American Adventure Lab Platform

I spent more than two months agonizing over what platform to buy (or make!) for my 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport S two door build. Most of my buddies recommended Goose Gear, but 99% of them never bought or used that brand. So they were basing their recommendation on what they Googled or on some really expensive marketing campaign Google decides to SPAM you with during your browser session. So I started reaching out to folks who actually do overlanding, and the responses I got were pretty diverse. Its out of scope for this blog post, but the take away was, don’t be fooled by fancy ads.

I looked into making a platform out of plywood. A buddy at work connected me to someone who has all the tools needed to cut a platform out of wood. I started to get large cardboard boxes from the local U-Haul, to create a template. I’ve got to tell you, trying to make a platform template out of carboard is about as much fun as having your naked body dragged over broken glass.

I was about to give up and splurge on a boutique priced Goose Gear platform. But I couldn’t make myself pull the trigger. I don’t mind paying more for good stuff, but I think its stupid to spend $650 for a piece of coated plywood. Not my idea of rugged and reliable, given how coatings can fail, and how even the best coated wood won’t do well if moisture gets through a crack. There just had to be a better solution out there, so I kept looking.

Then one day one of my buddies sent me a link to American Adventure Lab’s solution. After beating my head on my desk for not finding them when I was searching, I took a look at their products. Well hello there! Their platform is made of thick CNC’d aluminum plates. Now that is durable! They offer their platform solution in bare aluminum (my preference), as well as some powder coated colors. They have their own proprietary mounting solution, but you can also buy tie down adapters.

So I ordered the platform in bare aluminum, and I added 8 of their Single Stud Tie-Down Rings. I plan to screw down my IronMan4x4 twin drawers, and I plan to use the tie down adapters to add some reinforcement, and to secure some other stuff that I plan to schlep on my June trip to Moab>Rubicon. The box arrived today, and as expected, it was at most 30 pounds unwrapped.

The platform being the foundation to my build, and the time I spent researching, collaborating, whining and bitching, etc., I don’t mind saying I was excited to open the box. The product was very nicely packaged. It came with some very well designed instructions, technically accurate and in color! Wow, this is already exceeding my expectations!

Here are some pictures. I’ll post again once I start the install.

35s, Lockers, And Trails From Hell

The stock 245/70R17 tires that came off my Jeep in May have been gathering dust in my garage. I took them off the Jeep when it had under 300 miles. So the tires were pretty new. Someone in the Cumberland Crawlerz group posted on Facebook about what to do with OEM tires that are removed when modifying a Jeep. I hijacked the thread to offer the tires to anyone who can come and get them. Luckily a couple buddies showed up the next day to remove them from my garage. I now have more space!

My Jeep is currently sporting a set of 285/70R17 BF Goodrich KO2s, mounted on the stock aluminum wheels. I went with this size because my garage entry is not very high, so that’s as big as I can go if I want to park the Jeep in the garage. I will need to move to 35s for the June trip to Moab>Rubicon, so I bought a used set from a buddy. Pro Comp steel rims with Nitto Grappler 35×12.5x17s mounted on them. They’re in good shape, with more than half the tread left. I plan to swap the wheels in May, so I can wheel with the group a couple times to get used to the different size.

I was in denial for quite a while, regarding 35s being considered a mandate for the most extreme trails. I mean, if Jeep sells a Rubicon model Jeep, why does it come with 285s, and why is it marketed as suitable for The Rubicon Trail? Well, I should have known, having spent a few years in branding/advertising environments. While it is possible for a stock Rubicon to survive The Rubicon Trail, it is also possible to roller skate from New York City to Los Angeles. Get it?

My trip will include half a dozen hard trails in Moab. The one I have high hopes for is Hell’s Gate at Hell’s Revenge. I wanted to do the climb on my trip last August. Nobody wanted to spot me since I didn’t have 35s and at least one locker. It was a heart breaking lesson to learn, since my entire trip was built around that challenging climb. I’ll be more than prepared when I go back in June. I now have 35s, and Rubicon take-off Dana 44s (M210/M220) axles, which both have electronic lockers. They had <7,000 miles on them when I bought them.

