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Thread: Rocinante

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Jarbidge, NV

    Default Rocinante

    I got an e-mail last week that my truck had arrived at the port in Texas after its three-week voyage across the Atlantic. Several months prior, I purchased my MOD 110 sight-unseen from a company in the UK who specializes in the disposal of ex-Ministry of Defense assets. The purchase was a bit of a gamble because I was provided with only a few low-resolution photos of the truck by the seller, who deals primarily in bulk. These guys have thousands of old Land Rovers on their lot and they typically sell them by the truckload to resellers in the UK. They're not set up for onesie-twosie sales like the one I was making and it was immediately clear that I was taking a risk by purchasing this way. If I ended up with a rusty pile, there would be no groveling on my part.

    A few days after transferring funds to the seller's bank, my truck was loaded on a flatbed and trucked to Southampton where it was driven onto the M/V Tijuca, a RORO ship run by Wallenius Wilhelmsen. Once the Tijuca had departed, I was able to track it using AIS, which is the marine version of ham radio's APRS. I watched in real time as my ship sailed out of VHF range in the Irish Sea; a few days later, it appeared on the east coast of the US. Eventually, the Tijuca made its way to Savannah, Georgia where it appeared on webcam:

    Finally, weeks after the Tijuca departed the UK, it arrived at its Texas port and my truck was discharged for clearance processing by CBP and the USDA. This was the moment of truth. I purchased my truck only days before the big east coast CBP crackdown on Land Rover imports. I wasn't terribly concerned, however; I had done my research and had a good understanding of what can be imported and what cannot. I was bringing in the very best 25 year-old 110 that I could find: a solid truck but ****ty enough to pass through without raising eyebrows. Sure enough, my truck cleared customs the next day and I got the e-mail that I had been waiting for: my truck was ready to be picked up.

    I read the e-mail at 0900 and I was on a plane at 1030.

    I had to haul *** to make the plane so I took a cab. I had the quintessential Puro San Antonio cabbie. Big fat guy in purple gym shorts, GO SPURS GO sticker and Spurs Coyote doll on the dash, rosary around the rear view mirror, talking on his Bluetooth headset while simultaneously texting, driving 90 down the highway, cutting off hazmat tankers. I wanted to grab the rosary and pray a few. I made the plane.

    I never drink Bloody Marys on land but I always drink one when I fly. Booze at 1030? Why not.

    Once on the ground, I took a car service to the port.

    As we approached, I saw another RORO unloading at the port. I was very excited.

    When I was initially purchasing my truck, I obsessed over what it would be like to pick up my truck at the port. I knew that I would need a TWIC escort to enter the secure area but where would I find one and how much would it cost? Would I have to go through a TSA screening process like at the airport? Could I bring my tools? The answer surprised me: I simply walked up to the gate, showed my ID to the guards and met my escort on the other side of the fence. For $30, the one-armed "Junior" took me over to the W&W office.

    The port itself was incredibly grimy. Some very rough characters pass through these places, as evidenced by the grafitti at the W&W office.

    The process at the W&W office (which was really just a trailer) was ridiculously easy. I showed them my ID, wrote out a check for $80 in dock fees, and signed a couple of pieces of paper. Once that was done, I was free to go and retrieve the truck.

    I had initially pictured my truck sitting in a massive expanse of parked cars of all sorts. As it turned out, my truck was the only non-new vehicle to be unloaded that day. Here it sat, waiting for me:

    On inspection, it looked pretty good. There were some blemishes that were conveniently cropped out of the photos that the salesman sent me but it wasn't anything that I couldn't fix later. Overall, the truck was in outstanding condition. I had won the MOD 110 lottery.

    I had a bit of a scare upon leaving the port. The transmission brake linkage had frozen after sitting in salty air for a month; the brake was stuck engaged. I can only imagine the abuse that my truck saw at the hands of the brutes that drive cars on and off RORO ships. After a hasty repair just outside of the main gate, my truck was rolling. It was getting late and I decided to call it a day and checked into a hotel. I took a photo in the hotel parking lot and only later noticed what I was parked next to.

    I woke up early the next morning and starting the first leg of my trip, back to San Antonio.

    Taking the back roads, I left the marshes behind and headed up onto the coastal plains where the wildflowers were in full bloom.

    I made it to San Antonio later that day and spent the rest of the week visiting family and enjoying the unusually comfortable weather.

