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While attending SEMA 2015, I stumbled across the Wavian booth and was immediately captivated by this product. I’ve heard the stories of people discovering rust inside their fuel can, or dust finding a way into the fuel. With a can cut open, the Wavian representative explained how the inside lining with fuel resistant Rezol enamel not only prevents rust, but if the can gets dented, the internal lining doesn’t crack.

 

Published in Winter 2016

East of El Paso, the Rio Grande carves a scenic path south of the Solitario Flatiron Mountains, through Santa Elena Canyon, and at the base of the Sierra Del Carmen as it turns northward. On the U.S. side of the river, the diverse geological structures spanning the Big Bend Ranch State Park (BBRSP) and Big Bend National Park (BBNP) prevent uniformity, keeping things interesting for the traveler. Across the brown river, Mexico stands tall and beautiful, providing an alluring backdrop of seemingly unobtainable mountains.


For the adventurers seeking unpaved roads and 4x4 trails, these two parks, as well as surrounding territories, do not disappoint. Nestled between the two parks, the eccentric Texan communities of Terlingua and Lajitas offer unique dining experiences and night life. As with any locale off the beaten path, never assume a constant. Yes, each town has a gas station. That does not mean fuel is always available. Bring extra fuel canisters.

One can never get enough of the Big Bend region. Rare birds, frequent coyote sightings, and colorful sunsets illuminating the mountains redefines the meaning of being one with nature. Find the right spot and camping becomes a treat as the sun goes down and the stars bring the night to life.
An annual gathering of off-roaders and rock hunters usually occurs over the Christmas and New Year’s timeframe. For the Yota crowd, the event is organized in the Texas section of FJCruiserForums.com. Camp is based in the hilly Rancho Topanga Campground west of Terlingua. In 2015, an additional gathering took place over Thanksgiving week and I jumped at the opportunity.

The day before Thanksgiving, with passports in hand, we set out to cross the border into Mexico. The village of Boquillas del Carmen sits atop a hill above the Rio Grande. For years, tourists were able to park their vehicles in BBNP and cross the river via a small ferry to enjoy a cerveza or a pure cane sugar soft drink in Mexico. After 9/11, the border closed and the small village suffered financially.

The U.S. built a border patrol station and port of entry in BBNP at the exact spot, re-opening the border in April 2013. Despite the added bureaucracy, and the passport requirement, it is still worth the effort to take the excursion and enjoy some Mexican hospitality while taking in the scenery of Boquillas Canyon. We climbed into the ferry and crossed the river. Upon arrival, we paid the famous Singing Mexican, Victor, our $5 for the ferry ride and another chunk of cash for the donkey transport up the hill. I wasn’t keen on riding a mule, so I upgraded to a horse for an additional $5.
Dining, drinks, and shopping are typically all that occurs. Our group, made up mostly of rock hunters, went the extra mile…literally. We hired a local guide to take us to the Cave of Crystals. What that meant was we climbed into his pickup truck (some of us sat in the bed) and endured a trip to the trail head via 4x4 roads in a decades-old 2WD truck. We hiked up and down the hills for almost 2 miles toward Boquillas Canyon. Although the cave is near the river, it faces south and is thus hidden from one of the popular trails on the U.S. side. This neat little cave is completely made of crystals:  floor, roof, and walls. Well worth the hike.

For Thanksgiving Day, we ventured up the 4.5 mile Christmas Mountains trail. These mountains are just north of BBNP on land owned by the University of Texas. While camping is not permitted, visitors can obtain a day use permit. Our guide, David Aurzada, led us with his yellow FJ Cruiser. The rough road kept us under 5 mph on average, or maybe it was the astounding scenery that slowed us. The route winds through valleys, across the sides of mountains, at the edges of steep cliffs, and eventually terminates at a high overlook at an elevation of 5,400 ft, which is quite high for Texas. We spent nearly an hour taking in the fabulous views of the mountains below.

