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

Old 12-27-2011, 10:52 AM
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hey Defrag, If you and your lady come back up on the east side of the sierras, I'll email you some arc gis maps I've put together of the ancient bristlecone pine forest and sonora/carson pass areas. I wish I had found your thread earlier, I could have sent you guys of to some wicked hot springs on the east side.
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:38 AM
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Lovin' this trip! It looks like so much fun.

I'm sure you don't always have internet access, but it seems like off-site storage would be a good idea. What are you guys doing for backup/redundancy for your data (photos, files, etc)?
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:27 PM
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My friends, It was getting to the point that we thought we would never actually make it into Mexico. Our journey across the U.S. of A was only supposed to last a month then we were supposed to cross the border to be in Mexico by early December. Well…Christmas came and went and we found ourselves in Big Bend National Park , South Texas. We could actually SEE Mexico across the Rio Grande but we were not yet in it! Oh well, you know how plans go. No regrets! The gods may have wanted us to stay state-side with a seemingly never ending “TO-DO LIST” but our will is strong, we preserved and now we are sitting at a bar looking out over the Sea of Cortez in lovely Mazaltan, MX.

When we last left each other we had just arrived to our good friends and fellow PanAm travelers house “Ruined Adventures” in Ausin, TX. Brenton and I spent most of the week tearing into the truck in what seemed like a never ending battle of fixes while Lauren and Shannon ran all over town tracking down bits and bobs and widdling down our TO-DO list.

Swapping out the CV axle, luckily Brenton had a spare on hand. We almost dropped the truck on our heads a few times but managed to get it swapped out. Quite a pain in the arse!



Ruined Adventures have the best setup for overland preparation, Brenton and Shannon live in a badass warehouse/loft with every tool imaginable to tackle any problems that you can throw at them. Brenton had an extra Hi-Lift too (Think a huge car-jack on crack, used for all kinds of things on the trail) here he is rigging up a mount on our rear swingout to place the unwieldy jack. Thanks to Ruined Adventures for really helping us out on our final prep for the trip.



They are hitting the road on January 29th and will be crusing Baja before shipping over to the mainland, You will definetly be seeing them in future blog posts. You can follow their adventures on their own blog at http://ruinedadventures.com

Thanks a lot guys! See you soon!



Our plan from Austin was to head south to Big Bend National Park, scope it out for a few days and then cross into Mexico at a border called Ojinaga. We hit the road, fixed up and ready for action!





Made it to Big Bend in the middle of the night, not exactly sure where to camp we just drove about 15 miles down some dirt road and pulled off to the side, setup camp and went to sleep… Awoke in the morning to some pissed off park rangers who slapped me with a $175 ticket for “driving off-road”… Our first ticket in almost 2 months, that’s a record for me! Not to be discouraged we went up the rangers office, figured out the deal and secured a permit for a few days of “legal backcountry camping”



Hit the backroads of Big Bend. (I forgot to mention I managed to back into a lightpole somewhere in between Austin and Big Bend, completey fubaring one of our jerry can holders and throwing off the alignment of the bumper and hitchpin, I rigged it up with some bungee cords and kept on trucking, hoping it would hold.)







The Park guide warned us of the “dangerous black gap 4x4 road” the park ranger highly advised we go around the long way around… I pointed to our truck outside and he said “oh.” and that was the end of that. The road wasn’t too treacherous, I didn’t actually need 4x4 at all but high clearance and a truck that can take a good beating was a necessity. I would imagine if it rained and this whole dirt road turned to mud it would be a different story altogether.





After cruising the desert for a few hours we made it to our backcountry campsite. Tally #2 (great campsite, We recommend it if you head out this way.)







Setup shop just as the sun went down, beautiful sunset from our home for the next few days.

[img]"http://homeonthehighway.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/IMG_4343-Large_thumb1.jpg[/img]

Lauren busted out the park map and found a nice 10-mile day-hike for us from our campsite up to the top of a canyon overlooking the Rio Grande river and the elusive country called Mexico. We woke up to constant howling 20-30mph winds but an otherwise clear day. We suited up and hit the trail.



Lauren made a new tree-friend, she has lots of tree-friends



Made it to the top, with the winds gusting at 20-30 it was a little sketchy getting too close to the edge but a photo-op was necessary!



Long way down, you can see the Rio Grande here, and our first glimpse of Mexico since our baja trip. So close! Yet so far…



Got back to camp, exhausted and windburned but we heard tell of a natural hotspring a little further up the road. We hauled ass through the desert hoping to make it to the hotspring before nightfall. We got there just as the sun went down, everyone was gone and we realxed our bones in the 105F water, we had all to ourselves. Gazing at the stars, listening to the spring run into the river alongside. Perfecto.





Woke up the next morning to overcast skies and cold cold weather. Looks like all those winds were blowing in a storm. We headed out of the backcountry, Lauren’s dad had promised her a Christmas gift of a hotel room, we figured now was the time to take him up on it since it was Christmas eve and started snowing outside!

