Day 90 Report. JT Rubicon on the road. 17,000 miles.

TrailHiker

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When you get over 65, creature comforts of a real room and bath are important. I am over 70, still like camping, but only for a few days at a time. This guy is on a major long term road trip, doing both camping and staying in rooms, where available. Being retired military, we get great deals on rooms at the many military inns scattered across the country. :)
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smlobx

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When you get over 65, creature comforts of a real room and bath are important. I am over 70, still like camping, but only for a few days at a time. This guy is on a major long term road trip, doing both camping and staying in rooms, where available. Being retired military, we get great deals on rooms at the many military inns scattered across the country. :)
Well being in my 60’s I completely understand and agree with your statement. Our long range camping vehicle is a Hallmark pop up truck camper that we’ll be taking to AK next year that has a very comfortable bed.
 

Mark Doiron

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When you get over 65, creature comforts of a real room and bath are important. I am over 70, still like camping, but only for a few days at a time. This guy is on a major long term road trip, doing both camping and staying in rooms, where available. Being retired military, we get great deals on rooms at the many military inns scattered across the country. :)
Well being in my 60’s I completely understand and agree with your statement. Our long range camping vehicle is a Hallmark pop up truck camper that we’ll be taking to AK next year that has a very comfortable bed.
Now this is preaching to the choir, LOL. I'm retired military also, and frequently travel with one of my best friends from my military days. I turned 70 a couple weeks ago, and though I still camp on occasion, those hotel beds sure are appealing. Besides, though I do work on my video/photos during a camping trip, it's way easier with a real desk and chair, real electrical power, etc.

smlobx, you may find my videos of our trip to Canada and Alaska informative for your upcoming trip. Here's the teaser, but the full series runs about 3-1/2 hours. We work hard to make good videos, so hope your enjoy ...

 

Mark Doiron

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jurfie

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We work hard to make good videos, so hope your enjoy ...
Nice to see you here, Mark! I've been follow you on YT and ExPo for a while now and always enjoy your pictures and videos. Are you considering a JT as a future rig?
 

Mark Doiron

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Nice to see you here, Mark! I've been follow you on YT and ExPo for a while now and always enjoy your pictures and videos. Are you considering a JT as a future rig?
I have one on order and it's in shipment. For now I intend to keep the JK as my primary overlanding rig, but I have a couple ideas to explore (and video!) where the JT will be used for overlanding.
 

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I have one on order and it's in shipment. For now I intend to keep the JK as my primary overlanding rig, but I have a couple ideas to explore (and video!) where the JT will be used for overlanding.
Nice! Looking forward (as usual) to seeing what you do.
 

morejeepsthanicancount

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Can't believe that no one on a Jeep Forum asked about your average MPG on a trip! Great write up Mac. Safe travels and can't wait to see more!
 
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Can't believe that no one on a Jeep Forum asked about your average MPG on a trip! Great write up Mac. Safe travels and can't wait to see more!
Ha! Hadn’t really noticed that! After the events of this thread I went back to Gardiner, Montana, north entrance of Yellowstone, and camped for several days till the snow started up, lol. Then to Moab for just over a week, then back to Las Vegas for a couple of weeks (camping), then I headed from there back home to Texas. Total of five and a half months, 23,400 miles if I remember right. Just went right up to 30,000 this past weekend with a round trip down to Galveston and back. I don’t really recall what my mileage was running on the trip, but it was around 20 mpg on the highway, I remember that!

