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 Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure 
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Location: San Jose
Post Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
Day -1 Monday June 19th

We don’t have to be in Phoenix until Wednesday the 21st at 5 PM, for check-in and the “official” start of the trip. But with these things, you always build some buffer... So we head out early Monday morning, Bronco on the trailer, towing away with my F250 diesel. The plan was to make Hurricane, UT by late afternoon / early evening, have a few beers and get some good sleep. We’d already arranged to leave the tow rig and trailer in Hurricane since that is where the trip is ending and then we’d head for Phoenix Tuesday morning, covering just under 400 miles in the Bronco, again arriving late afternoon, in time for some beers and relaxing and with a whole day to spare…

Now the reason we buffer these things is because with old trucks and a bunch of equipment in the mix (tow rig, trailer, off road rig) there’s a lot of room for mechanical and other error. We left San Jose Monday morning just after 8 AM and were making good time. Which of course should’ve been a sign. About 120 miles from home on Southbound 5 the F250 loses power and eventually dies, so we coast to the side of the road, no power steering, no power brakes, with ~9K pounds behind us. A touch sketchy but at least it was level ground. Once safely on the shoulder we hop out, pop the hood, and there’s oil EVERYWHERE, we look under the truck and down the road and see a huge trail of oil. These old 7.3’s hold 16 quarts and it looks like it lost most of it. There was oil on the front of the trailer and the bronco 20+ feet behind the motor… These motors also use a high pressure oil pump to fire the fuel injectors, and it literally ran the pan dry of oil, fuel ceased to fire and the engine ceased to run. I suppose it’s a decent fail safe, if oil pressures is lost, the motor dies by default.

It was early, about 11AM but already high 90’s, and we’re right in the sun, no shade, attempting to diagnose a really oily and really hot motor. We poke around under the hood for anything obvious and decide not much will be fixed on the side of the road. I also only have about ¾ of a gallon of Rotella so even if we managed to fix it we likely don’t have enough oil to get back on the road. We do some quick googling and there’s a diesel shop in Coalinga about 20 miles away that we call and he’s willing to look at it. We briefly discuss the sanity of towing the 250 with the bronco and decide the tongue weight would overwhelm the rear suspension and probably put the front tires in the air. A couple miles on a back road maybe, but we’ve got miles of freeway. So we call AAA, take the Bronco off the trailer and hook it up to tow the now empty trailer, leaving the 250 for the tow truck.

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The tow truck arrives really quickly and we’re on our way. Towing the flatbed with the Bronco sparked the soon-to-be chart topping song, “towing in my tow rig”. The Bronco has trailer wiring for lights but no brakes so it demands you pay a little more attention to stop the thing. The amazing thing in this moment was, towing the flatbed, uphill, 4th gear, WOT, 100+ degrees, the engine temperature DROPPED with the fans on. After years of chasing overheating my big ass fan and radiator felt like the best money I’ve spent in a long time. A small victory in the moment.

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The shop tears into it as we peel off for lunch to give them some space (hovering was inevitable if we had stayed). We got some good tacos locally and pretending to distract ourselves with our phones as long as we could stand it.

We come back to the shop and he’s found a torn o-ring / gasket in the high pressure oil pump system (HPOP). He cleans it up best he can and uses some “special” silicon on it – certain it won’t leak. It’s about 3PM at this point so there is a glimmer of hope to get back on the road and not be ridiculously behind schedule.

As he’s putting it back together we go out in search of a spare tire for the trailer, realizing I had left mine at home. We found a local shop that had a rim and tire which they slapped together, balanced and had ready for us in a jiffy.

We come back to the shop as the mechanic is finishing getting it back together. He fires it up and it leaks terribly. He takes it apart again and after digging deeper finds the real problem. The aluminum housing of the HPOP assembly is cracked and spewing oil out of the side. To the mechanics credit, this was not obvious. This housing is attached to the water pump housing, the cam gears, and the HPOP, so even if he had all the parts (he didn’t) it’s a day + job.

We start mulling over options. We clearly need a different tow rig at this point. Or we actually briefly discuss the merits of driving the Bronco all the way to Phoenix (and back!). We decided pretty quickly that was a bad idea. At this point my buddies I’ve been texting all day start offering up suggestions, including very generous offers to borrow tow rigs from Peter and Rich. So we hatch this great plan. We’d get tow the 250 towed to San Jose, leaving the Bronco and trailer at the shop in Coalinga. The shop owner had even graciously offered to store the Bronco in the shop for security since the top is off. We’d borrow a tow rig from Peter or Rich, who had graciously offered, and we’d cruise down Tuesday morning in the new-to-us tow rig and pick up the Bronco and trailer. Turns out we weren’t the only ones with car troubles that night. AAA couldn’t get us a tow until the morning. At this point Rich, who I am nominated for saint hood, had offered to drive down with Kirstin from Tracy, drop off his Excursion, and head home, a 4 hour round trip drive with no notice on a Monday night. I felt bad having him make the trek but didn’t have great options, so I accepted his gracious offer.

Nolan and I head out for dinner and wait for Rich, who arrives at about 7:30. We hook up the Ex, get the Bronco on the trailer and we’re ready to boogy.

