Jump and the net will appear-Extended Adventure-July15-August 4, 2019 (1 Viewer)

65swb45

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Once upon a time [ok, it was June 2018] I had to drive my wife to Chicago for an experimental medical treatment on one of her eyes. On the way back, we made the fateful decision to stop in Rapid City South Dakota and meet Edgar Matuska @Redgrrr , a young man who I had done some business with though the forum. Over dinner Edgar told us that he was chairman of his club’s big annual event, the Black Hills Cruiser Classic [BHCC]. And of course he wanted us to attend.

I told him I had heard about the event from my friends Steve Cramer @Poser and Paul Fantry @3_puppies and had thought about it, but hadn’t ever wrapped my head around the logistics of getting there. As Butch Baker @Texican , Mike Costello @66fj40x2 David Williams @Fireman Nolen Grogen @wngrog Nick Sone @Green Lantern and all the other fine people I’ve met in TX at the Lone Star Roundup can tell you, I am no stranger to marathon drives. So I said I would think about it.

Fast forward six months, and it’s become obvious that Edgar is not only engaging, he is tenacious. For better or worse, Edgar has my private cellphone number, and two days before Christmas he started in on me again about attending the BHCC. He made me a very generous offer to cover my registration if I would attend and I capitulated. I have lived a charmed life in which the motto ‘jump and the net will appear’ has worked many, many times. So I said ‘what the heck? I’ll just say yes, and somehow it will all work out. The BHCC officially started on July 17th with an overnight run starting that morning. Which meant I would have to be in Rapid City by July 16th.

I spent the next two days thinking about how I would break up the drive out to South Dakota, as well as wondering which vehicle I would take. And then came Christmas, and my daughter and son in law through me a curve ball: they handed me a Christmas card with a ticket to join them at the upcoming Paul McCartney concert…July 13th! Of course I couldn’t have been more surprised, and a little confused. With as much mental dexterity as I could muster in front of the whole family I concluded that I would have to do something I had never done before: transport my truck.

I had already placed a call to Paul in Montana to recruit him into my crazy adventure. Now it looked like I was going to use him for a destination point as well, shipping my truck to him and flying out to retrieve it. So the phone calls started. Paul had a neighbor who did vehicle transports, which made it a little bit likelier that I would get a break on shipping if the guy was basically just driving home with it. But that still left me with 500 miles drive between Helena and Rapid City, and one day to accomplish it in a 50+ year old rig with sub-par cruising speeds.

In the meantime I had weighed out all my considerations for what I wanted to accomplish on the trip. I had already agreed to make a stop in Sheridan Wyoming to help Alfred Hendrickson @Rigger jumpstart his stalled FJ40 project, as well as stopping by Aaron Pena @airon23 in Reno to diagnose some steering and carburetor problems. Needing to travel with three weeks worth of camping gear and diagnostic tools made it clear that the hardtop 40, the Karma Cruiser, would be the best choice for this adventure.

Once I finally decided on the rig [oh the rough life of MVS: multiple vehicle syndrome!] I decided to tackle the list of deferred maintenance on the rig. This included a long-overdue fix on my parking brake, as well as a front axle overhaul, both of which had to be squeezed in between other service jobs at the shop.

So then I thought about transport directly to Rapid City, bypassing Paul, who wasn’t interested in the overnight adventure anyways. I reached out to @Riverrunner on the forum, who brokers auto transports. Having never transported a vehicle before, I was in sticker shock over Aaron's quote to Rapid City and started mentally backpedalling. A local friend of mine and Edgar simultaneously suggested that I consider Denver as a destination point, both because being a hub city it would likely cost less to transport, as well as give more options for flying in. Sure enough, that turned out to be the case.

So with T minus one month, I pulled the trigger, booked a ticket and contacted my Landcruiser connection in Denver, Bob Devereaux @devo about getting me a ride from the airport to my truck.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that in the meantime the widow of my soul brother Carne Lowgren who passed away in March had reached out to me about attending a celebration of life for her deceased husband with a group of his musician friends over the weekend of August 2-4 in the Bristlecone forest 250 miles from home. So I also mentally adjusted my two week adventure into a three week adventure!

