In 1941, when America needed heroes, Jeep answered the call. – "Jeep Joe" Sarette, Sales Associate, Outer Banks Jeep Chouteau, Okla. – Whoever's in charge of rain hates North Carolina. At least, that's what I thought two weeks ago, during the opening stages of my 14,000-mile overland trek in a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, as rain pursued me from the Oregon Inlet National Park Campground on North Carolina's Outer Banks to the western edge of the "First in Flight" state. Then the rain traveled the Trans-America Trail with me through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. When I arrived at the Love's Truck Stop in Chouteau, Oklahoma a few hours ago, it was raining. And it still is. And you know what? Don't care. Nearly three weeks into this wet and windy Rubicon Alaska Cannonball, there's but one word to describe it: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I hustled from Southern California to Atlanta, Georgia in two days. In the ATL I stuffed my gear in the Jeep, stuffed my face with Waffle House, and squeezed in a side trip to The Jeep Collection at Omix-ADA. Any Jeeper who ends up in the Atlanta area should make time for a visit. It's not huge, but it contains original and vital specimens of Jeep DNA, meticulously and colorfully explained by tour guide Dave Logan. And Logan was kind enough to loan me his personal snatch block since I'd somehow managed to forget that item in my recovery kit. Four days later, I departed for Oregon Inlet. That was the start of my Trans-America Trail, but I need to clarify that I'm not on original Trans-America Trail. The one most people know and read about was stitched together over a decade by a motorcycle rider named Sam Correro. When I researched this trip, Correro's trail didn't cross the country. It started in Tennessee. A little more Internet digging turned up another trans-America trail put together by another motorcycle rider called GPSKevin. His route starts further south in the Outer Banks, in Buxton, and covers similar local ground to Correro's trail all the way to Port Orford. I'm taking Kevin's route, but only because when I found it, it crossed the country and Correro's didn't. I'm going to refer to Kevin's trail as the TAT for simplicity. After two prodigiously windy days at Oregon Inlet, I descended the lengthy sandbar that is the Outer Banks through Cape Hatteras to Ocracoke to spend a windy and wet night at Teeter's Campground, and in the morning wandered through the rain to the tiny British Cemetery on the adjoining plot. I hadn't realized that German U-boats did good business sinking merchant ships off the Outer Banks during WWII. My morning lesson complete, I hitched the Ocracoke ferry for the rumbling 2.25-hour trip to Cedar Island, North Carolina. That was "Land ho!," and I've been making my slow, wet way west ever since. I'll admit I wasn't sure about the TAT before I started. The rambling, variegated, cross-country artery makes all kinds of bucket …
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|MPG||17 City / 23 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||285 @ 6400 rpm|
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