Tuesday, January 12, 2021

G Wagon Overland Trip: Corona Tour USA 2020?

This particular trip wasn't even supposed to happen, the initial planning was to go from Chicago to Tuktoyaktuk, down to Seattle, and then back to Chicago. With the world collapsing on itself and borders being closed, our hands were forced to stay within the US. While the mileage of the Tuk trip was well over what we finally ended up doing, we tried to see what we can get done in a two week span.  Obviously the preparation (or lack thereof) and costs are wildly different, our psuedo Tuk trip turned out to be an adventure and a half.  Though, not everything starts out glamorous! 

As was the case for us, the initial departure date between rigs (@overlanderp) was slightly different, so we decided to meet up somewhere in Texas. I ended up coming down through Kansas City and he came down through St. Louis/Springfield. We met up at some pretty alright tasting steakhouse and decided to just call it a day and sleep the rest of the night in a Walmart parking lot that allowed RV's, etc. 

Seeing as we were so close and we were to be passing by them anyway, we figured we'd stop and check out the Cadillacs. 

Has anyone ever seen the Zebra's in someone's backyard right around the corner from this? What's the deal with those?!

Beyond these, Texas was boring. So we blasted up to find camp in New Mexico to get us ready for what would be some really cool trails in Colorado the following day. We ended up finding a pretty nice camp along the Rio Chama. 

I don't quite remember which way we blasted up into Colorado, but it most likely ended up doing some variety of roads to get onto 550, to get us to what we were eager to get to. 

On the way out, they managed to get a SWEET shot of Rosie the G cruising into the storm. 

After driving through some consistent rain, we got to our trailhead.

Look familiar? Most Jeeper's who've done this trail should find it REALLY familiar.

Anything yet? 

Black Bear Pass!

It made for some incredible views at the summit, but this trail is known for some more tedious and dangerous obstacles towards the end. 

The trail is wildly scenic and the terrain changes through the entire trip. Each side of the pass has its own colors, it's pretty wild to experience. 

Too busy getting the experience to take better photos, but we came across some left over snow from the winter.... it was the better part of 12 feet thick, so who knows what happened there. 

Of course, I was also far too busy taking in the famous steps on Black Bear to take pictures.  I admit, I do have my flaws, being afraid of heights is one of them. I don't let fear take too much control of my driving, but damn the views were worth it. 

We got into town and realized we hadn't figured anything out as far as a place to camp for the night. There aren't too many dispersed options in the area, but we did find something just outside of town. The next morning, we would roll into town (get a very good salmon toast for breakfast) and get onto Imogene pass to get back to 550. 

Again, not many photos of those trail, it was just as scenic as Black Bear. I promise, one day I WILL get better with these. 

Skipping ahead a day or so, we finished Imogene and made our way up to Montrose, CO to load up on fuel and groceries. We'd be taking the Rimrocker trail from Montrose to Moab. We were early enough in the day that we could put some miles down on the less technical terrain to our camp for the night. Not the most scenic camp, but it was quiet..... mostly. We did have some random ghost lady pop out from the woods once we got set up. There is a trail behind where we camped, but we had no idea where she headed with no hiking gear, or any car in sight! 

Nothing like waking up in the morning to a gorgeous sunrise..... 

We finished off the Rimrocker, but towards the end we decided to get off my planned route and followed the Volkswagen's internal GPS to what we dubbed the Cowrocker trail to get into Moab. It ended up taking significantly longer, and I'm still questioning the "road" we took, but it got us there.

Getting into Moab, this is where we decided to set up camp. 

As far as I can remember, we were the only ones there. We decided to split camp for the night and the following day we'd take in Moab the way we'd see fit. Check out Lukas' Hell's Revenge Touareg derp vid:

We ended up doing baby lions back and then getting bored. We've wheeled so much the week before, it was time to take care of some laundry, get some coffee shop coffee's, some lunch in town, wash the rig and get it ready for the next leg of the journey. I did end up getting the high score in Pac-man at the laundromat. 

After a day of errands, we met up as a group at the Sunset Grill for some dinner and drinks. I don't remember what hotel we stayed at in town, the cheapest we could find, I'm sure. 

The following day, we made it a point to at least get to the Salt Flats for the night. 

Camp was a pain to get level, but damn was it cool. Of course we got there during the Bonneville races so the flats were essentially off limits to us without paying to "watch". So we found somewhere nearby to set camp. Feels otherworldly out here.

The following pictures I'm not sure are in any particular order, but I'll do my best to get the timeline right. After the flats, we nearly beelined to the coast. We had a plan to visit Crater Lake to commemorate a good friend who took his life years ago. It essentially became a race to the last second for everything. I wouldn't trade it for the world though.

The beach night ended up being pretty miserable for me. I found myself with a debilitating toothache and needed to stop moving ASAP. My brilliant co-pilot and navigator got us into a hotel for the night where I found myself boiling my head under a hot shower to help ease the pain. Luckily the following morning it's like nothing ever happened. 

We then ended up around Klamath? Not entirely sure. I usually call most cow grazing BLM lands Cow Camp. 

It was pretty peaceful though. Got into camp fairly early while the other rig went out for some bike riding. We made a nice dinner and just relaxed the night away. 

Ended up stopping along the coast a few more times this trip. 

We found ourselves in Olympic towards the end here. The idea was to find a nice spot along one of the rivers and we sure did. 

Arguably the most serene nights of sleep I've ever had. The sound of the river was incredible.  

The plan from here was to get into Seattle and meet up with another friend for a possible mountain hike somewhere. Well, the G had other plans... she absolutely grenades a rear wheel bearing an hour outside of catching a ferry. 

I carry enough spare parts on board to get me home in most cases, this was definitely no exception. I had an entire bearing kit for the rear, which normally would take me about 45 minutes to an hour to replace. The damage was so bad here, that the outer race welded itself to the axle tube and needed to be cut out. I spent about 12 hours hand sawing the thing and getting as much prepped as I could to extract the race. Ultimately giving in, popping the tent open where we stopped, to get a better crack at it in the morning. 

Lukas rented a generator and a sawzall to speed up the process. More on that whole story here:

We got it done and made it to the ferry. 

I found a nice camp by a river for that night, somewhere near the Idaho border. It was time to start blasting home.

We stayed the next night around Idaho Springs and we got into camp around midnight. Made for a fantastic FREEZING morning dip.

Had a nice brunch and walk in town the next morning in Idaho Falls before getting on the road for home. 

By this time Lukas and I parted ways as we had different schedules to get home, we ended up finding a spot not too far out of town called Wild Horse Canyon? It should be called that, as I nearly launched a wild horse to Mars coming around a sweeping corner. 

For a last ditch camp before getting home, it worked out ok. Absolutely the most dowl dusty 2 track I've ever driven down though. 

So with all that, 

the trip ended on a high note. The rig made it back mostly in one piece and the weather mostly held up. That's all I could ask for. 


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