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Hey guys... I did this writeup for a truck forum but since it discusses bikes a bit, I figured I would include it here as well. I figured I'd let my friends here know what I've been up to and just wanted to share...


My 11 year-old son and I traveled from Wisconsin down to the Ozarks for a long weekend. It's about a 12 hour trip. We left after work and school on Wednesday and returned Sunday. I didn’t make a hotel reservation along the way and just figured I would see how I felt and stop if needed. The FJ felt good. The Wet Okole seat covers add a little cushion to the seats and we were comfortable for the long trip.

The truck was loaded down with my dual-sport Suzuki DRZ400 on the hitch carrier and all the new Hi-Lift jack, chains, and other get-out-of-jail tools I had packed. Unfortunately the back sat down more than I expected and as I would find on the road my normal lights caused many attempts to get me to dim from oncoming and passed semis. I had traveled with the DRZ before without problem, but I guess the added weight of luggage and tools was just a bit too much. After opening the hood and turning the head light adjusters down 25 clicks, we were good to go.



The trip down went smoothly and I didn't get tired so we drove straight through. Rather than show up at my dad's place at 4 AM we decided to head west into the Ozark national forest. After all, the reason for the trip was to do some exploring in the forest. We made it into the heart of the forest around 2 AM. The curvy roads and changes in elevation were great. I love mountains, and while these might be hills compared to Colorado, the elevation changes and vistas are definitely worth a visit. We had fun spotting wildlife in and on the side of the road as we navigated the curves. We found a rest area around 2 AM and decided to get a little rest and wake up in the morning to do some exploring. We leaned the seats back and took a nap for two hours.

We woke up to the sun just peaking through the trees. (Note to self, take more pictures!) With my Gazateer in hand and GPS loaded we set off and found the first rural dirt road to explore. My son and I had a great time driving some of the very rural dirt roads in the forest. They were nothing particularly challenging for the FJ but still a lot of fun. We made it to my dad's mid day and spent some time visiting, fishing and shooting.

Friday I set off early with the DRZ. I had plotted a GPS route through the forest and had hoped to check out some potential fishing spots. I had a lot of fun blasting through the rural back roads and trails. It was mid day and I was nearing the end of a trail I had been following for awhile. I planned to follow this trail to wear it met with a paved road and then blast on pavement the way back. Near the end of the trail I came across a stream crossing and some mud. Lots of fun on the bike but then it happened. The trail ended at the banks of a river. I saw the trail start again on the opposite side. Dang. I'm a little over cautious riding alone and I looked for awhile for an alternate route. I couldn't believe I was about half a mile from the paved road and didn't want to backtrack so I investigated the river for awhile. I plotted a path that didn't look too deep and got back on the bike. This would be my first real water crossing. I gave her the gas and made it through. It was a blast and with the adrenaline still pumping, I hit the pavement.

I even had a great time on the pavement. You can't imagine some of the looks I got as I blasted around some of the best curves I've been on short of the track. But you can imagine it's funny to see a guy with all the riding gear, helmet, CamelBack, and gas can strapped to the back powering through a corner leaned over on a dual sport. It's funny how much I enjoy riding that bike even compared to my sport bikes.

Sixty miles of twisties later I got back to my Dads where my son had been visiting. Seeing he wanted to go fishing we packed up the FJ and headed back through the twisties and to the river crossing for more fun with the FJ. We didn't have much luck fishing but we had fun rock climbing and trouncing through mud puddles.



When I pulled up to the river and showed my son, I seriously thought he would freak out and not want to go through it. Instead he surprised me and said, that didn’t look too bad. I’m like, oh yeah??? But in my excitement I forgot my preferred path I plotted out earlier when I made the crossing with my bike. Instead I went straight for the other side and into a bit deeper water than both he and I expected. With water splashing up onto the hood we powered through it without a problem laughing along the way!



