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Safety Clinic May 2011

Safety Clinic May 2011Hollister Hills SVRA Everyone was there (pretty much)

I took Friday off so I could enjoy the sunshine and dirt of Hollister before the clinic. I rolled down to Hollister by around 11am. Darell, Robert, Ashley, Brian, and I went out to finish marking the trails in the early afternoon. I jumped in and out of Brian's jeep all day long with out a glitch. Half way through marking, Brian and I switched. He was kind enough to let me drive his jeep and he jumped in and out hammering the markers into the ground.

Friday afternoon, Myself, Gary, Greg, and Brian went the old O course to play around. I needed to see how my new axles, brakes, and suspension was working to make sure no lines were stretched and that everything would checkout for trail leading on Saturday. We had some fun playing around. We got air under all four tires of Brian's jeep. We got Gary hung up on some logs for a good 20min. And I got to stretch my new axles out and make sure 4 wheel drive worked.

Friday night rolled around and I found myself going to Grillin' & Chillin' with Tom, Andy, and Ellen. We had a great dinner. My sober mind realizes I owe them each 2+ dollars for the balance of my bill. (Sorry, by Friday night my math skills weren't working too well).

Saturday clinic started early. Everyone jumped into action and the well oiled machine was moving full steam ahead by 7:30am. I spent the morning doing Safety Inspections and parked my jeep at the front of the Yellow line.

After the students had been shuttled off to the classroom I decided to prep my jeep for the day. As I aired down my driverside front tire I noticed some bolts seemed like they were backed out of my hub. Well, sure enough the entire hub was loose. Upon some disassembly, it was clear that every single bolt in the hub had sheered in half, nothing was holding the hub on. Thankfully, I had a drill and bits, Tom had easy outs, and we got 4 of the 5 broken bolts out of the hub. I even had some WARN hub studs thanks to Jay from a few months earlier. Tom and I swapped in those studs, bolted the hub back together and I was good to go for trail lead all before the students even came back. Little did I know that fixing my jeep might not be such a good idea.

We had a nice lunch and then headed out to the O Course. I was trail lead for the yellow group, a group that besides myself and mid-gunner was completely comprised of Toyotas. I demoed the Frame Twister to the students and then proceeded to park my jeep. Upon parking my jeep I jumped down to jog back to the Obstacle and watch/ take pictures of the students running through it. Well... I didn't make it. As soon as I jumped out of my jeep I landed on the ridge of one of those dried ruts and my ankle rolled over and make a nice 'pop' Needless to say, I crumpled. First aid was not far away, Michael (one of the students) grabbed ice, and I told him where my first aid kit was with my ace bandage. (Good teaching moment as to why we pack first aid kits). I sat for about 20min icing my ankle then decided the show must go on. I tightened my boot tight and led the group over to the stair step.

I led my yellow group for about 2-3 more hours until we came down to Area 5. At that point, my ankle was throbbing and Robert and Ashley had kindly volunteered to bail me out and take over as trail lead.

A huge thank you to Mike Sickles for the Advil (I owe you a new bottle), Darell for the beer, and Jim for the shot of Jameson. The club really came to my aid and even helped me load up my jeep and truck.

I had a great dinner and chatted with folks a bit more. It then became clear to me (finally) that I wasn't going to be jeeping Sunday now that I hurt my ankle. The Advil and alcohol was wearing off and it occurred to me that sleeping in my bed at home was going to be much better then waking up with a stiff ankle at Hollister the next morning. I quickly gathered my things, and left around 8pm.

Sunday at 11am I got an x-ray and the saw the doc. Nothing appears to be broken. She said it looks like I tore a tendon, but probably no surgery. As of today I am slightly walking on it. It is still hugely swollen, nice black, blue, red, purple, green, blue colors. But I should be fine.

"almost" Lastly, I want to say I am very blessed (lucky) to be part of a such an amazing club, with amazing people. Sitting back and watching clinic "happen" is a sight to see. Everybody gives so much, and everything is down with such care and passion. Despite all of the work going on, people were still willing to help me out when needed. My friend Jarrett who came down for the day to be my co-pilot was blown away by effort, organization, and execution of the clinic. He works with a lot of volunteer organizations and was very impressed by the scope of our clinic.

My apologies for hurting myself and not being able to be a better part of the after clinic ED4 hospitality. I would have loved to talk to more of the students and been a part of their checkout process and personally welcomed them to join our club. That said, I know everyone else in the club was able to do that.

I am very lucky to be president of such a great club, you all make it easy.

Thank you, CJ Arnesen

Safety Clinic / May 2011

Hello all, I am Vidas Mickevicius, prospective member of ED4. I am traveling right now, so that only now I have access to my laptop to prepare this report.

I attended with my son Lukas who is 18 and will go to college this fall. We arrived on Friday at 3pm. After dropping off our stuff and airing down at Area 5 we went on some trails: Truck Hill, Fremontia, and White Rock. Then we went back to Area 5, set our tent and joined people around the fire for potlock dinner. It was real fun to meet so many 4wheelers in one place sharing their stories and talking about their rigs. To my surprise, I found so many wine enthusiasts at that dinner - thanks for sharing some really good wines!

I took ED4 Safety Clinic in 2002 and did not intend to take it again. But I learned that my duties (as prospective member) in this Clinic are just to help cleanup after the dinner on Saturday, so that I had full day of Saturday to do something. I talked to my son and we decided that he would take the Clinic. I checked with CJ and he said that registration would start at 8am on Saturday, and that walk-ins were welcome. So I registered my son Lukas for the Clinic. Lukas had experience in driving our TJ with manual in the city and some light offroad, but most of his 4x4 experience was "theoretical" - wheeling on the passenger seat and spoting for me. This Clinic was a real good practical experience for Lukas. Also theoretical part in and around the classroom was very useful and fun - instructors did perfect job keeping us all engaged! All trail guides were very knowledgeable and nice people - and I want to thank them all again. Our group had predominantly Jeeps with manuals! I rode along with my son but allowed him to make decisions on his own. He did well, I think. On staircase he wanted to use lockers and crawl slowly. I convinced him that this was his time of learning how to drive without lockers and become a good Jeep driver. Lukas learned what means the right momentum and spin control while crawling slipery stairs. His first attempt failed but second was perfect. After Saturday dinner and cleanup we left because my son had things to do at home on Sunday. Else we would have stayed another night.

We both had very good time. The trails were fun and not dusty as usual for this time of the year (effect of California cooling - I guess ;-) and weather was perfect. Our only concern was poison oak. Lukas had a bad case of poison oak just prior to this Clinic and he was still on medications. We took extreme precautions not to touch Jeep and wash our hands and faces whenever possible. It helped.

Overall this Clinic was very good. Organization was perfect. I can imagine that distributing 40+ rigs on trails is logistical nightmare, but everything worked like swiss watch. I was very happy that there were so many young people in this Clinic. It is important for our hobby (or passion) to have young people to get involved and help to promote a positive image of 4wheeling. Once again, thanks to all organizers!

