The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure

ljrunner05

Adventurer
The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure

Part 1: RoadTrippin'

Well, we are back and I now have an excuse to put a down payment on a GFC Camper! But more on that later.

I love camping and long road trips, but I don't enjoy doing them solo. My wife has always been hesitant to join me on some of the longer trips. This year I convinced her to take off two weeks and go on a crazy 4400 mile adventure from Tennessee to Nevada then back across Utah and home. Aside from wanting to embark on an epic adventure, I had a side motivation. I want a GFC Camper, but I can't justify the money if it's just me camping. I can happily stay in my Tepui or Hammock, but if the wife enjoyed this long distance trip I could justify getting a GFC for us to use.

I've been prepping for this trip for the last few months, trying to make sure everything was perfect to give her the best chance of enjoying this trip. New suspension, new tires, new rock sliders, a waterport... you get the idea. The plan had been to drive out to Las Vegas with two Tacomas. Pick up the second driver of my buddy's Tacoma at the airport in Vegas, then leave out for a 700+ mile off road adventure in Utah. About a month before we were supposed to leave, the second Tacoma had to backout. Not their fault, life happens. This meant we were running this trip with only one rig. I decided to purchase a Garmin Inreach and get my HAM radio licence as precautions and continue with the trip. I pulled the rear seats of the truck, packed up, and got everything squared away at the house.

On Saturday the 13th of October we left Chattanooga Tennessee for what would be an incredible adventure. The first stop, 25 hours from home, would be the Grand Canyon. We made reservations at the Mather Campground inside the park just to make sure we had a place to stay.

After driving through the night we made a quick stop by Cadillac Ranch off of I-40. The weather had been grey and a little windy all day. As soon as the wife and I walked out to the Cadillacs the sky opened up and pelted us with tiny pellets of ice. With the wind howling and the ice pellets stinging we ran laughing back to the truck after spending no more than 30 seconds at the "display". I looked at my wife, shivering and smiling, and said "Well, that was an adventure". Instead of being upset she was laughing. Yep, this was going to be a good trip!

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With Cadillac Ranch fading into the rearview mirror we set our sites on a hot shower in Albuquerque New Mexico.

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We didn't stay long in Albuquerque, just long enough for a good nights sleep in a hotel, a quick breakfast and the obligatory Starbucks stop.

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Once we had some overpriced / over-sugared coffee in hand we set our sites on the Grand Canyon. We knew we wouldn't have long to spend there due to already having tickets to see a show in Las Vegas the next evening, but we were too close not to stop by.

The drive through New Mexico and Arizona, even on the interstate, is gorgeous. It's so different from what I am used to that I found myself glued to the window most of the trip. Luckily my wife enjoy's driving so we switched back and forth every few gas stops.

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As always the crush of humanity and selfie sticks detracts from the magnificent views on the south rim. Next time we'll take the time to visit the North Rim where I hear it's a little less crowded.

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...I hate the 10 attachment rule...
 

ljrunner05

Adventurer
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Our campsite at Mather Campground was actually quite nice for a campground. We had plenty of room and didn't feel packed in like sardines.

When I woke up, toasty warm thanks to our little buddy heater, it was starting to flurry a bit. I took some pictures around our campsite and crawled back into bed.

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About 30 minutes later my wife went on the hunt for a bathroom. When she unzipped the annex she informed me that it was doing a little more than flurrying...

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In case anyone is wondering, it's really difficult to fold up a tent in the snow with no gloves and a stiff RTT cover. I was pretty sure my fingers were going to fall off by the time I got it all zipped up. Now, that's partly my fault. I keep a 3 inch foam mattress on top of the standard mattress and my wife had left our sleeping bags inside the tent as well. It was pretty stuffed.

On our way out of the park we encountered this big fella! He was really close to the edge of the road and absolutely refused to look at me.

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Our next stop was Las Vegas. Neither my wife nor I had been to Vegas, but we were excited to spend our anniversary walking around in the 70 degree weather and checking out Cirque Du soleil "O" and the Blue Man Group. It didn't take long in Vegas for us to realize that it's not really our speed. By Friday morning we were ready to head for the mountains and start our 700+ mile off road trip across Utah. Little did we know that before the trip was over we would have to use our traction mats twice, get stuck in wet clay, and back down a narrow snow covered track at 10,000 feet. It was the adventure of a lifetime.

Part 1: RoadTrippin'
Part 2: Utah Bound
Part 3: Sand Dune Fun
Part 4: A Closed Road

Stay Tuned for more!
 
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ljrunner05

Adventurer
The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure

Part 2: Utah Bound

Las Vegas was a pretty cool place to visit, but after two days the wife and I were ready to hit the trail. We were feeling a little more confident in the truck after dropping it off at Rogue Offroad for a couple days. They retorqued the suspension bolts, did an oil change and completed the cab mount chop I hadn't had time to finish before leaving for our trip.

