Category: Jeep

Our Time In Moab – Part 5

By , May 24, 2010 9:26 pm

Canyonlands National Park, Needles District

Note: It’s with a sad heart that I post our last entry on Moab. As far as we have experienced, there’s no place like this anywhere else.  We will miss it. 🙁

The last full day we had in Moab was reserved for the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park.  Needles gets it’s name from the rock formations near the Colorado River, as some of them look like a bunch of needles pointing to the sky. 

Needles is about 30 miles Southwest of Moab… as the crow flies.  To drive there, it’s 75 miles.  We started out fairly early and headed south on 191, then turned west (and eventually north) onto 211.  Our first stop, before Canyonlands, was Newspaper Rock State Park.


Newspaper Rock is named due to the amount of petroglyphs scribed on it.  As far I am aware, no one has a clue what the different drawings or scribbles mean or why they are here.  Maybe this was a stopping point on a seasonal migration path for native peoples, or maybe there’s some spiritual significance to the area for ancient cultures.  Regardless, there’s a lot of stuff scribbled here from various native cultures and times.

After checking out Newspaper Rock, we headed to Canyonlands.  The visitor center is nice and there were plenty of rangers on hand to point us in the right direction and to give us a fairly decent description of some of the trails I had considered.  We eventually decided to go to Confluence Overlook to see the point where the Green and Colorado Rivers met.

In the Needles district, there’s not a lot of park to explore unless you’re hiking, mountain biking or going off-road.  We did the paved areas fairly quickly and stopped at Pothole Point to see if there were any potholes. 

Potholes here aren’t like potholes elsewhere.  The potholes are little pockets in the rocks that fill with water when it rains.  It takes a while for them to dry out, so an entire little pocket ecosystem pretty much lives in each pothole until it dries out.  We found two or three real shallow potholes, but the only life we saw included mosquito larvae and little worms.  Not a whole lot else.  There were a few large rocks, which were good for some needed shade.

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The road to Confluence Point is not one for the faint of heart.  It starts at Elephant Hill.  If you can successfully navigate over Elephant Hill, you might be able to make the rest of the trip.  Elephant Hill is so narrow and steep that it has areas where you can’t even make a turn to go up or down the next section of the hill.  They have signs telling you to do the section in reverse…  primarily because there’s no room to turn around for the next leg either. 😉

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On the way to Confluence Point there are other obstacles too…  Nasty rocks, tight canyons, stairsteps, and deep sand are just some of the things that will slow you down. 

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But, once you make it to the end of the trail, you have a half mile uphill hike to Confluence Overlook.  We met a trio of people who had arrived about 20 minutes before us and were busy taking pictures when we finally made it up the hill (they took the picture of us together… I wasn’t lugging a tri-pod up that trail).

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In the pictures above, you can see the Green River coming in from the left and the Colorado River coming in from the right.  They meet here at Confluence and continue on as the Colorado River.  The portion south of here is called Cataract Canyon and is one of the most dangerous whitewater sections of the river, if I have my bearings correct.

After seeing the confluence, we headed back down to the parking area and sat in the shade for a bit to have lunch and drink plenty of fluids.  It’s pretty easy to get dehydrated out here because there’s little shade and everything is dry.  Even though you may be sweating, it just evaporates instantly, so it doesn’t feel like you’re losing a bunch of water.  We talked to the others as soon as they came down and got to spend a bit of time discussing the area (they come fairly regularly).


Getting back to the park entrance took less time than getting here, mainly because there’s a shortcut on the way out, but not the way in.  It didn’t hurt that I had just run most of the trail so I knew what to expect and where (I could drive relatively fast on the open sandy sections once I knew there were no surprises).  After that, we headed back up Elephant Hill to get to the paved section and head home.  Unfortunately, we had to wait for a couple of vehicles coming down Elephant Hill first.


I normally let people do their own thing without saying too much, but I have to mention something here.  The only two people with any sense in the above picture are the ones jogging down the trail.  The red truck was having a real hard time making it down Elephant Hill and came out a LOT more scratched up than it went in.  But, what really gets me is the chick sitting in the window of the truck in the rear.  I’ve seen vehicles roll over on trails MUCH easier than this.  She is one wrong turn away from being dead. 

