Blue Highways Outdoors Overland travel

Adventure Rider Radio

If you haven’t found it yet, check out Adventure Rider Radio.  This is a podcast “radio” show about motorcycles and adventure travel produce by Jim and Elizabeth Martin from their home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

What a fantastic episode. It just so happens I was traveling through Central Washington State, catching up on the last several episodes on my new SENA 10U when Riding in Extreme Conditions Part 1 came on. For those that don’t know, Ellensburg is known as Washington’s windy city and home to one of the largest wind farm complexes in the region, Wild Horse Wind & Solar Facility. First part of Part 1? Wind!!! As David Hough was talking me through techniques for handling strong side winds I was able to practice them, REAL TIME!! It was almost like I was at a training session where David dialed up the wind and sent the class out after each “lesson”.

On my return trip, it was REALLY windy and having some coaching and practice on the way over it wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t tense, I had the key points in mind, relaxed my shoulders and enjoyed the ride despite sometimes 35 mph gusts. Grant Johnson’s segment on rain wasn’t lost on my either. On my return, I departed from I-90 for a bit and took the Old Vantage Highway to see the Wild Horses Wind Farm visitor center. After leaving the center I encountered fresh rain on pavement that had been dry (and hot) for the last several weeks. The white frothy water was a clear indicator that there was a lot of oil on the surface. And Jim, I need to look into better pants that don’t leak in the crotch area, or add in rain gear to my kit.

And Part 2 of the series? Wednesday on the ride East I hit a high of 95 deg F. On the ride home, at the wind farm visitor center, it was 42 deg F with blowing rain.





Blue Highways Tech

Installing a Safari Snorkel on an ’87 FJ60

I recently installed a Safari Snorkel on my 1987 FJ60 Land Cruiser. The snorkel can be found and East Olympia Cruisers. If you are a TLCA member , be sure to mention it to get 10% off.

It was a straight forward installation easily following the supplied instructions.  This kit is designed in Australia and fits all 60 series Land Cruisers including the 2H and 12HT diesels as well as the 3FE powered FJ62.  Slight modification of the instructions is required for the 2F powered FJ 60.  I was fortunate to have installed an air clean assembly combined from an FJ62 and BJ60 for my EFI conversion.

The only tools required are a few standard sockets, a step drill (or a variety of drill bit sizes) and a 95mm hole saw or body saw  (a jigsaw would work as well).  What follows are the instructions included with the snorkel kit with metric to fractional conversions provided by me.

  1. safari_snorkel_fj60_16 Remove the windscreen washer bottle and the battery from the vehicle.  The air cleaner entry duct will need to be removed from the inner guard area.  ( I was able to complete the installation without removing the battery but it would have been easier).
  2. safari_snorkel_fj60_02Tape the template in position on the upper rear corner of the guard (fender).  Using a felt pen, mark the whole positions then remove the template.
  3. safari_snorkel_fj60_06Drill a 4mm (5/32) pilot hole for each of the holes.  Open the 4 mounting holes to 16mm (5/8) using a step-drill.  The front hole should be cut to 95mm (3-3/4) using a hole saw.  The drill should be held horizontal while cutting the hole.  When drilling/cutting is completed, deburr the holes to leave a smooth edge.  (This is where I used an air powered body-saw instead).
  4. safari_snorkel_fj60_04Rivet the elbow casting to the snorkel snout.  The snout of the casting should face towards the front of the snorkel.  Keep the casting as close to the outer end of the snorkel snout as possible.  This will make fitment easier.  Seal this joint thoroughly with silicone.  (I put silicone on the “snout” prior to installing the casting.  This insured a good seal as well as making it easier to slide the casting all the way on).
  5. safari_snorkel_fj60_09Screw the stainless steel studs into the inserts in the back of the snorkel.  Bolt the upper mounting bracket to the snorkel using 2, 6mm bolts and washers.  Sit the snorkel in position on the vehicle and mark the upper mounting holes on the “A” pillar.  Remove the snorkel.  Drill the upper holes to 8mm (5/16).
  6. safari_snorkel_fj60_10Paint the holes to prevent rust.  Insert the plastic body clips in the upper holes.  Remove the upper bracket from the snorkel body and fasten it to the “A” pillar.
  7. Slide the flexible ducting onto the alloy elbow.  Fasten with 60/80 (70/90 provided with kit) clamp (the clamp adjsuter should be oriendtated towards the outside of the elbow casting to allow for easier fitment).
  8. safari_snorkel_fj60_18Place a ring of rubber edging around the inner guard hole nearest the air cleaner snout.
  9. Slide the cuffed hose through the outer hole and along the inner guard cavity (fender well).  Thread the casting through the hole and secure the snorkel in position on the vehicle using appropriate hardware (nuts and fender washers).
  10. Thread the ducting through the inner guard hole and onto the air cleaner snout.  Secure using a 60/80 (again, 70/90 provided with kit) hose clamp.
  11. Refit the windscreen washer bottle and battery. Place the air ram on top of the snorkel and secure with the clamp provided (the black one).

