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Old 06-25-2018, 11:06 PM   #1
Zoomad75
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2018 Desert Trip

Weíve made another lap around the sun and once again itís time for our annual run to the desert. I could rename it Larryís Insane Truck Torture Test Trip, as this one was HOT. The main target for this yearís fun was the Mojave Road with plans to head north into Death Valley after. The choice was made by previous discussions 6 months earlier via multiple emails to all involved. Much like last year I had no preference as Iím still new to this exploring but more than willing to follow the group anywhere, even without A/C. Iíll come to second-guess my sanity on that last statement during this trip though.


Most that came this year had been on previous trips except for a couple of new faces to the group.


Larry and his Mother in law Lynn once again leading the charge with the 8.1 powered K10/Pheonix camper. No major changes other than upkeep from the last trip on Larryís ride. Fresh p/s pump and 140amp alternator got thrown in with regular maintenance just weeks before we left. Plans of adding an ARB up front didnít come through as something about the need for a case spreader thwarted the removal of the stock open carrier on the D60. It really wasnít needed this time around as this trip would be less crawling and more bombing around in remote areas, so he didnít kill himself to get the ARB in beforehand.



Bill and Jen were back again this time with a new rig. Gone was the Cummins Dodge and in its place is a new Toyota Tacoma with a James Baroud Roof top tent. Billís prep consisted of maintenance and loading the gear under the tent. Well he and I did manage to wedge his 12v fridge behind the front seats and still have room for his wheelchair inside. We added a direct power plug to the battery and popped in an actual CB to eliminate his handheld CB that we couldnít hear him on.



Ty got the long distance award this year as he drove from home in San Diego to Pueblo CO for a family graduation and caught up with us on the first day on the trail. Only major change to his Cummins Dodge was a killer new personalized license plate ď4x4 INNĒ on the vintage yellow over black CA plates.



Don and his Ram Power Wagon were back at it with a yearís worth of new upgrades. Lights, rack, sliders, awning, solar you name it he had it. Such a cool rig that seems to get better every year. This year he had a passenger that worked with Larry and I at Workhorse many moons ago. Heís at Dana/Spicer now and no he wonít sell any of us a D60 for cheap, I already asked. Tomís a flatlander born and raised in Michigan and not really used to the desert climate. Boy was he in for a shock to his senses considering he was at the airport in Detroit bundled up in a hoodie because it was cold and rainy when he was leaving.


Richard has been part of the desert crew on previous trips with his Dodge Ĺ ton and made the return this year in his ĺ ton Silverado long bed. With a shell and gear stacked away inside he was ready to go from Southern CA as well. He proved long beds could wheel too on this run. His last adventure was also with the same target areas, but missed the Mojave part last time so he wanted to complete the pair he missed last time.



Hugo and his 4-banger Toyota Tacoma were new to the group, but known to Larry. He works with Larry at IC Bus and for a while I thought Larry might have been wondering why he made the invite. Hugo lives for busting balls as most guys in sales do and sure had his target on Larry honed in tight. It was pretty funny to see somebody else take shots at him. But it was all in good fun and kept the mood light and the crew laughing.


Last but not least is yours truly. Ian rode along again this year as efforts to get his 8.1 powered M1009 CUCV ready for the run ran out of time. This time around my K5 was mechanically ready with only revisions needed to the right exhaust routing and a change of the fuel pump to thwart the hot fuel related stalling we had last year. Levels of comfort went up slightly with the addition of the FWC Blazer pop-up camper. No more sleeping on the ground for this dude. Ian had bought an enormous Snomaster 12v fridge for our food to be nice and cold too. With Billís Trasharoo strapped down to the spare tire out back we were in full-blown Overland mode this time around.

Next up, the run to Kingman AZ.
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Old 06-25-2018, 11:15 PM   #2
Zoomad75
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

Saturday June 2nd was the planned departure date for the crew in Pueblo at 6:00 am. I stopped the night before at Ianís place to load the fridge and other gear so all I had to do in the morning was pick him up. As my luck had it, I had been running behind since I left work that Friday. The delay had me up late packing and getting a grand total of 4 hours of sleep and still managed to get Ian and I to the meet up point late. Thankfully Ian fixed my sin of lateness with killer green chili breakfast burritos for all.


