Geico called…and an epiphany

I got a call from Geico. It looks like their (remote) estimate is roughly $1,700. However that’s based on a very vague look from each of the four corners of the vehicle. The Adjustor told me its up to the shop to see if there is any more damage that can’t be seen by a remote Adjustor based off of the four pictures.

Well, if we break that down, it means Geico’s Adjustor is really just estimating, while Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps (the shop) is going to give the true analysis of damage. At the end of the day, I just want my Jeep repaired and safe. 🙂

I logged in to my Geico account and found the above info. I guess we just wait for Geico and the shop to discuss/agree. I trust both, but will have fingers crossed.

On a side note, once I get the Jeep back, I’m going to jump on the next Offroad Consulting 201 class, so I can keep momentum on my completing both training sessions. I don’t expect to further modify the Jeep, but then, well, I said the same about my old Harley. Seems like my first vehicle is just a warm up for the next one. 🙂

I should mention I went to the local Urgent Care and had my left hand x-rayed to see if we can figure out why its still not strong enough to grip. While picking out a featured image for this post, I think I had an epiphany.

The front right wheel tire had to have been caught in the impact. Not sure if my Jeep has a steering stabilizer, if so I might upgrade. I think the steering wheel spun to the left due to the impact.

How could that have injured my left hand? Imagine your right hand Karate chopping your left hand in between your thumb and pointer finger. Just a guess, while I wait for Urgent Care to respond with their second opinion.

Looking back at Sunday

So here’s what I remember happened on Sunday. When I missed the Stop Sign, I hit an oncoming vehicle. The Black vehicle is my 2020 Jeep Wrangler, and the Grey vehicle is the 2018 Jeep Cherokee that I hit.

I was asked why the air bags in my Jeep didn’t deploy, and why was there no broken glass. The only answer I can think of is that I was going slower than the other vehicle, coming off a smaller side road where the speed limit is lower than the main road the other vehicle was traveling in. And then there’s the spin factor. 🙂

When impact occurred, my Jeep’s front bumper absorbed the impact, and the angle of impact sent me into a tail spin. I remember sitting straight up and not being tossed around, I was close to center mass of my now spinning Jeep. I remember having to put my left hand back onto the steering wheel while I was spinning. This might explain why it was swolen, getting yanked off the steering wheel.

When the Jeep came to a stop, I ending up pointing in the same direction I was heading in. Basically I did a 360 spin. Bizarre and lucky.

From the looks of it, my front fender impacted the other vehicle just behind its front left wheel. The other vehicle’s driver door got completely bashed in, about 6″ from its original position. If you notice the forward edge of the other vehicle’s driver door, that’s where my front bumper got caught, sending my Jeep into a tail spin.

The other vehicle’s driver door hinges were destroyed. Its lock was disengaged, making it easy(ier) to pull the door out by hand. So it wasn’t adrenaline that let me yank the door out, it was mechanical failure. So no, I did not become the Hulk. #egoSad

The other vehicle ended up in the ditch, the illustration shows my best guess on how it got there. If I were the other driver, my reflex would have had me steer away from the impact. Guessing since the airbags in the other vehicle deployed, the driver had no idea he was going into a ditch.

Anyway, that’s what I remember. I could be off. But the pictures support the theory. Now I wait for the estimate to come in. I expect to have to buy the lift kit all over again, and pay to have the front half of it (re)installed.

Manic Monday

Here are all the pictures I took of the Jeep the day of the accident.

So I got up early this morning to coordinate with Geico, insurance adjuster, Enterprise Rent A Car, Uber (well really a retired couple), the towing company (PA State Police moved from impact spot to tow lot), and if there is time the PA State Police (copy of police report), and my local Jeep dealer.

Geico and I took turns trying unsuccessfully to get through to the nearest Enterprise Rent a Car, finally got through. They’re not “picking up” customers, so I needed to get an Uber driver (the retired couple; awesome company on rides!). Drove away in a Hyundai Elantra. #meh

I arrived at the tow lot, transferred my belongings, ezpass, license plate, YET, tools, etc., from the Jeep to the rental. Called Geico, they scheduled a tow company to bring the Jeep to Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps on Tuesday morning.