To any of my friends out there who want to go off-road and really be able to see everything, invest in a Jeep, take the top off and have someone build a good roll cage.  Trust me, it’s the only safe way to go.

This account seems kind of short, but the road to Confluence Point and back took most of the day.  Dasy was plenty tired by the end of it and I was “satisfied” in my explorations. ;)  We were just a scenic ride back into town away from the end of our time in Moab.


At some point, I’ll probably post up some more video, but I’ll save that for a future post when we’re parked somewhere for a bit.  It takes a while to edit and upload video and our Internet connection is pretty terrible right now.


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Our Time In Moab – Part 3

By , May 22, 2010 9:43 pm

Tag-A-Long Expedition – Sand Flats – Kokopelli Trail

May 11th was a day for us to switch campgrounds (we couldn’t get a reservation at one place for the entire period) and catch up on some work, so we didn’t go anywhere. 

May 12th, we took a boat trip down the Colorado River.  IMG_0451Tag-A-Long Expeditions was well reviewed and was only a couple bucks more than the cheapest boat trip we found, so we met in the morning at their office and boarded a bus to the river.  The bus took us down Potash Road again to the boat ramp right before the off-road section.  The boat was unloaded and we boarded from the shore once our driver, Doug, had finished parking the boat and the bus.

Once everyone was settled, we headed south on the Colorado towards Canyonlands.  For most of the trip, we would be on the river below the plateaus we were on yesterday while going to Shafer Canyon.  Most of it looked like this:



Of course, we also got out for a bit and did a short walk to an area with some petrified trees.  According to Doug, at some time in the past (a few millennia ago), a bunch of trees were washed down in a mud slide.  They then had lots of mud deposited on them over time, but never rotted because there was no oxygen.  Eventually, minerals seeped in and replaced the cells of the wood, which petrified them.  A few millennia later, the ground shifted and they were exposed. It’s hard to capture in a picture, but here’s one that is still partially “stuck in the mud”.


Most of the rest of the trip was narrative about the different areas we were travelling through and how different layers of the rocks indicated different things.  Geologists and historians would go nuts for it.  I was pretty much just enjoying the ride and the scenery. 😉


After the boat trip (roughly four hours), we headed out to Sand Flats Recreation Area.  It’s a park managed by both the BLM and Grand County with a lot of off-road trails.  One of the more notorious is “Baby Lion’s Back”.  Here’s the view about 2/3 of the way down:


For those who are familiar with Moab off-roading, “Lions Back” is closed.  It’s a much larger “fin” that people used to be able to drive on.  I’ve heard various rumors about why it’s closed, but they all basically boil down to the fact that Lions Back is on private land and the owner doesn’t want to be liable.  Honestly, I doubt we would have taken it anyway.  There were plenty of vistas and extreme angles as it was.

Speaking of which…  we ran half of a trail called Fins And Things then headed up to the Kokopelli Trail.  We made a couple of wrong turns (okay, I was just going where I thought it looked cool) and came up to an overlook. 

IMG_0465We were driving along a road that looked like this:

IMG_0463We climbed a little hill and I couldn’t see over the hood, so we got out to take a look.  Here’s where we stopped:
From Dasy’s viewpoint in the previous picture…  it looks like this!

Pretty neat, but I’m glad I didn’t take it on blind faith that there was a road over that hill. ;)  By the way, the above picture isn’t taken with a wide-angle lens and I didn’t “doctor it” or anything, it really looks like a giant bowl in the earth.  The parts in the center that look like scratches are roads.  It was really quite an unexpected and marvelous sight.

IMG_0470We backed out of that overlook and continued on what I thought was the Kokopelli Trail.  Either half the trail isn’t marked or I got lost.  The part that I did find was very steep and narrow and had a very good chance of scratching the new Jeep up, so I backed out… right as it started snowing.

  We continued on what became a forest road until we reached Lasalle Loop Road, which we took back towards Moab.  On the way, I spotted what looked like a waterfall, so we detoured to check it out.  We found Faux Falls… a fake waterfall made by the county when they diverted a mountain stream through a tunnel. 

After that, we headed back to the RV to unwind and prepare for another day.


