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Border to Border Land Rover Trek

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The Green Rover participated in the 1998 50th anniversary Border to border trans American trek. My car was sponsored through the generosity of British Pacific. They provided parts to help me get my car ready for the trek and provided parts when The Green Rover broke them along the trek. On the way home, I stopped at the Scottsdale Az. Land Rover Centre on April 30, to help celebrate Land Rover's 50th anniversary.

 

Land Rover sponsor, British Pacific

 

What follows is a transcript of a journal that I was keeping along the trip.

 

Contents:

Day

Date

From

To

Minus 4

15 April

Aptos, Calif

Cloverdale, Calif

Minus 3

16

Cloverdale

Grants Pass, OR

minus 2

17

Grants Pass

Arlington

minus 1

18

Arlington

Elko, B.C.

1
(trek start)

19

Elko

Missoula, MT

2

20

Missoula

Bannack, MT

3

21

Bannack

Brigham, UT

4

22

Brigham

Moab UT

5

23

Moab

Moab

6

24

Moab

Monticello, UT

7

25

Monticello

National Monument

8

26

National Monument

Holbrook, AZ

9

27

Holbrook

Globe

10
(trek end)

28

Globe

Douglas

11

29

Douglas

Tucson

12

30

Tucson

Phoenix

13

1 May

phoenix

Burbank, Calif

14

2

Burbank

Bishop

15

3

Bishop

Carson City, NV

16
(Home)

4

Carson City

Aptos, Calif


 

Day minus 4, 15 April 1998

Aptos, California to Cloverdale, California

I was hoping to leave home about 10 AM and drive to Eureka today. I was trying to do way too much. I had gotten some prints of The Green Rover back yesterday afternoon . I wanted to get them posted to my web site so that people could see what the car currently looked like. I wanted to get the web site for the Red Rock trip to the point where I could upload it. I accidentally wrote over a major web page in my rush. Well that will not get rebuilt and uploaded until after I get home.

I swept through the house grabbing things to load into the Green Rover. Never mind sorting now, I can do that at the next stop. Its raining as I pack. Because of the frequent rain, I never got everything done to the car I wanted to get done before the trip. But at least I had a chance to check all the fluids, adjust the brakes, and have the tyres rebalanced. This is the first time I will be on a long trip with other people. I think I packed way too many clothes. Well I want me and my car to look our best since there will be so many people I have never met before. I packed way too many clothes!

I left the house and stopped at the grocery store to pick up provisions that I didn't have at home. Asparagus is on sale so I purchased a lot of asparagus.

By 6 PMish I was finally on the road. But 45 minutes later I was stopped at Nick Baggarly 's house to look at his new third Dormobile. We chatted until eightish. Now I'm REALLY behind schedule.

I drove North up through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate bridge. I wanted to get North of Santa Rosa before the morning commute.

It was getting late and Lacy was very restless, but I pressed on telling her we would stop in an hour or so.

Going into Cloverdale, I noticed that I was starting to nod off. I took the first exit that had a sign for a camp ground. The site manager charged me half price saying that there was only half the night left.

Unfortunately, I should not have ignored Lacey's restlessness. I had a mess on the chase lounge pad she uses as a bed to clean up. The pad went out of the car and I sat up camp. I decided not to bother with dinner and turned in.

Back to the calendar


 

Day minus 3, 16 April 1998

Cloverdale, California to Grants Pass, Oregon

Peafowl are noisy birds. They were also in the campgrounds and one was in the tree next to The Green Rover announcing dawn's first light. I awoke much earlier than I had planned to and fixed myself a pot of tea and a mushroom, garlic, sausage and dried tomato omelet for breakfast.

After breakfast, I hosed down the chase lounge pad and scrub brushed it with a lot of soap. I hung it on a fence to drain and set about sorting all the stuff I threw in the car yesterday. I just tried to do too many things before I left.

After repacking the car I strapped the still wet pad to the roof rack where the wind could blow it dry. I loaded the dog and started North on highway 101 again.

For some reason, I felt compelled to stop in the town of Hopland and browse through the one antique store that was open. I didn't have time to do this but I felt a need to. I found a red corgi 109 pickup for sale. I have nine variations of this at home already and didn't need a tenth. Well maybe not nine, one was a tow truck, one was a series I 109 pickup and one was a Dinky late series IIA pickup. O.K. I have 6 variations of this at home and didn't need another. But I left the store with a little red pickup in my purse. So I guess I'll have the only Corgi series II 109 pickup to run the Border to Border trek.

Back on the road I was delayed several times by road crews. There was a lot of storm damage being repaired. It was putting me farther behind my schedule.

Around 2ish I pulled off onto a side road then drove along a trail in a field to the river to fix lunch. I let Lacy play about while I fixed soup and broiled a polish sausage for lunch.

Afterwards I got back on the road for more road work delays. The longest was on the road going between Crescent City and Grants Pass. They were trying to clear a slide on the road and letting cars go through only occasionally. I was in line for over an hour playing with the dog.

When we finally got to go into the slide area, we were stopped just before the slide and allowed to pass one at a time. I noticed that all the workers were standing away from the slide section and they were all looking up hill like they expected the side of the mountain to come down at any minute. When it was my turn to cross, I first looked for any change of expression from the watchers then drove the Rover past the spot as quickly as I could. No lingering there.

Come night fall I was listening to three truckers behind me. One asked about a place to park and sleep for the night in Grant's Pass. He was told to use the Walmart parking lot. The other driver said that they let travelers sleep in the parking lot. I decided to take their advice. I pulled in to the far end of the parking lot and set up camp.

I walked Lacy for a bit and fixed a salad, broiled chicken breast, made a chicken and garlic based white sauce and steamed asparagus for dinner. A security car drove past while I was fixing dinner and did not stop, so I guess it was OK.

Back to the calendar


 

Day minus 2, 17 April 1998

Grants Pass, Oregon to Arlington, Oregon

I got up at dawn and had tea, yogurt and a roll for breakfast. Walmart opened at 7 AM. I decided to go into the store to pick up the items I forgot to pack, such as a broom, water container for my tent shower and a few other items. Well the store was so big I was mesmerized and fell into shopper's limbo. Did I mention that this was my first time exploring a Walmart? I walked out with everything I went in for plus two blouses. Just what I needed! More clothes for the trip.

I headed the Rover up Interstate #5 towards Portland. I reached Portland around 4 PM and stopped at Doug Shippman's shop for a brief visit and to have him check over my ignition. I couldn't check it in the rain before I left home, but it was definitely not up to par. He found that the wire between the coil and distributor was bad and replaced it with a spare he had.

He mentioned that the North West Land Rover club was having its monthly meeting at 8 PM that evening and invited me to attend. He provided a written set of directions. I fixed dinner after he closed shop and headed off for the meeting site at 7. I wanted to be early to park the Rover in a good place to show her off. I have always liked the people in the North West club and was looking forward to meeting them again.

Doug's directions were off. 8th Ave. had a lot of interruptions and jagged a lot. By 8:30 I had still not located the meeting place. I decided to give up and get as far up the Columbia gorge as I could.

I drove as far as Arlington and spent the night on a side road disappointed that I did not get to see my friends from the club.

Back to the calendar


 

Day minus 1, 18 April 1998

Arlington, Oregon to Elko, British Columbia

I had a quick bowl of cereal and headed out. I needed to get to the trek's beginning point today.

I drove up the gorge, crossed and headed into Spokane. I was driving the route I took to pick up the Dormobile parts two years earlier. I have friends there and wanted very much to stop. When I got into Spokane, I looked at a clock and took the turn off to Coeur d'Alene Idaho.

From Coeur d'Alene, I followed highway #95 North to the Canadian border crossing at kingsgate.

I think the Canadian border officers are trained to give Americans a hard time. I have never made the crossing without a lengthy questioning and getting the feeling that the guard thinks that I have come to destroy the country, take food out of the resident's mouths and create all kinds of mayhem. I have never had this kind of questioning going into Germany, France or any other European country.

Once safely across the border, I drove North then turned East on highway #3. I was hoping to use some of the Canadian money left over from my last trip to get a motel room, do laundry and top off my propane tank. As it turned out the one motel at Elko was booked up and I was worried about making it from the farther next town to Roosville in time for the gathering. So I gave up the idea and set up camp in the nearby campground. They opened the campground for the border to border people and the laundry was not yet open. Oh well I had lots of clothes along.

I met people from three other cars at the motel. We chatted a bit before going out own ways for the night. Later in the evening Simon walked over and introduced himself.

Well it looks like it is going to happen.

Back to the calendar


 

Day 1, 19 April 1998

Elko, British Columbia to Missoula, Montana

The trip is ready to go at long last! I ate a quick logout & roll breakfast, struck camp and drove down to Rooseville where cars were gathering.

There was a 101 I had not expected to see sitting near a lightweight. Ah, there is a series I 107 ... no, a series I 109 yellow pickup that I didn't expect to see either. I thought The Green Rover was going to share the oldest Land Rover spot with a 1960 88. I guess this series I will get it.

Cars are coming from North and South and it is beginning to look like a gathering of the clan Land Rover. The real trip staging will be from a parking lot just South of the border. I join a line of Rovers heading South into the US. I bet we overwhelmed the US border guards. I whisked through quickly. I wonder how the Canadian 101 in camo colours is doing.

The parking lot is full of Rovers, series, Defenders, Range Rovers and Discoveries. It looks like almost all the cars are kitted out in after-market finery, making every attempt to look like experienced serious off road cars.

Decals are being handed out. I rush to put my assigned number, 23 on both doors along with Border to Border decals. I declined the ARB decals because I do not have ARB products on my car and it would look bad for them if there are photographs of my car being towed with ARB stickers on the side. One of these days I hope to have the money to add one of their lockers to the rear Salisbury. I also decline the British Bulldog decals since my car is sponsored by British Pacific.

I was handed a shield for the roof rack. I'm not sure how to mount it or if it would do any good. I ran out of time for adding decals and the shield. The shield was quickly stored on the roof rack. I hopped into the Green Rover and drove over to join the cars gathering in an adjacent field for a group picture.

Lots of cars and hopefully lots of new friends. I think this is going to be fun. We are being divided into three groups to make the logistics of keeping track of everyone easier.

It seems we have a Priest along. The group got a blessing and a splashing of water after the pictures and we were off.

We drove along a paved road following lake Koocanusa to the reservoir. There is an distinct feeling of anticipation in the air. There are also two diesels ahead of me in line, numbers 21 and 22. We drive across the reservoir and into a parking lot. No one seems sure of what we are doing. Some people find the restrooms, others try to get lunch stuff out, others mill about and we are soon off again. I'm not sure why we crossed over the reservoir and stopped but that's OK, I'm happily driving in a crowd of Land Rovers and future friends. There doesn't need to be more reason than that.

