March Wheeling in the USA

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Jan 12, 2006
Ladner, BC, Canada
For spring break our family had an amazing 17 day vacation driving through the West of the USA. The original goal was to get to our son's baseball tournament in Phoenix. Our route went through Salt Lake City, Kanab, Grand Canyon, Sedon, Phoenix, LA, Pismo Beach and home. It was a family adventure that included 4 wheeling, hiking, Universal Studios, beaches, 4 tow trucks and a rental car. The 80 completed roughly 4200 km of the 5400 km trip. The rental car completed the last 1200 km.

Here are a few highlights.
The post above is in White Pocket, Arizona just south of Kanab, Utah. A few guys from Copper State Cruisers recommended checking it out as not every tourist can get to it. The next day we hit the Grand Canyon for a 6 hr hike. Truly amazing and Grand. I'll post more later.
Met up with Andrew, from Copper State Cruisers, along with his wife and dog Jet. They took us to a lesser known area for a hike. The next morning we decided to spend a couple of hours following the Pink Jeep Tours.

Looks like a great trip. You didn't mention it, so I guess you passed by the Land Cruiser Museum in Salt Lake City?
Mormon Tabernacle?
Looks like a bucket list trip, to bad about the mechanicals.
Here is Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona. I'll see if I can get some of the videos on here later.
Not sure if this will work to see the video. My wife gets a little anxious, even after all these years, when she can't see the road in front of us.

This is why the kids started crying when I said I wasn't sure if we'd ever be driving the 80 again. They love it.


Our first of a few tows. Had to remove the manifold or throttle body to get to the hose. Too much for me so we used our BCAA for a 94 mile tow to the Hilton Universal Studios. Got a lot of looks arriving on a flat deck. Gave the keys to valet park it.

Found a reputable mechanic shop at the Mobil station a few minutes from the Hilton. $200 in parts, $950 in labour...and that's USD. It was fixed by the time we were scheduled to drive to Pismo Beach for a night. One night isn't enough at Pismo but that's all we had time for.





Left Pismo around noon on the Friday. Around 1:30 while cruising nicely through wine country all of a sudden the engine shut down on me. Luckily there was a winery we could roll into and call for help. A local shop with their own tow truck was recommended. They had 2 guys on it for a couple of hours and determined an ignition wiring issue going through an aftermarket solenoid, I think from the trailer harness. They bypassed it and set it up so whenever we wanted to start we had to lift the hood and attach the bypass ignition wire to the battery and of course disconnect it if we wanted to be able to turn it off. All for $185 USD. Got out of there around 5:30pm. Ran good until we were between San Jose and Oakland....



Looks like a great trip. You didn't mention it, so I guess you passed by the Land Cruiser Museum in Salt Lake City?
Mormon Tabernacle?

We didn't have time for either of those. One day we will head back with the trailer and spend more time in Utah.
I feel for your troubles. My 60 came home from Watson Lake on a flatbed a couple of years ago.
6 days into a 3 week trip....
I feel for your troubles. My 60 came home from Watson Lake on a flatbed a couple of years ago.
6 days into a 3 week trip....

Thankfully our trip was pretty much done and we were heading straight home. We got in around 4200km with the 80. Last 1200 were trouble.
So what happened between San Jose and Oakland?

The freeways around San Jose and Oakland are in really rough shape with a lot of firm bumps. We were in the area during late rush hour so it was busy but moving along. When I would hit a solid bump the check engine and ABS (always on from my part time kit) lights would flicker and the engine seemed to miss fire. Around 9pm we decided to get a quick dinner to go as the plan was to still get to Redding that evening. I couldn't find anything obviously wrong but since we weren't going to find help at 9pm on a Friday we decided to push ahead. We were about 30 miles north of Oakland when it did it again so we decided to stop at the Arco in Winters. The only thing I could find was one battery terminal was loose so I tightened it. As we went from the on ramp asphalt to the freeway concrete we hit another bump and I heard a pop and the engine shut down so I turned on the hazards and rolled to the shoulder. As we were rolling to the shoulder we could smell burning plastic and then smoke came through the vents and up from under the dash. We hopped out and proceeded to throw our luggage on the shoulder while I called 911. It was 11pm. Once the wiring sheathing burned out it settled down. By then the local volunteer FD showed up along with the local Winters policeman. They proceeded to argue over whose call it was and the cop took off. Eventually CHiPs showed up as well. All I could think was John and Ponch. Once they knew AAA was on the way they all left us on the side of the freeway with 3 flares that proceeded to burn out after 30 minutes.

At 12:30am a tow truck pulled up and as I walked up to it, it drove off. We then got a call that the tow truck that was dispatched was too small. AAA sent another tow, this time with a quad cab, that arrived at 1:30am. The guy that showed up wanted to pull the Cruiser with the back wheels on the road for the 150 mile tow to Redding. I told him he had to use the dollies, which he wasn't too happy about. His comment was "this is a heavy vehicle." He towed roughly 40 miles (back onto the I5) when he decided to check the dolly wheels and he determined that they were getting too hot. He decided we needed to switch to his flat deck quad cab which was back at the yard 15-20 miles east of the I5 so around 2:30am we were making the switch.

Finally around 5:30am we were in South Redding looking for a hotel and yes, they were all full. Next stop was North Redding where the only available room was with 2 double beds at the Motel 6 in a smoking room. We checked in at 6:30am. My wife found 2 bed bugs and I kicked the dead cockroach under the bed without telling my wife. I set the alarm for 9:30am but we were woken by the drunks at 9am while they tried to enter our room through the adjoining door. I got up and decided to arrange our day. Got a tow to a tow yard for storage at $25/day and found a Ford Explorer to rent to the Bellingham Airport. We left Redding by 3pm and when we reached Eugene, OR I was done. The next day we headed home while I proceeded to get my first speeding ticket since 1993. It's a story of it's own. Let's just say that my wife is a very calm, patient person and even she was chirping Officer Kesler from Kelso, WA.

We made it home safely and overall had an amazing vacation. Thankfully the breakdowns happened at good times all considering. The 80 is back and in good hands. I pressured washed it on Friday and it's ready for the wiring to be done and more. It will be off of the road for a while but stay tuned...





Wow what an adventure, bummer on the crispy harness.

You know Al Ores by chance?

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