Colorado Expedition: All Part of the Adventure

Day 3 we woke up to a clear beautiful morning. The Rooftest with couple blankets kept Nadine and I warm. Lambo didn’t mind the blanket, but then I woke up with Lambo by our feet.


Breakfast consisted of Branden’s aeropress coffee, and hotpot leftovers. By 8am it was feeling the warm sun rays, which meant it was time to pack up. Till, the GX battery died.


Mike left his refrigerator on overnight, and drained the battery. Thankfully my rig had the recovery gear and tool box. We used my jumper cables, and jumped the GX with my other friends Tacoma, who’s name is also Mike haha.


After 5mins charging, the GX cranked, but wasn’t starting. We didn’t hear the fuel pump priming. Mike with the GX apologized to the whole group but it was fine. We all had car troubles in the past and know what its like to be in that situation. We are just glad that the GX broke down with everybody here has the tools and knowledge to work on cars.


The campsite was roughly 40miles away from Durango, CO. Lucky, camp was higher in the mountains, and had reception. Just one bar and thats better then nothing. The ladies helped out by calling various auto part stores in Durango. The guys proceeded to work on the fuel pump. To removed the fuel pump, you have access it though the back seat and disconnect the connections. Then you have drop the fuel tank to removed the pump. Mike with the GX wasn’t going to drop the fuel tank. Instead he used my wire cutters and made a big enough hole to access the fuel pump the from the top. What a G, and I think all of us would have done the same given the situation.

With the fuel pump out, we want to make sure 100% it was the pump and not the wiring. Branden all brought his tool box which had spare wires. We wired up the fuel pump to Mike, with the Tacoma’s, battery. Sure enough, the pump did turn on and fuel wasn’t spraying. Thankfully around that time, the ladies was able to get a fuel pump. The thing was it wont be available till tomorrow morning.


With that news, we decided to stay anther night at camp. It was 11am, and we want to make the most of the day. We couldn’t get the GX running till tomorrow. Mike’s with the GX decided to replace his brake pads since it was on the low side. Cathy found a dirt road named Lime Creek Road (another famous road name in Austin,Tx) that lead to a hiking trailhead.


Mike’s family stayed behind while the rest went back on the road to do some off-roading and hiking. The route took us though Durango, CO and was nice small modern town. Ryan and his parents decided to stay in Durango and explore the city. The rest us continued to drive though the Million Dollar Highway and lead us to Lime Creek Road. The sign says 4×4 high clearance recommend. Whenever you see that, they mean it. The road started off easy, but the higher we climb, the more rough and rocky it got.


We drove about 1hr into the trail till we arrived at the trailhead. Then Mike, crawling slow, told us he didn’t have brakes. Sure enough, we noticed the driver front rim was wet and brake fluid spewing from the line. This just happened right when we arrived at the trailhead. I’m guessing a rock damaged the line.


One of the scariest feeling is stepping on the brakes the vehicle doesn’t stop. I didn’t have my tools because I left it camp for other Mike to use. Luckily Branden brought his. Mike and Adelyn couldn’t do the trailhead hike with the brake issue. It was about 2pm, and we still had time to hike. Mike and Adelyn decided it would be best to drive back down in to the Lime Creek entrance and park there. At least Mike can call around and find the brake line for the Tacoma while we hiked.


You might be asking how can you go down a hill with no brakes. I’ve been in a situation where I lost brakes and couldn’t stop. There is a way, and I’ve used this method too. You put your rig in 4 low and stay in 1st gear. This changes the gear ratio to a crawling speed, 5mph and below. You can only do this if you have 4 wheel drive with low range.


With Mike and Adelyn heading back to the entrance, the rest of us went to hike 3 miles into this beautiful lake. I was worried Lambo might struggle. Surprisingly Lambo loved it, and mountain lake at the end of the trail. I later found out it was Potato Lake Trail.


The scenery was soo nice, and you notice the temperature drop by the lake. This was melted snow water from the winter months. Lambo went for a quick dip in the cold water. He loved being up in the mountains. We took a little snack break and then headed back to the trailhead.


It started to rain on the hike back momentarily, and sun poked though. By the time we got to the trailhead it was 5pm. We drove back down, and Branden had enough cell reception to receive a call from Mike. He was able to buy a brake line, but the issue was by the time was arrive at the trail entrance the dealership would be closed.


Sometimes things happen for a reason. Right after that call, Branden saw on the group chat Ryan was still in Durango, CO and was going to head back to base camp. Branden called Ryan, and was able to pick up the brake line with some other supplies. This saved us couple hours. Ryan was a lifesaver.


We arrived at the trail entrance and waited for Ryan. We got to work by prepping up the Tacoma for the brake line change. I conveniently brought my cooler and had some cold brews while waiting. Shortly after, Ryan came and we where able to get the Tacoma brakes working in no time.


By the time this was all done it was 7:30pm and sun was starting to set. Mike with the GX radioed to us he was making some noodle stir fry and will be ready when we get back.


When arrived at the trail it was already dark. Night trail runs are fun and completely different experience. Ryan’s yelled LED fog light pierced though the dusty road.