Down the road, we find ourselves going off pavement onto forest dept. roads. We are driving through mountain forest country with lots of streams. The radio navigator puts in a wish to see a moose. She provides in interesting dialogue for group 2. I hope she sees one. The group 3 leader/navigator seems quiet.

The scenery was very nice but the driving would not be challenging to a family sedan. Later in the afternoon we pulled back onto a paved road and made the rest of the trip into Missoula.

Everyone except car #23 and #6 were in a motel that night. We went to a campground a half hour down the road. We were told that the main group would leave Missoula at 7:30 Am and be ready to go at the road adjacent to the camp area at 8 AM.

It was dark when we got to the camp ground We shared a spot and set up. Car number 6 is a 1964 gray diesel powered station wagon carrying Bill Cooke and Bob Leese along with lots of camping gear. It was soon apparent to me that they were experienced Land Rover campers. They were fun people to be around and I enjoyed their company throughout the trip.

So far the offroading has been trivial. I hope that it will become more interesting. The cars are fun to look at and the people all seemed nice. This almost makes up for the lack of driving challenges.

Back to the calendar


 

Day 2, 20 April 1998

Missoula, Montana to Bannack, Montana

I started the day early. I dressed in my work clothes, went under the car and checked fluids. I washed up, changed clothes and had a bowl of cereal and some tea.

Both cars were ready and down to the meeting point at 8 AM. We waited, listening on the CB for any sign of the main group. A little after 9:45 they showed up with an apologetic Simon at the lead. They had changed CB channels so we did not hear them approaching. Each group would now be on a different channel. Paul Sipe, the driver of Car # 19, a White US spec D110 is our group leader. He doesn't say much. I found myself drawn to the lively chat from Suzi Holms, in car # 9, a white 1994 Discovery and lead car for group #2. Since groups 2 and 3 were together I kept on the group #2 channel for the entertainment value.

Most of the day was spent driving on pavement. I was becoming disappointed with this but I know Moab was yet to come. The number 2 group found a dirt road that they thought would take us to Jackson Montana, our lunch stop. Group 3 followed group 2 off the pavement. Were were driving along dirt roads that provided access for the local ranches. As we went along we starting coming into a little snow and the road conditions became more primitive. At last we came to the end of the road in a large field atop a gently sloping ridge with large patches of snow.

Green Rover enounters first snow of trip

The lightweight decided to check out the snow and became the first car stuck on the trip. We got all the cars turned around and headed back to the pavement the way we came. Getting lost on the dirt ranch roads was the high point of the driving day.

We dove into Jackson for lunch. I broiled a polish sausage and warmed some soup. Afterwards there seemed to be some time left so I stopped at the local beautician and go my hair washed and bangs trimmed. I got out just in time to line my car up with the others for a group picture.

So far the driving has been a disappointment but the scenery is nice and the company excellent whenever we got out of the cars.

A little ways out of Jackson, I dropped out of the group to take a couple of pictures of a farm. I caught up with everyone at the ghost town of Bannack. I got there as the afternoon sun was getting good and grabbed the camera, tripod, dog and a couple of extra rolls of 120 Velvia film.

The ghost town is a park and is in very good condition. I had a wonderful time photographing the weathered wood structures in the late afternoon sun.

Afterwards I joined the other campers along the bank of the nearby river. We had a large number of cars camping this night. Looking around I noticed that The Green Rover was the only car at the camp site not of Canadian registry.

That evening I fixed a salad, and pasta with chicken breast, fresh mushrooms and dried tomatoes in a white garlic sauce for dinner. The propane tank ran dry about a third of the way through cooking. Luckily I pack a spare emergency tank and have a tap to install it into the propane system. I needed to refill the propane tank before dinner tomorrow.

Afterwards I went out and joined people around the fire behind my next door neighbor car # 6. After a while I found myself downwind of the fire and went to move around to the other side. That as a big mistake. The people opposite the car had their chairs very near the river bank. As I tried to cross around behind them in the dark the edge gave way and I found myself hip deep in snow run off. I got out without any problems other than embarrassment that I did not realize the chairs were backed against the river bank. I decided not to stand around in the chilly night air wet from the hips down and went into my Rover to get in bed and read.

Back to the calendar


 

Day 3, 21 April 1998

Bannack, Montana to Brigham, Utah

The campers were up early and a fire was started behind car #6 for people to get warm.

I noticed that it seemed chilly when I got out of bed. The water in Lacey's water dish was frozen as was my water system. Luckily, I filled my tea pot the evening before. I had piping hot tea in no time.

I very quickly washed and got dressed. I fixed french toast for breakfast then went out to join the Canadians as they were talking about how cold the night was.

As I got out there someone mentioned that it got down to nineteen degrees. When I was asked how I slept, I almost didn't have the heart to tell them that I had recently purchased a 12V electric blanket that spent the night inside my sleeping bag. Having a fully expedition equipped Land Rover means not having to rough it.

Since were needed to be in town and ready to go by 8, I broke camp and started warming the Green Rover. She fired right up. Not bad for a California car. I was the second car out of the parking lot headed for town. I followed the first car into town where we promptly got lost looking for the motel. We evidently got off an exit or two too early.

The group was formed and ready to go as we located their motel. I was completely out of propane and almost out of petrol so quickly joined the people down the street already filling their cars at a station. I noticed that there was a propane filling station across the street as well. I just wished that we had not taken the wrong exit and lost time wondering through town.

I filled two petrol tanks and drove across the street to get propane to cook with. The groups left while the person was turning on the propane filler. Group three stopped across the street to wait.

Paul, the group three leader in car #19 came over and read me the riot act for being late and causing the entire group to wait. He didn't seem to be interested in me being the second car out of the camping area and getting lost in town. After fuming for a few minutes, I decided that I didn't need this, and unofficially left group 3 later that day. I spend the rest of the trip traveling in ether group 2 or group 1.

Once back on the road, group three caught up with the other two groups within a few minutes. We were starting off the pavement. I was hoping for better than the last two days. I should have been more careful about what I asked for.

I heard someone mention on the radio that the road we were starting on had not been driven since the previous fall. I did not see any signs of tracks except for our groups. Things progressed to mud and slush. I stopped and locked my hubs along with several other series owners. It looked like things might get interesting. We climbed up into the snow level and found ourselves driving through deep snow. Cars were getting stuck right and left. I made the mistake of following John Parson's number 18 series I pickup with a 5000 pound motel room. Where the series I was driving on the snow, I sank through it so the body was resting on the snow and my wheels had no weight on them. I dug out my front axle housing and hooked my winch cable to the rear of a near by car and pulled myself out.

Everywhere I looked cars were getting stuck and ether snatched or winched out. I heard over the radio that the 101 had briefly become stuck. This was getting to be interesting!

Going forward I followed another set of tracks through the snow and got stuck again just behind there the car I was following evidently got stuck too. I started to go back and forward to see if I could make it through to the other side by following the previous car's tracks. Suddenly for no apparent reason I was solidly stuck. Someone came over and told me that my front wheels were not driving. I checked to see that I was still in four wheel drive and gave it some gas while someone watched. I had definitely broke something and only have rear wheel drive. I hooked my winch to another car and pulled myself out. It was still good fun, but I knew I was going to pay for it soon. I managed to stay mostly in the mud and shallow snow after that and did not get stuck again.

What fun. I think almost everyone got stuck at least once. But I suspect that there will be at least one Canadian with a diesel rig who will tell me he didn't.

We eventually reached pavement and stopped near a reservoir for lunch. Group 2 had evidently kept going. The video crew decided that they wanted to get a shot of everyone driving along a dirt trail on the other side of the reservoir. The leaders decided that there were some dirt roads that connected to where we wanted to go farther down so we headed off around the reservoir.

The trails were not marked and there were trails that did not show up on the maps. This is when I first started becoming aware of car number 4. Car number 4 is a white D90 station wagon belonging to Diana and Chris Barty. They have a GPS connected to a PowerBook 3400 and were running some excellent mapping software. They were very good at locating the group's position and finding the correct trail. They spent the trek at the front of group number one scouting out intersections and side roads to make sure group one was on the right track.

There were a few GPS units on the trip but none connected to a PowerMac and excellent software. Seeing them in action doing the scouting, I always felt secure following car #4. You couldn't have asked for better and more accurate scouts.

This was the first real indication that I had that GPS was emerging from the realm of being just a boy toy to becoming a useful tool.

Anyway, the trail out from behind the reservoir was much longer and more difficult than anyone expected. There were a number of climbs that taxed a Rover in rear wheel drive only, but the Green Rover was in her element and still went where I aimed her. I smiled as people radioed back and forth that they were happy to be in a place where they could do some real four wheeling.

The Salisbury I put in the rear a half year ago provided me with a sense of security. I think if I still had the stock Rover rear assembly I would have snapped a rear axle on one of those climbs. That would have left me in some REAL trouble. We stopped to regroup when we finally made it back to pavement.

We were way behind where were were scheduled to be at this time. It was decided to make it by the fastest way to Jackson Wyoming where most of the people had motel reservations.

The Green Rover, Motel 23, was by far away the heaviest series car on the trip and fell behind most everyone as we drove to Jackson.

I started thinking about my broken front end. The technical sections of the trip were coming up and I did not want to miss them. I needed to get to a place where I could have repair parts shipped and the time to fix whatever broke. Since there was no repair time scheduled, this meant going ahead of the group.

I decided to go ahead to Moab for repairs. I let Simon know when we stopped for petrol just inside of Wyoming.

I got onto interstate 15 and drove South for Utah. I stopped at a campground in Brigham city sometime during the night . I was now a day ahead of the trek and on my own.

Back to the calendar


 

Day 4, 22 April 1998

Brigham, Utah to Moab, Utah

I admit to sleeping in late this morning. I got up around 9 and fixed myself a stack of pancakes and tea for breakfast. After dishes, I went off to pay the campground manager for the previous night then started going over the Rover.

The drive shaft turned when the car was in four wheel drive so the problem has to be in the front axle assembly. When I jacked up the the front left tyre and turned it the drive shaft wiggled. This is normal for a differential with a Quafe limited slip fitted.

I jacked up the right side and turned the wheel. The front prop shaft did not move. My problem was in the front right side. I still needed to open up the front right Selectro freewheel hub to determine if the problem is in the hub or axle. I had recently replaced the soft steel Allen head screws with hardened screws that have a Torex head. I needed to go to a store to purchase the correct driver.