An even more extreme example of the importance of having (at least) 35s and lockers, is the infamous, gut wrenching, trecherous The Rubicon Trail. The June trip is focussed on this tail, the only one in the US that is rated a 10 on a 1-10 scale of difficulty. Its considered a bucket list trail for serious wheelers. This time, I did my research, and I will be totally prepared. From tires, to axle lockers, to overlanding style kitchen and storage build, I’ll be more than ready.

For an overview of The Rubicon Trail, check out these two videod by one of my favorite bloggers, TrailRecon.

Jeep Jamboree – Rubicon 2021

Jeep released their Jeep Jamboree Rubicon Trail requirements for 2021. As expected, they now require 35″ tires, and both front and rear lockers. I knew about this, which is why I upgraded my axles to Dana44s, and I bought a used set of 35″ tires.

Some of the requirements seem extreme. I get why GMRS is a must, and CB is being kicked to the curb. Saw that coming for years now. But restricting Jeeps to 1997 or later just seems so incredibly wrong. Many of my wheeling buddies are pissed, and I can’t blame them.

Here’s a link to their event page:

Rubicon Trail is the toughest trail in the US, it is the only trail rated a 10. That means a lot. Though I struggle to come to terms with how Jeep can cast out the majority of their loyal customers.

I get it. Liabilty. Wait. Rubicon is a 10. Scratch that.

Sleeping at the Rubicon Trail

I’ve been using an REI half dome one person tent for a few years now, and have been happy with it. Its the perfect tent to take with you on a cross country motorcycle trip. Now that I’m doing these trips in my Jeep, I decided to get a two person tent.

I had a bunch of REI credit, well, this weekend was a good time to cash it in. I went with a Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 2 tent. Don’t laugh, but I pitched it in my apartment and it was surprisingly easy to set up and to tear down. Great reviews, reasonable price, what’s not to like? 🙂

The sleeping bag I’ve been using has been ok, although for the Rubicon part of the trip I need something that’ll handle cooler/colder temperatures in early June. It needs to be bigger than the one I have now, since my legs have felt kind of cramped. After a lot of research, I went with Big Agnes Torchlight 30 Regular. Expandable and temperature rated at 30 degrees.

Two very important camping items are your tent and sleeping bag, and I only trust REI for those things. More stuff to get, likely through Amazon/eBay, and at Lowes/HomeDepot. More to come.

Skids for the new Dana 44s

So if you’ve been reading my blog, you’d know that I swapped out my Dana 30/35s for a set of Dana 44s about a month ago. I toyed with the idea of regearing the stock axles, but decided that would be silly. Ok, so my buddies talked sense into me. I’m so glad I listened, Cumberland Crawlerz is an incredibe club.

I assumed I could buy the same Rough Country differential skids for the new axles, but they don’t make them for Dana 44s. So I started looking around. Some of my friends recommended Metal Cloak, but while their rear diff skid plate was the perfect design, their front skid plate requires also requires their diff plate. Um, nah.

I did a lot of research, and asked a bunch of people, including folks who have YouTube/Wordpress blogs. The feedback I got leaned heavily towards skid plates and not diff covers. Probably a 60/40 split. The only skid plates I could find to fit the Dana 44s are made by Rancho. Pretty good design at 1/4″ thick steel. These meet my requirements, including providing the ability to slide over anything I might land on.

Rancho’s front diff skid attaches with four front facing bolts, and a U bolt to hold the back end up and out of the way. Their rear diff skid is much the same design, though the U bolt is replaced with a bent piece of the same 1/4″ thick steel. Here’s the installed product. Clearance loss is minimal at 5/16″, less than 1/8″ distance between the diff and the skid plate.