Lauren hanging out in front of the Big Bend lodge, our warm home for the night.


Little different scene than when we last saw this photo!



The snow covered park was gorgeous, a completely different experience than when we were first here a few days ago.





Cactus + Snow? This does not compute!



As the sun set over the mountains I realized it was a white Christmas! The first one either of us has had in a long long time. Merry Christmas!



Rested up for the night, woke up on Christmas day and headed out. I had done some serious damage to our already damaged hitchmount bouncing along the backroads of Big Bend. I completely sheered off the actual mount and had secured the swingout with zipties. Needed to get this fixed before we attempted the rough roads of Mexico. Unfortunately for us, Big Bend is in the middle of nowhere, closet town was 100 miles away with no real services to speak of, plus it was Christmas day. Everything was closed.

Beautiful but desolate drive along Texas Highway 90



Aliens!?



Weird stuff out here…



Like a designer Prada store in the middle of friggin nowhere???



We decided to head to El Paso, TX, a 300-mile detour, but a necessary one. We arrived in the middle of the night and guerrilla camped in a parking lot somewhere waiting for the morning light. I had found a “4 Wheel Parts” and hoped they would have the parts and services that I needed.

4 Wheel Parts turned out to be useless (Surprise, surprise…) but I got the internet and found a real 4x4 shop up the street a ways. A “Little” 4x4 Shop just outside of El Paso, TX had everything we needed and got us fixed up with a beefier mount and new jerry can holder. Big thanks to Roger and the guys for getting us in and out quickly! If any of you West Texas guys need 4x4 work done or any parts for Jeeps this is your man. His place was a mecca of everything Jeep.











We got fixed up and were ready to hit the border but it was already 3PM, figuring it would be wise to wait to cross until the next morning we spent another night in a random parking lot working on our Spanish and getting amped to finally be in Mexico!

Note: There are no pictures for a while, We were a bit stressed out with the crossing and taking pictures of the whole ordeal was far from our mind.

Next morning, We punched “border crossing” into the GPS and took a drive towards Ave of Americas which led us to a little border crossing. There was literally no one there but a little lady. I asked her in my craptastic spanish if there was an aduana (customs office) there and a banjercito (Mexican govt bank) where we needed to get our vehicle permit. We think she said No but unsure we just drove in anyway. No inspection, no dogs, no questions, no nothing. It was like going through a stop sign in the middle of an intersection.. and we were now in Mexico. That was easy enough.

Except we still needed to get our visa and vehicle permit, attempting to navigate our way around Ciudad Juarez proved to be a fruitless effort. We decided to cross BACK into the USA and go to a larger border crossing which hopefully would have the offices we needed.

Crossing back into the US we waited in line for about an hour, got to the guard, who berated us with a bunch of questions and accusations then threatened to search our truck, and then eventually let us back in. We flipped a U-Turn and drove right back to the border crossing to get BACK into Mexico. Again hassled a bunch more by US border patrol, more threats, more questions, and eventually let through.

We found the customs office easily this time and the Mexican customs official was very helpful and spoke english. We received our 180-day permit for our actual persons and he gave us directions to the Banjecrito which turned out was 30 miles down the road towards Chihuahua. We drove through Juarez, which looked a lot like a crappy version of any U.S suburban city. Applebees, Chilis, Burger King etc. just the signs were in spanish. Eventually making our way onto the highway and cruised 30 miles toward the Banjercito which was clearly marked in english and spanish. Pulled over, parked the car, and headed inside where we found more helpful people who spoke at least a little english to help us make some copies and get our Mexican vehicle permit. We paid a fee for the permit and placed a $200 deposit down which will be refunded when we leave Mexico.

BAM! We and the truck were perfectly legal now to be in Mexico for the next 180-days. Game on.

We hit the highway again, our destination was a place called “Copper Canyon” which is up in the mountain range called “Sierra Del Occidental” of North West Mexico

Better get used to life in the slowlane and converting MPH to KMH.



Happy to be in Mexico! FINNALY!


Headed to the mountains.



We drove higher and higher up into the mountain range, Desert scrub was replaced by tall pines and the weather cooled off dramatically. We found a little side road that we followed for a bit and tucked up among the pines to camp. Our first night in Mexico, reminded us a lot of our many nights spent up in the California Sierra mountains.







Delicious dinner of 99c Lipton Mexican rice and bagged tuna fish. Only the finest for Home on the Highway. It was awesome washed down with a few Tecates.



Packed up and hit the road in the morning, we were going to a town called Creel, MX which is considered “The Gateway to Copper Canyon”

Passed many small logging towns along the way.



Lunch time!



We wound further and further up into the mountain range, it was a long but beautiful drive.





Burro friends





Eventually we made it to Creel!







