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Old 11-26-2011, 09:14 PM   #46
09Prodigy
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AS a Toyota guy I am IN!
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:42 PM   #47
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AS a Toyota guy I am IN!
+1 (I drive a 1st gen 4runner so I'm in)
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:05 PM   #48
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AS a Toyota guy I am IN!
I always planned to do something like this in my Land Cruiser. Sold it without ever taking it out if the country.

Subscribed. Thanks for sharing.

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Old 12-03-2011, 10:33 AM   #49
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:56 AM   #50
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New post!

Howdy folks, new post up on the blog. Check it out http://homeonthehighway.com


Sorry it has been so long since our last post, things have been busy on the Home on the Highway front. When we last left you we had just entered Florida right around Thanksgiving time. We spent the holiday bouncing between our two parents houses and seeing friends anywhere and everywhere in between.

Beautiful Ladies, Impressive genes!


Vacation Dad! and his beautiful daughters out for a pleasure cruise on their boat.


You get two opinions of Florida, those who think it is a tropical paradise and others who think its nothing but a muggy retirement home. Like most things in life, Florida is all about the timing, and November is PRIME TIME for adventuring in our homestate. The mercury drops, humidity vanishes, bugs and tourists are banished, and we get to enjoy these pristine months in shorts and t-shirts relaxing on the beach while the rest of the country is bundled up fighting off Jack Frost. Needless to say, I love Florida.

November? Yep!







After we wrapped up Thanksgiving in Tampa with Lauren’s folks we headed down to Miami for a bit to hang out with my family. First order of business… FISHING. My crazy Uncle Wendell was happy to take the family out for a day of hunting dolphins. My Uncle is a true Old man of the Sea, not a lick of electronics to be found on the boat, no fancy GPS, no fish finder, none of the gauges actually work, hell I don’t even think there was a UHF radio on the thing. We fish by sight, smell, and feel out here.





My brother Jonathan and Mama Dukes, 80’s stylin on the fishing trip


FISH ON!


Nice little Dolphin, To take the skunk off the boat


Laurens turn at bat


Sushi time! Blackfin on the menu


Put a few more in the boat and headed back in for dinner.


Happy Captain and Crew!


Next day we headed on down to the Florida Keys, one of my favorite places on earth. My folks have had a timeshare down in Key Largo forever and I have been exploring these mangrove waters as long as I can remember. I love it down here. Old Florida still survives in places like these.







Mom, Daddio, and yours truly.








I wanted to take Lauren down to see the Everglades, one of Florida treasures. The Everglades is a biological wonder not replicated anywhere in the entire world. “The River of Grass” is a slow moving shallow body of water which used to flow from Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida all the way on down south over the Florida peninsula out to the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately due to construction, canals, and agriculture demands we have managed to completely screw up this natural flow of water reducing the size of the everglades unique ecosystem to less than 75% of its original area. Luckily we have finally wised up and are making attempts to restore this rare habitat.







Osprey


River of Grass


The hell!? Hoodlum vultures


Anhinga


Wrapping up in the 305, We hung out with an old friend, Frank the Tank!, before we headed back up to Orlando. Great seeing you guys!


In Orlando we met up with another great friend of ours, Doug, who you might remember from our Rae Lakes Trip. Doug shares our love for adventure traveling and we loaded up the 4x4s for a camping trip in the Ocala National Forest, another beautiful Florida landscape, replacing coastal Palms with Florida scrub pines. Doug is in the process of downsizing his life to move into his truck as well. He will soon be joining the overlanding crew!







Doin’ what we do best




It’s not really camping till the guns come out.. Look at that form! Oo-RAH!






After Ocala, Lauren headed back to Tampa to hang out some more with the familia. They headed over to Busch Gardens for some fun with her sisters and nieces.







To really round our entire Florida tourist punch-card there was only one place left to go….



Who needs the PanAm? We got Mexico right here!




My best-bud Jack and I. During our college years, We traveled and worked our way across the country for 9 months in an 87 Chevy Conversion Van. Built a bed and a kick ass stereo system in the back. We had a cooler full of beer and a dream to make it to Los Angeles, all you need for an ultimate life changing road-trip. Man… we shoulda never sold that van!





Unfortunately I didn’t get many pics of Orlando and missed out on lots of pics of my buddies. Huge Thanks to Kevin for helping me rig up the spare battery under the truck and thanks to Lauri for letting us crash at your house. Thanks to TrashCat for nothing!

One last stop before we could leave Florida. We headed down to Lake Placid to visit the place where all this rambling got into my bones…

Grandmas!