See you soon, Vidas

May Safety Clinic Trip report

I arrived at Camp Area 5 on Friday night and parked next to Tom. V andJim. O.  After Tom and I set up, we met up with CJ and Ellen and we
headed out for a meal over at Grillin' and Chillin'.  I have to say
that it that is a great place to eat.  Good beer and the burgers
rocked.  We headed back and hung out for a bit and turned in.  I slept
in my LJ and I found out that when you're parked at a down hill angle,
your sleeping back tends to slide on the carpet and then one winds up
"squashed".

Next morning started really good, with some coffee and some good eats
and I was pretty surprised how many students were driving in.  After a
while it warmed up and was turning into a really nice/toasty day.  I
made my way down to the Stair Steps and helped out with Brian, Lorrie,
and Greg.  Other than the big hole at the top of the obstacle filled
with water, there were no issues, even CJ made it look easy with a
messed up ankle. It's really cool to see a big smile on the students
face as they make it up.
All in all, good time

Hollister Hills Roadside Clean up - April 2011

Thank you to everyone who stepped up to join us for the roadside clean up at Hollister Hills this weekend. It was a glorious weekend and we had a strong turn out.

The HHORA meeting went until just before noon and when it let out, the ED4 crew had gathered. There was a slight mix-up with the park staff in that they had apparently just cleaned the roadside the day before. So we reduced the number of road side crew and send ten of the 16 folks into the upper ranch to do some trail clean-up. Josh, Greg, Mike, Tom, Ole and myself attacked the road. Even with them just having cleaned the roadside we still collected 5-6 bags of trash.

BTW, in my estimation the number one item picked up was beer cans/bottles with the second category of fast food wrappers.

After 2 hours we met up back at the HHORA training building and piled up our junk. Great photo opp for the crew. We had bags of garbage, tires, signs and other crap. We ended the day with a legislative update from Jeff on Clear Creek and the offroad trust fund situation.

I appreciate that ED4 stepped up to help out with this clean up. It was great to see such an out pouring of support both from new members and old timers. Multiple drivers shouted out their thanks as they drove past. With all of the battles around offroad access it is important that the offroad community put their best foot forward. Opportunities like this clean-up day help keep us in good standing with the local community.

Thank you to everyone who came out.

Attendees:

David Grubman, Trail Boss Brian McMinn Rick Montez Greg Quintana Joshua Farnsworth Daryl Nelson Micheal Sickels Brian Ryder Connie Wison Tom Vella Ellen Layendecker John Ruiz Michael Cline Loro Paterson Richard Beard Howard Knutson Ole Stortroen Jason Green Jim O’Leary

Mini-trip report for Hollister Hills trip

Mini trip report. I loaded up the trailer last night and headed down to the park this morning for the HHORA meeting and to connect up with Andy.  After I loaded up the trailer I noticed that for some reason one of the trailer tires was rubbing in the fender. So I removed the fender.

Meeting was exceptionally boring and lasted over two hours. By the time I made it into the park, I was not able to find Andy. I tooled around for a couple of hours and packed it up to go home. I LOVE the new setup. It is nice to have a front locker. Park was crowded.

On the way home I got pulled over for speeding. ... then he saw no plates on the trailer...

The officer intended to impound the trailer with the Jeep on it. After I unhooked the trailer and pulled all my tools out of the back of the Jeep the officer realized that they could not put the trailer and the Jeep on a police wrecker and he just gave me the stations and let me take the trailer/Jeep home.

My wife is working on getting plates for the trailer and I picked a nice spot on the trailer for my new cow bell.

Slick Rock

Here is highlight of Saturday’s run Saturday we (John R, CJ, Dennis and his son, Greg Q., Brian and his family) decided to run the Slick Rock trail from Utica to Alpine. The water crossing right after the stair steeps was high. It was around 30” deep but not moving fast. Everyone made it thru fine but Greg’s Jeep made some strange noises. 10 minutes later as we were getting ready to go up the Slick rock section Greg’s Jeep over heated. All the fan blades on his only fan had broke off.

As everyone was figuring out what to do I remember I run 2 extra electric fans. We spent the next hour pulling one fan off my Jeep. Then we took Greg’s fan out of his Jeep. We were then able to combine parts from both fans to something that would install in Greg’s Jeep.

Greg was able to drive his Jeep out his no major issues. I think he made it home.

It was one of those time where everything came together. I had an extra fan. CJ had snips to cut the mount up. Brian had the torx sockets. Dennis and his son gave muscle and support.

Adopt a Trail

Hi All: I left home about 12:00 and arrived after about three hours. I setup camp at the Big Meadow campground, about 1.6 miles east of 7n09 on Hwy 4, and decided to look for 7n09 and 7n23 to get oriented. I tried to go down 7n09 a ways but the snow stopped me fairly quickly. I went up 7n23 a ways as well until snow stopped me there also. After my initial exploring I decided to get some supplies at the grocery store in Arnold. On the way out of town I stopped at the Snowshoe Brewing Company for a brew and some dinner. I highly recommend the Grizzly Brown Ale.

The next morning I drove to the intersection of 7n09 and Hwy 4 and waited for the others to arrive. After a short nap Dennis, Dennis' son, Loro, Jason, Mike, Chuck, Brad, and Jim arrived. (Hope I got all the names right!) After introductions Jason, Mike, Chuck and Jim left to setup camp. After a short while they returned and the festivities began in earnest. First we went onto the Corral Hollow trail. Initially, snow was intermittent but I somehow still managed to get stuck. A quick pull and we were on our way. Later more significant snow appeared and I could not get onto it so we let the others go first. Once they had gone by, except for Chuck I think, I tried again after airing down some more. Since the others had reduced the slope of the snow I made on the first try. We had lunch at the cabin. Shortly after the cabin the snow became too deep and the trail was lost so we turned around. next we headed toward the Horse Gulch campground. We made it all the way to the campground over intermittent snow. Towards the end the snow became more significant. Some trees were kissed in the process and one didn't appreciate the advances and crunched my fender to show its displeasure. Some strapping was required here and there, and a side pull with a winch was demonstrated by Jason. Thanks to Dennis for providing the demonstration vehicle. The next day we drove some more of 7n09 in spite of lite rain. Overall I think we cleared 4 or 5 logs over the 2 days but we did not shovel any snow.

Saturday, Dennis and son, Brian, John Ruiz and family, CJ and I ran Slick Rock. We started from the Utica Reservoir end and exited via the Alpine Lake end. We all did the steps OK and then on to the river crossing. It was fairly high but not impassible. Unfortunately my electric fan blades all went for a swim and drowned in the process. The blades all broke off at the base and left me with no cooling. Fortunately, John had an extra fan that we rigged onto my ZJ and we were off. Overall it was a very nice, but a little longer than usual run with a little snow at the end to keep us on our toes.

It was a very nice trip, good times had by all, at least by me!