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We hit the road with daylight fading and are trying to make up for lost time. A few hours in we hit a pretty good grade climbing to Barstow that was to be the first of many slow uphill grinds in the Ex. It’s not that the Ex lacks power, it’s more that I don’t know how hard I can push a high mileage 4R100 and I sure as shit don’t want to be the one to blow it up. So steep up-hills were a 2nd gear 35-40MPH ordeal. As we round out this grade, its midnight, and we’re tired so we start discussing options. We had a hotel room booked that night in Hurricane, UT, which was still about 4.5 hours away. We decided that was both a bad idea and a sunk cost. Barstow was approaching and should offer some decent places to stay. Nolan hits Yelp to find the least shitty hotel in Barstow with vacancies and we check into the Route 66 Motel just before 1 AM.

At this point we’re a half day behind schedule so we decide we’ll deal with timing later and get some sleep. We saw a wicked shooting star about an hour out of Barstow, low, bright and long, and figured that was either a sign of impending doom, or our lucky omen for the rest of the trip. We decide to believe the latter.

You know you're in a classy joint when you've got the same picture, twice!

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Day 0 Tuesday June 20th

We slept in a bit after a long day Monday, found a Black Bear diner in Barstow, elicited sideways glances for ordering a vegetarian scramble and adding ham and bacon, fueled up and hit the road. The drive from Barstow to Vegas had one grade that I think was actually the length of the circumference of the planet. It was like the Energizer bunny, just kept going.... It was probably made worse by 100+ outside, not having a trans temp gauge and knowing the history of E4OD / 4R100 transmissions. So we cruised the steep sections in 2nd at 35 mph and briefly hit first after getting stuck behind a creeping semi. Slow going but it got the job done!

We slogged through some traffic in Vegas, made a bathroom pit stop and pressed onto Hurricane, UT.

While the drive from Barstow to Vegas could best described as the great nothing, the drive from Vegas to Hurricane, briefly touches through Arizona before climbing into the south west corner of Utah and offers some really pretty scenery.

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Gentle sloping desert hills give way to sharp edged bluffs and cliffs that you’d associate with something like the Grand Canyon, granted at a less grand scale. The last hour or so of the drive is flat out enjoyable as scenery is concerned. This was also new for me having never driven though or even seen this kind of scenery.

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Today’s drive is uneventful and we arrive in Hurricane around 5PM with the 1 hour time change. We make a few gas stops along the way, check the straps on the trailer and just keep moving on. Just before hitting town we hit a major milestone in the Ex!

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We make it to Hurricane and park the Ex and the trailer at the hotel where we were supposed to stay the night before and will be staying again at the end of the trip. I had prearranged parking with them and they were quite accommodating, even offered a free cookie even though we weren’t staying that night, as they were booked. Though I guess since we paid for the rooms the night before and they went unused (missed the cancellation window) it’s the least they could do!

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We checked into our other hotel, which was different from where the trailer and Ex are (you still with me?), and found a good BBQ place with some UT special 4% beers. At which point I asked the owner of the restaurant when the state run liquor store closes and we received the bad news that it was at 7, and it was currently 7:15. We went to the grocery store for a few essentials and some more UT special 4% beers, took a dip in the hotel pool, and went to bed.

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Day 1 Wednesday June 21st

Now its real. We have to be in Phoenix at 5 PM for check in and we have almost 400 miles to cover in the Bronco. We decide to hit the road early to get ahead of the heat. So we get up at 6, pack the truck, inhale the complimentary breakfast that opens at 6:30 and hit the road about 6:45, at which point it was already 80 degrees. Our buffer day was gone and we had to make Phoenix today in the Bronco. We were jazzed, the Bronco was running great and I was officially in love with a radial tire at highway speeds. We gain some serious elevation ending at almost 7k feet, at which point we were only 25 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We briefly entertain going but are pretty sure the trip will take us there and we are men on a mission at this point so we press on. We come downhill, pass some little towns that for some reason live in the middle of nowhere (I believe one city was actually called Cliff Dwellers) and we drive over the Colorado River, getting a sneak peek at the grandness of the canyon that we’d see properly later in the trip.

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Loving rugged radio headsets on the road, cancels out a lot of road noise, makes talking to your passenger easy and we even had Spotify plumbed in for some tunes.

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Our first view of the Colorado and the grandness of the Grand Canyon to come

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We stop for gas in the thriving metropolis of Gap (OK it’s super small) and though we don’t need it yet we’ve been driving for about 2.5 hours and could use a stretch break. Some Japanese tourists in a bus were also stopped and were thoroughly impressed by the Bronco (OK maybe equal parts impressed and confused).

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One of them asked what size the engine was and I corrected the instinct to say “351” and answered in the proper way: 5.8 liters, which earned me a double thumbs up. I made sure to kick the throttle just enough to fire up the rear locker and bark the tires as we left. Merica.

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Again to this point the scenery has been fantastic. The formations and shape of this rock and foreign to a northern CA native who’s used to the scenery of the Sierras. The high elevation pines are somewhat familiar but even the smell is different. It sounds weird but its true!

Onward we went, gaining some serious elevation coming into Flagstaff. The Bronco is running like a top, keeping cool on the grades thanks to the new radiator and fan and the drive isn’t miserable thanks to rugged radio headsets. Again, I’ll pause for a minute and say the rugged radio intercom / headsets are pretty sweet. We’ve got a phone plugged in to play music and when you speak it lowers the music so you can hear the other person talking. The headphones cut out a lot of road noise, the music can be at a reasonable volume and you don’t have to yell at your passenger to be heard. Made long road mileage in an open top 4x4 on 38’s much more comfortable.

