AdventureTaco - turbodb's build and adventures


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Your blog is one of the few I go to directly when at work, I never have to worry about anything other than amazing pics and a great story,
Most of the time I just read forum trip reports but I have your blog locked in my memory.
Great stories as always,
Well, that made me smile - thank you! At the risk of just promoting my blog, you're welcome to sign up for emails of new posts... I'm still catching up posting stuff here on ExPo.

Like the "work safety" the only thing that comes of entering your email here are notifications of posts; no junk email; email sharing; or promotions of any kind.

Thanks again, and glad you're enjoying!


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...As we made our way into the hills, we eventually turned into a wash and behind down into a hidden valley, simply following tracks from visitors that were few and far between. And before us, the colors were suddenly amazing. I let out an audible "wow," over the CB - Ben and Zane still a ways back - and stopped to capture the situation.



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... it wasn't long before we arrived at our destination, technically known as: some spot along the road. We pulled off as far as we could - careful to stay within the grading berms - and prepped ourselves for the journey ahead. Lunches were made, water bottles filled. And then, we set off across the desert. Truth be told, it didn't look that far to the other side.



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Rig Review: Hiking Death Valley - What worked and what didn't?

Rig Review is a new type of post that I'm going to try to write up after most trips, where I'll note any things that worked really well, or could have been better. The idea has always been to optimize the Tacoma build and setup over time, so there's nothing really new from that perspective.

I won't talk about everything I've got going on - just new equipment to the trip and/or any outliers that deserve a mention. At the very least, I figure that long-term, real-world reviews of the products I use are good for everyone!

February 18, 2019.

Hiking Death Valley was a different kind of trip - one with more time away from the truck, and less time driving. So the rig review this time has a little less to go on - but that doesn't make me any less passionate about the bits of kit that were working well!.

Exped MegaMat Duo 10 LXW (new)
TL;DR - if you ever feel like your RTT mattress leaves a little something to be desired, don't buy a foam topper to try to increase it's thickness. Get an Exped MegaMat Duo 10 LXW. You won't regret it even though it's pricey - this is the most comfortable sleeping experience I've ever had.

For the last few trips, I've started to notice that the foam mattress in the @Cascadia Tents Mt. Shasta Pioneer has started to be a little less "supportive." I think this is mostly due to age - it's been used for over 100 nights at this point - and a lot of folks end up adding those egg-crate style toppers to their mattresses in order to counter this phenomenon.

I wasn't keen to add a topper since I already feel like I'm smooshing stuff quite a bit when I close the tent, and so I set about researching a replacement mat. The key - I believed - was that it be inflatable. That inflation would provide extra support where the foam couldn't, and thus keep hips, shoulders, etc. up off the floor through the night.

When I stumbled across the Exped MegaMat Duo 10 LXW, I initially just scoffed at the price and moved on. But the more I researched on various forums, the more the Exped continued to be brought up as the ultimate in a good night sleep. At four inches thick, and composed of both foam and air, it seemed like it could do a good job... if I could just get over it's hefty price tag.

Ultimately I did, and let me tell you - my body, and more importantly @mrs.turbodb's body, have never been happier after a night in the RTT. This thing is seriously like sleeping on a home mattress. It's that good. Shocking I'd say. Easily worth the price - assuming it lasts - and now my all-time favorite mod to my camping setup. Wow, that surprises even me.

Oh, and as a side benefit - because of the construction (air simply pushes out of the mat), the Exped MegaMat Duo 10 compresses even more (and more easily) than the original CVT foam mattress - making closing up the tent easier than ever before.

As far as fit goes, there are three versions of this mattress depending on the size of your RTT:
None of these is as long as an unfolded tent - generally 96" - but that's OK. The matt leaves about 6-8" of space on each end, which I find to be a good place to stash shoes, clothes, bags, etc. that I bring into the tent. Plus, those spaces really aren't usable for sleeping anyway due to the angle of the tent wall as it reaches the floor. If it really bothers you, you can easily slide the Exped toward the head end of the tent and leave all the space at the foot end - you'd never notice it while sleeping.

Rear Shock Relocation, ADS Suspension, and SPC Upper Control Arms

TL;DR - the ADS setup is working great. We didn't do much dirt travel this time, but what little we did do was no problem at all. More to come in the future.