Can't wait for the next run Greg Quintana

Safety Clinic

My wife and I left our house with our 5th wheel around 11:30 and we arrived at our campgrounds around 1. My wife and I was on the way into the campgrounds and just under a tree when we were coming in was a bobcat that sat down and then laid down under that tree as we passed him the bobcat was about 5 to 10 yards away from us so we took his picture them we went on to the campsite and set up. We had our dinner and waited for her nephew Jared Rose to drive up in my Jeep JK. Him and his girlfriend got there about 9 pm. Sometime after we all went to bed. Saturday we got up at 6:30 am so we could eat breakfast and then get ready to get to the clinic. We got to the clinic and found out that they did not get our reservation so we had to fill out the paper work so that we would be able to participate. We were assigned to the yellow group with Jason as the lead and Connie was in the middle and Dennis was the gunner. The first part was the blue trail and we were the ones right behind Jason so when we came up on the different obstacles we were the first one to try. And we did try them all. The one that we really enjoyed was the one where you straddle the ravine and see if you could make it. Jared was driving and we got the front left wheel about 2 feet off the ground and we kept going and got through and after everyone else went trough I decided to drive it again and I think I made it better than my nephew but we think when he went through the guides were trying to decide how to direct us and when I went through they all knew the best way to take me through. Got a few scratches on the fenders and running board but that is nothing as I mentioned to some of the others it a Jeep and that is what I expected to happen.

After the end we went and turned in the radio and also to check out. We were not able to stay for dinner because my wife and Jared’s girlfriend was waiting for us at our campsite. When I got back and started to relax I could not believe how tired I was so I went to bed early that night.

Sunday morning we had breakfast and packed up our 5th wheel and went home.

Jared and I had a great time participating in the Safety Clinic.

Bob Bragg

Safety Clinic

Ashlee & Robert DeeTrip Report Safety Clinic May 14th and May 15th Friday May 14th,

We arrived at the area five camp ground in the Hollister Hills OHV Park around 8PM on Friday night. We parked our jeep and joined the fire circle. Around 10PM we set up our tent and went to bed for the next day.

Saturday May 15th,

We woke up early Saturday morning. We registered for the clinic after eating breakfast. After we got our Jeep inspected for safety, we joined the line for the yellow group. Then we hitched a ride to the classroom with Sherry, and partook in the informative lecture on wheeling. After the class we returned to the campground and ate lunch with the yellow group while getting a brief briefing on the events for the day. Then we aired down our tires before heading out.

Jason Green was our trail lead. We went on a trail first. Afterwards, we returned to camp for the tire placement and hill stations. Then we switched drivers and went on another trail. We stopped at the ravine as part of the red trail, and both of us were able to drive it relatively safely with the help of the spotters (even though I almost ran over Mike). Afterwards we proceeded to the obstacle course and took part in the stair climb hurdle. Then the group split up, half going on to the other obstacle course and half returning to camp. We returned to camp to tear down our tent. We had a great barbeque dinner and even won one of the gift certificates in the raffle. Then we hung out at the fire circle until around 9PM before heading out to go home.

Safety Clinic

Trip Report May 13, 14 and 15, 2010 (Safety Clinic and camping with the group) After work on Friday May 13, I traveled to the Area 5 campground in Hollister with my Jeep Liberty. I was all excited and ready for a fun day of being in the countryside, but when I got there, I noticed my left rear tire was lower pressure than it was when I left. It was actually 10 PSI down per the inside tire pressure display!

Upon inspection, I found a nail, cleverly enjoying it's stay in the sidewall of my tire. Since this did not bode well for a 4 wheel drive trip with the tires aired down, it was time to yank out the High Lift jack and jack up the Jeep to change the tire. I chose to first setup my tent and my rollup table.

That first night was fairly quiet and somewhat warm. I got up at 7:00 AM excited and ready to go but it seemed like nearly everyone else was still asleep. The mist/fog in the air was actually quite pretty and made for a nice relaxing morning. After an exciting breakfast of pop tarts, I drove down to register and be inspected. Cj was our trail lead.

After an exciting morning reinforcing most of my previous back country, experience behaviors and strategys in the class room, we returned back to the area 5 ready to move out. We had lunch and then air'd down. It was funny listening to everybody discussing the best way to air down. Seems like there are many different ways and likewise many different opinions and tools. Then we moved out, not to an exciting and challenging obstacle. No we moved around near my tent where "rocks" and very flat "trees" were setup. The purpose was to learn positioning of the Jeep wheels on top of rocks. Apparently the other intent was to MISS the tree but pull up near it. To my surprise I did manage to do that. In some ways I felt sorry for those that didn't do this first but on the other hand it was kind of a let down. The importance of knowing where your bumpers are and where your tires go when turning is of utmost importance but it isn't exactly the most fun!

Next we did the hill climb, which is driving up a hill and apparently changing our mind in mid climb. The result is you stop on the hill, sometimes you turn off the engine. With an automatic, this playing around on the hill was cake. It will be exciting, challenging when I have my other Jeep running with its manual transmission.

There were really 2 highlights of the day. I am not sure exactly which one was my favorite. There were different levels of difficulty in each obstacle. One was the ravine or trench that required you to carefully drive through it, paying very close attention to your guides. What FUN! They were pulling some vehicles out early, if you were not sure that you would make it. Since I was arrogant and I was having way too much fun, i chose to drive the whole way. It ended way too quickly and suddenly I was through. I really wanted to do it again but I couldn't. (Heavy sigh) The secret here is an even consistent foot and a driver that is paying careful attention to only one guide.

The other fun one was the stairstep. It is a good obstacle and a real challenge but here you needed more throttle but you still wanted to be consistent. It seemed so natural to back off the throttle when you were on a step and preparing for the next step. Hearing the tires squeal when you are in a big 4 wheel drive is amusing, if nothing else, since it is not exactly a race car. When I first looked at the height and the number of steps, I was thinking, "Nope. Not going to make this! This darn Jeep Liberty is way too big and heavy, not to mention under-powered with only a 6 cylinder gas engine." But being arrogant and since I was having way too much fun, I tried it anyway. I followed the guide, trying not to run him over too much. Oddly enough before I knew it I was on the top but then I was faced with the real challenge - making that sharp right turn to go back down.

Since I used to always go alone, as we were just wondering around the trails, I realized that one advantage that I always had was not having to wait for others at intersections when the group gets separated. Apparently you can teach this old dog new tricks because I got reasonably good at this after a while.

As I returned back to camp I realized something was wrong with the Liberty. When I put it back into 2 wheel drive, the part time 4 wheel drive light was still on. I had CJ watch me as I accelerated hard to see if 4 wheel drive was really on or just a sensor not right. Not in 4 wheel drive, so safe to drive home. I aired my tires back up at the ranger station. I did not know about checking out. Oops!

Then we had a great barbecue and a lot of good conversation. Later in the evening some of us wandered back and forth between 2 different fires in our camp area. We listened to some music, chatted, enjoyed some adult beverages and relaxed. Perfect end of the perfect day in the countryside.

Sunday morning rolled around and I had to go back to the real world to do some household chores that I had put off. So, I broke up my camp and away I went!

