Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter Jeep Safari 2016 Round Up

  Easter has once again come and gone leaving one more Jeep Safari in our rear view mirror. Moab can now calm down a little until next spring. We were able to see a lot of fun new products from manufacturers in the off road industry and we even managed to allow ourselves to be sucked in to a couple of booths to make some purchases of things I'm not sure that I really needed but I'm glad that I now have (I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about.) Once I get an opportunity to try these products out I'll let you know what I think of them.
  Unfortunately due to our group of characters being scattered around the state and a lot of issues with registration we were unable to actually sign up for an official trail this year. That's okay by me because I've officiated these trails over the years and to be honest I like taking smaller groups out. It's quiet, simple and much more personal and you always have time to stop and see whatever you want whenever you want. It's also a better environment for newer four wheelers such as one of the guests we had in our camp this year. We took them out on the Fallen Peace Officer Trail for their first off road experience. This trail isn't exactly difficult but there are enough spots to test and train a driver with a stock vehicle to see how they will handle the experience. I have to say that I'm now more impressed with Jeep's Trail Rated Badge than I was before. With a little guidance and a capable vehicle I once more got to see a nice couple learn what it's like to travel off the beaten path. I hope to see Jay and Linda return to travel with us again soon.
   Without a trail for Big Saturday we chose to get away from the crowds which led us back to the ghost town of Sego. Much of the stone and brick buildings have remained the same as they were on my last visit five years ago but the wooden structure that had been standing is now no more than a pile of broken lumber. This had been a rumor to me that is obviously now confirmed. Sad as it is to see it toppled it didn't ruin the trip. As I said there are still a lot of buildings scattered through Sego Canyon that are still well preserved and worth the drive out to see them. After leaving Sego we chose to take the backroads back to camp which led us through Arches National Park. There aren't a lot of parks out there that still have dirt roads that you are allowed to traverse so if you choose to visit please be respectful. If the roads remain as washboarded as they were for us you will only dream of reaching the speed limit of twenty five. It was rough.
  We rounded out the weekend by taking a quick run to the Pickle trail. This happened to be after our trip to Sego and Arches so for the second time during the week we got to use our drive lights (and we also got to cook dinner by the light of a Coleman lantern.) We had a couple of vehicles in our group that needed to be tested on something a little more challenging than the site seeing tours that we had been taking them on and with it's close proximity to our RV park it, the Pickle just made sense. Three of the six vehicles in our group tried the first obstacle with only two of them making it. It would have been three but the air compressor running the ARB lockers just gave it up at the wrong time for one of them. Sorry Makenna. You'll do it next time. The other two vehicles had no trouble with the rest of the trail and they met up with the rest of the group just as darkness settled in.
Tusher Tunnel
  In the end I had a blast once more in Moab and of course I can't wait until the day I can return. There are so many places to see in the Moab area that you just won't be able to see them all in one trip. Heck, I've been a regular since 1989 and there are still things that I haven't seen. You don't have to be a Jeep guy or gal to head down there either. If you like to hike, raft, rock climb, or mountain bike there is something for you there. Thank you to the Red Rock 4-Wheelers for hosting another successful Easter Jeep Safari and congratulations on 50 years. I can't wait for 51. Thank you folks for reading and I'll see you on Friday.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Finally Some Red Rocks