safari_snorkel_fj60_11That’s it, not much too it if you don’t mind drilling and cutting on a perfectly good fender.  It takes about 1 1/2 hours to complete if you don’t have to run around looking for a hole saw.
I don’t expect to be crossing deep enough water to need it, but I do travel really dusty roads and end up with a bunch of silt in the air cleaner box from sucking air out of the fender well, so much actually that I will not use a K&N filter.  I had a K&N on for a while but ended up with some fine dust getting through.  I am hoping this will keep the filter housing a little more dust and grit free.

Blue Highways Outdoors

Owyhee Sheep Camp Expedition, Part 3


After our two nights at Boni Spring we decided we would visit Silver City before heading north to find our last campsite of the trip. After a hearty breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs we broke camp. While David and I finished packing everything into the trailer and truck Mom took Farron for a walk down the road. I guess it took us a while to finish loading as we found Mom and Farron nearly a mile down the road, Farron was running ahead trying to extend his hike as far as he could. We continued west into the Jordan Valley.

Picture by Mom

Since we didn’t know how far it would be to Silver City and out again we decided to fuel up in Jordan Valley, Oregon. We also stopped to take a picture of the Pelota wall and the Old Basque Inn.

Blue Highways Outdoors

Owyhee Sheep Camp Expedition, Part 1


Some time ago my brother David and I started talking about making a summer camp-as-you-go trip to Mountain Home, Idaho to see our 86 year old Grandmother. My wife, son and I flew down a few years ago but neither David nor I had driven down there since, as best as we can recall, 1979. While down there, we thought it would be nice to take a drive into the Owyhee Mountains and have a look at the sheep camp our mother and her family spent their summers at in the 40’s and 50’s. Her stepfather’s father, Papa Boni (Bonifacio Oyarzabal), came to Idaho in the early 1900s. As many other Basque emigrants did, Papa Boni found work in the hills grazing sheep. Well, one plan lead to another and the trip evolved into a 7 day trip with 2-3 nights in the mountains. We only hoped to find the cabins and snap a few pictures.

While my Aunt Anita was visiting from Virginia, we started looking at Google Earth and other maps hoping to find something that looked like sheep camp. Anita told me to look for “a spring with 3 buildings close by”. She could also remember Mud Flat Road and Nickel Creek. After finding hundreds of springs, none of them having any visible buildings close by we decided to give it a rest. A few months later while I was visiting with mom she mentioned Papa Boni and we talked about some of the stories. Later that day I was taking another look at Google Earth when I came across a Boni Table. After zooming in I saw Boni Spring off the NW end of the Table. Just east of the spring was Nickel Creek. This had to be it. I sent a link to Anita and showed Mom. The map showed several buildings, a few more than the 3 they both remembered. Mom thought it looked too green around the buildings and Anita echoed that thought when Mom talked to here the next day, but every thing else fit. Now we had a plan and a destination. We made some preliminary travel arrangements and invited mom to come along.

In the spring I stared rebuilding my off-road camp trailer. We decided this would be the perfect chance to really test it out. It is a simple design with a water tank, water heater, on board batteries, sink and cook stove. We never said anything about roughing it, we were going camping. This would be the base of our base camp.

Picture by David

David came down to Olympia Tuesday afternoon to do the final grocery shopping with me and to finish packing up the truck and getting the bikes on the trailer. We had planned on leaving early Wednesday to go pick Mom up in Moses Lake. After working on the trailer lights wiring and a few other items until late, we decided it would be better to sleep a little longer as we expected a long day driving.

