Trans USA & Canada Week 2, 5/30-6/5

Day 7 (5/30): I woke up nice and early this morning by alarm clock for the first time in weeks. I don’t miss those days. Well I quickly packed up my campsite and started driving toward the nearest dealership that had a service department opened on a Saturday. I arrived there at 8:20am and they opened at 8am. I was already the 5th car in line with only two service techs working that day. So I sat down and updated my website. At least I had good fast internet for the first time in a while. Around lunch time they informed me that the issue was the back right ABS sensor. Go figure the one I thought it would be for some reason. But they did not have it in stock. So I quickly ran to O’Reilys down the street. They did not have it either and none of the O’Reilys in town had it. So I jumped across the street to Auto Zone. No luck there. They each told me 4-7business days before they could get it. So I started looking up Nissan dealerships that were on my route. You should of seen it. Three paper maps opened in front of me. My Gps going and phone. I gave up on Nissan dealers for a while since everyone in TN and MS told me 3-5 business days before they could get it. Even the larger ones in Memphis. So I called the auto parts stores in Memphis. And none of them had it and none of the sister stores around them had it either. Really? Does this part even exist? Do I really have to start looking up junk yards on my route and it was getting later and later on a Saturday. So I started thinking when was the earliest get needed 4×4 drive. I came to the conclusion I could get by until western Arkansas. So I started looking up the dealers there. I called I found a lonely parts guy at a place called Superior Nissan. He started listing all the Nissan dealers that had them in stock. Well a few popped up that I recognized. Courtesy in Texas and Boulder in Colorado, I asked him if he could have the part by Tuesday. That would give me 2.5 days to get there and I figured it would be closer for 3 days for me to travel that far. I gave him the Credit Card and he ordered the part.

After all that I just wanted to get back on the TAT and get some mileage under my belt.  As I got back on the TAT it was just some more winding paved roads as I left off at. This continued on for about 30miles. Soon the paved road disappeared and gravel became the norm for the rest of the day.

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I had about 4-5 more creek crossings. Nothing over 1.5’ deep. The widest was about 60ft.

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While being in the middle of no ware I came across all these ATV trails that kept crossing the road with signs posted up. It must have been an official riding area. I saw about 30 trucks with trailers parked along this 20mile stretch. I decided to keep going since the “camp area” I saw looked like they enjoyed partying more than I do. I continued on and soon found this pavilion next to where two streams join and go under a bridge. And what looked like a well-used fire pit. No signs were posted about private property and it looks like a small county park or something.

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So I pulled in about 2:30pm and started doing some routine maintenance. I rotated my all 8 of my tires. What a pain. Also check my air filter and everything appeared well.  Along with checking over my vehicle and trailer and everything appeared like it was holding up nicely. I had a few cars stop by and wanted to take a look at my camper. I would show it to them. Then I had this one older gentleman stop by and I quickly picked up he was uneasy about something.  I soon found out he was the owner of the property. I offered to pick up and leave even though I had a few tires left to rotate. He said it was not a big deal. Just told me no “funny business like drugs and stuff” I say “Yes, sir” and he took off. Soon a guy on a tractor came by. From the house that was up the street about a ¼ mile. He stopped and we chatted for a bit. Come to find out his family use to own the property I was on but sold it to his cousin which is actually the son of the older gentleman that stopped by earlier. He was down here to grab some gravel and fix the driveways. Soon his son and a few friends came by on ATVs  to check everything out.  The guy on the tractor brought by his wife to check out my camper and truck and we talked for a little bit more. Then he made a few more trips for gravel. Then he was so nice and brought by some fire wood. I did not feel like cutting it down so I burned it in half instead. Since I did not have a fire yet on this trip besides the night before and everything was wet so it was not good enough to cook on. I started one up and decided to make my version of a shepherd’s pie in my Dutch oven.

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The sky did not look like ran so I left my awning packed away for the night.

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The two streams joining together. Such a great camping spot when you can sleep next to a few steyou.ams and have great people aroun

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Day 8 (5/31): The day started off with some pavement as I drove across south central Tennessee. As I approached the boarder to Mississippi the driving turned into 95% Grave, Dirt, Red Clay, and mud. All the renascent rains did not help either. I did a few more small water crossings while I was still in Tennessee but as soon as I went into Mississippi I came across these old wooden bridges. Most of them were rated at 3 tones which made me start to think… How much did I weigh? Ohh well life is an adventure.

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I kept switching back and forth between farmlands and pine forests.

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All of a sunden I came appon this large lake which was separated by the Pickwick Landing damn. The think was not very high but it was pretty long. Look fairly new for this type of manmade structure since most damns were made in the 30’s-50’s.