This was the first trip with the relocated rear suspension running 10" travel ADS 2.5" smooth body shocks with remote reservoirs in the back of the truck as well as new SPC Upper Control Arms and ADS 2.5" coilovers with remote reservoirs in the front of the truck. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this setup was not only better and more comfortable than running without rear shocks along the entirety of the Mojave Road, but was also better than my previous rear shock setup. The fronts were a little harder to tell - but again, we weren't really pushing it this trip.

Additionally, there were no problems bottoming out the rear shocks, which was a good thing. Hopefully that remains the case into the future.

Seemingly solved from previous Rig Reviews

In all fairness to the rig, I didn't really do anything except maintenance since the last review, so it's my fault that there's nothing to list here. My apologies to the truck.

Unchanged / Still an issue from previous Rig Reviews

There are some things that have been featured in Rig Reviews that are - as yet - unchanged from when I originally reviewed them. Rather than highlight those things again, I'll simply link to them here.
  1. The Swing-Out Table - as expected, it was unusable on this trip.
  2. The Electrical System - continues to have the limitations of a single battery system.
  3. The Ham Radio Antenna - continues to have the shortcoming mentioned.
  4. The CVT Roof Top Tent
    1. Stargazer windows in the rain fly continued to be a significant issue, which I hope to address for the next trip.
    2. Rubber cover zipper was still tough to close; this is on me though - I need to clean and wax it.
  5. Stealth Custom Series (SCS) Stealth6 Wheels - mud wasn't that big of an issue this trip, but I still need a way to pull the wheels further inboard.
  6. Coleman Camp Stove/Grill - the wind screens fall down any time the grill is jostled just a little bit, and it sounds like the world is coming to an end.


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Mitigating the Mud - 4Runner Wheels for the Tacoma

I love the look of the SCS Stealth6 wheels that I've been running for the last 14 months. The dark bronze and six spokes are fantastic. Even the lug nuts are significantly better than OEM. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I really do like stance added to the truck by the 3.5" backspacing - having the wheels and tires pushed out a bit wider makes the truck look ready for anything.

But, I can't stand the mud. That same backspacing that gives the truck a cool stance also pushes the tread of my 255/85R16 Cooper ST Maxx tires about an inch past the fender flares. And as I mentioned in a recent rig review - that get's mud everywhere.

So it was time to try and change that. I started by looking into different fender flares. Having a 2000 Tacoma, I knew that the flares for the 01-04 models were slightly wider - about ½-inch wider - and so those were the first place I looked. Unfortunately, they are super expensive and hard to come by second hand... and being only ½-inch wider, they still wouldn't get me fully covered. Then I looked into aftermarket options. Bushwacker is the most popular option here, and they have three different flare widths - including one that's an inch wider than stock. Alas, they too are pretty expensive, and frankly, I'm not a fan of the look that their wider flares give - the bolt heads providing more of that #instaflare than I generally go for.

And so, I started looking at wheels. Knowing that I needed something with closer-to-stock backspacing, I started with Toyota wheels, and it wasn't long before I stumbled upon the 5-spoke, 16x7" wheel from the 99-01 4Runner Limited. I'd seen this wheel before, but I'd assumed it was a 15" wheel - like my OEM wheels - which would have been too small to fit around my upgraded Tundra brakes. So, I kept an eye out on my local Craigslist and it wasn't long before I found a set for an amazingly good price - likely someone getting rid of them to install some aftermarket option as I had with the Tacoma.

I picked them up and one more from eBay for a spare, and gave the truck a makeover. I call it, "what if I skipped leg day?" 🤣

Boy, let me tell you one thing though - after dealing with 33", E-load tires for the last year, it was a genuine pleasure to install these 31", P-load on the truck. It was like I was Superman. :muscleflexing:

New wheels installed - and clear of the Tundra calipers - I headed down to Discount Tire to get my tires installed. The ST Maxxs have worked well for me over the last year, and seem like a great compromise for the combination of pavement and dirt that I run, so there was no need to change course there. Not that there is much tire choice at the 255/85R16 size anyway.

