Apr 12 – Moab, UT (Gold Bar Rim)

It was a little windy (10-15) so I parked the Jeep so the iKamper shell is against the wind, and I attached the two hydronic strut brackets to brace the hard top against the wind.

As soon as my head hit the pillow, got a flash warning of 30-40 mph winds with gusts up to 60 lasting all night. Already feeling and hearing the wind. The tent seems to be handling it well.

Not worried about the tent failing, but iKamper rated their tents up to 23mph winds so not taking chances. I try to get out of the tent and there’s no ladder.

I mean the ladder is there. But the foot end of the folding platform of the tent was lifted by the wind, resulting in the foot of the latter swinging in towards the car.

I ended up crawling out the side window, very scary. I packed the iKamper to went to sleep in the Jeep.

By morning I saw it was snowing, so far a couple inches. Well I won’t go wheeling in the snow, too risky. Guess I’m going to Moab Diner for breakfast and find other things to do today.

Apr 11 – Moab, UT (Metal Masher)

Today’s ride is Metal Masher!

It’s not the first time here. But when I did it last year, in took all the bypasses. Every. Last. One. I promised myself I would not take any bypasses this year. I’m proud to say I only took one. At the end. Because I don’t have the courage to creep down a 48” high 45 degree wall. Nuh uh!

The trail reminded me of Texas. Lots of dust, lots of challenging stretches. And a significant number of walls to climb over. I made it a point to follow a JLUR that is equipped like mine. 35” tires and 2” lift. I followed his line and found myself in trouble a few times. Nothing terrible but some metal was mashed. Apparently a winch mount bolt came off. Ruh roh!

Apparently this is one of my winch mount bolts.

I decided to follow a different Jeep. A two door TJ with 33” tires and a 4” lift. Close enough. I followed his line every time we got to a wall. Absolutely no issues. It’s amazing what a Jeep can go over if you take the right line, and go slowly. I followed that Jeep until the last wall. He went over it but slammed down pretty hard.

That’s when I radioed the tour leads asking about the bypass. “The bypass is in the left but not sure what shape it’s in.” I hightailed to the bypass and so did a dozen others. I guess I’m used to being the squeaky wheel.

Some pictures…

Metal Masher was loads of fun, more so than last year. But who am I kidding? The ESJ spotters were awesome! Tomorrow is Good Bar Rim.

Apr 10 – Moab, UT (Top Of The World)

Top Of The World has been on my list for a while, but it’s 30 miles from Moab, and is rated closer to Hard than Moderate, so I never tried it. Well that changed today. 🙂

With a total of 60 miles spent on the road, and a not very scenic but demanding trail to the top, not much to take pictures of. The goal today was to drive to edge of a cliff and have my picture taken. #gulp

Now I always wondered how the photo thing worked. I mean I’m on the edge of a cliff. Who is taking the picture and HOW?! Is a drone used? Is someone on another mountain with a really big lens?

Well as it turned out, there is a landing about 50 feet from the cliff, but just a little lower. You can hand someone your iPhone or camera and hope they don’t drop it (or fall off) while they photograph you from the landing. Or you can luck out and a commercial photographer is there to take your picture. Luck was on my side.

Steven Talley, of Expedition Builds (who is also a commercial photographer) was there taking everyone’s picture. All in all, another great day. I’m really digging Easter Jeep Safari 2022!

Apr 09 – Moab, UT (Hell’s Revenge)

38 vehicles, all but one (?) a Jeep. Aired down to 14 psi. CB mic check. GoPro mounted and ready. Freedom panels stowed and sunblock applied.

After two years of missed opportunities, I finally conquered the optional Hell’s Gate climb at Hell’sRevenge. The best way to describe the climb is think of a gigantic System Of A Down vinyl record groove at a 45 degree incline.

When I asked the tour guides for a spot, one of them, a professional spotter, bet me a doughnut that if I followed his instructions, I wouldn’t spin a wheel. Boy was he spot on. He led me through the perfect line. I’m down a doughnut!

The Staircase and The Car Wash were two more options we got today. I got a video of Staircase, but I dropped the ball on The Car Wash.

Tired and hungry, once I publish this blog I’m gonna shower and crash. Tomorrow is Top Of The World.

Apr 08 – Moab, UT (final prep)

Today was my rest day. I took a couple hours to clean and reorganize the cargo area. This included finally installing D-rings to the hard top mounting bolts so I could add a few more straps to keep stuff from bouncing around. And finally mounting the RAM Tough-Rack onto my dash so I can get the GoPro and Garmin Overlander mounted for tomorrow’s Hell’s Revenge ride (using C size ball mount).