  Whew! We made it to Moab and not a moment too soon. For some reason getting down here was a fight. Snow storms, broken RV parts and more seemed to try to keep us down but we're here and having a great time. As expected there are a lot of people roaming around and the excitement is at a fever pitch.
  Our first day here spent at the Spanish Trail Arena for the vendor show. Here is the place you want to be if you own a Jeep vehicle because if it bolts or welds onto a Jeep it's here. From axles, lockers, and tires to shovels, tow straps, and winches. I can guarantee that you will find something here that you will drool over and probably end up leaving with something that you didn't know you even needed (like I did.) 
  The vendor show just continues to grow with more vendors who love to support this sport and the Jeep Safari and even after twenty plus years of me coming down here it never ceases to amaze me that an entire industry is showcased so well in just one place.
  After spending three hours at the vendor show we decided to grab a bite to eat and then go find a short trail to do before dinner. In 2013 a new trail was created to honor our boys in blue and was dubbed the Fallen Peace Officer trail. This trail is dedicated to Utah police officers that have died while in the line of duty to honor their service. It is a fourteen mile loop north of town that borders Arches National Park and crosses the Copper Ridge Trail that the Jeep Safari uses. It is mostly dirt trail that passes through washes and throws in a few rocky climbs here and there to keep things interesting. Our six vehicles had no trouble traversing the trail and it was a good trail to introduce a new four wheeling family to the sport. Driving in a stock and fairly new Jeep Liberty off road and with no knowledge of what you're getting into can be stressful but these two handled it like pros. Thanks for joining us on the trail Jay and Linda and welcome to the off road community.
  To make this trail a little more difficult we chose to start late in the afternoon (because the leader thought it was a short trail, my bad) and the sun set by the time we had reached mile ten. The setting sun makes for good photos and a beautiful end to a fun day. The drive lights were turned on and we slowly made our way home in the dark. It's been a long time since we've been on a night run and it turned out to be really fun and I can't wait to do it again.
  Unfortunately I can't share any photos at the moment because the internet at my RV park suuuucks! I will share our photos and videos with you after we return home but for now I shall say goodbye because It's time to go run another trail. See you Monday!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Full Swing For The Jeep Safari

  Well it's the fourth day of the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah and I'm still sitting in Salt Lake City. Bummer. The good news for me is that I'm just a two days away from leaving work behind and joining the masses in the red rocks. Of course things wouldn't be fun if everything went smoothly as I found out two days ago.
  I got the motor home out and started checking all the fluids and the fridge and all the other systems that I get nervous about not working and to my surprise everything handled the winter very well. That is until I turned on the water pump. The sound of spraying water is never a good sound and when I tracked it to the back of the toilet I was less than amused. The good news is that I was able to find the parts easily Monday afternoon. The bad news is that while installing the said parts I ended up causing more damage which now results in purchasing a new toilet. There goes my Moab mad money. Tonight will be interesting.
  If you're like me and are a little sad that you aren't in Moab for the Jeep Safari then maybe you can visit YouTube to take in last years action to hold you over. I know it's more like adding salt to your wounds but it's still fun to see what others have done. Here I've added some links to some videos that I've enjoyed and shall pass on to you if you haven't seen them.

Wayalife- Moab: Pilgrimage to the Promised Land
 Part 1- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vbFoeYX-QI
 Part 2- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOcIx-0ytXI
 Part 3- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p30GPQAX0Ps
 Part 4- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_QqAOpS5l4
 Part 5- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF1Pf6lSJ4Y
 Part 6- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRKM647bizM

Jeep- Moab Jeep Safari The Complete Experience
          - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEAk4aJTdyQ

 This last page is something I'm throwing in for more of an overlanding type crowd. Mainly because I've really enjoyed their videos and their adventures are very inspiring so check them out.

Expedition Overland- https://www.youtube.com/user/ExpeditionOverland

  Obviously there are a ton of things to check out on the web and here are only some of my favorite videos. We are in no way affiliated with these groups but I believe in paying it forward and sharing things that I enjoy. That's what a blog is about right? Anyway, I've got to cut this short because there is sooo much to do. I'll be back on Friday from Moab! Have a fun and safe week folks.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Jeep Safari Bound: 5 Tips For Your Trip

  It's here! The 2016 Easter Jeep Safari starts in the morning and if you're reading this I hope you're already in town or at least not driving. That would be bad. We've spent the winter getting our vehicles ready by adding new parts, fixing old parts, and testing these parts in preparation for these nine days. If you own a Jeep vehicle you can't help but be excited (unless you can't attend this year, then you would be sad and I'm sorry.)
  If you've never attended a Jeep Safari before then this article is for you because I'm going to give you five things that you must know for attending the Easter Jeep Safari. If you have attended then you should still read this as a reminder for your trip.

1. Unpredictable Weather-  Moab is known for it's dusty trails and hard, sandstone features known as slick rock. The summers are warm and for the most part dry but the weather can be unpredictable and you should be prepared. Since the Safari is in March I will warn you that you can experience snow, rain or sunshine all in the same day. I'm not joking. You can start the day in a coat and end in a t-shirt. Been there, done that. Bring extra clothes that can be layered or stripped off as the day goes on.