I phoned British Pacific to let them know what was going on and that I would be making a parts order for overnight delivery.

After purchasing a driver I opened the right freewheel hub. Everything looked good. I placed a pair of pliers on the Castile nut at the tip of the axle. The axle turned freely. The axle was broken.

I got on the phone to British Pacific and made a parts order for overnight delivery in Moab. I also asked for a set of tune-up parts to see if I could coax a little more speed out of the car. I was very happy to have a sponsor who could ship me repair parts overnight. It was a comfort and would allow me to rejoin the trek through the upcoming technical trails.

Since I had a long way to go, I purchased lunch at a fast food place and headed South through Salt Lake city on interstate 15.

Interstate 15 was undergoing major modifications which slowed traffic through the city. Cars were bumper to bumper as road conditions changed from bad to worse and obstacles along the edge of the lanes changed rapidly. I think this would be considered the big city interstate equivalent of a difficult trek leg.

After the town of Spanish Fork, I turned off on highway 6 for the long climb through the mountains headed for Moab. I reached Arches National Park just after a disappointing sunset. There were no opportunities for pictures this time.

I pulled into the campground in Moab, broiled a flank steak to go with steamed broccoli and a salad for dinner then settled in to read.

I'm dreading tomorrow. I hope the parts come in.

Back to the calendar


 

Day 5, 23 April 1998

Moab, Utah

The day was spent working on the car. The front right axle had crystallized and broken off where the inner spline left the differential. The really bad news was that the end piece could not be pulled out of the carrier with a magnet. The good news was that the remaining piece was short enough that it did not get in the way of the differential carrier coming out.

I keep forgetting how heavy the assembled differential carrier is. When I remove one, I lower it down onto my stomach and wiggle out on my back. Putting it in is a reverse of this procedure. Once in place I offer it up ring gear first with the pinion resting on my stomach then leverage the front up. It is not a pretty feminine sight, but it works for me.

The overnight UPS package arrived later in the day than I wanted but still in time. The parts I needed to get back on the road were there! YES!! THANK YOU BRITISH PACIFIC!!

It was a day of strong conflicting emotions that constantly warred through my mind.

I hated working on my car all alone while everyone was out on a very scenic leg of the trek having a wonderful time - but if the work gets done today, I'll be able to participate in the upcoming technical sections.

I'm in Moab working on my car when the sun is shining in Arches National Park a few miles North. I have my 6X7 camera along and Moab has a place to purchase 120 film. I would love to spend the day photographing the area around Moab. - But if the work doesn't get done, I'm going nowhere and will be left behind when the trek goes through.

It's too hot to work on a car, and the day too beautiful. - Be thankful I'm not laying on my back in icy slushy mud.

Doing major work on my car always seems to elicit strong emotions on my part. I can do it, I don't like it while I'm doing it, but I'm proud of the accomplished job when it's completed. This process allows all my unresolved issues to boil to the surface. Strangely enough if I have help or company, everything seems a lot more pleasant when I do major work on the car. My Id seems to be on her best behavior with company around.

By fiveish., the differential, front drive shaft, both front axles, and both front hubs are all assembled and back into the car. I put oil into the front and tried to bleed the brakes.

To save disassembly time, I had separated the front left steering ball from the axle housing to pull the axle from the differential. Since I did not have a support for the assembly, I disconnected the front brake hose so I could place the assembly down on the ground.

My brake system always bleeds better when pressure bled. The best I could get were marginal brakes. I put away the tools, cleaned myself up and went through town to locate a garage with a brake pressure bleed system.

The only place in Moab with a pressure bleed system is the Texaco station. Their mechanics were gone for the day and their schedule was booked for the next day. Bummer.

As I was thinking about returning to camp, changing back into my work clothes and doing the tune-up, the first Border to Border cars started coming into town. I followed them to their motel parking lot and spent the next few hours getting caught up on the trip happenings.

People were awed at the beauty they saw on the trip leg going into Moab. Simon bent a tie rod. A D110 developed a head gasket problem and went off to Salt Lake City for a dealer repair. Other bits of news were passed with the enthusiasm of people immersed in an exciting marathon trip. I was happy to see everyone and things became right with my world again as I caught up on the trek news and more cars came in.

Ulrich Lanius of the number 12 series III 109 station wagon and I compared notes for bleeding 109 dual brake systems. Ulrich was one of the many people I was just beginning to meet and get a feel for. He seems a very pleasant person who has a lot of experience with his ex-military 109 station wagon. One of the cylinders in his car's engine has developed a problem and he was having to replace oil fouled plugs frequently in that cylinder. With no time for an engine tare down, he purchased a supply of spark plugs and joined the growing number of driving wounded.

The marathon nature of this trek was becoming a test of a car's ability to run long daily trips over terrain of varying difficulty day after day without having the time for proper maintenance. It was also becoming a test of the driver's ability to perform quick field repairs to keep the car on the trek.

I think we were at a disadvantage to the Camel Trophy treks. Their drivers were not driving 30 to 40 year old cars that had seen rough service throughout their lives. They had trained mechanics along who could work on the cars and make them ready for the next days run.

We had the time between a late day arrival and early morning start to check and refill fluids, check over the cars and get them ready for the next day. If a car suffered major breakage, it had to drop out of the tour for a day or two to while the owner made major repairs.

After catching up with trek events and being welcomed back into the trek, I headed back to my camp site for dinner leaving directions for any other campers who might wish to come.

I was back in the trek and everything was right in the world again. I was really thankful that British Pacific was there for me sending the parts I needed overnight UPS. If it wasn't for their help, I would be finishing the trip on paved roads and maintained dirt roads. I spared a moment to silently thank them for their help before falling asleep.

Back to the calendar


 

Day 6, 24 April 1998

Moab, Utah to Monticello Utah

I woke at early dawn and dressed in my car working clothes. I replaced the cap, rotor, points, spark plugs and high tension wires. I bled the brake system one more time. The results were better than yesterday's. I now had some brake pressure on the first pump.

I showered, ate a quick breakfast of yogurt and a roll, broke camp and went off to the local supermarket to pick up salad makings and more bread. I was at our starting location before our 8 AM leaving time. I was happy and excited to be back on the trek again. Especially since today should be interesting.

Today all the groups stayed together as we left on Kane Springs road. I had been up the road before to look at the petroglyphs but had not gone farther. As Kane Springs Road turned into Kane Creek trail and we went through Hurrah pass I realized that I missed some very beautiful country and some great BLM camp sites. Next time through Moab I will probably camp out here. This is beautiful canyon country.

The trail we are taking today is called Lockhart Basin. A look at the map showed me that the trail follows the same canyon as the White Rim trail in Canyonlands National Park. When I was driving the White Rim trail last fall I wondered what was on the other rim of the canyon. It looks like today I will find out.

Once we left behind the BLM camp area we found ourselves in a maze of small slip rock canyons with well marked trails that dead ended. Very few of the trail intersections were marked. We took a few dead end trails trying to stay on Lockhart Basin. However since there was some interesting slip rock rock crawling ,the wrong dead end paths were fun. I think everyone was happy to running the slip rock canyons.

The car behind me, A bronze Range Rover #13, driven by Arden Leung and Graham Witcher mentioned that they were having mechanical problems with their front end. I dropped out to assist. Arden thought the problem might be with the front left swivel ball. He noticed that he was loosing oil and was worried about it. He showed me the leak. I thought that everything I know about Range Rovers could be summed up by saying that they were complicated and powered by a V8.

So imagine my surprise when I looked and saw a swivel ball that looked similar to a series rig's swivel ball. Hmm maybe there is some family resemblance after all.

I Pulled out the tools & spare 90 wt and taught Arden how to check oil reservoirs and how to fill them. Arden took his first steps down the DIYS Rover maintenance path. Afterwards he started the car and it squealed like a stuck pig. This was the noise Arden was worried about. It was a slipping fan belt. A quick check showed all the pulleys to be turning. The belts seemed tight, but I had no idea how tight is proper for each belt. I got out a can of fan belt dressing and sprayed his belts. This mostly got the slipping under control and we were off to catch the back of the group.

We passed cars 25 and 54 as they were posing for pictures at strange angles looking like they had just descended impossible slopes. We caught up with the group where car #4 was scouting a trail split and dropped in at the rear which soon became the front when Cars 4 & 1 lead the way out the other branch.

We finally got onto the correct rail. It wonders along the bottoms of small canyons, climbing in and out of canyon branches then wonders along the top of the rim.

After the last turn around I found myself in the lead group. Diana and Chris Barty in Defender number 4 were at the lead scouting the trail.

The Blue 1987 D90 Diesel number 1 driven by Phil Armstrong was in the number two position. I believe that the number one car was the official leader of group number 1. Three 109s made up the rest of the lead group on the trail. My 1960 Series II 109 number 23, Ulrich Lanius's green Series III 109 station wagon number 12 and Alan Palmer's 1967 red 109 pickup number 17.

We were an experienced off road group that took all obstacles first time without problems, taking proper tracks into and out of obstacles. It was a pleasure working our way into and out of steep canyon branches with this group. I keep saying that I prefer not to drive the real gonzo trails, but I sure seem to have fun when I find myself on them.

We frequently outpaced the main group and had to stop for them to get sight of us at trail branches. The lead D90s were blazing a fast path that only the following three 109s were keeping up with.

The cars behind us did not fare as well through the trail as the lead group. We kept hearing stories of trouble over the radio.

The first real trouble I heard was that Mark Hardy's White D90 number 52 fell over on it's side somewhere back behind us. Car 52 had lots of heavy gear loaded on the roof rack raising the centre of gravity. Mark had been placing the car in interesting locations in order to get interesting action pictures. I never got around to asking him why the car went over. I wasn't sure I wanted to know.

The main group seemed to be having a lot of problems with a steep decent into a canyon that had an interesting rock twist at the top followed by some interesting parts near the bottom. The lead group stopped where we could see them from around the canyon wall. Evidently a couple of cars had tie rods separate. I remember someone radioing the #25 Defender 90 driven by Charles E. D'Andrade saying that both his front wheels were pointing in different directions. I think I heard mention of a tie rod separating on another car as well.

Next someone radioed that a car had had a shock come off and a rear coil try to escape. I think that this was the #9 Discovery of Brian and Suzi Holms. Somehow all these problems got repaired in what I would consider record time and the main group caught up with us. A little worse for wear but all running with wheels pointing in essentially the same direction.

We were off again and the same five cars once again found themselves well ahead of the main group.

I was right behind Alan Palmer's red 109 pickup as it negotiated a tight curve at the inside edge of a side canyon. He cut it a bit close and the right rear wheel dropped over the canyon wall. However the car's momentum kept it going and the car had all four wheels back on solid ground faster than the driver could react.