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I continued on going down gravel roads. I have to say Mississippi so far has had the most abundant wildlife. I saw about 4 deer (white tail), 1 raccoon, 8 turtles crossing the road, and over 100 turkeys.

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With rain clouds ahead I soon started looking for a camping site. Where I wanted to stay was no more the 40miles about 1-2hrs depending on roads.

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I thought I missed the rain but I guess it got ahead of me. I soon was driving in muck and still being stuck in 2wd things got interesting like this very steep hill. I am embarrassed to say but I did not make it the first time.

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After going through about 10 more miles of mush and it started drizzling out I saw this down tree. Stupid jerry cans and teardrop. I thing everyone was driving under it. So I pulled out my chainsaw and cut it down.

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When I grabbed my chain saw I noticed this. WTF!!!

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Since I was on a hill and it was muddy and very slippery out I decided that was not the place for inspection. I pulled down the trail and found a small pull off that had some grass so it would not be as messy. And Then I unlatched my trailer and went to work on the vehicle to see what the issue was.

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I did not see where the frame was bent, But I have had the rear bolts for the bumper come loose before and it did not move that much before. So after a few phone call and many of them dropped since I was trying to rock 1 bar and 1sec in 2mins I would get 3g!!! I threw down a tarp and loosened all 6 of my rear bumper bolts. Only two were easy to get loose. Utilizing my hi-lift I tilted the bumper back upright. This is as far as I got it.

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The problem is that jerry can use to touch rear window wiper. I took another quick look at the frame and saw no cracks or issues. So I reattached my trailer in the mud and rain which took a while and slowly made it to pavement and reception. Once I did I jumped out and took a look at the bumper again and it fell again. WTF. So I located the nearest parking lot that had lights which happened to be 14 miles down the road at a rundown truck stop.

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Which I am currently at, I unattached my trailer again and fixed my bumper again now that I was dry and out of the mud I torqued those bolt as much as I could. I located the nearest welding shop which happens to be 0.2miles down the road! And in the morning I will have them tack the bumper to the frame so this does not happen again!

Here are some photos of the aftermath of today’s condition.

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Pine needles are covering the roof baskets and teardrops from all the low hanging branches today.

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Day 9 (6/1) Well today started off good, Got the rear bumper welded up so it would not fall down and then fueled up and I was back on the trial by 9am. Rode quite a few trails then I came across this. Gave me a little worry with my 2wd. But I made it through.

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Continued on going forwad again jumping between pine forest and farm land. A rock from the gravel roads decided to hit passenger side mirror. I guess that is what you get for having tires sticking out.

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I started coming across quite of few rice patie and it was quite intereting how they build up berms in the field to control water flow.

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This is a weird little dragon fly they were everywhere.

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Everything was going great for about 100miles then this happened.

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The mud patch was on top of a levee I thought the water was supposed to be on one side or the other but both sides were dry. I think Mississippi got confused. Well with only 2wd I was not able to pull my trailer back up on top of the levee. So I decided to back it down the levee. Well with all 6 tires caked with mud going down a steep hill in reverse covered in grass  and damp with a trailer does not go as planned.

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Good thing I have that spare winch just for this occasion. I decided to pull the trailer backwards to straighten out vs pulling the front of the truck sideways.

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Then it was time to go back up the levee. I made it about half way up this hill. Then decided to back down and just as I got to the bottom guess what started to happen again and I could not go forward. So I learned my lesson and dug deeper into my recovery equipment. This was the first time I used my Pull Pal and it worked great. Only dug in about half way and could hold enough to pull me up sitting in neutral.

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I had to reset it due to winch line length but it was very easy to do. A shot of the hill afterwards, I stopped trying to drive up since I was just digging holes and making a mess. I let the winch do all the work. Engo 12k for the win. Also some of the mud on the vehicle.

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As I continued on I crossed over the Mississippi river. Sorry no picture I’ve seen it to many times. And then went into Arkansas.  I could instantly tell the different between the roads. Arkansas actually had gravel on their roads even though they were wet too. It was pretty easy traveling. I then came across the TAT STOP in Trenton, AR. This older gentleman. Has a sign in sheet with a small shop. Where all the TAT riders sign in and takes a picture of you and your rig and at the end of the year puts together an album After chit chatting them up for a while they warned me about two very messy sections of the trail up ahead and how to skip them since I was 2wd. I drove around them.  And continued on. As I was driving down these gravel/paved roads by all these farms my gps told me to take a left. So I did! Well it looked like a decent 1 lane road at the beginning. Then it turned into tire tracks with grass everywhere and BAM. A 1-2’ deep giant hole.  I kept on going on till drier ground and got out and looked and saw this.

