Epic Road Trip – Day 4

Day 4’s agenda was to attempt to make it to the top of Black Bear pass, and then back down to Corkscrew Gulch, to Hurricane Pass, to Animus Forks.

We knew Blackbear was closed on the downhill side to Telluride, but wanted to try to at least get to the pass.   I talked to several locals in town that said they thought it was open to the top, but nothing confirmed for sure.

All 60 photos can be viewed here and in a larger format-  https://www.wanderoffroad.photography/Epic-Road-Trip-2019/20190725-Ouray-Day-4/

Our attempt was short lived.  About a mile up the trail we met a hiker coming down.  He told us the road was close just a short distance ahead from a large snow drift crossing the road.  With that, we all turned around and headed down and towards Corkscrew Gulch.

We passed this awesome tracked Jeep on the way.

Snow debris from avalanches.

Lake Como

Animas Forks Historic Site


All 60 photos can be viewed here and in a larger format-  https://www.wanderoffroad.photography/Epic-Road-Trip-2019/20190725-Ouray-Day-4/

Epic Road Trip – Day 3

Day 3 was a lighter day for trail riding.  We started out by visiting Box Canon Falls on the south end of town. It was a brief walk up to the falls, which have carved a large slot canyon in the rock.

All 90 photos can be viewed here and in a larger format- https://www.wanderoffroad.photography/Epic-Road-Trip-2019/20190724-Ouray-Day-3/

Ouray Sunrise

After Box Canon, we loaded up in the Jeeps to head to Yankee Boy Basin.   If you recall, Yankee Boy is where my accident happened back in 2017. 

When we got to the top, there was a snow drift still covering a portion of the road, so we couldn’t make it all the way to the top 😦

But I did fly the drone up and over to get a shot of Wrights Lake.

It soon started to drizzy, so we started our way back down.

All 90 photos can be viewed here and in a larger format- https://www.wanderoffroad.photography/Epic-Road-Trip-2019/20190724-Ouray-Day-3/

Epic Road Trip – Day 2

The quaint little town of Ouray in the morning.  In just a few short hours, the main street will be bustling with offroaders and tourist.

Follow along as I post some of the photos below from Day 2:

All 71 photos can be viewed here and in a larger format-

The “sign”.  Our morning meeting place to head out for the trails.  Today’s trails are Ophir Pass over to Telluride, and then the Last Dollar Road back towards Ouray.

Our clan of Jeepers!!!

The moon sitting above the mountains.

The narrow shelf road on Ophir is just wide enough for one vehicle.

If you zoom way in, you can see the jeeps on the road.

After lunch in Telluride, we headed out on Last Dollar Road.

Back in Ouray!

All 71 photos can be viewed here https://www.wanderoffroad.photography/Epic-Road-Trip-2019/20190723-Ouray-Day-2


Epic Road Trip – Day 1

In mid July members of the Georgia Wranglers headed out to Ouray and Moab for some awesome wheeling.  We started out in Ouray Colorado for four days of riding some of the most scenic trails in the country.  The Rocky Mountains are awe inspiring, and there is an photo opportunity in every direction you turn.

I’ll go ahead and spoil any suspense that readers may have.  If you recall two years ago, we had an unfortunate accident that left the original Tank totaled in Ouray.  This year, there were no incidents, and no accidents.

Follow along as I post some of the photos below from Day 1:
You can view all 171 photos here and in a larger format- https://www.wanderoffroad.photography/Epic-Road-Trip-2019

Arrival in Colorado

Day 1 meeting at the Switzerland of American “sign” for morning lineup.  Day 1 was the Alpine Loop which consist of Engineer and Cinnamon Passes. Seven jeeps in our group total.

Engineer Pass is a mere 12,800 feet in elevation!!

Cinnamon Pass is 12,640 feet in elevation!

You can view all 171 photos here – https://www.wanderoffroad.photography/Epic-Road-Trip-2019

Jeep Sleeping and Storage

I wanted to change the storage arrangements I had for the Jeep that would also allow for us to sleep in the rear.  I have done it before by folding down the seats, but wanted something a little more practical for us and would allow us to sleep and store items.   I have seen several others construct similar, and Goose Gear makes a nice deck, but their’s doesn’t have storage underneath, so I knew this would be a one-off design.  I had two Black Forest sliders in the rear for our cooler and other storage prior to all this.

Snip20190402_4First up was to remove all of this – the sliders and base plate.  I am planning to leave the interior cargo rack that I have the shovel and axe mounted too.  I typically have two folding chairs, and a folding table that I keep on there as well.


I also removed the 60 split seat in the rear, since we rarely ever had anyone else with us.  I did retain the 40 split just in case we ever have a third person.   I did use Goose Gear’s 60% seat delete bracket for this part.