Mac
 

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So today is the 90th day of my current road trip. As those who are following along know, I left Montgomery, Texas, on June 18th, the day after I picked up my new JT Rubicon, in Firecracker Red, with black fenders and hardtop. While at the dealership on the 17th, picking up the vehicle, I got a phone call that a dear friend of mine, Jim Anderson, of Eminence, Missouri, had passed away the night before of a heart attack in his sleep. This was a very hard blow. Once I was able to make myself move again, I finished with the dealership and even had them locate a local dealership that had one of the tri-fold hard bed covers and I went and picked it up and brought it back to my dealer so they could install it. They took very good care of me and got it all done pretty quickly. (Northwest Jeep in Houston),

I then went home and packed everything up I would need for a short trip and headed to Missouri the next morning. I spent a week in Eminence and was there for Jim's family as much as I could be, he would have expected no less of me. It was a very sad time for us all.

At the end of that week I called my youngest son and told him I was about to hit the road back to the house and he said, "Why? You're already out and about, and you had intended to take a trip later this summer, so go!" I really couldn't argue with such stellar logic, even though it was from a 25 year old. So, I took stock, realized I had most of what I would need, and could pick up other stuff along the way, so why not? So off I went.

When I left Texas I had 51 miles on my Gladiator.

I drove across Kansas toward Colorado and made it the next day, doing my due diligence and heading up to Pike's Peak, where I maintain a Virtual Geocache if anyone is into that. It was the first one up there. I drove up to where they were parking vehicles and shuttling people to the peak in vans and spoke to a very nice little gal who was directing cars into the parking lot. I told her I had been hoping to take my new Jeep to the peak and take pictures of it up there. She kind of looked around, and then smiled at me and let me drive on up, no sweat! I drove up and parked and took my pictures there in front of the visitors center up top, and in front of all the construction underway. I talked to one of the people that work up there and they said mine was the first Gladiator on the peak that they knew of. So I had that going for me, lol. No issues with the JT so far and it was a dream to drive up the peak,

I left there and headed over to the Ouray, Silverton, Durango corridor. Spent a week in Dolores, Colorado, exploring the area. Rode all over, first over to Telluride, but the Blackbear Pass was still closed, but I was able to drive up from Telluride on BlackBear Road up to the power station and waterfall, which was still spectacular. A Ranger I met on the way said mine was the first Gladiator he'd seen on the road, so another first! Such a great ride. No issues at all, although the length difference between it and my 2012 JKU Rubicon I'd traded in took a little getting used to, especially on those switchbacks! But it was all good. Did a good bit of riding out through the area of Ouray and finally back to Dolores.

Next did Mesa Verde, and down into Aztec and Farmington, New Mexico, exploring as I went. Over into Arizona, up into Utah, seeing as much as I could. Spectacular views across an incredible landscape everywhere. After those days in that area, I headed over to Las Vegas (two of my brothers live there) and visited with family for about another week. Then it was time to head north. Up through Utah, past Salt Lake, and into Idaho. Crossed into Montana and entered Yellowstone National Park through the west entrance and headed north to Mammoth,, then out the Northeast entrance through Cooke City, and over the Beartooth pass. Spectacular! 'Spent the night at the Alpine Lodge in Red Loge, Montana, then went all the way out the valley on the north side of the Beartooth and did some hiking, then back to Red Lodge for another night. Then spent four nights in the Mammoth campground in Yellowstone exploring some of my favorite parts of the park. I worked at Yellowstone for two years after I retired, kind of a bucket list kind of thing, and was thrilled to have the opportunity. I'd been coming to Yellowstone since about 1998, but getting to live and work there was an unbelievable experience. I visited with some of my friends from that time while I was there.

Then over to Helena, Montana, where I stayed with an old Army buddy of mine for a while. One day we were sitting in his back yard having a beer, and I said, "I think I'll drive to Alaska." He replied, "That's crazy, but that's so you!" So, with little to no planning, I took off a few days later and headed north once again. My main goal was Alaska, so I actually did very little stopping and playing in Canada on this trip, but I will most certainly do so in the future, it's a beautiful place! I want north through Calgary and Dawson City, hit the ALCAN and it was on! Did great till I was about 60 miles from the border into Alaska and a Class A motorhome, towing some POS Subaru, kicked up a rock and gave me my only rock chip in my windshield so far. As you can imagine, I was not a happy puppy, but knew this sort of thing has to be expected on a trip up the ALCAN. Oh well.

