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Ember's Travels

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Jedi5150, Mar 11, 2023.

  1. Mar 11, 2023 at 6:44 PM
    #1
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Hello all, I figured I'd put all my adventure photos here in one thread, as seen through the eyes of my constant companion, Ember. To introduce her, she's a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois whom I've had the pleasure of owning for the last two and a half years. She was born in the Netherlands and has a passport from her home country.

    (Ember in the wine country of California, where I got her from)
    [​IMG]

    She's already well travelled (far more than me, considering I've never been outside North America), and since I've had her, she's been from California to Washington, to Maine. In 10-days we begin our move to Mexico, to start the next chapter of our lives, and one day we hope to drive the entire Pan-American Highway (and beyond).

    This is a 4Runner forum, so hopefully it goes without saying that there will be a great many photos of our 4Runner, not just Ember. We'll begin the story pre-4Runner, when our first couple trips were in a 2017 Tacoma, but soon after the 4Runner photos will start coming in. Who knows what the future will hold, but we may be in store for some Hilux pictures as well.

    I should also add that I'm starting a website documenting road trips (by truck and motorcycle), backpacking trips, cruises, and gear reviews. It's still under construction, but check it every now and again to see if I've gotten off my lazy butt to update it. The website is "Degrees of Declination" (degressofdeclination.com).



    PNW October 2021

    The first road trip we took was from central California up to the Pacific Northwest, in October, 2021. Heading up the coast, we camped at the Jedediah Smith Redwood SP, just a stone's throw from Oregon. This was the general area where Return of the Jedi was filmed (not in the state park boundaries themselves, but on adjoining forest land). You can almost hear the speeder bikes whizzing through the trees...
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    The Smith River
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    We blasted our way through Oregon and stayed in downtown Seattle. A mandatory stop was the Pike Place Market, where we got pepper and garlic smoked salmon, and ate a hot cup of Beecher's mac'n'cheese across the street. After a couple days of exploring Seattle, we headed over to Bremerton by ferry, and then out onto the Olympic Peninsula.

    Ferry cross from Seattle to Bremerton:
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    Ember at Lake Cushman, on the Olympic Peninsula
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    We pulled over in Bremerton to snap a shot of the USS Kitty Hawk (CV63) being scrapped. I once toured the Kitty Hawk while she was in active service, in San Diego.
    [​IMG]

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2023
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  2. Mar 11, 2023 at 6:50 PM
    #2
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    PNW October 2021 Continued

    On the way back home, we pulled off on a road just a mile or so from the California state line, at the Meridian Overlook. The road became snow-covered as we climbed a bit in elevation...

    [​IMG]

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    Ember posing stoically
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    Looking northwest, into Oregon:
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Mar 11, 2023 at 7:04 PM
    #3
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Panama Canal October 2021

    OK, this one doesn't involve Ember or Toyota products, so I'll just make it a short post, but I figured folks might enjoy a few of the photos. Immediately following our PNW road trip, I went on a 15-day cruise on the Emerald Princess. We left from Los Angeles, taking the coast down past Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and then through the Panama Canal. After that we stopped briefly at Curacao and Aruba, before slipping between Haiti and Cuba and finally arriving at Ft. Lauterdale, Florida.

    My favorite place on the trip was Willemstad, Curacao.
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    A couple shots of the Panama Canal:
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    Passing through the Continental Divide...
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    The Bridge of the Americas. I hope to be driving over this with Ember one of these days...
    [​IMG]

    Early morning in Panama City
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    OK, I lied...here's a Toyota product. A silver 4Runner in Willemstad. At this point I was still driving my grey Tacoma, so maybe this silver 4Runner was a premonition?
    [​IMG]

    And lastly, leaving Aruba
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Mar 11, 2023 at 7:45 PM
    #4
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Moving east, February 2022

    In February of 2022, Ember and I moved from the Monterey Bay to Colorado Springs. I didn't take many photos on the way out, so this will be a short post.

    Ember sightseeing in Bryce Canyon, Utah:
    [​IMG]

    On the road out of Zion National Park...
    [​IMG]

    And lastly, on a pass along Highway 24, in Colorado.
    [​IMG]

    Next up...the 4Runner photos begin!
     
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  5. Mar 11, 2023 at 8:01 PM
    #5
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Sylvanas 4Runner

    In June of 2022, I decided to trade the 2017 Taco in for a 4Runner. When we bought the Tacoma new, in 2017, we had a family of four (my wife and I and two daughters), and two dogs. By the time 2022 rolled around, my family had shrunk to just me and Ember (a divorce and my daughters growing up and moving out). I figured that a 4Runner would be much more practical and comfortable for Ember and I to travel and car camp in, and I no longer needed all the bed space from family travel. I'd owned a 2002 4Runner, so I knew what to expect.

