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1000 miles solo in 1.5 days in an 80

Discussion in '80-Series Tech' started by IdahoDoug, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. IdahoDoug

    IdahoDoug

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    Needed to be in Seattle Tuesday and Portland the following day, so I kicked the tires, checked the oil and headed out about noon. Forecast was for rain all the way, so I was pleasantly surprised about an hour into my trip when I burst into blue skies and sunshine in Eastern Washington. Clicked off the miles all the way until about Ellensburg when I noticed a black wall of weather in my path and the wind had picked up. A while later, snow began falling so hard day turned to gloom, everyone on the interstate slowed to 40, and I turned on my rear fog to protect myself. About 10 seconds later, the rear fog indicator shut off as I heard a fuse pop. Hmm, good timing this.

    Somewhere near a little town called Eastland or something, brakelights started coming on and cars both in front and behind me started hitting each other and pinwheeling off the road. The entire interstate came to a halt. I turned on my portable CB as I gathered my first aid kit, and rescue pack and learned that up ahead on Snoqualmie Pass was a 12 car/semi pileup and the resultant halt had caused numerous minor pileups like the ones near me. The pass info radio station announced it would be about 90 minutes before anything moved - and I was still 15 miles from the pass.

    I left the 80 locked up and sitting in the left lane and walked back to the pileup behind me with my rescue pack and first aid kit. No injuries, but some stunned people out of their cars in shirtsleeves with no coats along for the drive, and worthless street shoes in the 3 inch layer of fresh snow now coating the cars and interstate. As I walked forward to the other crash, other people were getting out and shutting off their cars and semis. I can tell you it was a wierd feeling walking down the centerline of one of this nation's major interstates (I90) in untracked snow with lines of silent vehicles disappearing into the swirling snow. It felt a bit like a movie set. Again no injuries, so I walked another half mile just to get the blood running.

    I hung out at a bridge and watched the snowflakes get swallowed by a beautiful little stream, comfortable in my goretex, thermals and hiking shoes. While there I started to realize that there are people who will drive through dangerous mountains in a car whose mobility is nearly gone due to a 30 minute storm, and there are LandCruiser drivers. I don't mean to stereotype "them" or "us" and I don't mean to get all "rah rah Cruisers" about it either, but I'll bet if most of you were on this exact trip on this exact day I'd probably find extra gear, food, maybe a shovel, and you wouldn't be wearing slipon loafers.

    I stood there a half mile from my truck, leaning on the railing and enjoying myself while people in their vehicles nervously watched the snow begin to pile up enough that their vehicles were going to have some problems. Think about what's going on here. Normally, this kind of heavy snow would not be a problem as the continuous blast of traffic mashes it down as it falls and even the least capable vehicle among them would hardly be affected. But here we were just sitting and the snow was now 3" deep.

    Again, I felt different from other people. I knew I had a highly capable vehicle with new tires that can remain mobile in well over a foot of snow. I had chains, a shovel and a towstrap and a high clearance vehicle. I had a backpack/rescue pack and could walk a hundred yards off the road, make a shelter, light a fire and exist safely for a week. Nobody was out of their cars anymore, and wipers were clogging up from the weight of snow. The truckers got out and started putting chains on, realizing that the upward slope of the hill might make them stuck with another inch or two.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I had options due to my choice of vehicle and the lifestyle that vehicle represents in terms of the activities I participate in and the gear I had with me as a result. It felt good, and I don't mean that in an egotistical way but more of a pragmatic statement - you know what I mean. I don't know at what point I'd make this decision, but even if things got REALLY bad, I could use my ARB to move a couple cars out of my way to get to the right shoulder, and ease back down the road on the shoulder to Eastwhatever and get off the interstate. I don't know what would prompt me to do that of course. Even if it kept up and began turning into a life threatening situation I'm probably too civilized to actually do it until the snow was too deep for me to move well - just human nature.

    After a while, I walked back to the truck, portable CB in my coat's breast pocket and listening to the trucker chatter. Peoples reactions varied. Most remained tight lipped and grim and there were only a few cars with tracks around them to clear the snow indicating those brave enough to even open a door. Some waved, and a car load of college guys with skiis on the roof were all smiles and thumbs up. It was kind of a sociological study as I walked right down the center line.

    I got back to my truck, made a comfy nest in the cargo area with my sleeping back and both foam mats, pulled a slider open an inch and started reading from a book I'm enjoying - "The Time Traveler's Wife". Amazing premise that this guy has no control over his strange ability to time travel, which happens in the middle of taking a crap, while sipping coffee, or just walking down the street.

