Of Fun Times,and an Update

The Wife and I headed up into (Evarts) KY again today to Black Mountain OHV park,again with neither of the Kids wanting to go (they both had their own thing going today),it was just us. It was considerably dryer today (a real shame,LOL) than last trip,with deeper (into the woods) trails still having plenty of mud to splash through,but the more open ones a bit dusty. That was fine,as we hit a few rockier trails today,so we could test out the new 33″ tires*,get some practice and exprience in with ATRC II and the rear locker**.

We had a great time of it (though I’m pretty worn out,as I sit here,so won’t be a trail by trail description,LOL),took in lots of scenery from the top of the highest ridge we could find,and didn’t shy away from anything on trail,purposely exploring new-to-us places with more rocks (and mud) than we had last trip (which was overly muddy and with bald tires),including a trail we know from experience that the old Jeep just could not clear. I should note,there were no issues what-so-ever with clearing everything we tried in the FJ (as our confidence in it’s features/abilities grew with each trail)***.

The Wife is still new to using this camera for more than point-and-shooting,so most of the video didn’t come out useable,though I do have one short video (on Vimeo). Link…

https://vimeo.com/110041256

Pics…

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The Update:

I don’t really want to go into it very deeply this evening,as I’m a bit (being polite here) upset about the whole thing. We were denied our VA loan,because (in the VA’s and QL’s words) “under new regs/changes from the Obama admin,your years of military service don’t qualify for a VA loan”. Let this sink in for a second…”years of service”,Honorable Discharge,war time,”don’t qualify” for a Veteran Administration loan…it gets worse.

QL did not bother to check my elligibility to even qualify for a VA loan until 2 days ago. WHAT?!? Shouldn’t that have been the FIRST thing they did,you know…when I applied for it,instead of taking our money and sending me on 2,700 miles worth of useless errands for the loan process??? Yes,by law. Apparently,QL didn’t do that. Not only that,they’ve been straight-out lying to us all along too (“Great news! You’re approved,we just have to go through all of the process,but you can start packing and getting ready…”).

So I asked about the thousand dollars or so we have invested**** with them,which is apparent that they illegally requested/accepted and cost us out of pocket,and I was told “Hmmm…well,IDK,I’ll get hold of our legal team and see if they would consider refund/reimbursement,since we should have cleared you as elligible before we accepted payment/had you run nearly 3,000 miles for the loan process/documents. IDK if they will agree,we will let you know though” when I mentioned that. Being rather…upset…I informed her that if they did not,I would not only file suit to recover our losses,that I would also be willing (anxious,actually) to contact any/all forms of media,and tell them my story as a US Army Veteran who is disabled,who was cheated and lied to by this multi-billion dollar company,and that they refused to honor the law/responsibilities….and reminded her how America loves her Veterans,and that Veteran’s Day was coming soon….sigh…we will see what they say when they call Monday. Would I really do that? These moronic-lazy people lied to us to get us to pay them,telling us repeatedly that “we were approved” when all along they knew (or should have) that I wasn’t elligible,and had me run thousands of miles for nothing. Yes,I will,with all prejudice…

 

 

*285/70-17″,they measure out to 32.9″ tall,and 11.25″ wide by my tape measure :)

** Only used/needed to use the rear locker in 1 spot,due mostly to having chosen a bad line

***It was very entertaining,that we saw lots of ATV & dirt bike riders,as well as several Jeeps (all Wranglers today),and the vast majority of them that we passed (all of the Jeepsters,several of the others) had looks of utter shock and disbelief when they saw a big ole Toyota FJC “up there”,LOL,they obviously didn’t think one could make it where they were. I want to note,the FJC was never in any kind of strain,or pushed anywhere near anything resembling any kind of limits of offroad capability today. I’m impressed,and am interested in testing it’s limits once it’s no longer our only vehicle (early next year). Note that I said “interested” and not “anxious”,LOL :P

**** $400 in “Good Faith money” to them,<$400 spent in gasoline just doing the errands they instructed me to do,and $500 in escrow to the realtor (Coldwell Banker),we also have not heard back from the realtor if they would refund our money from them (as we were told from the start “If you back out or change your mind,this is non-refundable,but if you cannot get funding for any reason,it will be as that’s beyond your control”). All told,we’re out about $1,350 or so,all based off of QL’s lies and /or incompetence. Note,this is not “liable for slander” in any way,as I have documented proof anything and everything that I said/claimed here. Should they do what’s right and refund/reimburse (both parties,QL and CB),I will walk away from this aggrevated but satisfied that we weren’t screded intentionally.