On Monday July 8 [T minus one week] the transport shoed up for my rig. Aaron had explained to me that I would be paying a slight premium for the fact that my truck was SO tall it could not be put on the lower deck OR the top deck, but would have to sit on the diagonal tail of the transport, using up two spaces. Nonetheless, the driver who showed up for the truck seemed bent on putting the Karma Cruiser on the most forward spot of the upper deck. Not one to argue, I handed him the keys, only to see the confusion set in when he couldn’t find the shifter!

After changing places with him in the truck and showing him the pattern of the column shifter, he proceeded to smoke the clutch just getting the truck out of my driveway. Doubt settled in, and sure enough, he was more than happy when I volunteered to drive the truck up onto the transport for him. Well this was a new and very uncomfortable experience, and I could immediately see why he so quickly relinquished control. Even in low range, getting a 3 speed with manual steering to back up a ten foot slope on two ribbons of aluminum less than 2 feet wide was a little scary! And as I approached the front of the top deck, in reverse, I realized that the deck had no stops! My right knee was none too happy holding the manual brakes until he could get the front of the frame chained down.

Then I got down from the transport and looked up. Holy cow it was tall! I had serious reservations over whether my truck would be a convertible by the time it got to Denver. Driver said it measured out at 13’7”. With a couple of pics, it was off, and I was committed.

In the meantime, the impetus for the transport vaporized: We didn’t end up going to the concert! Instead, my daughter gave birth to her first child Thursday night. I am now officially old.
 
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65swb45

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65swb45

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Day 1: Monday, July 15th-old friends

My flight out of Burbank was early and event-less. Despite having lists of lists of all the logistics for the trip, I realized the day after the transport left that I had forgotten to pack my daypack in the Karma Cruiser. So my pack quickly became one of my carry on bags.

I texted @devo when I touched down, and we connected fairly quickly. This is when I discovered that the map app in my iPhone, which I only had a vague idea of how to use, didn't work anywhere near as well as I had hoped. Bob had me punch in Aaron's address. Simple enough. 15 minutes and quite a few miles down the Interstate, the phone said we were still at the airport. This problem persisted throughout the trip. My work around was to close and reopen the app multiple times [not so easy while driving] at which point it would recalibrate! Seriously?

So we got to Aaron's, chatted a little bit, then I followed Bob back to his place, got my bearings, and headed off to Walmart to do some grocery shopping...and get one of those suction cup dealios for the windshield. @DHONDAGOD will chuckle, as I gave him nothing but grief for putting one on my 45 back in 2007 when he rode with me to TX.

I had made last-minute arrangements for @Biscuit to join us for dinner, which worked out very well, as he was passing through the area that day on his way for a meeting nearby. We met up at some new-fangled eatery where you give them a credit card when you enter and they issue you the equivalent of a prepaid phone card that you use to dispense alcoholic beverages of your choice from a long line of wall dispensers! New and very strange to me.

Obligatory pic of our rigs in the parking lot.
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After dinner, we parted company with Mike and went back to Bobs place, where Bob and I chatted about life, work and retirement until much later than either of us planned on being up. Sum that up in one word: quality.
 
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65swb45

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Day 2: Tuesday July 16th- The Storm

Edgar bombarded me with a steady stream of texts on all the great sights I could and should see on the way to Deadwood, where the BHCC had their base camp. While I looked up ‘most’ of them online, I was also keeping a pretty regular eye on the weather app. The weeks leading up to the event showed a pretty frequent pattern of storms rolling through the area, and my hunch was that wasn’t going to stop just because Mark was coming to town.

Before I rolled out from Bob and Sally’s place Tuesday morning I checked again. Yup: rain starting about 5pm. So I started driving.

Cheyenne, Business I-25
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Stopped for lunch in Lusk and decided to forgo the scenic drive to Hill City in favor of the more direct route through Newcastle in hopes I wouldn’t have to set up camp in the rain.

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I got to the campground around 3pm only to discover that the site I had been assigned was occupied. I tracked down Ed @southdakotayota and Perry, two of the BHCC crew, who contacted Ann, the event coordinator. We determined that since the BHCC did not officially start until Wednesday, the site was indeed available for outside use. So I bought my own campsite for Tuesday night and started setting up.

