Monday, July 27, 2020

The Road To The Rubicon

Six years ago I discovered the Rubicon Trail from videos on YouTube. I had no idea there was even such a trail.  A fellow Jeeper on Instagram told me, with practice, one day I would be able to wheel the trail. 

At the time, I didn't think I would ever be at that level. Boy was I wrong. Recently, I upped my wheeling game with some off roading in Kingman, Arizona where the trails are quite difficult, some compare them to the Rubicon trail and even harder. I made it through a few of those trails, so I figured I might do okay on the Rubicon Trail.

The time was finally here. Not only was I going to get to wheel the Rubicon Trail, I was going to get to do it with my two sons. Neil was able to convince my oldest Michael to join us. 

I picked my kids up at the airport on Thursday night and Friday morning it was off to the Rubicon Trail. Michael and Neil were in the 1969 CJ5 and Ben and I were in the Rubicon.
Since our truck was on the fritz we were driving the CJ5 instead of towing. It was going to be a challenge with the smaller gas tank and low speed.  

We took our time getting from Del Norte, Colorado to South Lake Tahoe, California where we were meeting the rest of the Jeep crew that were going to wheel the Rubicon Trail with us. 

Spending time on the road with my kids was amazing. I was able to show them the amazing beauty of the west. The first night we found dispersed camping in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. 

Their first experience at dispersed camping. They liked the fact we were the only ones for miles and out in the middle of nowhere with just nature. 

It was a great time and an awesome memory. We took a little hike just me and my kids then came back and Michael got the fire started. Then we ate dinner and hung around the campfire. A moment in my life I will cherish forever.  

Those three days on the road are ones I will never forget. It was frustrating with all the stops the CJ5 needed to make with gas fill ups and engine issues, but my kids and I made the best of it.

 One of the most amazing parts were the views along Highway 95 in Utah between Blanding, Utah and Hanksville, Utah. It's one of America's Scenic By-ways. The views were absolutely breathtaking.  

We pulled into South Lake Tahoe Sunday afternoon and meet the fellow Jeepers at the hotel. That ride into South Lake Tahoe coming over the mountain and seeing the lake was spectacular and scary. I created a traffic jam because I was so freaked out at the heights. I wish I had pictures but I couldn't take my hands off the wheel and Ben was secretly recording me freaking out. 

The next morning it was off to the Rubicon Trail. But first Neil needed to do some work on the CJ5 so it was off to the parts store and then some wrenching. 

I was pretty stressed about the CJ5 wondering if it would make it on the trail. I had the confidence Neil would be able to keep it a float. But there was just something not right and I could feel it in the air. I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Overland Trip Ideas

2 to 5 Day Overlanding Ideas

Moab some call the Mecca of Off-Roading. There are over 80 4x4 trails around Moab from easy to difficult. There are also several National and State Parks to visit. You could easily spend a month or more exploring this amazingly scenic area. 

Hole in the Rock 4x4 Trail in Utah - A Jeep Badge of Honor Trail. This trail isn't to be taken lightly, and needs a lot of preparation and research.

Mojave Road - The historic 138-mile road takes you back in time. With virtually no improvements since its inception, the historic Native American trade route and wagon trail remains the same as it was 150 years ago. Plan on 2 to 3 days to explore the stunning desert landscape and Joshua tree-lined routes.

Rubicon Trail - Another historical road in the majestic Sierra Nevadas in California. The Rubicon Trail is known for its ruggedness and versatility, inspiring the Jeep namesake. 

Don't be fooled by its popularity, it's a grueling marathon through the mountains. Another must "be prepared" trail as it could take days. I will be sharing more on our experience on this amazing trail. 

Colorado Passes - There are several off road passes within hours of each other that make for a great couple of days of wheeling in Colorado. Black Bear Pass is one of them. This infamous trail is not for the faint of heart or someone with a fear of heights with it's steep descents, treacherous switchbacks and loose falling rock. The views of Bridal Falls and Telluride are some of the most amazing in Colorado. Well most all views in Colorado are amazing. Weather conditions only allow the complete route to be open for a few weeks from late summer through the early fall. A bucket list trail for sure. 