Next up was to build a base for the sleeping platform.  I wanted it modular so that I could remove it, and would allow for the third seat, and storage underneath. Those are 1 x 8’s so the deck will sit 8 inches from the floor in the rear, and 15 to 18 towards the rear passenger floorboard area.


Next up was to start laying out the deck.  Again, I wanted it in sections to allow for the third seat and storage. Piano hinges connected the sections that were needed to be accessible.


I also wanted to maximize the sleeping area, so I positioned the front seats in our normal riding position, and cut the decking to match.  Notches for the third seat headrest and center console were cut out.


I added some interlocking rubber floor mats to add a additional layer of cushioning for sleeping, but that could easily be removed to folded into the smaller squares for storage.


Next up was the NitePad Camping bed designed for the Jeep.  It’s sections zip together and also fold for storage or reconfiguration.  It’s about 1.5 inches thick and between it, the rubber mats, and our sleeping bags makes for a fairly comfortable night’s sleep.  You can find the NitePad on eBay.


Seats fully forward and the NitePad folded completely out.  I am 5’6″ and don’t have any issues fitting.  I actually have several more inches once the seats are fully forward and reclined forward.  When we sleep, we lay with our heads towards the front and our feet below the rear cargo rack.  We have used the cargo rack to store our packs (clothes) so they are easily reachable/accessible.


If I want to deploy the third seat, I flip over the left section, remove the support brace (which can be stored in the rear) and flip the seat up for occupation.  You can see in this first photo, that even with the seat folded down, I still have cargo room under this section.



On the opposite side, I have more storage.  I currently keep a 250 piece tool set under here now, and still have more room for other items.


When we are going on an extended trip and need to bring the big cooler we can.  That rear deck section where the cooler is located is removable.  I can reconfigure the rear to hold the 45 qt ORCA Cooler mounted on a slide for easy access.


I am very pleased with the way everything turned out. At some point I want to dissemble it all so I can paint the supports and underneath the decking, but for now its fully functional!!   We have already camped out several times and enjoy the space we have.

As far as cost, I had all the decking boards from some cabinets, so I only had to purchase the 1 x 8’s and some wood screws ( oh, and a new cordless drill/screwdriver :-0).

Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for future post…

Radio To Go

The Yaesu FTM-400XDR I have mounted in the Jeep for mobile ops is only a dual band 2M/70m radio, and I wanted to expand my comms capabilities to HF.   After passing my General Exam I started shopping around for a HF rig.  Since I was already familiar with Yaesu quality, menus and configs I decide on the FT-857d –  another small portable rig that I could take on our trips.

I started researching carry cases, packs, and rails.  There are several options out there, but none that quite suited my needs/wants so it was going to be up to me to customize something.  I wanted it as light as it could be, but with the versatility to use at home as a base unit, but also packable for trips or even hiking. I have seen several builds and designs so had an idea of what I wanted.

What I started with was a DIY Radio Transceiver Antenna Tuner Carrier Backpack Holder from Ebay.  Here how it arrived and put together in its stock form.


The stock measurements are 19 3/4 L x 12 5/8 W (Sorry forgot to measure the height, but its was about 6.5)


Here is the Yaesu FT-857D and LDG Z-100 Auto tuner in the rack with a 12v 10Ah Battery.  Pretty large for what I want/need.


Since this DIY kit is like a big Erector set, I started moving pieces around to make the entire unit a little smaller.


I decided to use the mounting plates as the battery enclosure and have one hinge open for easy access to the battery and cable/wiring connections.


Planning to use this flexible neck for the head unit.


It will have feet on the end to allow the unit to free stand up off the ground.


Here are the final cut pieces and assembly.  Final dimensions are 16 L x 5 H x 6 3/4 W




Total weight is about 20 lbs (9kg).


Now it’s time to head to the field to do a shake down with this setup.

For a portable HF antenna, I am using the Buddipole Deluxe Kit, a hf/vhf portable dipole antenna system which is designed to be modular, versatile, and efficient.  http://www.buddipole.com/


Yaesu Head Unit Custom Mount

A few months back I posted about my ham and GMRS radio setups in the Jeep.



A few people commented on the head unit setup, so I thought I would share a few more details.

I have a Yaesu FTM-400 XDR. The base unit is mounted under the drivers seat, and the head unit is mounted on a custom bracket on the dash. The bracket started life as an off-the-shelf piece that holds a CB mic and attaches to the passenger side dash grab bar. I cut a T shaped piece of sheet metal that would allow for mounting the FTM head unit and three mics. The T is mounted upside down and the end rounded where the FTM mounts. It was all painted black, and I used pop rivets to mount the mic holders.

Here are some pics of the mount. I hope this helps others build a custom bracket for their ham, GSRM, or CB setups.

I currently run this FTM-400, a Midland MXT400, and a Midland 75-822 CB.




Original Off-the-shelf bracket. 61tna6voGLL._SL1500_ copy