Bellies and fuel tanks full we hit the interstate to take a turn and travel US hwy 160 most of the way out. CBís were dialed into channel 16 (because 4x4, get it?) and we had clear communication between the three rigs. All was going well until my phone rang as we were coming down the west side of La Veta pass. It was my wife who called to inform me that I managed to leave my duffel bag sitting on the recliner in our living room. Huh? After a few expletives later she offered to bring it to us if we could meet somewhere. I thought about it and didnít want to be the one holding the crew up on our timeline. We had to make it to Kingman AZ for our hotel reservations. I told my wife I would just go to the Wally world in Kingman and replace what I forgot. She did send my parents this pic, which prompted another phone call where they could point and laugh at my stupidity too. Got to love my family.
The text my wife sent my parents:


Making decent time we had a bladder break in Alamosa and started our charge up the San Jaun mountain range and Wolf Creek Pass.
Larry pulling by me in 5th gear on Wolf Creek pass:

Oh and as one of you goons responded to a similar pic on IG asked if I had a Pterodactyl **** on my hood, no I've got a bird problem in my tree I need to handle with a BB gun. I meant to wash it, but ran out of time..

We had a stop for fuel on the other side of the pass and stopped again for lunch in Cortez.

In order to eliminate the possible need for stopping for fuel within the Indian Reservation, we topped off our tanks in Cortez also. The terrain changes quickly from mountains to wide-open desert leaving town and a new threat is realized.



Passing on the two-lane highway is downright dangerous. Just out of Cortez we cross the scene of an accident where three cars were involved and one was 30 yards off of the shoulder. Ian and I wondered how anybody could have a wreck with wide-open visibility and a road that is straight for miles. Bill pointed out itís the passing. People out on this road just donít care. Passing on double yellows, before hitting the tops of hills, where ever. If they want around you, they are going to pass. It felt like Mad Max. It was now we could feel the temps climbing. From the 50-60ís in the mountains we are now seeing 90ís and climbing. Larry and Billís rides having a/c had them riding in comfort. Ian and I however renamed my rig the sweat lodge in honor of the Indian land we were crossing. Still at 75mph we had pretty good airflow, it was just loud. Really loud, like me considering an intercom system so we could hear each other speak.






Our plans of not stopping on the reservation got squashed when Mr. Sidesaddle tanks didnít want to transfer fuel on the fly and others needed a bladder break. We stop in Tuba City at the sketchiest gas station Iíve seen since the movie Vacation where they fixed the Griswoldís wagon after jumping it. Except instead of a couple of redneckís substitute a group of panhandling Indians. Iíve met many a Native American in my life and had never met one that was the stereotypical ďdrunken IndianĒ before this day. But we found them on this day. No sooner do I swipe my card at the pump and put the nozzle in the filler neck does the first one find me. He says hello to me in Navajo and attempts to teach me how to say it. This guy was actually pretty polite and didnít seem drunk, but hit me up for money nonetheless. Then the next one sidled up behind me and started saying please in Navajo. I donít know a word in Navajo but he told me what it meant each time he said it, over and over. You never realize how long it takes to put fuel in until you got two guys pestering you for money in Navajo. Ian had hopped out of the K5 and went to Larryís rig and caught him getting harassed by one. This one was more lit than the one at my truck and was completely unfazed by his statement of ďok Budweiser Bob, itís time for you to go.Ē By now Bill is getting guys walking up to his truck. We load back up and pass on the idea of the bladder break here and make a move across the highway to a larger more modern travel plaza. Finally with our bladders empty and tanks full again we bug out and make the run for Flagstaff.



Upon arriving in Flagstaff we promptly hit I-40 and put the hammer down to get to Kingman before dark. Dodging construction, Semiís and an oncoming thunderstorm we make it to our target with time to spare. Some of us hit a local joint for some dinner and a beer and some take to the hotel and clean up from the road. After dinner I go shopping to replace the stuff I left at home. While at the store I find that Iím being beckoned to the parking lot at the hotel by our ringleader. I finish up and meet back up with Larry and Ian in the hotel lot where we relax and BS over some beers. It was about this time where Don and Tom rolled up in the Waggy. Don and Ian head up to their rooms while Larry, Tom and I catch up for a little while more. Tired from the road we break up the party and head to bed so we can be ready for departure at 7:30 the next morning.