Posted in 4 Wheeling, FJ Cruiser, General Life Stuff, House, Housing | 3 Comments

Short n Sweet Weekend

Nothing major,just seems like it’s been forever since I posted anything (though I know it’s only been a few days :P ). Hoping everyone had great weekends :)

We went on a short road trip to visit the Wife’s favorite (and mine,of her family) aunt and uncle Saturday,as last we’d heard 12-13 years ago that they’d moved out to Texas,but not that they had moved back soon after,LOL,so years went by. We missed them,so now that they’re only an hour or so away,we’ll visit much more often (as they will us).

As far as Quicken Loans and the whole house thing goes,so far so good with only one potential that that may (most likely it will) hold-up at this point,a copy of my dd214 (Army discharge papers) sent from that 3rd party company. QL had told me they wouldn’t accept the original copy (issued to me BY the Army in 1995),that I’d have to order one from the Record Archives place (no offiliation with the military or government,they say) back around the 7th of this month,so I did,and requested it be expedited due to it holding up the buying of a house,to close on Halloween. Last Friday,they tell me “Clear to Close date is the 22nd (Wednesday ;) ),we need ALL documents in hand,processed/etc by then to close on the 27th (note: No one said ANYthing about the 27th to me,not once,ever…but it’s earlier than I was told it would be,so no arguements here :P )….so they need it by the 22nd,but didn’t tell me such until a 10 days or so AFTER I’d requested a copy by the 31st….ok,sigh. Quicken Loans may actually get many people into their homes,but they really do have their heads up their rear ends…on a LOT of things (I’m being very polite here,LOL),rolling my eyes…at least they’re pretty nice people to talk to.

Not “being allowed” to give me a solid answer on “do we have the house or not” even now,I asked the question a different way,and she said “now THAT I can answer,like that,nothing in the laws or policies preventing that one…..”. I said “we don’t even know if we need to start packing our things to move,I mean….” (she had interupted me to say the above),so we were told “yes,start packing,you’re almost through this process”,heeeheeeheee,so we have,which is what I’m doing today. So fingers still crossed/prayers still flowing that nothing unforseen jumps out and prevents it all.

In the mean-time,already,the FJC is scheduled for it’s first maintenance tomorrow mid-day (remember,we didn’t buy it new,it was used with mileage on it)…after only a month and a few days of owning it (been spending a small fortune-hundreds of dollars-in fuel running for this house,and thousands of miles…). Next week,still hoping to make it up to Black Mountain again,and the following Saturday,still hoping to make it to an all FJ group/trail ride,off of I40 close to the NC/TN border.

Anyways,nothing much to talk about so I’ma go nap a bit (in bed by 0345 last night,up by 0600 this morning out of habit,even though the kids are on Fall Break,LOL),then get to cleaning up and more packing. At least packing this way-an hour or so per day-it’s not so stressed like a rush-job ;)

Happt Monday,everyone :)

Posted in 4 Wheeling, FJ Cruiser, General RC Banter, House, Housing | 2 Comments

Of Fun Times,New Shoes,and Bearings; Part III

I was delayed (more redundant errand running required by the loan company on the house*).

While the FJ was on the lift as the mechanic was removing the wheels to swap the tires,he discovered a “dangerously worn out” right front wheel-bearing,”enough to make it unsafe to drive” because of the amount of “play” the bearing had in it. “There’s no possible way that you have worn this bearing out to this degree with normal driving,even including your trip last weekend offroad…it was in or very near this condition when they sold it to you-it’s only been what? 3 weeks?” was what he said to me.