Our Time In Moab – Part 2

By , May 21, 2010 7:18 pm

Canyonlands National Park and Potash Road

On May 10th, we decided to do some more off-road exploration.  I’d checked some maps and spoken to some locals who recommended Potash Road as a fairly easy but scenic trail to tackle.  I wanted to take a trail that was a little easier than the one we managed in Arches National Park.  From an off-road aspect, it wasn’t difficult yesterday, but I know it was a little nerve-wracking for Dasy.  Of course, the sign at the start of the non-paved section made me happy. 😉


Potash Road starts just north of Moab and winds south along the Colorado River.  The first few miles are a nice paved road.  The river is on one side and sheer red rock cliff faces are on the other.  There are scenic pull offs on a regular basis, most of which are near Native American pictographs.  The pictographs are interesting, but theories on what they all mean are as varied as the terrain around here.  We managed to hear two different “guides” talking about them and the stories they told were radically different.  I’m pretty sure everyone just makes up whatever they want and the tourists just suck it all up. 😉

At the end of the paved section is a boat ramp (more about that in a later post) and the dirt road pictured above.  The area of land is actually owned by a salt company, but they leave it open and unmaintained.  That’s a good thing, because it’s kind of a “thoroughfare” for several of the tour companies and off-roaders.  We headed up the dirt road, which at this point is easily navigable by just about any kind of vehicle (there wouldn’t be much in the way of difficult off-road trails today).  The first major sights we encountered were the evaporation ponds.

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When you’re at eye-level with them, they’re hard to photograph, but they’re still quite neat.  The color of blue in the evaporation ponds is quite brilliant, especially in contrast to the few flowers in the area and the bleak red rock and sand of everything around the ponds.

The salt company pumps water into the ground, then collects the run off in these ponds.  The ponds are lined with black plastic and the water is dyed with a bright blue cobalt dye (we didn’t find out about the dye until a few days later).  The dye causes the water to absorb more sunlight, which causes it to evaporate faster.  What’s left after the evaporation is a huge collection of potash (a type of salt, used mostly for fertilizers and dynamite).

After the evaporation ponds, we gradually gained altitude and swung back towards the Colorado River.  Rounding one bend, we happened to notice a pretty large collection of GMC Yukon SUVs and a few pickup truck.  The Yukons were one of the local tour companies stopping for lunch at an overlook.  The trucks were a film crew, possibly working on a future Disney movie.  It turns out that a lot of movies have been shot here, the most recent recognizable one is probably Thelma and Louise…  The overlook we stopped at was the one where they drove the car off the cliff into the (supposed) Grand Canyon. In the picture below, you can see the point and the film crew way up in the top left on the outcropping (you might want to click on it to open a much larger version).


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In spite of how high up that looks, we were only about half way up to the plateau that becomes Canyonlands National Park.  We’d see this same area later from a completely different vantage point.  In the photo below, there is a butte behind our Jeep.  If you look at the top of the butte, about halfway between the passenger headlight and the Jeep logo, you can just make out a large awning.  That’s Dead Horse State Park.  We’d head up there in a few days.


The views around here are just unreal.  It’s not possible to capture them with a camera.  The best I could do was to piece together a few panorama shots that show only a small portion of what we could see.

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I generally try to avoid messing with my pictures too much, but assembling five or six pictures together into one was really the only way to even hint at how much is out here.

After spending time checking out the view over the Colorado River, we continued up Potash Road.  Eventually, we ran into Canyonlands National Park, where the road splits up to become Shafer Canyon Road and White Rim Trail.

White Rim Trail is a road that runs along the rim of the canyons carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers.  It circles the area of Canyonlands known as Island in the Sky.  I’ve been told you can complete the trail in a day, but it’s a long day and you have to be hustling pretty quick.  We didn’t do that because parts can be difficult and I didn’t want to abuse our Jeep by trying to go fast on difficult trails.  In the picture below, you can just make out White Rim Trail running around the big canyons.


We headed up Shafer Canyon Road and into Shafer Canyon.  The road is fairly easy, but you’d probably want some kind of four-wheel drive, just for the convenience.  The road is quite narrow and bumpy and would probably put quite a strain on the suspension of a standard passenger car.  It’s rare that you can see more than one of two bits of the road at a time.  We really didn’t know where it would go, but I had a map that said the road went into the canyon and there were mountain bikers and the occasional SUV that came down, so we figured it had to come out some where.  It turns out that it climbs up the canyon and dumps you at the plateau of Canyonlands National Park.  The view from the top gives you an idea of how much of a climb it is (this is also a panorama shot… it’s too big for one shot).


