As early as day 10 of the trip we had our first breakdown… I was definitely expecting something like this to happen at some point, but not so early on the trip.
As we were cruising a pavement section on Section 9 of the MABDR to connect with another dirt road, we came across a narrow street in a quiet neighborhood, a Chevy Impala was coming the opposite direction and I decided to give him some space on the narrow street, and that’s when everything went south…
As I swerved right, I climbed into an apparently firm strip of grass and at that point the truck went f***** deep into a gigantic mud hole… I was not slow as I swerved (even though slowing) and speed + the weight of the truck put us in deep sh… mud! As I was swearing myself, I looked into the side mirror and the Impala had all lights flashing and was coming back to check on us… you guessed right, it was a disguised police car.
After speaking with the cop for a couple of seconds, I was confident the truck would easily climb out of the mud hole (yes, I was not aware in how much deep sh.. mud – sorry again – we were in). I climbed back into the cabin, put lockers on and, on a rookie mistake, tried straight to get out of the rut. The result? My right front axle snapped (I really think it was already badly stressed from the speed I got into that mud hole) – yes, I know we should never attempt to get straight out of the rut, I should have aired down the tires, tried to back out from the mud hole and used my Maxxtraxx… but, at the spur of the moment with a cop watching I made the wrong decision… we all sometimes do that and I definitely regret it but I have learned a valuable lesson (ie. need to do like the British and have a tea before attempting a recovery). But my mistake in a nutshell was this: I did not consider the situation appropriately, I was not considering that a recovery situation, basically because I was on pavement and not offroad… yeah, I know…
As my front axle snapped, another 2 cop cars appeared and the owner of the propriety where my truck (and the mud hole) was standing showed up. The owner did tell us that people getting into that mud hole was usual (then why not put a sign saying ‘Soft Shoulder’?!) but definitely not as deep into it as I was!
One thing to note is that, even as my front axle snapped and more cops showed up, I was NOT angry or pissed at all that my front axle snapped. I knew something like that would happen at one point or the other and I was ready for it, even though it was a rookie mistake to try and get out of the rut as quickly as possible, I do think it was very important for me to stay calm after what happened and truly assess the situation. That was my pro-move to balance out the earlier rookie mistake, lol!
Regardless, with my mind at ease (not exactly with a front axle snapped!), more time to think and more cops available (lol), I ended up suggesting we closed both sides of the street and winch the truck out with a strong tree on the opposite side of the street (kudos to the wifey who went to the other side to check the trees+distance for the pull and yelled “There is a good one here!”.
Ok, truck is out, now we have another problem which is: Where can we fix it giving it’s a Thursday late afternoon (no, I don’t carry a spare axle in my truck because I do think that is a lot of weight and space to be taken in my “house on wheels”).
Discussing with the cops and with the assistance of “All Might Google”, we found out there was a Toyota in Bristol, TN which was about ~50 miles away. Well, this was a loooooong drive, I took a little over 2 hours to travel the 50 miles, as we were driving at 20/30mph on a highway with the Center Diff Locked so that the rear could push the truck forward, but – there is always a but – I was properly (and happily) escorted by the cops for about half of the way, that was indeed an experience!! Escorted by 3 cop cars! (sorry, no pics I didn’t want to go too far)
Of course, the next morning I call the Toyota in town and the service guy starts with all that crap about the axle on my Lexus been different from the Land Cruiser and blah blah blah… I take it, hang up, find an offroad shop (RPM Offroad), drive the truck there. Quick look at the axle, quick call to another Toyota (in Ashville), push the guys over there a little for the parts to be quickly delivered, hang up and: “We will have the part in by Monday early morning and the truck will be ready before noon”. Done, deal!
It was really a pleasure to deal with the guys at RPM Offroad, if you are ever in the area of Bristol, TN and need some work done in your truck, consider giving them a call.
Ok, all set, now I have 2 days to spend in Bristol, TN doing…?
Bristol, TN / NHRA / Corvette's: That’s the fun part about travelling and breakdowns. It definitely is a low point in your travel when you breakdown, but you should think of it as an opportunity to do something that weren’t part of your plans! After talking to a random motel guest at the parking lot, we discovered that a drag race of the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) was going on in town that weekend and I had never been to a drag race before.
The kind gentleman even supplied me and the wife with earplugs because it was supposed to be loud!!
Well, enough to say we had a BLAST going to that drag race. It was one of the highlights of the trip so far, seeing those cars hitting the 300mph mark and the noise when they start… Oh my… even better, my wife enjoyed a lot and had a hell of a good time, that’s hitting the jackpot!
If you never been to a NHRA race, I advise you should!
Oh, and on a last note. That weekend in Bristol, TN there was also a “get-together” of the Corvette Club… was just walking down the street and saw this… the breakdown sucked, but the blow was softened by a great weekend .