2. Have a CB radio- With 40+ vehicles on each trail it can be somewhat difficult to keep them organized. So how do we do it? Communication. The trail officials and participants talk with one another through CB radios. Each trail is assigned a specific channel and through that channel the trail leader can find out how well the trail is moving and if there are any incidents as the vehicles are scattered across the desert. These communications can be limited but over all a successful way to get information to one another. The best part is you will not only get information on how the trail is going but you will hear stories and area information that keeps things fun and interesting. Trust me the trails are funner when you can hear the group as opposed to just talking to yourself. It surprised me how many people still don't have a CB in their rigs.

3.Long Lines- Okay, Moab in general is a small town. The summer is busy with tourists all year but at no time during the year does Moab get hit harder with people than during Jeep Safari. Here is your warning. There are going to be lines for everything. If you need gas, expect a long line. If you plan to eat out for dinner, long lines. If you need to stop at City Market for food, long lines. Everyone in town has the same needs and usually at the same time so plan ahead. Either allow extra time or if you're sneaky like me you'll get gas late at night or early in the morning before others are out of bed. Also please be patient with the locals. They are welcoming us into their town with open arms and are working hard to serve you all day. Smile and cut them some slack.

4.Food and Water- These trails are day long trips and you will need to bring a lunch. You should make sure that you have an ice cold cooler that will hold enough food and drink for the occupants of your vehicle. Remember that all local laws are in effect and that alcoholic beverages are a no no. Now soda pop may go well with your sandwiches but you still need to be drinking water throughout the day. I will also tell you that some trails can be long and if there are enough breakdowns you can be out on the trail until dark. This is rare but you should have snacks or extra lunch to get you through a long day just in case.

5. Safety is Key-  You and your loved ones will be out in what can be harsh and dangerous conditions. You should be mindful of where you are and where your kiddos are at all times. You will be near shear cliffs overlooking beautiful vistas of the Moab area where one wrong step could mean disaster. Also there are a lot of vehicles moving around on the trails. At obstacles many people like to take the opportunity to take photos but don't get too close. These vehicles can jump in any direction while they attempt to climb obstacles and you don't want to get in there way. Use your zoom and stay clear. It's all pretty much common sense but if you aren't careful you can get into a situation that can cause injuries or worse so please be careful.

  So there you go, five things to help you get through your Jeep Safari. I could have written countless lists on this subject but that wouldn't be fun would it. There are many things you can do to have a good and safe trip and I'm sure they can be found all over the inter webs but these five are the ones I see needing the most attention. I hope to see you out on the trails. Have a safe weekend! Happy jeeping!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sharks in Utah?

