Look at me, getting all out of order here. I’ll need to take you back a couple of days, before my compass broke, to Casper, WY. I know they say Montana is Big Sky Country. But so is Wyoming. Man, those evening sunsets are beautiful and ginormous. They just seem to go on forever.
Well, the Toyota dealer had diagnosed the oil leak as coming from the valve cover gasket. Yea, an easy and much less expensive fix. But my attempt to preorder parts, to prevent any delays, didn’t quite work out as planned. Before we left Breck, I had Spector Off Road (largest Landcruiser parts supplier), send a complete engine gasket kit, overnight, to Casper. I know how tough it can be to find parts for older vehicles, especially in remote locations. Everything arrived before we did and I was confident that we were set up for success. Just remember, if you fail to plan…. you plan to fail.
Little did I know, that a chain of events was set into place, 10 years ago when I restored the Cruiser. Yes, I said ten years ago. Tony had this great idea when he was getting a variety of parts, chrome plated, during the re-build. And it is/was a fantastic idea. Just a few touches of chrome, really make the truck pop. I even got the valve cover chrome plated (how cool is that?). When you opened the hood, it was so pretty. A Weber carb, Dual headers, Chrome valve cover. You know, man candy.
So while the engine was getting rebuilt, I went on-the-line and bought a valve cover from another FJ40. Sent it to the chrome shop and when it was done, gave it to the mechanic who was rebuilding the engine, to swap-out. Fast forward 14 years. I just discovered that I bought a valve cover from a later model FJ40 and those sneaky little engineers over at Toyota, changed the gasket type on those models. They may have lost WWII, but this gasket espionage game they play, will tear apart the fabric of our society, one engine at a time.
So we left the FJ in Casper and made our way to Mt. Rushmore. They eventually got the correct part and I’m happy to report that my baby is up and running again and we’re headed back to pick her up. It’s Saturday morning now and we’ll have her hitched up in a few hours and camp the night in Buffalo, before heading into Cody on Sunday. “Oil’s well that end’s well” – Popeye
I must also take some time to give credit where credit is due. We got a little bored, waiting around Casper for a couple days, so Laura did a little research on some local hikes. She found a beauty. The Garden Creek Falls was a perfect day hike. Depending on the path(s) you take, you can hike anywhere from 1 to almost 10 miles. All loops, all connected and all with fantastic views of the Town of Casper. The waterfall was still running, even this late in the season, and there wasn’t but 2 or 3 people anywhere to be seen. On the way back to the RV, we took a detour and drove through downtown Capser. (By the way, we rented a car, just in case you were wondering how we’re getting to all these places).
What a cool place this is. Like lots of Middle-America towns, it still has that time-capsule effect. Lots of very old buildings and their accompanying old businesses ( mixed with a young, entrepreneurial spirit of outdoor adventure seekers, craft foodies and artist garages. Think Woolworth, Sear Catalogue and Benjamin Franklin meets Steady State, Brian Malarkey and REI. Now picture the 80 year old cowboy in a red and blue plaid shirt, tucked in to proudly display his chrome buckle. Square toed ranching boots, still dusty from the days work. Lee denim jeans, 2.5 gallon hat and a slight bow to his gate. A light shade of brown mustard framed down the middle of his silvery white mustache, thanks to all those years of Lucky Strike and the low horizon of his gaze. His hands and skin like leather and just as tough. A handshake that reminds you of what a handshake should be. And a sense of deeply rooted American pride because he served, like his daddy, and his daddy before him. Bumping into some entitled douche bag with a man bun. Yup, that’s Casper.