Before I was even done setting up, Swede came over and started chatting with me, and before I knew it his wife Judy invited me to join them for dinner. Along with Ed’s willingness to jump in and help sort out my campsite issue, I had nothing but a great first impression of this group.

At dinner that evening I noticed a guy named Tim was wearing an event T-shirt from 2002. This prompted me to inquire about @Poser . Well that was a full-on ice breaker, as apparently Steve’s appearances at this event were nothing short of legendary. Story after story rolled out, and selfies were instantly taken and forwarded to him confirming my arrival. I played a few tunes on the guitar until the drizzle started increasing, then decided it was best to retire for the night.

No sooner had I bunked down in my tent then the rain commenced. And then it started hammering. Despite the fact that my ears were still partly numbed from the 400 mile drive, I thought the rains seemed unusually loud and heavy. Some tech-savvy BHCC member captured a screenshot of the storm. We were in the dark red patch just below and to the east of Lead.
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We got hammered. My Oz tent, the same one that survived the debacle in Tx almost a decade ago managed to ride out this storm, but it did sweat a little. I pulled a towel over my head and hoped for the best.
 
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I have been to the BHCC twice and had a really good time on both occasions.

And yes, that is where I first met @Poser. Awesome member of the LC community, and yes, legendary stories.
 

65swb45

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Day 3-Wednesday July 17th: Overlanding

Bright and early, those of us who signed up for the overnight run filed over to the back of the campground where Cody @CTHOR and Ed were in charge of things. I was happy to see that Angelo @doughboy , who I'd originally met in TX 14 years ago, was going to join us. Angelo was one of the six originally slated to do the expedition into the Maze that netted me the cover shot on the Landcruiser calendar.

Also on the overnight run were John and Carol, two of @Poser friends from Minnesota in a yellow 40 , Walt, a local driving and FJ Cruiser, Patrick and Ann from AZ, driving a black Forerunner with every accessory known to man attached to it, Craig and his wife_______ in a white 80 series, Rich and his family in an 80 with a distinctive rhino horn on the hood, Luke in a red 74FJ40 and a couple of others whose names I can't remember.

John and Carol's rig
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Luke's
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Rich's
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Having never been THROUGH the Black Hills I have to tell you that what the overnight run may have lacked in technical challenge it more than made up for in scenery. If you want to see the diversity in the length and breadth of the Black Hills, this is THE run to take. In my mind Cody did an amazing job of cobbling together a bunch of two track segments that would make even the hardiest real estate salesman jealous.
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Having been hammered on by the previous night's storm, and knowing that another was in the forecast, I had already made up my mind that I would sleep INSIDE the Karma Cruiser. Those who know the story of this rig know that I replaced the passenger setback hardware with knurled knobs to facilitate its speedy removal in case of inclement weather, which worked out very well on it's maiden voyage to the Roundup in TX. This time I chose to just leave the seat cushion at home in order to get more camping gear into the truck.
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Sure enough, no sooner had I finished getting my sleeping bag rolled out in the 40, the storm started. One of the wagons was sporting a fancy awning that swung out and around the vehicle, and our small group mostly took refuge under it. Fortunately the storm passed through in an hour, and the late arrival of the catered dinner [sponsored by Bump It Off Road] was held under clear skies.

After dinner, I was treated to one of the most memorable evenings I've had in my four decades of camping. I had brought along my guitar [hardly ever travel without it] and set up a chair near the dining area. One by one, everyone came over and made a loose circle, sans campfire, near me. For the next two hours, I was the entertainment!

Honesty, I've gotten quite used to the idea that there will be several side conversations going on while I serenade the few that are interested in my music. But that evening, EVERYONE was listening to me. I sang. I told stories between songs. And I tried real hard not to let anyone know I was a little nervous that for the first time, everyone was paying attention to me. Everyone seemed to have a good time. And as I said, it was an evening I will probably never forget.
 
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65swb45

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Day 4-Thursday July 18th: Paul and Esther

We had a very nice drive back through the hills, stopping to hike down a hillside to a mine that has become a bat cave.
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as well as a current firewatch tower where we stopped for lunch.
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A lot of pictures were taken, but I’ll admit I used the cell time to catch up on text messages for the family (which included more newborn pics of my granddaughter) as well as checking in on MUD.