Thanks for a great weekend and a fantastic Saftey Clinic! Michael Sickels

CAPITOL REEF, MOAB, AND JOSHUA TREE IN APRIL

The lure of the desert to me is a siren’s song. I cannot resist, and so off I went again between 12 and 26 April, 2010. The search for desert solitude, the mystery of the far away unseen places, and the thrill of the trail drew me back to the Utah area yet again. With my friend, Anton, along in my Dodge truck and my Rubicon safely atop its comfort trailer, we headed east. Happy in the expectation of sights we’d see, and comforted by the best C&W radio station in Nevada (KHWG, 750 AM) we rolled across central Nevada. After crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains and after having been robbed by the chain installer/CalTrans collusionists at Applegate, we overnighted in Reno with good friends Paul and Nancy. With snow falling and some slush on the roadway at the Cal Trans mandatory chains required inspection station, we were forced to chain up. We paid the chain installers there who I am convinced are related to or in cahoots with Cal Trans, then drove on up the mountain. Within half a mile, ALL SNOW WAS GONE from the road, and it was clear all the way to the Donner summit (where we unchained at the OK to remove chains sign) and beyond!!!

We chose to travel across Nevada on highway 50, which was called the lonliest road in America by Life magazine in 1996. I really love to drive along roads on which I have never gone, and this route was well worth our time. Treeless flat desert terrain with desert scrub bushes and occasional structural skeletons giving evidence of past human habitants, their struggles, dreams and failures. We are reminded that we are SO very briefly here on this planet.

As we passed by Sand Mountain and began long straight stretches of Hwy 50 across the flats, I was reminded of an account of our friend Paul. He described himself and eight other Porsche club members driving east on Hwy 50 at 100 MPH, and being “eaten up” by a horn blaring semi pulling a flatbed with a load at 120 MPH who flew by them like they were standing still. Whooooooeeeeeee!!! On this road, I could surely see something like that happening.

We lunched in Austin, Nevada, at 6,500 feet, where show was blowing on our arrival. White bean soup with ham felt very nice in the old tummy! On up the slope to 7,484 foot Austin Pass, over the mountain, and again across vast expanses of desert straightaway we rolled. We saw a herd of antelope no more than 100 yards from the highway. A first for me, and totally cool!! Night found us in Ely, Nevada where we saw an old Model A Ford (original engine still in place) converted into a snowmobile. It had skis on struts under its front hubs, and tracks from an old WWI military vehicle as its rear drive mechanism.

Across the forever flats we went. Roads to infinity across the great lands of emptiness as we crossed the great basin . So empty that even the rare range cattle were lonely. At the Nevada/Utah line, we stopped at the Border Inn (imaginatively named, don’t you think?), then continued on. Next services 83 miles. This land impressed me. It is a wide, great and vast land, and I felt privileged to see it. Makes me feel proud to be an American.

In Aurora, Utah, we saw two huge Texas longhorn steers with four foot long grizzly fending weapons on each side of their heads. We saw a nice herd of buffalo just before we arrived in Torrey, Utah, at the edge of the Capitol Reef National Park. We were told that Capitol Reef got its name for a mountain range that settlers thought looked like an ocean reef, and because of a round, pointed limestone formation that looks just like the White House dome in our nation’s capitol.

We visited Gooseneck Point, an overlook into a river canyon near where a sign brags of the cleanest air anywhere in America. The next day, we entered the park to visit the old Mormon settlement in awe. They had planted fruit trees on nearly every flat acre in the valley, and all were in bloom as we visited. From an old blacksmith shop to a “barn raising” barn (still in great shape) to ancient huge cottonwood trees to an RV park among the fruit orchard (a great place to get reservations and stay a week), it had it all!

We drove through the Park, past the stone one room settlers Behunin cabin, and followed the Fremont River downstream. As we did so, whomsoever was driving the Jeep paced a duck at 51 MPH for miles down the river as he flew his fastest to avoid being eaten by the jeep monsters. Honest! We weren’t actually after him. Out paths of travel coincidentally just happened to be the same. After leaving the duck to his own devices, we ventured across the river ford where the scare-as-many-tourists-away-from- the-back-country-as-we-can ranger had told us it was running 16 inches deep and could carry away a low vehicle. We found it to be only 7 or 8 inches in depth!! We then set off to explore the Cathedral Valley Loop trail in the back country of the Park.

On an easy dirt road, we followed across dry mud terrain with very little vegetation and only a few range cattle. We found at the very lowest end of a curving arroyo where ranchers had carefully piped and routed water underground to a lone crystal clear, cattle-love-it, life giving trough in the wilderness many miles from any other water. Stuck in the ground there by the cattle waterer was an old International truck that had been bogged down at some time when the area had been a quagmire. Hub deep and abandoned, its bed had a home made crane setup using timbers, wooden pulleys, and an old engine of unknown make. Great vintage tin photos!

We traveled through the bentonite mounds (maroon and green colored clay hills) and stopped at Courthouse Rock. An old gypsy type sheepherder’s home on wheels, complete with stovepipe and rounded roof provided some photo ops. At the very north end of the valley, the vistas from 7,011 feet were spectacular. After driving through a small campground at the top of the mountain (great for solitude), we descended the edge of the mountain and visited the old Morrel cabin. Only packrats live in it now.

Our journey took us to the great gypsum sinkhole, to the Temple of the Moon (rock formation), and to the Glass Mountain. The latter is a mound about 30 feet across and twenty feet high that rises out of the dull sandstone desert around it. It is composed of gypsum glass and micah. It shone brightly in the afternoon sun, and was fascinating to me. We climbed atop it for the obligatory photos, of course! After our loop trail took us back to Hwy 24 and back into the Park, we saw the capitol dome formation, now called Navajo Dome. It truly is well named. Just outside the Mormon settlement, we took a drive along a road and saw Cottonmouth Rock and the Egyptian Temple.

On Friday, we drove out of the Park on Hwy 24, and traveled up the Noton Valley Road. Eight paved and two dirt miles later, we opted for a 4WD road to McMillan Springs. We never found it! We followed two signs indicating McMillan Springs, then the signs petered out. Six other destinations were signed, but not McMillan Springs. So, we opted for Birch Spring 0.6 miles up a spur road. Two miles later and 8,000 feet up, there was no spring. There was, however, wet mud road and snow half covering it. Caution prevailing, we turned around and returned to the Torrey area and set off for Moab.

In Moab, we met up with Andy Cardenas (Ed4 prosp.), CJ (Ed4 member), Jono (CJ’s friend), and Terry Reiss (Ed4 prosp.?) plus four rigs from Colorado that Andy knew through the internet and a couple from Alaska who live permanently in their motor home while towing their Jeep behind it, Henry and Cindy. Our group; chose to do Cliff Hanger as our first run. Down the hill off Kane Creek Road we went. The first descent was over a hill of ledges and over some huge rock areas to the creek. Up the mesa we worked our way, overcoming ledges and waterfalls of significant size. On top we overlooked the Colorado river loop and the potash ponds beyond the river as we looked north towards Dead Horse Mesa. Along the cliff’s edge, one certain “waterfall” was hard to get up. Many rigs had to be winched up this. When we ascended the final hill of ledges below Kane Creek, I got stuck in a hole and was standing nearly on end. I can tell you, it felt MIGHTY GOOD when we got my winch line attached to a rig above me and I began pulling myself out of the hole. In its first seven years, that was the first time my winch was used to save ME!!! Every dollar spent was instantly justified!!