So while he was finishing up the mounting and balancing of the new tires,I got on the phone to our Toyota dealer,and was directed to the sales manager,Chris L. I explained to him about the bearing (I also made mention that we’d bought the FJ with tire tread depth that would not pass a state inspection if TN had one,and that this was not our 1st Toyota bought there in the last 2 years),and that what I expected was to bring it in for a free repair,since TN has a law against selling an unsafe to drive vehicle from a dealer’s lot (let alone at $18,000+ less than a month into things). I was expecting opposition,obviously,but I was polite about it. He was great,without a second’s hesitation,he said “if the bearing is that bad,you’re right,I’m not sure how it slipped through our inspection to the sales floor without repair,but bring it in asap and we’ll take care of it,with apologies for the incident,and gratitude for your understanding that we’re human too”. So I headed there from the tire place in Johnson City**,and when I got there,they had me pull it straight back into the shop area. Bearing in mind it was now close to closing time,there just wasn’t enough time to make repairs that day (as they had to run to another dealer in a neighboring town for the parts),so they had me bring it back yesterday,when they promtly made repairs for free,and fed me popcorn and tea while I waited (reading my Kindle) :P

Immediately after having left the lot though,I knew there was something amiss in the front end. My best description would have been “like the front rotors need ‘turned down’ or replaced,times 2 or 3″. Something that it wasn’t doing at the time that I pulled onto their lot,but definitely was when I pulled out of it. So I called,and Chris said “bring it back”,but rushing to beat the school bus home for the kids,I didn’t have time to take it back that day,I took it this morning. It appears that the mechanic had inadvertantly over-torqued 1 or more bolts when reassembling everything,and warped the front rotor ever so slightly. One can’t really see it,but when lain on a flat service,one can.

As the rotors appear to be the stock units that were installed when our FJ was built on the assembly line new,and in need of replacement in the next few months anyways,I didn’t really feel right about demanding new ones for this,so Chris offered the parts or parts plus labor at half price when I’m ready to get that done,which seems fair to me,so we shook hands,he handed it to me “in writing”,and I went on out to run yet more errands for the home loan agents (back to Johnson City to the realtor’s office for fax usage again…which is what I’ll be doing tomorrow too…again….sigh…”30 days of pure aggervation for 30 years of payment bliss”,reminding myself,hahaha :P ).

Anyways,the kids are out of school on Fall Break until Monday,we have reservations with the Jayco at a local campground this weekend (from Friday noon until Sunday noon),and the buyer will most likely pay off/pick up the Jeep Friday as well (he’s been averaging $900 payments per week,he owes $1,100 total on it,so I kinda expect him to pay off/pick it up this week,being so close),so it’s all good,we can relax and kick back while camping. Hoping to get back up to Black Mountain soon (maybe weekend after this one?),and there’s a group of several FJ owners getting together for a family day of trailing deeper into TN on November 1 (one day after expected closing date on the house),hoping hard to be able to put off packing/moving for one day to make that,as I have the impression that we may be having talks about forming an “official club” that day,which would be killer (cool ;) ).

Have a great week,everyone,and weekend when it arrives :)

 

 

 

*For example,I have been asked to,and have sent “the previous 30 days bank statement,printed out by the bank,time stamped by the teller,faxed to us” (note,that the closest fax that I have access to is at the realtor’s office…30 miles away),5 times previously,just as requested. Because their “team” (of numbnuts) has such poor in-house communication and an inability to keep up with documents as I send them,this is but one of many items they’ve had me to repeatedly send to them,to the tune of us having now put 1863 miles on the FJ since buying it on September 18,the vast majority of those miles (Black Mountain trip not-withstanding) have been running back and forth for them. While not rude or disrespectful,I was fairly harsh with them on the phone this evening when they said I need send this item again,I told them in no uncertain terms that this would be the last time I will send them something that I have already sent to them multiple times,that they need to get their heads out of their collective hind-ends (I didn’t use those words to her… ;) ) and learn to communicate with one another,to stop losing documents in their shuffle,that my loan agent needs to be handling my loan/case (not her “team of assistants”),and that if our loan wasn’t approved within the alloted time (of their own alotting) that our bank has already told us that they would approve and close it within a couple of weeks (at a slightly higher interest rate-which is why we chose these numbnuts in the first place as our lender).

