. We had a blast.

Leaving Las Vegas!

Our night in Vegas was spent mostly holed up in our room enjoying the HEAT! and updating the blog. We did make it down for a few drinks and some midway games at Circus Circus

Lauren won a Rhino, He got some free drinks

Headed up to St. George, Utah and camped off some forest road.

Our first taste of red dirt

Snow Canyon State Park, St. George Utah

Since leaving the Bay, we have been having overheating issues, the thermostat on the truck has been malfunctioning. I had read about this issue in the past happening with your standard Autozone thermostats and knew it was fixed by getting the expensive Toyota OEM dual-stage thermostat.

$45 later and 1/2 gallon of coolant onto the NAPA parking lot and we were fixed up, issue solved, no more overheating.

Off to the Grand Canyon! We read about a 90-mile backroad from St. George to a remote area of the Grand Canyon National Park called the “Toroweap Overlook”. Talked to a few people in town who said that it would be snowed and we would not be able to make it up and over the Mount Trumball pass. We’re used to naysayers and of course headed off anyway, the 4runner could make it.

Sunset on the Toroweap Rd.

Nightfall hit by the time we made up to the mountain pass, It was covered in snow and mud, I had a blast mashing through it all in 2 wheel drive, slipping and sliding all over the place and making a big ol’ mess of the truck.

Eventually made it to the campground, setup shop and went to sleep. Awoke in the morning completely alone and surrounded by the majesty of the red rocks and Grand Canyon.

Headed out on a hike to the Toroweap Overlook, no one around for miles but us and the canyon. No guardrails, no tourists, just the way we like it.

Played around in the Canyon for a while, then headed off again back to Utah. Headed to Zion National Park.

Spotted some Coyotes

We arrived in Zion in the middle of the night, awoke surrounded by huge canyon walls and beautiful CLEAR weather! Something we have been lacking most of the trip.

Spent most of the day hiking around Zion, then headed off to explore more of Southern Utah.

Headed to Bryce Canyon. Amazing Scenery of course.

Bryce Canyon was pretty well snowed out when we got there, Still checked it out.

Spent most of the time running out the overlook then back to the car, was about 30F outside at the time! Too cold for this Florida boy.

From Bryce we headed down another backroad towards Capitol Reef National Park, sun went down and we setup another freezing camp. Awoke in the morning to frost covering the truck once again and dreary cloud cover.

The beautiful dirt road through Capitol Reef made up for the weather. This is a great drive and there was no one out here but us. We enjoyed taking our time cruising through this beautiful place.

Eventually the dirt road led us to Glen Canyon National Recreation area, which is home to most of Lake Powell. Similar to Hetch Hetchy in the Sierras, a environmental tragedy took place here where we dammed up the Colorado River and flooded the majestic Glen Canyon to increase water supply to the surrounding area. The created reservoir was named Lake Powell after one of my heroes.

We hit the highway once again and headed towards the 4x4’er mecca. AKA MOAB, UTAH!

Got to Moab in the middle of the night, shacked up in a cheap motel. I thought I had heard some strange noises coming from our trash bag we had been carrying since Grand Canyon. Messed around for a bit with it and didn’t see anything, figured I was just crazy. Next morning Lauren is doing Yoga and hears the same noises coming from the bag. We snatched it up and dumped it into the bathtub to investigate.


Screaming like little girls and dancing around the room in our underwear trying to catch him but he ended up escaping somewhere in the motel room. Sorry Motel6!

Now that our adrenaline was pumping it was time to go beat on the truck some. We headed to the “Poison Spider 4x4 Trail” to try our luck and see how far we could make it. Lauren has never been 4wheeling before and was pretty much peeing her pants the entire time as we drove all over this place. The 4Runner with little 31 inch tires and open differentials is still a pretty capable machine.

After mashing around in Moab for most of the day we were headed up to Grand Junction, CO. An awesome guy from MarlinCrawler forums had offered to help us fix up a few issues with the truck that we did not have the tools or knowledge to tackle ourselves.

Drove around Colorado National Monument looking for a campspot, eventually found some dirt road that we took, kept getting higher and higher into the mountain. Eventually we were driving through deep snow in the middle of no where, figured we should turn around. Well the rear wheels dropped into a icy rut and we were stuck. 30 minutes of winching later we were turned around and headed back down the road. The Smittybuilt winch is no longer a virgin and it worked like a champ!

