My Girl: Gettin' After It!!

My Girl: Gettin' After It!!
My truck on her maiden voyage in Moab 2012

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Videos (part II) from the Outer Banks trip

I went on this trip primarily to test the Nitto Terra Grapplers on sand. The scenery and the company proved to be great. In the previous post, it turned out we had another opportunity to test them in water crossing as we ambled over unknown, submerged, obstacles.

I felt pretty confident in the sand. One thing I experienced more of on this trip than I recalled in Moab was my ABLS slip response engaging periodically if I was traveling above 25mph or powering through a particular thick area of sand. I experimented with disengaging VDC (vehicle dynamic control) which appeared to deactivate the anti-lock brake response during periods of wheel slipping.

These couple of videos show us ambling along the coast line. I think I may need to schedule one more opportunity on the sand when there hasn't been any precipitation in a while to see how the tires handle in very loose sand. I would say the sand was moderately loose in some areas (obviously packed closer to the shore line or where multiple vehicles had already traversed). I did periodically seek out areas which seemed to be looser. Probably the best area with the deepest sand was surprisingly at the entrance to the beach. However, if I did manage to get myself stuck, I didn't want to create a nuisance to other patrons seeking to access or depart from the beach. I therefore just drove like I had some sense to make sure I didn't have a mishap there. Anywhere else though, I had no issue with starting or stopping the vehicle. When I was ready to go, we moved without hesitation or any perceived effort or straining. I aired down to 20 psi which seemed to be a good range for these tires..  Here is the balance of the footage we got this weekend.

Please just mute my commentary. I clearly don't know what to say when on camera.

We did encounter nature, but we were mindful to stay the appropriate distance so as not to disturb or stress these animals. They'll walk right past your vehicle completely oblivious to your presence.

Just my truck going over the sand when we were coming back from the water crossings.

Videos (part I) from the Outer Banks Trip.

This first video is following Bruce back to the house. An Escalade abruptly decides that the 35 mph posted speed is insufficient for his schedule and begins speeding past us. I sincerely hoped that we would encounter some difficulty in the sand, but the rain made the area accessible to all manner of inconsiderate people without the balancing input of karma.

So at first these 'water crossings' were merely trail-width expanses of very shallow water. They progressively got deeper. Bruce bypassed this one as there was ample space to the right. I had Jenn get out to walk ahead as I didn't have any footage of any water crossings I had done up at Rausch Creek. No biggie here. Kinda anticlimactic.

This is where it started to get real. Again, not too crazy, but the abrupt drop that sank the rear end of Bruce's rig was a bit unexpected.

So this one was Bruce's last crossing, and it was my second-to-last. For me he called this my JV crossing. A little hairy with the dip that brought some water up onto my hood. But not quite varsity-level as my next crossing would prove to be. I went across on the last one which invoked some emotion. The dilemma was that I'd need to turn around and re-cross to join Bruce. And that's where the ante was raised.

I guess I cleared something out of the way on the first crossing, because when I retraced my path back through, we plunged in even deeper. Everything turned brown. I showed a couple of guys (who don't wheel) and they were apparently unimpressed. But I can say, impressive or not, being on the inside of the truck and only seeing brown murky water all around your windows, even if momentarily, was a bit unnerving.
The truck handled well though, powered continually through without incident. All of the seals held; no water intrusion at all. 

Outer Banks Beach Wheeling Weekend

So the planning for this trip really came together and made for a great time down in the Outer Banks. Special thanks to Bruce L. and his family for upping the ante and securing a beach house for the week and allowing the wife and I to crash with them Saturday night. They were actually able to extend their time and drove down Wednesday night and made a mini-vacation out of the idea to go wheeling. 
My 'navigator' usually does more napping/studying than route planning. Here she is doing more of the former as we made our way down Saturday morning.