**Here’s some name dropping…Hayworth Tire and Auto Service,4100 Bristol Highway Johnson City,TN. Their # is (423)282-4211. I cannot recommend these guys highly enough. Even though they were excessively busy,they stop what they’re doing to go over any questions you have about any product they sell/you’re interested in,in detail (with their undivided attention),are super competetive in pricing,(as I discovered) if there’s issue/problems with your vehicle,then they stop what they’re doing and give you personal attention,making sure you’re aware of everything….they make you feel like the customer is honestly appreciated and is of concern to them. We will be doing all of our related business there from now on.

Posted in FJ Cruiser, FJ Project | Leave a comment

Of Fun Times,New Shoes,and Bearings; Part II

So it’s not really a secret (or surprise) that I’ve been tire shopping,besides that we knowingly bought our FJC with nearly bald street-tread tires (with a thousand dollar bill lopped off the top of the price to compensate,mind you),and had intentions of going up an inch or so (265/70-17″,factory size,is basically a 32″ tire,though not quite as wide as a 32×12.50″,and 285/70’s are basically a 33″ tire,again not quite as wide,about an inch narrowed by my tape measure). I’ve been perusing and researching 285/70-17″,as well as 33 x 12.50-17″ tires for weeks now (since we bought it). I had settled on a 285/70-17″ Goodyear Duratrac as the tire that I really wanted,with several “tied for 2nd’s”. Those are a bit pricey,even for this size of tire which is a bit pricey to begin with,with the cheapest I could find them being online at $284 each,plus shipping,plus mount and balancing. Even my next wish-list tire down was close to that.

Sunday,the Wife and I were parking at a store when a black and white FJC pulled in and parked 2 spots below us,and I told her as it drove past “Honey,look at that one…it’s got just about the same amount of lift,and looks like the same size tires we’re shopping for. That’s what this one will look like stance-wise,just so you have a visual. I’ma go talk to him and check-see what he’s done to his,brb”. Really nice guy with his equally nice teen aged daughter,they were,first of all. He happily stood there talking FJC’s,lifts,and tires with me for the next 30 minutes,LOL!

He had the exact same lift I’ll be ordering soon (barring any unforseens stealing the budget) from the exact same website,LOL,and the tires he chose were on my short list as well. Said he had it all done back before the December of 2013,had around 25-30K miles on it all,and was “well pleased” with the ride of the lift,and the ride,performance,and wear on the tires (they apparently carry an honest-to-goodness tread wear rating-something not all that common in 33″ tires-of 65,000 miles,his was showing almost no wear at all). He said “they’re completely awesome in the snow,whether deep snow or just snowy roads,they do decent in mud for an AT (“All Terrain”,as in not a mud specific tire),and have done great for general driving and mixed surface trail riding/4 wheeling. “I will buy another set if these ever wear out” he said. (They’re Nitto Terra Grappler AT2’s,in 285/70-17″,his are).

So we were talking expense/pricing,and he told me about a local shop that has “Three Convenient Locations” (:P ) around the Tri-Cities (none in Bristol,but close),and then he told me what he’d paid,I almost choked on my Mtn Dew it was so low compared to what I’d found. In shop,not online even. So we exchanged names and numbers (to get together to trail sometime),he gave me that shop’s information,and we parted ways. Today,I drove out there to talk to them myself.