The trail was hugging the side of a canyon wall and was little wider than the width of a Land Rove. I took it hugging the upside cliff. Did I ever mention that I have a big time fear of drop-offs?

Evidently something in the way Alan Palmer's pickup bounced when the rear wheel went over the edge caused a problem in the carb or the fuel delivery system. Now every time the car hit a bump the engine died. It would restart right way though. The two of us were left behind by the three cars ahead of us but we remained ahead of the main body.

The Lockhart Basin trail became easier going once we were along the canyon ridge and not climbing in and out of little finger canyons. I saw many similarities between the White Rim trail on the other side of the canyon and this section of Lockhart Basin.

I consider this section of Lockhart Basin where it follows the main canyon rim to be at least two to three times more difficult then the worst sections of the white Rim trail but less scenic. This part of the Lockhart Basin trail was several times easier than the part we had just transversed.

I consider the White Rim trail to be a good introduction to off road driving for a beginner. Lockhart Basin is a trail for experienced rock crawlers.

A number of Border to Border Land Rovers bent and scraped panels along this trail. There was one point where the diamond plate skirt on my offside briefly touched a rock edge. I was unable to tell where when I looked later.

During the late afternoon as the sun was dipping towards the horizon one car started taking bets as to when we would arrive at our destination point. I think some people were starting to feel that the trail was a bit long. The most optimistic times came from the lead cars. They guessed about 9:30. Others were guessing as late as 4:30 AM.

Personally, I loved it here and didn't care if we got out today. A difference is that most people were staying in motels and probably didn't have proper camping equipment along. I, on the other hand, was driving Motel 23 through the canyons. Within 15 minutes of stopping I could have camp set, a chicken breast broiling, asparagus steaming, tea water heating and a salad ready to eat. Given an hour, I could have had my tent shower set up and water heating for a hot shower. In Motel 23, home is where you pop the top.

We finally left the rim of the canyon and found ourselves on a maintained dirt road heading to the river. We have been on the trail for about eleven hours now. We speeded up and eventually found ourselves on a bluff overlooking the river and BLM campsites. We had a choice of a straight decent through deep sand directly into the river or a long windy decent to the river. I choose the steep deep sand decent along with the cars ahead of me. It was an easier decent than it looked as long as you went into it on the correct track and didn't try to turn off the decent. Once in the river we drove along the slip rock bottom upstream for about 500 feet then out the other side. Simon, driving his number 5 discovery bent a steering rod following along behind me in the river. His front diff housing and steering rods were taking a beating on this trip.

We continued out of the camping area and got onto highway 211 near sunset. From there we took highway 191 into Monticello arriving well after dark.

One car decided to camp in the BLM land near the final river almost an hour drive from Monticello. I camped in a camp ground a half mile from the motel and I think everyone else stayed at the motel.

This was a long but very satisfying day with some genuine gonzo offroading. The Green Rover went where I pointed her without hesitation. I was very glad the British Pacific got me that front axle and I was able to drive this leg. This day's run alone was worth the trip. This is a trail and a day I will remember with fondness.

I was too tired to fix anything for dinner, so I crawled into bed with a big grin about today's run and promptly fell asleep.

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Day 7, 25 April 1998

Monticello, Utah to Monument Valley, Utah

As usual, I got up early, fixed breakfast, dressed in my car work clothes and crawled under the car to check fluids. After yesterday's run, I wanted to spend an hour or so under the car to check the tightness of the fittings and to do a general inspection.

Because of the quantity of damage that several cars took yesterday I assumed that we would have a late start while some repairs were made. I drove over to the motel in my work clothes assuming that I would have time to check the bolts and do a general inspection.

Well, evidently the Brownies had been at work during the night and the cars were forming into groups to leave at 8. Thankful that I at least got the fluids checked but unhappy that I would be driving in my oily work clothes I formed up with group 2 and set off with Arden in his number 13 Range Rover right behind me.

Arden seems to be a happy upbeat person. He is always going around spreading goodwill and giving out smiles to all he meets. I have been having a problem trying to resolve my preconceived image of solicitors with his actions.

Graham, Arden's co driver caused me a bit of confusion at first. I saw him at the wheel of a Range Rover often enough that early in the trip I thought that they were each driving their own Bronze Range Rovers. He is also showing a jovial almost pixie like personality at odds with my preconceived notions of a priest. But Arden and Graham make a fun pair. I have decided to ignore my preconceptions and enjoy the jovial duo.

Today we were to turn off the paved road onto a maintained dirt road just a couple of miles out of town. Unfortunately there were a number of dirt roads going off in the right direction, all unmarked. Group 2 found itself over on the side of the main road in another of their now trademark map sessions.

The group leaders found a side road that was not the correct one but showed a link to the correct road. Group 1 with Defender number 4 navigating found the correct entrance and headed down the road on the canyon floor. I never heard from group 3.

The dirt road that group 2 took wound along the canyon top mostly well away from the edge. This ecosystem we are driving through is very different from yesterdays. We are in a high planes arid ecosystem. The trees are predominately junipers and pinion pines. We see a lot of deer in the fields we drive past.

The Border to Border Trek is essentially a line transact of America's high plains. We all watch the ecosystem changes with wonder. Once we got out of the snow regions, everyplace was abloom in a riot of colours. It looks like everything that can bloom is blooming. If I had time and more film, I could amass a definitive collection of arid high plains flowers during this trip. If I had enough time, I could check over the underside of The Green Rover to see how she was holding up.

This road has a number of side branches. We traveled up a few dead end branches and had the requisite GPS reading and map sessions. I could see where Car 4's PowerBook 3400 and software had a real edge over a simple GPS reading and several people comparing maps. Its a whole lot faster and more accurate. But the map sessions give me a chance to let Lacy out of the car to stretch her legs and a chance for those of us without maps to look at the foliage up close and smell the flowers.

At a dead end, the group consensus was to head back to the highway and proceed to the Valley of the Gods. People wanted to see this valley in the daylight and have ample time to tour the valley slowly.

As we headed back, we came to another side branch that looked promising. The group decided to do one last search for the branch leading down to the bottom of the canyon. Fred and Hilomi Lawless took their Defender number 11 down the side trail to scout while the rest of the group waited and listened to their CB reports.

This trail also ended up as a dead end. The group engaged in a discussion of what to do next and split up. Defender 11, two other cars and I decided to make one more try for the bottom of the canyon while the rest of the group made their way back to the highway and to the Valley of the Gods. Of course the next side trail was the correct one. We wound our way down the canyon wall switch backs to the dirt road at the bottom. Did I mention I have a well developed phobia of drop-offs?

After yesterday, the maintained dirt road that wound along this lush wide canyon floor was like a major highway. We stopped to view some Anasazi cliff ruins. Since it was drizzling, we did not stay long.

We knew we were behind group 1 and could occasionally catch a word from their radio conversations. Three of the cars stopped to tour a pueblo ruin that had a restored kiva that you could climb down into. The restored Kiva was in excellent condition. I was able to get a couple of pictures before the others drove off leaving me to catch up.

We drove along and out of the canyon and stopped at a trading post for drinks. I took the opportunity to finally change out of my oily car working clothes and felt much better. Group 1 had evidently stopped at the trading post an hour or so ahead of us.

After the trading post stop we got back onto the pavement and drove to the Valley of the Gods arriving in the mid afternoon. The windy overcast weather did not lend itself for breathtaking photography, but I was left behind by the other three cars while I took a few pictures. I do not think that medium or large format photographers can ever really be at home on a marathon trip. I did not bother to pack the view camera because I knew I would not have time to use it.

Canyon de Chelly is coming up and I plan to make the time to photograph there. I think that Canyon de Chelly and Arches National Park are the most beautiful red rock desert places that I have ever seen. They are the purist of music and best dark chocolate for my eyes.

Coming out of the Valley of the Gods, I started to think about a place to camp for the night. No one in the group knew anything about camping sites near Mexican hat. There was a spot I partially explored a few months earlier that showed promise. I took a dirt trail near Mexican Hat Rock that wound down to the river behind Mexican Hat Rock and the brightly red and gray striped mountain ridge behind it. There I located a series of free unimproved BLM campgrounds.


In the Valley of the Gods

I headed off to the motel where the official day's stop was to tell the campers that I had located a campsite. When I got there, I was told that the people camping had proceeded to Monument Valley to find a camp site.

I got back into the Green Rover and followed them into Monument Valley. I got into contact with one of the cars as I got into line of sight with Gouldings. They had stopped at the Mitten view campground and decided that fifteen dollars a car was too much. They were passing the Gouldings. lodge on their way to the other campground to check it out.

About that time, the Range Rover number 10 blew past me on its way to join the campers. I told them over the CB how to locate the other camp ground. When I arrived only the number 10 Range Rover was in evidence. They had checked out the campground and found a nice reasonably secluded place to camp but no sign of the camping contingent.

Knowing where the road went, I drove to a bend that provided me with a clear radio path up the road. I picked up the camping group. They decided not to stop at the second camp ground and were continuing down the valley. They had come to the end of the paved road and were looking for a quiet out of sight little canyon to spend the night.

What they were saying bothered me, but I made the assumption that they thought we were on BLM public land. I let the people receiving me know that they were on Indian land as guests of the Navajo nation and thus subject to their laws. That said, I decided to go back to the nearest campground and check in.

I met up with car 10 and let them know where the camping group was. A few cars returned from the valley. I noticed that they were all directly representing companies. I made of point of not asking if there were any others left behind up the valley. I did not want to know the answer. They told me that they decided to return to Mexican Hat for the night. Car number 10 returned with them.

I checked into the camp site, alone again, and found a secluded part of the campgrounds to mope. I was feeling bad that I may have rained on some people's fun and acted like a meddling ogre busybody. That is not how I wanted to be. But, I was raised to be respectful of other people's rights and properties. I have lived in places that were frequently invaded by trespassers who shot at anything, tore up fencing and cut trees we wanted to keep. For me, with the values that I hold, it would be wrong to go out into that valley and spend the night on someone else's land without their prior permission. But my values also told me it was wrong to impose my personal values on others. I have had way too many people try to do just that to me.

After a shower and dinner I settled into a troubled sleep of one who faced an internal moral dilemma and found both choices distasteful.

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Day 8, 26 April 1998

Monument Valley, Utah to Holbrook, Arizona

I wanted to get up at the very first crack of predawn light to take pictures of the sunrise. I ended up waking several times during the night afraid that I would oversleep. When the time came, I quickly broke camp and headed off to the Mittens overlook to take dawn pictures.

