Home on the Highway - San Francisco to Ushuaia in an 87 4Runner.


Road Warrior
Howdy folks! Figured it was about time to get this thread going. After saving and planning this trip for the past 3 years, Lauren and I are set to leave TODAY for the first leg of our Pan-American journey. :wings:

We are leaving from San Francisco to travel back to our home-state of Florida to say adios to our family and friends, from there we will trek back to Texas and cross the border into Mexico. DESTINATION: USHUAIA, ARGENTINA :costumed-smiley-007

We have no set plans, No real set destination other than getting to the bottom. Our timeline for the trip is at least 1 year. We are planning to extend the trip by hooking up with volunteer organizations, couchsurfing, and house-sitting when possible. We have modified my 87 4Runner into a quasi-camper with most of the luxuries of home. ie: Bed, Stove, Shower, 110v etc.

The truck is fitted to tackle some serious off-roading, we look forward to exploring tons of backroads and trails all up and down Central/South America. Any suggestions on places to go, people to see, beers to drink will be appreciated!

I am still waiting to pick up our truck from the 4x4 shop today where they are mounting a rear-swingout for 2 jerry cans, Our lease is up and my last day of work was yesterday so we are OUTTA HERE as soon as we get the truck.

We are going to take about 2 weeks or so to drive from Northern California to Florida. Lauren has never seen much of Utah, Nevada, Colorado so I believe we will be journeying that way. We plan to just look at the atlas and pick out national/state parks/monuments/forests to camp at along the way. Again we are open to ANYTHING so throw up your suggestions.


Here is our blog with more information, feel free to subscribe and follow us on the facebook


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I am looking forward to following along. I think your plan is a good plan. The places I have enjoyed the most have been recommended by locals or other people and not chosen out of a guidebook.

Recommended books for Overlanding

Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide
by Tom Sheppard
From $125.48
Lone Rider
by speth Beard
From $27.64
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
by Laurence Gonzales
From $9.99


Good luck on your trip! Safe travels! Look forward to your updates!

Is there a thread on here as far as prep for the trip, vehicle build etc?


Expedition Leader
defrag4, Thanks for your detailed vehicle prep writup. Now that you're on the road, I hope you'll remind us to check your blog periodically so we can follow your adventures.


¡Buen Viaje!

If you do Baja don't miss Playa Tecalote outside of La Paz. It was described to us as a "real life Corona commercial" and didn't disappoint.

It's free boondocking and described in the Church's camping guide


Looking forward to the awesome write-ups.

I've got two suggestions for things to see: me and me catching a redfish in Mosquito Lagoon.

I'll see if I can find another chauffeur for you...

Safe travels bud.


Road Warrior
November 1st came and went, we were antsy to get going but the world had other plans. Luckily we only ended up two days behind “schedule”, which I am now declaring as a dirty word. Schedules are for people who have someplace to be.

Darren and Marc at Any7 got the truck all finished up, they did a great job putting our ideas for the truck into action. We picked it up and headed home to cram all worldly possessions into the back.

Thanks guys!

Luckily this process only took about 30 minutes. Impressive! We bid our landlords and our cabin farewell and headed out the door. It was too late to actually make it anywhere and the truck was too full of crap to camp in the back. Darren let us crash on his couch for the night, the first of many couch surfing experience to come I am sure.

Re-arranged the back of the truck in the morning and hit the road. Our destination for the night was the Sierra mountains.

Excitedly we headed off into the rolling foothills of the Sierras.

The clouds looming overhead did not look very inviting, and as we approached the mountain range we saw signs stating the most of the mountain passes were closed. I thought this was odd since I was just up here last weekend and there wasn't any snow on the ground. Cranked up the weather report on the radio…


Perfect, so pretty much exactly where we were heading? Looks like our “schedule” is about to change again. A quick look at the map and we decide we are going to go up and over the Sierra range and camp at a ghost town called Bodie on the eastern-side foothills. The storm was not scheduled to hit until 730, was only 430 at the time. We were about 2 hours from the other side. No problemo. We press on determined to beat the storm.

Not much time for pictures this visit to the Sierras.

Approaching 8000FT

Making good time, should make it easily before the storm hits. …until

What the hell!? Construction delays on the Carson pass! A bunch of bozos trying to build a road as the storm approaches, A long line of trucks idling waiting for the road to clear. The white flakes starting to fall and winds picking up!