The next day we took on the DOME PLATEAU! The run on which we had become totally lost last year, and which failure had prompted me to go buy a Garmin 550t navigation device. With its waypoints preset into its route planner, we set off to conquer the Dome Plateau once and for all. Henry also had a GPS device, and we found every point of interest flawlessly. Felt Great!

Up the Colorado River to the Dewey Bridge we went (Anton and I, CJ and Jono, Andy, Tommy and Charlie, Henry and Cindy) only to be saddened at seeing that vandals had fired the old wood bridge and burned it completely across the river’s width.

Up the first hill, through the private property gate, and out onto the plateau we drove. In a ravine not far from La Boca Arch, we found the fork in the road where we had taken the wrong turn last year. NOT THIS YEAR! On to the Arch with no problem, and a nice lunch there was had by all. On the trail again, we went down a long fence line down some good ledges, and onto an overlook above the Professor Valley. The river was 1600 feet below us, and the cliff edge allowed all the view one could stand! Tommy wouldn’t go within thirty feet of the edge. As for myself, the abyss called to me, willing me to lean over, turning my knees to jelly and stopping the breath in my throat. With one trip or misstep, I too could have learned to soar like the red hawk-----for a few seconds anyway.

Next up, we found some huge natural sand bottomed caves in a tall soft sandstone cliff. Numerous caves that went back and up until each ended in a rounded chamber where many folks had graffiti written to brag of their passing. I wondered how many high school senior skip day parties had been held in those caves! From the caves, we continued on and enjoyed two cabins built long ago of railroad ties. Still strong, they will stand many more years before succumbing to nature. We entered a tunnel and enjoyed its coolness. We did not know what ore the miners had been after. Down and around a corner of the hill, I found six tunnels, replete with shoring timbers, not too far from an ore loading chute. Great photos! On we went, ending back to Hwy 128 along the Colorado River. We visited the cliff house where some souls had carved a four room home into the stone cliff. Windows, a fireplace, and stone spiraling staircase to the upper rooms bore testament to how much effort went into the building of the cliff home. All vacant now.

Monday, we did laundry and slept in. We attended the noon meeting of the Moab Rotary (Anton is the incoming president of the Santa Clara Rotary Club), then drove out 313 and down Long Canyon where scenery abounded. We then drove past the potash factory and ponds, and across the 16 miles of valley trail to the steep and sharp Schaffer switchbacks that ascend 1500 vertical feet up to the Dead Horse Mesa. At the foot of the cliff and atop the scree, two young wild mountain sheep graciously allowed us many good photos of themselves.

Tuesday, April 20th, we all met at the City Market and decided to do the Top of the World trail . The whole of the mountain back rose sharply (no falloff to one side or another) for miles. After climbing many ledges, we arrived at the TOP OF THE WORLD!!! W0000000HOOOOOOO!!!! Was it ever worth it! By far the most spectacular overlook I have seen anywhere. We drove our rigs one at a time out onto a large overhanging rock piece under which 3000 feet of nothing awaited. Photos!!! It is just like the scene in The Lion King where the grizzled old baboon shaman held young Simba up on his two hands atop a high rock overlooking the entire valley and assemblage below. 7,053 feet up!!!

We opted to do one loop of Fins and Things before calling it a day. It is a nice little run, and was fun until I felt a metallic thumping in my rig’s rear end. Inspection showed that three of its four longarm suspension kit bolts had broken and the arms had worked themselves out of their sockets. It seems that a metallic crunch while swooping in a gully on the Dome Plateau had in fact done breakage even though it had not been immediately apparent. The driveline had angled up, and all was a mess. Not to fear, CJ and Andy were there! We jacked it up and backed it up until the drive shaft angle was correct, jury rigged three wrong size bolts plus an allen screw held in place with vise grips that allowed me to limp into town. The Moab 4x4 Outpost replaced all the suspension arm bolts with proper ones, and we were on our way.

South to Monument Valley Anton and I went. After overnighting in the new Indian owned Navajo Nation View Hotel, we toured the scenic drive of the valley. We stopped for photos of Fort Bluff (lots of old wagons and history there) and of an old vintage tin truck in the town of Bluff. We headed for the Joshua Tree National Monument via Kingman, Arizona and Tuba City. Enroute, we enjoyed 100,000 watts of FM91.3 KGHR radio, the voice of the Navajo Nation. Oldies and goodies galore! They sure do know good music (Crying, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Viva Las Vegas, Strangers in the Night, Soldier Boy, Under the Boardwalk, Sha Na Na-Get a Job, Louie Louie, Baby, My Girl, Earth Angel, Stand by Me, Johnny B. Good, just to list a few)!! To them we said a heartfelt Ahe Hee, which means Thank You in Navajo.

While traveling up from 5,500 feet to Flagstaff, Arizona at 7,000 feet, as it snowed, we personally saw for twenty miles or more, the three dumbest yet still living guys on earth. Two Harley Davidson motorcycles, one carrying double, ridden by men whose helmets were strapped onto the rear of their cycles. They had bandanas over their faces, nothing atop their heads, and both windshields packed with snow. Can you say stupid macho? Nobody wanted to be the wimp to say he needed his helmet for warmth and safety should they go down in the snowstorm!

From Kingman to Twentynine Palms and the Joshua Tree area we went. Out of Twentynine Palms we entered the Joshua Tree National Monument. We saw many cool campsites among the large sandstone boulders that were present. One such boulder was named Skull Rock; appropriately named. We drove out to Keys’ View for a lookout toward the LA basin, but saw nothing but an ocean of smog trying to work its way up into the mountains where we stood. Booo Los Angeles!! Lots of great Joshua Trees along the way!

On Saturday, we set out to run the four 4WD trails on the Park’s maps. All were SUV trails except for Old Dale Road which had about a mile of real four wheel road in its 32 mile length. We ran the Geology Road, Berdoo Canyon (some mining operation foundations to visit), Pinkham Canyon (great desert flowers), and Old Dale Road trails and were done by 4 PM, even including our frequent photo stops and lunch at a Ranger Station. After the Berdoo trail, we headed into the Coachella valley for fuel. We saw a vast dead citrus grove, its last crop withered and still on the trees that had been abandoned, and which had died for lack of water. Thousands of trees. Very sad!

Back at the Nature Center in Twentynine Palms, I happily took photos of a roadrunner with a lizard in its mouth and of a Gambel’s Quail atop a tree calling for its mate.

WELL, it was an enjoyable two week trip into the desert. I REALLY enjoyed wheeling with the folks there, and plan to go again in the future. Unfortunately, the Moab trip did not qualify as an official Club run since only two Esprit de Four members were present. Maybe next year!!