A few of my buddies are all saying I should get diff covers, but based on my riding style, and the research I’ve done, they don’t make much sense for me. That said, WhistlinDiesel might need diff covers, since he’s…well…

Fridge And Storage

After researching available medium sized camping fridge options, I decided on a Dometic CFX3 35 fridge along with their fridge slider. It is sitting on my kitchen counter, keeping snacks cold until I get it mounted in the Jeep. Great design, excellent power management, very modern…it comes with an iOS app to manage/monitor the unit.

For storage, I wanted the most storage space I could get for the dollar. I decided to get an IronMan4x4 twin drawer kit. An Austrailian company with a reputation for being durable and not expensiv. The unit weighs 135 pounds, and the drawers are rated at 220 pounds each. I have no intent to pack these drawers. One will hold my recover stuff and tools, and the other drawer will store my kitchen and first aid stuff.

Its cold out, so these bad boys won’t get installed for a while.

Cooking On The Rubicon Trail

The Rubicon Trail will be a three day trip, so I need a decent cooking kit.

I spent weeks deciding on what tailgate table to buy. I needed something that could hold a decent stove. I also wanted it to be easy to clean, and it had to have a slide out. I went with an Outback Adventures TrailGater. Its a smart design. The table is stainless steel (easy to clean), and it has a slide out bamboo table. The backsplash is made of thick powder coated aluminum.

I was pleasantly surprised to find they’re rated at 40 pounds, more than enough for my needs. The quick releases are brilliant, just a bit of pressure secures the table in the stowed position. No rattling, extremely stable when stowed. The back splash part is heavy duty, and the hardware is high quality…and American made!

The hardware is very well designed, the unit doesn’t rattle at all.

I decided long ago I was going to get a Cook Partner 22″ 2 Burner Stove. I met a number of folks at Moab last year who swear by this model. Its made of very thick welded aluminum, designed to be easy to disassemble and clean, is fully serviceable, and weighs 17 pounds. Partners Steel has an 8-10 weeks lead time, but I was able to find a place that had one in stock. I got a veterans discount, free shipping, and no tax.

Having hypoglicemia, the stove is one item I was absolutely not going to cut corners on. Partners Steel makes 16 and 18 inch models, but those aren’t wide enough to heat a 10 inch pan and coffeemaker at the same time. These stoves are ultra tough, so they’re easy to store away, you can even stack stuff on it.

I need to get a 5 pound propane tank, but I need to sort out how it’ll be refilled. I want to avoid having to swap tanks, since I will be mounting it to the roll cage on the right side of the cargo area. Of course I bought the stove that has the propane hose connector on the left. The plan is to not have to move the tank, since it’ll be secured, but just run the hose to the stove.

The twin drawers should be installed in a week or two. I need to fabricate a cargo area platform. I’m not interested in paying the rediculous price of a commercial offering. Besides, everyone I met at Moab created their own. The stove will mount on the left, so it can slide out when I need to get to it, and I’ll have a 5 gallon water container with a hose and spigot for cleaning things.

More to come…

ARB Dual Compressor relocated…finally

I bought a portable ARB portable dual compressor (CKMTP12) when I was at Moab last year (because spending 2 hours airing back up with a cheap compressor is silly). I recently converted it to an on board unit (CKMTA12), mounting it under the passenger seat. Very pleased with the result. Its out of the way, and the air hose is plenty long enough to reach all four tires. A buddy is working on a four hose solution, so I can fill all tires at once.

ARB’s kit is very well designed, however if you start with a CKMTP12 (portable) unit, you’ll need to buy a hose with ends that point in opposite directions. Since the CKMTP12 has a hose with ends that face in the same direction. As we all know (ok, I now know), you can’t twist these hoses. I tried to MacGuyver the cables, but was advised to just get the right cable cut.

I asked Main Line Overland about getting a hose for the new setup, and they recommended Kelly Industrial Supply. They did an awesome job, the custom cut hose did the trick! $40 and it took 10 minutes. 🙂

Now I’m waiting for some 10 AWG wiring to come in. Before our property manager got The Hub installed, a good number of our Amazon orders got returned. I have high hopes that problem is now resolved.