    I searched high and low for a TRD Off Road, and out of six dealerships in the greater Colorado Springs/ Denver area, there was only one 4Runner in stock, and it was an SR5. At the last dealership I called, they said they had a TRD ORP that had just landed at the Port of Long Beach, and I said, "I'll take it!" Beggars can't be choosers, so I had no idea what color it was in, or what options it had. Out of the myriad of colors 4Runners were available in 2022, the only color I absolutely didn't want was silver. I asked the salesman what color it was in almost as an afterthought, and he promptly replied, "silver".

    Picking up "Sylvanas 4Runner" at the dealership, June 2022:
    [​IMG]

    Fast forward and here's what she looks like in March of 2023. The mods were a 2" Old Man Emu lift kit with heavy springs, Method 701 wheels in Bronze, Toyo Open Country MT's in 255/80R17, Sherpa Equipment Crestone roof rack, Two different Pelican "Cargo" line cases, a row of 10L gas and water jerrycans with Landrover mounting brackets, removed the 60% rear seat and seat base (for my bed), window wind deflectors, removed the OEM running boards, replaced the front grille with the TRD Pro style grille, removed the TRD Off Road decals on the sides, and next week I'll be having a Hefty Fab low profile front bumper and Warn winch installed.
    [​IMG]

    Ember and I have gotten out to do as much exploring as possible, since moving to Colorado (already have 15k miles on the truck), and one of our favorite places to go is Pike's Peak, at 14,100'.
    [​IMG]

    The view from 14,100'
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Mar 11, 2023 at 8:19 PM
    #6
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Million Dollar Highway May 2022

    Whoops, I have to backtrack briefly for a quick road trip that we took in May of 2022. I'd been through central Colorado a couple times over the years on motorcycle rides with my buddies, but this was my first trip with Ember. I'll throw in a couple shots from the brief excursion.

    Breakfast in downtown Ourey
    [​IMG]

    Looking down on the miniature train set known as Ourey, Colorado...
    [​IMG]

    And a bit further up the highway (heading south), Silverton, Colorado:
    [​IMG]

    I've been over Molas Pass quite a few times now, and I never get tired of the view. Absolutely stunning scenery.
    [​IMG]

    A dear friend of mine is named Shannon, so I had to stop and snap this photo to send her:
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Jul 17, 2023 at 9:56 PM
    #7
    xrevolver

    xrevolver New Member

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    You and Ember surely enjoyed so many nice places!
     
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  8. Jul 18, 2023 at 4:22 AM
    #8
    2020 4Runner

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    I agree, and that is also a very good looking dog!
     
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  9. Jul 18, 2023 at 6:23 AM
    #9
    Ironguy

    Ironguy New Member

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    Nice photo album, thanks for sharing.
     
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  10. Jul 18, 2023 at 7:45 AM
    #10
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks very much you guys, I appreciate it. I hate to admit, I actually stopped posting to this thread because I didn't think anyone was looking at it. I'll get off my lazy butt and start adding photos again.
     
  11. Jul 18, 2023 at 8:01 AM
    #11
    DirtyHairy

    DirtyHairy Card-holding Member

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    I’m enjoying the pics. You travel to some beautiful spots with your pup.
     
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  12. Jul 18, 2023 at 8:03 AM
    #12
    Jedi5150

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    Exploring Colorado 2022


    These next shots will be from a few road trips while exploring Colorado.

    Alpine Loop/ Engineer Pass:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Traffic jam at a rare wide spot on California Pass...
    [​IMG]

    Gold Camp Road:
    [​IMG]

    Great Sand Dunes National Park:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Jul 18, 2023 at 8:35 AM
    #13
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks Dirty Hairy, much appreciated!


    Cross-Country Road Trip 2022:

    In October of 2022, Ember and I took a road trip out to visit my sister, in New Jersey. We swung by Niagara Falls, the Buffalo Naval Yard museum, Washington DC, New York, and Maine, before making our way back to Colorado Springs.

    Niagara Falls:
    [​IMG]

    Ember poses in front of the iconic clocktower in Scranton, PA, shown in the opening credits to The Office. If you look closely you can see someone put a "Dunder Mifflin" sign on the tower.
    [​IMG]

    Inside the "gun house" on one of the 16" gun turrets aboard the USS New Jersey, in Philly...
    [​IMG]

    The WWII Memorial in the Mall, Washington DC:
    [​IMG]

    Ember testing the waters at a little lake in New Hampshire...
    [​IMG]

    A photo my sister took of Ember, where Washington crossed the Delaware:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some excellent fish in Portland, ME:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2023
  14. Jul 18, 2023 at 8:51 AM
    #14
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Utah January 2023:

    The next road trip Ember and I went on was through southern Utah, in January. The first couple photos are from Bryce Canyon:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Jul 18, 2023 at 9:10 AM
    #15
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Mexico March 2023:

    In March of 2023, Ember and I headed to Mexico, with the intent of living there for a while. As it turned out, Mexico was not very dog-friendly, so we didn't end up staying more than a month or so. Many places we went in Mexico were gorgeous, so I don't want to sound like I'm trash-talking it, but if anyone plans to take their pup to the country, shoot me an PM and I'll relay our experiences.

