We just had to get in one more Jeep trip to finish the year. Check out our crazy adventure that was supposed to be a nice leisurely ride through the tranquil Arizona desert with restful camping under the beautiful stars…… NOT!!
August 30, 2020 WE MADE IT!! Outer Banks, North Carolina to Port Orford, Oregon!
Coast to Coast in 29 Days!!! 5,572 miles!! We ROCK!!!
Note: If you didn’t follow us live, you can close Post #24 and go back to post #1 to see the entire trip.
The TAT tried to kick our butts this morning with washouts, detours, locked gates and impossible roads. But we’re the map masters and we figured it out. It was a beautiful run through the last mountain range to the sea. And we’re here! The end of the run in Port Orford, Oregon.
Thank you Randall and Judy for being great leaders. We’re going to miss everyone. We love you all! Till next time……
We left Lakeview and took the long winding paved but pothole filled roads to Silver Lake for fuel. Then we headed to Crater Lake National Park, which was beautiful, even though it was very Smokey. We just can’t pass up a good National Park!
We found a forest road on a canal bank at the last minute for camping. Peter Airdropped me a picture of it but I can’t find it……, just imagine a canal, a reservoir and a small power plant. 😬
August 26 & 27, 2020 NASTY SILT, and finally, OREGON!
We left Preston and traveled on a horrible dusty silt track until we opted for pavement into Eureka which was a cute little historical town where we fueled up.
We went clear to Battle Mountain, Nevada on pavement. We had Subway/ pizza and found some shade in a nice park…… then the trouble started…. The TAT took us in to private land, and had to take a crazy detour down the steepest switchbacks imaginable. We ended up being rescued by some hunters who helped us around a washout where we found a newly revised section of the TAT tracks. We camped at the Chimney Damn Reservoir, survived lightning and a LOUD thunderstorm. We were up early and out of there!!
The next day was much better. We fueled up in Paradise at the 395 Jct. We headed North to Denio Jct. we crossed the the state line into OREGON at 11:31 am. Yay!!!!!
In Oregon, we participated in a cattle drive! One couple got a little frisky for our viewing pleasure.
We had to bypass our TAT dip into California due to the wildfires. We instead went to Lakeview, Oregon where the smoke was still very heavy. And they don’t have a car wash!!! 😡
Vader and usjeeper stayed at a nice RV park while TinShanty and BeatsWorking cheated a bit and got motel rooms.
August 25, 2020 Long hot days to finish Utah and into Nevada
Some days on the TAT are just exhausting…….. the roads have been rough and dusty. It’s nearly impossible to get good pictures, and no cell service to upload them. I’m sorry to have fallen so far behind posting to the blog. Now we know our people have been following, because we have some worried people!
I can tell you that this little group of TAT travelers are tough! We soldier on through all this trail can throw at us.
The day started off nicely at Great Basin National Park. We took the scenic drive up to Wheeler peak. We think we could still see our dust trails from that morning coming across the Basin! There was no wind and the dust just seems to hang forever.
Red Ruby has a failed transmission, and Larry is headed home. We left him in Crescent City, Utah after his rough night with the screaming babies in Canyonlands Campground. It was a rough night. We’re going to miss you, Larry. Get that thing fixed and get back on the trails soon!
Randall and Judy had another big day planned for us. We headed out to Swayze Cabin, Eagle Rock, the Icebox, “That Arch”, a challenging canyon run, and what to do if you have to cross under the I-70. Now that was a tight squeeze!
We camped in the middle of no where…… dispersed canyon in Utah.
August 21 and 22, 2020 Moab, Utah – New Area 51 – Dinosaur Tracks
Say it isn’t so! We’re losing Roger!
He’s fixin” to go to the house now….
Roger finally lost his engine. After multiple issues with error codes, he was no longer able to keep going. He rented the UHaul and trailer in Farmington and he’s driving home. We are so sorry to see him go. We’ll miss his friendship, helpfulness, and sense humor. Judy will miss the Dollar General bingo competition. We had a great time coming across the country with him. And we are getting so close to finishing this thing! We’ll need a “return to where Roger left off on the TAT RUN”. We’ll miss you Roger!