Dalton Highway - A slightly more civilized ride than other trails on the list. It's still not an easy ride crossing the Yukon River and ending at the Arctic Ocean. It a 414 trip through the wild Alaskan bush and barren tundra. Built in the 1970’s as the service road to the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. There are steep grades, avalanche danger, and hundreds of miles between gas stations. A brutal gravel highway is not for the faint-of-heart. However the dramatic views and a glimpse of the Northern Lights are a good reward. 

Coconino National Forest in Arizona covers nearly two million acres in northern Arizona with a massive network of trails surrounded by stunning red rock formations. 

Tillamook State Forest in Oregon
Sierra National Forest in California
Big Bend National Park in Texas
Pan American Highway 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A "Must Have" Recovery Gear Item

Jeep Momma Vendor Discount Code

I have learned a lot during my off road adventures and when I learn a lesson, good or bad, I always do my best to pass it on to you. 

During our Fall 2019 Adventure, Neil and I learned the importance of the Colby Valve, an emergency tire valve system. In the 30 years of wheeling Neil had never heard of them before. I had heard of the Colby Valve, but didn't fully understand the importance of the Colby Valve until I needed it. 

As I was crawling up a rock on the Homecourt Trail in Kingman, Arizona, I tore a valve stem. My tire went flat, and I popped the bead.  My Jeep was in a precarious position on the rocks which made for a dangerous tire change. Luckily a fellow Jeeper on the trail had an Emergency Colby Valve.

22 minutes into this video you see how I tear my valve stem on the trail and the easy fix using the Colby Valve.

It was simple and easy to install. Simply take out the old valve stem and screw in the Colby Valve, air up and you are good to go. 

I have torn three valve stems over the years. Paying close attention to tire placement on the rocks is so very important. One way to watch your rear wheels is the adjust your side mirrors so you can watch them as you crawl over the rocks. 

Just recently on the Rubicon Trail I once again tore a valve stem. I didn't notice until I returned to Colorado when I discovered a slow leak. I replaced the valve stem with a Permanent Colby Valve. 

Again super easy to replace just be very careful not to over tighten as you don't want to tear the gasket. I was very close to it. They should be snug, no rocking back and forth. 

When tightening it with a socket wrench be careful not to tighten it until you can't anymore. That means you gone too far. 12 - 16 inch ft lb torque is the range Colby Valve suggests. 

I will keep you posted on how the permanent valve works. I am thinking maybe I should have gone with the Ultimate Valve (Extra Short) since I like to rub those rocks. 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Looking Out For Your Friends

One day about six years ago, I called the police in a small town in California. I was worried about an online friend I met on Google Plus. He name is Mike. He is a fellow Jeeper and paralyzed from a motorcycle accident. He was in a very bad place six years ago. There was a group of us who would chat and try to lift his spirits. 

One night I noticed a very disturbing post he wrote. I was very worried. I was so worried I called the police thinking he was going to take his life. The police went to check on him. 

I was nervous the next day when Mike said the police came to his house and asked who called. I fessed up. He went on to tell me I saved his life. He was going to take his life that night but when the police showed up he didn't. He along with his wife and son are very thankful. Mike and I have stayed friends. However, since Google Plus shut down we lost touch for awhile. 

He has reached out again and now wants to return the favor. His wife makes awesome natural soy candles and sells them online. They have made a special Jeep Momma candle

They want to help support me on my journey.  A portion of the proceeds will go to help support my journey.  

Jennifer, Mike's wife, hand pours these candles. Of coursed I picked the color purple. The one in the picture is a lavender sage scent. However, there are other scents to pick from. 

This is a purple in color, and a limited edition Jeep Momma 10oz candle. Frosted glass, 100% all natural soy wax, and hand poured to perfection. These candles are a special edition for Tammy at A portion of these proceeds goes to Jeep Momma to help support her adventures. Get yours while supplies last. Jeep Momma YOU ROCK!!!!!

Go check out the candles. Great with a glass of wine and a bubble bath. One of my favorite things to do outside of Jeeping. When you are burning your candle know you are helping me during this difficult time in my life. 

It seems my luck is pretty bad right now with my bank account being compromised and my unemployment benefits being taken away. God sent Mike and Jennifer at a time when I needed them. Funny how life works.