As detailed in my previous posts, some friends and I got drunk and decided to do a Top Gear special style road trip. We flew to SoCal, bought cars for less than $2,500(ish) and then drove the Pacific coast ~2,000 miles to Seattle and uhh… let’s say sold the cars. Yes, we totally sold them. Stop asking questions!

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At some point during that trip, we transitions from “OMG WTF ARE WE DOING!?” to “OMG WHEN CAN WE DO THIS AGAIN!?”

Well, good readers, that time is upon us.

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For this next trip, we’re going off the beaten path, literally. We are flying to Sacramento, buying three cars for less than $2,500 each, and driving overland 1,200 miles to Salt Lake City, and then selling the cars when we get there.

Surely one of us will be killed.

Route

The original plan was to hit Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire, Grand Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef, and some of great stuff in Utah. Unfortunately, we based on Tioga Pass openings based on the previous five year snowfall averages, not the huge amount they have now. Since the pass is unlikely to be open while we’re there, we’ve ditched Yosemite in favor of Tahoe.

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(Side note: While we had an awesome route and accommodations planned in Yosemite, I am happy we’re free of the dangers of tourist traffic and snowy forest service roads.)

As much of the trip as is reasonable will be done, what I now know is called, overland. These are basically roads that you could probably do in a Honda Civic, but would be happier with a little more ground clearance. We will be hitting some more “challenging” off-road routes and I am eager to see how badly we screw the whole thing up!

Cars

The only requirement is some form of four-wheel-drive. This does not preclude a car being equipped with part time AWD (I admit the idea of a Volvo Cross-Country is appealing) but in general we all want to have an actual transfer case with actual 4WD. We are unlikely to ever actually need it, but if we have it we’ll probably find an excuse to get stuck.

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George, of “the bumblebee” Cabriolet, sort of wants a truck this time, preferably a D21 4x4 oddly, but is also open to a small “hair dresser” Tracker or Samurai. That is, of course, unless he finds a mid-nineties Montero, in which case he will go ape shit and buy it. No idea why he has decided he loves those, but here we are.

Taylor, of the Nissan D21, sort of wants a small Japanese truck, but acknowledges we would never let him hear the end of it if he bought another one. He has also been toying with the idea of buying a 4x4 version of his daily driver, a Nissan Xterra, as that’d be fun to hoon. He too has expressed an interest in the “hairdresser” offroaders. Ultimately he really wants a Jeep, but we’re pretty sure we won’t find a decent one in the price range.

(Sidenote: Yes, I know the little 4x4s are well respected and each of us actually likes them. I’m not sorry for calling them “hairdresser” cars because, let’s face it, you knew exactly what I was talking about when I said that.)

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I, weirdly, haven’t figured out what I want. A Range/Land Rover would keep with the theme of me buying hopeless cars (see: Alfa Romeo Spider) but that is (A) tempting fate and (B) difficult to find one in our price range. I’ve also considered getting a Tahoe/ Yukon on the basis of I already own one so it will pretty much guarantee I won’t keep it. In reality I like most older 4x4s and really just sort of want a manual. Overall, I’m content with choosing something dissimilar to what they choose and going with it.

Either way, we’ve seen our usual epic Craigslist gold. Stuff like “Runs grate! [sic] Needs new engine.” and “Selling because I got too many DUIs.”

Weirdly the one thing we’ve all agreed on is a mutual hatred of the Ford Expedition, Escape, Explorer, and (maybe) Excursion. This hate, again weirdly, does not extend to the F-series of trucks nor the ranger.

Safety

Before anyone rushes to the comment and details all the ways we are likely unprepared, yes we have actually given this some thought. Yes we know our cell phones won’t work. Yes, we know AAA doesn’t do off-road recovery. Yes, we know off-road recovery is expensive. Yes, we know there are no gas stations in the desert. Yes, we know jacks won’t really work in the sand. Yes, yes, etc etc…

I’m not saying we know everything, we absolutely do not. We will 100% encounter something unexpected out there despite all the prep we’re doing. Here is a by no means comprehensive list of what we’re going to bring:

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Satellite phone (or emergency beacon), 20 gallons fresh water for emergencies only (5 gallons per person), 15 gallons fuel for emergencies only, fix-a-flat, spare tires (3), air compressors (2), fiber-fix, multiple tow straps, winch damper, shackles, buckets of sunscreen, first aid kits (2), list of emergency procedures, lists of emergency numbers, crap ton of tools, flashlights, shovand radios.

Probably will have missed something, but uncertainty is part of the fun.

Each car will have a safety binder which includes routes, emergency numbers, emergency procedures, rally points, and critical gas stops. We will discuss the route, safety considerations, and logistical considerations prior to setting off each day. We also have a designated external coordinator who will be keeping track of our updates and check-ins.

The emergency procedures cover everything from being split up, to being pulled over, to “unknown threats” in alarming detail. Hopefully we’ll never need any of it.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts Oppo! Anything we should be sure to see? Any essential off-roading gear? Suggestions on how to deal with our inevitable flat tires?

Exit on the joke

No but really, we realize this is going to be way more unsafe than our previous trip and are doing our best to make sure no one actually dies.

That said, this trip is going to be one hell of an adventure.