Picture by Brandon

After stopping for coffee and topping off the truck we finally hit I-5 at 9 am, first stop Moses Lake.

Picture by Brandon

We had to pull off at the Indian John Hill rest area along I-90 for a few minutes. We made it to Moses Lake around 1 pm.

Picture by Dad
Picture by Dad
Picture by Dad

We had a bit of lunch then added Mom’s things to the load.  With ourselves loaded as well we were on our way, to the first gas station of the trip.

Picture by Brandon

This was the cheapest fill up of the trip. With my $.30 discount we filled up for $3.69 per gallon.

Picture by Brandon

Now we were really on our way, south on SR-17 to the Tri Cities. Our first nights destination was Caldwell, Idaho and the Caldwell Camp Ground and RV Park.

Picture by Brandon

We made it past the Tri Cities onto I-84, almost to Pendleton, before we needed a rest area stop. We were making decent time. It was a little tough to keep up with the speed limit on the hills but the Land Cruiser was performing very well.

Picture by Brandon

We stopped in La Grande for fuel again and a chance to stretch. Our next stop was the Weatherby rest area just before Lime, site to an old concrete factory.  We made our final phone calls for the day as we had been in and out of cell coverage since La Grande and didn’t know if we would have service again before nightfall. We thought we would make it to our campground by 8:30, they close at 9 pm. When Mom called and talked with Dad he reminded us that Caldwell would be in Mountain Time. The campground office would be closed and we would have to set up our tent, that we hadn’t even taken out of the package yet, in the dark. It would also be nearly 10 pm MDT before we would we ready to have dinner. We decided to look for the closest campground.


Mom remembered that Farewell Bend State Park wasn’t too far down the road. We pulled off hoping there would be a vacant camp site. We drove around and looked at all the empty sites and found on that would fit our needs. While David and I set up the tent, Farron and Mom registered our camp site and bought some firewood from the camp host. We were sure glad we didn’t try and keep going. It was after 10pm any way before we finished our hot dogs and roasted a few marshmallows.

We got up the next morning and had a light cereal breakfast, anticipating Grandma’s pot roast supper. After braking camp it was back to I-84.

Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon

once we passed Boise we decided to stop at Blacks Creek rest area for a little stretch before getting to Mountain Home.

Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon

We arrived and Grandma’s in the early afternoon. We had just enough time to visit a little and clean up before supper was ready.

Picture by David

After lunch, Grandma had asked an old friend of Mom’s late brother Geno to stop by. Jeff Day works for the Idaho Fish and Game Department and use to work the Owyhee area. He was intrigued by Grandma’s 1946 map of the Owyhee area. Jeff was very helpful in figuring out how to get to where we wanted to go to find Sheep Camp and gave us several names to contact if we had trouble accessing some areas. He also tracked down a place to get the large map copied.

Picture by Brandon

Grandma was not about to let us take the 62 year old map with us on our expedition. Luckily a local truss company had a plans copier. A whopping $12 later we had 4 hi quality copies. Jeff then showed us some Fish and Game maps of the area for a current look at the roads. He also gave us a little local history and an idea of what we might encounter up there.

Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon

After Jeff left, David and I went to the Mountain Home KOA campground to check in and set up the tent. It is just down the road from grandma’s and Farron really wanted to ride back to the campground so we rode our bikes back for a little bit of leftovers for dinner then some apple pie and a slice of strawberry cake for Mom’s birthday. Mom and Grandma had found some of the old photos from Sheep Camp while we were gone so we looked at those as well. It was getting late so Farron, David and I rode back to the KOA and Mom stayed the night at Grandma’s house.

Picture by Brandon
Picture by Mom

We met Mom and Grandma at AJ’s restaurant for breakfast the next morning before heading for Boise.

Picture by Mom
Picture by Mom

Once to Boise we went straight to our Cousin Andrea’s house. She took us in her Saab to The Basque Block in down town Boise.

Picture by Brandon
Picture by Mom

First we visited the Basque Museum, featuring a whaling exhibit from a Basque museum in Nova Scotia. Farron had fun “sailing” a whaling ship.

Picture by Mom
Picture by Mom

Next we had a quick tour of down town. On the way we found a map store, so I had to go in and pick out a few maps that covered our expedition route.