I stopped along the way to take a picture and was passed by two Border to Border cars heading in for dawn pictures too. When I got to the overlook there were a number of Border to Border cars there already and more arriving. This was a cold dawn with a strong cold wind that can quickly chill you to the bone.

The clouds at the Eastern horizon were not going to provide one of the best direct sunrise photo opportunities. I knew that I already had better sunrise images of the mittens than I could obtain today so I focused on the side lit edge of the cloud tipped mesa just South of the visitor centre.

After the light changed, I put the camera and tripod back into the car and joined everyone else in the visitor center's cafeteria for breakfast. Of course as luck would have it, my order didn't get served until people were heading back to their cars. I wolfed down my food, paid my entrance fee for the park and joined the rear of the group just as they were leaving for the Monument valley trail. I kept getting the feeling that time travels at a different rate for me than it does for the others.

My stay with the group didn't last long. I soon radioed that I was dropping out to take a photo. I thought I could get a side lit picture of the three sisters spires with wild flowers in the foreground.

The Green Rover in Monument valley

I set up the tripod and camera, focused then waited for a quiet lull in the wind to still the flowers. Despite my best efforts the flowers will probably be a blur but I had to try.

This morning I seemed to focus on the Three Sisters. I took additional photographs from different angles while standing on top of the Green Rover's bonnet with the tripod set up on the roof rack.

I caught up with the main group as they were getting ready to leave from a stop and quickly lost them again as I set up for a picture of Rain God Mesa.

After a few more photo stops I caught up with the group parked at the turnoff for the North Window. It puzzled me that everyone was at the turnoff and no one apparently drove over to see the North Window. This time I was able to get in a quick photo and head out with the group as they drove out of the Monument Valley trail.

That was by far and away the fastest that I had ever gone around the Monument valley trail. I'm glad that it was not a picture perfect morning with no breeze. I would ether have been there hours after everyone else left or spent the day resenting being drug out of the park. A marathon run is no place for a photographer who thinks that one thirtieth of a second is a very fast shutter speed.

Back on the highway we drove South to Canyon de Chelly where we met up with the group's guides. We were told that the river was in flood stage. One of the canyons was impassable but the other was passable by the big ex-military trucks used for the lodge's group tours.

We decided to give the river a go. I think all of the Discoverys decided to stay behind as did several other sane drivers. I never clamed I was very good at this sanity thing. But I am prudent. So I offloaded my sleeping bag, the dog's bed and her food into a Discovery that was staying in the lot. I rearranged things inside so that the most water sensitive stuff was sitting as high as possible.

I made the assumption that if the Green Rover got stuck her winch would be below the water so I tied my strap to a front tow point and curled the rest in the centre of my spare tyre. Next I took out my ground tarp and covered the car's grill to keep water away from the car's fan.

With this I was ready. I knew from past experience that I could wade in water half way up my seat box and have the distributor above water.

One of the group's media people hitched a ride in the back of the Rover and I got one of the guides in my passenger seat.

In the past, my travel up the canyon was mostly a matter of going up the river banks with frequent shallow river crossings. This trip was to mostly driving up through the river with infrequent wet land crossings.

Around 15 cars were going to attempt to go up the river. We were being divided into groups of 5 with the lead group having a guide at the front and one at the rear. The 101 with the first guide and the video crew would be the lead car in the first group going out. I was going to be the fifth car with the second guide. Ed and Marissa Bartlett in Defender number 3 insisted in being part of the lead group so that they could be in their accustomed spot behind the group one leaders.

That meant I was going to go in the second group. After some discussion group one got enlarged to six cars because I was the only one with space for the second guide. This was getting to be more confusing than a group 2 map session.

The 101 started off for the river with each car in the group falling in behind to their assigned position. As I was starting to fall in behind the car in front of me I was suddenly cut off by the black D90 number 8 of Doug Hill as he charged past and cut in front of me. As I hit my brakes to keep from hitting the rear of Doug's D90, I couldn't help but notice that the lead group grew to seven of five cars.

We drove up the river then up to a section of dry land on the left side to look at and photograph some petroglyphs. After the stop, we continued onwards. This did not seem too bad. So far the river wasn't deep enough to enter the bottom of the doors. The trick seemed to be staying on courser bottom sand and not stopping.

We came to a long crossing that started with a deep channel next to the shore then quickly became shallow for a long upstream run across to the edge of a long sand bar. As I entered, the Green Rover's nose submerged to the spare tyre then climbed out to the shallow side like a porpoise coming up. I'm suddenly glad that I had put the tarp across the grill. Everyone in the lead group got through and up the river OK.

We stopped on a long narrow sand bar as the 101 took the next long leg up the river. The video crew wanted to get in place to photograph this crossing. It was then that the story of the 109 pickup, number 17, started coming over the radio. It was sounding like the car went in, stalled and got swept downstream and over on it's side. No one mentioned anyone getting hurt. I listened to the radio traffic of the rescue behind us as the lead Defenders started off up the next leg of our river journey.

I was surprised that the 109 pickup had decided to try the river. The car has a Buick aluminum V8 with three speed automatic transmission. Alan did not want to cut up the bulkhead to make it fit so mounted the engine down low. The intake for his carburetor was sitting at about the same height as the base of my distributor. I was surprised that he made the first leg of the river without drowning the engine.

Suddenly I heard the Bartlett's cry for assistance. I looked upriver and saw that the Green number 3 D90 station wagon was stopped and looked like she was settling stern down. The water was just below it's rear window. The white D90 in front of the the Bartlett's number 3 car hesitated and found itself stuck too.

I knew I didn't dare try to go to the rescue. The Green Rover barely has the power to make headway against the river through the soft sand in low range first gear. If I stopped in the river I would be stuck was well.

I noticed that my car was settling into the sand on the bar and I was becoming stuck as I sat there. I had to rock back and forth a couple of times to break free. With a line of cars behind me I had no choice but to go forward.

I set off a little to the left of the stuck Defenders feeling bad that I couldn't stop to provide a pull and good that I could keep going past them to the large spit where the 101 was sitting.

I heard a couple of radio calls requesting help from the 101 but it didn't move. The video crew were photographing from the rear of the car.

The D90 diesels in the group came to the rescue. Dave Tebbutt's Nissan diesel powered number 21 red D90 was amazing to watch as he and Phil Armstrong in the Blue number 1 D90 Diesel waded in to save the stuck V8s. These were real water puppies in action. For the first time I was real impressed by the way the Nissan and tdi diesels handled. This was my first case of diesel envy.

After that cars were pulled up onto the spit they were able to get the white D90 started but the Green D90 would not start. It was sprinkling and the river was noticeably rising. With two cars inoperable the decision was made to call it a river trip and return to the ranger station.

Since I had the second guide The Green Rover lead the group back to the section of dry land where the retrieved 109 pickup was being worked on. The number 3 D90 was towed back by the 101.

Safely back to dry land, most of us stood around while the people knowledgeable in V8 resuscitation worked on the two cars. We had some rain and a little hail as we waited for the two cars to start. I fixed a hot cup of tea then went off to play with the dog and get a picture or two.

After a while many people were becoming worried about the river continuing to rise. We decided to head back out of the canyon pulling the two cars. The Green Rover was put in the lead of one of the return groups. Simon who had been riding in the red pickup hitched a ride back with me. It was the first time I had all four seats full.

We were driving along the last section with my guide on the radio trying to keep all the cars in the proper line and away from the deep sections. Along the last stretch, the Black Defender number 8 went to pass me on the right. As the guide was on the radio trying to warn the driver of soft sand where he was heading I floored the Green Rover's engine and sped up as fast as I could in the hopes that number 8 would pull back in behind me and not continue into the soft bottom in front of him. It evidently worked and the Green Rover roared out of the river with the engine winding out in third gear low range.

About this time I heard on the radio that a couple of cars following behind got stuck in the soft sand of that last section. A couple of cars went out to the rescue.

We finally got back to the park center parking lot. The two dead cars still were not starting. It was decided to drop them off at a local motel for repairs. It was my understanding that one or two cars would stay behind for support.

I transferred my things back to my car and started off with others for Holbrook. This was a long highway and interstate run that went into the night through driving rain.

By the time we reached Holbrook, I was tired, wet, hungry and cold. For the first time on the trip I decided to take a motel room. I checked in to the nearby Ramada Inn for the same price that people were getting at the Comfort Inn. I had Dinner with some members of the group then retired to the hotel to swim a few laps then vegetate in the Jacuzzi. I was beginning to understand why almost everyone was staying in a motel.

Afterwards, I hoped in bed to catch up on my trip journal. Lacy was quite happy to have a real bed to sleep on for the night.

All and all I was very disappointed by the lack of organization and leadership through the river run. The cars going in the river should have been checked over before the run. The 109 with the lowered engine should have not been allowed out into the river. The cars with street tyres should have been left behind also.

People should have held their assigned positions and followed the instructions from the guide. The experience felt like a gaggle of total river neophytes who each wanted to do things their own way. Leadership was nonexistent. I suspect the guides had humorous stories to tell about us over future camp fires.

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Day 9, 27 April 1998

Holbrook, Arizona to Globe, Arizona

I woke up at dawn, dressed in my oily work on car clothes and went out to check the fluids. The Green Rover was sparkling clean. The river, with its fast flowing sand, scoured the rims and tyres as well as the lower part of the car. The long pavement leg in the driving rain washed the top and sides. I have never seen the wheels and tyres look so clean since they were new. Oh well so much for showing up at the Scottsdale Land Rover Centre looking like the car had been in an expedition.

After checking fluids, I took a hot shower and washed my hair. Did I say I was beginning to like motels? I stopped in the lobby for a complimentary bowl of cereal, orange juice, muffin and cup of tea. Afterwards I joined everyone at the other motel.

The cars were forming up across the street. I was planning on going out with group 1 this morning and radioed my intention to the group 1 leader so he would know I was there.

As The first group was starting off, Arden came up beside me in his Bronze Range Rover number 13 and motioned me to pull out ahead of him. I couldn't resist such a gallant invitation and pulled out. Arden called me on the radio and told me to switch to channel 2. Opps, I guess I was in group 2 today. That was a neat polite hijacking.

The exhaust noise is decidedly louder than it was at the beginning of the trip. I should spend the time to check out the source of the noise when the trek is finished and I have time to look the car over and do maintenance. I probably bounced the end of the tail pipe coming out of slip rock drop offs, and I'm sure that driving with the exhaust system under the surface of a cold fast flowing river didn't help ether.