Once at the top, we explored the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands.  It really is like an island in the sky… it’s one huge plateau mesa surrounded almost completely by precipitous drops.  It’s a pretty neat place and I wish we had more time to explore it.  We did take a bunch more pictures, but I’ll probably post up a slideshow with those later. Note: Dasy thinks Island in the Sky is a mesa, I think it’s a plateau.  We did some digging and found that it’s a good example of both.IMG_0333

After touring Island in the Sky and doing a fair amount of hiking to a place called Upheaval Dome (more on that in a different post perhaps), we were pretty close to cooked and ready to call it a day.  After checking some more maps, I found that there were three ways to go back.  One was back the way we came, which we decided against.  Another option was to take main roads, but that would have been a fair distance.  Instead, we elected to take Long Canyon Road, which was an off-road trail that was marked as “intermediate” on my maps.  It looked fairly short, and most of it was forest trail, so I figured it wouldn’t take that long.

While most of the trail was easy, there’s one portion that you wouldn’t want to take unless you were comfortable wheeling in 4-wheel drive with steep angles.  As an unexpected bonus, we managed to find a really cool spot that I didn’t expect to find during our trip…



Just for reference, that’s not just me showing off… that IS the road! :)  The giant boulder over the Jeep fell off a few years ago and the county jack-hammered chunks off it so that the road would still be usable.  About half an hour of climbing down the canyon later, we ended up right back on the paved portion of Potash Road, just a couple miles from Moab.  That was definitely an appreciated detour.


Magnificent Moab

By , May 15, 2010 6:17 pm

Moab is home to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. It is also a mecca for all types of off road riding (Jeeps, ATVs/UTVs, mountain bikes, dirt bikes, etc…) and hiking.

We have enjoy making new friends, off road riding on the vast arrays of trails and taking in the magnificent vistas of arches, canyons, mesas, rivers and blooming desert flowers. Places like this fill us with awe and appreciation.

How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.
Psalm 104:24

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
John Muir

Enjoy some sights of magnificent Moab:

Arch Arch2 BalanceRock ColoradoRiver DesertBloom  JandD Jeep rock1 rock2  SaltPondYellowFlower_Moab WildFlower_Arches purpleflower jwkRiverCabin RV_ViewFisherTowers

How We Roll…

By , April 22, 2010 12:50 pm

A few people have asked how we take along everything we show up with.  Here’s the quick and short version.


That’s us getting gas for the Star.  What you’re seeing is the Dutch Star, two mountain bikes, the Jeep and the TW200.  Let’s start from the front.


That’s the basic setup for the Jeep and bicycles.  The whole contraption starts with a Blue Ox 10″ receiver lift.  Welded on the top of that is a 1-inch receiver tube, which holds the Mopar bike rack.


The next bit of gadgetry is the Blue Ox BX7445 Aventa LX Tow Bar.  That goes into the Blue Ox riser and then attaches to the front of the Jeep.  We generally keep that covered with a Blue Ox Cover when we’re parked and we lock the whole assembly together using a Blue Ox 4-lock kit.

The Jeep has a Rock Hard bumper with tow brackets bolted through the bumper into the front frame.  The safety cables attach to the D-Rings and the other cable is what handles all the lights.  It’s a Mopar RV tow kit for the JK Wranglers (it’s a major pain to install, have a dealer do it).


That takes care of the Jeep and the bicycles, so let’s move on to the TW200.


The hitch rack is a HaulMaster motorcycle hitch rack.  It’s cheap and can generally be found at Harbor Freight.  I’d rather have a MotoTote, but the TW only weighs about 300 and the HaulMaster is doing a decent job so far.  It takes a lot of straps to keep the TW from wobbling around or stressing the handlebars too much.  There are strap locations on the hitch bar, but I prefer to strap to the safety chain loops on the Jeep.  If something catastrophic does happen to the rack, at least the TeeDub is attached to the Jeep and won’t go sailing down the highway into a truck or smthng.