We arrived back at camp with food all ready. I quickly set up our Roofnest tent which was getting easier to set up. I could probably do it in less then 5mins now. We had dinner and talked about our adventure in the campfire till we had no more firewood.

Today was an adventure and this is also why we planed the trip loosely. Because sometimes things doesn’t go according to plan. You adjust to the situation. We missed out on another camping site, but just to have good friends around, even when problems arise is something I’ll always be thankful for. Stay tuned for day 4.

NOLA Gridlife 2020

With my 86 running good for almost one year, Im really happy the way the car turned out. It was rough 1.5yrs build it, but at least all the major issues are fixed, and minor ones are easy fixes that didn’t hinder my seat time.


In one of the group chats I was in, one the guys was selling their NOLA Gridlife driver ticket. Since it was discounted, I said “fuck it” and bought the driver ticket. I guess I have to track prep the 86. The last event was about 3 weeks ago at the Knuckle Up drift event.


The car ran great, no issues. I just had to flush my brakes and change the oil. Turns out when I was about to flush my brake fluid, I noticed the rear caliper seal was starting to leak.


Typical me, I didn’t inspect the the car till a week before the Gridlife NOLA. That life, sometimes stuff happens unexpectedly, this probably explains why my brakes felt spongy at Knuckle Up. Unfortunately, the Toyota dealerships didn’t have a seal kit in stock and was a 3 week delivery time. Luckly Rockauto had the aftermarket brands in stock, but I paid extra for 2 day shipping.

Then about 2hrs after buying from Rockauto, Danh messaged me he had an OEM one in stock. Thankfully he was willing to sell it to me, and I was able to replace the old seals in the rear caliper. This video helped me out:

The processes wasnt too hard and took me about 3hrs to do the replace both seals. You do need a special service tool to replace a O ring, but I skipped that step becuase on the 4age forums, people said its hard to put back in without the SST. Unfortunately, the SST is not made anymore and kinda expensive if you do find it. Not really with it for a tool I might use once. Thankfully no leaks.


With new rear brake seals, the front passenger had brake pad issues. It wore unevenly, I think it was from the leaking seal, and sticking caliper pin. Always grease the pins. Thankfully Harris was able to overnight me Hawk HP pads and Battle Garage was able to 2 day ship Porterfield RS-4 pads. I ended up using the Hawk HP because it more track oriented.

So with the 86 all ready, I was able to make it to Gridlife by Friday night. I paid for the 2 day event, and planned to camp, at the track, till Monday morning.

This was my first time attending Gridlife, but with the covid pandemic happening, the music festival was gone. From what I was told, the prior Gridlife events felt like Forza Horizon. Car and music festival all in one. A more lively atmosphere then just a track day.

Regardless, I still had fun and met old and new friends. The cars out at Gridlife was top notch, show car worthy. I like it when cars that look clean are actually driven for the intended purpose and not hard parked. I like the car shows, but it just cooler when they get driven. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to attend more Gridlife events.

Colorado Expedition: Into the Mountains

Day 2 was another longish drive, about 8 hrs to camp. I was looking forward to cooler weather. We all were looking forward to Colorado. Branden and Cathy made the group breakfast before heading out.



On the road with Mike’s GX failing fuel pump going out, he called part shops along the way to find a fuel pump. Surprisingly no one had one in stock including the dealers. Some part stores could get it next day, but we couldn’t wait another day.

We took the risk and just hope it wont go out again for the trip. Worst case is just leave the GX at a repair shop, then Mike and his family could tag along in a 4×4 rental while in Colorado. We have 9 days planned, and that is enough time to have the GX fixed. If it ever came to that.


For lunch, we had leftovers from breakfast and just ate while driving. We wanted to make to camp before it got dark. We had multiple fuel stops thanks to my Land Cruiser averaging 12-10mpg.

The drive had a change of scenery the higher we climbed. Then descent back into valley, and repeat. I had to pop my ears a few times. Lambo didn’t mind the ride, mostly slept the whole time.


We cross through New Mexico and into Colorado. The sign we arrived at was a small sign. We all pulled over to take a picture. All for the experience and memories.


We arrived at San Juan National Forest on a Thursday. I didn’t expected our area to be packed, but it was! The marked sites I pinned were all taken. But the trail continued for miles and that meant we have a chance of finding a site.


With 5 rigs deep, it was hard find a space that could fit everyone, and the deeper we got into the trail the tougher it was. But nothing the Toyotas couldn’t handle. I found a site that was perfect for us. Branden went to scout around for maybe a better site, but we all decided this spot was the best one.


The planned campsite is 6000ft elevation, but the one we found was 9000ft elevation. I figured 6000ft would be a nice introduction to the thin mountain air, but given the situation we felt the altitude change. Thankfully no one got altitude sickness on our first day camping in the mountains.

That day was my birthday and what a better way to enjoy it with some your friends. We did hot pot, because noodles is must for any birthday and hot broth is perfect for the cold nights.


Stay tuned for Day 3.