The return trip was on the same trail, yet it felt completely different as the weather changed, the clouds cleared, and more mountainous scenery was revealed. Upon arrival at David’s cabin, we feasted on traditional Thanksgiving fare while discussing other trails we plan to conquer in the future.
While many people were venturing to their favorite retailers for Black Friday, we chose to hit the famed Black Gap trail in BBNP (cover photo). High clearance and 4WD is certainly a must for various sections. Tanya Cole guided us in her red FJ Cruiser on the 38-mile route. We visited the fascinating Marsical Mine remains. After we exited the unpaved roads, we drove up to the Chisos Basin where clouds greeted us as fog dancing around the peaks.

For our final day of off-roading, we first hit the Las Burras Loop 4x4 trail in BBRSP, which is only one of many 4x4 roads in this park. The tip of the loop stops near high caves.

After lunch in at the famed Lajitas Resort, we headed to the county roads north of Terlingua:  a network of unpaved roads winding through medium sized canyons and smaller mountains. We did a 26-mile run that became a bit more challenging as darkness took over. As I led us back to civilization, my 7-inch Zero Dark LED lights lit up a black cat that was too big to be a house cat, but the head wasn’t quite big enough for a panther. What the heck did I see? Possibly a Jaguarundi. Google it.

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    Published in Winter 2016

    Two weeks ago, AT Overland (aka Adventure Trailers) announced their all-new Habitat tent-camper-shell for the 2nd Gen (2005-2015) 5' or 6' bed Tacoma Trucks.

    Published in Latest News

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    • CBI 4Runner Front Bumper Install
    • Baja 100: 2015
    • Rokmen/Toytec FJC Link Upgrade
    • Intro to Snowshoeing
    • Big Bend, Texas Adventure
    • Wavian Jerry Can Review
    • Exploring Utah's White Rim Trail
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    COMEUP Winch Arctic Trucks Toyota Magazine

    Published in Winter 2016

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    Stocking Stuffers Products under $50

    1.Elemental Herbs World Traveler Gift Set Pack All Good protection and healing with this perfect set of go-to products for when you’re on the go. Perfect for anyone with an active lifestyle who just needs to throw their all-natural essentials in a bag and GO, the World Traveler set contains the All Good SPF 15 Lip Balm, All Good Sunscreen Sport SPF 33, All Good Goop, the Organic Hand Sanitizer (also can be used as a breath freshener), and the unscented Sunstick SPF 30. $41.41 at www.elementalherbs.com

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    Long time readers of our little publication may remember the very first FJ Cruiser we included as a featured vehicle: El Diablo, January 2008 issue (http://www.tctmagazine.net/january-2008/reader-rigs-el-diablo).

    Sema2015-Friday-
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    View from the monorail station outside SEMA 2015
    Sema2015-Friday-
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    View from the monorail station outside SEMA 2015 View from the monorail station outside SEMA 2015 

    Toytec’s 2016 Tacoma fitted with 35” Cooper STT Pro, InSain Fab front bumper, BajaDesigns LED lighting and much more, was an instant crowd favorite.

    Toytec

     

    Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App StoreNature’s fall foliage backdrop illuminated the trails and the VOR gathering with shades of orange, gold, and crimson. It was photographically addicting to capture the reflection of the season on top of trucks painted metal surfaces. The beautiful surroundings made the trails long as you cannot help but stop to collect photographs.


    While traveling the rugged roads of Vermont and the VOR trail systems, it was easy to find muddy terrain and the need to be prepared for rescue.  These conditions made for some fun obstacles and some extra difficulty in directing vehicles through the terrain. While driving through the mud, I often felt like I was on ice or snow; when I veer right, I felt the vehicle disobey and veer to the left.  

    TCT stayed in the heart of the rally by camping in CVT roof top tents in the center of the Lillie Brook Farm, open to its attendees for the entirety of the event. It was very fascinating to see the vast assemblage of different makes and models in attendance at the Vermont Overland Rally. The makes we observed included Toyota, Jeep, Range Rover, Dodge, Mercedes and even Subaru.

