Over the 2019 holiday season, my family decided to embark an a road trip up to Montana. We wanted to take a road trip, experience a longer adventure in the better equipped 4Runner and experience its abilities in the snow, more than just a few miles of it.
First day out was uneventful, but we stopped in cold weather. Second day we ran into bad road conditions going on 93N in Nevada, with single lanes either way. Turned around and jumped back on 80W. This meant we were going into Salt Lake City, UT, which was part of a back up plan anyway as I suspected 93N might not be ideal. Half to to SLC, the rig got a flat. This turned out to be a 2-hour ordeal to replace. Why? I had my tolls all separated in different places for such an event. The bottle jack I bought works great when there isn’t a flat. The hi-lift jack doesn’t have a dedicated hole to put the hook into, so I dangerously just put it under the bumper and hoped it worked until it got high enough to put the bottle jack under it. Unmounting the spare tire took a bit of time due to the license plate and wiring. Removing the lugs from the flat tire, I used a larger sized Craftsman wrench, which failed on me. Thankfully I had a large breaker bar and then used my impact gun. That was 2 hours. Once we got into SLC, we found a Big O Tires relatively close to the freeway. The tire wasn’t salvageable so I had to buy a new one, which lucky for me, they had the exact model tire I run on the 4Runner. That took 2 hours as well. By this time, we need we were going to spend another night in a hotel somewhere in Idaho.
The next day, things were going well, but we ran into snowed roads, which progressively got worse. Then it became a blizzard in the middle of nowhere, to the point that only the right lane was barely driveable, at a whopping 35MPH for about 2-3 hours, 4WD never engaged as it wasn’t needed. I had 6 cars behind me like a caravan. No services were anywhere and some exits that had no services weren’t even usable. We finally ran into better roads, although not by much, took an exit and filled the tank. Talked with the couple that were in the vehicle behind us the entire blizzard. The trip back home was uneventful as all the roads were perfect. We made it back as planned – 2 8-hour days.
We spent most of our time in Montana, with us dipping down into Wyoming to go to Yellowstone National Park. It was SO much fun!