My grandma and grandpa (R.I.P.) would pile all of us kids, cousins, parents, pets and whoever was standing around at the time into this monster of a motorhome and take us on excursions all over the U.S when we were young. I have so many great memories as a kid cruising the highways and byways of this great nation, seeing tons of national parks, camping, and enjoying the adventure of the cruise. I do believe if it was not for this very motorhome I would not be the person I am today. I love you grandma and grandpa, thanks for providing us another window to the world.

We scooted up from Lake Placid to Atlanta to visit one of Laurens friends, Crystal, and check out the Atlanta Aquarium. Atlanta Aquarium is badass, they have a HUGE 8.6 million gallon tank. This gigantic tank houses over 250,000 fishes, including 4 giant Whale Sharks. The Atlanta Aquarium is the only aquarium in the US to house Whale Sharks. Crystal and Quentin’s new baby loved seeing all the fishes. Good seeing you guys!









I loved this quote on this bench “History is written by those who make the wake. Not by those who ride on it nor by those who watch safely from shore.”


Tried to steal one for you Michelle, they caught me smuggling it out in my jacket.


After Atlanta we started West again, Destination: Austin, TX. We camped a night or 2 along the way in some national forests in Mississippi and Louisiana.







Had to stop by a Drive-Through Daiquiri stand in Louisiana for some roadies.




I am typing this post from the back of the truck, currently parked INSIDE of Ruined Adventures house in Austin, TX. They have a badass warehouse/loft and we were able to pull our truck inside and now are camping in style. We have a long-list of loose ends to tie up but we should be heading south to Mexico here in a few days. FINALLY!

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Old 12-15-2011, 05:00 PM   #51
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Thanks for Sharing!
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:03 PM   #52
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Awesome. Thanks for updating us.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:23 PM   #53
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This is great keep it coming......please

I enjoy seeing what you country is like. Very different to where I live. I'm also a 4wd'er so enjoy seeing your Toyota too
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:17 AM   #54
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Awesome! You're living one of my dreams.

I've done a couple North America trips living out of my '98 Cherokee in a similar fashion, but I never strayed too far off road. Someday me and the Mrs hope to make a trip like yours in something like a 70 or 80 series Land Cruiser.

Keep them posts a-comin'!

- Darren
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Old 12-16-2011, 07:35 AM   #55
defrag4 OP
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Originally Posted by TritonTEX View Post
This is great keep it coming......please

I enjoy seeing what you country is like. Very different to where I live. I'm also a 4wd'er so enjoy seeing your Toyota too
There is plenty of beautiful country out here, you just have to get out of the concrete jungles to see it.
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Old 12-25-2011, 04:01 PM   #56
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Cool2

Whats up guys! Merry Christmas! Just got done wheeling for 4 days in Big Bend National Park backcountry, I ended up busting up my rear swingout hitch pin mount, one of my jerry can mounts, and somehow jammed my rear leafspring pack through the corner of my fuel tank, also seem to be leaking a bit of fuel from somewhere around the injector closest to the radiator. (Did I mention I was gettin it!?)

We were planning to cross at Ojinaga but now we are in El Paso, TX where we are camped out in front of 4WheelParts waiting for it to open tomorrow. PLan to buy a new Jerry Can mount in the morning and hopefully find a good fab shop/mechanic in the area to help me with my other issues.

Anyone know somebody in the El Paso area who could help us out? Need a bit of welding and some mechanical help! Thanks fellers
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Old 12-26-2011, 04:38 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by defrag4 View Post
Whats up guys! Merry Christmas! Just got done wheeling for 4 days in Big Bend National Park backcountry, I ended up busting up my rear swingout hitch pin mount, one of my jerry can mounts, and somehow jammed my rear leafspring pack through the corner of my fuel tank, also seem to be leaking a bit of fuel from somewhere around the injector closest to the radiator. (Did I mention I was gettin it!?)

We were planning to cross at Ojinaga but now we are in El Paso, TX where we are camped out in front of 4WheelParts waiting for it to open tomorrow. PLan to buy a new Jerry Can mount in the morning and hopefully find a good fab shop/mechanic in the area to help me with my other issues.

Anyone know somebody in the El Paso area who could help us out? Need a bit of welding and some mechanical help! Thanks fellers
Not personally familiar with the El Paso area, but have no doubt the folks at the 4WheelParts store will have some good suggestions for you on mechanics/welders.

Curious, your mention of leaking fuel caused me to wonder whether you're using an oversized aftermarket fuel tank on that 4Runner? I'm contemplating one for my Tundra truck but wonder whether it might be a little more vulnerable to damage.

