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Ultimate Adventure 2003's 2003 Chevy Avalanche 2500 - The Ultimate Avalanche Goes Home

Posted in Ultimate Adventure on December 1, 2003
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Photographers: 4WOR Staff

This is not the final story. In fact this is barely the beginning of the final story. As we write this, the Ultimate Avalanche that we built during 2003-with the coverage starting in the Aug. '03 issue-is sitting broken, awaiting repair. We will not try to explain why it is there since that may never be determined. Rather, let us tell you how it got there. When we last left off on the story, our truck was ending the Adventure in Arkansas. However, my trip home from there was as much an escapade as the official Ultimate Adventure itself. During the trip some problems arose and parts broke that we hadn't expected, and now it was time to get it back to L.A. for repairs. Little did we know that half of that trip home would be with the Avalanche on the back of a semi.

Arkansas to Pennsylvania WeddingLeaving Arkansas, I realized that the front steering tie-rod ends were bent and the oil hadn't been changed in over 4,000 miles. I had to get to Pennsylvania for my brother's wedding and then take the truck to the Bloomsburg Jamboree, but first I stopped in Knoxville, Tennessee, for a much needed oil change and tie-rod repair. After that I hauled tail up to Washington, D.C., where I had the weirdest exchange with one of the locals. Since big red Chevy Avalanches rolling on prototype BFG Krawlers are rare in our nation's capital, I didn't think it unusual when a fellow in a car next to me rolled down his window and asked, "Drive that thing in the mud much?" I replied, "Yes, I do." Then when he asked if I was from Virginia, I replied, "No, California." This is when he looked very perplexed and asked me how I had gotten the truck that far east. I told him I had driven it there and his reply astounded me: "You can drive from California?" I guess no one has informed the residents of Washington, D.C., that the Mississippi is now a river and no longer an ocean. I really wished I could have gotten a picture of the Avalanche in front of the White House or Washington Monument, but security there is pretty tight, so here it is in front of the Hershey's Chocolate Factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania (previous page).

Damage RepairAfter the wedding I tried to get the truck ready for the Bloomsburg Jamboree, which we covered in last month's issue. I didn't really feel I needed to fix all the body damage, but the passenger rear window wouldn't roll down completely and the plastic body panels were looking pretty ratty and falling off. We fixed this in three easy steps. First, we tore off all plastic body cladding that looked ugly from the start, and filled any holes in the body with expandable foam. Next, we stopped by Martin Wilt's auto body shop in York, Pennsylvania, and had him beat the truck with a hammer till the window rolled up and down. Finally, we got Rhino Linings of York to spray whatever was previously covered with plastic to give the truck a much cleaner look.

Bloomsburg & Long-Haul PrepNext, I headed to the Summer 4-Wheel Jamboree in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, where we put the Avalanche on display at the Dynatrac booth. Many people seemed to enjoy the truck and I enjoyed sitting on Main Street after the event and watching people cruising in their trucks until the cops shut down the fun at 11 p.m. on the dot. I must say that I felt a bit out of place since the Avalanche didn't have the prerequisite Lund sunvisor. I could show you a picture of the truck at the booth, but wouldn't you rather see the winners of the Bikini Contest?

The Indianapolis Off-Road 500I hit the road early and by the middle of the second day I was nearing Indianapolis. I figured it would be cool to run a few laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but there were all these guys from NASCAR practicing for the Brickyard 400. As much as I thought the Avalanche could have kept up with them, the security guards knew better and kept the truck and me behind the fence. Maybe next time I'll get to show those speed racers what us off-roaders can do.

Badgers In Smalltown IowaThis is a badger. While driving across Iowa around midnight I noticed the shifter knobs for the transfer case starting to vibrate very loudly. I slowed down and the vibration went away, so I decided that I should probably stop at the next exit. After coming over a small hill, I sped up slightly and was rewarded with a loud explosion of parts under the truck. Something came loose and by the time I coasted to the side of the road, the transmission had a broken housing, the transfer case was destroyed, the rear driveshaft was missing and I was stranded in the middle of nowhere. I called Pw to tell him the situation and then called a tow truck. And while I waited I walked up the median looking for some of the parts. This is when I found a big fat badger. He didn't like the looks of me standing there with two flashlights, but unlike a raccoon or friendly bunny he decided to chase me down the grassy knoll and eat me. Imagine driving down Route 80 in the middle of nowhere at midnight and seeing some nut running backwards in shorts and sandals while being chased by a big furry critter, and you can see just how crazy this trip was becoming. Luckily for me the badger could sense my new radioactive strength and crossed the road before disappearing into the woods.

Empty Again?We mentioned a few months ago that our Avalanche had a bad habit of running out of fuel and leaving us stranded. We couldn't understand how it was happening time and time again until the third or fourth episode, when we noticed that the fuel gauge would still read a quarter tank even though the truck would stop running. The verdict? When we had removed the auxiliary tank for extra under-bed space, we also lost our vent. Thus, as the truck sucked up the fuel at a hungry 8 mpg it was also creating a vacuum within the plastic tank and actually sucking up the bottom of the tank. Then the fuel float would sit on the collapsed bottom and yet still read a quarter tank. When we opened the cap to add more fuel, the tank would expand and the gauge would drop. Our temporary solution? We now leave the fuel cap just slightly loose after every fill-up.

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