Category Archives: Rants, Raves and the Zen Art of Road Trip Management

Anything can show up here… life gets a little crazy but we manage to get through it. These are the stories of when the SHTF or something just pisses us off or just stuff we think is high on cool factor.

hula dash board doll in the sun

T Minus 10 Days and Counting Down

In ten days the adventure begins. To celebrate the start of the count down we’ve added a new crew member to the adventure’s team. Hula Betty will be joining the road trip.

Sure to some she is an iconic dashboard bobble doll but to us she is more than that.  She reminds us that this is suppose to be fun and what ever happens this is still going to be a once in a life time opportunity to spend exploring Alaska and Canada together as we cover 5,000 miles over 14 days.

Since we can’t take ourselves too serious, look for Hula Betty hiding somewhere in the pictures of the trip. See if you can find her in future posts.

2007 toyota fj cruiser arb bumper

Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shoes

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.

adventure haiku

Haiku: Road Trip Adventure

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 trip
northern lights
road and sky unite

What haiku do you have that captures diversity or the road. Leave us your best haiku.

hands suturing

First Blood

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.

highshool girls in photo booth

North Of Schizophrenic And South of Dysfunctional

A longtime ago I asked my lovely wife, Hula Betty, to marry me and to my surprise she said yes. And to my bigger surprise her family, all ten brothers and sisters, came along as a package deal. Over the years my wife’s family and I have reached a de taunt of sorts, not unlike that of China and Taiwan. They believe their sheer numbers will wear me down and I accept that celebrating diversity starts at home.

Of the ten in this Irish clan, there is one, JJ who has always struck me as my favorite in-law even though we are nothing alike. As number ten of ten, JJ has that uncanny survival instinct of knowing how to tell you to go to hell and you thank her for the ticket. One minute she has you laughing in stitches and the next she is throwing you under the bus because you looked at her the wrong way. And in this dysfunctional, bi-poler, schizophrenic relationship with JJ there has always been one truth. When it comes down to it I have a bizarre respect for her ability to be true to herself and be her own person. She does not expect anyone to agree with her choices or bail her out of the consequence of those choices.

I bring up these family skeletons for two reasons. One, as I start to take inventory for the Alaska adventure I cannot help but tally up the relationships, fuel and mental baggage needed to complete a 5,000 mile adventure in 14 days. B, when it comes to a writer who can take day to day mundane events and spin them into prose flowing as polished threads of spun gold from Rumpelstiltskin’s wheel, there is no equal. You will find JJ at Trauma: The Drama a title which should bring you back to my earlier in-law description.

I encourage everyone wanting to take a side trip on this Last Great Road Trip to head south of the boarder to JJ’s blog. This year it is the Arctic Circle, who knows… next time maybe the Baja and we’ll be sure to drive by (not stop…  just drive by) JJ’s place.

2007 fj cruiser in field

Road Trip Adventures Require A Road And A Rig

Friends and family have asked what are we going to drive to the Arctic Circle. When I started to plan this adventure there was no question, we would drive the new 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Everyone has said:

  • you’re nuts
  • the FJ Cruiser will be ruined
  • you’ll shoot your eye out… Ok wrong story

I’ve taken on the simple philosophy my father taught me: “it is only a thing”. If it is lost, stolen or ruined it can be replaced. What is important are the relationships we have with family and friends. These relationships must be watched over and cared for since they are what is truly valuable in the world.

With that in mind and since I’m locking my dad and I in a truck for 14 days it might as well be the best truck I have access to at this time. Of course I’ll heavily insure it, adding on AAA, towing, road side assistance, and any other road hazard help I can take on. All in the name of it’s only a thing, and its the only thing that will get us back from Deadhorse once we start down Haul Road.

Currently the rig is stock. However with the help of some sponsors it looks like we’ll be getting a few mods soon. Everyone interested in the before rig you can look at the 2007 FJ Cruiser product reference guide just be warned it is a big file and not for faint of bandwidth.

Bumper Stickers covered VW bus

You Know You’re Ready For A Road Trip When…

If you have ever gone a few years without a real vacation you know that with the passage of time the madness of work starts to all make sense and the insanity becomes your sense of normal. And I’m not talking about a vacation where you take the time off to put in a new yard or bathroom remodel, I’m talking wind in your hair, sand in your toes, Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville tequila sipping vacation that crosses the line of demarcation where what happens on vacation is forsaken by god with no hope of redemption.

