Category Archives: everything else

If it doesn’t belong anywhere else than let’s dump it here and hope for the best. But don’t let that convince you it isn’t worth reading… this holds some of our best stuff.

durango drifters

1 Truck, 4 Freinds and 9,500 Miles

Sound familiar…

Four college students, The Durango Drifters: Amy, Billy, Tricia, and Kristina are readying for their cross country adventure.  On May, 26th 2010 the friends plan on piling into a Dodge Durango for 37 days to drive from from one end of the country to the other and back again. Along the way they will cover 19 state, camp in nine national parks, shoot rapids, scale mountains and attend a couple of big league games. At least that is their plan.

Anyone who has taken a major road trip knows these guys are in for the time of their lives. Sure they will see the country… but the epic side of this journey will come from the experiences they have, the people they meet and finding out more about themselves.  You know you really can’t help but uncover  little truths about yourself when you are ass to elbows in a truck for weeks on end and no one is bathing on a regular basis.

But if everything goes as planned, these guys from the east coast will have experiences to last a lifetime.  They will cruise below sea level across Death Valley, sore over Pikes Peak, cross the great divide and maybe  find the worlds largest ball of twine.  They also plan on sharing their adventure with friends and family by posting their journey on their website The Durango Drifters so that everyone can participate in their joy ride.

Life is pretty simple, you do some stuff that works and some stuff that doesn’t.  The trick is to find what stuff works that is different than what everyone else does.  Helen Keller said “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”   These guys definitely have the Hula Betty spirit and we hope they have a daring adventure of a life time…  Be sure to stop by their site and wish them well.

toyota fj80 and fj cruiser rubicon trail

And They Call It Vendor Love…

thanks for the off road adventuresWith all the mods on the rig we’ve had to work with a number of 4×4 off-road shops and after market vendors. And as you know, some of them are better than others. So what makes one vendor better than another?

Certainly some vendors produce higher quality gear than others, but not everyone wants or needs the top of the line equipment. Some shops have lower prices than others. But what is it that really separates the great vendors for the not so good and down right awful.

For us, its service. There are all kinds of ways to define service but ultimately we break it down into two categories:

  • Service before and after the sale
  • Service when things go bad

But working with a good shop or vendor is a two way street.  We have responsibility in all this as well:

  • Support a good shop with your loyalty
  • Don’t expect something for nothing

Any time someone asks me a question my usual response is “It depends”.  A good shop will happily talk to you about your project, get to know your needs and what type of wheeling you enjoy so they can give you the right information and help you make good choices.  Good shops and vendors know a well informed customer will make better choices, be much happier with any purchase and hopefully will become a loyal customer.  Don’t take advantage of this by asking for truck loads of information, advice or install support only to turn around and surf the Internet for the lowest price on all the parts they have helped you select for your project.

No matter how tight the quality controls, once in awhile a bad supply of raw materials sneaks in and a bad product gets out the door. Whats important is how the vendor or shop deals with it.  Good vendors and shops want to make it right.  Sometimes it means replacing or fixing a part.  Sometimes it means working with you to try other options.  Work with your vendor honestly when things go sideways and be open to options.  Good shops want to make it right and you have to work with them so they can.

Most of the really great shops and vendors I know are small business owned by individuals who have a real love for what they do and believe in their product.  They are small enough to know each of their good customers (good doesn’t mean spends a lot) personally.  They care about their business’ reputation and want to do what is right for their customers.  But they don’t have deep pockets and can’t give away the store.  These are folks trying to put out a good product or service at a fair price.

So why am I feeling the love for vendors?  The last couple of weeks I been trying to run down parts for a project I started and I turned to Baja Designs, Fourtreks and Plus 1 Accessories for help.   They all were great! They worked with me to understand what I needed and did what they could to help.

Luke over at Fourtreks had a few custom parts made up so that my original designs would still work.  This, while he was trying to get his house, family and business packed up to move.  I’ve moved… a lot!  And Helping others during that time was not my first priority.  I could take a lesson there…  the man deserves a medal.

Plus 1 Accessories found some raw tubing they could send my way that is going to work out and Baja Designs didn’t hesitate to toss in some extra clips, connectors and light buckets I needed.