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We press on another 2 hours or so to Flagstaff and stop for some gas and a quick bite. To this point the drive has been OK heat wise. It’s probably only about 90 in Flagstaff (over 6K feet) and with the truck moving it’s not bad. As we come down out of Flagstaff though it’s both getting later in the day and we’re losing elevation so it got hot quick. The last hour or so coming into Phoenix was ~ 113 and can best be described as miserable. Clarkson might say dreadful. At this point though I’m certain the full doors were the right idea. I have a set of half doors that I like running on the trail but on long road days they can suck. You get no protection from the sun and the wind has a way of really wearing on you. The theory with the full doors was you could crack the wing window to get some solid airflow and actually roll up the main window (which are tinted) to get your body out of the sun. It really worked well and after the mileage we put on this thing and the time we would’ve spent in the sun it was absolutely the right idea.

Despite the heat, (or maybe because of it, we were pushing 70+ when not going uphill) we make damn good time and cruise into Phoenix around 1, check into the (air conditioned!) hotel, and are disappointed to find that basically no one is there... In my mind the parking lot would be littered with cool 4x4’s. I think the Skyjacker JK, trailer, and Duramax tow rig are the only ones there. We run into Harry Wagner in the parking lot who tells us that everyone is at Verne Simon’s shop nearby wrapping up the UA CJ and a few other odds and ends.

Slowly people start cruising in and we do tech inspections around 7 PM in the parking lot, followed by pizza, a giant bag of shirts and other goodies, the UA windshield banner (shits real!) and a lot of meet and greet. So here it is… Ready to rock!

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A few shots from the parking lot

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The UA CJ

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_________________
"He who exercises government by means of his virtue
may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all
the stars turn towards it."

- Confucius


October 7th, 2017, 4:52 pm
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Post Re: Dan's Ultimate Adventure 2017 Adventure
Day 2 Thursday June 22nd

http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adv ... ture-2017/

It’s finally real, everyone is checked in and ready to rock. We have a drivers meeting at 6:30 hoping to get out before the heat and the group hits the road about 7. Yup, that means watching the sun rise from the hotel window...

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We go to a nearby OHV park called Table Mesa that has a lot of rock and the trails are largely based around river beds. Good ol fashioned rock crawling!

The group hits the staging area after a couple miles of dirt road and we stop to air down.

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I do my first camera interview, introducing myself, Nolan and the truck. It’s strange to say the least. I’ve aired down and trailer prepped plenty of times but never told a camera about it. We’ll see if it makes the final cut! The first trail is a river bed with a few tough obstacles but nothing gnarly, you get the sense it’s designed to ease us into it, things are pretty smooth and so far there’s no real issues to speak of. 20 trucks make it down a trail without issue... Pretty amazing. I manage to clip a tree branch and spider crack the top corner of the windshield on the passenger side. Stupid. Hours after applying my UA banner and I’ve wasted the windshield!

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Just when I thought my truck was big, Diesel Power Products drags this through the trail!

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Not only were humans hot (hence the wet towel on the head), but so were trucks, what good are hoods anyways?

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We cruise up to an ancient look out built by Native Americans. It’s a short climb up some rocks to the top of a bluff which offers a great vista of the area.

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There’s a dried creek bed (it’s already well over 100 and it’s about noon so water clearly doesn’t stick around), some rolling hills and lots of small shrub and cactus (cacti?). True high desert stuff. It’d be far more beautiful if it wasn’t already over 100 degrees at noon! I know that night wheeling is common in the Phoenix area and now I know why…

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The group continues to remind each other of the necessity of water in this heat, and we oblige. I’m a regular water drinker but I had to force myself at times to drink more than usual, and I think I was barely maintaining. Spending significant time outdoors at 100+ is serious business!

We come down from the vista and go hit the second trail of the day. Unfortunately the XJ Cherokee driven by reader Nick blew the radiator right at the beginning of the trail, and we’re talking catastrophic failure; there wasn’t enough radiator stop leak tubes in the world for this. The Skyjacker crew had their trailer in the parking lot of the hotel and ran back the ~ 20 miles to get it while another team towed the XJ back to pavement to meet the trailer. They found a radiator in town and had it back up and running before the group even returned to the hotel that night.

Meanwhile the crew pressed on down the trail, which offered some good rock crawling. It’s always fun to watch a variety of rigs on trails like this. Some trucks have the right combination of wheelbase, tire and weight to make certain obstacles look easy, and others look damn near impossible. It really is fun wheeling with such a variety of rigs and watching how different they all work on different obstacles. One particularly large rock climb high centered Damon’s Scout and the Diesel Power Products Howitzer, both resulting in winching.

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The trail culminated in a steep waterfall-esque rock climb that denied most of the group, despite really giving it their all. A few skipped it all together, I may have been one (wheel for the week not the day!) The group gathered in the slight bit of shade from the 1 nearby tree, and watched rig after rig try their best at this climb. It was a great obstacle to end day 1 on.