They remembered him when I told them he’d referred me to them,LOL,and they quoted an additional 5% off for referral. I should say,as if you hadn’t figure it out by this point,I bought the tires (Nitto Terra Grappler AT2,285/70-17″). The rate they quoted me was actually cheaper,installed/with tax,than most of the ones I found online :o True,these aren’t the Duratracs I’d wanted,but besides having a treadwear rating (the Duratrac has none),these are lighter,were also on my list of possible 2nd choicers,and from what I would have spent to order,mount and balance a set of 4 GY Duratrac tires (including free shipping at discounttiredirect.com),I saved almost $390….. :o ……which will easily pay for the lift (dad and I will probably install it ourselves),and for a “very-slightly used” TRD (Toyota Racing Development) brand brush guard and “belly pan” (the large skid plate in the front center,the TRD unit is much…beefier and protects better against rocks one shouldn’t have straddled-the gentleman,who works at my Toyota dealer wants $75 each for them…I’ll probably take them both if he still has them in a week or so). A few pics of them on the FJC…

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There has been no rubbing from the driving I’ve done this evening on them (I was actually trying to,to see),I can tell no noticable loss of power (bigger tires,though not much heavier than what I had),they were easily balanced,and ride smoothly with very little noticable tire-noise up to highway speeds. Yes,they through the speedo off a bit (as confirmed by GPS),but very negligibly so. I’m pleased with the purchase. There’s a fly in the ointment,however,as I discovered while it was on the lift getting it’s new shoes mounted…

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Of Fun Times,New Shoes,and Bearings; Part I

This past Saturday,the Wife and I (neither of the kids wanted to go this trip…no worries,Date-Day! :D ) loaded up in the FJ and headed up into Kentucky to Black Mountain Offroad park for some trailing. I was expecting it to do well,sticking to Class 2 and 3 trails,but knowing how excessively muddy it would be,was a bit nervous about the nearly-bald/worn out tires on it. With a locker out back and ATRAC II up front,wasn’t too awfully concerned.

We headed up Trail 10 from the entrance,and hung a hard,rocky uphill left onto Trail 11 (Class 3),the same route I’ve always taken when the Boy and I would bring the Jeep up. It was immediately apparent that the approach and departure angles were much better on the FJ than my old Jeep,as I didn’t drag rear bumper/trailer hitch once all day on the same trails (that the Jeep drug on several times,LOL). As slick and mucky as it was*,I’m surprised and well pleased to say,the FJ had no issues on that trail at all,not a tire slipped front or rear,and it seemed an effortless effort for it to finish that trail.

When we reached the end and turned right on Trail 12 (Class 2,I think),we noticed there were some guys (and ladies) with their dedicated rock buggies out trying their hand at the slicker-then-snot-on-a-doorknob rock gardens. IDK if any made it all the way to the top,but none did while we were standing there watching (when I say “it was just too slick”,trust me,I mean it,it’s been raining there all week,and was while we stood there ;) ),but it was awesome to watch,and the first time the Wife had ever seen such,she had a blast (no really…she loved it,LOL :P ) watching. A few pics…

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After we left (going up Trail 12),we stopped to talk to a local (who’s on the board for the park,BTW) who had came out Trail 9 (runs almost parallel to Trail 11,also Class 3,and also from Trail 10) and chatted a few minutes. He was really nice,but his wife was one of those “mine’s always better than yours” kinda people,the kind who puts on a smile and acts friendly but is really insulting you…know the type? LOL,being in a new Jeep JKU Rubicon (Wrangler Unlimited,long wheelbase),she was poking insults at the FJ** while bragging about their Rubi (an awesome rig,mind you,one I would proudly own,and no more/less expensive than FJ’s new or used from what I’ve seen locally,with amazingly similar offroad goodies optioned),so when they headed up the ridge (steep grade,2-5″ thick slimy/sticky mucky mud with switchbacks,a few downed trees and above-knee-high rocks we had to traverse),we agreed we were following,bald tires be danged,LOL!

We made it to the top (and laughed out loud at that lady’s look of shock when she realized we had followed right behind them-the husband was really cool and impressed,LOL,though she just mouthed about “my baby,my own 2 door Rubi sitting in the garage that will never see dirt”***,ugh…..) just fine,spun lots as we had almost zero traction. I intended to shoot some pics,but it was just too foggy up there (and too slick on the way down to stop :o :P ). Next trip.

