Day 22 – Black Gap 4×4 Trail

So today I was lost near the Texas/Mexico border, afraid of being eaten by vultures, or being kidnapped. Ok, maybe they were pigeons. They have to eat too you know. Not sure which would have been worse. AllTrails, you failed me!

A confession

Then two super heroines Heather and Joan (aka Thelma and Louise) saved my life. Ok, I lie, its a blog. 🙂 I was finishing up when they showed up at the trailhead, just after I created the above confession video. They were there to do the Black Gap 4×4 Trail and were kind enough to let me tag along.

They had an easy time navigating the trail. Ok. I’ll admit it. They kicked my ass on the trails. Their Jeeps were highly modified. Heather was riding a JLUR with 35s and a 3″ lift, and a bunch of other mods. Joan rode a Gladiator Rubicon with a cargo bed top, 37s, a 4″ MetalCloak lift, modified steering, etc. Me, I ride a lowly JLUR, totally stock, except for a winch, which is worthless in this terrain. I had to work hard to keep up, I took a lot of chances, but happy to say I only scraped my underbelly a couple times.

I felt like Peter Griffin in Family Guy.

After we finished, they went on The River Road, which is an even more awesome trail! I have lots of pics and videos, I’ll add a few here. I need to increase my WordPress plan to post them all.

After we finished both trails, we got gas, we said bye and I took off. I headed towards Bridgeport, TX to hit the next BOH on my list, Northwest OHV Park trail. Unfortunately I didn’t time things right (the trail is only open Friday through Sunday) and ended up continuing on to Hot Springs OHV park in Arkansas to grab three more BOHs.

It’ll take two days to get there, the first leg of the Arkansas trip was scary. By the time I got within 50 miles of Fort Worth, TX, it started raining, and hard I started to pass yellow Road May Flood signs, and then right after that sign, I saw the flood gauge signs. I must have passed a dozen or so areas with those signs. The first couple showed less than one foot of water, I drove slowly through the water. The next couple were at two feet.

Pulled this picture off of Google

I decided to back up to a higher area that didn’t show any debris on the road, this way I won’t get swept away to a gnarly death. After a few minutes a small truck pulling a small trailer drove through it like it was nothing. How humbling, how embarrassing. My Rubicon got one-upped by an old Toyota. Ok, maybe it was the driver. I digress.

I finally got to Fort Worth, got a cheap hotel room, and crashed for the night. Tomorrow, I’m off on the second leg of the trip to Arkansas.

More pics!

Day 21 – Paisano Village RV Park & Inn

After two days of driving, I’m in Texas! I looked for a place to pitch a tent, and found Paisano Village RV Park & Inn, a few miles from the Big Bend National Park. I called and asked if there are any tent spaces available.

The owner asked me I was sure I wanted to sleep in a tent in 108 degree weather. To be honest, today is the 21st day of my vacation, and I’ve only pitched a tent a few times. Partly because it is 100+ degrees all over the West, and partly due to the fires in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.

I asked her for the price, and the cost was reasonable, but I’m on a tight budget since my vacation is 30 days long. She was genuinely concerned about the temperature, so she put me on hold and came back with a lower price. It was still over my budget but health matters, so I took her up on the offer.

It’s rare to see such empathy and compassion these days. I’m sitting in a comfortable suite because someone cared. Not to be mushy, but thinking about it gets my eyes watery. The owner is an awesome person. I only talked to her over the phone, but what she did speaks volumes about what kind of person she is.

Guys, if you ever go to Texas to get Jeep’s “Black Gap 4×4 Trail” Badge Of Honor, think about staying here. And when you pick your route, go through the park, it’s just beautiful.

Day 19 – Back to Arizona

Today I hit the road and headed to Arizona to meet some friends at Table Mesa Road. We all knew this BOA was a bit of a joke, in its current state. It is rated 1-4, when in fact hard stuff never got added, it’s a 1. 🙂 Oh well, we’ll see how easy it is.

Today I stopped at the Hole In The Rock, an interesting place that has a bunch of iron artwork. They also have proof that Bigfoot exists (you read that right!).

I also stopped at Wilson’s Arch, but like previous years, no way I’m climbing up to get a closer look. Thanks

Day 16 – Trifecta Loop part 1

The first leg of the trifecta starts at Ourey, CO and ends in Lake City, CO. The ride was awesome, seemed to compare with blue trails at Rausch Creek Off Road Park in PA.

I started the day packing the fridge at the local Trade Store. At the end of the day I was able to find a cottage at Texan Resort at Lake City. It was a very comfortable, cozy cottage. I slept like a baby.