Friday morning we packed up, jumped on I-15 and rolled up to Hurricane Utah. Just before getting there we filled up on gas for the truck and our 10 gallons worth of extra gas cans. Nearly $100 later we were ready to traverse southern Utah.

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Once turning off the blacktop onto Mojave Desert Joshua Tree Road we were pleased to see the day was starting off easy. Wide gravel roads with gorgeous mountain views. It didn't take long for us to stop and air down.

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As would be a theme on this trip, the wife started driving first. We've learned that she get's car sick a lot less when she's driving. Plus I get to take more pictures and videos! Or, maybe she just likes driving the truck...


The trail follows a set of high power lines through the hills. As far as I can remember we never put the truck in 4wd. It's all pretty easy at this point.

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...continue on next post...
 

ljrunner05

Adventurer
After a bit of driving up and down through the mountains we start to gain some elevation. Almost without warning we cross the top of the mountains and the views opened up. It's stunning! I believe it was at this point that my wife looked over and thanked me for convincing her to take the two weeks off.

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Soon we worked our way back down into the valley and crossed through the town of Bloomington Utah. It was a gorgeous little town with nice houses and a country club. I have no idea what people do for work in Bloomington because we mostly saw houses, but either way we really liked it! We stopped to air up before traveling too far into Bloomington, then aired back down when we reached Warner Valley Road.

For the most part Warner Valley Road was doable in 2wd. There were a few dry creek beds that had the wife a little nervous along with a few small washouts.

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Just after crossing back into the edge of Arizona and as the sun was starting to set we came to our first real challenge; Honeymoon Trail.

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....Next Post....
 

ljrunner05

Adventurer
Looking at the GPS and even on google maps the trail looks extremely simple. Just a few switchbacks and a little elevation climb. Wrong.

The trail starts off with an immediate steep climb on a narrow trail with a few very tight switchbacks. My wife was starting to feel a little nervous with the change in pace on the trail so we kicked it into 4Lo just to make it a little easier for her. She handled it really well right up until we saw 3 side by side (UTVs) taking a bypass around a steep / rocky section. They had at least one person hanging off the side of each UTV to keep it from rolling.

Not wanting to backtrack so early in the trip I hopped out to talk to the UTVs. After looking at the bypass they were using I decided it was actually worse than the trail. Though narrow, off camber, and very rocky the trail would be doable in the Tacoma. As the last UTV made it to the top of the hill, I had Sarah pull the truck forward. I slowly started guiding her over the rocks and making sure she wouldn't slide off the road. About halfway through the worst of it, a few more UTV's came down the trail. I helped them around the bypass because there wasn't enough room on the trail to pass. Once clear we finished getting up the worst parts and onto the more level road at the top of the hill. I wish I had gotten more pictures, but I was more worried about spotting Sarah through.

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After the rocks we were pretty much clear of the difficult sections of trail and back to the gravel. With the sun setting behind us we decided to look for a camping spot.

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Less than 20 minutes later we were settling into the first of many great campsites.

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...One More...
 

ljrunner05

Adventurer
With our bellies full from burritos, our little buddy heater glowing and the moon lighting up the night we crawled into bed for a great night's sleep.

The next morning was crisp and clear and signaled another gorgeous day in Utah.

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By the end of the day, we'll have had our second big challenge. And this one will take a lot longer to figure out...

Part 1: RoadTrippin'
Part 2: Utah Bound
Part 3: Sand Dune Fun
Part 4: A Closed Road

Stay Tuned for more!
 
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DetroitDarin

Itching. And Scratching
Man...I am sitting here in my robin-egg-blue office on a rainy german tuesday and I think I should be out wheelin' and adventuring. Thanks for this thread. It's good stuff. Getting a little eager to get back stateside!
 

ljrunner05

Adventurer
Man...I am sitting here in my robin-egg-blue office on a rainy german tuesday and I think I should be out wheelin' and adventuring. Thanks for this thread. It's good stuff. Getting a little eager to get back stateside!
I'm struggling today as well! It's hard going back after being gone for two weeks! lol
 

ljrunner05

Adventurer
The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure
Part 3: Sand Dune Fun

After a great night's sleep under the stars we got up, made some pancakes and packed the tent up. It's much easier to pack when it's not snowing. The drive off the plateau was uneventful. We drove a few miles, aired back up before hitting the blacktop and made our way to our first fuel stop in Colorado City Arizona. We briefly passed back into Arizona before heading north again.

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The real fun started when we turned off of Coral Pink Sand Dunes Rd and onto Elephant Cove Rd. We aired back down and the wife got her first real test in loose sand.

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The drive was gorgeous! Full of small whoops, banking corners and steep descents. We scrapped the bumper a few times, but nothing too unsettling.

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...Next Post...
 
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