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I took a look and the weld held. But my frame was bent and some of the bolts tore out of the frame. I jumped on Facebook to find someone to help. I could not fix this myself. Luckily a guy that lived 1.5 hrs away was willing to come and tow my trailer to his place and then in the morning we take my vehicle to a fab shop to figure out how to fix it. I got my trailer disconnect and tried to bend the bumper back with little to no success. Removed the Jerry cans and the spare tire and mounted those on roofracks and then strapped the bumper up to the roof rack. And waited. Slightly after dark the guy showed up and we hooked up my trailer and he towed as I followed. As I type this now. I am sleeping in my camper in his driveway!

Day 10 (6/2): Today started nice and earl got u at 6am and ready to head to the Fab shop which was about 30mins away the guys there did a great job. I would consider them more of a good welding ship then a fab shop though. I removed all the electrical stuff from the rear bumper. They picked my rear bumper back up into place with a forklift and welded it to the frame. Next using 2w” stock they made an extension that would ride further up along the frame for extra support. Then I reinstalled my electrical stuff. In all the process took about 3-4hrs. I then went and hooked up my trailer again. Leaving the jerry cans and rear tire off of the swing out arm. I then headed to the Conway, AK Nissan  dealer to pick up my rear right ABS sensor. Once I got it and installed it all the dash lights turned off. Yeah! I’m back up to 100% operation, I have 4hi, 4low, and now I can use my front and rear lockers. My rear bumper is back up to over 100% and I am headed to the trail. As soon as I get on the trail I see this little guy crossing it. Man there are turtles everywhere.

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Further down the road I came across this water crossing. It was a great place to wash my rims since the cake on mud was throwing them off-balanced.

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I soon came across this nice park that the army core of Engineer’s built and I guess a lot of TAT riders stay here is what the volunteer at the front check in told me. It is a quite park with a busy boat ramp for a Tuesday.

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Day 11 (6/3): Today started off with a great night of sleep for the first time in a few days. Woke up and actually made myself some breakfast and decided I was going to take it nice and slow now that my truck is all back together. I headed back towards the trail from my campground. I have to say I am in love with Arkansas the rolling hills the forests and an abundance of wild life. Today I saw rabbits, turkeys, snakes, turtle more deer then I have seen on the rest of the trip combined. This little one was running down the road away from me so it was easy to take his picture. I guess my vehicle is pretty loud since they all start running before I can see them.

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I kept climbing up these hills up to 2,000ft and then rolling back down to 700ft all day. The views were spectacular. It was hard to get a good picture with all the foliage.

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Then I continued down the road and entered the Ozark National Forest. I was honestly surprised I was not already in it.

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The terrain pretty much stayed the same. Some of the roads narrowed and were less maintained.

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As I rolled through I came across this little café, I needed some gas so I stopped. I have to say I am glad I did. The owner is a younger gentleman and everyone is very friendly and accommodating. I ordered myself a bacon cheese burger with some fries and a soft drink. I went outside and pumped some gas. They do the good old 2x on the price since the pumps are old. I sat down and enjoyed a very good meal. If you ever do the TAT or come across the Oark Café please stop. You will not be sorry. The owner recommended a camping location for the night which I am currently at. And told me where you could pick up some beer in the next county since this one is dry. He also warned me about traffic up ahead as there is a music festival going on.

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As I drove by the music festival parking area and laughed to myself remembering those “good old days”. I soon came across this beautiful overlook of a river. Which had a few small rapids on it. I noticed a canoe floating on down.

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They also had these great stone walls to prevent wash out.

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Always a great view in the Ozarks.

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I soon came across this little U drive so I investigated to see if it was a camping spot.  It had a great stream nearby that flowed down the mountain and you could here a few small waterfalls. I soon found out that was the remains of an old cabin or house. It even had a cellar built into the mountain. The only thing left of the cabin was the foundation.

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Up ahead I came across some unique Arkansas engineering so they could build roads and power line runs through some of the rocks.

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I did come across a road closure sign for the path I was supposed to take with the trailer I decided not to investigate. I found a quick detour. Then a few miles up the road I saw another one. Once again I’m working on a detour but this one looks a little more extensive. I am currently camping on this detour so tomorrow morning will start out with an adventure.

Day 12 (6/4): So I woke up this morning way to early from a Verizon text message about my data plan. I tried to go back to sleep but failed. So I went ahead and hit the trail. I’m glad I did. As I continued on my deture after a few miles I met back up with the TAT, then it brought me down this road that said No Outlet. Hmm, interesting. I then entered this trail that looked like only bikes have been on it in a few years. So I said why not and started driving down it. It was barley wide enough for my vehicle and trailer. And this was the first true off-roading I have done on this route. Most of it was downhill. As I hit the bottom of the hill there was a barwire fence with a pond under it with a very small pasture on my left. A steep hill that was forested on my right. And straight ahead laid 4 trees across the trail with no way around. It looked like all the AV TAT riders could scoot underneath it. One look at it and I was too tall and too wide to do anything like that.

