I’m thankful for those who use their vehicles for the same purpose as I: to get away from a cell phone signal. Like the group that explored Western Kansas with us and helped me get the Land Yacht stuck and unstuck. Those who help me keep a 24-year-old- Land Cruiser going. They also understand why I keep spending money, time, and effort on the truck.
Who I’m really thankful for is Mark. Mark is a neighbor who owns a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser with the chrome package and the less comfortable leather seats. Mark’s truck has a 3.5-inch lift kit, sliders, 4 spotlights, and a winch. His truck is what mine will be similar to when it’s all grown up. But the real reason I’m thankful for Mark is his knowledge, experience, and willingness to impart that knowledge to me. He enjoys reading the forums. Something that I can’t do for longer than five minutes. If I can’t find what I’m looking for quickly, I ask Mark. He tolerates my questions and is always willing to lend a hand to anyone in our community.
Last winter he gave me a heads up that an 80 Series Land Cruiser had broken down in Iowa and had been towed to where we live. The front drive shaft broke loose at the transfer case end at 70 mph, whipped around underneath still attached to the front diff, and beat the underside of the truck, cracking the transmission case and pan. The owner of the truck (in Texas) got on the forum and asked if anyone could help. With Mark leading the way, he assembled a team of myself and other local guys. We removed the broken front shaft, locked the center diff, and limped the truck to a local Land Cruiser owner’s house. There the cracked transmission was removed, a used unit was sourced, changed the rear main seal while the trans was out, replaced transfer case seals and transmission lines too, installed the used trans, and got the missionary couple on their way back to Texas. In total six local guys pitched in to get this truck back on the road. All because Mark was watching the forum.
I’ve enjoyed Mark’s “Ready to lend a hand” attitude personally. I did an overland scouting trip in September. Myself and Brett (100 Series Land Cruiser) toured the Gypsum Hills area of South-Central Kansas and wandered ouar way down through Central Oklahoma. The red dirt was new to us and a changeup from what we’re used to in Kansas. It was a decent trip, red, sandy roads, no one really around, and I hit a vulture without cracking my windshield. The wingspan was the entire windshield and blacked out the morning sun. We were scouting these roads to lead a larger group in the coming months, checked out some caves, investigated Buster’s Saloon for a possible lunch stop (not recommended), and visited the Great Salt Plains Reserve.
While on the Salt Plain we were curious about crystal hunting but didn’t partake. We did play in the salt water puddles, which was not a great idea for the 24-year-old stock alternator. Brett captured the moment that my 292,000-mile stock alternator began to die. After enough sightseeing, Brett and I separated for home with the Land Cruiser still charging, but noticeably less charge than normal. The salt water infused puddle is probably why the alternator quit altogether just North of Wichita on the turnpike. I immediately called Mark. I limped to the end of the turnpike in Emporia on battery power. Mark grabbed his spare alternator and headed the hour and a half south to me. We switched out my stock unit for his backup in an hour and caravanned the rest of the way home chatting on the CB.
I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have this community of automotive enthusiast friends. Mark stands out because of all the work I’ve been using his experience and sometimes his actual hands on the Land Cruiser.
Because of Mark, I still post the Land Cruiser for sale on Craigslist with the phrase “never left me stranded” and have it still be truthful.
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