The shark tunnel at the Living Planet Aquarium, Utah
  It's been about two months since our Southern California vacation where we took in the rides of Disneyland, the history of the U.S.S Midway, and the great creatures of the oceans at Sea World. My daughter had never visited Sea World and my son was too young to remember it so it was high time we went down and checked it out. What I've learned since that trip is that, aside from the Orca and Dolphins, most of the animals we saw could be seen here in Utah. Yes, Utah.
  The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium located in Draper, Utah is somewhat an oddity here in my opinion. We live in the desert here. We have mountains full of deer, elk and bear. There are antelope that graze in the fields just a few miles south of my home. Nowhere do I see sandy beaches and crashing ocean waves from where I live so the aquarium to me is just out of place. But that doesn't mean that it isn't interesting.
  The aquarium has many exhibits that will appeal to anyone interested in marine animals. They have a petting area where you are allowed to touch sting rays and small sharks much like SeaWorld.  They have a few different types of jellyfish and each one is equally creepy and they have a large shark tank with multiple species of shark, sting rays, and sea turtles plus, like SeaWorld, they have a tunnel that you can walk through and get an up close view of these animals. When I visited SeaWorld their tunnel was closed for some reason so this part of the museum was probably the highlight for me.
   Of course the animals that get the most attention are the penguins and the river otters. The penguins are housed in the Antarctic Adventure section of the aquarium and aside from being a bit dark the exhibit did give you room to see the penguins and still have room to breathe. The river otters are located in the Discover Utah section of the aquarium and is the exact opposite of the penguin area. It is well lit but there didn't seem to be enough room to see the animals. It's a tight space that on a busy day (which it was) just doesn't allow you to view the otters unless you are extremely patient or a little pushy. In fact I didn't even attempt to take a photo because there were just too many people huddled around the glass and the otters seemed to like the attention and stayed close to the glass as they played.
  I do like the Discover Utah section because it is dedicated to animals that you find in the wild here. Snakes, fish, and even duck species that call Utah home have a place here. If you sneak past the crowd at the otters you can get an up close encounter with a Wood Duck which I haven't personally seen in the wild in Utah but they do pass through.
  So do I like the aquarium? Eh. I've mentioned SeaWorld in this article but I'm not really comparing the two. They are different. But I did want to point out the similarities. I think they spent a lot of money building interesting "worlds" but the payoff leaves a bit to be desired. The Journey to South America is a large room kept warm and humid for the animals housed in it and a lot of them have free run of the place so keep your mouth shut if you're looking up. There seemed to be few animals to justify the size of this exhibit. I did enjoy seeing King Crab alive and well and not on a plate. It was cool to see the actual size of those dudes, pretty impressive. They are located in the Antarctic Adventure on the level below the penguins. Overall I think it's worth visiting at least once but it won't be cheap. An adult ticket is just under $18 and a child's ticket comes in under $13. I guess it's cheaper than going to SeaWorld if you want a stingray fix. Check it out for yourself, though. Their web site is http://www.thelivingplanet.com/ if you want a preview.
  I'll see you on Friday when we get in to those Jeep Safari must haves I promised. See you then!


Friday, March 11, 2016

Nearly Forgotten: Ghost Towns

School House, Grafton,  Southern Utah
   Scattered throughout the most desolate areas of the western United States are old skeletons from our past. Some have been hidden by time, mother natures way of playing hide and seek with us demanding that we do research and in person investigations to find them. Others have been transformed into semi profitable stops along out of the way road trips. They are ghost towns, remnants of what use to be bustling cities full of money, booze, women, and on occasion violence. Of course this history is exactly why I like to explore them.
  These places represent how people lived over 100 years ago. The work was hard and paid little. If natures beasts didn't kill you Native Americans or an outlaw might and when there wasn't any rain to water the crops you starved. Times were tough then and these old towns are proof of it. Entire towns were shuttered as soon as the precious metals were mined to exhaustion and employees were forced to move on to the next town to seek work. Heck it still happens today. Just look at what's going on in the oil fields in North Dakota. Here one day, gone tomorrow.
Old Hotel in Sego, Utah (No longer standing)
  There are a few building still standing in Sego Canyon north of Moab, Utah. This town has been washed away by flash floods on more than one occasion. The town has a special connection to me because my grandfather lived there for a while as a child. Each year the desert claims more territory from Sego and I plan to visit this year to see what still remains. It's been about seven years since I last visited and I know that the largest structure, a wooden hotel (left) has since collapsed. From this photo you can see that there wasn't much left but if you didn't value your safety you could walk directly through the building. I'll share updated photos after we return from the Jeep Safari.
  Some of these old buildings such as the ones in Grafton, Utah have needed a little TLC to keep them looking good and structurally sound. Money for these projects often comes from private donors while larger towns like Calico, CA can sustain themselves. Either way the locations should be respected and left as they are for others to follow in your footsteps so their exploration is just as much fun as yours. These places are waiting for you to explore. Some may be closer than you think. I know of 4 within 25 minutes of where I'm sitting right now (which is my house not the middle of nowhere.) Do a little research and pack a lunch and go explore. It's a great way to get the kiddies away from those electronic devices for a little while.

  Jeep Safari is just a week away folks. Are you ready? On Tuesday I'll give you some tips on what you should have with you and what you can expect while you're down there.
  In case you were wondering, Jeep The Adventure Dog is continuing to improve and the vet thinks that he may not have had a serious issue after all but only time will tell. He seems to be feeling better because we can't get him to stay sill.
  Also for those of you in the Salt Lake City area the Sportsman's Expo is next week so if you're looking for your next outdoor adventure make sure you stop by for some ideas. Thanks all and have a good weekend!