The one major fix I had to engineer for the rack is the lights.  We actually got pulled over in Key Largo because the TeeDub blocks the view of the taillights on the Jeep.  I added these with some aluminum angle brackets and wired up a four pin trailer connector to plug into the Jeep.  This works fine and makes us WAY more visible to people behind us.

That’s the basic setup for our towing ensemble…  If you want to know anything more specific, feel free to ask.

Note: Product links are to Amazon and I get a small percentage kickback if you order anything using my links.

A Day With Wires

By , March 26, 2010 6:04 pm

Note: This is technical wiring stuff and might not be of much interest to those who don’t have an RV and/or flat-tow a vehicle.  I put it up here just to show some of the things we have to do to prepare and just in case someone else ever gets this wiring harness and can’t figure out why it doesn’t work.

I spent most of today running around getting pieces and fixing our towing connector on the RV.  It wasn’t actually broken, it just wasn’t right.


This is our 7-way tow connector socket on the back of the RV.  Whenever you’re towing something, it gets plugged into this.  When you hit your brakes, turn signal or turn on your lights, it sends electricity through the appropriate “prong” and lights up whatever light is necessary on whatever you’re towing.

Since we got a new Jeep, we’ve had to prepare it to be “flat-towed” behind the RV.  I took care of the physical stuff to hook it up to the RV hitch when I got the bumper done.  I installed a special wiring harness from Jeep to take care of the electrical stuff.  Unfortunately, when I plugged it into the RV I got nothing.  No lights at all.  I was just about to run back to Jeep crying like a little girl when I decided to test it on my step-father’s Chevy Avalance (he has the same 7-pin tow connector).  It worked perfectly!

That meant that the Jeep wiring kit was okay (and I didn’t kill it when I installed it), but something was funky on our RV.  I had to wait two days for any of the local trailer shops to get a 7-pin tester in before I could figure out what was going on.  When I put the tester on, it showed that one line (which isn’t necessary for most towing applications) was dead.  Here’s a quick description of the pins in the connector above:

1 – Ground (common return path)
2 – Left turn and brake light
3 – Tail and running lights
4 – 12 volt charging power
5 – Right turn and brake light
6 – Brake controller
7 – Reverse lights

Ours had everything except the brake controller wire (we don’t have a brake controller) and the 12 volt charging wire (pin 4).  The brake controller is generally used for towing heavy trailers and it activates the brakes on the trailer when you hit the brakes on the RV.  The 12 volt charging line is generally used for towing campers and it charges up the battery on the camper when you’re connected.

Unfortunately, Jeep decided to use the 12 volt charging line to “activate” the wiring harness that I just installed.  No charging line, no lights.  So, I got to spend most of the afternoon dissecting the socket and running a power line to one of our six batteries in the RV.

So, if you plan to flat-tow a newer JK model Jeep and you plan to get the wiring harness from Jeep to do so, there are some things you should know…

  • The harness part number from Jeep is 82211156AB.  You can find it on the Mopar Accessories site.
  • Installing the harness is a serious pain.  It’s not worth doing.  Pay a dealership to do it.  You have to remove body parts, pull up carpeting, drill big holes in the firewall and then fit a 2 inch grommet into a 1 inch hole… without crushing the wiring harness in the process.
  • Get a 7-way tester if you plan to tow regularly… no telling when something will stop working, it’s a useful tool to have.
  • Make sure the 12-volt charging line is active.  It should light up immediately when you plug in the tester (it’s supposed to be constantly on).
  • I don’t care what the description says, the harness does NOT include an “underhood battery disconnect”.  Plan on getting a battery disconnect.  If you don’t, the Jeep will rack up miles when flat-towed unless you disconnect the battery manually.

Oh, the numbers I used for the pins in the diagram aren’t “common”.  If you’re going to wire up a connector or anything, check the diagram that comes with the connector.  Don’t expect my number 3 pin to be the same as everyone else’s. 

A Tale of Two Jeeps

By , March 21, 2010 7:08 pm

Or…  “Getting Ready to Roll”

While we’ve mentioned it to a few of our friends and family, we haven’t made any huge official announcements or anything.   We’re heading out of our “winter home” at the beginning of April (which is rapidly approaching).  That’s part of why we haven’t done too much on the blog.  We’re fairly busy with getting everything set up for the road.  Some of that “everything” is paperwork, insurance, vehicle registrations, and other “intangible” bits.  The rest is actually getting stuff physically done.