We return to the staging area, air up and hit the road where we immediately run into heavy traffic. We come to find the freeway is closed due to a brush fire so we take some back roads (along with everyone else) and add an hour to our 20 minute drive. Did I mention its 119 out? Just what everyone wanted as we were dreaming of the AC and pool. We've been outside all day and we're beat. A few of the late model guys laugh with their windows up, AC blasting. We return to the hotel about 7 and go shopping and fuel up since the next night is camping so we need fuel for the truck and the people in it for the next day.

Back at the hotel Wayne is continuing to push our welcome by shuffling doors around on the bell hop cart...

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A beverage or 3 is consumed in the lobby, lies are told in the parking lot and we head to bed. I’m sure everyone had their AC on max that night knowing we’d not only be back in the heat during the day but camping in it the next night!

_________________
"He who exercises government by means of his virtue
may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all
the stars turn towards it."

- Confucius


October 7th, 2017, 4:52 pm
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Post Re: Dan's Ultimate Adventure 2017 Adventure
Day 3 Friday June 23rd

http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adv ... ture-2017/

Traditionally UA more or less alternates wheeling days and road days. Since the previous day was strictly wheeling (sans ~ 20 miles of pavement to get there) it was safe to assume today would be a road day. At the drivers meeting we’re told by Cronie, route planner, and Phoenix local Trent McGee, “don’t count on it”. We drive about 20 miles on pavement behind a lake where we are told we won’t see pavement again until the next day, and even then only briefly. It’s very early in the day at this point so we figure we’re in for some serious dirt road mileage.

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The dirt road in question starts behind the lake and is fairly well maintained and wide, speeds of 20-30 are comfortable. We go about 20 miles and pass a few houses and micro-communities. At this point it occurs to me there are actually a number of people that chose to live out here. 20+ miles from civilization on a dirt road… While it seems crazy to me I suspect that’s exactly the appeal to these “locals”. At least they’re honest:

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As we start to climb the roads turn more into trails and things gets narrower. We eventually run into some fun lines requiring us to get out and lock hubs.

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Ran into a local

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The elevation brings some relief from the heat and a notable change in landscape. Cactus and shrubs give way to large bushes and eventually pine tress.

About midday Cooper in the Diesel Power Products Ram realizes one of the driveshaft’s is too long and is damaging the t-case and yoke when it bottoms out. He runs back into town with Pewe to have it shortened. We later learn that the t-case is damaged and in addition to shortening the driveshaft they TIG weld the t-case. The amazing thing is the 2 of them get it fixed and meet us at camp before sundown (they may have used real roads to cover the majority of the mileage, but we don’t hold it against them given the circumstances).

We make it to camp around 4, we’re now tracking the trip on our Magellan GPS which tells us that we’re at about 6500 feet (OK it had an exact number, I just can’t remember it), and that we’ve also covered about 60 miles of dirt roads today!

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We claim some space at camp and then make a short detour to the mountain town of Crown King, AZ… where there is a thriving community living with 100% dirt roads, and many miles from any pavement.

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We hit the local store only to find its closed for the day. They were expecting us however so they re-opened. We bought some great home-made fudge, cold Gatorades were popular, we toured the local bar, walked by the church and chatted with some locals.

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Even late in the afternoon at 6500 feet it was about 95

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We look at some placards explaining the local history and see that while the local church has burned several times, local fire crews always managed to save the bar. Ain’t that some bad luck!? The bar in question, in case you were wondering they do not allow firearms inside

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The local restaurant

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I fall into the hype and buy a bumper sticker declaring I “survived the drive” to Crown King, AZ, which promptly found its way on to my tailgate. With fresh fudge and a few other fixings from the local store, we head back to camp. We’re back with an hour or so of daylight which is nice to set up camp and make dinner. Camp for the night

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The Dana JK had a leaking steering box, and found a bunch of people more than willing to help take it out.

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Chris Durham rebuilds the steering box on his tailgate and its all slapped back together. The story isn't totally clear to me but I think Pewe picked up parts when he went into town with Cooper in the DPP Ram.

Sometimes one opinion just won’t do.

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Fire restrictions are in place which isn’t a problem since it’s still about 80 degrees at 9pm. After 110+ in Phoenix though, this feels great. Dinner is made, a few beers are drank, lies are told, and a JK steering box is rebuilt in the middle of the forest. It’s perfectly normal camping, except for that last bit which makes it more like UA camping.

_________________
"He who exercises government by means of his virtue
may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all
the stars turn towards it."

- Confucius


October 8th, 2017, 8:46 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
Day 4 Saturday June 24th

http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adv ... ture-2017/

We wake early, again knowing we have many miles of dirt roads to cover. This picture shows many awesome things. First and foremost, bacon. Nuff said, but I'll continue anyway. Second, Cooper from DPP cool ass wok, stove, grill, thingy. Third, Stephen Watson of ORD doing his famous move of, cruise the campground bumming a little food off of everyone. I called him out on it on one night and he was more than happy to cop to it. Despite being a chronic food sampler, Watson is a super cool dude.

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We head down hill, losing elevation, and the partial heat relief that came with it. Again all dirt roads is the story of the day.

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We encounter a few decent 4x4 obstacles along the way. Pines give way to low shrubs and then cactus as we descended. It’s a repeat of the prior day but in reverse. By this point the caked on dirt on the vehicles was nothing short of impressive, Dirt Head Dave’s Amigo seen here

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The vastness of this area is amazing, when you get up on a high range you can see the rolling mountains just going on forever. Also the number of dirt roads in AZ is staggering. It’s almost hard to comprehend why so many of them even exist in the first place, but its great they do. I’d definitely own a Raptor if I live here! And just when you think you really think you’ve escaped civilization, you come across a couple houses in the seemingly middle of nowhere. OK, it is the middle of nowhere, but I’d guess that’s exactly what these folks are after.