Picture by David
Picture by David

Then we went to find the Oyarzabal bricks Grandma purchased to help fund the Basque Museum.

Picture by Brandon
Picture by Mom

Our final stop was at Bar Gernika for a bit of Basque lunch (and a mighty fine lunch it was). After lunch it was time to hit the road if we hoped to make it the mountains and find a camping site before dark.

We headed back toward Mountain Home on I-84 and turned off at Simco road, heading for Grand View. Once to Grand View we decided to fuel one last time since we wouldn’t see another station for 3 days and didn’t know how much driving around we would do in the mountains. We also took the opportunity to stop by Grand View’s “big” grocery store and refill the coolers ice supply, get some cold drinks and a few other important items such as eggs and beer.

Picture by David

Heading out of town on Hwy 78 East we looked for Mud Flat road, the start of the Owyhee Uplands Back Country Scenic Byway. This is a very popular drive in southern Idaho.

Picture by David

Not very far down Mud Flat Road the pavement ended. We would not see pavement again for almost 100 miles and 2 days. Mud Flat Road took us through such interesting place as Shoofly Creek, Poison Creek, Juniper Creek, Summit Spring, Summit Flat, Thistle Spring, Mud Flat Spring, Current Creek, Hurry Back Creek, Bullhead Basin, Nickel Creek and finally our destination, Boni Spring.

Picture by David
Picture by David

We climbed from the sage brush and hay fields through the Mahogany to the Juniper forests that cover most of the high country. We kept looking for what we thought Sheep Camp would look like around every bend and rise of the road.

Picture by Brandon

We had an idea of the location but didn’t have a waypoint in the GPS to know how far away we were. Mom was following along on the map as we passed Ranch Road, Antelope Ridge Road, and Deep Creek. I first saw it through the trees on a turn about a ½ mile away. It was a small collection of buildings just off of Mud Flat Road.

Picture by David

As we got closer we could start identifying the buildings as they were in the photos Grandma had shown us. There was a stock truck parked next to one of the buildings and the gates were up across the driveway. We pulled up to a flat spot just past the camp to park. We didn’t know if there would be anyone there or not. As we walked up to the gate we noticed a man hanging up laundry with no shirt on. We decided I should head down first to make sure it would be ok to take a look around.

Picture by Mom

We met Duane, the resident employee of the Cattle Ranch and a genuine, honest to goodness cowboy.

Blue Highways

Driving the Blue Highways – Yakima to Vantage to Ellensburg.

Our son was at his grandparents today. My wife and I drove over to Yakima last night, she had to work and interview a prospective employee for the store here. Usually my son and I head for the hills or go to the parks and Museums around here when my wife has to work. He doesn’t like having to “just drive around”. Since he wasn’t with us this time I decided I would drive Hwy 24 from Yakima to the Columbia River, then up to Hwy 26 at Vantage and it made me thing about adding a Blue Highways segment to by blog. I think that would be a good excuse to go camping and take some nice scenic drives this summer.

So I guess this is the first installment of Blue Highways. I refer to Blue Highways as the secondary highways on the road map, or the State Routes and US Routes, as they are usually blue compared to the red of the Freeways and Interstates.

So back to it. I drove Washington State Route 24 from Yakima to the Columbia River, then up to Hwy 26 at Vantage. It passes through the rolling hills and farm land of East Yakima County to the Hanford Reach National Monument/Saddle Mountain Wildlife Refuge and the USDOE Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Here it junctions with SR 241 to Sunnyside to the south.

I continued north to the Columbia up to Priest Rapids Dam and Wanapum Dam. SR 24 continues on to Othello, so I took SR 243 along the Columbia to SR 26 at the Vantage bridge and Interstate 90. This was the only Interstate portion of my trip and the only way across the Columbia river from here.

From Vantage I took the Old Vantage Highway to Ellensburg. Along this route you can stop at the Ginkgo Petrified Forest visitors center and interpretive trails. From Ellensburg I took Canyon Road to SR 821 along the Yakima River through dramatic canyons. This area is a fly fisherman’s paradise and is even very active this time of year. This was the final leg of the trip and brings you back to Interstate 82 at Selah and into Yakima.

This would be a good summer drive with the family as there are many interpretive centers and historical museums along the way. It is also difficult to match the beauty of this stretch of the Columbia River.