While TinShanty was in Farmington repairing bear damage, the rest of the crew made their way to Groundhog lake through the La Salle Mountains where they spent the night. in Dove Creek.
Thank you to Kevin Fox at OFF AGAIN 4×4 in Farmington, NM for finding us some longer shocks to compliment our air bags. We were able to dig through their stock pile and find what we needed.
Larry developed more Transmission issues. They were down to three and Larry rejoined them all in Moab. We’re back to 5 Jeeps!
Wilson and his wife were our neighbors in Moab’s Canyonland RV park. 😂
No time to hang out in Moab, that’s a another trip for another day. (And NOT in August).
We left promptly at 8 am, as usual and turned right into Long Canyon. The red rocks of Utah are just beautiful. It was immediately obvious that Randall and Judy are very familiar with these parts and had quite a day planned for us.
Let the tour begin!
The next stop was the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail. Not only are there a big variety of fossilized tracks, there are also large sections of bones in the canyon wall. There are nice walkways and viewing platforms to protect the relics.
Next was Sego Canyon and some of the best petroglyphs and pictographs you’ll find anywhere.
Did you know there is a new Area 51 right here in Utah? Yep! The tour continued….. this was the abandoned Utah Launch Complex, White Sands Missile Range that you can actual roam around in. There is quite a story behind this. You can Google it to get the full history. There are many buildings and features that remain, giving you a sense that this was really something back in the day. There’s quite a bit of graffiti that give it a freaky alien vibe.
And somewhere in the mix today we stopped in at the Wesley Powell Museum. He is the famous river runner and navigator that is famous for exploration of the Colorado River. Lake Powell is name for him. Our stories come full circle because when we were way back at the Shiloh War Memorial we saw where Powell served and lost an arm in battle in the Civil War. He went on to do amazing explorations with only one arm.
We ended the day in the sleepy little town of Green River. They seem to be famous for watermelon (!?)
August 19 and 20, 2020 BLACK BEAR PASS and THE BEAR ATTACK
We did it! And we are prepared to say that ours is the ONLY Jeep Commander in the world to ever CONQUER BLACK BEAR PASS, and also SURVIVE A BLACK BEAR ATTACK!
But we’re missing rslagle….. Roger headed toward Farmington due to the reoccurring error code issue. We hope he rejoins us soon.
Yep, that’s a paw print, and we’re not sure why Ruby’s pillow didn’t scare him away 🤔
He broke the center console, and bent all off the headrests.
We’re really lucky that he was satisfied with the 10 pound bag of dog food that was in the heavy flat bag that was on the floor. He was trying to get through some narrow spaces to get to the built in kitchen and fridge/freezer in the back. We think he was spooked because he seemed to give up too easy. It could have been so much worse.
To keep going, we picked up some clear film and Gorilla tape and our best Christmas present wrapper Donna was selected to do the temporary repairs.
We do have some minor electrical issues with the door locks and air conditioning. And his big fat butt bent the right rear door out of alignment from the inside. We filed the insurance claim, and took a day off the trail to get a new window in Farmington NM.
BLACK BEAR PASS is as challenging and spectacular as we had expected. As we started up, we stopped to check out the signs that Randall and Judy’s club the “Creeper Jeeper Gang” had installed. The club sponsors the Black Bear Pass Trail. They provided some beautiful custom signage as well as doing work to label and restore side tracks that were eroding the tender tundra. The goal is to keep the humans from abusing the trail. The sign is beautiful!
We put a little commemorative JEO TAT 2020 sticker on the sign. Check it out if you get up that way. 😉
NOW, LET’S ROLL!
We have been wondering if our “Little Tin” was going to be the first 2007 Jeep Commander to successfully navigate Black Bear Pass near Telluride, CO. With all of the extensive modifications made to our Jeep in anticipation of the Trans America Trail expedition, in the back of our minds was the question, is it enough for Black Bear. We’ve seen Jeep Grande Cherokee’s handle the trail and our car is that basic platform. But scouring the internet, we’ve never been able to find a Commander that has attempted or conquered Black Bear. Success!!