    Ember posing with the memorial at March AFB museum, on our way south.
    [​IMG]

    Ember at "The Wall". I hope to hike the Pacific Crest Trail next year, so when we headed to Mexico we stopped at the southern terminus of the trail.
    [​IMG]

    Southern terminus of the PCT:
    [​IMG]

    A rainy day in Ensenada.
    [​IMG]

    The road out to Mike's Sky Ranch, in Baja California. The next few photos will all be from Mike's Sky Ranch. It snowed on the second day as I was leaving there... Snow is now what I expected in Mexico. Hahaha
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Jul 18, 2023 at 9:15 AM
    #16
    Ironguy

    Ironguy New Member

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    Excellent!!
     
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  17. Jul 18, 2023 at 4:10 PM
    #17
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks! Glad you're enjoying them! :D

    Mexico Continued:

    Ember and I housesat for a friend just outside San Felipe. The Sea of Cortez is in the background.
    [​IMG]

    The Baja 250 is held in San Felipe every year:
    [​IMG]

    Exploring the desert west of San Felipe.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Alpine meadows, lakes, and pine forests are not what people typically think of when they picture Baja, Mexico, but they certainly exist. This is the Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Martir.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    An oasis further south along Hwy 1, north of Catavina:
    [​IMG]

    Sometimes when we run through the desert with reckless abandon, we get cactus stuck in our fur...
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Jul 18, 2023 at 4:19 PM
    #18
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Mexico 2023 Continued:

    Our campsite near the Baja California/ Baja California Sur state line:
    [​IMG]

    Ember posing with the La Paz city sign...
    [​IMG]

    To quote Otis Redding, Ember is sittin' on a dock of the bay in La Paz:
    [​IMG]

    A hot day in Cabo San Lucas.
    [​IMG]

    These next two shots were taken along the Bahia Concepcion bay, on the Sea of Cortez:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Jul 18, 2023 at 7:53 PM
    #19
    2Toys

    2Toys Imperial Star Cruiser

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    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing this with us.
     
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  20. Jul 18, 2023 at 9:58 PM
    #20
    xrevolver

    xrevolver New Member

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    Keep those beautiful photos of your adventures coming!
     
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  21. Jul 19, 2023 at 11:39 AM
    #21
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks Gents!

    Mexico to Maine to the Pacific Northwest:

    These next two posts will catch me up to date. When Ember and I left Mexico, we headed back over to New England again.

    Campsite east of Tucson.
    [​IMG]

    I won't bore you with all of them, but on this drive I continued my tradition of pulling over at the state lines, to snap a photo, whether it was day or night. I think I'm up to 37 states (39 states if you count the two states in Mexico) that I have a photo of my 4Runner next to. Not bad considering I bought it a year ago, and many of them I've been to more than once. :)
    [​IMG]

    Ember and I spent a week with my sister and brother-in-law in Princeton, NJ. This next shot was inside the cathedral at Princeton University:
    [​IMG]

    The largest Hindu temple in the world is just outside Trenton, NJ, so we went and did some sightseeing. Everything you see was hand-carved...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm something of a nut when it comes to touring ships and submarines. I would have a difficult time listing all of them that I've toured, both museums and active duty vessels. But this trip was my first time visiting Battleship Cove, in Fall River, Mass. This is the battleship USS Massachusetts:
    [​IMG]

    For any military history buffs, the USS Massachusetts is a South Dakota class battleship, which was the predecessor to the Iowa class battleships. It used 16" guns like the Iowas, but at a slightly lower velocity. Of the four Iowa classes, I've toured all but one. I've been on the Mighty Mo, the New Jersey, and the Iowa. This was my first time touring a SD class.
    [​IMG]

    And a Gearing class destroyer, USS Joseph P. Kennedy.
    [​IMG]

    In Maine, Ember and I got to explore the old battery at Fort Knox, along the Penobscot River.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  22. Jul 19, 2023 at 11:52 AM
    #22
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Mexico to Maine to the Pacific Northwest continued:

    A shot of the bridge crossing the Penobscot River:
    [​IMG]

