In 2015, I bought my dream rig, building, using, and enjoying it for 5 years. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m back on the trail, but the FJ paid the ultimate price to keep my nephew and I safe.
In July of 2020, a young driver accidentally ran a stop sign, hitting my nephew and I on the passenger side front corner. We spun 180° and came to rest in the opposite lane of traffic. Our accident scene was on a busy road, just around a blind corner. Against all odds, ours were the only vehicles involved.
With both doors damaged, we had to get creative in exiting the FJ. The other driver appeared at our window as we were getting out, admitting fault and apologizing profusely. He had been in a Toyota Highlander. Seatbelt rashes and a few bumps and bruises were the only physical signs of what we’d all just went through.
Many passers by stopped to make sure we were all okay, call 911, and help direct traffic until the emergency services arrived. I pulled out a folding chair and put my nephew in a shady spot with bottle of water. The other driver had someone meet him at the church this had all happened in front of. I made sure he was okay, and let him know that I remembered my early years behind the wheel. They didn’t go smoothly for me either.
I spent the rest of the summer with my tent on Dad’s old GMC Sonoma, getting new tires and doing a tune up on it. I even got in one unique trip to the mountains with it. But mostly it just took me to physical therapy, and to look for a something to replace the FJ.
I might replicate the functionality with another vehicle, but the FJ will always hold a special place in my memories. Travels with Dad, adventures with my nephew, taking mom to adopt a puppy, the many weeks spent on the trail, both solo and with friends… These things will never be forgotten. I had a connection with that weird blue truck. It was almost like a pet – not quite human, but alive and full of personality.
I’ve been building another adventure rig for about a year now. I’ll tell more of that story soon.
Until then, here’s a video I started last summer, but never really finished. I worked on it again recently, only to be interrupted. I’ve decided to just throw out what I got, mistakes and all.