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Thread: LA, Denver, Alaska, Inuvik and back - 5 months with a Land Cruiser FZJ80 (Pictures!)

  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    Default LA, Denver, Alaska, Inuvik and back - 5 months with a Land Cruiser FZJ80 (Pictures!)

    Hey folks

    It's already a while ago, but I thought I'll share my trip with you. A lot of people I met during my trip asked me about a blog or a trip report and I always enjoy reading trip reports on ExPo, so here it is.


    Background:
    My name is Neil, 24 years old and I'm living in Switzerland. I always had the dream to travel through the western US and north to Alaska Canada. But not with a rental Mustang on Highway 1 with all the mass tourism. No, I wanted to explore more remote places, going deeper into the land and nature.
    I saved all my money for many years while shift working as a machine engineer/assembler and spent many hours in front of the computer, dreaming about my trip, doing research of roads, trails and places to visit. I was lurking around on ExPo most the time and checked the vehicles for sale section daily. I then found a very nice 96 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 completely outfitted for overland traveling. It came with a nice Maggiolina Airtop roof top tent, second fuel tank, dual battery system, spare wheel carrier and many more nice things. So I contacted the owner and luckily, he was willing to sell me the car and even to store it at his warehouse until I arrive in the US, which was almost six months. At this point, thank you very much again, Mike!

    For the most time of the trip I've been traveling by myself. My dad flew in a couple weeks after I arrived and joined me for about 5 weeks. That was probably the best time of the trip.
    I took over 5000 pictures on my journey and I'm still trying sorting out and editing that mess. I'll upload them during the next weeks and do the write up, it will take some time..


    On March 24th I finally flew from Zurich via London to San Francisco. On the next day Mike picked me up at my Motel and we drove to his warehouse where I received the Land Cruiser. First thing for me was driving it no Nevada to register it due no sale tax and cheaper license tags. The first drive was already an adventure. The truck is big, wide and heavy, at least for me. And it's definitely not a rocket. But the more miles we made the more I liked it and the more comfortable I got. I drove to Lake Tahoe, slept at a Motel and drove down to Carson City the next day to the DMV. I did some research in advance to register the car but it was waay easier as I thought.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Fredneck, MD
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    271
    Looking forward to seeing and hearing more of your trip.

  3. #3
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    May 2014
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    CA
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    Come back and do Highway 1 in a rented Miata in like Mid September through mid October no tourists and the Miata handles the 180 degree switch backs better than the Mustang anyway ;-) Just keep in mind you might return the car with it needing Tires ASAP! Hanging the tail out through the Highway 1 turns is just way too much fun especially in the non tourist season. Get stuck behind a rental RV and you'll want to hit one of the berms and see if you can hit the pacific without touching the cliff side.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
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    My Land Cruiser with the new Nevada License Plate.



    I spent a couple days in Carson City and celebrated my 24th birthday with a delicious pizza and a big can of beer. Everything is bigger in America, right?



    The next thing on my list was driving to Camarillo on the coast for picking up some camping gear and for shopping in the outlet village. I decided to drive down 395S for taking a look at Mammoth Lakes (I'm a passionate skier) and to check out Bodie, one of the nicest ghost towns in the west. I went on a gravel road somewhere near Bridgeport and entered the ghost town by coming from North.



    I'm a big fan of those western ghost towns or old and abandoned mines. I spent about three hours in the town, walking around, taking and pictures





    I personally find it amazing just looking at the old buildings, seeing all the old machinery, tools and so. It makes it way easier to imagine how people lived back then, It's history to touch. In Europe everything is so old you only can see a couple stones or poles of old buildings or pieces of tools they used to work with.



    Some of the living houses.





    I'm not sure if the church has been rebuilt once, it's in pretty good shape though.





    Inside of a living house.





    Unfortunately they didn't offer a guided tour to the mine itself when I was there. Entry only with a guided tour..



    I then spent two days in Camarillo and checked out all the outlet stores. I found a lot of cheap clothes and shoes for my journey (you won't believe me what I would pay for that stuff in Switzerland).
    After Camarillo I drove up the coast to Santa Barbara, one of my favourite cities in the US. It's already two years ago when I spent 3 months in Santa Barbara at EF, a language school for English. I had the time of my life back then. Super nice city, not too small not too big, nice and friendly people, perfect weather, nice girls and mind blowing parties in Isla Vista (some of you may have heard of it, or experienced).
    I stayed for three days, met a friend from back then, chilled a day on the beach and walked up and down on State Street.
    Last edited by nosedive; 10-16-2015 at 02:01 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    San Diego
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    Subscribed !!!

  6. #6
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    Sep 2012
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    I wished I had more time to spend in Santa Barbara, but I made my way a little bit up the coast to the San Luis Obispo area where I met my friend Jack. He let me stay at his awesome property for doing some work on the Land Cruiser. My plan was to build a storage/sleeping platform to store all my stuff and equipment secured and having a place to sleep in bad weather or for some stealth camping. Jack offered me all his tools and machinery to work with and I even had nice spot outside the sop to do my work. I started with removing the second seat row, cleaning out the whole truck, made a couple trips to Walmart and Home Depot and started to build the platform.
    I first laid a new carpet over the old one, mostly to save the factory carpet from scratches due the storage boxes.