Today we will be spending the bulk of the day negotiating a North South trail going through the Apache reservation. We are soon through Holbrook and onto a well maintained dirt road that provides access to expensive looking homes and what looks like hobby ranches. As we pass some newish looking very expensive horse fencing I think that Holbrook seems to be prosperous enough to afford a upper middle class. If a Rover Centre was near by there would probably be a flock of newish Range Rovers living along the road.

As we enter the Apache reservation the road rapidly deteriorates to a narrow bumpy trail. We are going along the upper ridges of a mountain range overlooking a valley to the South. The sight is beautiful when we can see it. Today we find ourselves in an arid high altitude pine forest ecosystem.

Arden, who is still right behind me called me on the CB to say that my exhaust system seems to be almost touching the ground. The group stops while I pull out my ground tarp and go under the car to see what happened.

All but the front exhaust pipe hanger has separated so that the entire system is hanging from the front hanger. I checked each hanger heading back one at a time. The middle exhaust hanger was almost new. I installed it the day before I left for the trek. A metal stud pulled through the rubber hanger. The stud is shinny. It looks like it had just separated. There is the beginning of a crease in the pipe. It is starting to bend from the weight of the muffler bouncing on the bumpy trail.

The separated hanger just in front of the muffler has surface rust. It probably went yesterday. The rear hanger is intact but a tab weld had broken.

There are exhaust stains where the pipe enters and leaves the muffler. That explains the noise and the odors I have been smelling.

My best guess is that the weld on the rear tab broke somewhere along the trek putting all the weight on the next forward hanger. When that went the next forward hanger took the stress. The muffler leaks are probably due to rotational forces on an unsupported system undergoing violent shaking.

For once I did not have any bailing wire along. All our hay has been coming bailed with twine for the last year or so. The nearby fence has been poorly strung and there is a stretch of wire hanging out extra from a splice. The excess wire volunteered to become new exhaust hangers. After a few minutes the group was back on our way. I had wire exhaust hangers and the fence looked like the person who strung it did a little neater job.

The Group 2 leaders stopped at an intersection for a group 2 trademark GPS reading and map comparison session. The rest of us got out to stretch our legs and admire the countryside. Someone had recently seen wild turkeys in the woods earlier.

Back in the cars we continued along a series of ridges to a lookout tower. There we stopped for lunch while a few people hiked up to the base of the tower to get a picture.

The sky has a decidedly cyan haze that would cloud any vista photograph so I decided to stay behind. When you can only purchase film at stores that cater to "professional" photography and you only get 10 exposures per roll you can become very choosy about when you expose a frame of film.

I heated up some clam chowder and fixed a tuna fish sandwich for lunch. As I was eating, groups 1 and 3 caught up with us and stopped for lunch. Group 2 headed off soon afterwards.

We are now descending the hillsides. As we pass through tiny micro climates, I notice that deciduous scrub oaks are appearing and becoming one of the dominate tree species. The trees look be a little farther apart and we are seeing more grasses and thicker brush.

We pass two old abandoned appearing ranch houses and come to a 'T' intersection. Everyone stops for the requisite GPS reading and map comparison session.

As much as I like the people in group 2 I sure miss having Defender number 4 out ahead scouting the right path. I'm beginning to think that you should never form a navigational collective of multiple strong willed individuals each with a different map of the same area. Ether that or someone needs to assure that intersections only occur at scenic points of interest.

A car is sent out to explore the left side of the 'T' and locals heading to town are questioned. At last the group decides that right is the correct direction. We shortly reach a left turn off where most of the road's traffic has turned. We continue forward. After the intersection, the dirt road shows little sign of use. After a while, the navigation collective decided that we went the wrong way and the group makes a 'U' turn to go back to our original 'T' intersection.

By then the other groups had gone through the 'T'. We raise them on the radio and learn that they turned left and had made a right hand turn a little farther down the road.

Group 2 follows after and sees the other groups driving along a road to the right that has almost angled back the way we came. The leaders start to turn the group at the first trail going off to the right. I can see that the other group's cars are still going past the point where we are and decide to continue along and turn right farther up where the other groups made the turn. I found the other turn a couple of hundred feet farther along about the same time I heard the group 2 leaders telling everyone to turn around.

Groups 1 and 3 had waited for group 2 to catch up. Once we were all together, they continued on. However, group 2 stayed put because the navigational collective thought that the other groups might be going the wrong direction. I let Lacy out to stretch her legs and walked over to look at a near by stream while car 10 went back to explore farther down the left hand road of the previous 'T' intersection.

When the car came back I briefly walked over to the collective meeting to listen in. The people in car 10 were convinced that everyone was going along the wrong road and used mileage data on the map to show that the turn off we wanted was farther down the the road. Unable to contribute, I quickly lost interest and continued my walk around the area. Eventually the navigation collective decided to follow groups 1 and 3. These are really nice people but I'm beginning to wish that I could rip the maps out of every one's hands and tell them just to follow the other groups. The collective is beginning to drive me crazy. Follow car 4! they have good software and know how to use it.

So I guess I am finally convinced. A GPS can be a vital navigational tool in the hands of a trained user who has it connected to really good software. I guess it isn't just a boy toy any more.

A GPS reading and a map seems to be asking for more confusion than a compass and a map. So if I purchase a GPS I will need to purchase a PowerBook and really good navigational software then learn how to use it properly.

It took me 18 years to decide to add a radio and the jury is still out on a clock and functional odometer. Now I'm considering a GPS????? Watching the Bartys in car 4 picking out the correct path through canyon and mountain trail mazes time after time has made a believer out of me.

Group 2 caught up with the other groups where our narrow windy poorly maintained trail intersects a maintained dirt road. The crossing is interesting. The trail abruptly drops about 30 feet at an angle approaching 70 degrees. The slope is loose dirt and rocks. There is a sharp bend to the right at the bottom. If you miss the right bend, you will go over on your side in a shallow ravine. The last of the other groups were going down the drop-off as we pull up.

The maintained dirt road is supposed to curve around and intersect with the one we are on a little farther down the trail. The driver of the 101 has decided that their center of gravity is too high for this section and opts to go around as does most of group 2 after getting a good look at the drop off.

I decide to give it a go. The drop looks simple if you are lined up properly and keep the wheels turning. There is a large rock located at the place that you need to turn to help keep the cars from sliding off the side of the ravine at the bottom. Arden lined up ahead of me and took his Range Rover over the side. I got a good view of his rear undercarriage as he went over. I had to go back and fourth a few times to line the 109 up with the drop and called for a spotter since I could not see over the side. I was lined slightly off. One more back and fourth and I was properly lined up.

I found myself driving over an edge that I could not see over and suddenly I felt like I was in a steep dive. I had to duck my head and look up to see where the turn was at the bottom. I took the drop in low range first with light brakes. Locking the wheels would not be a good idea here. I was down in a split second. Properly lined up the obstacle was simple for Rovers to negotiate.

As the bulk of group 2 headed off the improved road, I guess that I along with a few others have just defected to groups 1 and 3. Oh well, car 4 is at the front to scout so all is right with the world.

As we start forward we encounter severe water erosion. Our road is cut off by sharp deep 'V' shaped ravines. I suggest that with 30 or so people standing around and lots of nearby rocks we could repair the damage in no time. No one seems to be interested in road repair.

There is a gate to a near by field that someone has gone through to investigate. Meanwhile, Phill Armstrong in the Blue Diesel D90 number 1 has blazed a path across the ravine. You take it at an angle until you hit your front bumper against the other side then back and fourth until you get a little more in line with the ravine and go out the other side. You then have to dive a short way along the edge of the gully to clear some trees to get back to the original road. Personally, I think we could have had the ravine bridged and have been past this point by now.

The car that scouted the field came back reporting a second gate that opened to the road that we wanted. The section of the road cut off by the ravine meets up with the road a hundred feet or so past the ravine.

I looked carefully at the next car that went across the ravine. On the way back to the road they had to negotiate a very narrow spot between a tree and the sharp edge of the ravine. If the edge gave way under the weight of a car, the car would go over on its side into the ravine. Not knowing the ability of the soil to withstand the repeated weight of passing cars I opted to cross the field. It was the first obstacle I bypassed on the entire trek but it just seemed dumb to me to risk my car going on its side into a ravine for a 100 foot section of trail. Most of the cars took the field.

As I was driving towards the field I noticed that Defender number 25 was trying to go straight across a different section of the ravine. He was going in until his bumper dug into the other side, pulled himself back out and tried again. Looking at how he was backing out I guess he had a set of lockers locked. I suspected that he wanted a picture of the car straddling the 'V' ravine. Boys.

I joined the group at the road on the other side of the field during the long wait for the cars crossing the ravine. Group 2 plus the 101 had evidently already passed through here. People were getting restless at the length of the wait. Radio chatter was mostly about winching stuck cars out of the ravine. I gather that car 25 finally got stuck and had to be winched out. I think one or two others did as well. Finally we were all back together and car 4 set off at the lead of the group to scout the correct trail.

We were descending along the trail. The arid pine and scrub oak forest was giving way to sparsely treed grasslands and cactus plants were becoming more prevalent. All the varieties of cactus seemed to be in bloom.

We wound our way in and out of small valleys and passed some truly beautiful vistas. Sometimes we stopped briefly at an intersection for car 4 to make a short run in one direction for a GPS reading to determine which way was correct. Group 2 could definitely use a car number 4 of their own.

Late in the afternoon we came to a halt along the side of a ridge. The lead cars had picked up a CB call from group 2. They were lost at the end of a box canyon and were asking for location assistance. Chris in car 4 requested their GPS coordinates and entered them in his computer. About that time we lost contact with group 2. We stayed on the ridge for about a half hour waiting to hear from someone in group 2. Car 4 had them located on the map. I'm not sure if Chris ever got a chance to tell them where that were located.

We finally gave up and continued on the trail. The lead cars got to herd cattle along the narrow trail for a while. We were now in a hilly ecosystem that seemed to be a mixture of chaparral and cactus.

We wound our way down to a river crossing just as it was getting dark. With everyone safely across we discovered civilization over the next rise on the form of numerous full campsites along the river. The crossing was evidently keeping the campers on one side.

We drove along the narrow dirt road winding along the edge of the canyon wall above the river in the dark with occasional oncoming traffic.

Now that it was dark I found myself wondering how the lost patrol was doing. I was also very glad that I had defected to group 1 when I did.

We finally made it out to pavement. The series owners unlocked our hubs as the rest of the group made it to the pavement. We had a steep mountain range to climb. The series cars climbed at our best speeds as cars and trucks roared past. The newer Rovers were polite enough to stay with us under powered Rovers and provide company.