More pre-Moab>Rubicon mods

As June approaches, I’m crossing off more and more build items from my todo list.

I had a blast last August when I went to Moab. But I do regret not having lockers. I had to pass up some of the more difficult climbs like Hell’s Gate, the famous climb that resembles a groove on a massive LP Album, on Hell’s Revenge trail. I’ll be better prepared for my June trip to Moab>Rubicon.

Rubicon take-off Dana 44 (M210/M220) axles have replaced my Dana 30/35 (M186/M200) axles. They had <7,000 miles on them, and they come with Rubicon’s electronic lockers and 4.10 gearing. Given the tires I have installed now are 285s, I’m back to Jeep’s recommended gearing for the tire size. Well, hiya 8th gear! I haven’t seen you on the highway since I moved from 245s to 285s! Welcome back! 🙂

I’m on the fence on whether I’ll put the 35s on for the June trip. If I do, I’ll need to re-gear to 4.56 (Jeep’s recommendation). I have watched a bunch of Rubicon Trail videos, and have talked to friends who have done it multiple times. From what I’m learning, there are bypasses for the most treacherous sections.

I might change my mind later, but I’m leaning toward sticking with the 285s. Mostly because the trip will be 7,000+ miles of a combination of on and off road driving. With lockers and the Mopar Heavy Duty Brakes we installed, I should have the right combination of up/down hill capability…watch out Hell’s Gate, I’m coming for you!

So the 35s are leaning in my garage, with the Hi-Lift and RotoPAX fuel containers…waiting for my Dirtworx Rear Bumper and Tire Carrier to arrive (that’ll be its own blog).

I finally installed the Rugged Ridge Max Terrain fender flares, which I wasn’t happy with in the beginning (seem flimsy) but they’ve grown on me. They look awesome and I get asked all the time about them. They weren’t hard to install. I eventually replaced them with Smittybilt liners. They’re made of aluminum and are easy to clean, compared to plastic.

It took a while for me to figure out what kind of switch to go with. I needed 5 buttons, so I went with the sPOD Mini 6, which is another brilliant design. The button panel mounts to my CBBAR, and connects to the junction box by way of extremely durable sheath covered Ethernet cable. The junction box mounts to the side of the engine compartment and that’s where you connect your stuff to. Each of the 6 switches can provide 30A.

I now have both CB (President Bill) and GMRS (Midland XMT115), since the Jeep community is transitioning to the later. I remember folks at Moab were mostly using GMRS when I was there. Both are mounted on a Way Of Live CBBAR. I just need to finish hiding the wires. Ignore the upside down antenna, I replaced it with a Bingfu PL-259 antenna mounted next to my Wilson Flex (CB) antenna.

The two white switch buttons are now assigned to my front and rear lockers and the wiring is getting there. I used some weather proof connectors so I can remove the CB/GMRS when I’m not using them.

Lighting took a lot of research and planning. I knew I wanted spotlights and cornering lights. I ended up going with Baja, since they’ve got the features I wanted. I want to add SAE fogs. They are bright, though I needed to spend some time testing the positioning, and even the lens color (cornering lights came amber, chagned to clear). I’m thinking of stealing a buddy’s idea and going with Diode Dynamics Worklight SS3 Sport Yellow SAE Fog lights (these will be in early 2021).

I was also able to swing a great deal with Oracle on a set of headlights. They were happy to slash the price once I produced the total loss paperwork. These are the headlights I had on my first Jeep, so happy to be able to see at night again! Not as bright as the Baja lights, which are only legal off road. 🙂

Skid Plate Install

It took a month for the Rock Hard 4×4 full skid plate kit to be made, shipped and delivered. I ordered the kit on September 1st, and I made sure to include all three optional plates:

  • Control Arm Skid Plates
  • Front Axle Disconnect Skid Plate
  • Exhaust Muffler Skid Plate

The kit arrived on Friday, October 2nd, exactly a month after placing the order. All 320 pounds, on a pallet, 260 pounds unpacked. Luckily one of my off road club buddies Kevin offered to help install the kit. I just needed to schlep it all to his house, about 100 miles way in Carlisle, PA.

