07BlackSpecV's Junior Overland 2008 Nissan Xterra


Whelp, about 2 weeks out from our 10 day trip to Colorado and back. Not going to get everything done to the Xterra I wanted to get done but that'll be okay. Would like to get a set of Wildpeak AT3w's because when I bought the spare in the same size as my AT2's...the AT3 is about a half inch larger in diameter.

Besides that, I finally destroyed the lower bushings in my TJM's, while I've been wanting to upgrade my suspension I don't have the funding to do it right before this big trip so I got replacement bushings pushed in this week.

Started mapping the trip out on HEMA maps on our never used Ipad. Still need an otterbox for the ipad and a Ram mount for the truck.

Bought a Cobra 75, ready to get my Cobra 19 at of my head space on the ceiling and I saw Expedition Overland using a Night Ize Steelie with their radio hand set, that looks like the perfect setup for me.

Nabbed a ARB deflater, winch damper, and tire puncture kit as well.

Getting very close, still need to plan wardrobe for climate by day and also meals, will also need to place and order for a couple Raingler nets to keep our camping gear tied down and in place.


Worked on changing my comms and adding some more navigation stuff to the Xterra. The Cobra 19 on a ceiling mount worked fine for the last 4 years but I was ready to get that head space back. Got a Cobra 75 and am trying out the Night Ize Steelie mount. The radio is a little heavy and sits pointing a little more downward but I can't say that surprises me.

I really like my RAM x grip I use for a cell phone and picked up a RAM X grip for our IPad with a RAM seat base mount.

In about a week's time we will see how this stuff works out.


No time right now because I just sat down after the 26 hour drive home but will be working on a full trip report.

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Well it's hard to believe but our week long trip in Colorado has already come and gone. This is the longest camping trip my wife and I have undertaken by far so we didn't get too adventurous with our camping spots. We booked, I know I know, in established camp grounds throughout the state.

-Arrive in Colorado
-Swing through Garden of the Gods for the view and a short break.
-Arrive at camp ground at San Luiz State Park

-Spend the day at Great Sand Dunes State Park

Tuesday (Green):
-Head to Salida
-Check out Buena Vista
-Head back to Salida to make camp at Rincon along the Arkansas River

Wednesday (Blue):
-Head to Steamboat Springs
-Get distracted in the Arapaho National Forest
-Make camp at Steamboat State Park

Thursday (Purple/Black):
-Visit Fruita
-Make camp at Lake Fork Campground

Friday (Orange):
-Visit Ouray
-Drive Last Dollar Road into Telluride
-Make camp at Matterhorn campground as we prepare for my friend's wedding in Mountain Village and the end of our trip

We were very happy to be out of the truck and seemingly closer to a stopping point.

When I figured out how close we would be to Garden of the Gods we had to stop by and have a look.

Finally at our campsite and what an amazing view.


We woke Monday with a great view of the sand dunes and the surrounding desert after a night with higher gusts of wind beating our tent.

I set about making a nice, traditional camp breakfast.

Then we packed up and headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was peak mosquito season but they didn't seem overly interested in us. The main thing we wanted to accomplish was to drive the primitive road. We aired down and hit the trail.

This drive was a great introduction to Colorado for a flat lander like me. Being between the mountains was awe inspiring.

Once we were done spending some time at the dunes we headed up to check out Zapata Falls.

Upon returning to camp we noticed it looked like rain was about to hit so we put on some rain gear and waited for it to pass. The fat drops of water were neat to watch as they hit the dust and sand of the desert, then it turned to hail which we found strange but didn't think much of, until I poked my head out and spotted a rather small tornado touching down not far from our camp ground. So we loaded up in the Xterra and somewhat frantically looked for shelter and settled on parking near a brick pit toilet to jump in if need be. But, as far as I know if hung out and then disappeared with no illeffect.

In the wake of the storm.

We spent the night relaxing by the fire in preparation for moving camp the next morning. Our first full 24 hours in Colorado may have been the most eventful of the trip.


Tuesday we loaded up and headed north up the road to Salida.

Really it was a somewhat slower day, we filled out travel mugs and hung out in the historic district of Salida along the Arkansas River. Watched some rafters come through and enjoyed the shade of some trees. After a while we decided to head north and check out Buena Vista. After bumming around there for a little while we headed back down to Salida and along the river to our campsite at Rincon. We had a secluded spot from other campers but our proximity to the highway took a little magic out of the experience but our house isn't in the quietest part of town and we slept great.

Since it was Tuesday we had to have tacos.

We managed to close out Tuesday wading into the river and listening to some Grateful Dead at the campsite

We really did have a good view.


Wednesday: once again we packed up and headed about 6 hours north to the Steamboat Springs area.

First we stopped off in Leadville since it was on the way, we initially meant to swing by a brewery but we hit the road too early for that. While walking down the main drag we saw a sign for a company called Malenzana. Walked in and found a great company making outdoor clothing. The staff worked away at their sowing stations right behind the sales counter. It was a great stop and the wife and I walked out with a new Micro Grid fleece hoodies which we wore when it got chilly the remainder of the trip.

