Hi Everybody !
Well, we had a great gathering again this year despite the fact that we ended up going in two groups and although there are surely hundreds of stories we will all be sharing, here are some of the highlights and things:
First and foremost – No one got hurt and everyone made it home safely !
Well the first group out to TDS this year had a great time. Steve and Trevor got out there Tuesday around 2pm and were able to get the plateau for us. Jeff also got there on Tuesday a little after 4pm. We set up camp and ate and had a campfire. Armando and Drew came and dropped off his toyhauler and left to come back on Thursday. Wednesday morning we put up the rebar and caution tape “gates” and perimeter, which worked out well, as it kept other wheelers passing around us and not thru us.
We ended up with 18 off road rigs with 3 of those being “slightly modified stockers” that stayed to the easy stuff. We had 22 adults and 6 kids that camped with us and 5 others that came for a day and left…so we had a great group. Here’s who showed up: Steve, Trevor, Jeff, Briggs, Paul, Paul’s wife and their 2 grandkids, Ken, Skylar, Armando, Rene, Eric, Tim, Austin, Hanna, Donald, Mary, Randy and his two boys, Drew and two boys, Joe, Joe’s son and Joe’s daughter. Jason, Chris, Garrett and two lady friends came Sat. wheeled and left Sat. after the night run. Hope I didn’t miss anyone.
The weather was great every day – 75, 73, 80 and 84 Mon thru Sat. We had mostly calm to a slight breezes every day that thankfully blew the right direction and kept the dust away….for the most part. We only had a couple hours of WIND and that was Saturday night right around sunset, and fortunately it came up quickly and died away just as quickly. We had nice campfires every night, so thanks to everyone who brought firewood.
Tuesday before sunset Steve and Trevor went to play in some of the little grooves and hills for a bit just across the road from camp, and came back within about 20 minutes because Steve’s fan chewed into his new aluminum radiator. We ate dinner and had a campfire.
Steve left early Wednesday morning and drove the couple hours to his house and brought back a couple spare stock radiators and fan setups. He had the replacement radiator and fan installed by early afternoon. It sprinkled off and on that morning and got steadier in the afternoon…nothing heavy, the ground didn’t get muddy or anything and we wheeled from 3:30 to 6 with our windshield wipers on. We got back to camp and by then the sprinkling was quite steady and it was dark and so we called it a night. Briggs got to camp about 2:30 am Wednesday.
Most everyone got to camp on Thursday and so I lost track of who came when and where everyone wheeled…sorry about that. Folks went on day runs and about 8-10 of us did sunset into night runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday’s wasn’t too late…maybe 11ish, but Friday nights’ run got back around 1 or 1:30am and Saturday’s got back before midnight…and of course, we sat around campfires those nights.
I do know that a backcountry trip was made to what we thought was what was left of “Twin Palms” and then on to the Radio/Microwave Tower on S22 – it’s the one that is visible to the west from camp. Also numerous excursions were made straight out of camp and across the riverbed to play in that area. Some folks got their first “behind the wheel” chance to practice driving over there. There were at least few times that a group went over to the Obstacle Course to try what they dared to try. Rene led one group over there Friday afternoon and unfortunately cracked his T-Case open coming up “Byron’s Crack” but his group strapped him back to camp safely. He was ready to call it “game over” and just chill at camp for the rest of the weekend….but we talked him into pulling it and going home to get and rebuild his spare T-Case. Trevor jumped right into action and in less than a half hour he and Rene had that T-Case out and Rene was on the road.
Other “breakage” happened: Trevor broke a rear axle Friday but he seems to break one or two every year…and he carries spares, ATV and gear oil and had it changed out in a couple hours and was ready for the evening/night run…and was good to go for the rest of the week. Randy busted his front driveshaft during a night run on his Grand Cherokee, on the harder bi-pass at Rock Buggy, but he smartly was carrying a brand new one…and had it changed out in short order and was ready to keep on wheeling. Saturday afternoon, Steve’s swing away tire carrier bolt broke while trying to climb a difficult ledge in the gullies, dropping the whole spare tire, hi-lift jack and carrier on the ground. We loaded it into Austin’s Toyota and brought it back to camp. Lastly, upon checking their rig Sunday morning Jeff and Briggs saw that they had gear oil puking out of the left front axle housing, so at least their rig made it till the end of the week.
Besides the normal playing around in the gullies and hills due north of camp, every day and every night groups of us trekked up and across the plateaus and down the other side and headed to the Telephone Booth area to play. The Ash Rock formations at “signpost” were fun to go up again…we did that a couple times but we didn’t sit there waiting for rigs to go up it…had too much else to do. Besides, there weren’t any of the “big rigs” out there when we passed by. But on one of our Rock Buggy – the waterfall area on the north side of Telephone Booth was a real challenge this year…the sand at the base had gone down what seemed to be 2 or 3 feet lower than we all remembered where it was last year. Jason was able to climb right up it with his diesel powered Samurai and both Trevor and Rene were able to do it with just a touch of help…a couple guys pulling sideways on their winch cables was all it took to keep them from tipping over…so they made it up too.
We disbanded camp Sunday morning with folks saying their good byes and leaving at various times. The winds for the drive home Sunday were light and the traffic was heavy for some, but the good news was that everyone made it home safely!!
I am sure that there are more tales to tell, and I’m sorry if I missed yours. But all in all, it was a great week!! Everyone was respectful, we all ate good, no one ran out of liquids, and we had fun. Most importantly, no one got hurt !! Thanks again: To those who brought firewood, To those who shared their supplies, To those who helped each other on the trails and To those who provided their mechanical skills when repairs were needed…Kudos to everybody !!!
I’m speaking for everyone when I say that, “we look forward to next year and hope that we can all get together again.” (and maybe before then too)
Till then, Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Count Your Blessings !!!