Start of an Epic Road Trip: Las Vegas Part 4

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Early morning we set the GPS for Las Vegas as our end destination with some stops one the way: Grand Canyon, Kaibob National Forest, and Hover Dam. I love road trip, its alway about the journey.

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We left during sunrise and was a nice view driving trough north Arizona.

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The steep climbs was even more of a struggle for the 18 wheelers. With the Land Cruiser fully loaded, I had my foot planted on the floor during the climbs only maintaining 60mph. Felt like I was driving a bus. Made me miss the M3 but at least I knew the Land Cruiser wasn’t going to break down.

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Thankfully some sections leveled out and the skies opened up.

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It started to rain and get colder as we drove towards Flagstaff, Az.

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Lambo enjoying the ride. If you are thinking about bring your dog on a road trip, I highly recommend. They make great companions and your dog will be well cultured!

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The landscape changed from desert, grasslands, then to forest. I started to notice how cold it was outside becuase snow was on the ground!!

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Kinda nervous driving on snow because I never had experience. The Land Cruiser did make me feel safe with the full time 4wd and the heavy rig made it seem planted. Yeah its wasn’t a blizzard but being form Texas, snow is something you don’t deal with yearly.

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After passing Flagstaff, AZ the snow/rain mixture started getting stronger. It was an experience to remember!

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This was crazy, because its May and its snowing!!!! I just traveled through for seasons in one day!

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The snow did let up but it was still pretty cold.

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Nadine and I decided to explore some back roads before entering the Grand Canyon.

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DSC_0064 Kinda muddy but nothing the Land Cruiser couldn’t handle. Lambo did get his paws all muddy, which in turn made for muddy paw prints on the leather seats. Sigh.

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Sometimes I don’t know what Lambo thinking.

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Back on the paved roads we the Grand Canyon, wasn’t too far away. Looking forward to the snow covered canyons.

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I didn’t know it was $30 for entry but it’s good for 7 days. Too bad we where only doing a day trip. Next time we will stay longer.

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The weather was like Texas, one minute its clear sunny skies, next minute its gloomy.

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Lambo’s first time in real snow!!! We had some light dusting in Houston before but this was pretty deep that it was touching Lambo’s belly. Soo cute.

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Unfortunately the view of the Grand Canyon wasn’t all hype as it was. Pretty foggy and we where at the Grand Canyon overlook haha. Oh well, there is always a next time. We did wait it out till the sun came out but the fog covered the views.

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With all the attention Lambo got, you would think he was a movie star. We had lots of people taking pictures of Lambo. This lady didn’t speak English, but with charades, we deduced she wanted to pic up Lambo for a picture haha. Lambo just seemed more nervous about falling down then looking at the camera haha.

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After roaming around Grand Canyon and giving up hope that the fog would let up, we left and looking for more off road trails.

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We were at Kaibob National Forest, I wish I had downloaded the map prior because we didn’t have cell service. The trails are well maintained so we couldn’t get lost or stuck.

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Back on the paved roads, we headed to Hover Damn and Las Vegas!

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Started to get warmer and drier nearing Las Vegas.

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Feeling adventurous we went off beaten path and explored a dirt road.

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The views off the beaten path is awesome.

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Some of these places would make a great campsite but not sure it is allowed here.

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There was a small rock slid that didn’t totally block the trail.

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We went back on paved roads and was nearing Hoover Dam! But we didn’t really stop haha. Mainly becuase we where running low on time from all the off roading and wasn’t sure if dogs are allowed to enter Hoover Damn.

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We couldn’t see Hoover Dam passing through, because the bridge blocked the view but I guess that a safety issue too. You don’t want distracted drivers crashing.

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There is always a next time to explore more.

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Back in the city and Las Vegas in view. Who knew a city in a desert would be a popular tourist destination.

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Vegas traffic is always terrible.

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After the times I’ve have been to Vegas, this was my first time driving here and passing the Vegas sign!

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There is actually parking for the Vegas sign but its pretty small and limited. Luckily we came on a weekday and was able to find parking easily.

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Lambo and I waiting patiently to get a a prime picture. I could only imagine how packed it gets during the peak times.

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Lambo just living life.

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DSC_0179 In the city sometimes finding dog friendly restaurants can be hard but thankfully this restaurant was close to the strip.

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DSC_0185 The Vegas strip…. so fancy.

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I remember coming here on July 4th weekend, the strip was just packed with people and cars. Felt like a sardines in a tin can.

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Passing though the strip, all I could think of was the song “Flashing Lights” by Kanye West.

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After being on the road roughly for 12hrs we called it a night. It was nice being back in the city life, but the next day we planned to head to Death Valley!!! Stay tuned!

 

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Start of Epic Road Trip Part 3, Arizona

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We headed out of Texas, and drove to Arizona. Most people don’t realize how big Texas is till you really drive though it. One of the cool things about Texas is the vast change of landscape, just takes awhile to pass thought it all.

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When the scene changed from desert sand to pasture, we stopped over so Lambo can do his potty break. My dog is picky and wont go till he finds a spot of grass.