As it turned out, our last stop on the way back was one of the lakes Edgar had tried to get me to check out on the way to Deadwood. Jenny Gulch on Pactola Lake. Lots of opportunities for cliff diving. Over a dozen of us enjoyed this very refreshing diversion before heading back to base camp.

By this time Paul @3_puppies and Esther had arrived from MT trailering their 40, and we headed off for dinner at one of the roadside establishments 18 (not 10, inside joke) miles away. The food was meh, but the conversation was GREAT. I always have a good time hanging out with Paul and Esther, and this was no exception. We hung out until dark, and I don’t even remember if I played guitar that night, but I think I did.
 
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65swb45

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I FEEL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS!

I’m hijacking my own thread because as I’ve been writing this out I’ve really felt like I needed to let Tony (the guy who gave me the Karma Cruiser) know about this excellent adventure. He retired and moved away 9 years ago, and I really haven’t heard from him since.

Due to the wonders of the Internet, I was able to track him down, and we just spent 25 minutes catching up on the phone. I swear I could see that big smile of his through the phone from 1300 miles away, he was SO HAPPY I called. His wife told me that he’s been having some health issues, and was getting a little depressed about them (he’s79 now); the phone call was like a shot in the arm.:)

I will be forwarding pictures and a link to this thread in the morning. :cool:
 
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Great write up Mark. You need to give more "shots in the arm".
As I age I find it is so important to catch up with our older friends. You never know when they will check out.
As I approach retirement I intend to line up trips to visit my "old" friends.
And it is not just for their benefit.

I have a group of friends, from my teens and twenties, that I periodically catch up with. Our most recent reunion was at Moparfest in Ontario, Canada last year. It was like we had just gotten together a week ago, although it was almost 30 years.

Please book a few days in DV next January, my :princess: and I will will be stopping at the warm springs for a few days on our way to Baja .
If you can't make it, I'll go out of my way to crash in your driveway for a night.
 

65swb45

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Great write up Mark. You need to give more "shots in the arm".
As I age I find it is so important to catch up with our older friends. You never know when they will check out.
As I approach retirement I intend to line up trips to visit my "old" friends.
And it is not just for their benefit.

I have a group of friends, from my teens and twenties, that I periodically catch up with. Our most recent reunion was at Moparfest in Ontario, Canada last year. It was like we had just gotten together a week ago, although it was almost 30 years.

Please book a few days in DV next January, my :princess: and I will will be stopping at the warm springs for a few days on our way to Baja .
If you can't make it, I'll go out of my way to crash in your driveway for a night.

Duly noted Kevin. Tentative plans to got to DV in Oct. No plans for next year yet.
 

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Day 5-Friday, July 19th: Rock and Roll!

In the background of the event, there was an ongoing shuffle that Edgar and the rest of the BHCC were constantly wrestling with. The local Forest Service was in the midst of issuing new travel restrictions for the area, and literally, the club was hanging by a thread on which trails would be open on any given day. While driver’s meetings were scheduled for 7am, the Forest Service website was not going ‘live’ with route maps until 8am. Needless to say, the sign up sheets were VERY tentative. My hat’s off to the BHCC crew for wrestling with this alligator in real time.

I ended up signing up for a trail run called Duggins, which was a 4 out of 6 on their scale of technical difficulty. In Mike’s words ‘It can be done in a stock rig...with a good driver.’ Well that came off as a double-dog dare, since my rig was basically stock (2” lift) P235s, 3on the tree, manual steering, manual brakes. And me a driver with four decades of experience.

Six of us ended up in the lineup, including @BudKing. The others all had 35s or better, power steering, power brakes, more than 3 gears, yada yada. You get the picture. 50 feet from the trailhead I was in low range. Another couple of hundred and the hubs were locked. And off we went, rocking and rolling down the mountain. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed it, working the rig back and forth over lines no one else had to thinks about, much less worry about. And having both the hardtop and the roofrack made for the equivalent of wrestling a breadbox through the trees.

There were three places where I had my doubts about the rack and top, but with multi-point approaches, I managed, without spotters, to get the Cruiser through with nothing more than some tree sap on the rack. Half way through Mike said to me “We probably shouldn’t have brought you here.” :rolleyes: I just kept rocking and rolling. Finally 20’ before what turned out to be the end of the trail I stopped and stuck my head out of the window and said “I have just reached the limits of what I can do with this rig.” That’s when they told me there was only another 20’ to go!