Day 15 – Short trip to Ourey, CO (144 miles)

Short road trip to Ourey, Colorado. Then rest up for the mountain passes I have planned for Tuesday and Wednesday. This will be more of a commute/rest day than anything else.

I got to drive by some streams, and saw some snow covered mountains. It was about 100 degrees, so I had to equalize the air pressure in the RotoPax 2 gal fuel cel. Not sure why they don’t offer a cap that handles that for you. Notice how it bulges. I saw an awesome Vietnam memorial with a real helicopter on display.

Day 14 – Steel Bender (134 miles)

Park Rangers told me today that Jeep needs to revise the difficulty rating for most of the trails in Moab, because UTVs have torn them up over the past couple months. I didn’t really believe it, because the trails that I’ve done in the past week were trails that I did last year, so I had badges and was familiar with the trails.

Fins & Things was exactly the same, since UTVs can’t tear up petrified sand dunes. 🙂 Same for Hell’s Revenge, not much to tear up. Poison Spider seemed tougher, I noticed some spots were, well, torn up. So today I did Steel Bender, a trail I hadn’t done yet.

The Park Rangers warned me that the challenging spots on this “6” rated trail makes it more like a 7 or 8. They were right. I got out of the Jeep 30 or more times, to survey, select the proper line, and negotiate the roughest spots. Anyone who knows this trail can imagine what would happen if sand and rocks that helped fill gaps all of a sudden disappeared.

Steel Bender was fun, even though I’m riding a stock Rubicon. You know, 33″ tires, and 1″ lift (don’t laugh, that’s what comes with Rubicons!). I’m sure it would have been a whole lot easier with my previous Jeep, since it had 35″ tires, a 2.5″ lift, and a full belly skid plate. 🙂

Today was my last day in Moab. Tomorrow I leave to Colorado to do four of their six BOH trails. Why four? As Albert Einstein once said to a student: “Because, just because”. I’m avoiding the two toughest Colorado trails for the reasons stated above.

Here are some pictures from Steel Bender, with some comments.

Day 13 – Poison Spider (124 miles)

Waited around at the Poison Spider trailhead but after an hour decided to take off on my own. Not always a good idea being alone on a trail, but I did the trail last year and knew what to expect. Or so I thought.

At the one mile mark a Park Ranger told me the UTVs have been tearing up the trails so expect it to be tougher than last year. Well, I know there are three tough spots, but I didn’t have any issues last year when I rode a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport S, with 33″ tires, and a 2.5″ lift.

I went ahead, and ya know, he was right. This year I found myself stacking rocks on the three spots. Well this year I have 33″ tires, and Rubicon model comes with a 1″ lift. So I’m 1″ less lifted than last year.

Ok, so 1″ lower, and a ripped up trail requiring me to stack rocks. I think I’ll put some money on Aleve stock. Time to decide which 35″ tires and 2.5″ lift to get.

Day 12 – WhistlinDiesel In Action

I spent a year preparing for my June 2021 cross country Jeep trip, with two goals.

First, grab as many BOHs that I can, starting in Arizona, then Utah, then Colorado. I had California on the list, but since my new Jeep hasn’t been lifted, has stock tires, and no armor, I scratched it off my list. I grabbed 1 badge in Arizona, the other badge wasn’t worth it (gravel road). Then I grabbed 1 badge in Utah (Steel Bender). I just got to Colorado where I plan to get 4 of 6 (the remaining 2 are too hard without mods). I now have 8 BOHs and I should be at 12 by the end of this week. Not too shabby.

Second, I had a bone to pick with Hell’s Gate, you know, the 45 degree descent/climb shaped like a vinyl record groove. I tried to do it last year, but I didn’t have at least 35s, and I didn’t have at least one locker. Well, today I was there with a Rubicon, and the spotters were fine with it since it has 33s and front/rear lockers. This was my year to finally conquer Hell’s Gate. Or so I thought.

Why this addendum?

To understand my frustration, you’ve got to understand the intersection of Darwin’s Law and Wheaton’s Law.

Take a guy (Cody Detwiler) who wrecks expensive vehicles and posts the carnage on YouTube (WhistlinDiesel), and you’ve got a Darwin Candidate just waiting for his number to be called. Maybe he’s doing it for profit, since you can make a couple bucks on YouTube. Maybe he’s a fiscally irresponsible trust fund kiddie? Is he just out of his fucking mind? Who knows.