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We stop for lunch at an old mine shaft which has a musty, but very cool breeze blowing out of it, which inevitably caused much of the group to huddle around, looking for some relief from the ~110 degree outside air.

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Back on the road

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We press on covering more dirt roads and finally come down the hill through a decent sized community living only via dirt roads. It looks a bit like a rural city would; scattered houses, the occasional store, a dilapidated building, old iron rusting in people’s yards, except there’s zero pavement. I’ve spent some time in the back country in CA and haven’t seen anything quite like this.

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Somewhere during the day the Skyjacker JK has a trans cooler issue and some leaky fuel lines and takes a shortcut to pavement to go seek some repairs. We briefly hit pavement to fuel up at a gas station positioned right by the freeway. I think just about everyone got a cold drink and ice cream from the store inside. There’s a car wash across the street and a few guys pop a couple quarters to blast 100+ miles of dirt road grime off their rigs. I decide its futile hearing there is much more dirt to come.

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Apparently late in the day the heat and dirt wear on us such that we don't take pictures so its all words from here on out...

Its mid-afternoon and we are to be staying in a hotel in Payson, AZ this night, a short 1.5 hours away on pavement. It’s hot and we’ve already covered some serious dirt miles so the thought of a little jaunt on the freeway is appealing. But this is not our fate. We head for the ominously named “Bloody Basin Rd” and quickly realize its back to dirt. The first 20 or so miles is very well maintained and speeds of 50+ are easy. But not legal, so of course we didn’t do that. Had we done that though the driving here would have been unanimously regarded as really friggin fun. Again, I don’t know why everyone in this area doesn’t own a Raptor or something like it… Eventually the road turns into less maintained gravel and rock and the going is slow. We grind on for hours on river bed like roads, the kind that are annoying enough to slow you down but not hard wheeling. Nick, the passenger in H3 wants to check out the inside of my truck so we swap passengers for an hour or so. We finally hit pavement again around 7:30 and air up for the hour drive to the hotel on pavement. We’re losing daylight and everyone is anxious to get to the hotel.

At this point I realize my passenger hub won’t unlock so I simply remove it for the drive back to the hotel, throw some duct tape over the wheel hub to keep any large debris out of the bearings, and figure we can diagnose later. Cronie Chris Durham orders tacos from the Mexican restaurant across the street so when we arrive at the hotel at about 9:30 we’re greeted by tacos! We check in to our rooms, unload some gear and some kids staying at the hotel are mesmerized by the trucks, eventually asking, “is that a monster truck or a Jeep?”, to which I replied, “neither”. Sensing their dissatisfaction with that answer I correct myself replying, “monster truck”. They then asked which was the fastest, ignoring the fact that a V6 Camry could smoke most of us in a zero to 60, I decided I would say the next one to come around the corner was, in fact, the fastest. Not more than 5 seconds later returning reader Wayne Lambert comes ‘round the corner in his big block Chevy, which sounds great! So there you have it, Wayne is the fastest. Congrats, buddy!

After unloading a full trash bag of empty water and Gatorade bottles (sorry planet, when it’s this hot it’s hard to cool large receptacles of water!), we head out to the local Wal-Mart since the next 2 nights are trail camping so we need food, water, and ice. You ever seen that website People of Wal-Mart? Well it occurs to us that we are now those people! Filthy dirty from 150+ miles of dirt roads and covered in dried up sweat, we cruise the aisles of The Wal-Mart like old pros. By the time we’re done there we realize we haven’t really eaten dinner and while the Durham sponsored tacos were nice, we need more. The only thing open in town is McDonalds and at that it’s only the drive through. I have to shut off the motor to hear the intercom and after staring at a surprisingly foreign menu we try their new gourmet bacon burgers. Apparently McDonalds is really making an attempt to spruce up the menu. Add a couple beers at the hotel, a little time on the computer writing this, and it’s off to bed.

_________________
"He who exercises government by means of his virtue
may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all
the stars turn towards it."

- Confucius


October 13th, 2017, 8:02 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
Sounds like a great trip Danny, Thanks for the play-by-play

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October 19th, 2017, 11:20 am
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
Day 5 Sunday June 25th

http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adv ... ture-2017/

We wake up at the hotel in Payson, AZ to another alarm clock. With 20 rigs, a camera crew and 40+ dudes to wrangle, our days tend to start early. We were told by the hotel clerk the night before that the complimentary breakfast was fantastic. I was skeptical but vaguely optimistic, so I was a little disappointed that the highlight was what I think was scrambled eggs coated in what I’m sure was Velveeta. Whatever, the price was right, and it did the job.

At the drivers meeting, Trent tells us we’re heading to a nearby nation park that has a huge natural arch – the largest Travestine arch in North America it turns out. It’s early and already hot but the ~ 4K foot elevation helps a bit. We pile in the rigs and head a few miles up the highway to the park. The scenery there is nice, the elevation makes things a little greener, especially in June since we aren’t that far from the rainy season.