Having showed up without an appointment since I was headed out the next day on an adventure, it took the better part of the day for Discount Tire to get around to installing the new shoes. But they did, the truck looked great, and I was happy.

Function before fashion, but still reasonably fashionable.

All that was left was to give them a try. And that was going to happen very shortly - we were headed to Anza-Borrego!


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...The sandy washes were fun to drive in and we made reasonably good time except for me stopping every couple minutes to take pictures. But really, how could anyone resist - the sun was out and the weather was a far cry better than the snow we'd left in Washington!

Keep reading the rest here
Anza-Borrego Part 2 - Fun in the Sun!



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...A short drop from the viewpoint down into the canyon and we were almost immediately in what I think was the most breathtaking canyon of the trip - Canyon sin Nombre.

Not only were the colors amazing, but so was the geology. The entire area had been uplifted in giant synclines and anticlines, and then crushed and folded into amazing shapes. I wasn't the only one who wanted to stop and get out for a closer look - we were both hopping out of the truck on a regular basis at this point...



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...First up were the Elephant Knees. This amazing formation was created over millions of years - its sedimentary layers deposited as part of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) and prehistoric Lake Cahuilla (the precursor to the Salton Sea). And, like any sea-based sedimentary formation, the Elephant Knees are littered with fossils. From corals, clams, crabs, and shrimp to sharks, rays, and baleen whale - numerous fossils can be found in vast quantities in this area. In fact, vast quantities of oyster shells are what make up the slightly harder layers of sediment - slower to erode as the soft mud above and below wash away, these layers have become the "knees" of the formation.

Read the whole story at Anza-Borrego Part 4 - Elephant Knees, Wind Caves, and Dinosaurs



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...we were a little worried about something else entirely: the longer we were on the tracks, the more likely we were to encounter a representative from the railroad. Rumor has it that this rail line is now used by migrants trying to enter the USA from Mexico, and so is randomly patrolled. And, as a narrow swath of private land running through Anza-Borrego, the rail company has apparently decided that the best way to reduce liability is to keep everyone off the tracks - by issuing hefty tickets to anyone they find along the line.

Whether that was true or not, we didn't really want to find out...



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Finally, we found it!

We took it all in. We enjoyed every minute. It had been a true Indiana Jones style adventure - one where we'd known what we were looking for, but not where to find it. One of those rare places that the Internet alluded to but never actually divulged the exact location. And in the end, I think that's what makes it so special...

Read all about what we'd found, and see all the photos in: Anza-Borrego Part 6 - Finding Blue Sun Cave



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... we were keen to see what was at the end of Sheep Canyon, and so we pushed on. As it turns out, what's at the end of Sheep Canyon is a campground - and, at least on this day, a full one at that! Disappointed, we made our way through the small loop and noticed a white first gen Tacoma camped in the very last spot - as far from anyone else as possible. "Nice first gen," the owner said as we drove by. "Back at you." replied @mrs.turbodb as we started back down the way we'd come. It was 2:30pm and we were now unsure what we were going to do for our last night in Anza-Borrego. We stopped along the side of the road and started looking at our maps...

Read all about it in Anza-Borrego Part 7 - So. Many. People.



2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Your trips are actually getting me to take more pics....
I am still not writing & posting like I used to, but I am getting out more and my Go See It list is getting longer and longer ;)
Thanks for all your hard work.


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......Before long, we were at Elephant Hill. We all aired down, and then set off in two groups - having been warned several times that we had to do the initial climb and descent in groups no larger than three vehicles. This is because the road begins a steep climb immediately upon leaving the Elephant Hill parking area, and is clearly suitable for 4WD vehicles only. Almost immediately, a fun-but-intense-if-you're-not-ready-for-it stretch of hill-climb leads to a small turn-around pad some 150 feet above the parking area. This small, strategically placed flat area serves two vital purposes: it allows the vehicle to make a 180-degree turn before heading into the next switchback, and it provides an opportunity for anyone who might have second thoughts about continuing to turn around and make a hasty retreat back to 2WD land....

If you're looking to kick your wheel wells out, look into some ptex sheets. Same base material that line snowboards etc. you can buy it in square meters and cut it to the shape you need. Much cheaper than new fender flares and they're flexible when you rub against something on the trails.