Now imagine that Darwin Candidate coordinates with some buddies to destroy a truck on a famous and historical trail overseen by the United States Bureau Of Land Management (BLM). What do you have now? I’ll take “What is a violation of Wheaton’s Law for a dollar, Alex”…and likely a number of citations, fines, etc., from BLM and potential police involvement for reckless endangerment.

I don’t make it a habit of throwing people under the bus. I’m a firm believer of live and let live. But I’m making an exception now. I’m submitting a downloaded copy of this idiot’s video, along with my own video as evidence, along with a signed statement, to the BLM, so this asshat can get what he deserves.

Here is a URL to the video showing this idiot in action (if asshat hasn’t taken it down):

Front row seat to the “I’m a bigger asshat than ever” show.

Still wondering why the addendum? Let’s hope he enjoys someone fucking up his day, like he fucked up ours.

Day 12 – Hells Revenge

Today I latched on to a group of Californians riding five Jeeps through Hell’s Revenge. Here is one video that gives you an idea of the blast we had today!

Not quite Mickey’s Hot Tub, but a baby sized one. Nice and dry, no water or oil, so lots of traction. The pitch going in was 32 degrees, as steep as half a dozen other inclines we had to negotiate today.

Here are some pics of today’s Hell’s Revenge ride.

This weekend and Monday I plan to do Poison Spider, Top Of The World, and a couple others. if I’m not too tired when I get to the hotel, I’ll post more from today’s awesome ride!

Day 11 – Fins And Things (151 miles)

UPDATE: I changed the main picture. As it turns out, the fire was closer than I thought:

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in Utah says that winds picked up significantly on Thursday morning, and winds over 40 mph are expected throughout the rest of the day. As of the last update, the fire has grown to at least 400 acres and there is no containment.

Last year, when I went to Moab for the first time, Fins And Things was the first trail I tried. I was driving a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport S with a 2″ lift and 33″ tires. I don’t mind tell you you I had quite a number of pucker moments. I followed some others who were taking lines I didn’t understand, but that kept me out of trouble.

This year I’m in a 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, stock except for a Warn VR EVO 10S. No lift, stock tires are 33″, but I had front/rear lockers, and they made a difference. I locked the rear when it looked like my back tires would spin up some 30+ degree climbs, and I locked front+rear when those climbs didn’t involve turning.

It was warm, the sky was mostly clear, except for a fire some miles away. Didn’t see many people on the trail, except for a bunch of tour RZRs, and three or four Jeeps.

PS, I’m happy to report the ARB Dual Compressor worked flawlessly. I’m glad I didn’t cut any corners, and did a proper wiring job.

I’m in Moab through Monday. I plan to do Hell’s Revenge tomorrow, and if I have enough time, Poison Spider. That would complete the three trails I did last year.

I plan to do a few other trails that I’ve never done before on Sat/Sun, and then head out to Colorado on Monday.

Day 10 – SETI And Aliens

Today will go down as the greatest day of my life…I think I may have contacted aliens. I shit you not. This Jeep has strange markings that lead me to believe its driver and passenger (wife) are aliens.

The driver told me he is involved in the SETI project, and that he lives around Area 51. He MUST be an alien! Since his license plate is from Oregon, and aliens have no concept of “States” (heck, one would argue they have no fucking clue about borders).

The suspected alien’s wife was in the passenger seat, smiling like nothing is going on. That means she is an alien too! Remember what Elon Musk said:

“If there were aliens, I would know” said @elonmusk when he was asked by @joerogan about UFOs and Aliens. “If they are here, they are being very subtle.”

Proud to state I finally finished wiring the air compressor. I’m ready to wheel! That’s right, out of all the bits and pieces I bought, the part that made it all happen is my Big fireplace lighter. No heat gun? No problem. #flameOn

Day 9 – High Tailing To Moab (408 miles)

Got up early today, the route I took was recommended by a buddy. Lots of road side natural rock formations, a couple red rock tunnels, a salt wash view, and even Butch Cassidy’s childhood home. First stop was a local diner. They made a Western Omlette that few diners could hold a candle to.

A couple red rock tunnels, not as exciting as Needles Highway, SD, but nice view nonetheless.

I couldn’t help but stop in a few places, the natural rock formations were awesome.

I couldn’t take my eyes off this one. It had so many different patterns and textures.

I never heard the term Salt Wash, today I got to see one first hand.

I got here too late to hit NAPA, where I need two more things to be able to complete the ARB Dual Compressor wiring. If I weren’t moving every day, it would be done by now. On a side note, I smashed the accessory port plug on my Oracle tailgate light. Its a good thing I always keep a spare handy.

My first priority tomorrow is getting the danged compressor wiring done. Really.