August 18, 2020 The Continental Divide – Cinnamon Pass and more
Today is the day we start up the passes. As we left camp this morning and headed toward Marshal Pass, we hit the Continental Divide. Most of us will stand in this spot again as we travel the entire Continent Divide from Canada To Mexico on the next jeepexpeditions.org epic expedition that starts a couple of weeks after the TAT has ended. The big run today is Cinnamon Pass. Let’s go!
August 16 and 17, 2020 Colorado for Days! The Castle!
We haven’t visited any popular historical sites recently, and there’s not a National Park in sight, but we lucked out today! For your enjoyment we offer a magical castle out in the middle of nowhere. “For nearly 60 years, Jim Bishop has been constructing one of the most impressive monuments to perseverance in Colorado. Bishop castle is a monumental statue in stone and iron that cries loud testament to the beauty and glory of not only Having a Dream, but Sticking with your Dream no matter what, and most importantly, that if you do believe in yourself and strive to maintain that belief, anything can happen! Three full stories of interior rooms complete with a Grand Ballroom, soaring towers and bridges with vistas of a hundred miles, and a Fire-Breathing Dragon make the Bishop Castle quite the unforgettable experience! Visitors are always welcome free of charge, and the castle itself is always open“.
August 14 and 15, 2020 We made it in then out then in to Kansas. Back into Oklahoma, in and out of New Mexico, and hello Colorado!!
The claim to fame in Liberal, Kansas is that it IS the “Land of Oz”. Supposedly there’s a little White House with Toto on the porch for tourist pics. I guess it’s like standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. We never saw it. Sigh.
Maintenance Day rolled over from yesterday. rslagle’s error code returned so he had to turn around and go back to the Jeep dealership and have it readdressed. They corrected the problem and he was back to the group camp by 6:30 pm. He’s feeling pretty confident about the final fix.
TinShanty left as camp broke this morning and headed for Midwest Expedition Outfitters (MEO) in Tulsa.
The remainder of the group hit the trail hard. Now WE weren’t there, and this is a little grainy, but the group swears they were taking the trail this fast. (!!??!) We’re not so sure.
We’ve experienced some mechanical annoyances along the way, and today was “let’s just deal with it” day. Thankfully we’ve had no major breakdowns, just manageable problems. The TAT rarely gets anywhere near a major city, but we found the best mechanic in Arkansas in little ol’ Clarendon which has a population of maybe 2,000.
August 7, 2020 Shiloh Battlefield, Tennessee and on to Mississippi
Today we had the honor of visiting the Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee. The grounds were stunning.
“It was the most epic struggle in the Western Theater of the Civil War. Nearly 110,000 American troops clashed in a bloody contest that resulted in 23,746 casualties, more than in all of America’s previous wars combined. You explore both the Shiloh and Corinth battlefields to discover the impact of this struggle in the soldiers and on the nation.”
The monuments to both the Union and the Confederate armies were amazing. There are rolling hills lined with the thousands of graves, most unmarked. We found it to be comforting that the Union and Confederate soldiers were buried respectfully side by side. We saw no reference to picking sides here. No Judgement. Just history and honor.
It was a very complicated war that in some cases even put brother against brother. It’s hard to explain but with everything going on in our country today, we found this place a very comforting place to be. That both sides came together after such carnage and preserved and respected each other gives you hope.
It was good to get out of the crowds and back into the backwoods. The Trans America Trail was mapped to cross the country on these old country roads. But sometimes we have to brave the crowds to see the heart of the National Parks and other memorials to get our commemorative goodies and get our cancelled stamp in our passport book. We’d love to be able to say we’ve been to all 62 but we’re not even half way there. And there are hundreds more National memorials.
August 2, 2020 Still in North Carolina! Camping tonight at Lake Norman State Park.
This pretty much sums up the weather and how we’re all feeling. It’s HOT!!