I hit Fairbanks that day and got a camping spot out at Fort Wainwright (being retired military helps, lol) for a week for about 8 dollars a night. Nice weather almost the whole time, some light rain from time to time, but nothing my new tent couldn't handle. The tent I bought and used in Mammoth turned out to be less than adequate, so I replaced it. New tent was better, still not perfect, but better. While there I thought I'd drive up to the Arctic Circle, take a picture of the JT in front of that sign, just for the hell of it. So I took off on Saturday to do that. Camp still set up at Fort Wainwright as it was just going to be a little day trip.

Riiiiiiiight……...

So I get to the Arctic Circle and there is a State employee there taking a survey of how many people come up there to see if it was worth spending the money to fix up a little campground that's there. I talked to her and she suggested I should at least go up to Coldfoot to see the Visitor Center that tells all about the North Slope of Alaska. Well worth it she says. So I figured, why not? I'd already crossed the Yukon River, which was pretty spectacular in and of itself, and I was enjoying the drive, regardless of the road conditions, and didn't really want to turn around yet. I had started really early and had plenty of time left to get back to camp. I got to Coldfoot and actually didn't even go to the visitor center, went to the restaurant there instead and had lunch first. while there I got into a conversation with a fella that works in the area and he suggested I'd regret it if I didn't at least go on up to Atigun Pass as it was some of the most dramatic scenery on the haul road. He said it was well worth the drive.

Okay, it's only noon, lots of daylight left in the day in the middle of Alaska in summer, I could do that and still drive back to camp, no problem. So I drove up to Atigun Pass and he was right, what a scene. I took a million pictures all the way up and took many more at the pass. So, did I turn around then? Nope, sure didn't. Next thing I know I'm pulling into Deadhorse and looking for a place to stay the night, lol. I stayed at "The Aurora" I guess you'd call it a hotel, lol. It was one of those buildings like every other one up there, a mobile home kind of structure, only it was three stories tall and a couple of city blocks long! Since there are no restaurants in Deadhorse, the price of your room includes three meals a day. A kind of cafeteria setup you go through and select your food and get your drinks and chow down. A room where you go and put together a lunch with a large selection of sandwiches, salads, etc, that you can load up and take with you when you leave in the morning after breakfast. Really interesting setup. I had a very nice room as well. Left out the next morning after exploring the very small area there is to explore. I couldn't do the Arctic Ocean tour run because you have to set it up at least 24 hours in advance so they can do background checks to ensure you're not going to pee in the ocean I guess, but I didn't so it was just turn around and drive back south. It's funny how you think you've seen everything as you drive somewhere, only to find that when you reverse the exact same route you see even more.

I got back to Fairbanks and it was time to get my second oil change and tire rotation. I get that done every 5,000 miles, whether it needs it or not. While at the dealership I asked about a bug deflector for my hood and I was going through gallons of wiper fluid it seemed and hoped it would help. They had only one in stock for a JL, and it was the one attached to their display board in the accessories area, lol. They very nicely took it down and checked to make sure it would fit the JT, and then installed it. Total installed, about $103.00 if I remember right. Immediately I found it made a HUGE difference. I left Fairbanks a couple of days later and headed down to Denali National Park, but that whole area was socked in with low clouds and fog, couldn't see anything! I mean I couldn't see 200 yards off the road to either side! So, I figured I'd head on down toward my next destination.