    The main attractions for the Rally included group off road tours (VOR mapped) and classes for off-road preparedness: extreme recovery techniques, preparing yourself and your vehicle for an expedition, vehicle conversions, CPR and first aid, vehicle maintenance, documentation for media and winning VOT information. Additional features included workshops for kids, vendors, overland movies, dinners which included local foods and produce (Lillie Brook Farm), a raffle and a bon fire.

    The highlight of our tour at the Vermont Overland Rally was conversing with members of OEX (Overland Experts) and observing their rare Toyota vehicles which include a Toyota Hilux D-4 TDI and a Toyota Land Cruiser 150 Prado D4-D diesel. Their field of work includes training the public and the military in off-road rescue and preparedness.

    The Vermont Overland Rally encompasses challenges and tools for stock vehicles and beginner drivers, to fully loaded vehicles and advanced knowledgeable drivers. If you plan to visit the beautiful and bountiful Northeast, give Vermont Overland Rally a try. Rain or shine, you can wheel as much or as little as you want, stay behind and take a lesson, or just hang out and relax to enjoy the scenery and hospitality. We at TCT, had a memorable time and look forward to what 2016 has to offer.

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    Toyota FJ 60

    Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App StoreLesson learned! If someone gives you 10 days to build a truck for SEMA, just say no! Now, that being said… I did not say no. Instead, I went into panic mode and started making calls to see what parts were even available. It took 6 days to pull the parts together into two locations: here in Colorado and Las Vegas.


     

    With a short three days before leaving for SEMA, the work began. At this point the only product installed was the Baja Rack Roof Rack, which was a very easy install. The pillar mounting brackets bolt into the factory mounting points, and then the rack bolts to the pillar mounting brackets.

    Next, we spent 10 hours at Larry H Miller Toyota of Colorado Springs installing a full Stage 6 Icon Vehicle Dynamics Suspension: remote reservoir shocks with coilovers up front and remote reservoir with an Add-a-Leaf pack in the rear. Stopping there might be enough for most, but not for this truck. We added Icon’s Hydraulic Air Bump Stops to complete the best suspension setup I could have ever dreamed of. We wrapped up the day with the layout of the badging and Blackout to be installed later.

    The next day was exceptionally long. We had a 12:00 p.m. appointment with our friends over at RCI Metalworks to get armored up with aluminum skid plates, front to rear, plus a steel differential plate. After that we headed over to InSain Fabrication for the most intense part of this build. Corey came up with the idea of a combination style front bumper so we can show off the ComeUp winch as much as possible. Corey started dismantling the OEM bumper, cutting off some of the excess plastic, and laying out the design of the new custom front bumper.

    While he tore into that, I tackled painting and installing the Pure Tacoma Sliders. After finishing the sliders, we started mounting up the Baja Designs lights to the Baja Rack. Somewhere about 3:00 a.m., I fell asleep in the driver's seat while reading over the wiring instructions of my new Switch-Pros Panel Power System.

    Four hours later comes my favorite wake up call: my daughter calling me to find out where I am. A little dazed, my answer was simply, "I'm not sure."  Then slowly my head cleared and I realized where I was and what yet lay ahead of me for this day. “Sweetie, I'm still in Denver, we have to finish and install the front bumper so I can head to your school to pick you up.” She was getting excited, too!  About then Corey came back into the shop and we got back to it. A few hours later, the bumper was finished, painted, and installed. While Corey had a couple of minutes to spare (ha ha), he put together a bed mount for my spare tire. Mind you, he did this in about 30 minutes just to make the finished truck look even more amazing!  You have to admit, that man is an artist! The way the tubes work together for structural soundness. The way the plate section holds everything together in harmony.  Simply, form exceeds function by far. This combined with the strength and reliability of one of the best winches on the market, the ComeUp Gen2 9.5rsi Seal Series, we should be able to get home every night, that we choose to.