Keep on Wheeling! Richard

THE MOJAVE DESERT: MARVELS AND MISERY

It all began, as the story goes, with an article in the October, 2005 OFF ROAD ADVENTURES four wheel drive magazine (pgs 40-42) that so captured my imagination that I just HAD to go there. I get these “musts” from time to time, and this one so consumed me that I spread it all over Ed4 and elsewhere. Its photos of Burro Schmidt’s cabin and tunnel, Last Chance Canyon, Bickel Camp, and an old hand-painted roadsign in the desert (that I never did find) combined with its accounts of the area and past adventures attracted me irresistibly. When my daughter, Mallory, whom I had unsuccessfully tried to get to go wheeling with me for all the years I’d owned my Rubicon, told me around Christmas that she would like to go on my next desert adventure wheeling trip, IT WAS ON!!! Just a few days after she’d returned from a trip to Europe, Mallory and I loaded up the Jeep, and trailered it down I-5, out highway 58 through the Tehachapi pass and towards the Mojave Desert. North up highway 14 about a dozen miles or so from 58, we stopped at the Jawbone Station, a Mecca for ATV and dirt bike riders. Zillions of them! We were the only Jeep rig there, but all made us feel welcome. A quarter of a mile on up the road, we stopped and visited at the BLM’s Jawbone Station Visitors Center (1-760-384-5400). Mr. Bob, the resident desert tortoise who is 112 years old, lives there, but he was not greeting folks that time of the year (he was underground and in hibernation). We turned off of 14 at the Inyokern turnoff to head east towards China Lake and Ridgecrest where we stayed at the Best Western China Lake Inn in Ridgecrest (comfy room, pool, continental breakfasts, friendly staff).

On day 2 (28 March, 2010), we are off in the Jeep heading into the desert to do the Last Chance Canyon and Burro Schmidt Tunnel runs. Today was a test run, the very first ever trail use, of my new Garmin 550t navigation device. It performed spectacularly. Using its route planner ability, I had preloaded the 18 GPS waypoints for Last Chance Canyon (10.6 mile run), and the 17 waypoints for the Burro Schmidt Tunnel trail (14.9 mile run) which were given in the book, Backcountry Adventures, Southern California by Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson.. Said book had been recommended in the Off Road Adventures magazine article cited above, and had magically been provided to me by Santa (Mallory) for Christmas.

Mallory saw the desert for her first time! It was wonderful. We passed old mine tunnels and relics of old mining operations as we worked our way up the mountain from the Randsburg-Red Rock Road and into the Red Rock Canyon State Park. Desert scrub and creosote bush was the predominant vegetation. Such a difficult place to have worked and survived in the desert heat! Most of the way was easy driving, however there were a few waterfalls, one piece of awful off camber driving, and a vertical rock face we scaled that Mallory confessed later to think we could not make. We followed three other rigs up the canyon, passed on doing the Dutch Cleanser Mine loop road, and found our way to the Bickel Camp. Collectables from nearly 100 years were collected there, and photos were avidly collected by yours truly. My only regret is that a totally delightful vintage tin panel truck shown in the Backroads Adventures book had been removed from the camp and, per the caretaker on site, taken to the home of the president of Friends of Bickel Camp in Inyokern. Booooooooo!!!

After resting at the Bickel Camp, we followed our maps and GPS unit to the Burro Schmidt Tunnel near the top of Copper Mountain’s ridge in the El Paso Wilderness mountains. An eccentric old prospector named William Henry “Burro” Schmidt, who had tired of digging fruitlessly for the mother lode at too many prior sites to count, decided he would tunnel straight through Copper Mountain and find gold in a vein. He began in 1906, and came out the other side of the mountain in 1938, 1,872 feet later (or 2030 feet later, depending on whose literature you believe) as broke as when he had begun. He died in 1954, still looking for the big bonanza, bless his heart!

My daughter and I, accompanied by six other intrepid adventurers and a friendly pit bull, with two flashlights (mine and Mal’s), walked all the way through the tunnel and back (except for Mallory who hiked up and over the ridge to get back to the tunnel’s start with a few others). Exciting! Hard rock all the way; no shoring at all but for a few feet at each end. At the south (far) end, after a hundred yards or so of bending down because of lower tunnel ceiling resulting from Schmidt’s advancing years and shrinking stature, we came out onto a big tailings pile 1,500(?), 2,000(?) feet in elevation above the miles and miles of the great salt pan on the valley floor below us. A truly MARVELOUS view. We passed by the old Bonanza Gulch Post Office, a number of old mine locations, and through a beautiful area of Joshua and Yucca trees before finding our way back to highway 14 and thus to Ridgecrest. The Burro Schmidt trail was all SUV trails (easy driving).

On day three, my daughter stayed in Ridgecrest while I drove the Sheep Spring Trail (12 miles of moderate or easy trail) with one other Jeeper. We went up Mesquite canyon (a virtual freeway) off the Randsburg Road, and stopped at both Gerbracht and Colorado camp (mining center) sites. Only a fireplace and some foundations remain of the latter camp; nearly nothing remains of the former. As the trail wended its way along the southern boundary of the El Paso Wilderness where no motorized vehicles at all are allowed, the trail became more scenic, more difficult, and more beautiful. A large packrat’s nest in a wind hollowed sandstone rock reminded me of my garage with the door opened!

I came to the Sheep Spring advertised in the book, and was quite disappointed. Although I walked a length of the creek bed, all I found was one tiny bit of damp sand in a sharp turn in the watercourse, and that was located only after digging with my walking stick. No solace for the wild things there! However, all was not lost. A quarter of a mile farther down the trail, I came to a hillside where an underground water source was apparently year round. Man had developed a fenced off, cement encased sheltered pool of water under ground level which the wildlife accessed by walking down a concrete ramp. This made me happy. Near this developed water was the site of a Native American camp site. Across the dry stream from the camp was a hillside on which sat many large boulders. Among these boulders, some had petroglyphs made by the old ones. I found a beautiful turtle, and four other petroglyphs after extensive hunting (photos, of course, taken). I never could find the really nice petroglyph shown in the Backcountry Adventures article about Sheep Spring Trail although I tried. Both alack and alas plus drat!!!

And now for the MISERY! My daughter had picked up a bad flu or cold on her return from Europe. For three nights, I listened to her drowning in her lungs sleeplessly all of each night, struggling to breathe, and trying to tough it out to get through our desert trip. Finally, I had to take her to the hospital in Bakersfield to see a doctor. We decided to abort our trip and return home. So, we did not pass through the Panamint Valley Days encampment, see Panamint Springs, Stovepipe Wells, Artist’s Palette, Furnace Creek,, Badwater, or stay in the Tepee at Cindy’s in the Tacopa hot springs area prior to visiting the China Ranch Date farm and hiking trails thereabout as we had been going to do. Que la lastima!! To her credit, Mallory says she wants to go on another desert trip another time when she is well. So-----Maybe I succeeded in infecting her with the RIGHT kind of bug----the wheeling bug!!

KEEP ON WHEELING!!

Richard

Truckfest 2010

Ashlee & Robert DeeTruckFest 2010 San Mateo Expo Center February 26th, 27th, and 28th

On Friday, February 26th we dropped off our Jeep at TruckFest as a display for our club booth. This was a surprisingly simple task that only required the gas tank of the vehicle be less than ¼ of the way full. We drove the Jeep into the building and parked it on the side out of the way. They still were pretty unorganized at this point and had no idea where our booth would be.

