Jon and Jo Ann asked for a quick picture of the Rig to show its new off-road adventure tires. These are testosterone spitting, mud throwing, big beefy tires on the top side of 33 inches tall. Six Toyo’s Open Country M/Ts. Did I mention I had to buy Six… Haul Road is famous for chewing up tires and spitting them out but it waits until you are 300 miles from the closest service center. Les Schwab came through with a little tire love to help the adventure.
If the off-road trail looks familiar ask Jo Ann and Jon how to get there… and bring your work gloves they have a few rocks that need moving.
Haiku is a mode of Japanese poetry. The traditional haiku consisted of a pattern of approximately 5, 7, 5 sounds. The distillation of thought into the haiku forces the writer to reach the essence of the thought. After meditating on our upcoming Arctic Circle off-road adventure, I came up with these:
Road trip adventure.
arctic circle northern lights,
road and sky unite.
Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and road trip.
Which will occur next.
You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
The spirit the road.
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and drive north.
Order shall return.
Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The easy road is closed.
Claudia Radmore, contributed this version to our haiku set:
road and sky unite
What haiku do you have that captures diversity or the road. Leave us your best haiku.
When is a road trip not a road trip you ask, when you call it an Arctic Ocean expedition. Arctic Ocean Expedition: . These guys ran a similar course to ours but stayed in Canada. We are a little west and will drive farther north up to the northern most point in Alaska. And we still call this just a road trip… Ok an Adventure Road Trip… or is that adventure expedition… well a road trip by any other name.
Scott Brady and his crew from Expedition Portal / Overland Journal has me convinced (ok thinking really hard) Inuvik is a side trip we should add. Sure it’s 500 miles out of the way (a 1,000 when you figure getting back) but this is the great white north and that is just a little out of the way when every place is 500 miles from the next place. Putting a pin in the most Northern Town in Canada makes for a great addition to the North Slope, Alaska.
Yukon Territory Alaska Northern British Columbia
I spent a lot of time here today for research. I dig the free digital maps. Google tells me that it’s 774 km from Dawson to Inuvik and it should take about 17 hours. That is a lot of distance to cover and only one fuel stop in between.
The thought of all those trailers to explore and how to squeeze every mile per gallon out of the rig may just have me up all night.
Hopefully I wont have nightmares tonight.
Chicken, Deadhorse, Tok, Wiseman and Coldfoot are towns who’s populations don’t break triple digits… Haul Road, Top of the World and Dempster are highways in name only with more washboard gravel and sand than blacktop.
Small towns that require bombing down gravel roads means you wont find the condo commando’s in white shoes and matching white belt. As we go from one middle of no where little spot to the next, we are hoping to find miles of solitude, true human stories and real life characters along with a little untamed wildlife.
With any luck folks from these little towns will find invite us in to record their story and help us celebrate the diversity of eight billion voices.
A little factoid: Legend has it that Chicken, Alaska (everyone has a tourist site) was named Chicken because the original inhabitants could not decide on how to spell of Ptarmigan, a bird similar to the grouse. My kind of people and remember it is a stale mind that can spell a word only one way!
With all the work and mods being done in preparation for the Arctic adventure, it was only a matter of time before one of us drew first blood. The first round goes to the rig with me ending up with some very manly stitches.
It began innocently enough. I was removing some of the plastic guard from under the wheel-well since it is no longer needed now that the stock bumper is gone. A simple little mod, just cut the plastic snaps connecting two pieces, fold back and zip tie it all up and out of the way. How tough can it be?
First, slide the box cutter between the two pieces, up against the snap. Next give the box cutter a quick pull across the snap cutting it in half, making sure not to apply to much force causing the knife to cut you… After I looked down at the 1/2 inch deep gash in my forearm it was easy to see that this was going to leave a scare.
Hustle inside, slide the forearm under cold running water to remove all that dirt out of there and hope the stinging and bleeding will stop. Turns out I should have been a surgeon. The cut was clean and straight. Missed the artery, but exposed it nicely so you could see the blood pumping though it and the layers of skin and fat that once surrounded the vessel. Realizing this might require two hands to bandage up and since the wife and kids are out, I started going door to door.
The great thing about where I live is that within two blocks you can find a physician of every specialty. In fact we can probably start our own HMO. Of course like a cop, there is never one around when you need one. I ended up at my neighbor the dentist, so he could put me back together in his kitchen.
In the end, I got a few manly stitches, went back and finished the little mod. The plastic is nice and tight protecting the paint from flying gravel and I have my first scar to remember this adventure to the Arctic Circle.