So with one little tug over a rock I knew the 235s weren’t going to climb, I drove back out. I think I took a spotter at one point on the way back up the mountain. Other than that, it was just a matter of throwing the weight around judiciously and keeping clutch action to a bare minimum. It would have been nice to get some action shots of Karma, but everyone was moving along, and I certainly wasn’t providing any extra entertainment.

At our lunch stop I snapped a pic of Kent’s overflow bottle, as I intend to mount something similar on at least one of my rigs.
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I was certainly looking forward to a shower by the time we got back! While I was chatting with some fellow cruiserheads next to my campspot, Paul @3_puppies and Esther came rolling in with what at first looked like a deer laying on their hood. It turned out to be a VERY muddy towstrap whose original vibrant color had been completely obliterated by the mudfest they had participated in on their trail run. Forgot to snap a pic, but here’s a good ‘before’ shot of his 40.
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65swb45

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Day 6- Saturday July20th: R&R, Mark’s Off Road style

With 1800 miles to go, and with a good day of wheeling under my belt, I decided to give Saturday a rest. I had a couple of books to read, some gear to organize, and....some valves to adjust!

On our way back from the overnight run, my 40 handily passed Luke’s fuel infected 40 on one of the grades back to camp. When he asked me for theories, one of mine was that his valves were clattering too much, a sign that they were overly loose, which means the engine wasn’t breathing as well as it could.

Since I had along all my diagnostic tools for working on @Rigger truck, I pulled them out and went through Luke’s valves while 4 or 5 other guys ‘supervised’. ;). Then I ended up visiting with Tim, a retired writer who towed his 40 up from Louisiana, but couldn’t drive it any more because his new-to-him ‘fool infection’ was running very erratically. Tim and I covered a lot of ground, from work and family to matters totally metaphysical. Frankly I don’t think it was a conversation either of us expected to have happen. But we both enjoyed it. And Tim came away from the conversation with a better understanding of the karma that surrounds me.

When Paul and Esther got back from their adventure, I twisted his arm, with Esther’s help, into letting me adjust his valves too. Then it was time to clean up for the big dinner and raffle. The food was REALLY, really good, to the point that I chased down the caterer as he was leaving later that night for one last chance to compliment him. During dinner, Tim came over and handed me some raffle tickets, explaining that it was obvious to him that the tickets had a better chance in my hands than his, the owner of a broke-down rig.

Next up was the kids raffle, which totally blew me away. I always enjoyed the kids raffle that @Green_Lantern and @KOWBOY put on at the LSR. But I don’t remember ever seeing SO MANY young, future cruiserheads at one event. This is a young, family-oriented group with a very bright future. See for yourself!
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My hat’s off to Swede (the big kid in the back row) who managed to find enough model 40s for every kid to get one.

Once the big kid’s raffle started, sure enough the first of my six prizes was on a ticket Tim gave me. I tried to give him the prize, a tire patch kit, but he wouldn’t take it, insisting I should continue my practice of paying it forward. Tim ,if you are reading this, It is now with Sam, the owner of the MM40.

We had another great bonfire afterwards, with Edgar alternating between bear hugging hollowed logs onto the fire, and keeping his young, impressionable son away from the fire! LOL!

Rain was in the forecast for early Sunday morning, and I didn’t relish the idea of packing camp in the rain. Paul and Esther graciously invited me to pitch my tent on the deck of their cabin Saturday night, which worked out very well. After a late-night chat with Edgar and Paul, it was off to be for the next leg of my adventure.
 
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Day 7-Sunday,July 21st: Screwy map app!

Woke up about 5 am, had some cold cereal and started packing. Weather holding. Done by 6AM. Considered that a huge success. Said goodbye to Paul and Esther, waived to Tim and drove out onto the highway. Driving into Deadwood, it started pouring. I mean really pouring! '69 windshield wipers with xxyear old blades certainly weren't doing much to help. Narrow, winding streets through town, parked cars, pedestrians [no, not really] It just seemed like a white-knuckle adventure trying to go 25mph and not hit anything!

