AE86 Timing

Back in January I had my race at Motorsport Ranch Houston. The last race, I was in 2nd place, but coming out of diamonds edge, my car started to blog all of a sudden. Felt like it was low on power, and wouldn’t rev past 4k.

The car ran, but just terrible. I had to pit in and loose my spot for the race. The good thing, is the car ran, and no smoke or obvious serious issues.

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After the race I get back to shop and started to figure out why it was running like crap. The motor was getting fuel, spark and air. But still ran like crap, I was thinking if the timing was off. Sure enough the timing was off! The timing marks didn’t line up. Thankfully the motor is non interference, and the internals was spared from damage

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As I was resting the timing, I noticed a tear on the timing belt. Then I found out the culprit. A bolt for the rear timing cover came loose during the race, and cause the timing to slip! My adjustable cam gears also went out of timing.

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To avoid future issues, I went to back to stock cam gears, replaced the timing belt, and added MRP N2 timing tensioner. This made the belt more secure to the constant redline.

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To avoid this issue from happening again. I added loctite to the treads, and marked the bolts. This makes it easy for me to tell if the bolts are starting to get loose. Lessons learned in racing. But thankful it was worse. Thanks for reading!

Land Cruiser upgrades

Since the trail damage I had a couple years ago. I was driving with no bumper and it did fine, but I wanted to get a rear proper bumper. Luckily 4×4 labs was selling a built bumper that was ready for shipping. Since covid, lots of aftermarket companies are dealing with shortage or shipping delays. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity, and I bought it

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The 4×4 Labs I got is a dual swing out with dual receivers for a motocycle hitch. The left side is for tire mount, and the right side is available for adding on accessories.

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You do need to cut some parts of the frame. You loose a couple of inches in the rear but the bumper came with instructions. Wasn’t too bad. Just need a sawzall, or circular saw makes work easy. Here is link for cutting instructions: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jut30zw69vhukqn/80install.doc?dl=0.

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Took one day doing the cutting. Most of the time was spend double checking the measurements. Once the cutting is done. The easy part it next, but will need some help from a few people. You lift the bumper and slide along the frame rails. You use the factory bolt holts. The bumper is held on buy 10 bolts. Very heavy duty.

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I like how the bumper sits high and tight to the 80 series. A lot better departure angle then before.

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Then a month later, I ordered the 3 jerry can holder for the right side of the swing out. I did this, because I was carrying the 3 jerry cans on the roof before. I didn’t like how you could feel top heavy. This jerry can holder will make filling up gas and fueling the LC a lot quicker and easier. A nice is the holder came with bottle opener.

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Next recent mod, I bought my friends 5″ used OME comp springs. I was on a 3″ lift, but when I was fully loaded, I would only get 2″ lift. With 35″ tires, I get some rubbing on full lock. Im glad I went with the 5″ lift. I gained more clearance and the heaver spring rates provided less sagging.

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With the lift and bumper, I had to get a 7″ drop hitch for the trailer. But I like how the combo looked.

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Thanks for reading!

Updates!!!

Last time posting was back in October 2021. A lot has happened, and been pretty busy in work when the Omicron variant came out. I didn’t have time to update the blog. But here we go: In November, I went on Thanksgiving camping trip in the Ozarks.

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Did a 10 day trip with some friends, and had a fair share of water crossings. Nothing too deep thankfully.

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Then in December, the last race of my rookie season, I got my first 1st place trophy!!!

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January 2022 was the NASA season opener!!! I didn’t place till race 3 and 4. I managed 2nd and 3rd place. Team Garcia in the blue Miata was super fast. This was Motorsport Ranch Houston and sadly the track isn’t that well maintained. Super bumpy track, that I ran into few issues. The first one, I almost lost my slave master cylinder due to a bolt backing itself out. Then in the last race of the weekend, my timing was off because of loose bolt getting into the timing belt. Thankfully the AE86 motor is non-interference. I still survived to race.