As much as I give the Mrs. a hard time for often delaying my departure, she was actually spot on this time. I actually delayed us by about 45 minutes changing over the stowed materials in the toolboxes from things I need for work over to recovery gear and road trip essentials. Then I couldn't find the programming book for the scanner. I was really bummed, as I wanted to listen to the radio traffic further south than Spotsylvania County which I presently have programmed in. By the time we got down to Richmond, I remembered exactly where I last had it. Oh well. 

Now this picture was funny to me because I have a niece named Taylor, and when she was younger and just learning to talk, I taught her to repeat this catch phrase from the Starsky and Hutch remake starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. So, as Stiller's character (in character) would deliver the imperative for someone to "Do it", we had my two-year old niece directing her father, "Macaroni and cheese, Daddy...Do it!" Or "Apple juice; do it!"
Some sights from along the drive:

 This is crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge which takes you over to the barrier islands. A brisk rain developed once we crossed the border into NC. It had rained some last night, but our hopes were that it would have blown over by early morning. At this point it was around 9/930 AM and steadily coming down. It seemed our hopes of relaxing out on the beach or the deck might be thwarted.

Although Jenn and I have been to North Carolina multiple times, my truck had never been, nor did I have the Welcome Sign photo.
 Wiper blade kinda ruined this shot.

 I failed to secure a good resolution shot of any of the water towers in the area. This might have been the closest, except the snorkel is in the frame. I don't mind the lift-jack or my rubber ducky, Rufus entering the frame for another cameo, but the snorkel is not needed for frame of reference.

This is about a half mile (as the sign suggests) before Route 12 N deposits you right onto the beach to continue the remainder of your trip to your destination in the 4WD area of Corolla.
 We were wondering how long it would take before we saw our first wild horse. Well, this fellow was out for a morning trot as soon as we finished airing down and got out onto the sand for the first time.

 Bruce came out to meet us and guide us back to the house which is off of mile marker 20 on the beach. There are mile markers as you would find along a maintained roadway. Street signs, however, were more of a rarity. How he and his family were able to make it back to the house Wednesday night, in pitch black darkness still boggles my mind. Admittedly, it was a bit of a harrowing experience for them. Had it been me, I might have very well camped out in the truck until daylight. It might have also been my last time getting the Mrs. out to do something like this. For Bruce's trailblazing, I am thankful.

The home is called "Break 'n Wind". Bruce picked it specifically because of the punny name. Funny/pun= punny. They allowed pets which was key for him as he brought his three dogs along with them.

After we got settled, we drove back out t he 1/4 mile or so to the ocean front and walked the dogs and hung out a bit down by the shore.
 Thereafter, we went on our own little "Wild Horse Tour". There are at least 2 companies in the area offering wild horse excursions on Jeeps or other modified vehicles. But all they were doing, from what we could tell, was driving through the various 'neighborhoods' and sandy paths between properties in well-equipped vehicles. We have well-equipped vehicles and it was essentially our intent in doing the same which led us to come to Corolla where there are wild horses as opposed to permitted OHV area down by Oregon Inlet where I do not believe there are any wild horses.

So behind our heads are some wild horses we encountered.
 Bruce and his family (except for the dogs which stayed behind at the home).
 Jenn and I again.

Now I need to post the videos of what we went through to get to these horses. The rain turned out to be a blessing and a curse. It helped wet down the sand which made driving a bit easier (although I had hoped for dryer sand similar to that I encountered out in Moab). So that was a blessing. Not sure if the immense water crossings we encountered fall under 'blessing' or 'curse'. We had a lot of fun, but then things got real. Check my next post for just how real.

 After the water crossings were done, we just cut straight across from the more severe plunge out to the coast line and made the return leg down along the beach where it was safe. Chickens. I know. Bruce doesn't have a snorkel, and I didn't caulk all the connections or seal the stock air intake yet. So although it reduces the risk of hydrolocking the engine by sucking in a big gulp of water, it does not yet fully eliminate the potential. But this experience showed that even seemingly mundane puddles can quickly escalate. It also made the case for me going out to buy some waders like fly-fishermen have. I've wanted some but couldn't really justify it. On the last crossing, I did try to wade out there rolling up my pants legs, but the water level quickly exceeded that test. Snorkel or not, if I start getting to mid-torso level, it probably is time for me to tap out anyway.
 More shots of the horses behind us walking along the ocean.