We’ve all dealt with bad vendors (lord knows I’ve had my share) and the hassles they cause you can feel like nails on a blackboard.  But I’ve been lucky to work with a number of good ones too.  These days when I need help I know I have a good base to turn too.  Even when they can not help, they usually know who can and send me to someone they trust and that says a lot.

hula bettys man

Reflecting On The Detours…

dashboard hula bobble dollI can’t believe another year has passed on this wild off-road adventure.  Thanks to all of you, the Last Great Road Trip continues to be the web site destination for those who take the wheel and driver rather than letting life pass them by.

Looking back over the three years, I have to smile when I think about the adventures Hula Betty and I have taken.  Sure the Arctic Off-Road Adventure was amazing… and driving the Rubicon Trail was filled with great ass puckering moments… but the time spent with family and friends on the trails is undeniably the most rewarding part of the adventure for us.  Who can forget spending time at the swimming hole with Boy…  the friendships made on the all girls 4×4 trail run in the Tahuya Forest…  or the look on a friend’s face as we introduced her to off-road adventures in Tillamook State Forest.

146,000 visitors last year can’t be wrong so we hope you continue to enjoy reading the stories and watching the videos (Vimeo Off-Road Adventure Channel) we post. But what does next year hold?  We’re currently researching a solo loop around the Olympic Mountains, looking at a couple of the Oregon Back Country Discovery Routes with a buddy and with any luck we’ll make another Rubicon or Moab trip.   Of course we still have Twin Lakes on the list and there will be a number of weekend outing with the 4×4 clubs throughout the northwest.

When it is all said and done the mile markers fade, scratches buff out and chicks dig dents, but the road less traveled will always call to the soul of adventurers looking to see what is around the bend.  Where are you going to explore in new near?

lgrt king of the hammers

If You Race The Hammer You See Nails Everywhere

Every once in awhile, ordinary guys (gender neutral, non-specific term use) get an extraordinary off-road adventure opportunity.

King Of The Hammers is an off-road race that balances speed, rock crawling and drivers skills against some of the most difficult trails anywhere.  This year the driver of Camo’s Buggy #4407 is up for grabs   The 5 driver finalists were selected from ordinary guys and now the members of Pirate 4×4 are going to make the final selection.  This means you (yes you) can participate in that selection.

So other than another interesting audience participation selection gimmick what makes this note worthy?  Well for starters, the finalists have contributed a lot to the off-road community, each in their own way.  Belly Doc is one of those who has given significant time helping others with FJ Cruiser problems, lending a hand on the trail and taking every opportunity to promote wheeling in support of keeping our trails open.  Belly Doc knows that educating the public on how responsible wheelers are working to restore the environment is the key to keeping trails open.  He sees King Of The Hammers as his opportunity to continue that education in the media that will surely follow an ordinary Dr. (really you didn’t put Doc / Dr together)  wheeling a race of a life time.

It is not everyday ordinary guys get a chance…  and this is our chance to help give one of them an extraordinary opportunity.  Just hop over to Pirate 4×4 and vote.

bolivian top gear toyota fj40

4×4 Adventure BBC Style

Awhile back our friends at Metal Tech were approached by the BBC to help them with a Toyota FJ40 they were taking on a off-road adventure from Bolivia to the Pacific Ocean. And in true Top Gear antics, it was not your average off-road adventure.

Mark and LT spent time in the jungle, the desert and in the mountains of South America with Top Gear crews on a race where the BBC purchased sight unseen and not quit what they expected (they would have you believe), a Suzuki, a Range Rover and a Toyota FJ40. Than set out to drive them on 1,000 miles of hell has no mercy South American roads.

We wont spoil the ending, but see how many Metal Tech stickers and products you can spot on the Toyota FJ40 after it goes through its transformation.

I laughed… I cried… This video is all about what I love in off-road adventures. Who knows… Someday the Blue Bunny may make the trek over the Andes.

compass map

Adventure Puzzles For Your Mind

This post turned into a bust!

The difficulty with using web based items on our blog is we have no control over the other websites.  And what started out as a fun on-line puzzle has become an eye sore.  The other site that provided the puzzles replaced all of the overland pictures with kitten pics.  Ugh!!