I stayed one night in the Air Force Inn on the base in Anchorage, then headed down to Seward. There is a military resort there that is geared very much toward RV camping and bigtime fishing, but I was just going there to go there, lol. They did have a couple of tent spots open, but they also had Yurts! So I got a Yurt for a few days, then decided to stay a few more days and they had one of the motel like rooms available, so I stayed about six days, exploring the area and going on a glacier tour. Beautiful place! I was going to head over to see more of the Kenai Peninsula but they had some pretty severe wildfires pop up and it got hairy. Can't really take the smoke, and the fires closed down a couple of roads I needed to go down, so I just headed back up to Anchorage and headed for Tok and the exit. Stayed the night in Tok, then back to Canada. Took about three days to get back to the US border near Seattle and went to Whidby Island.

I love the entire area around Whidby and all that. I love to ride the ferry over to other spots and explore the coastal artillery stations. One of my favorite hobbies. After a few days at the Navy Inn on the old seaplane base I took the ferry from Fort Casey over to Port Townsend and headed toward the Pacific Coast. I hit highway 101 and drove around to Pacific Beach Resort, another military resort where I intended to tent camp again and save a little money that way. I got there a little late and started to set up but found that I had somehow broken my tent. Sigh. It wouldn't go up so, and the front desk of the resort was already closed (not a 24 hour operation) so I slept in the Jeep. Not too bad, better than the front fender on my tank of days gone by, lol.

Next day was able to secure a motel room at the resort, $70 a night, not too bad. Stayed about five days exploring the area and then figured I'd head back to my buddy's place in Montana for a bit before heading on out. I took 101 back up so I could hike out to Cape Flattery and then turned back and went to Whidby Island for two night, this time a the Navy Inn on the Naval Air Station. I left there and drove through the Northern Cascades and was wildly impressed. How did I not know this was there????? Absolutely beautiful country. Stayed the night right across from the Grand Coulee Dam, I could see it out my motel room window. I sat in the park across the street and watched the laser show they put on nightly against the side of the spillway. They let water flow over the spillway to create a "screen" and project the laser show against that, it was corny but very cool.

Left the next morning and headed back over to Helena, where I sit and write this. Been here about a week now and I'm heading out on Wednesday, the 18th, and heading out to, well, probably back to Yellowstone for a bit (NEW TENT, much better one, going to try it out). After that, your guess is as good as mine...….

Currently at 16,843 miles on the odometer. More to come.

Mac


Okay, if you've read down this far, you deserve the extras!

What are my impressions of the Gladiator and what do I like, and dislike, about it? Here we go.

1. What a fantastic vehicle. I know I am repeating myself for those that have been following along with my other thread, but bare with me. This is my 8th Jeep vehicle in a row and I couldn't be happier that it is a worthy successor to all those that have gone before. I miss my Wranglers, no doubt, because of the wonderful times I had in each and every one of them, but I am loving my Gladiator.

2. There are some differences to get used to, lol. The transmission, while a huge improvement, feels squirrely as all getout till you get used to the changes. I even stopped at Billion Jeep in Bozeman, Montana, and asked if they could have someone check it as It was just weird to me. Sure enough, it was just fine, and the tech explained that it was an "adaptive" transmission, and it was getting used to me as I got used to it, and would adapt itself somewhat to my driving style. I didn't know I had a style so there's that. Okay, good enough. And I have gotten used to it after all these miles and it seems fine.

3. I did not think I would ever use "Adaptive Cruise Control," even though it was there to be used. Just didn't interest me. I got into Yellowstone and hit a Bison Jam and decided, with all the slow traffic that it might be a time to at least see what it does. I fell in love with adaptive cruise control. Holy cow! I use it every chance I get now! I don't want to have a vehicle ever without it! I get a lot more pictures taken when it's on, lol. If you haven't tried it, do so, you'll like it, too.

4. I feel there is a lack of usable storage in the cab, as others have said. But I'm not sure what could have been done better than they did. It's a pickup truck, and there's not a lot of areas to put storage areas, lol. I do like my underseat storage in the back seat, shotgun fits in there very well if you put it in from the passenger side. That's all I'm gonna say about that.