Anyways,we had a blast,made some new friends (like I said,the Guy driving was awesome,and despite how this may read-it sounded funny/humorous in my head,but doesn’t always read how it sounds,no insult intended to her),and I think I have the Wife hooked on trailing…she was talking about a potential upcoming FJ get-together next month,as well as making weekend trips up there (Black Mountain) for some FJ camping,so BOO-yah,heeheehee! When we were looking at tires last eve,and I showed her some pics of an FJ with 33″ tires,she said “It…needs more lift and bigger tires”,I slowly stood up from the computer,put my arms around her,and calmly said “GOD I love you!”,LOL :P

 

 

 

 

*Do you know this kind of mud? The kind that’s thick/gooey,about 2-5″ deep,the kind you can skate through with your feet,but if you try to step it sucks your shoe right off your foot? Yeah…THAT kinda mud,LOL!

**You know,actually-not refering to online Jeep friends that I’ve made-this has honestly been my experience with JK owners that I’ve met in person,even when driving my old Jeep XJ,a condescending,better-than-thou attitudes. I don’t think it’s “JK Jeep People” in general (there are just way too many super cool people I’ve met online who own/drive them for that to be so),maybe it’s a regional thing?

***I probably should have just smiled and said “awesome,that’s just too cool,owning TWO Rubi’s”,as to be happy for someone else’s good fortune/blessing is the right thing to be (and how I usually am),but after having been insulted several times “just jokingly”,I couldn’t help myself and blurted out “I used ot have a Mall Crawler too,only mine ran mid 13 seconds at the drag strip with heated leather seats”….and her husband laughed hysterically with us :o :P

Posted in FJ Cruiser, FJ Project | 2 Comments

Just Wanna Take a Moment…

To tell my awesome Wife…

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…it was 22 years ago today (actually,almost to the minute as I type) that she and I said “I do”. I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t by my side (this is over half of our lives at this point,together),but it seems like only yesterday I looked into her eyes and knew I belonged to her forever.

You are the very best parts of me,my Love,I shudder to think where I would be today if God hadn’t given you to me,you truly are the awesomest blessing a man could ever hope for. Happy Anniversary,I cannot wait for the next 22 years,I love you SO very much <3

Posted in General Life Stuff | 2 Comments

Short Update-House Pics

As I’m exhausted,and on the verge of a spinal flare-up from all of the full time running for all that is expected of a person buying a home (I mean really….why do we pay these people 10’s of thousands of dollars when WE have to do all of the work that we’re paying them for? LOL :P ),I will simply say that we’re just waiting on 1 more paper needed to send in,and then just waiting on the under-writers to do their part.

The Jeep is officially sold. Last week a guy paid a small deposit,but we weren’t sure 100% that it was still “Sold!”,as it was a small deposit,and I hadn’t heard from him on the days he said he’d check in. I was sure,however,that I lost two sales (buyers who came with cash in hand,then bought other Jeeps when I told them I had to honor the agreement). He didn’t come up with the remainder of what was owed,but he did come up with and pay almost 1/3 of the asking price “in hopes it would hold/carry the deposit until next week (when he expects to pay in full),so it’s sold,just waiting on final pick-up/payment. Of course the Jeep stays put,locked in a part of my dad’s land,until it’s paid in full,but semi-knowing his Wife (my Wife and I do),but also having some trusted firends who speak highly of them (and being people who also live in the real world where $3,500 is nothing to sneeze at),we’ll work with ‘em if it takes them a week or two longer than he expects. Kindness,it feels good,so we try to sling it out there when we get op to do so ^_^

Anyways,outside pics of the house and lot…

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That last tree was born and bred,it seems,to biud a tree house in,LOL! Not sure if it will ever get one (the Boy,being the youngest,is already 12),but I can guarantee there will be a hammock between the tree and the post for the deck,heeheehee :P

A little paint (white) on the brick/block around the bottom,and a color change on the (aluminum) siding from green to a specific shade of blue we both adore,and perfecto,our ideal home :)

Ok,(prescribed) meds knocking me out,happy weekend,everyone :)

Posted in Cherokee, General Life Stuff, House, Housing, Jeep, XJ | 2 Comments