Next morning headed over to Phillip’s shop in Grand Junction. The shops name is Karnage Fabrication, Phillip knows Toyota’s like the back of his hand. He has owned over 50 of them and had ours torn apart and fixed back up in no time. This guy was a lifesaver, The Toyota community is an great group and I feel honored to have met such an awesome guy and his beautiful family. We replaced the oil pan cork gasket with the proper sealant, fixed up a leaky inner shat oil seal, and replaced the failing AUTO hubs with some beefy AISIN manual hubs. Thanks again Phil, you are our hero! And Thanks to Sean and Ace for grabbing some much needed parts. It was great to meet all of you!

Lauren and Phil’s daughter became bestest of friends.

4x4 Fabrication/Arts and Crafts. Karnage Fabrication has it all!

Headed off today for Vail to meet up with one of my dad’s old friends. Speaking of which… I should probably get on the horn and let him know were coming!

defrag4 screwed with this post 11-14-2011 at 09:01 PM
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:58 PM   #38
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I love the four corners region.
They're nihilists, Donny, nothing to be afraid of.

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I'm sorry your dog died before you got to beat it with a dead chicken.

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Old 11-14-2011, 10:10 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by aceluck View Post
Looks like a great trip. It's cool that you're going on this trip with such a basic setup. Most seem to think you need an 80k$ sportsmobile to go to the KOA. Subscribed, and looking forward to it!
ha, tell me about it!
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:11 PM   #40
defrag4 OP
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Originally Posted by civhatch90 View Post
Awesome keep posting!

I for one would like to see the set up inside the truck, what does it look like? what do you carry?
one of these days well have to do a video on the sleeping setup, been to damn cold lately, we setup and breakdown camp as quick as possible
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:12 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Yamarocket630 View Post
I would imagine that you are going to find yourself on some pretty desolate roads in the near future. While you may not plan to drive at night, it probably will happen. I would seriously consider a pair of offroad lights up front. Even an inexpensive ($50) pair of Hella 500's will out-perform those sealed beams about eleventy billion times over.

Also with the added stress of the electronics you've added and dual batteries, did you upgrade the charging system? the stock Yota alternator was barely capably of keeping up with the stock truck.
ya new lights would be nice, maybe when i get down to FL i will do an upgrade

still running the stock alt for now, was thinking about doing the mod to run the GM 100amp alt. so far so good though on the 60amp
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:32 PM   #42
What could go wrong?
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Awesome! I'm glad this thread showed up in Shiny Things. I'll be following.
Nothing better than the trip of a life time and someone to share it with.
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:52 AM   #43
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I'm still here.......good stuff....... I love Utah myself...

looking forward to more.....

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Old 11-23-2011, 02:20 PM   #44
defrag4 OP
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With Thanksgiving quickly approaching we had to step our game up. No more dilly dallying! We still have a few obligations to our parental units to uphold and one of them was Thanksgiving dinner in Florida. Unfortunately this means we had to pick up the pace from Colorado to Florida in order to hit our deadline. We missed a lot of great stuff and look forward to coming back someday to revisit lots of sites along the way. Luckily we have lots of friends along the way to stop in and crash for the night. Less camping shots on this post.

Heading out from Moab towards Colorado. We stopped off in Beaver Creek, CO to visit an old friend. Tommy is one of my dads best friends and basically an uncle to me and my brothers. It was great catching up with him and nice to get out of the cold for a bit. Tommy is a wild man, loves deep-sea diving, heli-skiing, dragracing, and basically raising hell. When I was younger he gave me my first job, let me get away with all my shenanigans, and was there to kick my ass when I needed it. A good guy indeed.

Beaver Creek, Nice little ski town. Still needs more snow to get pumping.

Fellow hellraisers

A little further up the mountain, Vail, CO had runs open and people skiing.

From Beaver Creek we stopped in Denver to see another old friend. We all call him Howie, I think his real name is Chris. But he has always been Howie to us. I met Howie back during my brief-stint with college. A lifetime friend and accomplice, how we got away with 1/2 the stuff we pulled I will never know. We stopped in unexpectedly and they were planning to go to a concert that night.

We tagged along planning to buy tickets and join them.

BOO! Sold out!