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I looked at turning around and it might have been possible but I might of ended up in a worst spot too. So I reached for my chain saw. I have a 18” craftsman I got for free due to safety reward points.  I quickly dispatched the two smaller trees that were closer to my vehicle. These trees had most of the brush on them which helped making seeing a lot easier.

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I then went to work on the larger trees. All the trees had their stumps up righted. So I trimmed off the ends of the larger trees and then cut off the lower one first closer to the stump It went as planned. I then moved onto the one further up in the air. Due to the size I made a pass on one side then had to go to the other side. As I was doing this the tree slightly twists and pinched my blade and I was unable to remove the chainsaw.  What was next in the arsenal? Do I give up and leave the chain saw. I grabbed my winch and tree savor strap (kind of ironic). I wrapped the tree savor around the top of the tree for the most leverage. Using my 12k winch it pulled the tree slightly towards the vehicle but my vehicle started to slide. Even with the the camper and vehicle brakes on full blast. I went and analyzed the tree a little bit more and there were two large branches that went down to the ground. So I grabbed my axe and slowly put a dent in the one obstructing movement the most. I was quite impressed with my axe skills as I use to be horrible. I put the tree savor around the end of the branch and broke it off with the winch as I was to tired to continue on with the axe at that moment. I repositioned the tree savor back to the main trunk and gave it hell with the winch and eventually after the tree slid into the other stump it gave enough leverage to open up the cut and my chainsaw went tumbling to the ground! I’m back in business. I worked on clearing the top part of the trees first this time and then just made a big hinge with the stump. Using he winch I pulled the trunk towards my vehicle and to the side of the pathway. I cleared the other trunk two and some of the small trunks that were still in the path. I looked at it and I thought I could fit.

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I forgot to mention half of this work was in a big muddy puddle too. So I had fun and got dirty. Not to mention It was still going to be fun to try to cross without being able to have momentum.  Well I made it through.  It got hairy there for a second but I did not cut any tires on any of the sticks or logs and I was on the other side.

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I continued on down the trail and within ½ mile the trail turned into a much better gravel road and there were house. I am surprised no one came down to see what all the noise was going on. And I think I saw a few shocked faces wondering where I came from. I continue down these hard packed dirt and gravel roads. Up and down these twisty steep hills. Then within 30miles I came across these horseback riders. I don’t know if there a group or out for training. But it was nice to see some others enjoying the countryside.

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As the trail weaved through the hill side you could hear small waterfalls as the streams tumbled down the hills. Most of them you could not see but here is a shot of one.

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I kept seeing these birds but could not get a good picture of them. They would almost refuse to fly. Some of them would run and jump and glide and repeat. I have to say these are speedy little thing. They were doing 25+mph. I believe there roadrunners. It does make sense they would run down the road away from my vehicle and eventually jet out into a field or woods but you could tell they preferred the road.

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This was my second favorite road of the day. It followed right along a river for a couple of mile with rocks that were blasted out on the other side.

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As I was looking for a campsite, I came across this great place on the river. I guess the river was high a week ago and did all the damage due to all the rain the central US got.

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Day 13 (6/5): Today I woke up early which seems to be a bad trend. I packed up my camper and vehicle and hit the road. Every morning of this trip I have been coming across one animal more the any other.

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As I continued on I quickly left the large steep hills like I saw in Arkasas and started to drive through the great planes. Being on gravel roads most of the way it seem very nice. I’ve been through them on them interstate and it was just plane boring. But passing through them on mainly straight gravel roads with the occasional 90 and sweeping bends made it much more fun. Not to mention driving through cow pastors over livestock barricades made me pay attention. Speed up slow down type of stuff. I even came across some cows that were not too happy and would not give up there road. So after 15mins or so I went offroad then they cleared the road for me.

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I have to say Oklahoma has gotten a ton of rain in the past few weeks. The skies were clear for me. All day long I was coming across these flooded roads and had to turn around and find a detour.  I had to do this about 6 times today which slowed my progress. Somewhere as short as 10miles some as long as 30miles.

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I came across some of these pretty neat old trust bridges. This one with a weight limit of 3 tons, hopefully that is metric.

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I was really enjoying these open parries and at the top of the highest rolling hills you could see forever and with all the other hills and small valley made a wonderful spot to stop for lunch.

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This guy gave me a weird look as I passed him. Maybe because I was thinking cheese burgers would be great for lunch tomorrow night!

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From the far distance I saw all these animals moving and I thought they were cows then as I approached closer I soon realized they were all horses. Wow what a site. Never saw a pack/herd that size before.

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I soon trotted on found more water on roads and eventently found a campsite for the night. Hopefully tomorrow night I will get close to the border with Colorado and see the mountains in the distance.