By the way: Turns out you really can get lock jaw from a rusty box cutter… so I’ll be getting a Tetanus shot soon.
Like us Toyota recognizes the value of others and how coming together in celebration of our diversity is important for all of us. Take a look at the thoughts of Toyota’s Bruce C. Ertmann, Corporate Communications.
TOYOTA OPEN ROAD BLOG: “PRIDE at Toyota: Business Partnering Groups foster Respect for People”
Let us known how you feel about the other 8 billion voices in the world.
Update: Toyota has replaced it’s blog with a press room website. This is unfortunate since the Toyota story we had linked to left a great impression on us. Now that is it gone… you’ll just have to take our word for it.
Their is no cell coverage on the Haul Road and many stretches of roads along the way to the Arctic Circle. On these roads and most off-road adventures the life line is maintained by CB radio with the truckers watching out for each other on channel 19. To keep in touch, hear warnings, and provide assistance if needed we picked up a CB radio with the weather channels.
The CB mod was one I did myself based on the posting of bigbill25 on the FJCRUISERforums.com. Thanks to bigbill25 and others on the thread selecting the right equipment and installation was straight forward. I did take one major deviation from the postings. I ran the coax cable through the inside, rather than under along the frame. My route followed the tail light wire bundle. By following Toyota’s cable route I was able to take advantage of the protection put in place to ensure wires don’t get crushed, stripped or pulled out.
The CB is a one hand unit so it can be installed without much room. In fact with everything tucked into place, no mounting was required and we kept the OME look. The antenna is now tuned for the radio and tuning a CB antenna turned out to be pretty straight forward once we picked up the SWR meter.
The mod tally is now at five with:
- Sway-A-Way coil over shocks
- ARB bull bar
- Warn 9.5 XP winch
- Wilderness rack
- Cobra 75WXST CB
What makes me think I can build a better Toyota FJ Cruiser than the engineers at Toyota? Well I’m not hampered by the need to please a large demographic and ensure the rig meets marketing, budget and focus group requirements set forth by the starched shirt corporate bean counters. No, I just need to ensure the mods register high on my cool meter… and they do!
As I mentioned we made a run down to Portland to see our friends at Metal Tech. The guys at Metal Tech are great and by guys I mean Mark and LT the owners of Metal Tech. They put on a new Sway-A-Way Coil-Over Shocks, ARB bull bar, IPF fog lights and a Warn winch. And for a guy like me it was great because Mark knows and enjoys chatting about everything FJ from 40s, 80s and Cruisers . He also let me hang around like I was a real motor-head.
Now those of you who remember, I started out looking to get an Old Man Emu coil-over shock set. Everyone I talked to said they are good for the type of terrain and driving we plan to do on this off-road adventure. Mark had even pre-staged the font shocks in perpetration for the install. Then when I got there I had to ask about the Sway-A-Ways (SAWs for those in the know). He explained how they are hand build and exclusively tuned for the FJ. The SAWs have 7/8” shafts, 2.5″ diameter shocks and they are completely re-buildable. Of course once I started asking Mark explained he did have one last set I check out and that was all it took. Ok let me be the first to admit it… I upgraded to the SAWs because they are high on the cool factor and I get instant off-road trail cred showing up with these bad boys. On the performance, as a result of adding the SAWs, the ride is great. Stiff enough to make handling a dream without jarring my teeth loose. The increased travel is very visible with the rig now sitting two and half inches taller. The cool SAW logo visible at the top of the shock is bonus.
The ARB bull bar Mark and LT added rides nice and straight with the SAWs in place and holds the Warn 9.5 XP winch. In order to reduce a little weight the guys swapped out the winch cable for a synthetic line. The synthetic line is the same stuff I run for the dogs tug lines when we go mushing in the winter.
The whole set of mods really work as a package. The grill and front will now be protected from any deer, moose, bear or big foot that jump out in front of us. This is a big plus over the five pounds of plastic that was replaced. The little IPF fog lights will hopefully allow us to see and be seen a little better and avoid hitting the critters all together.
With all the new travel and lift there is always the temptation to test out the next bolder path or sand trap. To make sure the rig doesn’t get stuck the Warn winch should be just the ticket to pull our way out. But as everyone knows the winch is probably your last resort. Often a few shovel fulls of dirt moved from here to there can do the trick and get you unstuck. But just in case the shoveling doesn’t work we now have the winch.
Ok the rig is moving up on the cool factor meter, but take a look at LT’s rig. He and Mark really know their stuff and put it to work on their Toyota trucks as well as everyone they help. Thanks Guys.