Oh well, old friends can still party down together; show or no show. We easily scalped his tickets. Howie and his girlfriend Courtney made a $50 profit! Headed across the street to imbibe for a bit….

Came back later to at least try to get a poster… and discovered the box office selling some last minute tickets for $20 a pop! SCORE!

Had a blast at the show, made some new friends at Howie’s local watering hole, had a Taylor Swift karaoke contest (Don’t ask!), and hit the hay.

Woke up hazy the next morning, headed over to the Red Rocks. Red Rocks is a naturally occurring amphitheater in the huge boulders/cliffs outside Denver. It is a beautiful place to see a concert, unfortunately they were closed for the season but you can still mill around the place and check it out.

Scooted down from Denver towards Texas. Stopped for the night and camped on some BLM land just outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Courtney had mentioned that we should come here and see the dunes.

Woke up in the AM and checked out the park. If I have not mentioned this yet, if you plan on visiting more than 2 or 3 National Parks a year it is definitely worth picking up an America: The Beautiful” Annual Access pass. I have used this thing at least 20+ times this year, it is a one-time fee of $80 but it gets you into all National/Federal Parks/Monuments/Recreation/Seashore areas. I have saved around $300 in park fees so far this year by getting this pass. You can pick it up at any national park or order it online. It is a painless and quick process. Definitely worth it if you love our nations parks as much as we do.

Great Sand Dunes National Park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America. They have been swept down from the mountains across the San Luis Valley and pushed up against the edge of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range where they have grown and grown for ages.

Found a 4x4 road that took us along the backside of the dunes up into the mountain. Aside from Death Valley this is the only national park I have found that had legit 4x4 roads. We aired down and mashed around in the sand for a while.


After playing around in the sandbox we headed south again, down into New Mexico, camped out on some more BLM land somewhere near the Texas border. Caught a beautiful sunset then drifted off to sleep in the truck.

Eastbound and down, made it to TEXAS!

Lauren saw her first tumbleweed, it was a beast!

My grandfolks live in a small town near Grandbury, TX. My family has lived on this land since the civil war days. Stopped in for the night to say howdy. There are also lots of fossils and dinosaur artifacts in the area, we went to the state Dinosaur Park to check out some tracks.

Grandpa and I in front of the old stone house my grandma was born in. New roof upgrade obviously.

Dino footprint, unfortunately the river was muddy and we couldn't see most of the prints. Still pretty cool.

We had to hike quite a bit to get out to the footprints through some pretty rugged terrain. My grandparents are almost 80 and did it with no sweat. Its true! Everything is tougher in Texas. Love you guys!

Headed out from there, South bound. We could feel humidity starting to pick up in the air and finally started to shed some layers. Getting closer to home!!!

Stopped somewhere in Davey Crockett National Forest for night and caught another beautiful Texas sunset.

Woke among among the tall lanky southern pines of the forest. It got pretty humid overnite, rained a bit too. I have a big ol’ trucker fan that I need to hook up to help get a nice breeze going for these muggy nights.

Hit the highway, We were boogying now. Still decided to take the scenic route all through Southern Louisiana along the Gulf Coast. It had been almost 2 years since we have seen her waters.

Caught a ferry to get to the otherside of the canal, met a nice couple on the ferry who have traveled all around California to many of the same places we just came from. Was nice talking to you guys!

Things were starting to get familiar, spanish moss hangs lazily from swamp oaks.

This coastal drive was beautiful, we went through lots of little small towns which sadly had no remains of their original structures. Almost every single structure has been blown away in storms and replaced with mobile/prefabbed homes. I do admire the resilience of the people to return to the decimated area though.

“Cajun Highrise”

Stopped for the night with Lauren’s aunt in New Orleans, had some killer seafood for dinner and hung out with her soccer playing micro-dog, Dixie Deux

Headed out the next morning, cut to Alabama and drove down to Dauphine Island to take another coastal route along the Gulf Coast.

Caught another Ferry from Dauphine Island over to Gulf Shores.

Please make a U-Turn when possible!!

Pressing on through the night, we ran into a horrible thunderstorm, sheets of rain, and huge puddles. YEP, MUST BE…

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Old 11-26-2011, 09:14 PM   #45
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AS a Toyota guy I am IN!
Just because you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town!!
I miss George Carlin!
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