    The snow tailed off, and they cleared the big pileup. With visibility over a mile again, I could see vehicle brake lights as cars were started and began to creep along. It took 15 minutes for the movement to get back to us and we started moving slowly as people needed a push here and there and semis had trouble getting moving. Almost as soon as we got moving, people started sliding off the road again - unused to what happens when you try to get going over 40mph on 4 inches of untracked snow. About 10% of the cars literally could not get over about 10mph - their wheels spinning constantly as we moved up the gentle slope toward the pass.

    Finally the snow got bashed into slush and traffic got over the pass. An hour later I was sitting in the sunshine at a standstill on Seattle's 405 northbound, contemplating the irony. Driving onto the ferry another hour later made up for it as I enjoyed the last bit of the trip out to the Puget Sound.

    That was the first 8 hours. The following day, I opted for the scenic route from Port Townsend to Vancouver, WA - cruising down the Hood Canal. Realizing I was 2 hours ahead of schedule despite the back road routing, I made a spontaneous decision to visit Sam Devlin's wooden boat building business in the middle of nowhere. Pulled into a Ford store and politely asked to use Mapquest to find the place.

    At Devlin Boatworks (I dream of having one of their stout and seaworthy boats one day), I literally parked and walked right into the shop where I watched the guys work. Sam came in a minute later, asking "whose LandCruiser is that?" and we met and yakked. Turns out he drives the white 62 out front - pristine - and has had a few Cruisers of various years. Great guy, great shop and I left with full size builders plans for a tasty vessel to daydream about.

    On the way to Vancouver, I tried to sneakily find a certain Mudder's address (Ben) to play a prank on him with no success. Heh....

    Got my business done in Vancouver, and headed back to Coeur d'Alene at 7:30pm with a snow advisory on. My hosts cocked my head at me, so for grins I explained that "I drive a LandCruiser, so it's no big deal" and this seemed to assuage them. Traffic thinned out as it got late and I could use the big Hellas for longer and longer periods until finally I could blast along with everything blazing for periods of half an hour or more before the odd truck hove into view, requiring a 30 second shutdown. I pulled into the garage this morning at 2:30 with 980 more miles on the 80 and appreciated anew what a competent and well equipped truck means in an uncertain world. I know this was a bit long winded, but I wanted to share a bit of Cruiser zeitgeist with the 80 brothers. Out.

    DougM

    PS Tech: Gotta figure out the short on my rear fog circuit. Anyone good with a multimeter? I have one, but I'm marginal on it. Should I check for a grounded power line from chafing, or test the ground? Tx.....
     
  2. firetruck41

    firetruck41

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    I wuz gonna say, you shoulda stopped by :)
     
  3. IdahoDoug

    IdahoDoug

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    Tried to. Nice little town.
     
  4. mot

    mot

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    If you direct movies like you write these posts I would have to buy your head gasket DVD ASAP!:D

    Thanks, as always, for sharing, Doug!

    Mot:)
     
  5. gbell210

    gbell210

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    Great story... I'm always am a little prouder for driving a LandCruiser after your posts like this.
    Also, if you're ever in the Bremerton/Poulsbo/Kingston area again let me know.
    -Gary

    When you say rear fog.. I assume a rear fog light? And not the defogger/defroster lines? If so thats not factory is it, where is power tapped into?
     
  6. reffug

    reffug

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    Great story Doug.

    Do you have an aux gas tank on that baby? In a situation such as you write about that would be my only concern, running out of gas in bad weather due to other peoples idiocy would probably make me pretty mad. It always does amaze me how people will go out to drive in bad/inclement weather with no provisions for the what could happen factor. Guess its darwin at work but sure would suck to die cause you were to stupid to be prepared.
     
  7. hicruise55

    hicruise55 IH8MUD VOYEUR

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    Agian great story! Eastern Wa. gets snow but its halarious when the we(s)t siders are in the snow. I have actually had the state patrol tell me "hurry up, I'm only letting you though cause your driving this! the plows will be comming right behind you" as they were closing the pass down. Its not a bad pass to travel, usually just the people traveling it! A beautiful trip as well, glad your journey was for the most part incident free- tech: bet its a ground
     
  8. RavenTai

    RavenTai

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    Great read, like any good author you paint a picture.

    as for the fog it very well could be a chafe somewhere, in this case you may be better off starting with a detailed visual inspection of the harness, intermittent things can be difficult to chase with a meter.
     
  9. 94landcruiser

    94landcruiser

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    I really enjoyed that. Thanks.
     
  10. stlcruiser

    stlcruiser

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    Who needs books? We have Doug.