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In February 2022, I went to vacation in the Philippines! This was my first time flying since covid, and the rules for traveling has changed. Mainly, you need a negative covid test, 2 days prior to flying, and must be fully vaccinated to avoid quarantine. Mask are required in the Philippines, even if you are outdoors. The trip back, was memorable, and wish I was still living in the Philippines. I flew business class the first time and attended 2 weddings that month. I will be back again next year to travel more.

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In March 2022, I missed the NASA March race unfortunately. My flight back to the states was cutting it close to make the race. I did manage to attend my homies bachelor party. Booked a ticket to Vegas last minute and enjoyed my 36hr stay!

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That same month, I went camping in Barnwell Mountain. March weather in Texas is too nice, and would be a shame if I didn’t camp.

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Finally catching up to this month (April), I had my NASA race! I was able to get two 3rd place finishes and two 2nd place finishes.

Very busy year so far. But we are all caught in my life’s journey of cars! This year Im planning to make it NASA championships in Laguna Seca in September! I made in enough points to make it, but I have one more race before Laguna Seca. The cases of corona virus is going down, and should have some more time to update the blog. Thanks for reading!

Hill Country Camping

In August, I had couple weeks off for my birthday and I wanted to go to the West Coast to camp, but unfortunately things didn’t go as planned and had to stay in Texas.

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That didn’t deter me from camping, in Texas a majority of land are privately owned. You have to pay for campsites including dispersed camping. The price varies on amenities, and how remote you want to be. Just be nice, and make sure to pack up after yourself.

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For the camp spots we hit, we made sure to be near the Llano river. The August summer heat makes you want to stay cool.

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The cool river was definitely refreshing and relaxing.

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We didn’t bring our dogs this trip just because how hot it got. I know with Lambo, he wouldn’t like sleeping in 90F nights.
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This was a good time to do some testing of our dual zone refrigerator and solar set up. Im happy we did the upgrade, and I don’t think my wife and I can back to coolers. We can have ice cream in the summer and not worry about getting soggy wet.

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I had great time camping and seeing the Texas hill country. Thankful I live in Texas.

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AE86 Up and Running!

Been a over a month since I blogged here but covid in the hospitals has been very crazy this past months. I have some time to do a quick update on the AE86.

I plopped my 2nd motor sometime in July, and thankfully she started right up. I then added an accusump to help fix my oil starvation issue. After 1 week, I took the AE86 to AE86 matsuri track day. Thankfully all was good and no issue! She is ready for the upcoming race season this year! I do hopefully plan to track often, and maybe even hit up an endurance race. Thats it for now. Hope y’all stay safe and have fun too.

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Project AE86: Back from the Machine Shop

Mid June, I got a text message my block is ready for pick up. The machine shop did take some time, about 7 weeks, before I was able to pick it up. The shop inspected, and cleaned the block in preparation for the rebuild. In addition to the typical machine work, I upgraded the 35 year old main and rod bolts to ARP bolts. I had the machine shop install ARP bolts, because its not as simple as it seems. After installation, it’s ideal to check the bore is still factory spec. This is because ARP bolts increases clamping force that could alter the line bore. I didn’t have the tools or skills to do this, but machine shop could do.

I ordered some MRP goodies, but unfortunately its about a 3 week lead time. There some things in life that you can’t control, and just have to deal with it. This will be my 2nd motor rebuild, and I’m adding few better parts that would be more capable to take the abuse of the track. The motor will be the 3rd motor, and serve as a back up. As I have picked up a complete 4age 16V in North Carolina, that I already put in the AE86. Stay tuned.

Project AE86: 2nd Heart form North Carolina

My last post, I went to North Carolina to pick up a 4age motor that I could plop in while the other spare motor is in the machine shop.

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On my days off, and after work I started to swap parts from the blown motor to the motor I picked up. I worked on the motor little bits at a time. The Texas heat is starting to really get hot and didn’t want to get dehydrated.