I tried to get the Garmin DC35 camera mounted so I can see down in front while I’m climbing Hell’s Gate but that’s not a priority since I’ll be getting spotted. You read that right, after two years of trying and getting detailed, with luck I’ll finally get to do it this year! So yeah, GoPro is a must, front facing trail camera not so much.

Ok work is done, time for a rest day dinner. At tomorrow’s starting point.

Wait, scratch that, one more thing to do.

Apr 07 – Moab, UT (solo dry run Hell’s Revenge)

I woke up when the sun came up, loving the moonroof on this roof top tent. 35 degrees, but no wind so wasn’t bat. It’s going up to 65 today. After five days of driving, and two days to goof around, I had a well earned breakfast at the Moab Diner.

Stopped at GearHead Outdoors Store to get a 10L Specter water container (left the 20L behind since I’ll be with a group every day and camping at KOA nightly), a blanket (since my sleeping bag is way too warm) , and a laundry bag (because I forgot). My new favorite Moab store, they have free unlimited filtered water.

I decided to give Hell’s Revenge a go, wince I was getting bored. I love how Relive now offers 3D videos! The last mile or so is more eroded than last year, so I had to get out a bunch of times to minimize scraping.

Airing down from 35 to 15.
That’s a damned cliff!
That is a wall. no bypasses, wasn’t as hard as it looked.
The real Mickeys Bath Tub.

Apr 06 – CO…err…KS to UT

Today was supposed to be the final leg of the trip from PA to UT. #shakesfistatmothernature

Made up for lost time. 610 miles, 14.8 mpg. Got to camp just before 1900. It took 1 min to set up the roof top tent. #pffffff Yeah right. Stole that from every iKamper video on YouTube. More like 5 min when you consider the wiring I need to set up.

  • The Dometic hard wire kit that I was afraid to have permanently mounted in the tent, well, I wish it was permanently mounted in the tent.
  • The strip light plugs into an accessory port, and mister genius is regretting swapping out both accessory ports for PD/QC (USBC/USBA) ports on the hard wire kit.
  • Who would have thought I’d need an extension cord. Yea, to power my laptop, from the inverter to the laptop. A 15’ is perfect.

All three cables need to run into the roof top tent through a 1/2” opening in the rear passenger window, making sure the wires droop to prevent water from going into the Jeep if it rains. The roof top tent extends out over the rear passenger door, but ya never know. Torrential storms and all. #tongueincheek

Next mod is Main Line Overland hard wiring things into the tent. iKamper warranty be damned. I mean the iKamper base is rated to hold 900 pounds. So how would a little 2” hole hurt? These guys build, modify, and support the most incredible overland vehicles. Can’t wait to have that done, so I’ll be ready for my August vacation.

Apr 05 – KS to CO

Well today was a wash. Got a little over 200 miles in before Kansas’ infamous high winds derailed the rest of today’s trip. After seeing a truck nearly overturn, I decided to pull into the local Pilot and wait for the winds to die down.

I remember a few trucks got rag-dolled last year. Not interested in seeing that again. The roof top tent increases risk in this kind of weather. Not taking chances. Tomorrow I’ll need to make up for lost time.

Apr 04 – MO to KS

I plan my long trips with the longest days at the beginning, and the shortest days at the end. The first and second days were 500 miles each. Then I crossed a time zone.

Today is the third day on the road. I drove 419 miles at an average of 16.8mpg. Mostly flat roads once I got to Kansas. There was a stretch of 10 miles of controlled burns. Happy to confirm my Jeep’s closed vents worked perfectly.

Lots of trickers along I-70, and they were all on their CBs. The reception was good but it was hard to tell what the heck they were talking about. A lot of chatter about bears and pigs. Whatever.

Apr 02 – PA to WV

500 miles in 10 hours. Lots of breaks. I stuck to the speed limit. 15.8 MPG, not bad with the roof top tent.

This KOA is right by the highway. I sleep like a rock, but those dummies racing their obnoxiously loud jalopies are annoying.

I finally installed the outdoor carpet in the RTT. The 3.5” self inflating mattress pad beats the heck out of the 2” stock foam mattress.

Apr 01 – Packing the Jeep

This year’s trip will be roughly 2,200 miles from PA to UT. I’ll be staying at KOA every night, to help compensate for the ridiculous price of gas. 🙂

Packing is a huge PITA, but I’m getting better at it every year. I made sure I had real overlanding boxes so I could secure, seal, and label my stuff. Two Front Runner Wolf Pack containers, two Front Runner Cub Pack containers, and two Expedition 134 containers for the bigger stuff.

