OBX: Easter 2016

I was on the Outer Banks in North Carolina again this Easter weekend. The weather sucked but I managed to grab a few shots.

An early Saturday morning start on the beach at my favorite pier.   

Scared off a flock of migrating coots on Lake Mattamuskeet.

I went a bit arty on the processing here but the structure of the trees seemed to warrant the treatment.

Bulgaria Unpaved

The previous entry on off road driving reminded me of a trip I took in 2011. I spent a couple of weeks in Bulgaria with a side trip into Turkey. We rented a four-wheel drive Jeep Grand Cherokee knowing that it’s all too easy to run out of pavement in Bulgaria especially when using a navigation system – those things can’t always tell the difference between gravel and black top. 

Sure enough it wasn’t long before we hit this…

And then this…

We ran into a few curious locals…

As we left the EU through the border crossing between Bulgaria and Turkey the sudden increase in militarization and unnecessary government bureaucracy were a jolt to the system. This is the customs and immigration building on the Turkish side where they decided to go with the shabby chic look. The fact that it was illegal to take the photo below got the rebel going in me.

The place was a perfect example of little men with too much power. To be fair to them there wasn’t any problem letting in three Europeans, it was the rental car that presented issues. Once they finally agreed on the correct number of photocopies of the rental agreement we were relieved of a few Euros - for visas or something - and we were on our way. 

Some more shots from both countries…

Off Road

Digging through my photo archives this weekend I ran across a folder of images from a few off road driving outings in North Carolina’s Uhwarrie National Forest. These shots are from 2009. That’s me driving - happy days! 

I sold the Nissan Xterra in 2010 when I left the US. Now that I am living here again I would give anything to have the Xterra back. I spent a lot of evenings and weekends setting it up just perfectly for off road driving. That included modifying and reinforcing the suspension, adding a lift for clearance and beefing up the armor. 

Note the water line on the front bumper below. It’s well above the bottom of the doors.

In the shot above, the gray metal bar running along under the door sills is called a rock slider. It’s a solid piece of steel and it was added to protect the bodywork should the wheels slip when climbing over rocks. I’ve landed on those sliders a couple of times and when that happens the screech of metal on rock is butt clenching. 

Here I was climbing a very steep hill. The rock the wheel is on tipped the vehicle over at a stomach-churning angle. We have angle gauges in several places in the vehicles to let us know if we are going too far. Before we start these climbs we pull the fuses for the airbags so the extreme angles and sharp bumps don’t set them off unintentionally. Airbags aren’t much use when rolling down a hill on your roof. We turn off the ABS and traction control so we can induce a slide when it’s needed. 

More recently I restored an off roader in Ireland. This is my 31 year old Mercedes G-Wagen. It was an abandoned mess when I bought it but I spent a lot of time and money renovating it, mostly focusing on the mechanical functions, i.e. the majority of the work is hidden underneath. It has a 2.8L, six cylinder, gasoline engine, automatic transmission, and front and back diff locks. The tires are 32” mud terrains. It will go anywhere. 

The first shot below was taken in West Cork, Ireland, the second on a family vacation driving across the Pyrenees from France into Spain…

That’s me with two fine ladies. 

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