....Read more on the blog http://homeonthehighway.com
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:49 PM
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Awesome progress and great photos!

what kind of MPG are you getting?
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:50 PM
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Great Post defrag... glad to hear you finally made it south of the border and officially on your way... stay safe... and be careful backing up lol...

just saw a rerun of Top Gear last night where the guys were taking 3 4x4s through the Bolivian rain forest and down into Chile and the coast... wild roads down there mano...
you planning on driving "the road of death" heading out of La Paz?... that looks like one wild road... on my bucket list to see/drive in person one day...
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:53 PM
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getting about 20mpg crusinig the highway at 55mph and ~16-17 on the dirt backroads
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:01 PM
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also started to get a lot of what I think is valve chatter the other day, noticed it climbing up some steep hills. Doesnt appear to be there when I am sitting in neutral and revving the truck but when its under load I an hear it more than I recall.

sounds like I have the truck in too high of a gear for the speed I am going, you know that dieseling sound, havent noticed any loss of power or overheating, think I need to adjust the valves

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Old 01-03-2012, 05:49 PM
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That's awsome. Having a white Christmas in the desert? That's cool. I'm glad you posted the link to your blog. The whole second half of the post is missing from here and there are awesome pictures.

For as much of a big deal as a hot shower is, have you considered installing one in your rig. This thread here is a good idea, don't know if you want to install it mid trip but it would make a big difference as many days as you could find water for it.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:14 PM
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That camera quality is very good I might have to get one too. Haha
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Old 01-04-2012, 05:05 PM
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could be an exhaust leak since its when under load, mine was doing that and I was missing a nut on the flange from manifold to the pipe. asome pics, I am lovin the trip progress, nice white christmas!!!
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:13 PM
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great photos! big bend is my next destination here in a few months! hey, not to sound like an ass, but it makes me feel good to hear that the CV removal was a bitch! hehe like i said earlier, my first time doing it drew blood and tears!! no joke! good luck down south! those guys down in Austin seem like great people! ill stop by net time im in town! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:18 PM
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yeah start with a valve adjustment, 30 mins once u get the hang of it! lets us know any results. you had the engine rebuilt just a while ago right ? thing set into place after a couple of hundred miles, needing adjustments! great luck !
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:28 AM
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Just read for, start to where you are now. Sounds like a great trip. I'm quite envious.
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:42 AM
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WOW, great pics, great voyage, once again! I'm especially envious of your hot springs adventure(I'm a big connoisseur! lol).

Stay safe down there, guys! You're a great looking couple
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:15 AM
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valve noise

Ok first off I wanna say how impressed I am that you guys are doing such a good job of making the most out of your trip !! I am sooo jealous I wish I could do what you two are doing maybe when the Kid goes off to college someday Ill be able to do something like this . I am a bay area native and I swear I remember seeing your 4runner on San Pablo dam road Once or twice.(the bumper is what caught my eye ) I am following this thread now with great anticipation for the next updates . Please be safe down there and have a super fun time

I wanted to comment on your valve noise . I was thinking that maybe it is pinging /detonation when under a load going up hills . I think theres a good chance that the Mexican gas you are burning is probably the reason for the pinging . If your engine is fresh I guess it could need a valve adjustment since it broke in But id wager its the mex gas .
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:02 AM
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Just had a thought about gas too...
you may want to be careful about getting dirty gas ie contaminated with water... particularly in smaller towns, the seals on the tanks/pipes may not be all they're cracked up to be lol... if you get near the coast stop at a marina there is a product they sell for boats that will disperse the water and allow it to go through your fuel system without affecting the performance too much or freezing in the lines/filters on a cold night when you get to the mtns. ...the down side is you'd need to add some to each tank or just keep it handy and toss some in if you suspect bad fuel...
I think it's called water remover or something... not the one they sell for diesel fuel guys lol... around here it's used for boats in winter layup... you put a bottle in the tank, fill it up and run the engine for 20mins or so to disperse the product through out the fuel system this eliminates any freeze worries and prevents the fuel from gelling over the winter. Can't recall the actual name just now... got some bad gas a few weeks ago and had to put some in my tank due to starting issues.
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:32 PM
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sounds like HEET, i got bottle in the truck, i might give it a shot. it seems like its coming and going everyday so it may be the gas
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:31 PM
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isopropyl alcohol (iso-heet, or medical alcohol in a pinch)
methanol (original heet- yellow bottle)

those will work to help entrain water and boil it off in the combustion chamber. the higher the concentration, the better (ie- 70% vs 90% isopropyl alcohol). that chem class taught me something
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:57 AM
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Hey guys, Things are going good here in Moreilas, MX. We are just about to head out from here up into the mountains to check out the Monarch Butterfly reservations. Apparently there are millions of these guys all over the place up there. From then we are headed to Mexico City!

We have been getting lots of requests on how we actually setup and organized the interior of the truck, This is Laurens department and she just put up a new post on how we manage it. Check it out!

http://homeonthehighway.com/everythi...thing-you-dont

Sleep mode, activate!
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:49 AM
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NO SLEEP TIL BROOKLYN! heheh... Jk, and WOW, nice set up. I'ma come up with something like that, definitely.
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