I unpacked the pallet and put all the boxes into the back of the Jeep. The largest box was the belly plate and it was heavy, so much so that I wasn’t able to get it into the Jeep myself. I ordered pizza and gave the delivery guy a hefty tip and he was happy to give me a hand. 🙂 I strapped the boxes down so they wouldn’t shift, and called it a day.

I left home at 9AM on Sunday. After breakfast and some coffee, I hit the road headed to Carlisle, PA. When I got into the Jeep I realized I did’t think to position the driver’s seat before strapping down the boxes. So I drove two hours with the steering wheel rubbing my belly, and the back of the seat nearly vertical. It turned out to be a comfortable ride, even if I looked silly.

When I got to Kevin’s house, we unpacked all the boxes, read the detailed instructions, and watched their install video starring the CEO of the company. The video seemed more like a marketing video, even I (a rookie) noticed he put a bolt and tapered washer in a spot that it couldn’t be tightened down into.

Oh well, it’s still one of the best designs on the market, highly recommended by most of the folks I met at Moab back in August. One of the biggest selling points is the two solid steel crossmembers. You read that right, those bad boys are heavy, and undoubtedly make the frame flex less. At first I wondered how that would affect articulation, but after reading up more about suspensions, I realized it’s exactly what good suspension kits need.

I should mention Kevin has a four arm lift in his garage. You read that right. 🙂 Once the Jeep was lifted, I elbowed my way in to get some before shots. I set the iPhone to wide angle, and set the timer to ten seconds, and took the first shot (center), then two more (each end). Then I tactfully got out of the way while Kevin and another buddy went to work

I learned a lot watching these guys work, and even more by listening to them discuss mechanical stuff like design, tools, torque, and so much more. I had a similar experience watching two of my other buddies install my front bumper and winch. Who would have thought so many wheelers know so much about how things are put together.

There were a few challenges that I thought would have us dead in the water. But they worked through it. The biggest issue is the kit lacked some of the required screws and tapered washers, but there were some minor design flaws that we believe were due to some minor Jeep design changes that are done every year. It’s tough to keep up with all those little improvements.

Another issue was the front left control arm bolt was seized. Since it couldn’t be removed, we couldn’t put that skid plate on. Trust me, when a 1/2″ impact wrench uses 1,200 pounds of torque and the bolt doesn’t budge, it’s time to have a shop handle removing it. It was already late so we decided I’d find a local (to me) shop that can handle that last skid plate. Guessing the might have to blow torch it off or something.

Of course after all the stuff was installed, I elbowed my way in again to take after photos.

On Monday I called a couple local shops, they all told me they can remove the seized bolt since they’ve got all the fancy tools you’d expect in big shops. They also all said they can install the final skid plate. I’m still recovering from watching Kevin and his buddy do all that work (it’s tiring I tell ya!), so I’ll try to go to one of the shops later in the week.

This was a major to-do on my Rubicon preparation list, so glad to finally get it all done. I love the Cumberland Crawlerz, learning so much, and meeting so many cool wheelers!

More to come…including some significant wiring work.

Differential Skid Plates

While I wait for my full belly skid plates to come in (couple more weeks), my buddies at Cumberland Crawlerz advised me to get differential skid plates, since the front and rear would not be protected. So I ordered some Rough Country front and rear differential skid plates. They were pretty cheap, about $160 for the set.

They came in pretty quickly and today I put them on. To my surprise they weren’t hard to get installed. So glad I bought the impact wrench, made all the difference in the world. I lost less than 1/2″ of clearance, but happy that I have the protection!

Now I just need to take the time to replace some of my missing sockets, since I only had two of the three I needed. I’ve never bought a complete set, instead I buy what I need. In hindsight that was probably not the best approach. On the other hand, I’m now using impact tools, so I may need to buy a complete set for that reason.