    I then made a simple sleeping platform with square poles, a wall in the middle so the boxes don't fly forward when braking, a cut out on the driver side where the door is for the fridge and some tie down hooks in case I'm having some stuff on the platform. It won't win a design prize, but it only has to be good for about six months.



    It turned out pretty well and sturdy enough for me. I bough the storage boxes at Home Depot, three big container and two flat ones, but the same size as a big one when stacked together. They fit absolutely flush under the platform and they don't even move between the wall and the tailgate. The platform is simply tied down with a ratchet strap using the mounting brackets from the third row seats. No moving or bouncing at all. I was kinda surprised how well everything turned out for a first try.

    Last edited by nosedive; 10-16-2015 at 02:03 PM.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2012
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    I was busy for a couple days with building my storage platform, drinking beer, sitting around the fire pit and enjoying the time with Jack and his girlfriend. Days just flew by and on April 11th it was time for picking up my dad at the airport in Los Angeles.
    I grew up with my dad and we stay very close to each other, he loves to travel and camping, I was looking forward for a good time together! I assume I'm very blessed having the opportunity to travel in a country oversea for five weeks with my dad. Such a perfect father son-trip.
    I barely made it to LAX due the terrible traffic, how can you live down there?? I arrived just in time and together we were back on the road. We decided to drive to Santa Monica and then along the coast up to Camarillo again. Bad decision. It took us almost two hours from just from Santa Monica to Malibu. But it was warm, sunny and we were both in a good mood and had a lot of time to talk.

    We spent the night in Camarillo, went shopping for my dad in the outlet stores the next day and continued north back to Jack's place. I had to finish the sleeping platform and we had enough time for drinking cold ones, playing boccia and having good dinner and nights around the fire pit with Jack and his girlfriend. A big thank you again two this two amazing people, my dad and I had a blast!

    It was time saying goodbye and hitting the road direction north to Big Sur. Jack highly recommended that curvy stretch of Highway 1 along the steep cliffs.



    The view next to the road really was amazing and the road was nice to drive. It was amusing seeing the big rental RV's struggling with curves.





    Sea Lions and Elephants all along the coast.



    We tried finding a camp spot at one of National Forest campgrounds, but they all were already full. We ended up on a nice private one and spent a first and cold night camping. lets get up early in the morning to avoid the tourism traffic my dad said, just for being stuck behind this guys the next morning..



    We were driving back south for a while and then turned onto Nacimiento Ferguson Road which brings you up the hills and more inland. It was a very nice and relaxed drive.



    We drove all the way east to Bakersfield, spent the night there and moved on to Joshua Tree National Park.

    This is the route we took from LA to Denver, more or less.

    Last edited by nosedive; 10-16-2015 at 02:08 PM.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2012
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    The first thing we did at the park entrance was buying the Annual Pass for all National Parks. It's definitely worth the price.
    I hoped getting a camp spot at the Jumbo Rocks Campgrounds but it was already full when we arrived. We then found a nice place on the Belle Campground, almost the last one. Belle was smaller as Jumbo Rocks and maybe more quiet, which was nice.



    We had a quick lunch and started exploring some of the dirt roads.



    We also did a short hike to an old mine. There wasn't much left from the mine but scenery was beautiful.

    ]

    Everything was blooming around us.





    And the bees were busy.



    The first thing we heard when we got back to our camp spot was a girl from the neighbor site yelling "your chairs, bring them over!". Alright then, we moved our chairs and were chatting ad drinking beer with our neighbors.
    My dad, focused on lighting up the fire.



    We had a very fun evening with them and we started a small beer pong competition. Even my dad never played beer pong before and didn't really get the rules, we won the first round and made second place. I think you can assume that the evening got even more fun.



    Chocolate-tortias-whatever for breakfast.



    We again spent the days with driving and walking around in the park, checking out all the highlights of the park.



    The Campground is absolutely beautiful with all the joshua trees and the boulders laying around. This park definitely ins one of my favourites. Enjoying the camp site at the evening.



    Obviously rock climbing is a common thing in and around the park.



    On the next day without headache we wanted to see the Colorado River and drove to Lake Havasu City. We watched the boats racing up and down the river at Buckskin Mountain State Park while having lunch.



    Parker Dam along the Colorado River.



    Next thing to accomplish was crossing the Mojave Desert on the old Mojave Road.
    Last edited by nosedive; 10-16-2015 at 02:24 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    North shore Lake Superior, Canada
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    I'm so interested, but can't see the pictures.
    15 Sierra K1500 crew long, 235/80R17 Firestone winterforce / 265/70R17 red general grabber on bronze level 8 MK6.

    02 GMC K2500HD ext long, Duramax, 2" bodylift, 285/70R17.

    07 Chevy C1500 HD, Fox 2.0, Lightforce, Leer 180cc, 235/85R16.

  10. #10
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    Jul 2011
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    Desert Hills/Peeples Valley AZ.
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    Same here!

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