They told me not to bother with the PA State Police, since I’m at fault and the other driver’s insurance company will contact them. They asked me to upload all the photos, so I’m doing that now. Thank you Apple for AirDrop! Uploading through the Geico iOS app is like being humped by a fierce arctic moose. #justSaying

Tomorrow (Tue) is a big day. I’ll find out if the Jeep is a write off, or if it’ll be fixed. If Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps says it can be fixed, I trust their judgement. If the adjuster says so, I’ll probably crawl into a ball and cry. The thought of crawling over boulders in a Jeep that had it’s frame welded back together is scary. Fingers crossed, my life is in their hands!

Given the off chance that the Jeep might be written off, I went to Jeff D’Ambrosio and picked one out and put a refundable deposit on it. Its the same exact Jeep. But its Red. And it has a remote lock key fob and speed sensitive auto door locks. And it has a hard top with tinted windows. And it has has power-heated windows, heated leather steering wheel, and water proof heated front seats. And it has automatic LED headlights, fog lights, tail lamps, and interior lights. And it has climate control, HomeLink, blind-spot and cross-path detection. And it has a 7″ CarPlay head unit. And it has auto headlamps. And it has 17″ allow wheels. And it has a security alarm. Otherwise, its exactly the same as the old Jeep.

Geico told me I could take the side steps off my Jeep since it was after market. I can take the tires off, but the new jeep has 17″ wheels, so I’m going to try to swing a deal to give them back the OEM 31″ tires, so I can sell the 33″ Nitto A/T tires (they have <1,000 miles on them). I’ll need to bring them the back bench seat, which I took off on day one, and I plan to do the same on the new Jeep.

That is, if the Geico adjuster cares about my health and well being, since, well, you know, welding a bent/cracked frame on a vehicle designed to go over boulders (oh, and some mall crawling) is dangerous. #fingersCrossed

I will know more tomorrow, after I get my left hand x-rayed.

Dammit

A funny thing happened on the way to Offroad Consulting’s 201 class. I scouted the route from home to Rausch Off Road Park two weekends ago. Lots of windy roads. Went there for the 101 class last week. This morning I was involved in an accident heading there for the 201 class. I’m a very careful driver, having only been in two accidents in my lifetime. Before today.

Germany

I was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany in 1982 when I bought my first new car, a VW GTi. I was nearing the end of my 6 year enlistment and it was the US Army’s policy to ship your car back to the US at the end of your term. I knew I wanted a GTi, and during the time lots of my buddies were buying BMWs and Benzes. I had an accident so that car never made it to the US.

I hated being cooped up in the barracks so I always went out on weekends, usually exploring back roads in the Schweinfurt area. One beautiful weekend I was driving around a corner and of a sudden I lost control. The GTi spun around and hit a farm tractor. The Polezi ended up citing the farmer for driving his tractor off the farm and onto a portion of the road that was off limits to farm vehicles. Apparently he tracked a lot of mud on the road and that caused my GTi to lose grip.

I was 21 at the time and luckily the farmer’s insurance paid for all the damage. I ended up going back to New York City, and not needing or wanting a car for some years.

Delaware

Fast forward to 2015 and I’m merging my Honda 2014 CR-V onto the New Jersey Turnpike. I’m heading towards Nyack New York to meet some friends for a bicycle ride and a picnic. I remember traffic was crawling, like 1-2 mph. I’m merging into the turnpike, with plenty of space, and some moron speeds up and cuts me off. I’m already half way into the right lane. He decided to keep going and he dinged my fender.

I yelled at the idiot to stop but he wouldn’t. Two of the lanes were closed due to construction, and there were some police cars on the closed lanes. So I pulled over and got the attention of a trooper told him what just happened, and he calmly walked over to the fleeing driver and had him pull over.

I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but it was the slowest car chase ever. We were on foot and the idiot was barreling along at 1-2 mph hoping to get away. The guy finally pulled over and the next thing I know the guy is in handcuffs.

The police officer told me he was citing the driver for (1) driving while smoking pot, (2) being in possession of a controlled substance, (3) driving with a suspended license, and (4) trying to flee the scene of the accident. It was almost like a Wiley Coyote vs Roadrunner scene but in slow motion. I have a video.

Today

So this brings us to today. What happened?