Drove past Tatonka that @HENDOG told me about. Obviously not stopping for a look-around. Got to Spearfish about 7:15 and it was only a mild drizzle. Went to Walmart to replace my old, worn out, now-sticking non-stick frying pan and get a few groceries for the next leg of the adventure. Spotted this gem across the street.
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Meanwhile, back in Denver, I had tried to use the pre-loaded map app in my iPhone to get @devo and I to @Riverrunner house only to find that, 15 minutes after we'd left the airport, the app said we were still at the airport!:bang: Nonetheless, I spent $6 at the Walmart in Denver on one of those suction-cup dealios to put the phone on the windshield frame. So now it was time to use it again. Put in @Rigger address and off I went. Except the app said I was still in Spearfish!

So a few text messages came through while I was driving, and I thumbed them open [no replies from my end] Passed into Wyoming.
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Went back to map app. It updated my location!

:idea:

Apparently (fawk, just lost 20 minutes of typing!) if you close the app and reopen it, it can force a location reset.
This did not however improve accuracy. As I approached where I thought Alfred told me I should exit to avoid driving into Sheridan, the app not only would not tell me where I was, it told me I was not on the interstate, but on a parallel access road a 1/4 mile away!

Of course once I had missed my exit and was forced to drive into Sheridan, it was only too happy to tell me that I had gone too far! So With another reset, I head out again and I get within two blocks of Alfreds before I’m out of luck. Street is not marked, and the phone is not sure I’m there yet. So I backtrack to a high-viz location and call Alfred. He leads me the last two blocks. :rolleyes:

Alfred, I swear I’ll remember next year!

So after some personal decompression, I head out to the garage and reacquaint myself with Hard Ways, his ‘69FJ40. And I end up with the exact same prognosis: distributor, valve adjustment, carburetor. So I pull out the old distributor, and it’s more whacked than I suspected. I can literally move the shaft back and forth over 1/8”. No way to dwell that. Stab the new dizzy on the first try only to discover there’s an interference issue with the dipstick. Remove, clock, replace. Mo bedda.

On to the valve adjustment. All of them are off, a couple pretty badly. Start the truck up after and it sounds pretty good. Still has a horrible flat spot. I determined that was because the tension spring on the accelerator pump arm had lost all its tension: actuate the linkage and the spring compresses without ever moving the arm. Manually actuating the arm does provide the requisite squirt, but there’s too much resistance, as if the plunger has gone duddy. No matter. There’s a fresh carb in the drawer waiting for tomorrow. We retire to a wonderful home cooked meal and a quiet evening of conversation.

Alfred's son Reese graciously let me use his bedroom for the duration of my stay. Reese has a bright future as a mechanic: he asks good questions. Questions that let you know he thought about it before he asked.
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Day 8-Monday, July 22nd: Vroom, Vroom

After a wonderful breakfast from Rhonda, Alfred, Reese and I headed back out to the garage for the long-awaited carb install. Pulled the old carb. Spent an hour chiseling sludge off the manifolds and the driver's side of the cylinder head. Swapped out mounting studs, installed the new carb, pulled the gas pedal and swapped accelerator cables, took out the frozen choke cable and spent the better part of an hour rehabilitating it back into working order. Hook up fuel line, ICS wiring, PCV and we're ready.

Reached into the cab and cranked the starter over. About 10 seconds later the bowl must have been full: the carburetor started with no pumping and just idled. Alfred and Reese were grinning like it was Christmas. First time the cruiser had started without ether. Made a couple of adjustments and then Alfred went off for his first test drive! Unfortunately, vacuum was still sub par, so the engine has a hesitation that in all likelihood wouldn't be there with better vacuum. But I didn't do a compression test. I just left Alfred with instructions to conduct investigations into possible sources for vacuum leaks.
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Day 9-Tuesday July 23rd: New Friends

Alfred had to leave early Tuesday for a business meeting two hours away, so I had an early breakfast alone before the family woke and headed into town. Today's drive was only 150 miles, over the Cutler Range and into Cody. But it was one of the more adventuresome days from the standpoint that I had more or less foisted myself onto some people that I really didn't know.