After 200+ miles today, it’s hard to believe we’re still just in North Carolina. It’s a beautiful state, and we’re really enjoying going small town to small town. We’re on a mission to find those “boiled peanuts” that Judy was telling us about. Covid-19 seems to have taken the fun out of the roadside produce stands for this season. No local peaches for us. Continue reading “#4 Jeeps Only – The Trans America Trail”→
August 1, 2020 Newton Grove North Carolina A Taste of Heaven Campground
After days of unbearable heat and humidity, we finally found just a little bit of relief in Newton Grove. The humidity was maybe 85 percent instead of 90. 🥵 It did cool off a bit and we had the best sleep yet. This may be a taste of heaven, but the bugs are hell!
5,200 miles COAST TO COAST! From August 1 – 31, 2020
July 31, 2020. As planned, we met at the Cape Hatteras lighthouse (minus Peter, he caught up later). What was NOT planned was Hurricane Isaias coming straight for us!! Months of planning, but we didn’t plan for this hurricane. Our ferry rides to Okracoke and beyond we’re cancelled. We followed the escape routes north and west off the islands of the Outer Banks, and on to plan B. We’ll just get out of harms way and swing out west then south and pick up the TAT. No problem!
This is yet another JEO http://www.jeepexpeditions.org “Jeeps Only” adventure. The club knows us as TinShanty. We’ll be joined this time by Vader (group leader), Beats Working, rslagle, and usjeeper. We’ll be joined later in Colorado by Red Ruby.
Due to the distance and time required to run the TAT, only a handful of JEO members are able to make it. We’re new to blogging, but will do our best to keep this site updated and easy so anyone can follow along. This lengthy first post gets the blog rolling. We’ll welcome your comments!
(Click on the “follow” button and sign up with an email address to get the updated message when we post, or just save this link).
a bit bigger JEO group on our “Emerald Triangle” trip. October 2019and circling the wagons on The Heart Of The West Expedition, August 2018
This will be our most ambitious Jeep expedition yet.
The Trans America Trail or TAT is a roughly 5,200 mile (8,000 km) cross continent vehicular route, intended to be a way to cross the United States using a minimum of paved roads for leisure, traveled by dual-sport motorcycles, off-road vehicle, or touring bicycle. The eastern portion of the route mainly consists of farm roads and forestry tracks which become more severe toward the Southern Rocky Mountains where it covers several high passes. The desert of Utah follows, then Sawtooth National Forest of Idaho and Deschutes National Forest.
￼Trail official start and end:
We have had great success with “Ruby” our 2004 Wrangler TJ Rubicon. It’s just very cramped for Highway driving. Based in Arizona, we drove over 900 miles just to get to the start of the Emerald Triangle trip in Northern California. We knew then it was time for a change……
our TJ “Ruby” at the JEO Copper Canyon Mexico April 2017
At the Mexico wall – February 2019 on the Devil’s Highway and The Bradshaw Trail
Our other “Ruby” the dog. She’s the best traveler ever! She’s coming down off the shelf in the TJ and will have an entire back seat in the next rig. ☺️￼
Jeeps only? Luckily, we had this spare!
Before the Transformation…..
We’re the original owners of this girl. Other than a long trip to Alaska in 2013 towing the trailer she’s just been hauling grandkids and groceries. This is a very off-road capable 4wheel drive/all wheel drive 2007 Jeep Commander Overland edition with the Hemi engine.
Finally getting the attention she deserves!
Modified Old Man Emu suspension lift
31.5 diameter BFG All Terrain tires
31 gallon Long Range America auxiliary fuel tank
Custom WAM Bumpers
Rocky Road Outfitters functional rock rails
9500 lb winch with synthetic line
DIY sliding kitchen, and MANY other DIY features
Removing the third row seat freed up room for the sliding kitchen cabinet, sliding ARB refrigerator freezer, and stationary auxiliary battery box. There’s still plenty of storage for tools and supplies underneath.
A shout out to “Natalie the Welder Woman” at WAM Bumpers in Georgia. She did an amazing job fabricating our custom front and rear bumpers.