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We quickly take over the parking lot, and inevitably feet hang out from under vehicles. Returning reader Wayne in the 70’s green Chevy discovers the seal has come out of the back of his t-case where the yoke is. He and Pewe would spend most of the rest of the day chasing a seal at local parts stores, and after coming up dry, pounding the old seal straight with a hammer, and reinstalling, where it served him well with minimal leakage the rest of the trip.

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Dave Chappelles rig seen here, I think the muffler bearing was loose.

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After checking out the view from the top, most of us hiked down to the bottom, which really gives a better sense of how big it is.

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The water was also very cold and refreshing since it was already well over 90. There were many shirts and hats dunked to give some short term cooling.

If you look close in the middle of this picture there’s 4-5 people standing which give a good sense of scale

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After about an hour in the park, Trent tells us we’re going rock crawling, or in his words, I believe it was “sure nuff rock crawling”.

Cars to the left, wheelers to the right please!

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The terrain is typical of the area: dried up river bed with various sized rocks, making for lots of options for different lines.

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Someone put this big rock in the middle of the trail! So I did the only logical thing, and drove around it. Path of least resistance, er something. Right? Kidding! 3 link FTW

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This big rock was one of the first pretty technical spots that gave a few of us a little trouble.

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The 42’s and Coopers driving prowess helped the DPP Ram navigate the big rocks. This thing really is huge in person, Cooper did an impressive job of keeping the body of the rocks.

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I high centered and dinged up my skid plate a bit, that’s what it’s there for I guess!

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We moved on down the trail and some darker looking clouds started to roll in. Frankly I don’t think any of us would’ve complained about a little rain with the 100+ degree heat. The Dana JK was climbing this gnarly ledge and clipped the rear driveshaft, which behind LS Corvette power, promptly pretzeled itself.

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I’ve heard of 2 piece driveshafts but I don’t think this is the same thing…

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Fred using power tools under said Jeep (insert Tim the Tool Man Taylor grunting). Said broken driveshaft can be seen in the top left.

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There was an easy exit on the trail nearby, so the Dana crew made it off the trail in front wheel drive, and went in search of a driveshaft. I suspect they struggled, given the rarity of JK's.

Meanwhile up the trail the group had reached the hardest obstacle, a steep, off camber rock face climb. With a narrow ledge, and a nice drop off to the passenger side. Most passengers opted to remove themselves from the vehicle. To take pictures. Yeah, take pictures…

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Success rate was roughly 50-50, many people in the group came up on the winch, including myself, and the DPP rig as seen here

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Sam decided his toob buggy might be better off on another line. Despite a hell of a showing he was denied. A little more tire diameter and it woulda popped right up.

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The group hung out for a while and watched everyone try their turn at the rock face climb. The clouds overhead kept getting darker which were a welcomed break from the beating hot sun. They culminated in about 14 drops of rain so really the clouds turned out to be an amazing thing!

Chris in the H3 had a great line going and then lost a hub. With the winch helping, he then lost a tire bead. When it rains it pours. All were easy fixes, a little air in the tire and a borrowed slug and he was trail ready again in a few minutes.

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Somewhere during the day I massaged my front driveshaft on a rock a little. They may be heavy but quarter inch wall shafts are where its at!

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As is typical by this point, it was late in the day and we still had some ground to cover before getting to camp. We did some highway mileage, and again in keeping with the new norm, turned onto the dirt and drove probably 20 miles of dirt roads, arriving at camp at the top of a bluff looking down at Payson below. By the time we hit camp it was probably 11 PM. Dinner was cooked, beverages consumed, and ZZZ’s were had.

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the stars turn towards it."

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October 24th, 2017, 4:39 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
Yay skid plate! I'm glad my time laying in your driveway was value added.

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October 24th, 2017, 5:57 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
California Monkey wrote:
Yay skid plate! I'm glad my time laying in your driveway was value added.


Yezsir! Shit got used!

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October 25th, 2017, 5:52 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
Day 5 Monday June 26th

http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adv ... ture-2017/

We woke to a nice crisp, cool morning. Almost jacket weather. Almost…

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Toob sock’s R2.8 Cummins

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Complete with dirty ass air filter

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The DPP ram is very photogenic

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Speaking of, as we were lined up, getting ready to leave camp, Christian gets on the radio and tells the co-pilots to move back one vehicle. We had done this a couple times already and it’s a cool way to spend time BSing with someone new. As luck would have it, Nolan ends up in the DPP Ram with the man Cooper himself

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Looks just like my interior…

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So with new friends in the passenger seats, we back track on the dirt road we came in on, and we were back on pavement. Come to think of it, we did a weird thing this day, and drove on a pavement, a lot. Honestly it was a bit welcomed. At the drivers meeting Trent tells us we’ve got some pavement ahead of us and then we’re wheeling in some dunes. But instead of sand its volcanic rock. And instead of at the ocean, it’s outside of Flagstaff, at well over 6k feet. Alright then. Excited by this intriguing combination we make some time on the pavement. As is typical we take the scenic route wherever possible, which is cool, because there’s some beauty to be seen in AZ.

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After a couple hours on the road, we pull over to check blinker fluid levels, and again swap passengers

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Nolan ends up in Wayne’s green Chevy and I get his passenger Jack. Finally in a proper vehicle, Nolan is a happy camper

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We pass through Flagstaff and stop for gas. Even after a week of seeing it, the double ended Jeep still looks weird. It also suffers a fatal flaw as you can see from the junk strapped to the “trunk” – there’s very little storage space!

