American Vandal

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Tazewell County Libertarian Central Committe

I have been busy in Peoria working with the Libertarian Party of Greater Peoria over the past year. A few of us on this side of the river are ready to continue the experiment to Tazewell County.

I am an official councilman for Tremont Precinct 3. I know it sounds really official, but its more like a place-marker. Its lets the county know we have people representing the party in our area. We are not going away.

If you have any interest in local politics and want to be part of making a change… Please follow my page. (No commitment necessary!!!!)

Let the games begin!


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Eclipse Coverage 2017

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Illinois Taxes

I should probably specify and say Mackinaw/Tremont taxes when I title this post.  I get updates all the time from Zillow… I would be best served to delete this ap… I waste time looking at houses, knowing I’m not moving anywhere for five years at least.

Anyway… I am seeing a trend and it’s scaring the hell out of me. Look at the tax increases on these properties… 2015 is a slight bump. 2016 is a huge bump. What’s going to happen when the numbers show up from 2017? Big bucks! This is happening on improved properties and vacant lots.

How can we sustain these increases? Is everyone else getting an extra couple grand pay increase?

I said it was a mistake to vote for more loans for the DeeMack school… No matter how you reorganize the debt… High taxes like these will drive people out. This is not even taking big employers into consideration. What if Cat or State Farm moves a 1000 jobs? Will that football field and track be enough to keep people happy with the debt load?

We shall see what happens. But I can say this… At this rate of increase, I may balk on the first statement about living here. We might not make five years!

Btw… Ours went up 22% last year.

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Instagram and Snappy Chatty

Well… I have done it. Broken through to more social media nonsense. Instagram and Snapchat to be specific. God help me!

Instagram: Planetstahl, TheBeerReport, fortstoyota
Snap Chat: thebeerreport

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Rose Garden Hill Breakdown – The Recovery

Continued from Rose Garden Hill Breakdown Post.

We were happy to get back to camp after the “trail repair” on Rose Garden Hill.  It had been a long hot day and we were looking forward to grabbing showers before hitting the campground. The word “campground” would paint a mental picture of campers, tents, and facilities for dining and showering.  Our campground was not so luxurious…  It was a few gravel slots backed up the Colorado river, about 5 miles out of Moab.  This camping is super cheap (5 bucks a day), but it’s also super thin on amenities.  Bathrooms (Fancy holes in the ground) are included…  Showers are not a feature that come with this price.  

Our original plan was to stop at the KOA and pay five bucks for a shower.  But they closed before we got back to town.  Showers were out.

We got back to our sparse campsite.  I washed off as much bearing grease as I could from my 5 gallon portable water tank…  Took a camp shower from there (Don’t know what a camp shower is?  Just ask sometime, I’d rather not describe it here).

End of the day… This hit the spot

Jake and I talked it over a very refreshing and cold beer.  Obviously, we were not going to be doing any more wheeling the next day with his FJ in its current state.  Our priority as a vacation was to get Jake’s truck up and repaired so we could finish out the trip.  

The nearest Toyota Dealer from Moab is Western Slope Toyota in Grand Junction.  Now, you might be saying “Why go to a Toyota Dealer?”.  First off…  I’m partial to my profession.  I trust our techs more than anyone on a newer FJ like this.  Secondly, Jake’s FJ is a 2014 with roughly 25,000 miles.  Our first hope was that this upper ball joint failure would be warrantable.  In order to make this a clean process…  Going to the dealer first was our best bet.  Was this warrantable?  In my opinion… Yes.  We were off road… No question.  Were we baja blasting and damaging the truck by being reckless?  No.  When the ball joint came loose…  We were crawling and and creeping up the hill and that joint should not have popped out.  

Rigged ball joint.

The drive from Moab to Grand Junction is about 120 miles.  I can tell you with complete certainty that it feels 5 times that long when you are watching the road for bumps and stopping to adjust ratchet straps.  The straps did loosen over the drive.  Those extra straps and frequent stops were completely necessary!

We rolled into Western Slope Toyota in Grand Junction about 10AM.  The Service Advisors were super friendly and said that we were gonna be OK on the warranty repair and they would move it up to the front of the line.  There were a couple problems with our repair though…  Grand Junction Colorado gets their parts from a Toyota parts depot in Dallas Texas.  It would be a few days before that Upper Control Arm (UCA) would be ready and installed.  Then…  Their alignment shop would need to be scheduled.  Holy smokes…  We were days out for a warranty repair!  

Western Slope Waiting room… Buckets in the service drive.

There was an alternative…  Order UCA’s on Amazon Prime using overnight shipping.  The guys at Western Slope were open to this.  This would remove Toyota from paying for a warranty repair, but we would be on the trail in another day.  Western Slope said they could do the work the next afternoon, but were not sure if there was enough time to do the alignment that same day.  We ordered Total Chaos UCA’s from Amazon with the expectation of having the fine guys at Western Slope do the work.  