Well I’m driving along beautiful roads and all of a sudden I hear a loud impact, and I remember the Jeep doing a 360 spin. The tires sounded like a movie chase scene. The impact seemed muffled, almost subdued. The Airbags did not deploy, and I didn’t expect them to. There was no broken glass, and the GoPro suction cup mount didn’t come off the windshield. It was surreal.

When the Jeep stopped spinning it was precisely on the middle of the intersection, and pointing in the same direction I was heading in. There was a doughnut shaped set of tire tracks showing the Jeep did a 360. I put the flashers on, and ran to the other car that was in a ditch, leaving my car in the middle of the intersection.

When I got to the car I saw that the drivers door was caved in about 6” and the glass was shattered. I saw the driver’s arm, it was a little bloody from the glass, but moving. I asked the driver if he was ok and I started to grab the door, he told me in a somewhat relaxed voice “you won’t be able to open the door”.

They must not make cars like they used to. I put my right foot up against the car, gave it everything I had and yanked the door wide open. For a moment I felt like the Hulk. I felt something pop in my left hand, i guess I’ll know tomorrow if I broke it.

Once everyone was out of the other car and reported that they were ok, I offered the driver and passengers water, they all declined then went to my Jeep and grabbed the GoPro to see if I could figure out what happened. After reviewing the video clips I realized I drove right past the stop sign. I’m not sure how I could have missed it.

I let the driver and his passengers know the accident was my fault. When the police arrived I quickly informed them as well. The officer was courteous and professional, I could sense hesitation when the officer told me there was no choice but to cite me for (1) careless driving and (2) driving through a stop sign.

Without hesitation I told the officer I deserved both I’m a firm believer in accountability. Seemed like the officer never experienced this level of full transparency, the officer looked a bit shocked at how I responded.

The officer called a truck to have both vehicles towed to a lot. I called Geico to report the accident. Confirmed I’m fully covered, I asked the driver to take a photo of my drivers license, then I got called over by the officer for some questions. Didn’t get the chance to ask the driver for his license and insurance info. Geico told me not to worry since their insurance would contact Geico anyway.

I’m staying in an area hotel tonight. They had someone pick me up. Tomorrow I’ll call Geico and Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps to see if they can handle the repairs. If so I’ll have the Jeep towed to his shop. Then the adjuster can look at the car and work can begin, or the car can be written off as a total loss, since the frame is broken in front. If not. Geico will ask my local Jeep dealer for a recommendation.

The last eight hours have been quite the experience. In the time that it took me to type this blog post on my iPhone, I realize I can’t grab anything with my left hand. I’ll find out tomorrow if its broken.

Offroad Consulting 201 class

I’m preparing for Offroad Consulting’s 201 class this Sunday (May 17). I was able to find some lashing straps to better secure the YETI Roadie 20 cooler. The YETI almost killed me when I was going over some rough terrain. I can imagine the “Jeep trail rider killed by YETI” headlines

The tie down slots in the YETI (that I had no idea were there) take up to a 1″ wide strap. So I bought two CamJam tie down straps that are designed for tying down Polyethylene kayaks to car roof racks. These things are strong as heck, and they have a rubber (?) piece under the tiny ratchet to keep the strap from moving around. Easy to use too.

[UPDATE]

Next I need to figure out what accessory I need to mount my GoPro HERO 7 inside the car.

I was able to find a GoPro swivel mount at the nearest BestBuy. So I can mount my GoPro to the inner windshield. Why not outside? Mud. I’m not worried about the rain/mud, since its waterproof, and I have a couple X~PWR-H5 cables, but I don’t want to have to jump outside to wipe the lens every time there’s splatter.

So I’ll need to find a rotating mount. I have a waterproof cable that’ll reach the USBA/C ports so I can plug the waterproof cable to work off power (not that I’ll need that level of protection inside the Jeep).

I’m hoping for another puddle, maybe Pit Sr. But if its deeper than 36″ I’ll pass. Since I didn’t get a chance to get a snorkel kit installed. That would raise the air intake to the top edge of the windshield if you leave the whole kit installed. If you remove the tall part of the kit, the base still moves the air intake to 6-8″ higher than stock. This is the one I plan to order but not this season.

I can’t wait for tomorrow, neither can my GoPro (she had to sit out the last ride). I’ll be ready. I hope.