    Ember posing in front of the Bass Harbor Head lighthouse, on the very southern tip of Mount Desert Island.
    [​IMG]

    Hiking in the woods south of Bar Harbor...
    [​IMG]

    A couple Arleigh Burke class destroyers at Bath Iron Works.
    [​IMG]

    Standing on the deck of the USS The Sullivans, a Fletcher class destroyer. The bigger ship behind it is the USS Little Rock, which is the only surviving Cleveland class light cruiser. These were at the Buffalo Naval Park, in upstate New York.
    [​IMG]

    Since we found ourselves in Buffalo again, we had to swing by Niagara Falls for a second time. Ember was much more relaxed and less nervous than our previous trip there.
    [​IMG]

    After living out of the 4Runner for several months across Mexico and the US, Ember and I finally found a place to settle down for a bit in Washington. I'm excited to get out and start doing some exploring, there seem to be a lot of good forest service roads in the area, as well as tons of hiking trails. Here's Ember in Leavenworth, Washington:
    [​IMG]

    The Wenatchee River runs right behind our place.
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for following along with all these photos. There won't be any more for a while, and when I do add some, they'll just be exploring the local area, by 4Runner and backpacking, since we don't have any more road trips planned for the foreseeable future.
     
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  23. Jul 19, 2023 at 7:42 PM
    #23
    2Toys

    2Toys Imperial Star Cruiser

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    When you get the itch to travel again, there is a captured German U-boat, the U-505, in the Museum of Science and Industry on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. There is one of the early Boeing 727-100s mounted to a balcony inside the museum, N7017U. Both of those are well worth the tour. The U-boat has an audio program via headsets that informs while moving inside the submarine. The Boeing 727 has an audio visual program that runs several times a day.
     
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  24. Jul 19, 2023 at 8:38 PM
    #24
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks for the head's up on the 727, that sounds like a cool thing to see, as I'm also interested in aviation. I've toured the U505, but not since I was a teenager (several decades ago).

    Since you mentioned the U505, I have to brag... :D
    Here's a list of just the submarines I've been on:

    Balao class WWII subs:
    USS Pampanito (San Francisco)
    USS Lionfish (Fall River)
    USS Becuna (Philadelphia)

    Gato class WWII subs:
    USS Cod (Cleveland)
    USS Croaker (Buffalo)

    Sturgeon class cold war era sub:
    USS Drum (San Diego/ Point Loma)

    Los Angeles class fast attack sub:
    Can't recall the name (San Diego/ Pt. Loma)

    The Drum and the LA class subs were still in active service when I toured them, as were the USS Missouri, a Ticonderoga class, Kittyhawk, Constellation, and the Oliver Hazard Perry. In addition to subs, I've toured 4 battleships, three cruisers, one frigate, four aircraft carriers, two destroyers, a liberty ship, etc. Of all the sub museums, the USS Cod in Cleveland, OH is by far the best condition. It sailed to Cleveland under its own power, and almost everything is original equipment.

    Next on my to do list is the USS Turner Joy, a Forrest Sherman class destroyer in Bremerton. I've walked over to it twice, but both times I was catching the ferry to Seattle and didn't have time to tour it. Now that I'm living just a couple hours away, I plan to make the trip there soon.
     
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  25. Jul 19, 2023 at 10:02 PM
    #25
    xrevolver

    xrevolver New Member

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    Ember is really good at posing!
     
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  26. Jul 20, 2023 at 7:33 AM
    #26
    Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 [OP] New Member

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    Vehicle:
    2022 4Runner ORP
    Haha, thank you! She loves doing it. I always reward her with praise and playing with her toy as soon as she's done posing. And being a Malinois, she wants to leap up onto any nearby high object (walls, fences, rocks, etc.), and she's got great balance. I've gotten pretty good at catching her in my arms, mid-leap, when she tries to get up on something I don't want her on (like a wall with a cliff on the other side), which usually gets laughs from anyone nearby.
     
  27. Dec 19, 2023 at 8:02 PM
    #27
    The Knitted Brow

    The Knitted Brow New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2021
    Member:
    #24427
    Messages:
    317
    Gender:
    Male
    Vehicle:
    2020 White 4Runner
    Great picture. It looks like Ember is assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk and on pass.
     
    Jedi5150[QUOTED][OP] likes this.
  28. Mar 19, 2024 at 12:00 AM
    #28
    seakuv

    seakuv New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2024
    Member:
    #38951
    Messages:
    79
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Dave
    Palmer, Alaska
    Vehicle:
    2024 TRD Offroad Premium
    Falken Wildpeak A/T3W, All interior lights LED, Twiststep for the doggo,
    Gorgeous scenery and a beautiful girl!
    Thanks for sharing.
     
    Jedi5150[OP] likes this.

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