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Home on the Highway - San Francisco to Ushuaia, Argetina in an 87 4Runner

Old 11-23-2011, 01:21 PM
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With Thanksgiving quickly approaching we had to step our game up. No more dilly dallying! We still have a few obligations to our parental units to uphold and one of them was Thanksgiving dinner in Florida. Unfortunately this means we had to pick up the pace from Colorado to Florida in order to hit our deadline. We missed a lot of great stuff and look forward to coming back someday to revisit lots of sites along the way. Luckily we have lots of friends along the way to stop in and crash for the night. Less camping shots on this post.

Heading out from Moab towards Colorado. We stopped off in Beaver Creek, CO to visit an old friend. Tommy is one of my dads best friends and basically an uncle to me and my brothers. It was great catching up with him and nice to get out of the cold for a bit. Tommy is a wild man, loves deep-sea diving, heli-skiing, dragracing, and basically raising hell. When I was younger he gave me my first job, let me get away with all my shenanigans, and was there to kick my ass when I needed it. A good guy indeed.

Beaver Creek, Nice little ski town. Still needs more snow to get pumping.

Fellow hellraisers

A little further up the mountain, Vail, CO had runs open and people skiing.

From Beaver Creek we stopped in Denver to see another old friend. We all call him Howie, I think his real name is Chris. But he has always been Howie to us. I met Howie back during my brief-stint with college. A lifetime friend and accomplice, how we got away with 1/2 the stuff we pulled I will never know. We stopped in unexpectedly and they were planning to go to a concert that night.

We tagged along planning to buy tickets and join them.

BOO! Sold out!

Oh well, old friends can still party down together; show or no show. We easily scalped his tickets. Howie and his girlfriend Courtney made a $50 profit! Headed across the street to imbibe for a bit….

Came back later to at least try to get a poster… and discovered the box office selling some last minute tickets for $20 a pop! SCORE!

Had a blast at the show, made some new friends at Howie’s local watering hole, had a Taylor Swift karaoke contest (Don’t ask!), and hit the hay.

Woke up hazy the next morning, headed over to the Red Rocks. Red Rocks is a naturally occurring amphitheater in the huge boulders/cliffs outside Denver. It is a beautiful place to see a concert, unfortunately they were closed for the season but you can still mill around the place and check it out.

Scooted down from Denver towards Texas. Stopped for the night and camped on some BLM land just outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Courtney had mentioned that we should come here and see the dunes.

Woke up in the AM and checked out the park. If I have not mentioned this yet, if you plan on visiting more than 2 or 3 National Parks a year it is definitely worth picking up an America: The Beautiful” Annual Access pass. I have used this thing at least 20+ times this year, it is a one-time fee of $80 but it gets you into all National/Federal Parks/Monuments/Recreation/Seashore areas. I have saved around $300 in park fees so far this year by getting this pass. You can pick it up at any national park or order it online. It is a painless and quick process. Definitely worth it if you love our nations parks as much as we do.

Great Sand Dunes National Park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America. They have been swept down from the mountains across the San Luis Valley and pushed up against the edge of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range where they have grown and grown for ages.

Found a 4x4 road that took us along the backside of the dunes up into the mountain. Aside from Death Valley this is the only national park I have found that had legit 4x4 roads. We aired down and mashed around in the sand for a while.


After playing around in the sandbox we headed south again, down into New Mexico, camped out on some more BLM land somewhere near the Texas border. Caught a beautiful sunset then drifted off to sleep in the truck.

Eastbound and down, made it to TEXAS!

Lauren saw her first tumbleweed, it was a beast!

My grandfolks live in a small town near Grandbury, TX. My family has lived on this land since the civil war days. Stopped in for the night to say howdy. There are also lots of fossils and dinosaur artifacts in the area, we went to the state Dinosaur Park to check out some tracks.

Grandpa and I in front of the old stone house my grandma was born in. New roof upgrade obviously.

Dino footprint, unfortunately the river was muddy and we couldn't see most of the prints. Still pretty cool.

We had to hike quite a bit to get out to the footprints through some pretty rugged terrain. My grandparents are almost 80 and did it with no sweat. Its true! Everything is tougher in Texas. Love you guys!

Headed out from there, South bound. We could feel humidity starting to pick up in the air and finally started to shed some layers. Getting closer to home!!!

Stopped somewhere in Davey Crockett National Forest for night and caught another beautiful Texas sunset.

Woke among among the tall lanky southern pines of the forest. It got pretty humid overnite, rained a bit too. I have a big ol’ trucker fan that I need to hook up to help get a nice breeze going for these muggy nights.

Hit the highway, We were boogying now. Still decided to take the scenic route all through Southern Louisiana along the Gulf Coast. It had been almost 2 years since we have seen her waters.

Caught a ferry to get to the otherside of the canal, met a nice couple on the ferry who have traveled all around California to many of the same places we just came from. Was nice talking to you guys!