After showering and having dinner, I realized I forgot to torque the screws. Heck, I’ll do that during the week. I need to get to sleep pretty soon so I can get to AOAA by 0730. Its more than a two hour drive, but its a nice drive, so I’ll need to be up by 0430 to be out the door by 0500. Jeep’s all packed, just need to get ice, sammishes, and gas at WaWa along the way.

I haven’t mounted the Baja lights yet, since I need to figure out how to handle the wiring. I’m torn between getting Jeep’s AUX switch kit, or go with a third party (so many options!). I don’t want to ride around with lights that don’t work. #notaposer

If I get a third party AUX switch solution, I’ll mount it on the Wayalife CBBAR that I ordered a few days ago. I’m kind of leaning in this direction. Seems like a very clean and convenient solution for mounting my CB, my GMRS radio, and a third party AUX switch solution.

Bumper Skid Plate and Roller Fairlead

The front bumper skidplate and roller fairlead came in just before this weekend’s Cumberland Crawlerz ride at Rausch Creek Offline Park.

Smittybilt’s low profile roller fairing was just what I wanted. I didn’t want anything sticking too far out in front, since this is my daily driver. The holes were 11″ apart, and the holes on my ARB Stubby Bumper are 10″ apart, so I had to drill a couple holes. Luckily I drilled the holes correctly the first time. It installed without much trouble. I added the WARN Epic Sidewinder to eliminate the hook, and to keep the low profile I wan for the front end.

I added a Quadratec aluminum sway bar skid plate to protect the front end. I was able to install it myself. Two steel brackets are bolt on, then the skid plate bolts on to them. I followed the usual best practice, install all bolts, then tighten them up round robin. I somehow stripped the fourth bolt, hope nobody notices. It might be aluminum but its heavy as heck! Very strong, I can tell it’ll pay for it self on weekend rides.

Lights should be in on Wednesday. Fender flares should ship on Sept 10. Skid plate kit should ship in a couple weeks. So more work yet to come.

Bumper and Winch

I got stuck a couple times at Moab and needed to be winched. Lucky for me I was with a small group most of the time, so I was able to take some calculated risks. When I was on my own I didn’t dare do anything risky, lest the vultures feast on me.

When I got back from Moab I had a list compiled, and the two things at the top of my list was to get a stubby bumper and a good winch. There’s a bunch of other stuff on my list that I’ll get to after this, but I knew I needed to get those two things done ASAP.

After researching winches and collaborating with the awesome Cumberland Crawlerz wheeler group, I knew I needed a which that’s 1.5 times the GVWR of my Jeep (1.5 x 5,000 = 7,500LBS). I decided on WARN since they’ve been around the longest, they have great support (very responsive on Twitter), and are known to be reliable.

I narrowed it down to two models, between $400-650. But then something unexpected happened. I went to Cabela to get some camping gear and noticed they had some 2nd generation WARN winches on the shelf, heavily discounted, like 50% off! Turned out they’re trying to clear their stock, so they had the last of each of the 2nd generation model on the shelf.

They had the 2nd generation WARN VR8 marked down to $289 (marked down from $599, and then from $499, and then from $399). Seems like these 2nd generation models got kicked to the curb by customers once the ZEON models came out. I’m a fan of buying last year’s discontinued models.

The WARN VR8 box was open, but according to the “comes in box” list, all the stuff was there. A store rep told me these winches were just put on the shelves the day before, so word hadn’t got out about it yet. I knew I had to act fast. I ran (ok so I wobbled) to the front of the store to get a cart.

Ok, so Weebles *sometime* fall down…lets not open that can of worms. 😉

Got back to the winch area, and after some careful analysis, I was able to get the winch into the cart. Wow that sucker was heavy! Ok, I was ready to head to the counter!

Must avoid grevious bodily harm.
There ya go

I got to the counter and was able to get a Veterans discount. After tax I paid $266! The lady at the counter called someone over, thinking I might need help getting the box into the Jeep. What, me need help? Um, SURE!