Sego, Utah

Grafton, Utah

Church in Calico, California

Nevada City, Montana

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Live With No Regrets

  "I'd like to have tried..."
  "I wish I had learned to..."
  "I regret not taking that vacation to..."
  " It would have been nice to spend more time with..."

  You've heard these before right? You've probably even used these a time or two during casual conversation, not thinking too much about them in the moment but maybe later, when you're alone, these phrases crawl back to the forefront of your mind. These are our regrets, the things that our hearts desire but are nothing more than dreams because reality stepped in and shamed them into hiding in our shadows.
  Reality and I don't really like each other. We tend to bicker with one another and more often than I'd like to admit, we come to blows (no my wife's name isn't reality just to be clear.) I have a problem facing the fact that life is all about spending my youth going to school just to spend my middle ages struggling to pay bills and to make others rich. I can't wrap my mind around how in my pre-mortal life that I would agree to such nonsense. I mean come on, someone comes to me and says, "Hey, Brandan, I know of a great place to spent eighty years of your life. It's beautiful. There's large oceans full of all kinds of sea creatures (some of them are delicious) and there are tall mountains bursting with critters large and small (some of them are delicious too) and the whole place is your playground. The only problem is that you'll have to spend most if not all of your time working for others and pretty much living six feet away from another guy that will have every bad habit that will annoy you. So do you want to go?"
  "Yes of course! You had to ask?"
  None of that makes sense to me. What was I thinking? Obviously I don't know the answer to that but it does bring me to the point. We should be here to enjoy ourselves and be happy. I don't want to be wasting away in hospice and thinking about all of the things I didn't do because I held myself back. I would rather be disappointed that I ran out of time to do something rather than because I was afraid of doing something or because I had to work. I want to show my kids everything I can right now, while I can because for one, I want to see and do these things and two because it gets harder and harder for the everyday person to do these things. It's hard for us to get out their and do things because of the real world and it's only going to get harder for the up and coming generations.
  I know I sound crazy but all of us should take every chance we can to experience life. Have you ever wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle but were too afraid to get on one? Sure it's a scary thought, you can die but will you regret it later? How about something safer like golf? Ever wanted to try it? I did. It's hard as hell and I love to play it (and I still really suck at it.) It's a game that no one will ever master because each day and each swing is different. There are no constants (other than cussing) when playing a round of golf.  My wife wants to try scuba diving. The thought of all the things that can kill me in that situation is paralyzing but should I let that hold me back (maybe) hell no. If I'm meant to die underwater than bring it on. I sure don't know how it's all going to end but I for one want to look back and say that I had a helluva ride.
  Yes the real world holds us all back. We still need to make a living to keep ourselves in a home and to give us the ability to have experiences but we need to make it work for us. I can't tell anyone how to do that. I'm still trying to figure it out myself but try not to live with regrets. Find a way to take that vacation. Get out with the family, especially the ones you don't see that often (guilty) because they can be a regret too. Go sit out under the stars in the middle of nowhere just to see how tiny we are in this universe. I don't know, find something you want to do and do it. We are about to make a huge and scary change around here and our emotions are on a roller coaster ride like we've never ridden before and in the end I know we won't regret it. I'll get into that another day but for the time being I'll just encourage you once more to find something, anything you want to do and do it. After that, find another thing and do that. No regrets later. See you on Friday.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Our Favorite Jeep Trails of Moab

  Well we're just two weeks away from the 50th Annual Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah and I can see from my Facebook feed that people are getting excited. People are posting photos of their fresh modifications and past trail adventures to the Red Rock 4-Wheelers Facebook page and I have to admit it gets me pretty excited to go. To feed that excitement I thought that today I would share with you my five favorite trails in the Moab area. These are the trails that we can't seem to get enough of because despite the endless miles of roads to explore we just keep going back to them. The trail rating system is a 1 to 10 with 10 being the most difficult so let's get going.