Don’t forget to wash behind your ears

Sunday was spent getting SUSUSUCIO cleaned up. The off road trail included mud pits containing (1) coal laiden mud, (2) red clay mud, and (3) plain old mud. The effect of these mud pits reminded me of Jackson Pollock. I could stare at his paintings at the Musium of Modern Art (MoMA) for hours. Unfortunately I had to resist the urge to do the same here, since I just needed to get the Jeep cleaned up so I could drive it to work on Monday.

Having driven an M151 Mutt in my US Army days, I know what its like to wash off this kind of shit. However unlike the Mutts which had an olive green matte finish making it hard to spot stains and imperfections, SUSUSUCIO is glossy black, so there’s no wiggle room here, you’ve got to do a thorough job.

First image:
SUSUSUCIO in full battle gear, three coats of mud (coal, red clay, and plain mud), ready for more action, the mud…worn as a badge of honor. #pffff

Second image:
I drove 8 miles to the nearest self-service car wash. I spent 10 minutes with a high pressure hose to the paint. Then another 10 minutes on the canvas soft top and wheels. Total cost $5. I was pleasantly surprised to see that no water got into the Jeep, testament to the excellent soft top redesign in the JL models. The guys waiting for the slot gave me the stinky eye, so I figured I did enough spraying.

Third image:
Next stop was the local car wash. I selected the package that included under carriage spray, wheel shine, and spotless drying. I read that it wasn’t a good idea to spray wax onto soft top on vehicles so skipped that option. After exiting the car wash I cracked open an ArmorAll container of citrus based wipes and started to rub out the coal laiden mud stains on the plastic trim, and the soft top.

All that cleaning left me exhausted. I headed to Dunkin Donuts to get a 20 ounce coffee to chase down about half a dozen Aleve pills. In about an hour I was good as new. Or close to it. Don’t ask how I felt the following morning. Not if you don’t want to get the stinky eye.

Some folks asked what the deal was with the 4 door Rubicon Unlimited climbing the steps on the course. Offline Consulting does a very good job of describing technical aspects of trail riding. Including articulation and swaybar disconnects. Rubicon models have electronic disconnect, however there the disconnect is limited. One reason I went with a low end model and had JKS Quicker Disconnects added along with the lift.

The top of the image shows how far the Jeep can flex if you don’t disable the swaybar. What’s a swaybar? There are some videos on the internet that can explain. Note the amount of flex on an unmodified Jeep is extreme, enough to make you cringe. Note how the front wheel is on the third step, and the back wheel is a few inches off the ground.

The bottom of the image shows you how much more a Jeep can flex if you disconnect the swaybar. I had no idea what a swaybar was until I bought the Jeep. Heck, I can’t even explain it…Google it! Not how with the swaybar disconnected, the front wheel went to the top step, and the back wheel is on the ground?

I asked the instructor “How often would you need/want to disconnect the swaybar when you’re on the trails?” His response is the reason I signed up for the 201 class next weekend. He told us “You don’t need to disconnect it on the 101 class. You’ll definitely want to disconnect it on the 201 class.” Cringe factor 10, and I’m signed up for the 201.

A detail worth knowing. The Rubicon model Jeep has controls for everything you can imagine. Disconnecting the swaybar at the press of a button, locking the axles at the press of a button, etc. I don’t have all those fancy buttons. My Jeep is so cheap, you have to get out to adjust the side mirrors…you have to crank both windows down by hand…you get the idea.

I’m not a fan of Rubicons. I think they’re overpriced, and a rolling box of bells and whistles. A low end Jeep saves you $15,000 that you can use to buy what you need, and not what they want to sell you. How is this a good thing? Consider Rubicon’s swaybar disconnect limits articulation, when compared with disconnecting the bars manually.

So for next weekend, I’ll finally get to use the JKS quick release swaybar connectors I had installed with the lift. I did my homework and decided I’d need them. Now I’m so glad I did. I just hope it doesn’t rain, since you have to crawl under the Jeep to disconnect them. Aw heck, I’m not complaining, I signed up for this shit.

Offroad Consulting 101 @ Rausch Off Road Park

Here are some lessons I learned on Saturday’s Offroad Consulting 101 at Rausch Off Road Park. It was an amazing experience, highly recommended for anyone with a Jeep.