I forgot to order Front Runner Stratchits, so I had to run to Home Depot to get a few cheap rachet straps to hold things until I find a store that has them in stock. Stratchits are so much better, since they’re slightly elastic, they don’t come loose when you’re offroad. I’m passing several overlanding shops that sell them, so I should have them by the time I get to Moab.

Both RotopaX 2 Gallon fuel containers and my 5LB propane tank are full and secured to the back wheel. Secured by a bicycle lock. The fridge is packed with sanwiches, drinks, and fruit. The 5 gallon water container is full of clean water.

I took a few minutes to install the Mopar Xtreme Fender Flare Extensions, so I don’t get pulled over for my tires sticking too far out. I ran out of time, so I didn’t get to install the 24″ adhesive outdoor carpet tiles inside the tent. I really want to leave the 2″ foam mats behind, this way I can store my Mountain Summit Gear 3.5″ R6 rated self inflating mattress pad, and my Big Agnes expanding sleeping bag, inside the iKamper when I’m moving.

Tires are inflated to the recommended 36psi, thanks to my ARB CKMTA12 dual compressor (mounted under the passenger seat), and my MOREFlate quad hose kit. I think I’m all set. I’m ready to sleep, gotta get up at 0600 and be on the road by 0700.

Main Line Overland LiFePO4 FTW

With roughly three weeks left before I head out to Easter Jeep Safari 2022, I was able to decide on the off-grid power kit. Starting with the battery, I decided on a 100ah LiFePO4 (Lithium-Iron Phosphate). After researching battery companies, it came down to Battle Born, Dakota, or Renogy.

I want this to last as many years as possible, and I want the best support. I decided on Renogy. Their 100ah battery is rated at 4,000 cycles, so the battery can be discharged that many times and still hold an 80% charge. The built in battery management system cuts off charging at 0C, and cuts off power output at -20C. Even if I don’t go out when its that cold, its good to know the battery is protected.

Renogy’s 100ah LiFePO4 smart battery isn’t cheap, even at Renogy’s Amazon store. I had to remind myself that its the heart of the off-grid kit, so I put it in my Amazon cart. An hour later someone sent me a message that the exact battery just got listed on Facebook Marketplace at half the retail price. I showed up with a battery load tester, tried to keep my composure when it measured exactly 14.6V. Half price for a battery that has 100% of it’s life left. 🙂

When I got home I looked for two major components that would be needed. A Renogy 30A Dual-Input DC-to-DC MPPT On-Board Battery Charger, and a Renogy 1000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter with Power Saving Mode. I decided to source the components through the shop, since the price is pretty consistent no matter where you shopped for them.

High level goal is to have the LiFePO4 battery charged by the Jeep battery when it’s running. When the Jeep isn’t running, and a solar panel is connected, the solar panel will charge the LiFePO4 battery. My favorite part, when the LiFePO4 is at or near 100%, it’ll send power back to the Jeep battery. Pretty nifty.

I always go to Main Line Overland for these kinds of things. They’re able to get any components you need, their techs are extremely knowledgeable, experienced on some of the most extreme overland builds, and most importantly, they do some of the cleanest work. Very highly recommended by my buddies, and now I know why.

I visited them on a Friday and we spent a few minutes going over the plan. The Jeep was ready around lunch time on Wednesday. When I picked it up, I got a very thorough walkthrough, lots of answers to lots of questions, great advice, man what an experience. The icing on the cake was how beautifully they tucked the MPPT/Charger, Bluetooth monitor, and fuse box in the small cubby hole.

I requested a schematic, since I was going on a 5-6 thousand mile trip, and wanted to be prepared if there were any problems. I got a very detailed hand drawn schematic with color coded wiring, fuse information, etc. Coming the graphic arts, I’m impressed. I should frame it, after I take a picture of it and upload it to Apple Books for reference when I’m on the road. I’m so happy that I’ve got more power, smarter power than before.

Parts list:

For my solar panel, I decided to go with a folding, waterproof, and very duarable Bugout 130 Solar Charger. It’s 22×68″ open, and comes with a 20′ Anderson SB50 cable, and a Anderson SB5 to SAE adapter cable that I won’t be using. The solar panel will be deployed on those days that I’m not moving around. Since the 100ah LiFePO4 battery is charged by the vehicle when it is running.

Its a good thing I had the shop provide an Anderson SB50 by the rear right door, so I have a place to plug in the solar panel. Luckily right near it, in another cubby hole, is a Dometic hard wire kit that I’ll be running into the iKamper tent, so I can power my devices (iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, etc.).