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I’m more mechanically inclined now then when I first started this project 3 years ago. I learned form past mistakes and working on getting my motor in the AE86 wasn’t too hard the 2nd time around.

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Thankfully no hiccups and everything went in smoothly. I plugged the engine harness connections and I called it day. Next on the list is to bolt in the exhaust system, then add oil. Hopefully Ill be able to crank her up.

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If she runs, then thats one big step close to making my race in July. Stay tuned for more updates!

Road Trip: North Carolina

Last weekend I did a last minute road trip to North Carolina. What sparked for this last minute trip, was missing my race at Hallet that weekend. Unfortunately the motor that I tore down is still at the machine shop, and wasn’t going to be able to make it in time. With uncertainty of delays, I might miss my race at Circuit of the Americas in July. But I didn’t want to risk that, and lose positions of the general season. First step in wining a race is to complete a race. If my car is down, Im just going to my position since I’m not getting any points.

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That’s when I started looking for running 4age motors, and unfortunately its slim pickings. The motor is over 30 yrs old and some people asking ridiculous amount of money for them. I did see some reasonably priced 4age 16V motors, but couple got sold before I could buy them. That was my fault since I took too long to respond back. I checked another motor, but wasn’t looking fresh visually. The motor spins, but its hard to turn by hand, kinda worried I would have to rebuild it.

In the AE86 group chat, one my friends ,Rick, pulled his 4age motor to put a beams swap in, but ended up wanting to go back to 4age 16v. I randomly messaged Rick if he wanted to sell his 4age. He gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. The problem was he lives in North Carolina, and I’m in Texas. The motor was a good deal with all the goodies it has, but averaging 12mpg in the Land Cruiser means gas would make it expensive.

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I did some quick maths on how much gas I would possibly spend on the trip, and it still turned out to be cheaper, then buying a 4age closer to me and getting it rebuilt. At least this motor is drop in ready. Luckily it just so happened that I would be off 7 days on my race weekend. This was only time in my busy work schedule that I would have that many days off. I took it as a sign, and I loaded up the Land Cruiser and took Lambo along.

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The drive is North Carolina is about 18hrs, and there is no way ill be able to drive that long straight. I just cant, and I need my sleep. I broke the trip into sections: 2 days to drive to North Carolina and then 2 days drive back to Texas. To keep cost down, I camped at the national forest along the way to North Carolina. The roof top tent paying for itself, and best part its free to disperse camp at any national forest.

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Thankfully the forest is cooler then in the city, and Lambo slept comfortable in the summer night. I love camping, and just being out in nature. Different vibes then the city. I woke up to the sunrise and I noticed it was 530am according to my watch. I was caught off guard thinking my watch was off, but the sun rises in the east first, and makes sense since I’m driving East.

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I had a quick instant raman breakfast with some coffee. I walked Lambo around the campsite and soaked in the experience. The views was very similar to Sam Houston National Forest, just more hilly. After my morning routine, I packed up and headed to North Carolina. On the drive there it seemed like I caught up to the Texas rains of last week. Once I passed Georgia, it just rained non-stop to North Carolina.

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I arrived at Ricks house, and picked an additional motor and transmission for a local Texan. I didn’t mind the additional load since I was getting paid for the gas. Whats really impressive is the Land Cruiser capability. I have my camping gear, food, and clothes on the start of the trip. Now I have two motors and a transmission stuffed inside too! I nice bonus of being an SUV is the motors and transmission are keep clean away from the outdoor elements.

Ricky bought some east coast BBQ for me to try. I love BBQ, and it’s great to see and taste a different style BBQ. I had the pulled pork sandwhich that was complimented with mac and cheese, coleslaw and sweet tea. Very tasty and the sauce is thin and vinegary compared to Texas BBQ. This BBQ style reminded of Cebu lechon in the Philippines. After eating and chilling for a bit, I headed out to the next campsite which was a man made beach.