 Truck porn. I took some notes.
 Uncle Ike's was a great little bar we checked out after our main wheeling was done. The proprietor/bartender was a really nice guy that took good care of our group. I don't think he was actually Uncle Ike, but he appeared to be the man in charge that day. We had a good time. I encourage you, should you have the occasion to go, to try the Fried Oreo cookie dessert. Think funnel cake, oreos, and ice cream all combined on a platter of deliciousness.

 I tried to capture the sunset.

 More pictures of Veronica taken from above on the deck.
 Bruce's X.

And finally a few parting shots.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Always a rush build...

Just a quick teaser. I want to try to build some rock sliders before an upcoming trip.

I just got back from BMG Metals with the square tubing and round pipe. I was very nervous as it's about 200 lbs up there on the rack. I wedged some scrap lumber/dunnage between the bottom of the cross bars and the roof surface to restrain the deflection. Then I ratchet strapped the ends to the headache rack and through the cab in the front. I was driving slowly and deliberately with the flashers in the slow lane. Still, someone saw fit to speed past me and the other cars in that lane while merging, fly up 5 or six cars and then abruptly change lanes and dramatically reduce their speed. Great. Chain reaction resulted in a panic stop for everyone else (including yours truly) that happened to be behind Mr. Jeff Gordon. All the same, the load stayed secure.

Although this is not the preferred implement, this is the poor man's answer to bending pipe/tubing. It is a pipe bender, but countless forums provide mixed reviews for the efficacy of a pipe bender when working with tubing (or pipe) for offroad fabrication. Generally, the consensus is that a proper tubing bender (upwards of $1,000) is the appropriate setup for roll cage construction and those related components having life-safety implications. Rock sliders and other less-critical systems can be done, with care and often mixed results, with a pipe bender. So, I'm going to give it a go.
The material and bender came out cheaper (for now) for me than the most bare-boned options to buy from a fabricator. And if I can finish ahead of the 6-8 week lead time and save on shipping costs, I'll have done alright for myself.
I'm going to try to get this knocked out in the next few weeks in the midst of final projects and an examination in my last class.
Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

60,000 miles and the NYU Roadtrip

I really need to finish these classes. Then there will be more time for things like driving...and blogging.
So it was a Friday night about two weeks back. I was sitting down to do some homework and research when a buddy of mine messaged me. We had been talking about his work coaching cheerleading as a secondary role of his up at NYU. I had half-jokingly said I should come up there and run drills with him in a practice. Well fast forward to that Friday in particular and he mentioned they were starting double sessions for their spring break. Well, I wasn't really feeling doing any homework anyway; so, I decided to load up the truck and head to Philly first to visit the Mrs and then make the trip up to NYU the next morning to see their practices. Thus a mini-road trip was born.

I kind of take some of the eastern seaboard states for granted since I enter and exit them pretty regularly. Nonetheless, it occurred to me that I might not have a New Jersey road sign picture. It also shows off the new decals I added to the rear of the truck. I do keep a fire extinguisher and first aid kit on deck.

There was even traffic on a Saturday morning. We were a bit slow on the inbound side; it was basically logjammed on the outbound side. It also occurred to me when I was leaving later that evening that NYC can be kind of a claustrophobic place. As many times as I've been over the years for various functions, I still don't know my way all...not at least without a map, a GPS, and some NYC native espousing their knowledge of the multitude of routes and considerations/benefits of each. I'm usually just ready for whichever one will get me out and home; I have no preferences.

I made a new GPS mount to move it up from the cupholder location and into my field of view while driving. Adjacent to it is the scanner, which is illegal to have in New York. Fortunately, I did not have it wired up (and it still isn't) as I'm awaiting some free time to finalize the work on my added 6-circuit fuse block which taps off of the dual battery setup. I have essentially all of the material; just need to splice it all together. And then do a build thread and product review.

Nothing fancy. Just some skyline photos heading into the city.


