I left California and headed up to Salt Lake City.
It was hot.
As I drove thru Baker, CA – home of the world’s tallest thermometer – it read 111 degrees.
About 10 miles outside of Baker, I heard a thwap, thwap, thwap, thwap.
When I popped the hood it looked like the serpentine belt had gone thru a shredder.
Thank goodness I had a spare serpentine belt in the back of The 55 just in case.
I slipped on a new one and away we went.
When I was almost at the summit of Mountain Pass, the engine started acting funny and The 55 started bucking.
I threw it in neutral and coasted to the shade of an overpass.
Everything under the hood was in order and there was no leaking fluids, so I had no idea what was going on.
When I hit the ignition, it would start for a second and then stall.
I think the ECU got too hot and started acting up.
My ECU is mounted under the drivers seat, so it doesn’t get good air flow and it sits directly above the exhaust pipes.
Not the best place for it.
As I was letting it cool down I got a phone call from my Laid-back buddy Hondo who asked me what I was doing after Salt Lake City.
I told him I was either heading to Colorado to see my Pop or I was headed back to LA.
Hondo replied: “Why don’t you come up to Idaho?”
I told him I’d think about it.
We hung up, The 55 started up and I made it to Las Vegas where I stopped at the Gold Coast for some Ping Pang Pong.
After filling my belly I picked up another serpentine belt at O’Reilly’s, fueled up The 55 and made my way to Saint George, UT where I spent the night.
When I woke up at 6:30am, it was already 75 degrees.
I hit the road at around 7:00am and boogied up to Salt Lake City.
About 45 miles outside of Salt Lake City I heard that thwacking sound again.
The 55 shredded another belt.
I threw on the spare belt, went to the local O’Reilly’s to get another spare and then went to the hotel to check in.
That night at dinner, my buddy John – the Goodguys King of the Road who I never can tell if he’s messing with me or telling the truth – told me he saw a puddle of coolant under The 55.
The next morning I come out to find a big puddle of coolant under The 55…
Hondo told me to call up JDP Motorsports and Jordan was kind enough to have me come in so he could take a look.
Apparently the harmonic balancer was walking off of the crank snout and that was causing the serpentine belt to shred itself.
They got out the biggest breaker bar I’ve ever seen and went to work.
And they tightened up all the coolant fittings too.
After JDP I hit a few cool spots around SLC
The Temple City Motel
The Bowl at Bonwood.
Then I noticed it…
Drip, drip, drip, drip out of the radiator.
I went back to the hotel to let The 55 cool down and drown my sorrows with some Vitamin-T.
The next morning I added two Gatorade bottles full of water to the radiator and I drove to the event – The Goodguys 1st Salt Lake City Nationals.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday there were no leaks, but I still wasn’t confident so I asked Sydney Weaver of Weaver’s Customs who she’d recommend to take a look at my radiator.
First thing Monday morning I took The 55 over to Jerry Lambert Automotive.
They did a pressure test, tightened up all the fittings again, pressure washed the engine compartment and sent me on my way.
After having everything checked over I was feeling pretty confident so I decided to head up to Idaho and see Hondo.
I left Salt Lake City – who has the worst roads of any place I’ve visited – and made it into Wyoming – my 11th state.
I turned off of I-80 at Evanston and went north.
The road north flits in between Wyoming & Utah and then into Idaho.
I stopped for fuel in Alpine, WY and there it was again.
Drip, drip, drip. drip.
I left Alpine, WY and headed to Victor, Idaho thinking Hondo would be able to refer me to a reputable mechanic/welder in town.
When I arrived he told me the closest radiator shop was in Twin Falls – an hour away.
We each called our “experts” on aluminum radiators and got the consensus that Aluma-Seal is what I should use.
I called up the NAPA in Driggs, ID – only 8 miles up the road from Victor – and got me some.
When I got back to the shop, Hondo was kind enough to let me park The 55 inside the shop.
To me it’s a privilege to be allowed to park in someones shop/garage, so when I saw The 55 was leaking horsepower – I grabbed a mop.
You can check it out on the Laid-back Instagram page.
The next morning, when it was all cooled down, I added the Aluma-Seal to the radiator.
I had never used it before, so I was surprised when it wasn’t a liquid – it’s a tube of little flakes that you pour into the radiator and it “finds the leak and plugs it up.”
After you pour it in, the instructions say to take it for a drive to get a heat cycle in the engine.
Hondo told me to head up the road to Mesa Falls – and that’s what I did.
I’ve never seen so many different shades of green.
Look at the Grand Tetons in the distance – They rise up out of the valley like giant sharks teeth.
Hondo told me I had to stop in the Squirrel Dance Hall & Community Club.
They know how to party!
I made it up to Mesa Falls and back to Victor with no leaks.
I guess Aluma-Seal really works.
The next day Hondo was busy, so he helped me organize a little day trip.
I left the stoplight in Victor, ID and took ID-33 up Teton Pass until it turned into WY-22.
Hondo told me the Teton Pass is the most dangerous road in Wyoming.
It’s two-lanes – one-lane each way – so my top speed was limited to the slowest vehicle in front of me, and it’s got some 10% grades that makes for some good fun.
Just outside of Wilson, WY, at the next stop light, I made a left.
Hondo told me this is the “secret entrance” of Grand Teton National Park and that it’s closed in the winter.
Closed in the winter???
I’m all in!!!
At the park entrance I asked the Ranger for an “America the Beautiful” park pass – it’s $80 and good for a calendar year – and I was on my way.
The “secret entrance” road is about a lane and a half wide, and after a few miles it turns to dirt so I had to purposely slow down and enjoy myself.
Sometimes I get so caught up in getting to the next picture location that I don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses.
The secret entrance road twists and turns thru the trees and eventually spits you out at the Moose entrance to Grand Teton National Park.
I flashed my America the Beautiful park pass a headed on in.
I followed Teton Park Road until it T-ed off at the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway that leads into Yellowstone National Park.
And since I had my America the Beautiful park pass I cruised right on into Yellowstone National Park.
Grand Teton & Yellowstone are the 19th & 20th National Parks I’ve been to in The 55.
Once I got into Yellowstone, I started to get a little nervous.
The last time I fueled up was in Alpine, WY a few days ago and I had gone almost 400 miles since then.
From my experience, most National Parks don’t have gas stations – of course there are the exceptions – so when I saw a sign for fuel, I followed the road to the Old Faithful gas station and fueled up.
To my surprise, I had almost 10 gallons left in the CPP 29 gallon gas tank and I averaged over 18 mpg!
I left the Old Faithful gas station and headed to the West Yellowstone Entrance.
On the way I crossed over the Continental Divide.
And then into Montana.
Then back into Idaho where I meandered back down into Victor.
But not before hitting the Tetonia Club for a picture of The 55.
As the story goes – The Tetonia Club was built in 1911 and has the first liquor license issued in the Teton Valley.
It’s super legit!!
My time in Idaho with Hondo was fantastic – but it was time to move on.
I added two more states to the ever growing list: Wyoming & Montana.
I added two more National Parks – Grand Teton & Yellowstone.
I saw Mesa Falls, paddle boarded up the Teton River, saw some moose, or moose’s or are they meese’es?
I saw my first ever white Buffalo.
I’m averaging over 18 miles per gallon.
From Victor I’ll head to Colorado to see my Pop, my brother, sister-in-law, nieces & nephew.
Until then – I hope to see you out on the open road.
I left California and headed up to Salt Lake City.