On Saturday, February 27th we went in at 8:30am to help run the booth. We had to set up the table in a spot that the back, where Brent the director, had decided for us at the last minute. Then we had to move our Jeep from the corner they had parked it in to in front of the 4 Wheel Parts truck that we set are booth up in front of. The tables and chairs were self-serve…we just grabbed our own. John Ruiz showed up at around 9:30 with the banner and the flyers…as well as a slide show on his laptop. Bob Bragg showed up a little while later to help with the booth. TruckFest opened at 10 o’clock. We got a fair amount of traffic because even though we were in the back of the building we were right next to Jeff Arabia’a fleet of Overkill vehicles. We had lots of interest in both the club and the safety clinic. We also had a surprising amount of interest in our well-used YJ. We had a few people comment on how they liked to see a Jeep that actually looked like it got used, and were happy that we let their kids climb on it. Ron and Irene came and sat down with us even though they didn’t know we would be there, and helped with the booth a bit. At around 12pm Loro and Richard came to take over the booth after they had done their perusing of TruckFest. Richard brought some photographs of some of his adventures. We then were able to leave the booth to do our shopping and then we took off.

On Sunday, February 28th we went back to pick up our vehicle. They had moved the booth from its location the day before ; so hopefully it got more attention on Sunday. Our Jeep however, was abandoned by itself in front of the 4 Wheel Parts truck. So we rescued it and left truckfest. We recommend that next year more club members decide to bring their vehicles and participate in the event. More preparation would be better to help draw more people’s attention at the event. It might also help if more club board members were to attend (lol). All in all it was a great free way to promote the club and the safety clinic. We highly recommend doing it again next year.

Cal 4WDC Convention

Wow what a weekend. Since we did the whole vendor thing this weekend, I expect my weekend was completely different from the other attendees. Here is what our weekend looked like: So our adventure for the Convention started with Lexi and I loading up the truck Friday morning for the drive to Sacramento. Drive was uneventful and a good time to spend with my oldest little girl.

We made it to the hotel and the organizers welcomed us and we set up our vendor booth. It was great to meet people all day. Friday evening was the hospitality room and they had quite the crowd. Did a little hot tub and crashed early.

Saturday we met hundreds of people and there were some interesting characters we had the opportunity to spend time with. Since we were manning our booth I did not have the chance to attend any of the sessions. Our booth was right next to the Rubicon Trail Foundation and they were running old 50s movies of Jeeps running the Rubicon. That was really cool to watch (over and over and over again). There was a stack of Clinic fliers at the registration desk and we did see a number of folks walking around with them. Hope that will result in some registrations.

Saturday night for the dinner we hooked up with most of the ED4 crew; Ole, Sherry, Rich, Connie and Ed (Ed for VP). The theme of the weekend was to honor those who served in our military. The dinner for the evening was focused on that. There were men in uniform, honor guard, reading of the fallen, bag pipes, bugler playing taps an overall very sentimental and emotional tribute. It was hard to not be swept up in the emotion of it all. I was proud to be with ED4 as we took home two awards in recognition of our conservation work and for our Safety clinic. I am sure Sherry will provide details at our next meeting. I was also proud to be part of ED4 when they went through the contributions. The contributions ranged from $20 all the way up to $5,000. Our contributions were significant.

Lexi and I stayed at the dinner long enough for the name of the winner of the Jeep to be announced. It was some dude from St. Cloud MN. They called the guy from a speaker phone at the podium in front of all 500 people at the dinner. Sounds like we woke him up (almost 11:00pm his time). He was not sure what we were talking about. Did not remember entering the drawing. Once it settles in, I hope he enjoys it. It was an awesome looking rig this year. Proud to be part of ED4, David

Fighting for Clear Creek

Hello Esprit de Four,Some members/prospective members attended the Public Comments on the Clear Creek Closure last night.

Bill Farley Ole & Sherry Stortroen Jim O'leary Jason Green Richard Beard

Chris Mains Coby ???? (I apologize if others attended and we didn't see you)

This meeting was an opportunity for the public to make a comment about the park closure. Keep in mind, although the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) was in attendance, they were clear that what was said last night had no bearing on their decision. Essentially it was more or less a government process that they had to follow. However, it was certainly a good opportunity for many of us to show up, and demonstrate that there is a force behind our cause. It was also a good opportunity for me/us to hear the arguments against the closure and include these in the comments we make.

For us to be effective, we must make a written comment, whether it be via snail mail or e-mail.

Not only do I encourage you, I am asking you, to take time out and send in a comment, even if at this point your are only asking for an extension on the comment period, which currently has a deadline of March 5, 2010. (You can use the argument that it took the EPA, 19 + months to come out with a report, why should we have such a short period to make comments)

-> For those never having been to Clear Creek - I am one of those. You may be asking, or reasoning to yourself, it's not familiar to me, it doesn't affect me. The truth is, it does. If we don't stand together in support of our sport and our activity when we can, soon, we will stand alone and it will be easier for them to knock us down. They will come to your park next! Furthermore, you may have not used it in the past, but wouldn't you want the opportunity to have to use it in the future?

Here are some of the arguments I heard last night - I didn't write them down so it's coming off of memory: 1. The asbestos found at Clear Creek is not the industrial type that leads to health issues, the EPA has bastardized/generalized them into one category and made the wrong presumption. 2. The presumptions and or assertions of the EPA's report are based on questionable data, and there should be more time to allow an independent organization to conduct their on research. While that is being conducted, the park should be kept open. It's been open for the history of the country, why now the urgency to close it - keep it open, until facts are agreed upon.

....Others whom were in attendance, please add other things you heard, so that our membership can leverage that. You do not have to include everything in your comment, but please include something. Here's the BLM's website: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/hollister/clear_creek_management_area.html

You can also find the DEIS at the bottom of this page: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/hollister/clear_creek_management_area/CCMA_RMP.html

You can send your comments to:

Mail: Bureau of Land Management Attn: CCMA RMP/EIS 20 Hamilton Court Hollister, CA 95023

E-mail: cahormp@ca.blm.gov

Fax: (831) 630-5055 Attn: CCMA RMP/EIS

For everyone, please make your comment, and if you do nothing, else, please support the organizations that are fighting this fight on our behalf: (Donate or become a member)

Friends of Clear Creek Management Area - http://www.ffocma.org Blue Ribbon Coalition - http://www.sharetrails.org Facebook Group - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=131594804989&ref=mf

I apologize if this e-mail got a little long, but I hope you all understand the magnitude of what action and inaction on your part means! The government, it's entities should work for you and me, not against us. Remember these few numbers, 15% of all house holds are OHV users, in any election there is only 50% of the population that votes, by my calculations, that means we are 30% of the voting population. Now I'm not a union leader and I'm not telling you how to vote, but if you feel like you're alone, you're not.