We drove through Globe and arrived at the motel stopping point near tench in the evening. It was a long but fun day with good scenery and medium difficulty trails. All in all a very satisfying day. I wonder what happened to group 2? Do they have enough camping gear along to spend the night out on the trail? Will the lost patrol ever be heard from again?

I headed off for the nearby campground to discover that it wasn't where the directions said it was. I located a deputy sheriff in a parking lot and asked about the camp ground. It was located about a half hour up a side road. I asked about a close by safe camping spot and was told to use the nearby Walmart parking lot.

I set up camp in the Walmart lot just down the street from the motel. I fixed a salad, steamed some broccoli and broiled a flank steak for dinner, then read for a while sipping tea.

It was indeed a satisfying day. I sure hope that the lost patrol is OK.

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Day 10, 28 April 1998

Globe, Arizona to Douglas, Arizona

I woke up at dawn, dressed in my oily work on car clothes and went out to check the fluids. This seems to be my everyday morning ritual on a trip. Afterwards I fixed an omelet and tea for breakfast. Since Walmart was open, I went in and picked up a new bra. I packed way too many clothes but only one bra. Opps.

I reached the motel parking lot at about quarter to eight ready to go. The lost patrol had straggled in sometime during the night and cars three and seventeen were in the lot.

The Red 109 pickup had been dried out enough to run and had made it here. Unfortunately Alan thought the rear end was going out.

The Number 3 D90 had broken some sort of crank revolution sensor. It evidently sits about half way up the side of the engine and does not like to be immersed in cold water. FI V8s do indeed seem to be hydrophobic. Everyone was cheered that the two drowned cars had rejoined the group. I think each of us were worried about them.

This morning I was very careful to leave in the company of group 1. This was to be a short day. We had an end of trip celebration planned for 7 this evening and we wanted to be in Douglas early to get ready to party. Today was to be a pavement drive.

Group 1 left the "official" route to get one last off road run before the end. We turned off onto rolling desert plains and found ourselves negotiating a maze of dirt trails. That was OK as we had both cars 4 and 1 up front scouting the trails.

The going was slow. We were faced with rough trails and newly cut storm ravines that needed crossing. People were getting concerned about not making the last leg in time for the celebration. We found a new dirt road that was going South and decided that we needed to take it if we were going to reach Douglas today. The road was so new it wasn't on any of the maps. But it went exactly where we wanted to go. So we left the last of the interesting trails behind and entered the final leg of our journey. After an hour or so we left the last dirt road of the journey behind. Sadly, it was all coming to an end.

We reached interstate 10 then went down Highway 191 into Douglas. Somehow Car 8 and I were leading the group and reached Douglas about 15 minutes ahead of the rest of group 1. Going through town I discovered the 101 along with a number of cars parked behind the corner ice cream shop. I pulled into the lot and ordered a chocolate banana sundae. Woman does not live by Land Rovers alone. Chocolate is a very important ingredient.

After the sundae, I followed a group over to the motel. Alan Palmer made it in a rental car. His red 109 Pickup, number 17, was left in Tucson for a differential rebuild. I thought it was sad to see a car so close to completing the journey not make the final leg. I think if it was me I would have towed The Green Rover the last leg with the rental. But Tucson is a better place to make Rover repairs.

Several people were heading to the border but not across. There were people of various nationalities along that did not have a complete set of papers with them. I wasn't sure how they would handle my dog on a border crossing ether.

We dove over to the crossing and stood around. I think some people wanted a final group picture at the border but a lot of cars were missing. One car went across the border and came right back for a sense of completion. I thought about it but decided that it leaving Lacy in someone else's care while I drove away would stress her quite a bit.

It was about six and the celebration was due to start at seven. With Nothing else to do I located the restaurant and parked at the entrance. Since most of the people on the trip stayed at motels, they had not seen my Dormobile set up for camping. I popped the top, pulled the curtains, opened the bed and the stove so people could see my Land Rover RV ready for the night.

Since it was our last gathering together as a complete group, I decided to wear a dress I brought along. I washed up and dressed in the rear of Motel 23 and was ready when the first people started drifting in.

Of course I love showing off the Green Rover and many people who saw her for the first time in camping trim made proper oohs and ahhs.

I left Lacy tied to the back of the Rover outside the restaurant to guard to guard the Rover's open back door.

When I saw Alan Palmer coming in, I remembered that Corgi red 109 pickup I purchased on my way to Canada. It was still sitting in my purse where it spent the entire Border to Border trip. On impulse I got it out and gave it to Alan. I told him that everyone at this party needs to have a Rover with them.

I now understand why I stopped at that single antique store on the way North and purchased a little red 109 pickup that I didn't really want. The look on Alan's face was priceless. Alan needed to have a Land Rover at the end of the trip.

The party was a lot of fun. I went over my normal limit of one margarita by two and had a good dinner with good company.

I was coming to realize that my biggest regret on this trip was that I did not have enough time to get to know my fellow travelers. I have had glimpses at what look like delightful personalities. If I could change one thing about the trip I would make sure that there was more time to get to know my fellow travelers better. I think that was the one disadvantage of camping while almost everyone else was in a motel and eating out together.

I would have liked to see everyone camping together and having time to socialize around a camp fire.

After the party I set up camp in the motel parking lot and promptly fell asleep.

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Day 11, day 1 post trek, 29 April 1998

Douglas, Arizona to Tucson, Arizona

I woke up at dawn, dressed in my oily work on car clothes and went out to check the fluids. This was both habit and the fact that I will be on the road today. Afterwards I borrowed a now empty motel room and took a shower.

Some people are leaving early. Many of us are standing around in the parking lot taking our leaves of each other. After ten days of marathon driving leaving to go our own ways seems unreal and sad. I was beginning to feel that driving from eight in the morning to nine or ten at night in a long line of Rovers was the norm.

I decide to join a group going out for breakfast in a downtown historic hotel. It is a time to chat one last time and take our leaves of one another. It is a happy yet sad meal as we said our good-byes. Good-byes to some who have become friends, many who could have become friends with a little more time. All bound by the marathon Border to Border trek.

I was saddened walking out of the hotel and climbing into The Green Rover. I put the CB on channel one for the sake of the trip and headed West on highway 80. I was sad, thinking of the friends left behind when Defender number 4 passed me with a honk and a wave.

Car number 4 was once again out in the lead scouting the way home. I knew that all was right with the world once again and started thinking of the wonderful memories that I am taking with me.

I stopped off in Bisbee to browse the antique stores and walk Lacy up and down the street while I looked in the windows. Afterwards we returned to The Green Rover and drove to Tombstone.

Lacy and I toured Tombstone looking into windows and talking with people. I had a buffalo burger for lunch then we headed up to Benson where my first off road leg of the return trip was to start.

While I was out of the car getting directions to my off road turn off, the 101 drove by with lots of waves. Soon I was leaving the pavement out side of Benson heading for Eastern Tucson.

I took the trail to Pomerene-Cascabel and Reddington up into the Rincon mountains and over Reddington Pass into the Eastern edge of Tucson.

I arrived in Tucson for the evening rush hour traffic. Well actually I didn't arrive in Tucson that I would identify as a city. I wound down out of the desert mountains into a wealthy suburban sprawl. One moment I was in a cactus desert the next I was passing houses that in my neighborhood would be worth three or four million dollars each and a big gulf course. My plan to find the city was simple. Follow the direction the traffic was coming from.

I was planning to spend the night at the home of Rob and Ann Medica from the mendiceno Land Rover mail list. After a while, I called Rob and found I had been making a beeline to their house. I got directions and was there 25 minutes later.

Rob and Ann have a Discovery and a 109 station wagon that Bob has owned for 19 years. We started chatting about the Border to Border trip and Land Rovers . A neighbor, Bob came over in one of his Land Rovers. He has an real nice stock 88 and a Discovery. We continued chatting over a delicious dinner and into the night. I love it when causal acquaintances over the internet can become friends in person.

That night Lacy and I shared a bed in a real house. Motel 23 was vacant.

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Day 12, day 2 post trek, 30 April 1998

Tucson, Arizona to Phoenix, Arizona

I rose this morning to chat briefly with Rob and Ann before they left for work. They graciously left me with the run of their house.

I went out and checked fluids then looked over the underside of The Green Rover. Everything was tight except for the exhaust system. I changed my fan belt, and cleaned out the rear of the car straightening out the interior for the 50th anniversary bash at the Scottsdale Land Rover centre. When I was satisfied that the rear interior living quarters looked presentable I bathed Lacy. She had been collecting dust and dirt from the entire trip. I wanted her to look her best for the party too.

I did several loads of laundry and then showered. I was enjoying a leisure time after 15 days on the road. I had a lot of dirty laundry. But I brought a lot of clothes along.

Finally around two in the afternoon all my clothes, Lacy and I were clean. The Green Rover was tidied up and we were ready to head to the party. Bob came over to guide us to the Scottsdale centre. He needed to get some recall work done so brought the Discovery. I was looking forward to seeing his good condition 88 again. Oh well maybe next trip.

We convoyed the two and a half hours to Scottsdale stopping so I could get petrol and put water in the drinking tank. We arrived at the dealer around fivish. Gerry Elem was already there with Tigger, an 88 he recently purchased from Dale Avery in Spokane Washington. Gerry was another person I have known for years over the Internet but had not yet met in person.

Someone from the dealership offered me a complimentary car wash, I wasn't ready to clean the Border to Border dirt off yet but asked if I could get a complimentary lube instead. I guess only their car wash was free. Oh well.

Gerry and I parked our series cars in strategic locations just outside the showroom entrance where the party will be and next to the guest registration table. I would say that series cars were prominently displayed during this party. I popped the top, pulled open the bunk and opened up the stove for display.

A '97 D90 and a Series III 88 were placed on display inside the show room floor. The 88 was recently painted and looked nice as long as you didn't pop the bonnet. The engine compartment was still the old colour. While the car was clean and looked nice it was unoriginal and nowhere as nice as Bob's original 88 or Rob's 109 original looking station wagon. Trust me to look beyond the flash.

I soon found myself giving constant tours of the Green Rover and explaining the car's features while plushmobile owners were properly oohing and ahhing. I was loving every minute of it and happy as a mussel at low tide with no sea stars in sight (mussel predators).

Rob and Ann came to the party in their Discovery. I thanked them for their hospitality but didn't pull myself away from the tours I was giving to mingle with them as much as I wanted too.

Just before dark, a 109 two door converted into a six wheel drive car came to the party. I broke free long enough to get a few pictures and to ooh and ahh over a modification he made to his wing tops. He built utility boxes into them. Of course I got pictures.