 Ok, so I'm not sure if this was THE infamous tanker truck from the morning CB verbal throwdown, but things were definitely getting tense on the road up there due to the lane closures. Somewhere along the road on channel 19, a tanker truck must have cut off another driver. The driver mouths off about discourteous drivers, which I can appreciate. There are lots out there with the "me first" attitude. At least on this coast. It seems once you get out into and past WV, folks are a lot friendlier. Another driver inquires as to what happened.

"Well some A-hole tanker driver cut me off and now can't find the skinny pedal"...or something to that effect.

"Oh yeah. Shame".

"Yeah, some driver with _____"

Well the guy recognizes he's being described and pretty much says, "I'm right here".

But now he's doing all the talking. He owns 6 trucks. This is his city. He does what he wants. He'll pull over his truck and wait on the overpass for anyone who wants to throw down the gauntlet. Etc. Etc.

So the original driver tries to defuse the situation and essentially say, "I have no doubt you're a bad @ss and that all you say is true, but you're not going to fight anyone and go to jail."

"I've been to jail. I'm fine on the inside." Etc etc.

On the one hand, it was quite comical as he had the thickest presumably Bronx accent anyone outside of the city could ever hope to imitate. But what wasn't so funny, is that, if you had so much going for you, why would you risk it to prove a point to some other no-name driver.

I stayed quiet, 'cause I have not been to jail, but I did watch scared straight. I'm good.

Dirty windshield. Tried to take a picture of the police substation.

I've never been in the vicinity of NYU to my knowledge. I was quite surprised at the size of their sports and athletics complex given the premium on real estate in the city. From the outside, it is pretty unassuming facility. But there are rooftop tennis courts, several basketball courts, wrestling gym, weight rooms, and even a dedicated practice area where the cheerleaders can use. (There's also a smaller b-ball court that the space doubles as)

In between practices, we went to a neighborhood bar, Pops. I took two pictures of the wall on the other side of the bar where the menus had been colored by members of the staff to change the picture (presumably of the proprietor or the bar's namesake) to other pop culture influences and icons. There were some pretty creative variations.

That's pretty much all I got in terms of photos from the NYU trip.

60,000 miles and counting
So I reached this milestone this week. It is kind of celebratory and kind of like "Ummm...might need to slow down". This truck needs to not be dead before I even finish paying it off.
I have two road trips scheduled for this month. The first is to head down to Corolla, NC and drive on the sand where Highway 12 ends. I may try to jaunt down towards Oregon Inlet before I leave the area just to see some of the sights first hand and figure out any loopholes to the 'no beach camping' prohibition that I've read about for most areas. The few exceptions appear to be on the barrier islands which are accessible by ferry only. Given my inclination to want to leave at a moment's notice, I don't like the idea of having to wait on a ferry.
The second trip is for Hogs for Hokies. I'll be riding down with a bunch of motorcyclists. It probably raises the question as to what I'm doing there in my truck. Well, I'm along for the ride and maybe I'll transport some equipment or something so that I'm useful.
Almost forgot. Funny thing that has happened is the last two times I've made 7-Eleven runs, I've encountered the same family/grouping of girls exiting as I pull into the lot. The first time was maybe two months ago (I don't go there frequently) when the jackpot was relatively high. They actually stopped and waited at the intersection for me to make my purchase and leave to ask me about the authenticity of the truck (due to the Zombie decals). Well, I went in there a couple of nights ago and I recognized them and they started laughing upon seeing me and the now infamous truck. Well the oldest girl (excluding mom who drives) says that a friend of hers posted a picture of a truck in New York asking if it was real. I replied, "That's funny, it might have been me since I was up there last weekend". Then her jaw kinda dropped as she exclaimed, "That's when she posted it, last Saturday".
Me and this truck get around. Every now and then I do a google image search to see if I can find pictures of me and the truck from the numerous instances I see passengers (and sometimes drivers) pull alongside and snap photos of us on the road. No hits just yet, but it is only a matter of time.
That's about it for now.