Things were starting to get familiar, spanish moss hangs lazily from swamp oaks.

This coastal drive was beautiful, we went through lots of little small towns which sadly had no remains of their original structures. Almost every single structure has been blown away in storms and replaced with mobile/prefabbed homes. I do admire the resilience of the people to return to the decimated area though.

“Cajun Highrise”

Stopped for the night with Lauren’s aunt in New Orleans, had some killer seafood for dinner and hung out with her soccer playing micro-dog, Dixie Deux

Headed out the next morning, cut to Alabama and drove down to Dauphine Island to take another coastal route along the Gulf Coast.

Caught another Ferry from Dauphine Island over to Gulf Shores.

Please make a U-Turn when possible!!

Pressing on through the night, we ran into a horrible thunderstorm, sheets of rain, and huge puddles. YEP, MUST BE…

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Old 11-23-2011, 02:19 PM
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Looks Like you might just make it home in time for supper...

Guess it's safe to say Gov. Scott has no ego issues at all... or maybe since FLA is the retirement capitol maybe he's concerned about folks forgetting who he is...

Hope you loaded up on fresh seafood while you were driving through.

Happy T day
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:29 PM
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VERYYYY much enjoying following you throughout your journey! Beautiful shots/pics.... STAY SAFE!
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:39 AM
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hey guys, im getting some chatter when letting off the gas above 50mph, it goes away when i get back on the gas, doesn't matter whether the clutch is in/out, or if the truck is coasting in neutral. the sound goes away when i nudge the shifter towards any gear.

from a bit of research it looks like my problem may be my driveshaft angle being off due to my lift, looks like i need a CV driveshaft and some shims? has anyone else experienced this problem? does it seem like i am on the right track?
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:11 AM
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I had something like that on my 87 with no lift... did'nt really bother me, figured it was "normal" [first truck what can I say] ended up needing new rear diff. pinion bearing and seals. Turns out the main driveshaft was out of balance for some reason... spent a few months driving around in 4wd with the rear shaft out while I found a shaft balancing place.
Truck drove fine that way and got fairly good fuel economy too... but was never off pavement during the period.

Other folks with lifted trucks like yours may have a better idea what is going on...
FWIW you can check the pinion easy... just slide under on your back if the pinion moves around when you try to shake it with you hands on the yoke that's it...
it might also be a bad U-joint you can check them the same way...
as for it only happening now as you come out of 50 my mech. explained it to me back then as sort of "harmonics related" that that speed was the "sweet spot" where all the rotational forces were coming together just right to show the problem.
I said "whatever... how much to fix it?"
give some folks time to digest their birds and I'm sure you'll get a better answer than mine.
Happy Turkeyday
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:57 AM
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Old 11-28-2011, 05:21 AM
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my truck does the same thing but alot worse. my problem is the axle housing is rolling when i let off the gas. id have someone drive behind you and watch the axle to see if it is twisting. that can be fixed with some traction bars.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:39 AM
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:47 AM
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Awesome updates!

Hope to hear from you guys soon. Work is insane right now but I'd still like to treat you both to a few rounds of beer!

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Old 11-29-2011, 07:34 PM
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wow this is an amazing thread, keep us updated!
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:22 AM
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Subscribed and followed on Facebook.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:40 PM
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so cool
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:57 PM
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Subscribed! Such an awesome trip, good luck!
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:35 AM
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Very nice trip/photos! Stay safe.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:56 AM
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Howdy folks, new post up on the blog. Check it out

Sorry it has been so long since our last post, things have been busy on the Home on the Highway front. When we last left you we had just entered Florida right around Thanksgiving time. We spent the holiday bouncing between our two parents houses and seeing friends anywhere and everywhere in between.

Beautiful Ladies, Impressive genes!

Vacation Dad! and his beautiful daughters out for a pleasure cruise on their boat.

You get two opinions of Florida, those who think it is a tropical paradise and others who think its nothing but a muggy retirement home. Like most things in life, Florida is all about the timing, and November is PRIME TIME for adventuring in our homestate. The mercury drops, humidity vanishes, bugs and tourists are banished, and we get to enjoy these pristine months in shorts and t-shirts relaxing on the beach while the rest of the country is bundled up fighting off Jack Frost. Needless to say, I love Florida.

November? Yep!

After we wrapped up Thanksgiving in Tampa with Lauren’s folks we headed down to Miami for a bit to hang out with my family. First order of business… FISHING. My crazy Uncle Wendell was happy to take the family out for a day of hunting dolphins. My Uncle is a true Old man of the Sea, not a lick of electronics to be found on the boat, no fancy GPS, no fish finder, none of the gauges actually work, hell I don’t even think there was a UHF radio on the thing. We fish by sight, smell, and feel out here.

My brother Jonathan and Mama Dukes, 80’s stylin on the fishing trip


Nice little Dolphin, To take the skunk off the boat

Laurens turn at bat

Sushi time! Blackfin on the menu

Put a few more in the boat and headed back in for dinner.

