The adventure begins!

November 1st came and went, we were antsy to get going but the world had other plans. Luckily we only ended up two days behind “schedule”, which I am now declaring as a dirty word. Schedules are for people who have someplace to be.

Darren and Marc at Any7 got the truck all finished up, they did a great job putting our ideas for the truck into action. We picked it up and headed home to cram all worldly possessions into the back.

Thanks guys!

Once we got home the actual packing process only took about 30 minutes. Impressive! We bid our landlords and our cabin farewell and headed out the door. It was too late to actually make it anywhere and the truck was too full of crap to camp in the back. Darren let us crash on his couch for the night, the first of many couch surfing experience to come I am sure.

Re-arranged the back of the truck in the morning and hit the road. Our destination for the night was the Sierra mountains.

Excitedly we headed off into the rolling foothills of the Sierras.
foothills 2

The clouds looming overhead did not look very inviting, and as we approached the mountain range we saw signs stating the most of the mountain passes were closed. I thought this was odd since I was just up here last weekend and there wasn’t any snow on the ground. Cranked up the weather report on the radio…


Perfect, so pretty much exactly where we were heading? Looks like our “schedule” is about to change again. A quick look at the map and we decide we are going to go up and over the Sierra range and camp at a ghost town called Bodie on the eastern-side foothills. The storm was not scheduled to hit until 730, was only 430 at the time. We were about 2 hours from the other side. No problemo. We press on determined to beat the storm.

Not much time for pictures this visit to the Sierras.
sierra 4runner

Approaching 8000FT
4runner altimeter

Making good time, should make it easily before the storm hits. …until
carson pass construction

What the hell!? Construction delays on the Carson pass! A bunch of bozos trying to build a road as the storm approaches, A long line of trucks idling waiting for the road to clear.  The white flakes starting to fall and winds picking up!

Eventually we make it over and haul ass down to Bodie as the storm picks up gusto. We find a side-road up in the hills and setup camp for the night as the storm set in. It’s going to be a cold one…

DAMN! 11F at 830AM, Had to have got down to 5F or so overnight
cold morning

We awake to all the windows completely iced over, rear window and side windows frozen up, only way out of the truck is to move all the crap piled in the front back onto our bed and then climb out the front seats.

Iced over
frozen 4runner

She still started on first crank!
frozen toyota

Froze our ass off trying to repack the truck in 11F weather, headed into town to grab a coffee then headed south. We wanted to check out the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Home to the oldest living things in the world.

Weather was still crappy but we knew if we waited any longer they would shut the road down (We have tried 3 times to get up here, every time it has been closed due to inclement weather/snowed out roads)

Road to nowhere?
snow storm2

The ancient bristlecone pines are only found in the highest elevations of the Inyo forest, from 8000-12000ft these beasts have lived for over 4000 years. Older than the next oldest living thing by over 1000 years! I had to see them!

Conditions worsening, 4Runner can take it. My buddy Jimbo gave me my first 4×4 lessons driving in a damn Sierra blizzard, I think I can handle a little powdering.
snow road

Made it!
snow lot

Quick poses! too cold to hang around
james bristlecone

lauren bristlecone

Back to the truck and crank the damn heater up!
cold butt

cold lauren

Drove back out of the park and camped on another backroad near the back entrance to Death Valley

Not a bad sight to wake up too.
breakfast view

eastern sierras

Headed up the backroad into Saline Valley, Death Valley National Park
death valley national park

blech, cooties!

DV has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the U.S, the weather/light was crap most of the day so I couldn’t get very good pics.
death valley

Abandoned homestead

Stopped for some lunch, you can somewhat see our current “organization” system. Still a work in progress.
death valley lunch

Saline Valley Rd.
dv road2

saline valley

Part of the old trolley system that carted salt from the Saline valley up and over the mountains to Bishop, CA. quite a feat in its day.

Driving down Saline Valleys dirt roads was a blast. The new OME suspension ate it up! I could haul ass now over every type of rock, pothole, dip, whatever. The suspension ate it up and asked for more. I am really happy with it, Thanks again to Any7 Offroad for putting it all together for us.
dv road

Riding down the road we came across a Toyota FJ60 broken down on the side of the road. Not being one to leave a fellow Toyota behind we pulled over to see what was up.

Hmmm… 20 year old spare didn’t cut the mustard in Death Valley?
fj60 flat

Turns out these guys were from LA and were out here cruising for the weekend headed to the Hot springs. They caught a flat the day before and the spare blew out them just a mile down the road. They had been stuck there for about 24 hours now.

At least they had a nice view…
toyota brothers

10 minutes with the plug kit and the punctured tire was repaired, took about another 3 hours wrestling with the jack and the stock sagged out springs to get the blown out spare off. Luckily they had beer, which is about all it takes to keep me around for 3 hours.

Stock spare off, not enough clearance to mount the fixed tire though.
jimbo move

Gotta air it down! Ladies… We need your butts.

With the tire aired down we were able to clear the lugs, get it bolted on and air it back up. Back on the road! Nice to meet you guys, Thanks for the goodies!

We set our separate ways and setup camp somewhere down in the valley.
dv morning

Woke up in the morning, pack the truck up and headed out. Destination Las Vegas.

Joshua Trees in DV.

Lauren says this is where Dr. Seuss came to write his books, the truffala tree looks oddly similar to the Joshua Tree


Off out the valley, into Nevada.

Reason #1 why Nevada rocks! Was paying ~$4/gal in CA.
cheap nevada gas

We are now lying in bed in a hotel in Las Vegas, couldn’t pass up the cheap deal and a hot shower! The adventure continues…

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  • Jason Thigpen

    Borderline bums enamored with the idea of doing something no one has done before. Gotta love backpackers!