Hope you had a merry Christmas, and best of luck in El Paso and on your continuing adventure. Keep the posts and pics coming, they're great.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:25 PM   #58
defrag4 OP
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My friends, It was getting to the point that we thought we would never actually make it into Mexico. Our journey across the U.S. of A was only supposed to last a month then we were supposed to cross the border to be in Mexico by early December. Well…Christmas came and went and we found ourselves in Big Bend National Park , South Texas. We could actually SEE Mexico across the Rio Grande but we were not yet in it! Oh well, you know how plans go. No regrets! The gods may have wanted us to stay state-side with a seemingly never ending “TO-DO LIST” but our will is strong, we preserved and now we are sitting at a bar looking out over the Sea of Cortez in lovely Mazaltan, MX.

When we last left each other we had just arrived to our good friends and fellow PanAm travelers house “Ruined Adventures” in Ausin, TX. Brenton and I spent most of the week tearing into the truck in what seemed like a never ending battle of fixes while Lauren and Shannon ran all over town tracking down bits and bobs and widdling down our TO-DO list.

Swapping out the CV axle, luckily Brenton had a spare on hand. We almost dropped the truck on our heads a few times but managed to get it swapped out. Quite a pain in the arse!



Ruined Adventures have the best setup for overland preparation, Brenton and Shannon live in a badass warehouse/loft with every tool imaginable to tackle any problems that you can throw at them. Brenton had an extra Hi-Lift too (Think a huge car-jack on crack, used for all kinds of things on the trail) here he is rigging up a mount on our rear swingout to place the unwieldy jack. Thanks to Ruined Adventures for really helping us out on our final prep for the trip.



They are hitting the road on January 29th and will be crusing Baja before shipping over to the mainland, You will definetly be seeing them in future blog posts. You can follow their adventures on their own blog at http://ruinedadventures.com

Thanks a lot guys! See you soon!



Our plan from Austin was to head south to Big Bend National Park, scope it out for a few days and then cross into Mexico at a border called Ojinaga. We hit the road, fixed up and ready for action!





Made it to Big Bend in the middle of the night, not exactly sure where to camp we just drove about 15 miles down some dirt road and pulled off to the side, setup camp and went to sleep… Awoke in the morning to some pissed off park rangers who slapped me with a $175 ticket for “driving off-road”… Our first ticket in almost 2 months, that’s a record for me! Not to be discouraged we went up the rangers office, figured out the deal and secured a permit for a few days of “legal backcountry camping”



Hit the backroads of Big Bend. (I forgot to mention I managed to back into a lightpole somewhere in between Austin and Big Bend, completey fubaring one of our jerry can holders and throwing off the alignment of the bumper and hitchpin, I rigged it up with some bungee cords and kept on trucking, hoping it would hold.)







The Park guide warned us of the “dangerous black gap 4x4 road” the park ranger highly advised we go around the long way around… I pointed to our truck outside and he said “oh.” and that was the end of that. The road wasn’t too treacherous, I didn’t actually need 4x4 at all but high clearance and a truck that can take a good beating was a necessity. I would imagine if it rained and this whole dirt road turned to mud it would be a different story altogether.





After cruising the desert for a few hours we made it to our backcountry campsite. Tally #2 (great campsite, We recommend it if you head out this way.)







Setup shop just as the sun went down, beautiful sunset from our home for the next few days.

[img]"http://homeonthehighway.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/IMG_4343-Large_thumb1.jpg[/img]

Lauren busted out the park map and found a nice 10-mile day-hike for us from our campsite up to the top of a canyon overlooking the Rio Grande river and the elusive country called Mexico. We woke up to constant howling 20-30mph winds but an otherwise clear day. We suited up and hit the trail.



Lauren made a new tree-friend, she has lots of tree-friends



Made it to the top, with the winds gusting at 20-30 it was a little sketchy getting too close to the edge but a photo-op was necessary!



Long way down, you can see the Rio Grande here, and our first glimpse of Mexico since our baja trip. So close! Yet so far…



Got back to camp, exhausted and windburned but we heard tell of a natural hotspring a little further up the road. We hauled ass through the desert hoping to make it to the hotspring before nightfall. We got there just as the sun went down, everyone was gone and we realxed our bones in the 105F water, we had all to ourselves. Gazing at the stars, listening to the spring run into the river alongside. Perfecto.





Woke up the next morning to overcast skies and cold cold weather. Looks like all those winds were blowing in a storm. We headed out of the backcountry, Lauren’s dad had promised her a Christmas gift of a hotel room, we figured now was the time to take him up on it since it was Christmas eve and started snowing outside!

Lauren hanging out in front of the Big Bend lodge, our warm home for the night.


Little different scene than when we last saw this photo!



The snow covered park was gorgeous, a completely different experience than when we were first here a few days ago.