Social Media is a wonderful thing.  Jake had put out a message on the FJ Summit forums on Facebook about his breakdown and wanting to know if anyone had UCA’s handy.  That didn’t pan out… But we did get a message from Keith and “Keiths Garage” in Grand Junction. Keith offered to get the FJ done as soon at the UCA’s arrived and to get it to his alignment guys ASAP when he was done.  Keith had a long history of working on Toyota 4×4’s in this part of Colorado and was well spoken about of by the locals.  This was a no-brainer.  

Keith’s Garage to the rescue.

This night…  We found a nice Best Western on the Northeast side of Grand Junction.  We had one criteria… An outdoor pool.  This hotel had one indoor and one outdoor.  It was a perfect situation for this dusty crew!  

After a dip in the pool…  Everyone got cleaned up and we headed to downtown Grand Junction.  If you have not been there…  Its worth stopping by.  Lots of cool shops and a nice brewpub kept us entertained and well fed for the night.

The next day…  The UCA’s showed up at Toyota at 10AM.  The guys at Western Slope Toyota were cool with our change of plans. They were completely backed up with work and they were really shoehorning us in to get the FJ fixed that quickly.  It was a relief to not force our truck into their schedule.  We ran to Keith’s shop where he was waiting with open arms…  By 4PM the truck was aligned and back on the road.  Keith and all the kind folks in Grand Junction saved the trip!  

The “magic” photo spot!

Now it was off to FJ Summit X.

After we were all in Ouray…  We had dinner at Buen Tiempo.  “Buen” seems to be our annual dinner stop when we are at Summit.  We had our dollar bill planted on their towering two story roof (If you don’t know how they do it…  Give the waiter a buck and watch).  When we were heading out, we ran into Woody and Heather Swearengen.  The owner of chatted with us about his imported Landcruiser.  I was schooled on the different models numbers for RHD, LHD, Petrol and Diesel models.  (because, someday I will have one!)  Woody and his wife are great folks and I always recommend signing up for Ih8mud for Toyota 4×4 fans of any skill level.  

Thursday morning we had a plan to hit the top most pass at FJ Summit.  Imogene pass is a rough trail road that runs 17 miles between Ouray and Telluride.  At its topmost peak, it tops out at 13,100 ft.  This is not like Pikes Peak or Mt Evans… You are crossing streams, climbing steep inclines, pinstriping your truck and grinding up your off-road tires on sharp rocks.  

The climb through the mountains was a striking contrast to camping in Moab just days before.  The weather was slightly cool with an air of dampness.  Everything was green!  Even the upper elevations above the treeline the small amounts of green were a glowing vision of life versus the overwhelming brown tones of eastern Utah.  When we reached the top of Imogene pass, it was crowded with Toyota trucks that were trailing with groups from FJ Summit.   We waited for about 30 minutes before we could pull off this picture of our trucks at with the sign.  It was cold at the top… But again…  After sweating and being wrung out in Moab…  It was a welcome change of season.  I told everyone to suck it up.  The temps back in Illinois were around 100 and these 50 degree winds would be forgotten as soon as we hit Kansas on the way home.

Top of Imogene

After hitting Telluride we had to call it over for the Stahl’s.  My family had to get back to Illinois to get my daughter to camp on Saturday.  Our layover in Grand Junction had cost us a day on the trails in Colorado and this was last hurrah.

Jacob and family spent another few days in the area before heading back.  His exploration led him to Bangs Canyon in Grand Junction.  Which, judging by the pictures and his reviews… Is a great place to run around in for a day.


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Miami Sunrise

Taken during my trip to Miami.  January 20th 2017 on Ocean Beach.

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First Snow

The new Iphone 7 has a movie maker ap that is auto installed…  Tried it out yesterday.  Meh…

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Scout Parade

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Common Ground at the Debate?

One thing I did learn at this weeks 4 Party debate at the Lariat…  We all generally see the same problems and mostly want the same things for everyone.

Thats pretty vague right?  I’m sorry!

I listened to the issues presented to the representatives by the moderator and listened to each answer.  More often than not, no matter the party, I found myself pulling out thought provoking points.  (Except for when Sheldon was pulling out terrible quotes from the Trump campaign as needed for comic relief).

I personally think that the mouthpieces for each of these parties at the national level are my problem.  Hillary is scandal ridden and I honestly feel like she is an example of “Cheaters can win”.  Moreover, she makes me believe that Karma is not a thing, since she doesnt seem to worry about it.   I cant support her in any fashion.  Matt Fields spoke for the Democrats at this debate, and I had to say, I thought he came off as a reasonable person.  I was impressed.  For some reason, I was expecting a snotty and unattached person closer to some kind of robotic socialist.

Scott Summers represented the Green Party and he had a ton of great points over the hour and a half.  I think he might get my vote for the state senate seat.  Our guy, Ben Hausan presented great libertarian points and made some compelling arguments for our cause.

My takeaway:  Everyone one of us is concerned about War, Education, Taxes, Healthcare and the future of the country.  It also proved to me that we have so many people that would make better representitives for our parties…  How did those two at the top of the Ballot get there?

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