This old Land Cruiser had it’s issues… You had to jiggle the gearshift to get the vehicle into reverse. If you rolled the driver’s window up all the way it would roll itself right back down again. The key would only work one side up in the lock despite it looking exactly the same on both sides. It rattled and clattered alarmingly on rough roads. And I loved it.
That old Toyota Land Cruiser was just the right vehicle for the job.
Through the mud and ruts, up the side of a mountain, through thunderstorms and washed out roads, across an entire country… This green beast got me there. With this vehicle I enjoyed experiences that will become memories treasured for a lifetime.
There are swarms of them, fleets of them… There are boda bodas all over the road.
Boda boda is the most common form of transportation in Uganda and indeed much of eastern Africa. Part taxi, part courier, part light freight service, a boda boda is motorcycle for hire.
Every town has a gangs of boda bodas loitering along the main roads awaiting fares. They are everywhere along the roads, often laden with two or three passengers, or piled high with pineapples, cassava, or concrete. I would say they rule the road, but numbers do not overcome mass. Heavy lorries rule the road, everyone gets out of a lorries’ way including the boda bodas.
There is only so much road to explore and we explored most of it.
Yakutat, like so many Alaskan communities is accessed only by sea or by air. Not to say there are no roads, they just do not go anywhere else, much less connect to the road network that crosses the continent.
In the case of Yakutat the furthest you can get from town is about 26 miles as the crow flies taking the road to Dangerous River and Harlequin Lake. This road is a well maintianed gravel road heavily used to access popular fly fishing rivers and hunting areas, as well as by loggers harvesting the local hemlock and sitka spruce.
Leaving Hilo I turn towards the shortest path home. It is also my favorite path by far. Not for me the twisting turns, small towns, and driving rains of the Hamakua coast road. I turn towards Saddle Road, to the pass between the enormous volcanoes of Hawaii.
The road is smooth and fast now. The Saddle of legend and rental car prohibition is mostly gone, only fragments remain. While you can still drive bits of the old Saddle, they are no longer the main road, bypassed by the new highway.
Even before the road was re-built this was my favorite route to cross the island. The traffic is far heavier now, the new road no longer offers the challenges and dangers of the old road. Drivers no longer deterred by those dangers now use the new road to cross the island rather than driving around the northern belt road.
It has long been policy on the Mauna Kea summit road to use four wheel drive while ascending the mountain. One of the reasons given is to slow the formation of washboard, the annoying ripples that inevitably form on gravel roads.
On Mauna Kea an oft cited mantra is that the use of four wheel drive when ascending the mountain reduces the formation of washboard. I have always suspected this is a mountain myth with no substance. Where does this belief come from? Is there any real information on this?
There are a great many references that detail the practical details of maintaining gravel roads. Generations of highway engineers have spent a lot of time studying and writing about how to best maintain gravel roads at the least cost.
The US Department of Transportation highway Administration has published a lengthy guide to the problems and solutions of gravel roads. This guide dedicates a dozen pages to the issue of corrugation or washboarding. While multiple factors in the formation and prevention of washboarding are discussed there is no mention of 4WD vehicles being a factor.
Headed for work, at least I had plenty of time… Ahead of me on the hillside I could see a military convoy with dozens of cars trapped behind them on the steep grades. Not wanting to join the mess I pulled over to take some photos. The convoy will turn towards the new Saddle Road at the top, all I have to do is give them another five minutes and I will have open road.