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Ranging around the country


October 11, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Helena, MT
Year, Model & Trim Level
'98 Ranger 2.5L 5spd
After my ranger was totaled in a hit and run by a drunk teenager, I spent some of the insurance money i got on a small, cheap 98 ranger 2.5L 5spd. When I graduated college in May, I decided to take my truck on a little trip. 16 states, 30 days, sleeping in the bed of the truck in the mountains, deserts, and fields of the rocky mountains and the west coast, from Chicago and back7,000 miles, two oil changes, an 02 sensor and a whole lot of gas, and my trip went pretty smoothly, and was a great end to my college years. here are some pictures of where i took this little 2wd truck.


chico, MT


Paradise Valley, MT


Top of a mountain I drove up in western Montana



Banks of the Clark Fork river in MT


western Washington


Pacific Coast Highway, California


Redwood National Forest

I had to clean all the bugs out of my radiator here



Utah High Desert


Colorado, after my suspension exploded at 10000 feet above sea level

It said it couldn't be done in such an old truck, so far, and at such high altitudes. Half the time i had it in 3rd gear flooring it trying to make it up and over mountain passes without it stalling from lack of air and 12% grades. It was completely crazy, and the videos are even better.

From Chicago to LaCrosse, Wi, then to Gillette, Wy, to Chico MT, Butte, MT, through Idaho and Washington, across Oregon to the start of the Pacific Coast Highway, which I took all the way down to LA. Through the mojave desert with no air conditioning and 114 degrees, through death valley to Vegas, and I wont go into detail about that night, up through Arizona to Utah, camped way out in the desert, to Colorado where i stayed up inthe mountains, to Nebraska, Iowa and home to chicago

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Greatest thread ever! You sir, have given me inspiration for what i may do after college :thumbsup:

yup, it was pretty sweet. I encourage anyone even contemplating it to go ahead, say screw you world, and just go for it. it was the best decision i could have made.

literally, i would wake up in the bed of the truck at sunrise and think, "what do i want to see today?" then just go and find whatever it is i had on my mind that day. complete freedom

wow talking about some ass-in-seat time ....

oh yeah, two times i decided to drive for 20hours straight and see where i ended up. now THAT was ass-in-seat time!

completely by myself. I stayed with family in SF and LA for a couple days each, but that was it. the rest of the time i spent on my own, talking to people, hanging out with some extremely interesting people, and hiking out in the wilderness on my own.

My grandfather had passed away in april, and he and my ancestors before him had been from Butte, MT. He had worked int he copper mines before and while going to college, before heading off to the Korean war. I had known nearly nothing about my family out there, and i needed to learn about it. So i spent three days in Butte, looking through all the old records from way back int he 19th century, going to nearly every cemetery to find the family plots, and asking people who might have known them. old school research, not the easy bullshit google-it research. and i found nearly everything i could have asked for, which made my trip even more worth it. I had no idea there was a Korean war memorial in Butte that my grandfather had helped fund. Its amazing the things you can find when you actually look in the right places

Looks like you had a great trip and saw some great country..........I've lived in the Rockies for the last 30 years on the verge of the North West...........I wouldn't live any where else...............

And BYW, congratulations on your graduation...........that is something you should be very proud of...................Good Luck in the future..............:thumbsup:

This was my plan after college too, take the Ex on a multi state soul seeking journey. Instead I got locked into a full time job and I"m lucky if the truck sees the beach once a month. Congratulations on graduating and on a trip executed!

well thank you very much. see Bats you and i have the exact opposite problem. you have a job and no time, i have no job (other than my part time one i had in college) and too much time! well it has been nice, it lets me hunt nearly every day this season so far

This is amazing. Something I've always wanted to do, albeit in an RV. Major props, man.

you know, a lot of people say they would rather do it in an RV or something, but there is something about going out in the bare basics with not much cash, just a sleeping bag, a coleman propane burner, a few sets of clothes and some other camping stuff that really humble you, when you realize that you dont need all that much to survive, and live well. I mean, its nice to have a shower, stove and a toilet, but my shower was the yellowstone river, and my toilet was...well use your imagination. here are some more pictures, i realized i had almsot a thousand from my trip, thank god i bought the big memory card before i left.















Ten foot wide Redwood


Yes, I went to the History Channel pawn shop in Vegas, and yes i saw Chumlee



At it again

So I finally moved to Montana. I posted my other picture like a year ago after I graduated and went on my round-the-country trip, and saved until this last March and FINALLY got to move out here, and I haven't looked back.

I did some much needed upkeep on my truck. New (used) wheels, tires, went to a junkyard and found another 98 ranger in perfect condition in the inside, so I took the seats, visors, stereo, rear door and struts for my topper, the fancy new light bar I made, really fancy new fishing pole tube bolted to the truck ( I have a 6 foot bed and 9 foot fly rods, something needed to be done!) , new stage 1 clutch, all new gaskets, egr, alternator, rear brackets and shackles and shocks, every color fluid in the automotive rainbow, tore the engine down and rebuilt it, lots of fun things that kept me occupied for a good long time.

I'm posting some pictures of my pickup in some of the crazy places I have gone. Thats right, be jealous!!!:thumbsup:


Holter Lake, MT


Attempting to flex it out, note the fancy shmancy new redneck light bar!


Ranger in front of the Ranger Station I worked at for Montana Fish and Wildlife. Thats right, Ranger driving a Ranger


Happy hunting dog


My ranger and my dads exploder, sorry, explorer, on our way to Yellowstone


Note the new fishing pole tube holder thing I made. It works FANTASTIC, and my dad in the background


Lazy hunting dog in passenger seat


At park lake by my property near Clancy, MT. fog had just rolled in, and I TECHNICALLY wasn't supposed to be there since all the roads were closed. Its amazing where this thing has gotten me

There are tons more of tons more places and me doing stupid things with the pickup. All I can say is I followed my dream of moving back out here and with hard work, persistence, and a lot of bribing buddies for help with beer, I got my little truck to go the distance, and she has treated me well. Knock on wood, of course!

Thats awesome. Good for you. Hope it all works out for you in Montana. How many miles are on the truck?

Awesome thread! Somehow I missed it till now. I'm moving it to the Ranger Registry where it rightfully belongs! :salute:

Thanks for moving the post for me Rangerx! And I got the truck at 100,000 at the beginning of last summer after my other ranger was totaled by a drunk teenager in a hit and run, which I believe I posted something about it at some point. I have 138k on it now, just ordered my timing belt kit, and I desperately need to redo my injectors. Problem is I have never done a timing belt on something this new, and not since high school, and my HAYNES book is useless when it comes to timing belts. And links to pictorials??

I'm between places at the moment, but Just got a new job with Fish and Wildlife, so hopefully next week I will have my new place and can start wrenching on the truck! So thats almost 40 thousand miles in a year, which included a round trip around the country, and driving from Illinois to Montana back and forth like three times. Plus an insane amount of wheelin that I do out here. And by wheelin I mean driving on abandoned logging roads in the mountains and shooting things, which is legal in Montana. The West is the Best!