The State of Off-Belay

“No good road trip goes without car trouble.”

“The chorus of every road trip is hurry up and wait.”

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”

“You can either have a good time or a good story.”

Those are just a few of the comments and quotes thrown on our journey’s Instagram handle – @OffBelayAmericas. For those of you not following the photo-stream, here is an update on the current status of OffBelay.

Two weeks ago, on December 1st, we were laying down rubber on I-8 en route to San Diego. Spirits were high as we departed Tucson – anticipating quality surf in SD and a fast approaching move into the Mexican Baja. Unfortunately, a curveball was thrown our way, forcing us to peel off the freeway. Looking under Becky’s hood revealed a blown radiator hose and a significant loss of coolant. We were disappointed, but optimistic we would be back on the road the following morning. After a tow into the ‘desert oasis’ of Yuma, Arizona we noticed a loss of coolant that had to be due to circumstances beyond that of a faulty hose. After a number of phone calls with our trusted Land Cruiser tech, Tor Spilling at TorFab, we concluded Becky needed to see the doctor – a head gasket was the suspected culprit.

Becky all hot and bothered in Yuma, AZ

Becky all hot and bothered in Yuma, AZ

Anderson Toyota ordered a head gasket and an exhaust manifold gasket with an estimated arrival date of Wednesday and we began to play the waiting game, living out of the O’Reilly Auto Parts parking lot in the meantime. Once the techs were able to get inside Becky, the diagnosis only became worse. Not only did the engine ‘head’ need to be machined to assure a flush seating against the block once the head gasket was replaced, but the current head had two significant cracks. We ended up sourcing a refurbished head from TorFab up in Mukilteo, WA to be machined and next-day air shipped to Yuma. At this point we were looking at being back on the road Monday December 9th, one week after our break-down. Not the end of the world.

On Monday we discovered further machining of the new head would be necessary. The valve seats needed some attention, so back to the machine shop it went. Estimated pick up date: Thursday December 12th.

Home is where you park it

Home Is Where You Park It

After 5 days in Yuma, Carson and I decided to get a rental car and make moves toward San Diego. With our home-on-wheels at the auto hospital, we had no place to stay (a Land Cruiser is far more comfortable to sleep in than a rental Corolla), so moving on was a no-brainer. Saturday morning I went up to Los Angeles to watch Laura Anne Wallace perform in the LA Ballet’s opening performance of Nutcracker, while Carson caught waves with a good friend from the university days, Kevin Bingham. As anticipated, on Thursday we got the call Becky was again road-worthy and I made the trek from LA to Yuma to retrieve our long lost girl. At that point we were looking at 11 days since Becky had first broke down outside Yuma. A painful and expensive experience, but it was behind us. Or so we thought.

I paid our rather large service bill, gave Becky a hug and pointed her wheels toward San Diego. 45 miles west of Yuma, Becky started to get hot and bothered again. I immediately pulled over on the side of I-8 (currently my least favorite interstate in the United States, nay world) and let her cool down. After attempting to restart her it was apparent she did not have compression in all the cylinders and I had no choice but to get a tow into El Centro, CA. There Becky visited her second Toyota dealership in as many days before being trailered back to Yuma to begin tearing her apart again.

So here we are, Monday December 16th. Two weeks and some change out from our initial mechanical trouble. Estimated time until we are back on the road? Unknown. The head gasket is clearly blown again, but the cause is still a mystery.

A cracked engine block has been mentioned; naturally we shudder at the notion of that being possible. The delays to our schedule have undoubtedly been a test of our patience. All I can say, is we are very blessed to have incredible friends who are willing to put up with us. Specifically Kevin Bingham, the Andrade family, and Laura Anne Wallace. Thank you for opening your homes to us. You have allowed us to see a silver lining in this situation, strengthen relationships, share good waves and witness a stellar ballet. We cannot express enough appreciation.

Well that’s the “State of Off-Belay.” Not nearly as feel good as our last posts, but hey, there’s just as much ‘rock’ as there is ‘roll’ on the road.


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