Day 8 – Horseshoe Bend (355 miles)

Next spot is Hole In The Rock in Monticello, UT. But not before I get to see Horseshoe Bend. It’s been on my list, luckily it’s on my route.

It was as awesome as I thought it would be, and massive! The viewing area East very crowded. I heard someone mention seeing two kayakers. What kayakers? After squinting a bit, there they were! They looked like ants. On tiny kayaks.

There is a .7 mile walk from the road to the viewing area. It’s a downhill walk to get there, pretty easy, noticed three shaded rest spots. The walk back was up hill, and I rested at each rest spot. 🙂 if you go, being a bottle of water. Trust me.

Saw a few awesome Jeep Gladiators today. Seems like 40” and 4” lift is the favorite setup around here. Also saw some road side rock formations that are out of this world.

I finally found a campground with an open tent spot at Cannonville/Bryce County. One of the best KOA locations, each tent spot is covered in gravel, and raked smooth. Tent stakes held well. Here’s a shot, without and with night view mode.

Ok, time for to a good night’s sleep.

Day 7 – Broken Arrow and Schnebly Hill Trail (144 miles)

What a great ride today! A dozen or so Jeeps, very well organized, very friendly. Did Broken Arrow Trail first, and submitted a suggestion (through the app) to add as a BOH trail. It’s like a Blue trail at Rausch.

Next we did Schnebly Hill Trail, an easy BOH trail. Passed on Table Mesa Trail, since it’s really just a gravel road, so like a Green trail at Rausch. I might grab that BOH next year.

Weather was beautiful, so I took off the Freedom Panels to get some sun and fresh air. Note to self, get more sunblock and a hat…and put on my white arm shields. I ran to the nearest gas station to air up.

I hope to find a shop that can solder the AWG10 wires for me. I picked up some twist connectors but it’s important to get the best connection to ensure there’s no power issues. Maybe I’ll find a place today. Else I’ll need to do the wiring at the hotel tonight.

Here are some pictures.

Day 6 – ARB Dual Compressor, Not

I went through this with my previous Jeep. A year ago when I did my month long Jeep tour, I found myself at the trailhead at night, waiting for my Walmart air compressor to pump my 33″ tires. Mid way through the trip, I stopped at Desert Rat and bought a portable ARB Dual Compressor (CKMTP12).

After I got home I learned it is possible to convert it from a portable (CKMTP12) to an on board (CKMTA12) by taking it out of the case, changing a hose, and buying a different power loom. It was easy, except that I had to have a custom hose cut to replace the one that came with the portable model. I blogged about it here.

Having it under the passenger seat made airing up and down so easy. No more schlepping the case around. Airing up and down became even easier when I bought a MORRFlate Quad hose solution, enabling me to do all four tires at the same time. My late nights at the trailhead turned into my making it to the diner before they close.

ARB doesn’t make a power loom long enough to reach from the passenger seat to the battery, so I had to create a custom power loom. It had to be long enough to be run through the center console, through the 2″ driver’s side firewall hole, and over to the battery. I created an 18′ custom power loom, and ended up trimming a couple feet.

Unfortunately when I had the shop bring over my accessories and non-insured mods, I made the mistake of telling them they can cut all the wires. I was only thinking about the Baja lights on my front bumper, and some other wiring. I totally forgot about the custom power loom. Not that it would have mattered, it was a PITA to run, and might have been even more so to remove.

So it’s Déjà vu all over again. I spent most of Saturday visiting NAPA Auto Parts, AutoZone, O’Reilly’s, and Walmart, to wrangle all the wiring stuff I needed. A 10 foot 1/2″ diameter plastic wire loom split tube, four 10 foot AWG 10 automobile cables (two red, two black), some AWG 10 heat shrink ring terminals, and some AWG 10 heat shrink tubing.

When I got back to the hotel, I realized I didn’t bring my heat gun. I remembered that I decided I didn’t want to bring the kitchen sink, to help keep me under my GVWR. But hey, I do have a BBQ lighter! 🙂 I’ll have to do the wiring when I get to the next site.

Tomorrow I hope to join some locals to do Broken Arrow and Schnebly Hill Trail. I’ll air down to maybe 15 to do the trails, and then I’ll visit a local gas station to air back up again. Luckily the MORRFlate Quad has a schrader valve, so at least I can air all four tires at the same time. Most gas station air compressors are fairy powerful, so I should make it to the diner before they close.

I’ve been to Sedona every year for the past four years. Twice on my Harley, twice in my Jeep. I’m so looking forward to today!