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It was still raining, and dark when I got to the trail. The Land Cruiser has stock lighting, which is okay in adverse weather, but some areas was hard to determine the terrain. I took it carefully and I didn’t get stuck. With the future forecast calling for more rain in the morning, I didn’t want to pop tent and dry it out later. With the Land Cruiser stuffed, I had no choice, but to sleep sitting in the drivers seat. It wasn’t good at all. I was sleeping upright, and kept dosing on and off every hour. Felt like I was on a Spirit airline flight, and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I said, screw it, I need to pop my tent up so i can get a good night sleep for the long drive ahead. If it rains more I’ll just deal with it.

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The next day, I woke fully rested and comfortable. Worth it.  I wanted to get a head start on my drive. I made instant coffee as my morning breakfast and got food food at a local donut shop. My friend, Deba, recently moved to Atlanta with his girlfriend, and offered me a place to stay overnight.

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I’m driving to Atlanta, and it’s now day 3. I was looking forward to a good shower. On long camping trips, I think it’s good every 3 days to shower, re up on supplies and do laundry. This is a 4 day trip, and I just need to do the shower part. Atlanta is a beautiful city, and the southern feeling here is more calm and laid back then the Houston mad max vibe. I was in the deep south. We ate out, and had some drinks before calling it a night. Deba used to live in Houston, and we would wrench on his car in my garage. He was another track rat and good memories. Nice good to catch up!

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The next day I left Atlanta early because its a 12 hr drive back to Texas. My wife wasn’t able to attend the trip and wanted to spend the extra days off with her. We both love to camp and knowing you could be spending time with someone you love doing the same thing is kinda a bummer. Regardless I still had a great time and made it back home! I did a solo trip and Lambo was a great companion to have. He is loyal dog that knows when to guard and be chill. Lambo love being outdoors and would go out whenever we have the chance.

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Next on the list is to get my AE86 ready for my race in July. Stay tuned!

Toyota Jamboree 2021

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Having such a busy work schedule and finding time to work on the 86 so I can go racing next month, it’s hard for plan for camping trips. After work, I would work on the motor of the 86, and then start prepping for Toyota Jambo. In the end, its all about the experiences you have. Time doesn’t wait, and if you want to do something, you make it happen.

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For anyone that isn’t familiar with Toyota Jaboree, its an 4×4/camping event only for Toyota/Lexus makes. Free dinners, and venders showcasing products. Then you can hit the trails wheeling with friends, or join the group runs. The 4 day event is hosted at Barnwell Mountain in Gilmer,Tx. Northeast Texas is more forestry then the typical desert land in West Texas.

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I was looking forward to this trip, because I’ll be seeing friends whom I haven’t seen since covid started last year. A lot of events were canceled including Jamboree due to covid.

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The weather forecast showed it was going to be highs of 70s and lows of 60, with chance of rain. This was going to be another muddy weekend. My kind of party. I love the look of a dirty 80 series. Some people doesn’t like the cleaning their rigs, but I just wait for the next rain storm and it’s a free car wash.

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Originally we where supposed to leave on Thursday but had to finish some errands before we could go. My wife and I left Friday morning around 10am. The rain storm seemed like was following us. The drive was just rain. Our Land Cruiser was getting a good wash before the muddy trails. One gas station, I met a fellow attendee that drove all the way from California. I know how those long drives are, and props to him.

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We arrived at the check in gate, and thankfully we were the 2nd one in line. The event showed 300 plus rigs registered and glad I went before it got really busy. At the check in entrance, I was able to radio to my friends that arrived a day early where they set up camp. I installed a GRMS radio in my Land Cruiser this year. The range on antenna has been pretty impressive, and been able to radio my friends miles out.

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When I arrived at campsite, it was kinda tight with all the trees but most of the campsites were taken by Friday afternoon. I do love camping because I get to spend time with my wife, dogs, and friends. Just good times with great company.

