Awesome! Congratulations on your departure, this is really exciting.
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.
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…
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY – SNOW STORM APPROACHING EASTERN SIERRAS AT 730PM – 8 INCHES OF SNOW AND 75 MPH WINDS EXPECTED AT 8000FT.
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.
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.
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.
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
Not a bad sight to wake up too.
Headed up the backroad into Saline Valley, Death Valley National Park
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.
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…
For better pics of the Sierras and Death Valley, check out some of our older trips here.
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?
Nice job on building up those Karma points!
I'm SO looking forward to reading this thread, subscribed for sure! I'm planning the same trip with the same truck, only I'm headed North from Idaho!
Keep up with the pictures please!
1987 4Runner. Race spec 22RE. 31's. Built to camp, wheel, hunt, fish, and explore.
1978 Toyota Chinook. 20R, 4spd. Built to not go anywhere fast, and to have fun when I get there.
Alrighty, found a dealer in St. George, Utah that ordered me the t-stat going to check everything out here today, if we look good I am planning to drive the Tuweep trail down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, then head back to St. George to pick up the part tomorrow.
Dual-stage T-stat fixed the overheating issue right up, Sorry to the St. George NAPA for spilling 1/2 gallon of coolant on your lot! Took 90-miles of backroads to Toroweap overlook on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, camped there last night and woke up to epic views of the canyon. Just got to Zion N.P. its dark but the moon is full and illuminating giant canyon walls all around us, cant wait till sunrise!