I swear Don could double as a Tornado Chaser with the Waggy. More lights, CB and HAM antennae I thought I was going to see Helen Hunt hop out of the passenger seat. Then Tommy hopped out. BOO!


Next, Meeting up with the rest of the crew and hitting dirt on the Mojave.
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Old 06-25-2018, 11:49 PM   #3
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

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Old 06-26-2018, 11:02 PM   #4
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

Trail day 1:
We still have Richard and Hugo to meet up with in Bullhead City, so after breakfast we top off the tanks again and head out. After a little while we are coming down the grade into Bullhead with Laughlin across the river from us. Itís pretty cool to see these towns that have sprung up on the Colorado in the middle of the desert. The meeting spot is a Wal Mart in Bullhead, one more spot to add supplies before going way off the grid. We all get what we need and our crew is complete when Richard and Hugo find our rigs in the parking lot. (we are not hard to miss) Introductions are made and we take the obligatory clean truck pics that we always do prior to hitting the trail.

Crossing the Colorado:


Everybody gets lined up on the right cb channel and we cross the Colorado and Larry leads us down through some hay fields to find the start of the Mojave road at the banks of the river. We get our first taste dust. Fine, silty dust with the ability to completely obscure your view of the truck in front of you if you ride too close.


Photo op taken, trucks are loaded and we start off on the trail. The Mojave is notoriously tricky to navigate on purpose. There are little to no signs to mark the start of the trail from the road. The friends of the Mojave have set stacks of stones called Rock Cairns on the right side of the trail as you travel from east to west. Larry is following a GPS track created from the last visit. It showed that following the track from the previous visit had us bouncing off of the actual trail a couple of times. Had we not known about the cairns we wouldnít have known we were off track.


Still, itís absolutely astonishing to think of traveling across this inhospitable land in anything less than our well-equipped rides full of food, water and a few beers. We stop for another photo op where the trail crosses from Nevada to California. Even that sign is subtle.



We plod on as the temp rises while we cross a large valley. We can see the trail cut through the scrub brush like a laser through the night. Itís very easy to tell where the trail is now.

You can see the line leading off of Larry's truck off into the distance.


I mentioned it was hot didn't I? Yeah according to the truck it was friggin hot..


The next landmark is Ft. Piute. Itís the first watering hole on the trail that travelers would stop at. Due to threats of Indian attacks, the Army was sent to make the trail safe to travel. With a small amount of men to do this, they protected the watering holes. Control the water and one controls the road. While it was called a Fort, it certainly wasnít much as far as size. Time has taken its toll on the fort, but itís easy to imagine what it was back then.



Looking at the fort in this next photo, our campsite would end up being straight up that gorge, but no trail connects for vehicles to drive so we end up going around the mountain on the left in this pic.


The timing for this stop was right to make lunch happen. Ian whips up a couple of sammiches for us and everybody else grubs on something. You can look back from where we are and see the trail heading across the Valley East almost to the horizon. (look just to the right of the topper on the Waggy and zoom in to see the trail)




The trail up to the fort is actually a dead end that we have to double back to get to the main trail. We make our way back to the next landmark of the Piute Corrals. Again, itís on an offshoot of the main trail and connected to the fort via the Piute Gorge. We all find a place to park and set up camp. Shade is a premium to escape the sun. Don puts out his ARB awning, I pull out an idea I cooked up using a tarp, bungee, aluminum poles and some rope. Larry ties off to ours with another tarp while Richard deploys a wicked cool awning that wraps around 270 degrees of the rear of his truck. Then Mother Nature proved us all wrong. What was calm as can be turned into huge gusts of wind that effectively blew me and Larryís tarps practically off of the trucks and inverted Richardsís super awning like an umbrella in a tornado.




Piute Gorge

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Old 06-26-2018, 11:18 PM   #5
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

Donís setup made it out unscathed as his truck blocked it from the gust. The sun was getting low, so shade ended up coming from our campers anyway. We broke out some local salsa and chips, beers and everybody started cooking dinner. Ian and I tried out his handmade Skottle built by a welder gal he works with. The skottle being the name of a stupid expensive device that overlanders are willing to pay $250 for the pleasure of cooking on it. It really is nothing more than a plow disc with the hole filled in, handles added and a bracket to hold a single Coleman burner under it. Itís also known in the southwest as a Discada. Call it a Mexican wok if you want all I know is it cooks up some mean fajitas and a pretty good breakfast too.