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We set up our awning, and unpacked our camp gear. Once you start coming for awhile you have a routine on what to bring and leave behind. Since this was a 4 day trip with lots of friends coming, we didn’t pack a lot. I just made sure we have enough alcohol for the weekend plus recovery gear.

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We hit some trails on Friday afternoon, nothing to crazy. We did notice the park trails received some repairs from the last Toyota Jamboree event. Nice to know the owners maintain the park very well.

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After wheeling in the afternoon, it was time for Friday night dinner. Toyota Jamboree provides free dinner, and the night menu was Jambo-laya. Very fitting for the event name. I got two bowls. I was pretty stuffed. We walked it off by checking out the vendors.

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We eventually headed back to camp to get the party started. We made a campfire and started drinking. Some of my other friends that was camping at other spots came by. I was able to test out my snow peak camp oven for some wood fire pizza. We had an awesome night, drinking, then getting hungry from drinking. Hanging out with friends in the wilderness. I did get pretty drunk that night, and slept like a baby.

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Saturday morning, I woke up to a hangover, but my wife and I come prepared. I took some Motrin, and drank some coffee. By time my friend got done cooking breakfast, my headache was reduced significantly.

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Saturday we plan to watch the rock crawling, and stampede competition. Last time we didn’t get to see it because we wheeled during the events. The rocking completion got pretty rowdy, with one FJ almost flipping. In the stampede event another FJ got too much air and airbags deployed when it landed. Seems like the FJs owners love to send it. All in good fun, and no one got got injured.

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After the event, we headed back to camp and cooked a quick lunch. I was using my new dual burner stove. The wind deflectors was a nice touch that prevented the fire from dying. Tony brought over some sausages, and we provided the beers. German October fest going on here.

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I didn’t drink too much since I was going to hit the trails till dinner time. We did hit some traffic, and stuck vehicles but it’s all part of the adventure. Thankfully no body damage or broken parts. It’s always fun wheeling with friends because you can all help each other.

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Saturday night dinner was BBQ! My favorite Texas cooking. Fortunately we just made it right before they closed. Texas always makes good BBQ. Saturday night, Toyota Jamboree does the raffles, but I didn’t stay too long because I didn’t buy raffle tickets.

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I left the raffle a bit early and headed back to camp to start a campfire, because it was starting to get chilly. Ryan told me it was going to rain later in the night.

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As soon as I lit my fire starter, it started to rain, then pour. A lot of the people that stayed in the raffle were making their way back to the camp sites. My waterproof Northface jacket, putting in work and keeping me dry.

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It rained the whole night, but I wasn’t giving up on my campfire. I put my firepit under a tarp and the tarp was high enough, it wouldn’t catch on fire. That did the trick and got the fire going to where the rain didn’t douse the flame.

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Couple my friends had their birthdays this weekend, and we celebrated that night. We drank whiskey and had filipino BBQ. Pretty good combo. This time I didn’t get too drunk and I remember the night. The rain did stop around 1am, but the forecast called for more rain later in the morning.

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Sunday morning I woke up to a rainy morning. I was up at 8am, but I stayed in our tent till the rain died a bit at 10am. Our Roofnest kept us warm and dry. Almost one year and has been great. Worth the investment if you plan on camping often.

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When I got out of the tent, everyone was out and about. I came late to breakfast, and most of the breakfast tacos Allan cooked was gone. I love breakfast tacos and Allan fries his tortillas for the extra crunch.

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After breakfast the rain stopped and we started to pack up. Anything that was left outside got soaked. We didn’t have the time to let it dry out, but you made sure to do that when we got home. Number one rule after a wet camping trip is to let the tent or anything with fabric dry out. You want to avoid mold.

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Once everyone packed up we had a group photo and headed back to Houston. It was a great weekend, and thankful I was able to join. Work can get stressful and get too busy you don’t have time to spend with friends and family. Camping allows me for that, and I’m thankful for the experiences.

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Photo credit: Me and Ryan