I went back to showing off The Green Rover and raided the party food and drink table more than just a little.

I met a number of nice people including a couple who were there in their 1967 VW Westfalia Transporter. They were Jim and Paula Ellis. They have been thinking of purchasing a Land Rover Dormobile and came to the party to look at my car. We hit it off well and chatted a bit.

When the Land Rover 50th anniversary party ended I put the Green Rover back into traveling trim and followed Jim and Paula home where they provided driveway space for me to park for the night.

When I got to their house I toured their very nicely restored Westfalia transporter. It was in very good original appearing condition. They said that it gets used as intended for frequent camping trips. Nice people, nice car.

I had a lovely day and enjoyed a great party thanks to the kind assistance of my new friends Rob, Ann, Bob, Jim and Paula.

I set up camp and promptly fell to sleep with a big smile on my face.

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Day 13, day 3 post trek, 1 May 1998

Phoenix, Arizona to Burbank, California

I slept in until about 7 AM and fixed myself a leisurely breakfast.

I seem to be going through a bazaar taste phase in my omelet cooking. My current on-the-trip omelets now have sliced low fat polish sausage, fresh chopped garlic cloves, fresh sliced portabello mushroom, diced sun dried tomato, diced dried apricot, and graded Romana cheese. Each bite is now bursting with several flavours that seem somehow to go together.

After breakfast I did dishes and put the Green Rover back into traveling trim. I said my good-byes and thanks to Paula as she was leaving to work and set off for Burbank California.

Burbank is a long detour from my home, but I wanted to personally thank the people at British Pacific for their sponsorship. I wanted them to know how importantly I valued being able to get back onto the official Border to Border trek so quickly. They were there for me and I wanted to thank them personally. Even if it meant driving into the Los Angels area.

I hopped on Interstate 10 West and floored The Green Rover . The distance was too great for the Green Rover to get to Burbank before British Pacific closed for the day. I was already into the L.A. basin traffic when I finally decided that the distance was too far and gave up hope.

It was Friday evening and no one would be at British Pacific until Monday morning. I decided to continue on to British Pacific anyway. I knew that their parking lot was a safe place to camp for the night and there was always the possibility that Steve, the owner, may be working late.

I pulled into the empty British Pacific parking lot around 7 PM tired from a long day of driving on the Interstate and dealing with the dreaded LA freeway traffic.

Sadly I missed the folks at British Pacific. I walked the dog around the block, set up camp and spent the evening catching up on this journal and reading.

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Day 14, day 4 post trek, 2 May 1998

Burbank, California to Bishop, California

It was drizzling outside when I woke up this morning. Since I was on the road all day yesterday I got into my work on car clothes, laid a tarp out on the wet pavement and crawled under the car to check fluids.

I'm still disappointed at driving this far out of my way to personally thank the people at British Pacific only to miss them. Somehow the drizzle seemed fitting for my level of disappointment.

I put the Green Rover back into traveling trim, got onto Interstate 5 North, then turned off on 14 North to reach highway 395 as it leads North on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

On the way North on highway 14 I passed Red Rock State Park. I noticed dirt off road 4X4 trails and just had to stop to do some touring.

The park had a lot of interesting cliffs with red strata. The cliffs were showing interesting erosion patterns. I could not approach most of the cliffs for detail pictures because they were posted bird of pray nesting habitats. However I did have a nice drive and enjoyed the scenery. If I ever come through this area again, I will try to schedule time to spend touring more of the park's roads.

When I got to highway 395 I noticed a sign saying that Tioga pass into Yosemite was closed. I guess that eliminated my planed route home through Yosemite National Park.

I still wanted to visit the Bristle cone forest near Lone Pine and Mono Lake. The closure of Tioga Pass just meant that I needed to go a little farther North than I planned to get over the Sierra Nevada mountains.

I reached Lone Pine by mid afternoon to find a sign saying that the Bristle cone forest park was closed. I had planned to climb the mountains, take sunset pictures, go down to the park campgrounds for the night then climb back to in the predawn morning for sunrise pictures. I guess spring is late everywhere.

I continued North to Bishop and spent the night in a campground at the South end of town. I would like to locate a source of information that tells me where the free BLM campgrounds are located.

I'm not happy paying money for space to park the Rover overnight. I have all my own facilities on board and practice a leave no trace form of camping. I just do not like getting woken up in the middle of the night by the police saying that I can not camp there. It seems strange that the only reason I pay to sleep in private camp grounds is to get protection from the police.

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Day 15, day 5 post trek, 3 May 1998

Bishop, California to Carson City, Nevada

I fixed French toast and tea for breakfast and headed North out of Bishop. I checked my film stock. I have most of one roll unexposed plus one unexposed roll of film left. 18 exposures going into lake Mono. This will not be enough. I dearly love photographing the patterns of the little sand tufas and can never seem to pass them by in less than three rolls of film. There is a independent gas station at the South end of Lee Vining that sells 120 film. I will stock up there then head back to the South end of the lake.

On the way North I find that I am traveling in and out of snow covered land again. I stopped at a few side roads to walk the dog and stretch my legs.

I remembered one road that went off to an very scenic side canyon. I turned off to follow it up to see if there are any interesting photos waiting to be taken. As I wind up the road I encounter more and more snow. I finally come to a place that has deep snow on one side of the road and a thin line of pavement showing on the other along the edge of a steep downhill slope.

This section is only about fifty feet long. I might be able to force the Rover through it to the other side. But I keep looking at the steep side slope falling away from the edge of the road. I would have my left tyres on the edge of the pavement and steep slope. The snow where my right tyres would be looks to be mid bumper height or slightly higher. I would have very little margin for sliding sideways before I got into real trouble. I think I might be able to make it, but I might also get into trouble that I would have a very difficult time getting myself out of alone.

I decline the trail and back out down the road. The deciding factor is that The Green Rover is by herself. If I had a supporting car to safely pull her out and keep her from sliding to the side if I got into trouble I would have given it a try. Did I say that I am a MUCH more cautious driver when I am alone without another car to help?

Next I stopped at Convict lake to see how it looked. The snow covered mountains were beautiful but the sky was cloud covered and the wind kept a reflection from forming in the lake. If you catch this lake at the right time you can take amazing pictures. This was not that time and I decided not to use one of my 18 remaining exposures on creating a transparency that I would not print.

I drove into the town of Lee Vining to discover that the gas station that carried 120 film was closed. Bummer. I checked the other stores in town and only found 35 mm film. Double Bummer!

Considering the number of professional photographers who live in the area and the huge number of medium and large format photographers that come here to photograph you would think that at least one store would carry the larger film formats.

I got back into the Green Rover and drove to the South tufa formations, taking the turn off to the sand tufas.

Tufas were created by springs that percolated up through the sand into the underside of the lake. The chemical interaction of the fresh spring water and the saline lake water caused calcium to deposit at the mouth of the underwater springs. There are the large tufas generated by the larger springs and the small clusters of sand tufas generated by clustered fingers of spring water percolating up through the sand.

The tufas that we admire were largely exposed when LA diverted water that flowed into Lake mono allowing the lake level to recede. These Tufas are very fragile and are deteriorating from the affects of weather, roots and people. Since they are always changing I make an attempt to photograph them every time I find myself near the lake.

Most visitors focus on the large and very visible tufas, but I have come to love the delicate intricacies of the tiny sand tufas and seek them out to photograph.

When I got to the parking lot closest to my favorite sand tufas the weather was overcast with occasional light drizzle. I consider this good sand tufa photographing weather. Sand tufas are a study in tubes and ridges and the differences in light intensity between parts in the full sun and parts in full shade overwhelm film. On sunny days I carry a translucent white sheet of material in a hoop to place between the sun and the tufas I am photographing to reduce the range of incident light.

Once again I fall in love with this special place and the tiny sand tufas. My 18 remaining exposures are gone in all to short a time.

I sent some more time communing with the lake and noting the affects of the raising water. I need to get out here more often.

At last I load Lacy and myself back into the Green Rover and start heading back to the road. On my way to the paved road I encountered a dirt cross road. I have been West on it before but never East. Since I'm not really ready to leave this enchanted area yet, I turn East and quickly find the trail going into lose sand. I stop to lock the hubs and air down to 22 pounds from the 60 pounds pressure I use on the open highway.

The road parallels the Southern shore of the lake. I see tufa formations I have never seen before. I could easily spend a day or more exploring this area. I could certainly expose multiple blocks of film.

The road goes past the East end of the lake and goes along the base of some sand dunes out into a highland desert scene. I have got to return with LOTS of film. What an exciting discovery.

The trails do not lead completely around the lake but they extend a lot farther than I thought they did. I know where I will be going next time I visit Lake Mono and I know that film is no longer available in the town of Lee Vining.

After an exciting afternoon I find myself back on highway 395 heading North away from Lake Mono. I'm tempted to run to Reno to purchase film and return but my room mate will be leaving for a weekend trip and I promised to be back before then to take care of the animals while she is gone.

The road North of Lake Mono is a long slow climb for a heavy 2-1/4L109. I am back in the snow level again. I pass 8,000 feet above sea level before starting to descend again.

A red Japanese sports utility car passed me by at a high rate of speed then stopped at the next town to wave me down.

It is Morgan Hanaford of all people. Morgan owns an 88 that used to belong to Scotty's youngest son Ian. He and his wife were returning from an event they attended. We spend a few minutes catching up and he was off trying to make it home before midnight. I'm hopping to make it home before midnight the following day. Oh well he lives about two hours closer than I and the SUV can maintain the speed limit through the mountains. I'm sure that Morgan's wife is beginning to think that Morgan knows everyone who owns a Land Rover in California.

By dusk I entered Carson City and parked for the night in a Walmart parking lot (I had noticed a pattern). I fixed dinner, walked the dog a bit, caught up in my trip journal and read into the evening.

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Day 16, day 6 post trek, 4 May 1998

Carson City, Nevada to Aptos, California

I woke early, checked fluids and ate some yogurt and rolls for breakfast.

I climbed highway 50 through the South shore of Lake Tahoe then down into Sacramento. From there I headed into the Bay area but had to stop at Scotty's house in Concord.

Scotty and I are long time friends. He taught me most of what I know about Land Rovers. We had tea, chatted about life and and glanced at Roger's collection of Land Rovers that are sitting at Scotty's house.

Late in the afternoon I said my good-bye's to Scotty and drove the last two hours through the Bay Area, over the Santa Cruz mountains and to home in Aptos on the North Monterey bay.

It was a long exciting trip during which I made new friends, saw new places and revisited some places I love to see.

Give me a week to get the car ready and I'll be ready to adventure off again!

A GOOD TRIP!

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