5. Wipe Out Hill- Rated a 5 this trail travels through the washes just off of highway 191 and south of the airport. Once you leave the washes the trail traverses some slick rock and takes you past Determination Towers where on more than one occasion I've seen rock climbers scaling their sandstone faces. The trail takes you through unique scenery that has caught the attention of Jeep, American Express and more for shooting their commercials. The real difficulty of this trail is Wipe Out Hill but you actually drop down it which if you follow your spotter is a relatively easy feat. If you're looking for a bit of a challenge than you're more than welcome to turn around and go back up it.

4. The Golden Spike-  Rated a 7, the Golden Spike is one of the more famous trails in Moab and with obstacles like the Golden Crack and the Double Whammy it's probably one of the most photographed. If you do the Golden Spike trail you will actually travel over three of the Jeep Safari trails. Poison Spider Mesa, Golden Spike and Gold Bar Rim. The majority of the Spike is slick rock and you will have viewing opportunities of Arches National Park from a unique perspective and you have to make sure you get a picture of Jeep Arch, it's just like it sounds, an arch in the shape of a Jeep. Of course most of us do this trail for the obstacles, there's enough to keep your attention all day, I promise.

3. Poison Spider Mesa- This trail is rated a 6 and is close to town. Popular with mountain bikers, hikers and Jeepers alike, this trail can get very busy during the Jeep Safari. In fact I don't recommend trying to do this trail during Easter week unless you are signed up to go on one of the organized runs. There are a lot of interesting slick rock climbs that will test you're abilities and some that will test your confidence in tire traction. Our lunch spot puts you right at the base of a beautiful arch and a short walk from a large cave that stays pretty cool all year long. From here you can also look over the Colorado River and get an interesting view of the Moab Rim trail. Poison Spider has a great combination of challenge and scenery to keep you coming back every year.

2. Moab Rim- Rated at 7 this trail holds a special place in our hearts because it was the trail that we led and officiated for many years on Big Saturday. This is probably the most intense trail you can find in Moab because for the first 1/2 mile you travel uncomfortably close to the cliff edge that if you weren't paying attention would land you smack dab in the middle of a two lane road. The higher you go the more it looks like you would fall into the Colorado River. The obstacles on this trail hit you one after another and the tippy, uneven slick rock can be unforgiving. Since this trail is so close to town it's common to have many photographers and action junkies crowding around to see if you make it. At the top of the rim you will get the best over look view of the town of Moab. You are literally right on top of town. Now you have to get the courage to head back down. Good luck.

1. Metal Masher- This is without a doubt my favorite. It's also rated a 7 and this trail has it all. Sandy canyon washes, slick rock climbs, beautiful scenery, and if time permits an option of visiting Gemini Bridges (side by side arches.) I've done this trail more than any other. It's a complete package of what an off roader wants in a trail. I would recommend this trail to everyone and unfortunately I can't do the trail justice by trying to explain it. You'll just have to check it out for yourself.

  Well there they are my favorite trails in Moab. I hope you take the time to visit these trails if you have a chance.  For those of you that read Tuesday's post you learned of Jeep the Adventure Dog's little health problem and as promised here is the latest. He is on medication and steroids to treat the unseen injury and is on strict orders not to run, jump or do stairs. Yesterday he was walking around really well and has attempted to defy the no jumping rule. If he continues to improve then we should have no problems with him attending the Jeep Safari with us.
  Have a great and adventurous weekend folks! See you next week. 


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Jeep The Adventure Dog

  Today's post is about our 4 year old Dachshund that we call Jeep. He has been an adventurous dog that has loved and annoyed us and I suppose that's why we love him.
  Last week Jeep sustained an injury that even now eludes a full explanation. We thought that he had a pulled or strained muscle. As we wrestled with whether to take him to the Vet or not he seemed to get better. We pampered him and allowed him some time to heal. A few days ago he seemed to be doing really well but yesterday he started struggling to walk. We took him to the Vet and the good news is that there are no broken bones or obvious things wrong with him. The bad news is that the Vet believes that he may have a degenerative disc problem with his spine. He is now on medication and has very strict orders not to run, jump, or do stairs for the next six to eight weeks. After this time period we will reevaluate our options. Due to this unfortunate event and the fact that I'm writing this on the day this all has transpired, I will end today's post here. I'll be back on Friday with an update and a much more fun post. Thanks for your patience.