Eventually we make it over and haul *** down to Bodie as the storm picks up gusto. We find a side-road up in the hills and setup camp for the night as the storm set in. It’s going to be a cold one…

DAMN! 11F at 830AM, Had to have got down to 5F or so overnight

We awake to all the windows completely iced over, rear window and side windows frozen up, only way out of the truck is to move all the crap piled in the front back onto our bed and then climb out the front seats.

Iced over

She still started on first crank!

Froze our *** off trying to repack the truck in 11F weather, headed into town to grab a coffee then headed south. We wanted to check out the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Home to the oldest living things in the world.

Weather was still crappy but we knew if we waited any longer they would shut the road down (We have tried 3 times to get up here, every time it has been closed due to inclement weather/snowed out roads)

Road to nowhere?

The ancient bristlecone pines are only found in the highest elevations of the Inyo forest, from 8000-12000ft these beasts have lived for over 4000 years. Older than the next oldest living thing by over 1000 years! I had to see them!

Conditions worsening, 4Runner can take it. My buddy Jimbo gave me my first 4x4 lessons driving in a damn Sierra blizzard, I think I can handle a little powdering.

Made it!

Quick poses! too cold to hang around

Back to the truck and crank the damn heater up!

Drove back out of the park and camped on another backroad near the back entrance to Death Valley


Road Warrior
Not a bad sight to wake up too.

Headed up the backroad into Saline Valley, Death Valley National Park

blech, cooties!

DV has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the U.S, the weather/light was crap most of the day so I couldn't get very good pics.

Abandoned homestead

Stopped for some lunch, you can somewhat see our current “organization” system. Still a work in progress.

Saline Valley Rd.

Part of the old trolley system that carted salt from the Saline valley up and over the mountains to Bishop, CA. quite a feat in its day.

Driving down Saline Valleys dirt roads was a blast. The new OME suspension ate it up! I could haul *** now over every type of rock, pothole, dip, whatever. The suspension ate it up and asked for more. I am really happy with it, Thanks again to Any7 Offroad for putting it all together for us.

Riding down the road we came across a Toyota FJ60 broken down on the side of the road. Not being one to leave a fellow Toyota behind we pulled over to see what was up.

Hmmm… 20 year old spare didn't cut the mustard in Death Valley?

Turns out these guys were from LA and were out here cruising for the weekend headed to the Hot springs. They caught a flat the day before and the spare blew out them just a mile down the road. They had been stuck there for about 24 hours now.

At least they had a nice view…

10 minutes with the plug kit and the punctured tire was repaired, took about another 3 hours wrestling with the jack and the stock sagged out springs to get the blown out spare off. Luckily they had beer, which is about all it takes to keep me around for 3 hours.

Stock spare off, not enough clearance to mount the fixed tire though.

Gotta air it down! Ladies… We need your butts.

With the tire aired down we were able to clear the lugs, get it bolted on and air it back up. Back on the road!

We set our separate ways and setup camp somewhere down in the valley.

Woke up in the morning, pack the truck up and headed out. Destination Las Vegas.

Joshua Trees in DV.

Lauren says this is where Dr. Seuss came to write his books, the truffala tree looks oddly similar to the Joshua Tree

Off out the valley, into Nevada.

Reason #1 why Nevada rocks! Was paying ~$4/gal in CA.

We are now lying in bed in a hotel in Las Vegas, couldn't pass up the cheap deal and a hot shower! The adventure continues…

Recommended books for Overlanding


Road Warrior
I am having some issues with the truck though, looks like when the motor got rebuilt they put a O'Reillys thermostat in there instead of the dual-spring OEM one so I am getting tempature overshoot constantly, espciailly in this cold weather, the block cools down instantly and the thermostat slams shut until the truck is practically overheating, then it drops back down to normal temp, i gotta keep the RPMs up the keep the temp up to prevent the thermo from slamming. Calling the Las Vegas Toyota dealer in the AM, hopefully the have the thermo in stock, if not Ill call ahead to my next town and have them order it for me.

Also looks like I am seeping oil from the oil pan gasket and possibly someplace else, I thought I saw some red ATF fluid under the truck at one gas station but have not seen it since.

Going to give everything a scrubdown tomorrow and evaluate, anyone know know a spot in Las Vegas that I could get some work done if need be?