We didnít starve. It was right after Dinner that Ty managed to find us via the Spot tracking Larry had running.


Obligatory desert sunset pic. Funny nobody was up early enough to take sunrise pics. I don't know why.


Mojave Road trail day 2 up next..
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Old 06-27-2018, 10:39 PM   #6
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

Good times!
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Old 07-02-2018, 11:39 PM   #7
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

Good stuff, reminds me of my childhood bouncing around the desert in Nevada and eastern California. Looking for old car parts. We had a 55 f100 and our friends a 1965 D100 (could have been a 200) step side. We would come home with the trucks just loaded up with stuff that had been abandoned out in the desert. My sister still hates camping to this day. My mom still has an beautiful antique oak table we found sitting in a falling down old tar paper shack.
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Old 08-21-2018, 08:39 AM   #8
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

That looks like an awesome time and some great trails!
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Old 08-29-2018, 09:46 PM   #9
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

Very cool
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Old 08-31-2018, 04:08 PM   #10
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

Rob,

I've been considering making a trail rig myself. Looking at all the different style of trucks present on your trip would you say there is any advantage to certain trucks i.e. wheelbase? I would say I would like to do the kind of trail exploring you guys do. Not hardcore rock crawling.

I've got two small kids and would guess I should build up a crew cab or suburban. I'm leaning towards a crew cab so I can put a popup in the bed as opposed to the suburban. Moreover, I'm debating a short bed vs long bed. Would you say the shorter the wheelbase the better?

Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks for posting your trips! Very fun to follow along.

Wil
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Old 08-31-2018, 11:46 PM   #11
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Re: 2018 Desert Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldCreek View Post
Rob,

I've been considering making a trail rig myself. Looking at all the different style of trucks present on your trip would you say there is any advantage to certain trucks i.e. wheelbase? I would say I would like to do the kind of trail exploring you guys do. Not hardcore rock crawling.

I've got two small kids and would guess I should build up a crew cab or suburban. I'm leaning towards a crew cab so I can put a popup in the bed as opposed to the suburban. Moreover, I'm debating a short bed vs long bed. Would you say the shorter the wheelbase the better?

Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks for posting your trips! Very fun to follow along.

Wil
Wil-

Thanks for the interest! This kind of adventure is really accessible to many types of vehicles. This year we had a pretty good variety with Larry and my Squares, 2 Toyotas, 2 Rams and an Extended cab long box Silverado 2500. I'm spoiled by my short wheelbase as I can outmaneuver anybody in our group unless somebody shows up in a Jeep. The longer wheelbase helps in the ride dept but kills the break over angle even with a small lift. Like anything else, it is finding a balance.

That being said, a crew cab long box square is got all the room but has the length of battleship. I know a guy that wheels the hell out of one and his sheetmetal shows it. Hauling 2 kids and gear points to a Suburban for sure. It's either that or moving to a newer platform with an extended or crew cab short box configuration.

Our buddy Richard proved with his long box he could hang on the trail with the rest of us. He drug his belly in a couple of spots, but really didn't have any issues. Even the IFS wasn't an issue. But Mojave road isn't all that technical as wheeling trails go. One steep decent down a hill was about it, but he would have issues following us on a mountain run in CO with the low height and long length.

So that brings me back to the Burb. Larry's Polar bear burb has been on a desert trip, with a work friend and his wife driving. That was the 16 trip, Larry has it posted up here. With the 3rd row seat out, there's enough room for a weeks worth of gear and or sleeping quarters if you want it to be. As far as wheeling goes, it went everywhere the K10 did on that trip. The wheelbase is longer, but not CCLB long either.

This year's trip lacked some of the technical challenges we like and our trucks are built for. We aren't looking for full blown rock crawling trails but good challenges for us and our trucks. We've built our rides to be ready for the technical, but that also makes it handle the easy stuff without breaking a sweat. This desert trip I moved the t-case lever into 4 low on the Mojave 1 time and covered the rest in 2wd. I've hit a couple more mountain runs this summer with a few more challenges and we've got one planned for next weekend that should be pretty fun.

Find something and get out there for sure!
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