On our trip out of Arkansas we headed for the Blanchard Springs Caverns. Of course given the choice of paved roads that made a round about way to the caverns versus a more direct rural route we opted for the dirt road. We made a small stream crossing and then came head to head with this.



It looked ominous and I could see the nervousness in my son’s eyes as I stripped down to some shorts and waded through the waste deep water. The water was freezing cold! While I think the Lil FJ could have made it, I decided it was a bit too dangerous. The water was very fast moving due to the large rain storm the day before and while the far side had a strip of pavement I was afraid of being washed off that and into very deep water. Had we not been alone, we might have given it a go.

Luckily we didn’t have to back track far and we made it to the caverns shortly after they opened. We waited for the tour and it was worth the wait. The caves were more impressive than I imagined and on our next trip to the Ozarks we’ll definitely come back for some of the other tours as well.

The FJ ate up the twisties as again we opted for a more direct but mountainous trip towards St. Louis. We arrived home at 11 PM. Our area had just received 15 inches of snow the day before. The roads north of Bloomington Normal were snow covered and a icy but the FJ handled them with no problem as usual.

This was our first long trip with the FJ and I have to say, it was a blast. The FJ performed even better than expected. It was more than just transportation. The FJ was part of the fun.
 

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spalding12 said:
what a great and UNexpected thread
you need to CROSS POST this at www.advrider.com

also.....
do you like the FJ?
i didn't know that they were actually this off-road "CAPABLE"
i thought they were more SHOW than SUBSTANCE

maybe i'm wrong
Haha, yeah I'm a regular on advrider.com. I had posted it in the Central forum.

I like the FJ. I went from a BMW 740i to the FJ, so quite a change. But it's a fun little truck with not a lot of frills. They are actually very capable 4x4s and one of the reasons I got this little guy. I'm not sure I'll ever get into heavy 4x4 off roading, I'd rather be riding the DRZ or an ATV. But it's a cool option to have and fun for the family.
 

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What a great post Jack. That looks like so much fun. I've never been close to the Ozarks. I like the FJ...particularly with a motorcycle on the back :)
 

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Gladio said:
On our trip out of Arkansas we headed for the Blanchard Springs Caverns. ......
I live about 30 miles from Blanchard Springs and you really came close to one of the best motorcycle roads in the country - Push Mountain Rd or 341 between about Norfolk and Big Flat. I've pretty much ridden the country and it just doesn't get any better than the Ozarks.

Tom
Gainesville, Mo. but the nearest Wal-Mart is Mountain Home Ar. :)
 

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Jack, what a great read! What an adventure...Thanks for using such wonderful descriptions, you definately took this reader along for the ride...

I am a huge fan of the DRZ...The best balance in two worlds of comprimise...In fact, I keep a set of street tires in my garage, sometimes tearing up the roughest paved roads, although it does just fine on knobbies on the street, anyway!

I did swap out my metal tank for the Acerbis plastic, gives her a little more to drink on the long hauls, and it was a simple mod, but you will probably lose the fan...No biggie...

Anyway, thanks for the awesome post...FJ looks good with the DirtyZ strapped on her back!

Griff
twoeleven
 

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Well I thought I saw your pictures somewhere else. Over on fjcruiserforums.com

I put a deposit down on a Titanium should be here the 16th.. so are you in the boat of broken windsheilds?

Glad to see you had a good time!
 

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Thanks guys!

Grif, I've been contemplating a bigger tank. Just haven't done it yet. I probably will this spring.

Dova80 said:
Well I thought I saw your pictures somewhere else. Over on fjcruiserforums.com

I put a deposit down on a Titanium should be here the 16th.. so are you in the boat of broken windsheilds?

Glad to see you had a good time!
Yep, originally posted on FJCruiserForums.com. That's my home for the FJ. Congrats on your purchase! No, no windshield breakage yet. I did get a little, little chip in the first week but it never materialized into anything greater. The Lil FJ has been a boat load of fun! :) I sure don't regret purchasing it this year! We've had some of the worst driving conditions and snow in years!
 
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