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Old 05-07-2017, 09:17 PM   #1
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Otter's Incredible Agile Adventure

Whew! Finally back to Portland after a 2400-mile round trip to El Cajon to have my van converted to 4x4 by the incomparable Agile Offroad folks.

What an adventure! Drove down pretty fast, left the van off for John Brindell to do his magic, flew back to Portland, waited four weeks, then flew back to San Diego, met the new van, and drove back 1250 miles to Portland. Took a few terrific sidetrips to Sportsmobile Fresno, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Shasta, etc. What a great time!

I'll break the photo-journal down into three parts:
- Agile pics
- Sportsmobile pics
- Travel pics


Had a blast. And I cannot say enough about John at Agile and his terrific crew. What a talented, dedicated bunch of people. And John himself is top notch. Thanks a bunch to Agile for improving our van life!


The road back with a new 4x4 from Agile:



Planning on the good stuff: Yosemite and the possibility of getting lost (Garmin)




The Yeti was the only thing I packed from Portland. Wanted to make sure I had a long-lasting cooler for the six-day trip back home. The original ice lasted the whole time. Love things that work!




AGILE VAN PICS:

First view of van. Like!





The Man: John Brindell. What a nice guy. And really good at what he does.





My van, before it gets all muddy:





Nice differential, John!





Love them Warns!






Can't wait to try these out!





Nice Agile diff:






How we all get home:






SPORTMOBILE FRESNO VISIT:

Dudes! I had no idea you were right off the freeway. Nearly drove off the road making a turn onto the off ramp. Totally unplanned visit with Jonathan at Sportsmobile. Took me on a great tour and learned so much. Thanks, J.!





The iconic SMB in the showroom:





Jeremy is in charge of putting the tent and the pop-top together. Apparently a woman in Indiana makes all the tops. She's just taken on help because of an increase in demand.






A line of Sportsmobiles waiting for their tops:











The long-awaited BEAST! This thing is fabulous. So glad Ford is continuing the chassis line. SMB is doing wonders with their prototype. Ooh, if only!




Just like a boat. Lots of fiberglass on a form. Love the extra room from the rounded sides.






More views of the beast:






Then they add the steel framing:





If I were an urban type, I'd sure go for this Metris. It ingenius:





I just couldn't leave without a little token from my trip:






THE TRIP:

Only had a few days to get to back to Portland, and there was so much to choose from to see on the way. Never been to Yosemite, so just had to do that. And stayed at Mt. Shasta on the way... what a magnificent mountain!

Loved everything about Yosemite except the crowds, a little unexpected in April. But, the van was a handy vehicle, especially at restrooms with lines a couple hundred yards long!

I will say I love seeing those majestic sites, but would be much happier backpacking in past the crowds, or boondocking somewhere just outside the park. I did spend the night in the old Wawona Hotel (now Big Trees Hotel), built in 1876, and really enjoyed being a part of the history there.

What a country we live in! And I haven't seen the half of it yet!

Traveling pics in part 2 of this thread, below.
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Old 05-07-2017, 09:32 PM   #2
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Boy oh boy do I love an adventure with vans and van converters and national parks and all...........
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Old 05-07-2017, 09:40 PM   #3
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Otter's Incredible Agile Adventure, part 2

THE TRAVELING:

Just a few pics about the way back to Portland.


Yosemite. What can one say? This was my first time in the park and, truly, it took my breath away when I came out of that tunnel and saw that valley!




Then you see that most iconic site and can't help but pull over for a shot:





So many great places in Yosemite



















The Merced followed me part of the way home:






Happy to be back in Oregon and seeing Crater Lake again! Always surprised to see how much snow is still there in May. The road was open only on the south side. 10-20 feet of snow still left!





Gets a little claustrophobic driving the ten miles with the road getting narrower and narrower and snow piling higher. But finally...













The majestic Crater Lake Lodge is still boarded up for the winter:





Lots of backroads still snowy in May:







Added a few pounds with that conversion. Maybe 450-500.




.
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Old 05-07-2017, 09:48 PM   #4
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Yeah Otter!!

So what gears did you end up with and what are your impressions of the Agile ride??

I will say that you kicked it off right!!
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:05 PM   #5
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Agile Ride is Terrific!

Yeah, Flux, just re-read this and realized I didn't say anything much about the ride after the conversion. I really like it. One of my big complaints about the original 2 WD van was the the way the whole thing would go out of control when you hit a bump. You know that feeling? Bump, steering wheel crazed, van in the air and feels like it's going sideways? Well, that's how mine felt and it always made me a little crazy. I would grit my teeth even for a small pothole.

Well, things are way better now. I purposely hit every pothole I could find on the way back, and quite a few speed bumps, just to test the thing out. Yeah, it works. So much more stable. I really like that. It's never gonna be a Lexus but, who wants that anyway?

I tried out the high and low 4's and wow. Just wow. It crawls. That sense of security in the wet stuff, or the deep stuff, was exactly what I wanted and got. Couldn't be happier.

John warned me about the stiff steering starting out but, frankly, I like it and hope it won't loosen up too much. I always felt that steering was a bit too loose. He said 500 miles... I did 1250... still feels nice and stiff. One downside is my driveway three-point turn just turned into a four-point turn.

I did stay with my 3.73's because I had that new limited slip axle in the rear. I do notice that it takes a little gas to move from no to go, which is new, but I'm okay with that.

I probably won't fully appreciate the conversion until next Fall/Winter, when I start doing my photography trips up to the mountain, and backcountry snowshoe adventures. This past winter I felt really vulnerable having given up my Tacoma 4x4 and no 4WD on the van, so didn't venture very far off the beaten path. Now I'm back where I need to be.

I will say again how impressed I was with John and his crew. What a nice guy. I had a bazillion questions and he was really patient with me. Those folks are definitely in it for the mission. I hope to be able to see them again sometime.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:13 PM   #6
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Sounds like your experience was a lot like mine! Great folks down there.

I will say that my suspension is settling in and feels better as I add weight in the pop top and interior. I had mine in the mud this weekend but chickened out a bit due to the known issues with the silt mud in that area and the simple fact that my safety guy was out of town and I had the kids in the van too. I cruised fast this weekend, I am loving the ride.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:17 PM   #7
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Hahahahaha! The last thing you want to deal with is a couple of kids and being stuck in mud. Ask me how I know...

Better to be safe and just enjoy the ride. Lotsa time for being a fool with friends....
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:22 PM   #8
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This is awesome. So cool to see you finally get the van you wanted! Congrats!
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:33 PM   #9
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Very nice images and report. I really like the factory low rider look of the van. Looks like a pleasure to drive.

I made that trip from Portland myself a few years back when Ramsey was still around. Joshua Tree was my favorite stop. Yosemite was too crowded for me but, beautiful none the less.

Congrats! Looks great.
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Old 05-08-2017, 04:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jsweezy View Post
This is awesome. So cool to see you finally get the van you wanted! Congrats!
Thanks! I feel really fortunate and pretty happy about it.
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