1. Make sure you are in 4L and not 4H, to avoid engine stalling.
2. Don’t forget to let some air out of your tires before going on trail.
3. Don’t forget to fill your tires up before leaving and getting on road.
4. Don’t be that guy signaling turns on the trail, bears don’t care.
5. Find a better way to secure Yeti cooler, maybe add a net to tie downs.
6. Make sure you’ve got the right GoPro mount for your Jeep!

Here are some pictures:

Rausch Baptism By Fire :)

Wrapped up some work stuff, and now preparing for tomorrow.

Wait. Wat? Its gonna rain tomorrow??? YAY!!!

What does that mean? I don’t know to be honest. Tomorrow is going to be an Offroad Consulting101 Class Off Road Driving Experience” class, learning from the experts what driving on trails is all about.

Being a beginner, I’m pretty sure I won’t have to hit any hard stuff. But when it rains, even the easy stuff can seem hard. That’s actually good. Baptism by fire! 🙂

I want the Jeep to be as dirty as possible, so I hope it rains enough to cover it in mud, but not enough to wash the mud off. Jeeps are made for this kind of shit.

Got my kit ready:
– Air pump (since I’ll need to drop PSI to half or so)
– Yeti 20 Roadie (to pack sammishes, Powerbars, water, etc.)
– Fire extinguisher (attached to roll cage to look like I’m serious)
– First aid kit (not that it’ll help if I find myself pinned under the Jeep)
– GoPro Hero 7 (charged, extra batteries, extra cards, remote, etc.)
– Powerpacks (can’t have too many power packs)
– Poweful LED flashlight (and extra batteries!)

Now I just need some good luck. 🙂

Scouting Rausch Creek Off Road Park

Rausch Creek Offroad Park, in Pennsylvania, has been on my list since I bought the Jeep back in December (when I was still in Florida). It’s not as tough as Rubicon Trail in California, but it’s the best off road trailing around these parts. I plan to hit those trails next weekend.

They don’t reopen until May 8th, but today was such a nice day I decided to scout the trip. I took the slowest route, no highways. Boy was it worth it. The roads are a little narrow, but what beautiful curvy rolling hills!

Gas was cheap, but I’m glad I wasn’t on my Harley. Drove through some horse shit in some of the Amish areas. My Jeep didn’t complain. Heck Jeeps are made for this shit. 🙂

When I arrived I walked across the street to take a selfie, and then walked back the the Jeep. I left the place around 1800ET, which, given the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate, is about the time I usually go out to get supplies.

Exhausted from my legal “walk in the park”, I found a slightly different scenic route back. Got back before sundown. Looks like a two hour drive.

Nary a car on the road, which was cool, but somewhat creepy…

Getting my Jeep lifted…finally!

Ordered all my lift stuff in Jan, and by the time it all came in, COVID19 became a thing. Well, this would have been done sooner if FedEx didn’t drop the ball on two of my Extreme Terrain parts.

Apparently if you punch in my address in Apple Maps, it’ll take you 3+ miles away to some other spot, whereas Google Maps takes you to the right place. So the FedEx driver dropped off $500 worth of lift parts at the wrong place, and it took Extreme Sports and FedEx over a month to duke it out.

Investigation, and eventual conclusion, and FedEx issued a credit to Extreme Terrain for the lost parts. I waited for all that to pan out, then I ended up buying the parts from Rough Country, since Extreme Terrain could only use FedEx. I call BS, but whatever. I have all the parts I need now.

Anyhoo…fast forward to today, and I get a call from Dan at Jeff Daniels Jeeps, asking if I’d like to bring in my Jeep to get the lift installed. I had to mute my phone, I was screaming, so excited! Sent them the list of parts, so we can go over the scope of the work and cost. We agreed I’d drop off my Jeep at 0630 on Monday (you read that right, I think they’re vampires) so they could get started. Two days later I’ll go back to pick it up.

They’re loaning me one of their spare vehicles so I can get back home, since they’re 40 miles away. Why 40 miles away? Well, when you want something done right, you go to the professionals. I heard of them when I moved to PA, always figured I’d go to them to get the lift kit installed.