    Because my truck has a top speed of about 60 mph on flat land, I decided to take the backroads all the way to Colorado. The first stretch took me up the Sisterdale Highway past the town of Luckenbach, made famous by Waylon Jennings' song. Luckenbach isn't much of a town. In the words of Todd Snider, "there's a beer hall, a post office, a parking meter and that's the whole ****ing thing." These days, it's a tourist trap really popular with the biker set. I didn't stay long.

    From Luckenbach, I headed northwest through the edge of the Texas Hill Country towards San Angelo. I couldn't have picked a better time. The weather was gorgeous and warm and the bluebonnets were blooming.

    Past San Angelo, the land dries out as you head up onto the Edwards Plateau.

    After a late arrival in Plainview, Texas, I began my second day of driving heading up through the Texas Panhandle. Hereford, TX is cattle country.

    North of Dalhart, I stopped to have a look at a wind farm and it dawned on me what I should call this truck. I'm not going to be the guy that calls his truck by a name or puts the name in his signature line, but I was looking for something that would define this truck and what I had planned for it. Rocinante. For those unfamiliar with the Cervantes novel, Wikipedia describes Rocinante perfectly:

    Rocinante is Don Quixote's horse in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In many ways, Rocinante is not only Don Quixote's horse, but also his double: like Don Quixote, he is awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capacities.

    Safely in Colorado without a single malfunction since the frozen linkage at the port, I was ready to see how the truck ran on dirt roads. I left the highway near the town of Campo and covered most of the remaining distance on dirt.

    The final leg took me on the Old Pueblo Highway, a disused stretch of dirt road that was left behind when I-25 built in the 1950s. It was a fitting end to a successful road trip.

    Last edited by chris snell; 08-21-2013 at 04:36 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Marshville, NC, USA
    The Rover Gods definitely were smiling on you- both the truck, which I love- well done, and the trip home.
    You may want to post some interior shots for those unfamiliar with what is inside ;-)
    Should take your mind off the 90 finally...
    '06 LR3
    '16 F-150 CC
    '06 Sprinter Navion
    Tithonus 110 on 37's
    Turbo Soul 'RATROKIT'
    Tread Lightly! Trainer

    You don't travel to see different things,
    You travel to see things differently!!
    -Ben Davenport

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Bridgend, wales UK
    Hi Chris, nice post it looks like you struck lucky with your 110.
    I've been trying to get my hands on an ex-mod plastic top for my 90 but tidy ones are in short supply.

    how you enjoying life in the slow lane so far?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Looking forward to seeing it in 4 weeks.

    Well done, brother, well done.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Lake Villa, IL
    Sweet! Nice looking truck. Glad your trip went well, too. What's the inside look like?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Maricopa, AZ
    Nice looking truck Chris, congrats. I know that change from driving an RV8 to 2.5NA and it is certainly noticeable...
    Ian Gregory
    Current LR Stable: 97 D90 ST #1008, 94 D90 SW #1887 (Project), 98 D1 LSE
    Memories of: 84 RRC Vogue 4dr, 93 RRC Vogue SE, 84 Ninety 2.5NA SW, 86 Ninety 2.5TD TC, 96 D1 SD

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Champaign, Illinois
    Very nice! LHD huh? What are your plans for it?
    "The most unreliable car in the world is the most reliable car in the world." -Jeremy Clarkson

    "Adventure starts when everything goes wrong." -Yvon Chouinard

    Toyota Tacoma DC 4x4 TRD (2015)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Lodi, California
    wow that thing is pure beauty.
    97 Land Rover Discovery.
    Built for "crawling" not "overlanding"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Park City, Utah
    Nice 110. Great story.

    Current Fleet:
    1960 SII 88 "Pliny", 1997 NAS 90 SW, 1943 Willy's Overland Motor Co. Trailer, 1967 Triumph Tiger Cub T20M

    Previously in the Fleet:
    1986 LR 110, 1995 RRC, 1995 NAS 90 ST, 1997 NAS 90 SW, 2004 Tacoma, 1989 FJ62, 1997 FZJ80

    "Just because we have more room doesn't mean we have to fill it"
    The Minimalist Adventurer

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Mid-coast Maine
    Quite a catch! LHD too! I used to work as an engineer on one of the US flag WW car carriers. It was a lot of fun working lighting and other maintenance in the cargo holds with all those vehicles. Like the worlds biggest auto showroom with no sales folk to bother you. Great story! Congrats and enjoy!

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