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We arrive at the aforementioned lava-rock-dune-wheeling-situation in the early afternoon, and air down to go play in the… sand? Pewe explains that because these small lava rock particles are slightly larger than sand, they have a steeper angle of repose, or the angle at which a pile of material “natural” has. Science lesson over, we hit the skinny pedal.

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The terrain is bizarre. I’ve spent a lot of time out in the sand dunes at Pismo beach in central CA, and it drives a bit like sand. But there’s trees… And slightly more traction. It was strange. The added traction was nice given the elevation, and my stockish motor as I was down on power for the first time in our wheeling adventures on this trip.

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There was a nice long, steep hill climb that most of us drove up. I took 2 tries after bogging the motor in second gear and losing momentum on the first try, I backed down and came at it with a little more speed, more RPM, and all the beans she had, successfully making it up the hill, though it wasn't particularly impressive. After many impressive WOT high horsepower runs from the crew, Fred crawled up at approximately 2 MPH. Something about light weight and big tires?

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Very interesting looking out over a mountain range and the ground is black. I’ve never seen anything like it, it was both scenic and made for some great wheeling!

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Skyjacker JK. Merica.

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Perfect alignment of my tailgate… Don’t matter, because supa flossy.

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We spent the afternoon playing around in the dunes. Stephen Watson in the ORD Chevy was probably the most fun driver to watch in the park. With a healthy big block under the hood (did I mention single chamber Flowmasters!?) and lots of suspension travel he was crushing it out there. Nolan and I spent portions of the trip debating the question, if you could have one of the trucks here which would it be? We both kept coming back to the ORD Chevy, it’s just an awesome rig! I also clearly have a thing for full sizes so that's probably part of the affection.

After the dunes we head up to towards the north rim of the Grand Canyon, all via pavement. We briefly get blasted by the afternoon heat as we lost elevation coming out of Flagstaff. Nolan and I had driven this stretch 6 days earlier getting from Hurricane to Phoenix to start the trip, but it’s a scenic drive so we were happy to do it again. This is where the money shot on the “cover” of the day 5 coverage happened:

http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adv ... ture-2017/

If you look close, you’ll l notice the drivers window is up. The front windows have a light tint, and when the sun is beating in on you it was actually better to have the window up to block the sun and use the wing windows to get some airflow. Before leaving I debated running my half doors because I prefer wheeling with them, but I’ve done some longer road driving with the half doors in the heat and it suckssss. In this moment, I was sooo happy with my decision!

As the sun starts to set, we start the climb up towards the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The elevation and the sun setting offer a nice break from the heat. We hit camp with the last smidge of daylight fading, and by the time we set up tents and cook, its another 10 pm dinner. We drank some Capri Suns (straws through the bottom, so hard to get em in that little perforated slot) and went to bed, knowing the next morning was the north rim of the Grand Canyon!

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the stars turn towards it."

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October 29th, 2017, 6:37 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
great coverage sir. I love the passenger swap stuff and the volcano dunes look awesome. I'm starting to think that your coverage will be way better than the coverage we'll get out of video. The magazine was kind of a let down (In my opinion) but that's more because I know there's way more.

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October 30th, 2017, 9:15 am
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
So I just got the 3rd magazine since the trip and they had the last installment of the UACJ build and no event coverage. So I'm with you, a bit disappointing...

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October 31st, 2017, 7:55 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
Day 6 Tuesday June 27th

http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adv ... ture-2017/

We wake up excited, knowing that we’re pretty close to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and many of us had never been. It doesn’t hurt that at 8k ft of elevation its actually cool. We hit the road early, as we often do, and head for the giant hole in the ground.

I was expecting the Grand Canyon to be, well, grand, but the drive in is really awesome too. There’s this mile wide meadow that runs for miles on the way in and the road cuts right down the middle, and it was so green.

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I had no idea the top of this thing was at so much elevation! I felt it in the truck and we all felt it our bodies when we got out and started walking around

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Much UA apparel was seen this day

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Having driven to the Grand Canyon about 30 miles on pavement, there was only one logical way to leave. That’s right, no more than 5 miles after leaving the park we hook a left on a dirt road.

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This particular road was in good shape and allowed for some high speeds. That is until we hit the construction crew.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat myself. The amount of dirt roads in AZ is staggering.

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We briefly hit some pavement for the single purpose of fueling and icing up. Typical parking lot shenanigans ensued involving a spray bottle of water and a dry towel. At this point we've lost a lot of elevation and its probably approaching noon so, you guessed it, its hot again!

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We then quickly returned to dirt, this time another well maintained road allowing some high speeds. We travelled over 50 miles until our next step, which caused the group to spread out quite a bit. It quickly became apparent who had the suspension and/or guts for sustained high speed travel on unfamiliar dirt roads.

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We finally stopped at this cool old school, which apparently used to have something of a city / population around it.

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Retro 4wheeling!

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After some lunch at the school yard, we continue on some dirt roads, passing a private air strip that brings tourists into a ranch. Trent tells us that this is one of the most remote corners of AZ, and we can see why given we’ve probably been on dirt roads for 70+ miles at this point.

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And when I say ranch I mean ranch, and lets be clear about who has the right of way.