5. I definitely needed the bug deflector! Made a huge difference.

6. I need them to come up with mud flaps that fit with the Rubicon rock rails. My front tires have thrown rocks back and have already beat up the hinges on my passenger doors. Chips out of the paint and all. Not happy about that.

7. The all terrain tires that come with the Rubicon have turned out to be pretty good tires. No problems at all. I did deflate them down to about 38 psi and it feels like a bit of a better ride. I went to rotate them the first time at a dealership near Las Vega when I rolled into town and that's when I found out I don't have five identical wheels! I usually do the five tire rotation which includes the spare on my Wranglers, but not this time. It was the first Gladiator the dealership had for an oil change and tire rotation so I had them show me exactly how to get they spare down and out as they were preparing to do the rotation. Wasn't happy about that situation either, but what can you do. I didn't ask, they didn't tell me. Lesson learned.

8. Wind noise. Much more than in my Wranglers. I have the hard top and with the windows closed, at highway speeds, it is very noticeable, and I think it has something to do with the cab being shorter than the four door wranglers. So what noise is caused by wind going past the sides, and round the rear of the wranglers, is further back than it is on the Gladiator, with the cab ending right behind the rear seats. My theory, for what it's worth. It still isn't so bad I'd give her up.

9. The ride. All in all, it's still a Jeep. On the highway I'm sure it does not ride like a Lincoln towncar, and I hope they never do, but it is still a very comfortable ride for any Jeep. It is solid on the highway at speed, and out west there have been speed limits up to 85 miles and hour and it did not struggle with that at all. Some steep inclines were cause for some high rpms at times, but still tolerable. Off road it is still a JEEP! I do not have it set up like my JKU yet, no winch, no larger tires yet, and no lift yet, so I was going to be a bit conservative till I got it fixed up. That lasted till I was at Telluride and found myself up on Black Bear Road, lol. It has taken be everywhere I felt like going so far with zero issues. It is a horse.

10. I do feel there are too many electronics in this vehicle, and that can only be a problem in the future, more stuff to go wrong. But, so far, so good. They seem to be holding up to a pretty long trip, with plenty of rough road and off road conditions. I hope it lasts.

11. I've had no leaks in the cab no matter how hard it rained. Of course, as in just about every other Jeep I've had, when you open your door, you're going to get some water falling on you, it's just the way it is, even when the rain has already stopped, lol.

12. Overall impression: If you can't tell by now that I love this vehicle you're not paying attention. All of the naysayers, and haters, and doubters do not sway me whatsoever as I am actually driving this vehicle to extremes and plan to continue. I cannot say enough good things about this vehicle. I am thoroughly impressed and I'm just not sure what they could have done to make it any better for a production vehicle. I will be doing either a small lift, or leveling kit, and moving up to 35 inch tires, but other than that, I'm good! I do wish someone would come out with a cool hard sided bed camper so I could sleep comfortable without having to mess with a tent, but that's what my new travel trailer will be for when I get it, so it's all good.

If you have any specific questions I've forgotten to cover please feel free to ask. I will update as I go along and I'll go through my pictures and see what I can post that I haven't already in the other thread.

Thanks for hanging out with me and following along.

Mac

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What an awesome write up...I must do that route sometime. Btw, Port Townsend is my hometown and hope everyone was accommodating. After all this time in the seat, do you feel there is hope to find a solution for the wind noise?
 
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Breaktrack

Breaktrack

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What an awesome write up...I must do that route sometime. Btw, Port Townsend is my hometown and hope everyone was accommodating. After all this time in the seat, do you feel there is hope to find a solution for the wind noise?
honestly, after a while, it just didn’t register anymore. Became a nonissue.

Mac
 

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Mac- what a trip, am impressed. Also retired Army, still working as a DAC at JBLM (Ft Lewis) and am very familiar with the Olympic Peninsula. It’s my favorite outdoor playground if you will.

In a few years, I’ll retire for good and threads like this are giving me some great ideas for a road trip.
 
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