Having a type “A”, workaholic personality myself, it is usually my wife who points out my stupidity when I can’t see what is right there in front of me pointing to the need for time off. So to help recognize when enough is enough and a break is called for I’ve put together another little memory jogger.

You know you’re ready for a road trip when…

  • Labor Day means exactly that
  • Your boss gets a promotion and you get a coffee mug
  • You have more plaques on your cubicle wall than dollars in your bank account
  • Doing the wrong thing is better than not doing anything
  • Your spouse asks who you are when you come to the front door
  • You see a stranger in the hall and find out he has been your manager for the last six months
  • Your best friend in another company buys a new HDTV with overtime pay, while you are given tickets to a play you don’t even want to see
  • You reach for the phone in the middle of the night instead of your spouse
  • Pay for performance means someone else gets paid for your performance
  • You begin to enjoy reading technical manuals for Dummies more than a good novel
  • You know that quickly shifting the blame is the most important business skill to have on the project
  • Company benefits refers to the health newsletter you got last week telling you that your cholesterol is too high
  • The only answers you get to questions about salary administration are solemn looks and vague catch-all phrases

…And the way you know that you are absolutely, positively ready for a road trip is when you recognize you are indeed the company’s best asset— to be signed away at will, moved as needed and purchased as cheaply as possible!

pop quiz

Skid Marks On An Arctic Gravel Road

The road is full of twists and turns. Drivers who claim to be it’s master are often ill prepared to solve the complex problems facing them at the road’s edge. In an attempt to help weed out the road warrior from the drivers-Ed dropouts, the last great road trip is providing a quick quiz that you can use to test those who claim to be masters of their own domain. By administering this test and evaluating the results you can be assured your road warrior can drive on the razors edge without getting cut.

Instructions: Read each question carefully. Answer all questions. The time limit is four (4) hours. Begin immediately.

History: Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific.

Medicine: You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.

Public Speaking: 2,500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the room. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin, Greek, or COBOL.

Biology: Create Life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.

Music: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.

Psychology: Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of each of the following: Alexander of Aphrodisias, Rameses II, Gregory of Nicia, Hammurabi. Support your evaluation with quotations from each man’s work, making appropriate references. It is not necessary to translate.

Epistemology: Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your stand

Sociology: Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct an experiment to test your theory.

Engineering: The disassembled parts of a high powered rifle have been placed on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In 10 minutes a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel appropriate. Be prepared to justify your decision.

Economics: Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist controversy, the wave theory of light. Outline a method for presenting these effects. Criticize this method from all possible points of view. Point out the deficiencies in your point of view, as demonstrated in your answer to the last question.

Political Science: There is a red telephone on the desk beside you. Start World War III. Report at length on its socio-political effects if any.

Physics: Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.

Philosophy: Sketch the development of human thought, estimate its significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

General Knowledge
: Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.

man hiking haul road

An Introduction To The Driver’s Seat

off road driverI am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling mountains and crushing ice. I have been known to take walk about for six months. I translate ethnic slurs for small militant groups. I write haiku.

I have done the Ididarod, raced the Baja and swam with whales. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran on the web and an outlaw in Peru.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, a ruthless bookie. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. Children trust me.

I’ve have listened to every Jimmy Buffet song in one sitting. The laws of physics do not apply to me. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full contact origami.

I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff diving competitions in Sri Lanka and checkers tournaments at the Kremlin. I have performed open heart surgery, cloned sheep, rewritten history and I have spoken to Elvis.

But I would like to know about you! Follow our adventure and leave a comment Last Great Road Trip on Facebook. Let me know what you are interested in hearing about. The time I spend with my Dad and friends on these trips is something I’ll never forget. And I will share every mile with you.

stickers covered window at mikes sky rancho

Support Our Sponsors

LGRT InfographicsYou always remember your first…  If we never receive any more help, the amount of support we’ve received from Metal Tech 4×4 will exceed all our expectations.

Our sponsors have helped make this adventure possible and we encourage you to visit their web site, get to know them and consider their products when your thinking of making a purchase.

Who are they?  Look a little to the side…  the other side…  there they are…  the list of our current supporting sponsors. Also look at our Last Great Road Trip sponsor page for more information on these terrific vendors and how you can get involved.