    After leaving Insain Fab, I made a beeline to my daughter's school to pick her up, take her home to finish packing, and hit the road. While we finished packing up the truck, Trevor from Crawlorado stopped by for a quick install of the Hood Blackout and half of the vendor logos.

    As soon as he was done, my daughter and I loaded up and hit the highway toward Las Vegas. Leaving at 6:00 p.m. on a 900-mile road trip seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turned into a bit of a struggle. My daughter fell asleep about 8:15, so I couldn't crank the music or even open a window to keep myself awake. Somewhere about one hour into Utah (around 1:00 am) I had to pull off of the highway to catch two hours of sleep. I hit the road again and made it only another one-and-a-half hours before I came to the realization that I really needed a couple more hours of sleep.

    Rested up and my daughter now awake with me, I punched the accelerator down and off we went. We made it to just north of St. George, Utah where we decided to take a break and grab breakfast in Hurricane with Woody and Heather from IH8MUD. After a great breakfast with great friends, we took off down the road again. Next stop: North Las Vegas for another long day and night.

    When we got to town we stopped in at Discount Tire, where my 17” TRD rims and BFG KO2’s were waiting for install. The team at Discount Tire are fun to watch. All five tires and rims were mounted, balanced, and installed in just minutes.

    After that, we were off to meet a couple friends for an exciting night of tacos and projects. A long night of replacing the grille, mounting a few more lights, connecting the Switch-Pros controller, and A LOT of wiring. With the help of Rod and Tina from the Vegas FJ Cruiser Club it all came together relatively smoothly.  

    The DB Customz Grille had to be one of the easiest modifications ever. The OEM grille just comes apart with a few screws and snaps. The DB Customz Grille slides right in place with a few new screws and then snapped back in the final ring.  Talk about a great addition and personalization to the build and it really was easy to install!

    The lighting for this project was a long thought out dream come true.  I have been researching and testing out lighting for quite some time.  Only the best would do for a build like this.  I chose Baja Designs LED lights and specific items at that. For the light bar I went with the OnX6 40” Dual Control LED Light Bar with Driving/Combo pattern because of the combination of amber and white, light pattern, and the distance light is thrown. In the wings of the bumper I chose two pair of Squadron Pros, one in spot and the other in wide cornering patterns. In the grille, I chose another pair of Squadrons, this time in flood pattern, but with an amber lens cover to cut through dust or fog. Since I had a little bit of room next to the light bar, I chose a white pair of Squadron Pro in flood pattern with amber lens covers to act as my ditch lights. For night wheeling trips I picked up eight of the Rock Lights to help me see the trail under foot. To light up the camp, I went with two pairs of Squadron Sports in flood pattern to be mounted on the four corners of the bed rack. All the lighting included I am pushing over 80,000 lumen and there will not be any animals or obstacles sneaking up on me anymore.

    To control all of my electrical essentials I picked up a Switch-Pros 8100 8-switch Power Panel System. This controller is really simple and straight-forward. It has eight user programmable switches, a 100 amp power module, plug and play installation, built-in automatic shutdown for over-current or low voltage, a Bluetooth interface, and comes with a sheet of legends to match up with what is wired to each specific switch. I installed the controller inside my glove box and fully intend on using the Bluetooth interface with the iPad app.

    The final step of this whirlwind build was literally a last minute addition and a must for anyone wanting to get away with the family for a few days at a time. Bobby from CVT Tents, brought all the way from Bend, Oregon a Mt. Bachelor Roof Top Tent and a fully loaded bed rack from LabRak. LabRak has put a lot of research into this rack and have come up with a very cool rack system. He built in wiring conduits along the perimeter. He uses Aircraft grade aluminum with stainless steel hardware. He uses T-slots on the top, face, and bottom for secure mounting of your accessories. The entire bed rack weighs in at about 65 lbs. The Mt. Bachelor Roof Top Tent features a 2.5" foam mattress, an aluminum frame, sleeps 2+ adults, and secures quite easily to the LabRak bed rack with Yakima bars. It sits just above the top of the Baja Rack Roof Rack in a streamline pattern.  

