Sand Dunes, FJ, and us have never been good partners. Being rank off-road amateurs we had good reasons and our share of narrow escapes. But like everything in life, things can change and we are glad that they have after meeting the Outdoor Lovers Team. A bit of tire deflation and some sound advice can go a long way.
Our trip to Outdoor Lovers Tree house allayed many dune bashing fears we had as we learned the tips and tricks from the best. Eranga and Jo lead the pack with “Casper” the Friendly Land Cruiser 80 while Bazil & Fazly took rear guard with “Teriyaki” The Power Patrol. The track got trickier but we grew more confident.
We managed to reach Tree house without any major incidents apart from Bazil getting into a tight spot trying to juggle too many things at the same time. Keeping an eye on the Rookies, Flying a drone while driving is not that easy it seems, he learned that the hard way. We were glad that no harm came to Passengers, Teriyaki, and the Drone. With Casper getting on some winching action we were back on track in no time.
Jeev and Jo were busy keeping company with our Team Mascot Penny the Pussy Cat while the boys got busy cleaning up the Tree house. Things went smoothly, apart from a swarm of giant ants, we did not come across any dangerous desert dwellers. However, there were signs of inconsiderate visitors as we found some garbage and the remains of an open fire pit. Some people never learn.
After minor running repairs to the Tree house deck and clean up, it was time to head back. The returning journey was way more interesting than getting there, to say the least.
Lessons Learnt :
- Deflate your tyres to 15 psi and your FJ can go almost anywhere, solid as a tank.
- Traction Control and Sand is a terrible combo, Switch it off. Fazly took only a couple of mins to figure that out and FJ was running smooth as ever.
- Desert driving at night can be deadly (Yet far better than staying home or getting Corona). Some Extra Power and a couple of well placed Light bars will definitely help.
- With Bazil and Eranga insisting on a “C” shaped dune climb, in Jeev’s Modern English Alphabet Letter “S” is the new letter “C”.
- Resulting 30-40 feet jump from a dune crest was handled easily by FJ since no sudden brakes were applied. Flying and Landing is quite a queer sensation (Note to self, Never try this again: The Results may vary) – Watch Night Drive Grand Finale
As Two Rookies and a Pussy Cat went flying and landed, both Eranga and Bazil were simultaneously on Walkie-Talkies to check how bad the situation was. We could feel the panic in their voice. I’m sure they were more relieved than us to find that we were OK. Surprisingly we hardly felt the landing since a smart girl did not step on the brakes.
With Jeev’s Superwoman “S” Jump (or was it a “C” ? still confused) matters took another turn. Our original track had to be altered to come out of the sand bowl we were in. As Eranga was plotting a new course Casper started having hiccups with a mild hissing sound. While it wasn’t anything catastrophic she refused to stay in idle or reverse without gas. Although Dr. Eranga and Bazil tried their best to figure out things, middle of the desert wasn’t the place to do it. While we waited wind picked up and I’m certain we must have ingested at least couple of hundred grams of sand. Despite all the drama Casper never let us down and we managed to reach the tarmac without further issues.
Later it turned out to be a cracked air hose and was fixed easily in time for the long 4 day weekend. Despite all these trials and tribulations, we managed to be unscathed and in good spirits. The Drive ended with a celebratory Pulau Feast (as Outdoor Lovers trademark Mandi joints were far away). Guess what, the right kind of company makes all the difference.
It’s a Good Start for us … Yet a Long Way to Go .. !
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