I loaded up an old Jeep and some friends and we drove a lot. This is a long one, but there are lots of pictures.
Stared at this for 5 weeks and 10k miles. Actually, I think it was more. Super cool early 2000s reverse glow gauges, yo. 4.56 gears and 33s gives you a lot of tach, but a Jeep 4.0 couldn't care less.
This post will be a recap, with a mixture of picture from an iPhone (it was just the "iPhone" then.. lol) and my trusty old Rebel XT. Crazy how the juxtaposition from DSLR to camera phone has shrunk to the point where most of the time you can't tell anymore. I'm pretty sure I started writing this trip up on OG Oppo years ago, but never finished.
The thing that strikes me the most about this trip, is this was done before it was considered "normal" to load up an old truck and just drive it across the country. When posting to forums about this trip, planning locations and camp spots people were genuinely concerned about us, and most were convinced two old heavily modified XJs wouldn't be able to do the road miles and the wheeling. Aside from a couple close friends, everyone else thought we were completely insane.
On the way from NY to where all the cool stuff is, it's mostly this. I'd guess this is somewhere in Texas, after making it to Nashville for dinner and beers for a couple hours and then driving straight through the night. I remember falling asleep leaning on the door to a McDonalds in Oklahoma waiting for them to open for breakfast. Ah, to be 22 again.
Soon though, we were able to get our kicks
We finally got our taste of the southwest shortly after.
Great Sand Dunes NP
And miles and miles of dirt, which was found through a mix of dumb luck and planning with paper maps.
After I took this a nice BP agent asked me to stop
After my buddy's truck melting the shifter fork bushings in his transfer case causing an extra day's delay, we made it.
Spent a couple nights in Seal Beach at a friend's aunt's house. We were able to check out Huntington, LB, Venice and a little bit of LA. It was a nice "vacation" in the middle of our vacation.
I made sure to get some waves in, brah.
From there we bounced out to Vegas (because, thats what you do, right?)
There aren't many pics from that, but we did rent a boat and hang on Lake Meade for a day. It's too bad that place is drying up, I remember commenting on the water level when we were there.
Then we started the wheeling portion of our trip. Now this is Podraci..... overlanding.
Before the 'gram, when most of the posts on ExPo were detailed trip reports and not "which spec Tacoma should I buy?"
Before reservations at national parks and you could just roll up to an empty site on a National Forest road all by yourself.
The Grandest of Canyons. Camped at Point Sublime, which is an Instagram hotspot now apparently. We only saw two other trucks the whole time we were there.
Then we drove through Monument Valley (in the dark, because we're idiots) and onto Moab for 2 or 3 days.
Fins N Things
Lunch at the end of the rim
We met some guys in TJ Rubicons and ran Hells Revenge with them
Top of The World
Baby Lion's Back
We also went to Dead Horse and ate lunch there one day. To head out, we took off to Grand Junction via some BLM road. Hot-dogging it, as they say. I melted my Bilstein 5150s and ripped a bar pin off a rear shock, but luckily had spares and got it back together. This was all before everyone was running King 2.5s on their Jeeps at the mall.
We got lost here for a little bit, but ended up making our way across the Dolores River and into Colorado (and civilization) before dark. I think we got twofers at Applebees.
Checked out Glenwood Springs (I think there was a Gondola ride there?) and Aspen (where the beer flows like wine), and then we bounced around the San Juans for a couple days, we did Engineer, Ophir, Imogene, and some other trails. Black Bear was closed, so we sadly couldn't run it. One of the guys who didn't bring his Jeep rented a JK so he could get some wheeling in, too.
From there we hung out for a bit in Boulder, then met up with some new internet friends in Colorado Springs. They showed us the Independence Trail system which promptly fucked our shit right up.
Two lockers, winch... yea I have those. Yup.
And that was that. The doors wouldn't go back on my Jeep after that, so we had to kick them shut and they stayed that way. After checking it out a bit more, it had cracks in the unibody structure at the a-pillars, the d-pillars were both significantly dimpled, and there were cracks in the floor under the rear seat area. By the time I got home, I had cracks from there to the dash as the transfer case and transmission were eating there way through the floor every time I went over a bump or dip in the road as the unibody structure slowly collapsed onto itself.
Got it home, parted it out. Cut my hair, got a real job (literally).
I miss being able to do this stuff, and I kept trying to find the time to do another cross country drive but life and work always got in the way. My wife and I finally started planning to do one before we had a kid, and decided that even if she was pregnant we'd go before she wasn't able to be in the car for long stretches and decided on Summer 2020. Well, that one didn't happen. We would definitely had to have done 70/30 hotel/camping but with her being pregnant and COVID being such an unknown we decided not to.
Now with an 18 month old (and another on the way) I know I won't be doing any long road trips anytime soon, but as soon as my son gets a little older we'll be diving right in.
It'll be different now, especially with social media making so many changes and getting more people outdoors; and of course climate change and the endless drought in the west. Hopefully I can get the LR4 out for at least one good trip before gasoline is banned completely or $15/gallon.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.