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Of course we were near Marfa, Tx and had to get a shot of the Prada store. Its not really store but a art type of landmark.

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At the back, people are putting locks on the fence, similar to the love locks in Paris.

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West Texas.

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Getting through New Mexico was a lot quicker then Texas, and we made it to Arizona. We did a 12hr drive from Big Bend to Mesa, Arizona, and called it a night.

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The next day, we set off to Tonto National Park. It was the weekday so we didn’t really see a lot of people or vehicles along the route. We drove up to Roosevelt Dam which was part paved and the other dirt trail.

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Checked out Tortilla Flat.

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Climbed up the trails.

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Arizona has the desert vibe, but more elevation changes then West Texas.

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A dirty Land Cruiser always looks good.

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The views you get off roading is better then if you just stuck to the paved roads.

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We stopped at this little picnic area for lunch. Cooked corn beef and potatoes.

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Made at the end of the trail! Which meant we made it to Roosevelt Dam!

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Heading back to Mesa, we took a different trail that I found on google earth while planning the trip. I didn’t really know if it was a private trail, but google earth didn’t gates. So I plugged the coordinates on the google map and followed the route.

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I was nervous because the clouds started to look darker.

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As we climbed up, the tempter got cooler and windy. Thankfully it didn’t rain, because the drop offs was scary.

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Lambo enjoying the ride

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We really enjoyed just getting out, and exploring a places we were not to sure about, apart from looking at the trails on the internet. Getting over that fear made us more confident but also cautious since if something bad happened, it would be harder to get help. Took the whole day driving on the trails, and stopping over. The next day we drove to Las Vegas. Stay tuned.

https://www.duggysgarage.com

Start of an epic Road Trip Part 2, Big Bend

DSC_0230 We stayed three days in Terilingua, Tx and this allowed us a whole day to explore Big Bend National Park. We took the backroads to get into Big Bend National Park. The backroads is shorter but with some rough terrain and multiple photoshoots, we took about 2hrs on the trail. This was our first time going off roading in a remote area. Thanks to constant improvement in modern technology, you dont really need a GPS for off road travel. Todays smart phones have google maps built in, and google offers offline maps when you happen to be in a place with no cellular signal. What you do is download (where you have wifi) an area where are planning to go explore before setting off to that location. When you do get off grid, the offline map will show GPS location and not some blue dot in a white screen. DSC_0233

You are also able to make a route changes offline once the map of the area is downloaded. Pretty cool technology that is totally free! Smart tablets have this feature if you want a bigger screen. I did bring a compass and maps of the trails just incase my phone wasn’t working properly.

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There where some corrugations that rattled the Land Cruiser, but we aired down more and reduced speed. We still need to drive the Land Cruiser back home.

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The West Texas scenery reminds me of the Wild West or like im the back set of a western movie. Views I don’t normally see in Houston.

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The only vehicle we saw on the trail was a border patrol. I was always told to stay on the trail, if you have issues, since there will be somebody there along the road… at least eventually somebody on the trail.

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Back on paved roads, it was time to air up. Driving the back entrance of Big Bend National park was pretty cool and soo remote you felt like you were the only person in the world. The road lead us into the northern part of Big Bend National Park.

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After entering Big Bend , we heading down south to the Rio Grande, Mexican Border. The change of scenery from desert to lush green meant we where getting close to the Rio Grande. The weather wasn’t too bad wither, it was about high 80s. I knew summer was around the corner though.

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The Rio Grande wasn’t a raging river, thankfully. Unfortunately we didn’t explore a lot since dogs are not allowed. ┬áJust cross the Rio Grande and you are in Mexico!

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Back on dirt roads, it was time to drive to Terlingua Ghost Town.

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DSC_0340 We found this small abandoned house along the trail.

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I didn’t take any pictures when I went to Terlinga Ghost Town, but its was a nice little town that a lot of amenities like a restaurant, bar, general store, and even a movie theater. If you missed people, this a place to go to. After taking a little break, we headed back to our little airstream. That night I cooked steaks but forgot to take pictures too. Live in the moment right?

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Next day we headed out of Texas and into Arizona. Stay tuned for part 3!

https://www.duggysgarage.com

Start of an Epic Road Trip Part 1

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Just recently I arrived home after an epic road trip touring the west side of the USA. My wife, my dog, and I left Houston on April 26th and headed to Austin, Tx as our first stop. I deiced to spend a night in Austin since my parents still live there and its closer drive to Big Bend National Park.

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Lambo getting ready for the road trip.

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After spending a night in Austin, still pretty tired, we headed off to Big Bend National park. We went to some small towns and saw a change of scenery.

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We finally arrived at Terlingua, Tx which is next door to Big Bend National Park.

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Booked this nice little airstream in the west Texas desert. I didn’t rough it out, more like glamping. Still in the middle of no where but with some home comforts.

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It was my first time cooking over the campfire but didn’t seem too terrible.