Cactus + Snow? This does not compute!



As the sun set over the mountains I realized it was a white Christmas! The first one either of us has had in a long long time. Merry Christmas!



Rested up for the night, woke up on Christmas day and headed out. I had done some serious damage to our already damaged hitchmount bouncing along the backroads of Big Bend. I completely sheered off the actual mount and had secured the swingout with zipties. Needed to get this fixed before we attempted the rough roads of Mexico. Unfortunately for us, Big Bend is in the middle of nowhere, closet town was 100 miles away with no real services to speak of, plus it was Christmas day. Everything was closed.

Beautiful but desolate drive along Texas Highway 90



Aliens!?



Weird stuff out here…



Like a designer Prada store in the middle of friggin nowhere???



We decided to head to El Paso, TX, a 300-mile detour, but a necessary one. We arrived in the middle of the night and guerrilla camped in a parking lot somewhere waiting for the morning light. I had found a “4 Wheel Parts” and hoped they would have the parts and services that I needed.

4 Wheel Parts turned out to be useless (Surprise, surprise…) but I got the internet and found a real 4x4 shop up the street a ways. A “Little” 4x4 Shop just outside of El Paso, TX had everything we needed and got us fixed up with a beefier mount and new jerry can holder. Big thanks to Roger and the guys for getting us in and out quickly! If any of you West Texas guys need 4x4 work done or any parts for Jeeps this is your man. His place was a mecca of everything Jeep.











We got fixed up and were ready to hit the border but it was already 3PM, figuring it would be wise to wait to cross until the next morning we spent another night in a random parking lot working on our Spanish and getting amped to finally be in Mexico!

Note: There are no pictures for a while, We were a bit stressed out with the crossing and taking pictures of the whole ordeal was far from our mind.

Next morning, We punched “border crossing” into the GPS and took a drive towards Ave of Americas which led us to a little border crossing. There was literally no one there but a little lady. I asked her in my craptastic spanish if there was an aduana (customs office) there and a banjercito (Mexican govt bank) where we needed to get our vehicle permit. We think she said No but unsure we just drove in anyway. No inspection, no dogs, no questions, no nothing. It was like going through a stop sign in the middle of an intersection.. and we were now in Mexico. That was easy enough.

Except we still needed to get our visa and vehicle permit, attempting to navigate our way around Ciudad Juarez proved to be a fruitless effort. We decided to cross BACK into the USA and go to a larger border crossing which hopefully would have the offices we needed.

Crossing back into the US we waited in line for about an hour, got to the guard, who berated us with a bunch of questions and accusations then threatened to search our truck, and then eventually let us back in. We flipped a U-Turn and drove right back to the border crossing to get BACK into Mexico. Again hassled a bunch more by US border patrol, more threats, more questions, and eventually let through.

We found the customs office easily this time and the Mexican customs official was very helpful and spoke english. We received our 180-day permit for our actual persons and he gave us directions to the Banjecrito which turned out was 30 miles down the road towards Chihuahua. We drove through Juarez, which looked a lot like a crappy version of any U.S suburban city. Applebees, Chilis, Burger King etc. just the signs were in spanish. Eventually making our way onto the highway and cruised 30 miles toward the Banjercito which was clearly marked in english and spanish. Pulled over, parked the car, and headed inside where we found more helpful people who spoke at least a little english to help us make some copies and get our Mexican vehicle permit. We paid a fee for the permit and placed a $200 deposit down which will be refunded when we leave Mexico.

BAM! We and the truck were perfectly legal now to be in Mexico for the next 180-days. Game on.

We hit the highway again, our destination was a place called “Copper Canyon” which is up in the mountain range called “Sierra Del Occidental” of North West Mexico

Better get used to life in the slowlane and converting MPH to KMH.



Happy to be in Mexico! FINNALY!


Headed to the mountains.



We drove higher and higher up into the mountain range, Desert scrub was replaced by tall pines and the weather cooled off dramatically. We found a little side road that we followed for a bit and tucked up among the pines to camp. Our first night in Mexico, reminded us a lot of our many nights spent up in the California Sierra mountains.







Delicious dinner of 99c Lipton Mexican rice and bagged tuna fish. Only the finest for Home on the Highway. It was awesome washed down with a few Tecates.



Packed up and hit the road in the morning, we were going to a town called Creel, MX which is considered “The Gateway to Copper Canyon”

Passed many small logging towns along the way.



Lunch time!



We wound further and further up into the mountain range, it was a long but beautiful drive.





Burro friends





Eventually we made it to Creel!







....Read more on the blog http://homeonthehighway.com
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:38 PM   #59
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:00 PM   #60
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