Happy Captain and Crew!

Next day we headed on down to the Florida Keys, one of my favorite places on earth. My folks have had a timeshare down in Key Largo forever and I have been exploring these mangrove waters as long as I can remember. I love it down here. Old Florida still survives in places like these.

Mom, Daddio, and yours truly.

I wanted to take Lauren down to see the Everglades, one of Florida treasures. The Everglades is a biological wonder not replicated anywhere in the entire world. “The River of Grass” is a slow moving shallow body of water which used to flow from Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida all the way on down south over the Florida peninsula out to the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately due to construction, canals, and agriculture demands we have managed to completely screw up this natural flow of water reducing the size of the everglades unique ecosystem to less than 75% of its original area. Luckily we have finally wised up and are making attempts to restore this rare habitat.


River of Grass

The hell!? Hoodlum vultures


Wrapping up in the 305, We hung out with an old friend, Frank the Tank!, before we headed back up to Orlando. Great seeing you guys!

In Orlando we met up with another great friend of ours, Doug, who you might remember from our Rae Lakes Trip. Doug shares our love for adventure traveling and we loaded up the 4x4s for a camping trip in the Ocala National Forest, another beautiful Florida landscape, replacing coastal Palms with Florida scrub pines. Doug is in the process of downsizing his life to move into his truck as well. He will soon be joining the overlanding crew!

Doin’ what we do best

It’s not really camping till the guns come out.. Look at that form! Oo-RAH!

After Ocala, Lauren headed back to Tampa to hang out some more with the familia. They headed over to Busch Gardens for some fun with her sisters and nieces.

To really round our entire Florida tourist punch-card there was only one place left to go….

Who needs the PanAm? We got Mexico right here!

My best-bud Jack and I. During our college years, We traveled and worked our way across the country for 9 months in an 87 Chevy Conversion Van. Built a bed and a kick ass stereo system in the back. We had a cooler full of beer and a dream to make it to Los Angeles, all you need for an ultimate life changing road-trip. Man… we shoulda never sold that van!

Unfortunately I didn’t get many pics of Orlando and missed out on lots of pics of my buddies. Huge Thanks to Kevin for helping me rig up the spare battery under the truck and thanks to Lauri for letting us crash at your house. Thanks to TrashCat for nothing!

One last stop before we could leave Florida. We headed down to Lake Placid to visit the place where all this rambling got into my bones…


My grandma and grandpa (R.I.P.) would pile all of us kids, cousins, parents, pets and whoever was standing around at the time into this monster of a motorhome and take us on excursions all over the U.S when we were young. I have so many great memories as a kid cruising the highways and byways of this great nation, seeing tons of national parks, camping, and enjoying the adventure of the cruise. I do believe if it was not for this very motorhome I would not be the person I am today. I love you grandma and grandpa, thanks for providing us another window to the world.

We scooted up from Lake Placid to Atlanta to visit one of Laurens friends, Crystal, and check out the Atlanta Aquarium. Atlanta Aquarium is badass, they have a HUGE 8.6 million gallon tank. This gigantic tank houses over 250,000 fishes, including 4 giant Whale Sharks. The Atlanta Aquarium is the only aquarium in the US to house Whale Sharks. Crystal and Quentin’s new baby loved seeing all the fishes. Good seeing you guys!

I loved this quote on this bench “History is written by those who make the wake. Not by those who ride on it nor by those who watch safely from shore.”

Tried to steal one for you Michelle, they caught me smuggling it out in my jacket.

After Atlanta we started West again, Destination: Austin, TX. We camped a night or 2 along the way in some national forests in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Had to stop by a Drive-Through Daiquiri stand in Louisiana for some roadies.

I am typing this post from the back of the truck, currently parked INSIDE of Ruined Adventures house in Austin, TX. They have a badass warehouse/loft and we were able to pull our truck inside and now are camping in style. We have a long-list of loose ends to tie up but we should be heading south to Mexico here in a few days. FINALLY!

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Old 12-15-2011, 10:11 AM
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I hate you two a little more every time i read an update.....seriously.... Alright.... i'm just jealous.

Good luck
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:01 AM
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Someone has amazing skills behind a camers. Those shots in Florida are amazing.
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:06 PM
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Drive thru Daiquiris Gracie?!... I guess the sheriff sets up down the block... sounds like entrapment to me... lol
Good luck with the loose ends...
x2 on those great FLA pics...
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Old 12-15-2011, 03:05 PM
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i subscribed to your blog! AWesome journey you guys will have!! i will be next some day! please post any questions you have about your yota, also i'm from argentina and brasil 1/2 and 1/2, so ask me anything when you guys get there!
how are u planning on getting from panama to venezuela? i thaught there were no roads? ferry?
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Old 12-15-2011, 05:31 PM
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Hey bud, We are shipping around the Darien Gap from Panama to Columbia on a container ship

Just had to replace the drivers side CV axle today, quite a pain in the ass but its done!
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