So everyone be warned. After next week, I will no longer be referred to as a “Mall Crawler”, since I will have enough clearance to visit Rausch Creek for some serious rock crawling! How serious? Well, the pebbles at Wallmart are bout 1/4-3/8″ in diameter, which the stock 31″ tires could handle easily. I’m hoping Rausch Creek has a trail with at least 6-8″ rocks.

I have the low end Jeep model, but once the lift is installed, I’ll be as capable as the higher end Rubicon. The only thing that I forgot to include is detachable sway bar clips. Once I get that mod done, I’ll be able to disconnect off road and get that extreme axle flex to get over some of the bigger rocks. 🙂

So as I graduate from Mall Crawler to Rock Crawler, I’ll be making an untold number of mods to increase capability. I just have to be careful not to make the Jeep unbearable on highways.

Wait, highways…that’s what the Harley-Davidson is for! 😀

BestBuy? Not really

Now that I upgraded to a newer MacBook Pro that has USB-C ports (only), I came to the realization that my many super fast USB3.1 thumb drives are now old technology. I need to get rid of them before someone finds out I’m behind the curve on thumb drives.

Since I bought a CalDigit dock, with all of the high speed ports it has, I knew transferring the data from the old thumb drives to the new ones would be fast and easy. Now I just need to decide what USB-C thumb drives to buy.

I went with 64GB Sandisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C thumb drives, which are rated at 120MB/s, to match the size of the old thumb drives. They came in two days after I ordered them from BestBuy.

When I unpacked the envelope, I noticed two of the four new thumb drives had a sticker covering up the “Made In China” stamp. The lables were the kind you couldn’t remove. Wow, someone went through the trouble to do this, when it really doesn’t matter.

How annoying. Trivial? Yes. But annoying. I hate liars. I really do.

Transfer speed from the old thumb drives to the new thumb drives averaged close to the rated 120MB/s per second. The old thumb drives were rated at 180MB/s. Not bad really.

If I had to do this again, I probably would have bought a couple more SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD. But the reason for picking the new thumb drives was because its what we use at work. This helps set expectation performance wise.

Hmm…wait…did I forget to wipe these things down before I opened them? I must be losing my mind with all this quarantine crap. Finding trivial stuff to write about. Maybe I should get out more. Maybe I should be more like Jack Black… https://www.tiktok.com/@jackblack/video/6809716093549071621

Teams: Love/Hate Relationship

With so many folks under shelter in place mandate, working from home is a wake up call to today’s business world. Where most of us who manage large numbers of computers in enterprise environments, the ability to work remotely has been a must in our position.

Whether the user has a teleworker gateway or connects over VPN, the user needs to be able to work on files, email, and of course conference calls. As stressful as the past few weeks has been, seeing your teammates on a Teams call instills a sense of calm. At least until you’re asked for the status of a task/project you’re working on…that’s a subject for another blog. 🙂

So yea, I’m connected at home, and Teams is working, and audio is mostly OK, but geez some folks sound like Max Headroom. In most cases the person with lousy audio is shoehorning all internet traffic over a single network, and running Teams through a VPN connection. Say. Bye. To. Quality.

So how do I address these issues? I have a dual-band router that provides a 2.4 GHz network and a 5 GHz network, and I use DD-WRT to manage traffic.

I connect my work and personal Macs to my 2.4 GHz network, since there’s plenty of bandwidth to get work done during work day hours, and I can Facebook/surf/study during the evenings and weekends.

I connect my iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and my AppleTV to my 5 GHz network, which I tuned to prioritize VoIP. This way I can join Team meetings on my iOS device and benefit from excellent sound quality with minimal latency.

How good is it? I ran some tests with colleagues and family. Teams audio has minimal latency and compression…same for Facetime audio/video calls. To test I simply started some Teams calls using my work computer (2.4 GHz, no VoIP priority, and on VPN) and it was pure crap.

The switch to my iPhone and audio and camera is now very high quality. I still run Teams on my work computer for viewing when folks are sharing their screen.

Prioritizing VoIP on one network using a dual-band router is one reason there’s such a big difference. The second reason is iOS doesn’t have to go through VPN or a teleworker gateway.

I betcha that detail opened some eyes. Hope this helps you remote workers. Oh, and I don’t hate Teams anymore. 🙂