Kindest Regards, Michael Phorn President, Esprit de Four

P.S. Please feel free to add, and forward this to all your friends & aquaintances, we must spread the message and keep up the fight and bring it to them (even though, they should be working for us)

Esprit de Four Christmas

We first went to meet at the Big Lots on parking lot on Camden in San Jose to meet up for the toys for tots caravan. There were a lot of people there from the club…more than 15 vehicles (most decorated) showed up. We took the slow route through San Jose to get to the drop off for the toy drive. We went to Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose and delivered our toys to the United States Marines that were collecting them. They gave us a Christmas music CD and a carnation. Later that evening we went to the ED4 Christmas party at the historical Santa Clara train station/museum. We took some time to peruse the model trains that were set up in the back room. They had two scales of trains (HO and N) with some very intricate layouts and scenery. The food was very filling and very good. This was our first year attending the party so we were able to experience the gift exchange for the first time. It is the best gift exchange we’ve ever seen. Some of the presents were very interestingly wrapped for the wrapping contest. The two main contenders were the drunk/peeing snow man and a realistic winter scene on the box top. The winter scene won the competition. Once the exchange began, everyone seemed to fight over the blankets. We took home some nice gifts after numerous switch ups. All in all, it was very fun and very interesting. We got to meet many people from the club that we had never met before and got to know everyone a little bit better. We hope to attend again next year.

Toys 4 Tots

Wow for the first run my wife and I really enjoyed the turnout for the toys for tots run. First we met Daryl at Flames for breakfast then we went over to Big Lots for the toy run. There was around 15 rigs that showed up for the run and it was great meeting everyone for the first time. We started out on Hillsdale to Meridian then we took Meridian to San Carlos and when we went by 4 Wheel Parts store everyone honked there horns. When we arrived at Christmas in the park we did a one time around the park then when we went in to the area to turn the toys over to the Marines soldiers that were there to take the gifts and they gave us a christmas cd and a flower to the women that were in rigs. After that the ones that had other things to do went on there way and some of others went over to the bowling ally. I really enjoyed the run and I'm already looking forward to the next outting that I will be able to attend.

Bob Bragg

Panamint Valley Days

Thursday 11/13/09: We arrived at about 6:30pm in Panamint Valley after a seven hour drive. We took 178 through Lake Isabella. It was a slightly longer drive, but a more scenic twisty road. We got there after dark, and waited in the long safety inspection line. But the line moved quickly. We were surprised by the “lack” of inspection compared to other automotive events like auto crossing. We somehow managed to find Richard Beard and his friends Richard and Anton after dark amongst the hundreds of campers, as well as Laurel and her camo Bronco. Shortly after we arrived, Gary and Danã, the other prospective members arrived. We ate dinner at the Ruff Rock café, which the PVD people prepared for us. Then we set up camp in very heavy winds…a trying experience…stakes are necessary. Friday 11/14/09: We luckily all chose to take the same runs in the mornings. Among a convoy of about 40 vehicles for the Jail Canyon run were our YJ, Gary’s JK, RB’s TJ, Richard’s CJ, and Laurel’s camo Bronco. It’s quite amazing how long it takes to get a convoy of 40 started. By the time we were at the trail head the back of the convoy was hardly moving. While we were waiting for the convoy the move we had the opportunity to meet an interesting dog named Toby…but we like to call him the rock dog. He would hunt through his surroundings and find the perfect rock. After he had found said rock, he would bite it, roll it, push it, and play with it in any way he could find while making sounds like a monkey.

Jail canyon was a pretty mellow run, that took us up to an abandoned mine. Although the run was easy for our jeep, the CJ in our group sustained damage. We stopped for a bit to explore the mines, abandoned vehicles, and cabins. None of us were brave enough to go more than 100 ft into the mine. After one of us fell into the water on the ‘treacherous’ hike to the mine, we returned to our vehicles and went back to camp. The CJ was shortly thereafter put up for sale.

We ate lunch, and then Gary/Danà and we went on an easy sunset run to Lookout City. On the way there we were repeatedly buzzed by an F-16 who was showing off for our convoy… ‘free air show with the price of registration’ the trail leader told us. Once we got there the view was nice. Clouds obscured the view some, but not all. There was a village at the top in the form of ruins (the remains of lookout city). On the way back we got pretty annoyed because the people in front took off instead of waiting for those behind them. By the time we were on the road back to camp we could still se the headlights of those still on the trail. We returned to camp, ate, and took a slow drive down the highway to gas up at the overly priced gas station with a strangely empty convenience store in Panamint Springs, where one can also take a shower for a mere $3.00…less than one gallon of $3.99 gas.

Saturday 11/15/09: Once again we all chose to take the same trail…Pleasant canyon. We stopped in a strange little ghost town called Ballarat with an interesting fellow at the “gift shop”. About 20 ft into the run a Suzuki locked up its t-case. It eventually caught up with us later on. Pleasant Canyon itself was quite pleasant…water = mud and plants. We stopped briefly at a mine only to find the hissing sound we heard was our air line getting a hole melted into it by our exhaust. Good thing we didn’t really need to use our rear locker. The trail went up more and more, until we found ourselves strangely enough in the middle of a forest in Death Valley…imagine that. The person two cars in front of us did not wait and we got stopped at multiple forks in the road…feeling quite like Hansel and Gretel with no bread crumbs. When we contacted the trail leader on the CB and said we were at a fork…he said he didn’t know which fork so he couldn’t tell us where to goJ. Eventually we caught up with everyone else and proceeded up and down the ridgeline to a vista point where we ate lunch. We had a show there because one of our convoy decided to get a flat on a very steep downhill/off camber section of the trail, and had to tie his vehicle to the two jeeps behind him to change it.

After lunch we proceeded to Chicken Corner, so named, because the Jeep-and-a-foot wide corner is held together with chicken wire with a deep drop directly outside the passenger window (or driver’s window depending on the direction travelled). The previous day a lovely pink-camo Cherokee XJ rolled off the cliff at chicken corner. Right when we were approaching and rounding the corner, a crew was pulling the now convertible Cherokee out of the ravine. So as the passenger, one gets a nice up and close view of the chicken wire support system holding up a 4000lb vehicle. That was quite exhilarating. Luckily everyone survived including the person that had rolled the previous day. There were nice cabins at the bottom of the hill, that anyone can use…first come first serve, and a nasty outhouse, with a sign on the door that says “warning, toxic fumes.” The rest of the trail was pleasant with a few waterless waterfalls to drive down and a very steep descent to the valley floor.

We went back to camp and bought raffle tickets. We then ate a wonderful dinner provided by the Ruff Rock café, and proceeded to freeze our butts off for about 2 hours during the raffle. We didn’t win. R.B. won twice. Next time we’re bringing chairs…it is a big mistake not to.

Sunday 11/16/09: We packed up camp, ate, aired up, and left for a lovely 7 hour ride home.

All in all it was a fun trip: Dusty, cold, sunny, windy, but fun. Its great not having to worry about 60% of your meals…mostly ones you cook. We had to bring lunches though. Bring chairs. Bring tent stakes. Bring cash. Bring warm clothes. We will definitely consider going back next year to PVD 2010. And if the person whose car alarm went off 4 times Friday night/Saturday morning and twice more Saturday night/Sunday morning …waking up the entire camp at all hours of the night (and we mean all hours) is reading this, you’d better shut off your alarm the next time or a break-in will be the least of your vehicle’s problems!

Does anyone have somewere on line where i can post the photos?