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The road turns more washboard like with rocks large enough to slow you down but not worthy of 4 wheel drive. Then we see a familiar site, the jagged, steep cliffs of that big-hole-in-the-ground! We were returning to the Grand Canyon, this time from a much much more remote location

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And suddenly, the 100ish mile grind on dirt roads and heat felt entirely worthwhile

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This also made for a hell of a group shot

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And a few solo shots

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Wayne joined the party too

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After enjoying the view for a bit, there was only one thing left to do. Go back the way we had just came. It was getting late in the day and we knew we still had some ground to cover.
A familiar site, dust clouds in the distance as everyone spaces out a bit to avoid complete inhalation of the dust from the truck in front of them.

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As we continue on the sun starts to set

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As the sun sets these little rabbits are coming out of the brush and practically aiming for the trucks. We slow down and fire up all our off road lights but there are a few causalities. We cover another 30-40 miles of dirt roads going late into the night. Some if it is smooth sailing and its fun to fire up the lights and blast down some roads in the dark. Other times the road is so silty and any breeze we had earlier in the day is long gone, so visibility is so bad we often came to a complete stop and waited for the dust to settle. We also come across a section of road that has 5-6' deep ditches to the side that would've been very easy to drive into had we not been warned by others ahead of us.

Speaking of, the group does a great job of communicating trail hazards, and waiting for the truck behind them at the unmarked, and hard to find turns. The Rugged Radios really make this crazy night wheeling possible. There’s times the front and the back of the group were several miles apart through mountains and canyons, the kind of terrain you’d never get through with a CB.

We hit pavement around midnight, only a few miles from the hotel in Hurricane, UT. People B-line for whatever fast food place is open, get gas, ice and lunch for tomorrow. I don’t know the exact number but I bet we covered 200 miles on dirt roads this day! We finally pull into the hotel parking lot around 1 AM. I confirm that my tow rig and trailer are where I left them (they are!) and pull in next to one of the smaller rigs on the trip, you know to make my truck look big.

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We all pretty much go straight to bed, well after a shower with heavy scrubbing to get the hundreds of miles of dirt grime off, knowing we’ve got an early morning, and the last day of the trip tomorrow.

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the stars turn towards it."

- Confucius


November 5th, 2017, 8:30 am
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
What an awesome trip, the desert is really beutiful. We passed through hurricane on our honeymoon too!

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November 5th, 2017, 12:26 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
chexmix wrote:
What an awesome trip, the desert is really beutiful. We passed through hurricane on our honeymoon too!


I'm sure its more beautiful with working AC! You were smart to revive yours. I guess for that road trip you planned it was almost a necessity.

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November 5th, 2017, 8:30 pm
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Post Re: Dan's 2017 Ultimate Adventure Adventure
Day 7 Wednesday June 28th

http://www.fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adv ... ture-2017/

Well they definitely saved the best for last as far as wheeling goes. The last day we headed out to Sand Hollow which was less than 10 miles from the hotel. The locals have worked with the government to get a lot of open land here and it really is an incredible park. A few of the local club members came and showed us around, big thanks to them for being our trail guides and for building out this park. One of the coolest things about the area is its purely an off road park so there are no real trails or limits. If you see a line you wanna take, go for it!

En route

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It didn’t take long at all to air down and hit the trails. This is the real deal, red-rock-rock-crawling!

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And it didn’t take long for trail carnage. Trent blew up the ring and pinion in his rear 8.8 on what was pretty much the first obstacle. He limped it back to the hotel and came back to the trails to play spotter for the day.

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I’ll step aside and let the pictures do the talking.

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Whoops!

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Bulb works, so… good to go right!?

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As a bonus, there was a beautiful view of a lake in the background. Talk about awesome recreational options!

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A common site. A couple vehicles doing something, and a crew of onlookers, cameraman, hecklers, and spotters. More hecklers than spotters just to be clear :D

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After playing in the rocks most of the day, we headed out to the sand dunes. Now this was a sight, serious rock crawling quickly turning into huck fest…

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Nice shot of Verne in the distance with his red Blazer

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The rock quickly became an attraction.

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Now I wont say people were trying to break stuff, but it was pretty late in the last day so lets just say there wasn’t much left on the table. With lots of quality suspension and power on tap the Watsons got after it in the big ORD Chevy.

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Also sporting big power, the Dana JK caught some air

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Not to be outdone, Dirt Head Dave fired up all 3 hamsters under the hood of his Isuzu and showed it wasn’t just a power game.

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After a great day of wheeling with remarkably little broken junk, we headed back to the hotel, showered up and headed to dinner at a nearby BBQ joint that was actually quite good. Nolan and I had eaten there a week prior so we had the inside scope. Some people headed home after dinner but most hung around the hotel for one last hurrah and headed out in the morning. The locals that showed us around Sand Hollow showed up in this cool right hand drive Yota.

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Always curious minds wrenchers are, so Trent’s 8.8 was disassembled in the parking lot to figure out what had broken.

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If memory serves, some carrier bolts had backed out and punctured the diff cover. I believe they torqued them down, filled with fresh oil and he drove it home 400 miles to Phoenix.

There may have been a high kick contest in the parking lot, or maybe not, I can’t remember. We went to bed and while we still had a 600 mile drive home, somehow that felt like nothing. Besides, it would be on pavement.

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the stars turn towards it."

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November 5th, 2017, 9:30 pm
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