On the way I got sidetracked by one of the countless signs in Colorado that pointed down a dusty road in a National Forest so off we went.

Blasting around the roads for a hour or so, over cattle guards and dodging free range cattle. We were given great views of the surrounding area.

Getting back to the main road I had to check out how much dust had gathered on the truck, it looked like the Xterra was finally starting to do some work.

We swung into Steamboat Springs quickly for a bite to eat and then pushed north to set up camp and cook dinner at Steamboat State Park.

This was probably my favorite campsite of the trip, we were in the middle of a wild flower field and constantly had humming birds buzzing nearby, one even trapping itself inside of the truck. We even managed to grab a quick shower at this camp ground which after a few days felt very refreshing.


Recommended books for Overlanding


On Thursday we turned the Xterra south again, we had a long drive ahead just to get to our campsite at Lake Fork near Gunnison but along the way we wanted to check out what was going on in Fruita. This really only took about an extra hour in order for us to check another location off our list.

This was really a slower day for the trip which mainly consisted of driving down the highway from point A to B to C. Arriving in Fruita we found a great pizza parlor called the Hot Tomato Cafe for lunch and then chilled in the town square while we ate.

Now arriving at our camp we came to the realization at how geared toward RV camping this site was. It was basically a parking lot with a small gravel pad for a picnic table and campfire ring, and I mean small. We had just barely enough room to pitch the tent. We relaxed and were grateful to stretch our legs after 2 longer days on the road.

Cooked up a smoked sausage, red potatoes, and orange bell pepper for what may have been the BEST camp dinner we had of our trip.

We settled in for the night to watch the stars come out and enjoy a cigar before bed. We were nearing the end of our trip.
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Friday we headed out from Lake Fork Campground and headed down to check out Ouray. Now originally I had wanted to drive Imogene Pass for our push into our final destination but before we left the internet was reporting the pass as closed until July 2nd. We happened upon a suitable replacement with Last Dollar Road. What a great experience and really one that has me longing for a return visit to the San Juan Mountains.

It was spectacular to say the least.

We bummed around Telluride and made contact with our friends whose wedding was taking place in a couple days up in Mountain Village. Then we headed further south to Matterhorn Campground for our final night of camping on the trip.



So, things that I learned from this trip...

I have to do more to get used to elevation faster. We wanted to do hiking, a lot of it, and we did none of it because we had issues fully acclimating most of our trip as each campsite seemed to be about 1000 feet higher than the previous night's site.

Go slightly later in the season so that all the passes are open.

Bring less meat, plan meals more effectively. While our Yeti Tundra 65 was largely empty upon return to Ohio we had 2 lbs of hamburger that went to waste. The dry pantry, which consists of a Pelican 1560 was still pretty full too.

The suspension needs beefed up. The TJMs and AALs worked great for a budget lift and unloaded offroading and general curb appeal. When loaded down and wheeling it leaves a lot to be desired. While squatting was minimal the rear end of the truck took a beating throughout the trip and I'm surprised I have any shocks left at all. Radflos and Alcans are in the near future.

Be realistic about what clothes you are going to wear. We had two 70 liter Eddie Bauer First Ascent duffels for our clothes/gear and we feel like we really only needed about 2/3rds of what my wife and I packed. It'll save on weight, especially when transferring between the tent and the rig.

After 6 nights on a 2.5" REI pad it's tough to be comfortable in a bed right away.

Most importantly we need to get back to Colorado, we saw a lot of the state but both of us know we have a lot of unfinished business.

We need to travel this way more often, much more often.

Next...Overland EXPO East?


I agree about the clothing. I have started cutting way back on that, and pack more merino wool items so they can be worn more often.

Trip looked great.


Well, this year is almost rounded out. We made the trek down to North Carolina a couple weeks ago for our first Overland Expo East. We got to take a lot of classes, take the Xterra offroad with an instructor, and pick up a lot of new goodies. Taking a slow Sunday morning to check out the Biltmore Mansion was pretty awesome too!

We made some new friends at the event including meeting up with Jack Stilts from here as well as skavynr designs from Instagram. Needless to say I've joined the Band of RejX.

Some of the goodies I scored for the Xterra were a set of Maxtrax and a Blue Ridge Overland Gear to keep them in.

An ARB Compressor

And an ARB 2 meter Awning, plus my Gobi Awning Brackets finally came in.

Since I had spent too much money with ARB I got their work gloves and a 600 lumin work light for free.

Only other change made right before Expo was to get a HiLift and mounts for the front bumper...I think the 48" jack is a little short though and will probably move up to the 60".

Immediately following Expo I loaded up some gear and my Dad and turned the Xterra far north to duck hunt and grouse hunt in the UP of Michigan for a day.

It has been an eventful summer for the Xterra, from the UP of Michigan to Asheville North Carolina and all the way out to Colorado. One more trip to the UP next weekend and it'll be time to slow down and start doing some rebuilding for next year's adventures.