@2wheelbob was a customer I rebuilt a carb for back in the spring. I had noted that he lived in Cody Wyoming, but frankly I didn't even know where that was. Once I looked at a map and realized it was exactly where I wanted to be to try and catapult myself through Yellowstone as quickly as possible [IH8tourists] I basically cold-called him and asked if I could crash at his place. He very graciously agreed. I had hopes that it would be ok; after all, he was a cruiser head.

Alfred had tried to tell me that the trip through the Cutler's was beautiful, but I really had no idea just how beautiful until I got there. Frankly, I think it rivaled Yellowstone, and without the crowds. I just kept pulling over and taking pictures.
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As it turned out, when I finally felt the call of nature, there was a call of nature waiting to behold: Shell Falls!
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65swb45

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I got into Cody around lunch time and humored myself by eating at a local hamburger joint called MORE, which of course is the acronym for my shop! I called Bob up and told him I was in town. He said he would come meet me, as he was across town working on a rig for an upcoming trip. After realizing that I had overfilled my gas tank, and the heated fuel was now running out the gas cap, I left the lunch stop parking lot for the shade of a nearby municipal parking lot. About 20 minutes later, while laying underneath a shade tree studying the inside of my eyelids, I heard a door close and a woman's voice say "You must be Mark." It was Bob's wife Amy.

They led me back to their house on the west side of town, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon on their patio getting to know each other. As one hour lead into the next, Bob and I realized that we had a lot more than Landcruisers in common. By dinnertime, I think we knew we were going to be friends. But first there was the obligatory hang-out in the garage with the Cruiser, talking shop which lead to...another valve adjustment!

We went out for dinner and got the last table in one of the favored local dives. Five minutes later another couple came in who were obviously going to have a long wait. Bob and Amy invited them to join us, and we proceeded to have a first-class evening of it, especially since the service was a little slow. I quite enjoyed meeting Joe and Mary, and Joe was the one who recommended that I visit the Star Restaurant, purveyors of authentic Basque food, in Elko. Joe mentioned one of his favorite dives in the little town of Homer, Alaska and was surprised when I told him I had been there two years ago! I would have showed him on my phone, but I'd left the phone on the charger back at the house.

@2wheelbob, you can show this to Joe when you see him:
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We retired back to Bob and Amy's place for a little more chatting before bed.
 

65swb45

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Day 10-Wednesday July 24th- Yellowstone

I ended up spending a longer morning with Bob and Amy than I planned on. Partially it was because Amy felt like making homemade blueberry pancakes. And partially because we were having such a good time just talking about life. Bob and Amy have a great understanding, a great philosophy, and a very upbeat disposition. I look forward to our next visit, and count this one as one the great highlights of this trip.

This year Bob was the chairman of the Relic Run, and was in actuality preparing a vintage Ford Bronco with a pop up camper for the trip when I had called him. I didn't get to see it in person [the lucky dog has a shop away from his house, like someone else I know!] but here's a pic he texted me:

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So I drove up to the gate at Yellowstone [didn't know there was a gate!] and paid my $8.00 fee [didn't know there was a fee] to sit in line at three different construction zones [of course NOT funded by the entry fee!] and try to get past all the yahoos. By virtue of being a typical guy who thinks he doesn't need to look at a map, I of course made a wrong turn at the T and ended up heading for the north entrance of the park :rolleyes: This in turn led to the direct observation of tourists stopping traffic on the road so that they could take pictures of buffalo near the roadside :rolleyes:

Turned around, waited in more construction zone traffic, saw a lake in the sky that seemed to go on forever [note to self: find out if this is bigger than Lake Tahoe] and made it out the west end of the park before noon! Whew! Actually, once I got past the mob scene of the 'big' attractions, I found stretches of the west side of the Park where there seemed to be actual opportunities for solitude. This is duly noted [did I mention I've never been to Yellowstone before?]

Had lunch in West Yellowstone, then made my way down to Island Park, an interesting little town, thirty miles long, who's claim to fame is that its Main Street is 30 miles long: it's the highway! I'd booked a campsite online a month before, and it's a darn good thing I did. The wind was blowing pretty strong out on the interstate. But as soon as I pulled off into the trees leading to the campground, I found that the hillside slope [heading down towards the river] and the dense trees cut the wind down to a very calm breeze.

Here's a shot of the Henry River, about 300 feet from my camp.
 
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