So know we were trying to help you kill time and do something overlandy during those endless zoom meetings…  But the internet has no love.

yellow sun fusion fj cruiser rock crawling

The Press Can’t Stop Complementing The FJC

Seems like this year which is probably its last, Toyota’s FJ Cruiser has received more press than ever before. Take for example “FJ Cruiser does its off-road namesake proud, Toyota’s rock-crawling mud eater is the real deal in an era of phonies” on the Edmonton Journal site.

Like most of the reviews, it talks about the more than capable off-road qualities of the Toyota FJ Cruiser, ranks it at the top above Jeep, Hummer or Land Rover (some combination of price, quality, and capability), and informs you that the seats are little uncomfortable (I don’t get that one), the nobs are big (I like Fisher Price sized toys) and of course the now legendary blind spots.  But they also let you know that all great rigs of the past have had their quarks.

With the phasing out of the FJ Cruiser at the end of 2014 there remains hundreds of thousands out there and like their older brothers, these will be handed down, sold, traded and reincarnated by thousands more new off-road enthusiast  for decades to come.

My prediction from back in the day seems to have been pretty close…

Look for a big hand off with many of the 4×4 technologies and styling ques showing up on the Toyota 4Runner.  I believe the FJ Cruiser allowed Toyota to test a number of engineering and styling ideas as well as 4×4 goodies in a smaller package that are now ready to land on the Toyota 4Runner, their more mainstream vehicle.  But that is just my prediction… 

To bad I couldn’t have found a line on it in Vegas?

2007 toyota fj cruiser dirt

Show Your Support

thank youA friend asked if she could add the Last Great Road Trip banner to her forum signature.  I didn’t know anyone would want to, but how could you deny a request like that.  So on the off…  way off… chance anyone would like to jazz up their email or forum signature here you go.

Every email client and forum software is a little different but they will generally let you upload a file and place a link on it.  Copy any of the images below to your desktop by left clicking the mouse and saving the image to your desktop and than load it into your signature following the forum or email instructions.  To add a link back to the Last Great Road Trip blog add the following URL link:  http://www.lastgreatroadtrip.com

Desert Sunset Last Great Road Trip Banner

banner sunset

Back Roads Last Great Road Trip Banner

banner backroads

Original Last Great Road Trip Banner

banner original

Thank you in advance to anyone who adds one of these images to their signature.  Really Thanks! We appreciate the support.

toyota fj40 land crusier

Land Cruiser’s Heritage

Browsing the web you find all sorts of good stuff that is fun to share.  I’m not talking about the winner of the Darwin Award or the staged picture of little kids whacking dad with a bat in the…, well you know.  I’m talking about cool interesting stuff you can store away in you mental rolodex and pull out to impress friends at your next off road outing.

To that end, Toyota put together a nostalgic look at the heritage of the Land Cruiser (at least until they took it down). You would have seen how the Land Cruiser is referred to as Shamowang “King of the Desert” or how Hollywood failed to blowup a 40 series despite several tries.

Their Land Cruiser time line ended with 2005, showing a glimpse of the FJ Cruiser in concept with the statement “Will the FJ Cruiser become reality”.  We’re glad it did. The FJ Cruiser is helping to make our adventures a little bigger and the world a little smaller.

Courtney Hansen at sema

Power Block Goes Digital

I don’t know about you but when I can’t get out on an off-road adventure or work on rig, I’m still looking for something power oriented to do.  Around here, Saturday mornings are filled with Power Block TV.  While I’m checking email, picking up the room or making breakfast, Power Block is on in the back ground.

Power Block is really four different shows packed into their own half hour segments.  Those shows are:

  • Extreme 4×4
  • Horse Power
  • Muscle Cars
  • Trucks!

Power Block is doing more than just competing with Saturday morning cartoons.  Their web site PowerBlockTv.com now lets you watch full episodes anytime you want and they just launched Power Block Magazine.  The magazine is 100% digital and 100% free.  You can download it, search it, share it or print it. Best of all it’s FREE

So the next time you’re jonesing for a little power oriented fix and can’t get away, give Power Block a try…  It just may get you through withdrawals.

Of course if you’re not in the mood for more power…  There is always the queen of speed, Courtney Hansen Power Block’s host and author of “The Garage Girls Guide to Everything You Need to Know About Your Car“.  While she may not be turning the wrenches, she is no stranger to the garage.  Her father, Jerry Hansen won 27 national SCCA stints for Sports Club of America titles and she grew up around the family owned Brianerd International Raceway in Minnesota.