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ScottyB HalfDork
4/16/21 11:34 p.m.

after a bit of winter hibernation, we're back at it!  another solid one in the books, couldn't have asked for better weather.

we towed it up to Carolina Beach State Park south of Wilmington on Mon-Thurs this past week to take some time during our local school system's break period. about 5hrs from our location in E. GA, with fuel/pee stops and almost 300 miles on the dot each way.  getting more comfortable with the T4R towing and achieved an impressive 18.5 mpg average fully loaded (cargo carrier on top) and using 4th gear (out of 5) for half the trip.

we usually do a family beach trip over the summer but with COVID being what it is, we weren't sure we'd get to experience that this year - so we decided to do a beach trip our own way while camping. CBSP is also home to one of the only colonies of carnivorous plants in the US (venus fly traps, pitcher plants, etc) so my wife and son were nerding out about that pretty hard. good hiking and pretty good campsites. we had to rely 100% on solar power, since there are few powered sites and they were all sold out. worked out fine, we never ran low on juice even with tree cover above us.

off on a hike; they must have done a controlled burn a few years ago, very little underbrush beneath the pines

which quickly turned to craggy live oak forest, and then swampy swampness

but we found our bitey plants. they're really small in the wild

just 20 mins south of Carolina Beach is Fort Fisher state park, which has ~4 miles of 4WD beach.  so the next day, we came to this sign, and i was happy

went out there for 2 full days and had a blast, and it gave us a chance to play with the off road goodies, get familiar with how the truck handled on sand and practiced with my tire deflator tool. 20psi front / 15psi rear offered great flotation on stock junky dunlop HTs.  airing down:

its my island!

we had tons of room to ourselves out there.  our beach neighbors were basically 200 yds away in each direction.  one of my neighbors of course he had an old toyota pickup with a 22RE.  670,000 miles and still kicking!

so, no bathrooms out there! and i'm not driving 20 mins back and forth to the ranger station every time somebody has to whiz. so we set up a little 5 gallon home depot bucket compost toilet in a tiny shower tent. worked a treat

helping out an older couple that was in a bad way.  40psi in all 4 tires was a no-go.  helped them deflate down to 20psi, yanked my fake maxtrax out of the roof hauler and they popped right out.  anybody else have a wife that insists on having a banana ride the dash on every roadtrip?!

4Hi was totally fine 95% of the time, locked into 1st gear since the speed limit on the beach is 15.  we only had to venture down into 4Lo + locker once or twice when we had to drive perpendicular across some serious ruts.

not many places can you roll off the beach, call ahead to a place and have a seafood boil ready for you to pick up on the way back to your site. our little coleman stove did this thing up perfect. along with a cold beer this was one of the best meals i could hope for after a day like that


Next trip in May, back deep in the Appalachians at Standing Indian campground in Franklin NC!  

Next project: I'm building a low-profile, cheap drawer system for the back of the 4Runner.  we found out camping this trip that the hatch is just a complete mess.  we need some basic organization for stuff like toiletries, small tools,  stuff sacks and camp gear.  something like this:

should be fun aside from the stupid high lumber prices right now, but what can you do.

ScottyB HalfDork
8/17/21 3:04 p.m.

playing some catch-up here.  we did this back in May.

4 days/3 nights in the Nantahala region of NC at Standing Indian campground. outstanding campground, sun everyday (80F in the afternoon, high 50's at night), like a dozen local trails to choose from, direct USFS road access and a massive Nantahala river watershed to fish. no elec hookup (its a feature not a flaw!) so we were full solar and only had neighbors for 1 night - super peaceful.  4Runner hauled fine and i only had to drop and hold 3rd gear once for an 8% slog up Rt64 west out of Franklin NC which is the only point it really felt short on power. got to put the wheel travel to good use over about 40 miles of dirt, shuttling up to fishing areas and hikes every day and back down to camp again.

lots of cool firsts: first time wife/son got to step onto the Appalachian Trail, first time seeing a Peregrine Falcon, first time hiking over 5k feet, and first fish on my poppop's antique bamboo rod.

all set up:

first hike out to Picken's Nose (yes its really called that). we went through this rhododendron tunnel that was crazy thick...you'd never know if something was 20 feet off the trail. 4800ft, you can see into GA with ease, about 15 miles

popped out on a cliff side. a few seconds later heard a KEE KEE KEE KEE and watched a falcon fly past and then circle up. a quick check with the binocs and confirmed it was a Peregrine. couple seconds later it soared out over the valley and just DROPPED. instantly gone, couldn't even follow it with the naked eye. never seen anything like it, and it was gone. they are incredible, true brothers of speed!

this seems safe

just kidding, this is the other side of that rock, there's plenty of room.  looking down over the GA/NC border.

next day's hike, Albert Mt. fire tower. one of those views where you can feel your brain's hard drive struggling to save without crashing

roughly 20 miles on a clear day like this one, can see past Highlands NC

this rod was handed down to me when my poppop passed. he was a big fisherman but i don't know if this rod ever even saw water. at somewhere around 70 years old (!) it was time to put this Wright & McGill bamboo unit to use in his honor.

christened it on the 8th cast. as soon as i hooked up, i handed the rod off to my boy and he pulled it in with me netting it. that really felt good - 4 generations of family brought that fish in. beautiful wild brookie, large for this water and took off hard when we released it. he hit a Copper John fly in red. its no secret why nobody makes a bamboo rod anymore, they're a handful to be accurate with due to their massive flex, and heavy.

only fish of the trip. we were pretty surprised, but i think the waters had been fished hard all spring. or maybe lack of skill. or both!

check out the leg warmers on this lil sheila

boy's like "hey dad come look at this"
me "yeah be right there"
boy "i got a crayfish!"
me probably some little thing

so my son's really into gems right now, so i got this lil cheapie pan off amazon after hearing the Nantahala is known for interesting rocks. turns out the stream is littered with garnet. you can just reach down on certain sandbars and scoop up gravel that's stained red with gem fragments.

ain't worth campin at all if you don't do beer brats at least one night

heading out. was a bit of a gut punch going from high 70's to mid 90's at our house by the afternoon.

had a LOT of cleaning to do on the yota when we got back


and speaking of the yota real quick, here's how my local dealer decided to securely fasten the castle nut on the hub when i took it in for a 3rd replacement CV boot band that was leaking grease all over the chassis.  i can tighten a twist-tie on a bread bag better than that.  took it back again and they got a friggin earfull.

$15 in stainless, rolled-edge worm drive bands later and i fixed it myself in 10 minutes.  new cars are cool and all but dealers with bottom-basement techs that rush through this stuff because the warranty work pays so poorly, just aren't worth my time.  i do all my own maintenance anyway, i don't plan to go back unless its a serious issue.

anyway, i think we're around 3000 miles or so on the teardrop.  we calculated it out and factoring in rooms, meal, and kennel costs we break even on the camper in about 16-ish trips compared to staying in hotels.  almost halfway there!

ScottyB HalfDork
10/22/22 1:46 p.m.

catching up on some trips!  this one was to our local lake about this time a year ago, just for a friday/saturday night away from suburbia right as the temps were dropping.  one of the nice things about a teardrop -  if the campground allows it, you can usually squeeze into a tent site if there aren't many sites left for full size campers.

breakfast time

lost in the leaves

really nice, easy trip and my son caught about a million little bluegill which make his weekend.

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