Rockies and beyond..

North AmericaPosted by Espen Sun, April 11, 2010 04:12:13


Finally things got sorted out in Jacksonville. After about a week (and an “agricultural” wash…) the Patrol was released from customs. The car looked okay after 4 weeks on the vessel, but unfortunately there were a few things missing. Somebody has been inside and ripped out the tweeters on the dash, ripped out a flexible map light, and stolen an empty backpack, a “seat organizer”, and even the GPS suction holder. Doesn’t look like a very professional thief if you ask me, so my guess is a junkie at the Jacksonville docks looking for more stuff to put in his shopping cart… No essential gear missing, and nothing very expensive, but bloody annoying for sure.

Drove from Jacksonville on Sunday afternoon, and headed north towards Atlanta. Was originally thinking about driving a more southern route, but all route planners on the internet suggested north, and so did a few people I asked. Drove about 700 kilometers (440 miles) the first day, then about 1400 kilometers (875 miles) from Atlanta and past Kansas City the next, and finally 1200 kilometers (750 miles) the third day into the Rockies.

On my way up from Denver a nasty feeling crept into my gut. The car was loosing power. And not just a little, as I could expect from the increasing altitude. I had no chance of following the traffic at 50 mph up the steeper parts of Highway 70. And the power kind of came and went. No warning lights either. And when I drove off the highway to give the engine a break, everything felt normal, but as soon as I tried to pick up speed, the symptoms were there. It was getting late, and after I was rejected from a couple of “campgrounds” because I did not have an RV, I limped into Frisco, a few kilometers before Vail and got into a motel. Next day I checked the air filter, and bleeded the diesel filter and everything looked okay. Started to suspect a broken sensor somewhere, but couldn’t be sure. I had also been thinking about the possibility for bad, or wrong, diesel, and that this was causing problems as the temperature fell as I climbed higher (highest point on the highway is 3401 meter above sea level). Temperature was about minus 10 Celsius.

So! What to do? Was hoping to stay for a couple of days skiing, but as my car was supposed to be my “safe haven” for the next year to come, I wasn’t really in the mood for playing when as long as I didn’t know what was wrong. I stopped by a couple of places in the mountains to check if there were reasonable accommodation, but in the high season prices start at about 130 USD per night. Affordable if you can split by four (number of beds in the room), or even two, but if I want to stay on the budget for a year of travelling, that is a bit too steep. And as the RV campsites kept refusing to take me in, I decided for:

RETREAT! I started driving down from the Rockies, and this time on the west side. After a day of driving (and a quite few stops at different tourist infos), I took in to a motel at Grand Junction, about an hour drive from Moab…

And what about the car and the engine problems? As I got down from the mountain, the symptoms almost disappeared. I don’t know what was wrong, and I’m still getting the feeling that not everything is 100%. It could be a combination of bad/wrong fuel for low temperature, high altitude and hence less oxygen for combustion, and that the engine ECU couldn’t figure it out. But I think I feel like checking this out if I can find a Nissan garage with the right equipment (which can be a challenge in U.S. as the Patrol is not imported…).

Anyways! The last couple of days, I’ve been camping in Moab, Utah.

If you do mountain biking or off-road driving, you will know about this place. Mecca for both activities… Got me a new spare wheel, connected the missing pieces of the air system, hooked up all electronics. Today I’ve been out driving the “Chickens Corner” trail.

It is a trail described as Medium difficult, and I thought it was smart to start carefully as the Patrol is very heavy, and because I can’t really afford to break anything (as spare parts has to be sourced from Australia…). But I’ll probably head back out tomorrow for a new trail. Was thinking to camp just north of the city, and run a trail called “3D Trail”. I would also like to try the famous “White Rim Trail”, but Moab’s Visitors Center tell me that all the camp sites along the trail is fully booked for weeks. It should be possible to drive the trail in one long day though, but then we are back to the too heavy car, and really shouldn’t break anything. Hm…

Well, well… As you understand, things are good, and I’ll probably stay in this area for a few more days, before I start heading north. Haven’t given up on the skiing just yet…

Will write more soon!


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