A week before, I found both ends of my bumper were heavily scraped up. Most of the damage was from Hell’s Revenge trail at Moab. I remember going up some extremely steep smooth rocks and hearing a sandpaper sound. Guess I didn’t hear or notice the damage at the time. Nonetheless, I knew I needed a stubby bumper.

I spent days sifting through videos, articles, and catalog options, and finally decided on the ARB USA. Its stubby, and has a sunken winch plate, but more importantly I love how the bullhorn leans back towards the grill. Not sure yet if I’ll take the ARB sticker off, maybe I’ll leave it there.

Some wheeling buddies helped with the install. Ok, as Batman would say, “full transparency”…really they did all the work, I just held the flashlight and hauled the rubbish. #hangsHeadInShame

I’m extremely happy with the bumper and the winch. Looks great, and after I buy some recovery gear, I’ll be able to get myself (or someone else) unstuck.

More mods to come soon…

Moab Aug 12th thru 16th

After the local Jeep dealer “fixed” the problem mentioned in my last post, off I went to Moab. I did:

Hell’s Revenge twice. Once with a Gladiator rider. Didn’t know about Hell’s Gate then. Then on the second trip I was prepared to do Hell’s Gate! But the spotter didn’t think it was a good idea since I didn’t have 35″ tires, and I didn’t have at least a rear locking differential. Hell’s Gate is optional on this trail. #nextYearDagnabbit

Fins And Things twice. Once with a group, with some difficult parts bypassed. Then I went on my own and did the whole trail. I stopped at the difficult parts to pick my lines.

Poison Spider once. I was solo, so there were a couple (ok a few!) spots listed as optional, so I bypassed. Next year it’ll be on my list.

Gemini Bridge once. It was listed as easy or moderate, depending on the source. I found it to be in between, mostly easy, but a couple spots that might be considered moderate. Jeep doesn’t offer a badge for this trail, since its not difficult enough. #fineFineFine

I learned a few things on this trip:

  • Most air compressors suck, unless its at least an ARB dual compressor with a tank.
  • The trick to disconnecting/reconnecting your sway bar links is finding a flat place to park.
  • Garmin DashCams beat GoPro for wheeling. 🙂 #sorryGoProNotSorry
  • savings tip…pay for additional nights after 12 noon. #halfPrice
  • 35″ is a must for the harder trails, though I held my own with 285s.
  • I no longer have to Google for “Petroglyph”.


First day at Moab.Went on Hell’s Revenge with a Gladiator wheeler. Bypassed Hell’s Gate (which I didn’t know existed.


Went on Hell’s Revenge again, this time determined to do Hell’s Gate, however our spotter told me he wouldn’t recommend it unless I had 35″ tires and at least one locking differential.

Regarding locking differentials, I think that’s a very old mindset, from before limited slip differentials became a thing. #whatever

Some guy with a JLU full of kids.


I decided to do Fins And Things on my own, so I could stop to take pictures.





On the way bac, home I jumped onto Route 66 a few times. But it was mostly deserted due to COVID, though gas stations were mostly open.

At one gas station I asked a truck driver about the tires he was hauling:
“Will those tires fit on my jeep?” – Me
“Yes, but the lift might set you back a pretty penny.” – Truck driver

On the way home I *finally* found an off road store (Desert Rats in Albuquerque, NM), that had the kit I wanted. I got it at a substantial discount (veteran, club memberships).

Sturgis Aug 6th thru 8th

As is the case every year, when I go to Sturgis, I don’t go to Sturgis. I mean, I never go to the town. I’m there for the beautiful rides like Needles Highway, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, Crazyhorse Memorial, Devil’s Tower, Million Dollar Highway, Custer Park (bisons), etc.

As I mentioned earlier, this year I’m going by Jeep since my left hand isn’t 100%. I don’t trust myself on my Harley-Davidson Road Glide just yet. Can’t modulate your clutch if your hand is sore and stiff.

Here are some pictures…