    The next day started off with a mad dash to install the Cobra CB radio and Firestick antenna that we picked up from Pure Tacoma. Then it was time to park the truck on the patio in the Toyota booth. After all of the craziness, this seemed a little anti-climactic in that I parked the truck where they asked me to and I walked away. Tuesday though was a lot of fun. I spent a lot of enjoyable time giving tours and explaining all of the pieces and parts that went into this project to people from all around the world. On Friday afternoon, I took part in the SEMA Cruise. We sat in line for about three hours for what seemed like a five minute cruise and I have to say now: been there, sat in line, next time I’m good!  

    As with any SEMA Build Project there were a couple of glitches. Half of the logos did not show up in time for the beginning of the show and the ARB Fridge and Recovery Gear showed up Thursday afternoon.

    Saturday morning we got up early, took our Tacoma Editor, Bob Holliday, to the airport and headed out to our photoshoot just outside of town where we met up with Don Grey and his Polar Tundra, Toytec and their 2016 SEMA build Tacoma, and Baja Designs with their XP1000 UTV. It was a great time as usual, though it was too windy for the quadcopter to fly.  

    After the dust settled and the photos were all taken, it was time to head back northeast and say farewell to another adventure, a lot of old friends, and a few new ones!

    I want to give one more Thank You to the companies and some really awesome people that without their help on this project, it just would not have happened!

    Thank You:
    *Toyota USA for building my favorite pickup truck and putting it in your booth
    *Bill and Bryce at Larry H Miller Toyota of Colorado Springs for helping piece this truck together
    *Carrie and the team at BFG for developing the KO2’s
    *Dan at Discount Tire Direct and the North Las Vegas branch for getting the new shoes installed
    *Corey at Insane Fab for being an artist with a front bumper and spare tire mount and cramming the nearly all nighter to get them done
    *The Mad Scientists at Baja Designs for making the best LEDs in the world
    *Sergio and the family at Baja Rack for making an awesome roof rack
    *The Staff at TRD USA for making great accessories
    *Jeremy and the crew at Icon Vehicle Dynamics for making the best suspensions
    *Becky and Ray at Pure Tacoma for all of your help with accessories to make this truck complete
    *Danny at DB Customz for making the most amazing grille I have ever seen
    *Josh and Miranda at RCI Metalworks for making some of the sweetest looking and most durable armor on the market
    *Shane at LabRak for making a bed rack that exceeds every expectation
    *Bobby at CVT for making my favorite tents and going out of your way to make a last minute delivery
    *Trevor at Crawlorado for the kick a$$ Blackout and logos
    *Matt and the staff at ARB for making one of the best fridges on the market
    *Laura at Switch Pros for making a great control system
    *Ben and Rod at ComeUp USA for making one of the best built winches on the market and at a great price

    2016 Tacoma 4x4 TRD Off-road
    2016 Toyota Tacoma
    2016 Tacoma overland rig
    Land Cruiser and 2016 Tacoma exploring Utah
  • 2016 Tacoma 4x4 TRD Off-road
  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2016 Tacoma overland rig
  • Land Cruiser and 2016 Tacoma exploring Utah
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    BajaRack Halfpage

    Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App StoreSuppliers and manufacturers of vehicle bolt-on LED lights have sprung up faster than Texas blue bonnets in the spring. The task of identifying solid brands that rival higher priced brands in performance and quality can be daunting. Furthermore, adding multiple lights means adding rocker switches, which means looking for dashboard real estate for cutting slots if the few spares Toyota provided in the truck are already occupied. In this review, we’ll examine a quality LED brand and a switch solution using a space-saving LCD screen.

    Page 6 of 20

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