Two Jeeps

A big chunk of my time has been getting the Jeeps ready.  The new 4-door needed a bumper that was capable of being used for flat-towing.  Of course, what good is a beefy bumper without a winch and lights?  So, the winch had to come off my old Jeep, get rebuilt (it was in pretty sorry shape) and then get installed on the new Jeep.  The lights were in storage, but since the bumper was built for them, they’re on there.  Now, I need to finish off the wiring harness to allow the turn signals and brake lights to work off our RV towing setup.  Oh, an I need to wire an additional set of lights to the rack that’s going on the back (which will carry the motorcycle).  Old Jeep is going in storage for a while…  That means getting a larger storage unit, moving everything, putting as much IN the old Jeep as I can in order to save room, changing the fluids and removing the battery.

As for the RV… it’s mostly ready, but we have a fair chunk of stuff that needs rearranging.  But that will wait for a different post.

Drive, drive, ride, drive some more…

By , February 12, 2010 11:48 am

It’s been an interesting time around here, hence the lack of updates.  Let me give you the rundown…

I drove the Jeep and the Sylvansport Go up to Virginia to pick up my KLR (motorcycle), which was being stored in a friend’s basement (thanks, Rob!).  While there, they got their first decent batch of snow.

The Jeep and Sylvansport Go in Virginia...  snow

After spending a couple days with friends and getting the KLR loaded up, I headed back home and made it with no troubles.  I then rode the KLR to work for a few days, but switched to the Jeep on a day when I had to take a bunch of equipment into the office.  On the way home, I noticed a rather odd noise from the transmission whenever I was slowing down in gear (like every time I have to come up to a stop light).  I checked it again later that evening when I got home and it was noticeably worse.  Not good. 🙁

Luckily, my step-father has a nice Chevy Avalanche 2500 that’s big enough to pull the Jeep.  I used it to flat-tow the Jeep up to Lake-Sumter Tranmissions, a company that he has used numerous times over the years.  The rapidly started to rip the guts out of my Jeep and strip down the tranny, so I left it with them to deal with.  Diagnosis: Unsure… it definitely something in the transmission, but they have no idea what until they disassemble it. :S

So that left us with a KLR as transport and no real estimate on the damage to the Jeep or the time it would take to fix it.  We decided that it might not be a bad idea to look for alternative solutions.  We managed to find a 4-door automatic 2009 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon on Craigslist for a reasonable price… in Atlanta.

The only way we could think of to quickly and easily get it was for me to ride the KLR up, get the new Jeep, then arrange to fly or take the bus back to Atlanta and ride the KLR back later.  The ride up was miserable.  It was right at 32 degrees almost the entire time.  I had ot get real creative with heating solutions…  garbage bags in the boots, Glad-wrap on the gloves, etc.  It wasn’t fun.

I arrived at about 7 pm, after riding through snow flurries in Atlanta. :S  The dealership closed at 8, so we got right down to business.  The Jeep was in decent shape and the price was reasonable, so we did the deal.  During the paperwork, they asked if I had a trade and I jokingly offered up the KLR.  They looked it over and had no problem taking it on trade.  We were planning on getting  a much smaller bike anyway and that saved me from having to go back to Atlanta to pick it up, so it all worked out pretty good.

Our new Jeep[/caption]

I grabbed a hotel in Atlanta for the night and drove the new Jeep back the next day.  It’s a little "shorter" than I like my Jeep to be, but we’re working on that. ;)  We actually have some work to do on it before it’s ready for full-timing behind the RV.  It’s going to need a new bumper that’s capable of being used to attach to the motorhome, plus some electrical bits for the tow lights and a few other small things.  I’m working on that, but am having a hard time finding a bumper that will do the job.  On this new body style, a lot of the aftermarket bumpers are weird shapes and the frame attachment points are exactly where I need to mount the tow bars to the bumper.  That makes it pretty difficult to find one that will work.  I’m hoping to go look at a few in a shop in Orlando this weekend on the way back from picking up something we snagged off Craigslist.