    Extremely enjoyable reading. Thanks.

    Steve
     
  11. DTAYLOR

    DTAYLOR

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    So how about DougHemingway instead of IdahoDoug?

    Doug,

    My wife is an author, and I am trying to be. That was a great story. Well written. Perfect for a magazine article, too short to be a chapter.

    Ever thought about submitting to a 4X4 mag?

    D
     
  12. MJADDICTION

    MJADDICTION

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    Great story. Makes me even happier about spending the change I have on a 14y/o vehicle. My wife questioned me about the money I've spent on the cruiser lately. Not mad, just didn't really understand why I would do it. "Don't you think you should save money for a newer vehicle", she said. "You are getting the next vehicle, since you bought something so old", she said....

    "I don't want the next vehicle", I told her. I've found the one to carry me through retirement... in 25years... :D

    She doesn't realize that even after I retire I'll still want to drive it.

    I finally understand the "cruiser thing". Only, I don't have to plaster it on my window. You can see it within the smile on my face every time I drive the 80.
     
  13. Driley

    Driley

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    Excellent Story!!!

    As everyone else has mentioned, excellent writing! I have driven that route before (used to live in the Tri-Cities, WA) and it can get nasty.

    When reading your post, I was reminded of a book I read a while ago. I am a fan of post apocalyptic stories (The Stand, Swan Song, Andromeda Strain etc.) and came across a review of a book called Lucifer's Hammer. The reviewer claimed that reading the book made him decide to get a 4 wheel drive vehicle. I read the book and highly recommend it. No fantasy or magical creatures, just a story of how people would react to a global disaster. I only mention it because you mentioned reading while waiting for traffic to clear (anyone that has a paperback in their storage drawers must love to read!).

    Thanks again for sharing the story!

    Riley
     
  14. PACNW96

    PACNW96

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    As always I enjoy reading your mini stories Doug.

    I remember a time driving with my wife in my old 4runner from Spokane to Seattle. This was after Thanksgiving with the in-laws. The drive was fine and as usual filled up the tank in Ellensburg just to be on the safe side. I always like to have a full tank when heading over passes. It wasn't 5 minutes west of Ellensburg when we came to a stop and brake lights as far as I could see. There was no snow on the ground, but as we inched along snow flakes began to appear. The further west we went the more snow there was. The times we were stopped vs making progress got longer and longer. Some people got out of their vehicles and began making snowmen on the side of the road.

    After 5 or 6 hours we were still on the east side of the pass and pulled over to chain up as chains were required. I felt confident I would have no problem getting over the pass with almost brand new BFG A/T, 4 wheel drive, and chains, but I was amazed at the amount of ill prepared travelers who were in rear wheel drive sports cars and of course had not thought to bring chains. I remember clearly leading the way over the pass was an older RX7 that was spinning it's rear tires like mad in a side ways fashion and a lowered Honda Civic with high performance tires! I ended up blazing a path in new powder to get by.

    Once cresting the top of Snoqualmie it was a sheet of ice and cars were everwhere almsost unable to move. Only when the chain itself was in contact with the ground did I get traction. We made it home safe after a 12 hour journey from Spokane. I heard later from my dad that one of his elderly patients was stuck on the pass overnight as they closed it soon after we crossed. We got very lucky.

    Nothing like the feeling of being prepared during winter travels.

    Thanks Doug for sharing your experiences. So did you take the Mukilteo ferry on your trip?

    Russell
     
  15. Hants

    Hants

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    Great writing Doug! :beer:

    Being prepared brings great confidence & peace of mind. :)

    Tech: Is your rear fog wired into your rear/trailer light circuits? If so, you may have blown a fuse.
     
  16. mnewell

    mnewell

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    Awesome story. Thanks for sharing.

    Next time you come out here we should have a LC get-together.

    I think the town you were thinking of is Easton. :)
     
  17. LX_TREME

    LX_TREME

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    Okay Doug, back in '01 I drove 80s from CA- NY coast to coast (I-80 West- East 2998 miles) the gas cost me about $398.00 and yes it just the gas.

    Tech question, so how much the gas cost you this time for 1000 miles solo in 1.5 days in an 80 ? I'm planning to drive to coast to coast again this summer time.
     
  18. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    nice writing

    I would guess many of us feel that way. I do... :)
     
  19. phxtlc

    phxtlc

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    Nice story...makes my story of driving with a fully packed 15 year old 80 from Atlanta to Phoenix in August after only changing the oil seem boring.
     
  20. jditom

    jditom

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    Great story! Bottom line, be prepared:cheers:

    Which LC were you driving and which tires?