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Inspiring Adventures: West Coast Range Rover Classic Delivery Voyage

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Posted On: Feb 15, 2019 By: Greg Fitzgerald Category: Adventures

These days, the scarcity of Range Rover Classics means you're not likely to find the perfect truck close to home. So when Oregonian Brock Keen found the perfect Range Rover in San Diego, he hopped a flight to Southern California for an all-American delivery voyage.

 

Brock Keen At June Lake

 

Brock had always wanted a Range Rover Classic, and when he saw a relatively vague Craigslist ad -- a headline of ***REDUCED PRICE FOR QUICK SALE*** and two basic photos -- he took a chance and emailed the owner. It turned out the truck was pretty solid. Two owners, documented maintenance, the window sticker, and no rust. Some wear and tear, sure...the paint had faded on the hood, and the driver's seat leather was splitting at the stitches, but the electrical system worked great and it had just had an oil change. He bought it sight unseen and booked a flight.

 

 

Some people might ship a new truck from so far away, but Brock decided a road trip was in order. US-395 winds along the eastern edge of California, Oregon, and Washington, tracing the Mojave, the Sierras, and the underappreciated eastern deserts and mountains of Oregon and Washington. It's one of the most epic, iconic road trips in the Western United States. What better way to bring a new Range Rover home along the majority of the Pacific Coast?

He flew down to San Diego, connecting in Boise, Idaho. He'd asked a Land Rover mechanic back home what to bring to get the truck home, and a set of metric wrenches, coolant hoses, and screwdrivers were in his checked bag. He'd get coolant, oil, hose clamps, and duct tape in San Diego, and wing it from there. As he was boarding the plane, the seller called him with bad news -- he'd decided to drive the Range Rover to work one last time, and the water pump had broken. The flight from Idaho was a long one as he wondered if this was a bad sign of things to come, but when he saw the truck at the mechanic's all ready to go, he decided things would be okay, and better the pump go before the trip instead of during it.

It was love at first sight.

The beginning of the trip was spent in California rush hour traffic, and there's no better way to test a refurbished cooling system than sitting still on a freeway.

One eye on the temperature gauge and one on the car ahead, everything looked good, until the low coolant warning light started flashing. A feature on Range Rover Classics, the low coolant sensor serves a dual purpose -- to alert the driver to an impending disaster when the level in the expansion tank dips below the level of the sensor built into the cap, and to strike terror into the driver's heart when one of the two spade connectors on top of the cap comes loose, triggering the light. The problem was the latter -- one of the wires had broken off after years of fatigue. A wiring repair kit from Autozone fixed the problem, and a burger and fries from that great West Coast institution In-N-Out fixed the anxiety.

 

Range Rover Adventures With Red Rocks

 

He wanted to ascend into the Sierra Nevadas in daylight -- a good idea to see how the 8,000-foot climb would stress the truck -- so after a day of battling the cities a campsite in Red Rock Canyon State Park outside Mojave, California was in order. In the morning, the Range Rover's bright Trocadero Red paint glowed next to the red rocks around the campsite.

 

Jerky Stand On Brock Keen's Range Rover Classic Adventure

 

Olancha, California is a little outpost on the edge of Death Valley, home to Gus's Fresh Jerky, and "The Lemon House," a Roadside Americana curiosity. Olancha was also a milestone -- a quarter of the way home. So far the truck had run great, with just a few oil leaks (but it's an old Land Rover, so that's not unexpected). This gave Brock the confidence to head into the Alabama Hills, a land of rock features on the edge of the Sierras, used as a film location for many Westerns. The previous owner had installed a CB radio, and that seemed like some comfort as he headed in. After a photo op at the Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns -- used to provide charcoal to the Cerro Gordo mine across Owens Lake -- it was on to a 25-mile all-dirt diversion.

 

Alabama Hills Range Rover Classic Adventure

 

A sobering stop at Manzanar National Historic Site -- the site of one of the camps where Japanese-American citizens were relocated to by force during World War II in one of America's most unjust actions -- led to reflection on the journey in general. The Rangie was running well, almost as comfortable as Brock's BMW on the highway. For something over a quarter century old, the performance was great, though the 3.9-liter Rover V8 could be a bit gutless on the hills sometimes.

 

Manzanar Historical Site - Range Rover Classic Adventure

 

At Bishop, California -- the junction with another great American road trip, US-6 which heads east from here to the tip of Cape Cod -- he took a detour on a whim up a little dirt road for well-worth-it views, then went to the Instagram-worthy June Lake Loop, which ended with a stop at the June Lake Brewery.

 

Range Rover Classic Adventure Snow Picture

 

Next up was the run to Reno, along some very empty roads. The day ended in Reno, resting to prepare for the climb up and over the mountains. Once Brock crossed into the Lassen National Forest, he came into ice and snow, testing the Range Rover's capabilities as he passed jackknifed tractor-trailers and crashes. Even so, having just nursed this new-to-him truck this far, he used caution to preserve its integrity.

 

The Detroit Dam Range Rover Classic Trip

 

Crossing west across Oregon, one last flagship stop at the Detroit Dam in the Willamette Valley brought the journey to a symbolic tie. As a kid, Brock came here on family roadtrips. Then, the Rangie was home, safe and sound in Portland and ready for a new life of adventures with Brock's dog Lucy, who was a motivator for the purchase -- every dog needs a good adventuremobile.

 

Brock Keen's Dog And Range Rover Classic

 

The Rangie made it home with few issues, considering it was bought on a cut-rate sight-unseen Craigslist ad. The coolant sensor wire, some oil leaks, and that was...it. This Inspiring Adventure just goes to prove that there's no better way to bring a Land Rover home, even a classic one, than a good old road trip.

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