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Called it a night, and enjoyed the night sky. The next day we explored the back trails of Big Bend National Park. Stay tuned!

https://www.duggysgarage.com

Overland Trip Preparation

Been a while since the last post on the blog, I’ve been pretty busy planning my road trip to California for months. This isn’t the two day drive to LA on i10, but instead driving on off road trails and going off grid. It’s my first time doing anything like this, and Im excited and nervous. But living in the city, sometimes you just want to get away for the hustle and bustle.

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One of the first things I did was take the Land Cruiser to Hidden Falls Adventure park. I wanted to get comfortable off roading, and see the capabilities of the Land Cruiser. I figured I should practice in a place where I could get help quick, instead of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.

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Hidden Falls was pretty foggy when we went out, so we didn’t get to see the spectacular views.

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Watching YouTube off road tutorials made me more confident in driving off road and avoiding novice mistakes.

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I didn’t air down, but the Land Cruiser didn’t have issues. The trails we took was level 1 to 3 out 5 rating. Im pretty sure those are the types of levels we will encounter off grid.

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The ARB bumper gives and Land Cruiser a much better approach angle then the stock bumper.

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Off roading is much slower speed then track days, but its very technical and you get to see a part of world most people never see. Getting out there and just exploring your back yard can just be as rewarding as traveling Internationally.

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But, before I can plan a route, I have to make sure the Land Cruiser is ready for the 4000 mile adventure. Since January, the Land Cruiser has gotten some mods and maintenance.

After the Hidden Falls off road trip, I knew the factory tires wasn’t going to cut it. I ditched the factory 31″ street tires to Nankang M/T 33″ tires. I chose Nankang because its super cheap, and yet a capable off road tire. I paid $750 for 5 tires, which is considerably cheaper then other tire brands. The 8 ply tire will give me enough protection from the sharp desert rocks, and airing down. While the M/T will give me traction when it gets slippery off road.

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Next onthe list was buying self recovery gear. Its one of those things, I might not use but very glad to have if I do have to use it. I bought a used Hi-Lift jack for super cheap. Still works great and I like the old patina look.

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I bought a Hi Lift tire lift attachment, and makes it easy to add rocks or anything under the tire for traction. Just to make sure I can be self reliant on recovery I bought Max Trax style boards. Old technology in the modern world.

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Also got extra jerry cans, fire extinguisher, and portable jumper box just in case of emergency. I want to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

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Always a good idea to test out the gear make sure it works before heading out. The VIAR 300P air compressor hooks up the battery and it’s powerful enough to air up tires from 20 psi to 45psi. It not super fast like other bigger compressors but its good enough for my use. I really like how it come was a tire bleeder valve, and makes airing down easier.

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The mini fuse on the cigarette lighter went out, so I upgraded to a fast charging USD adapter. A more modern touch in a 90s era style.

I went to Duggy’s Garage for a check up on the Land Cruiser and maintenance. Everything check out great and had the Hi-Lift mount installed, updated the radio which has bluetooth and dvd functions, and drivetrain fluids flushed.

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That is pretty much it for now. So, far the Land Cruiser is ready for the trip and hopefully everything goes well! All I got to do now is just finalize the route, and places to stay!!

https://www.duggysgarage.com

Driven and Blessed upcoming track day!

If you are a track rat wanting more seat time, or just a beginner trying to see what track days are about, this event is something for you to try! Next event is Friday, Feb 16. Prices are reasonably cheaper than most organizations because we all know how tracking can get expensive. Its free for the spectators, so come by and bring your friends and family. Y’all have more than a month to get your cars ready!

 

https://www.drvnblsd.com/booking

 

Ver 2 Land Cruiser

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Last month I got into an accident, and it was my fault. I was on 59 hwy, and I noticed traffic was bunching up and I was already slowing down. Unfortunately, I glanced at my GPS, and half a second later I looked up noticed the car in front was completely stopped. I pressed harder on the brakes and swerved to the shoulder, but it was no good. I hit the car in the front and that caused it to hit a third car. I was careless, and felt terrible for what has happened.

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The other two cars involved was able to drive off and thankfully no major, visible damage seen. But my Land Cruiser had to be towed. The aftermarket bull bar broke on the mounting tab. That made the damage worse since the bar was pushed into the engine, and cracking my radiator, broke my ac line, dented the hood and fender, and ruined my corner light. My friend told me that bull bar will cause more damage than good and he was right.

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There is no point sulking now, what done is done. At least on the bright side, its a good time to upgrade the Land Cruiser. I had liability insurance on the Land Cruiser, and yeah I had to pay out of pocket for my repair, but at least I don’t have to worry about the the other cars involved. Since I needed a new bumper, I might as well upgrade and I bought the ARB bumper. It was designed in the Australian outback, so you know it more than capable in the Houston streets.

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The current progress…. still needs the driver fender, corner lights, and ac line to be completely done but its getting there.

Special thank you to Fernando at Backyard Auto for getting my Land Cruiser running and body work. Thank you Duc, from Duggy Garage for the ARB Bumper and OME lift kit! Soon this Land Cruiser will be ready to hit some trails and over landing!

https://www.facebook.com/duggysgarage/

https://www.facebook.com/backyardautocustoms/