Of course, the old Jeep is still around for now.  The shop called me last night to tell me it was ready and I’ll probably go pick it up tonight.  The work wasn’t cheap, but it’s WAY less than I expected it.  Most shops charge twice what I’m paying just to pull a transmission, let alone rebuild it.  I can’t recommend Lake-Sumter Transmissions highly enough!  They were extremely helpful, they let me come get a few things out of the Jeep that I forgot, they didn’t mind any of my aftermarket skid plates and they showed me all the transmission bits that were all over the workbench.  From everything I’ve seen and the way I’ve been treated, they do excellent work.  I’ll post a followup once I get the old Jeep and see how it runs, but I don’t expect any problems at all.

So, we now have two Jeeps, an RV and no motorcycles.  Oh, I also brought the bicycles back from Virginia, so we’ll have something to toodle around on at campgrounds and parks. 🙂

Some lessons have to be learned the hard way…

By , December 21, 2009 11:20 pm

We’re now in Sarasota, which is approximately 150 miles from Ocklawaha, which is where we started.  I’m guessing that the emergency/parking brake on my Jeep lasted about 15 miles before the shoes completely fried.EBrake

That handle over in the picture over there to right… completely useless now.  Parking the Jeep now involves a complicated procedure that I like to call “leaving it in gear”. 

I was also going to post up a full account of what’s involved in flat-towing a lifted Jeep, but I’m not up to that right now (and I can’t find the pictures I need to help explain it).

So, the short version…  be sure to double check the emergency brake on your towed vehicle before you take off.  A diesel RV won’t even notice the difference.

I have an idea of what’s involved in replacing the shoes on a Jeep emergency brake and it’s not fun.  Hopefully I won’t have to replace the drums (which are also the rear disk brake rotors) as well, but I wouldn’t bet on it. :S

Our stay at Pocahontas State Park

By , November 3, 2009 12:26 pm

Note: This was a little over a week ago, we’re catching up on the posts. 😉

IMG_0143.jpgWe uploaded another review of one of the places we stayed, Pocahontas State Park (PSP).  You can find it and all of our place review under the Parks and Places menu above.  There’s a handful of pictures there, but the full set is available on our Flickr page.IMG_0144.jpg

We arrived on a Friday and settled in for a long weekend.  It’s a nice park with good camping facilities and we enjoyed ourselves.  On Saturday, Rany (Dasy’s sister) and her husband, Seth, came out to join us for dinner.  I procured a nice set of steaks and corn on the cob from the local grocery store and we had our first attempt at grilling our dinner.  It rained on and off, so I ended up making a shield of sorts out of tin foil.  It actually worked out really well and the steak turned out fantastic.  The corn could have used a little longer on the grill, but it was still good. 

We stayed outside under our awning talking about friends, family and our upcoming adventures.  All in all, it was a good time and we thoroughly enjoyed our first attempts at “entertaining” in our new home. ;)  It’s a bit small inside, but with the awning and good weather it works out great.

IMG_0141.jpgWe were at PSP for the weekend and planned to leave on Monday.  We got a call on Sunday, however, that one of Dasy’s cousins wanted to buy her car, which we had taken with us and planned to keep in Florida.  So, we extended our stay for another day.  Dasy drove the car to her parents back in Northern Virginia, while I ran some errands and then went up in the Jeep to retrieve her.

Unfortunately, the Jeep decided not to cooperate.  I noticed while driving up I-95 that it was wobbling quite a bit and I frequently had to “over-steer” to correct it’s path.  I’ve had this happen before and am fairly familiar with the cause.  I pulled into a Pilot truck stop to check it out and found I was correct in my assumption…  The main bolt that connects the drag link to the frame had loosened a bit and was allowing the front axle to wander back and forth a little bit.  IMG_0122.jpg

Since all my tools are in storage, I sent a quick email from my cell phone to a bunch of my off-road buddies in Off-Camber Crawlers and continued on my way.  10 minutes later, I had several offers of help from fellow members with tools and garages. :)  I made it without incident to Ed’s place and he promptly went at it with an impact gun and some loctite.  That fixed it right up!  I continued to Dasy’s parents place, had some food and some internet access and we headed back to our “home”, minus one car. 🙂

The next morning, we did some minor exploring of the park, then headed south.




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