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Jeeping Across America

Adventure off road - and on

Jeeps are made for more than off road use- even though that's where they excel. That's why I wanted to take a road trip across America and use a Jeep for both purpose: trail duty and road trippin' from coast to coast! But first I had to find the right Jeep that was cheap enough to afford, maintain, and still be very capable. After all if it did nothing but brake down or get stuck, it sure wouldn't be the best choice. Of course I love fixing stuff and getting unstuck, but the point of the trip is to get home to LA before work next week. I'll post daily updates on my travels and maybe I can meet Jeepers along the way, so post away to facebook.com/4wheeloffroad and follow us on the web at fourwheeler.com - Rick Pewe.

The saga starts with the Ultimate Adventure 2015, fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adventure/2015 where my own CJ-17 killed it's auto tranny in northern Arizona. The UA started in I Ohio so I left the Jeep in the hands of my co driver John Mears to handle as I hitched eastward.

After the Ultimate Adventure was over, I didn't have away back to California. At the Adventure Off-road Park in Tennessee, I ran into some regular Jeep folks who had an idea. They had a community '94 XJ Cherokee that ran and it might make it to Sunny SoCal. It has been stolen, jumped, and generally beat up a few years ago but seemed solid. I was in.

The white XJ lives in Atlanta, about two hours away. Co owner Tom Malcom gave me a ride in Turtle, the Magic Bus It's a Skoolie, chopped on the rear to carry their XJ and full-on regular furnished motorhome up front.

The Turtle is a converted 1996 International school bus modified to haul Tom's XJ. The inside is just like the best motorhomes with fridge, stove, shower, toilet, and air conditioning. Tom cruises with his wife Rebecca and their two pugs Blanton and Julep. The Turtle weighs in at about 30,000 and runs on Tim's homemade diesel.

Owner Stephen Donehoo and Tim explained the history of the Jeep, and how Stephen has owner it over 15 years. The engine seemed solid, as did the tranny. The rest has a welded diff and the front sports a lunchbox locker with 3.55 gears. What could possibly go wrong? It only has 340,000 miles on it!

Road trip prep starts with chemicals, tools, and fixit stuff. I spent $160 for all the essentials including duct tape and tie wire. How could you leave home without it? We told counterman Joe the whole story of how I was going to borrow this Jeep from these guys I just met an hour ago and drive it to California. He thought we were all crazy. And wanted to go with.

The Jeep had been jumped when stolen, so lots of mods were made to make it live again. It worked well for an occasional wheeler and daily driver, but for a cross- country trip which wheeling we needed to check and adjust a few things. The drivers headlight was dangling, and the passenger side was missing.

Since the plastic button that hold the drivers headlight was broken, we collaborated on a fix. Nothing a little tie wire will fix, and running it around a screw allows for adjustment of the beam!

The passenger headlight was missing, as well as all the hardware. Looking at the round depression in the core support, I wondered why not install a real Jeep headlight? It's not like it wouldn't fit, and it upgrades the Jeeps face overall. I stayed with the black and white scheme with the zip ties to match the rest of the Jeep. We are fashion conscious, you realize.

I can't take credit for this, but it's brilliant. Using a wrench for a battery holddown simply rocks. I'm starting a trend and going home and changing mine