Oct 24-26, 1997
as recalled by Montego.
I was jamming up Inglewood blvd Friday evening at 7:59pm in my new 98 TJ when I heard Fearless telling me on the CB that the Roughwheelers were pulling out and to hurry up. I caught up just before they entered the on ramp of the 405 east. Who was there? Well, I was, and so was Fearless & Rhonda, Pappy & Cupcake, Lauren, Rooster, Russ, Terry & Whatizname, and a guest in a very tall Toyota truck named Steve. Along the way we picked up Knucklehaid, Scarecrow & Karol, Penny and her little friend Tasha. Iceman & Chicken Hawk and some humorless marine showed up the next morning.
So anyway, we were all going to some desert place north of Indio to rock crawl around and explore uncharted roads that (by the way) the Jeep dealer told me were definitely NOT covered under the free roadside assistance warranty. Actually the land is charted a bit, it's MWD water land, and there is an aqueduct underneath it. The short version of that story is that LA county made a deal with the Owens lake folks and sucked their lake dry. If you've been to Owens valley lately you know there's not much there besides dust blowing around where their lake used to be. Think about that next time you hose off your sidewalk. They're still mad about it, and have finally gotten around to suing LA county. They say they want their water back or else. If you're interested, and you like Jack Nicholson (and who doesn't?) rent the movie "Chinatown". It's all about water rights and LA county (& crime). It's good.
October is "the best time in the desert, bar none" said Fearless. And he's right, the weather was great! We saw a lot of butterflies (they were originally called flutterbys, that is, until Shakespeare screwed it all up) and flowers everywhere. The Ocatillo was greener than I have ever seen it. Ocatillo are those tall wooden sticks that point straight up in groups. Usually they are boring, wood-like and thorny, but now they are covered with round green leaves all over them (and thorny).
We left camp at 9am Saturday morning, as we usually do, and headed into the inaccessible RockHouse Canyon (see 1996 story for details). It wasn't until the late afternoon, oh, probably 9:45am, that I got my Jeep high centered for the first time of the day. No big deal, but it still needs a lift. We went up 2 dry waterfalls, and I learned that Trac-Loc (a Jeep factory limited slip) is pretty much worthless. Saturday got easier after we made it through the canyon, and got up on top of the Ridges. I think we crossed in and out of Joshua Tree, but I wasn't making any effort to read the map or even know where we were. Maybe next time.
A few of us tried really hard, and succeeded in making it past a pointy rock and a hard place. It was extremely not easy, and I don't want to talk about how it was done. I will say that Fearless had his Hi-Lift out and was using it. It was so tight that we stuffed a piece of wood between Iceman's Jeep & the rock to prevent further damage. The trail ended a few hundred yards after that, so most of the club didn't see any reason to ruin perfectly good vehicles just to see that particular stretch of similar-looking canyon.
The real mechanical incident of the day was after we all drove, & sorta fell down a very steep, very tall mountainslide. We were all happy with that. Well, most of us were. Pappy thought that it would be more macho to go up it too, just to see if it could be done. So the sonofagun just drove right up it. He looked good doing it too. I should mention for those of you who may not know, that Pappy put the top half of a fuel-injected 4.0 engine on top of his 4.2 liter carbutatored block. So he now has a the biggest fuel-injected engine in the club. In addition to his lock-rite in the back, he has a powerloc in the front which, I'm told is some sort of a limited slip deal. So anyway, he just drove that sucker right up this huge, scary steep tall mountainside. Knuckehaid had to do it too, and he was doing ok, but he started bouncing and digging in towards the top. We thought he was going to bounce once too many and end up sidehill, but he dealt with it pretty well. Until those big tires dug 4 holes, just a few measly feet from the top of the ridge. Because of where he was, it was safer to winch him up the last few feet, rather than let him risk a roll. Pappy maneuvered around into winching position, and then backed up a little to tighten things up. we heard him on the radio saying that he broke something. He heard a sound of metal snapping, and the front wheels are locked. They won't spin.
Fearless declared it time for a break, and Nancy walked halfway up the mountain a few times. Believe it or not, Rooster headed up to the top of the mountain to help out a friend. Rooster, I don't care what they say about you, somewhere under that whiny, grumpy, ornery exterior there's a darn good guy inside. Pappy did make it back down under his own power (after winching up Knucklehaid), but with his front drive shaft duct taped to his bumper. So, if that helped, it was probably either the transfer case that broken, or maybe it was the power loc. It was still broke Sunday evening, but first things first, and Pappy was putting in new Jeep carpeting when I called him.
Saturday evening was a good time. We had plenty of firewood, the moon was almost full, and you could see pretty well without a flashlight. Rooster told his favorite joke, and Fearless got to tell his favorite "wanna go camping" joke too. Some funny jokes were even told. You know folks, www.Yahoo.com has a jokes section. Check it out. I bet they have some funny ones that we haven't heard, and probably a few that don't have a munchkin pianist or an unnamed toilet unplugging tool.
The RoughWheelers are an odd bunch. The Toyota-driving guest is expected to come back. He showed up with not much more than a case of beer, and managed to survive without starving to death or even complaining. Let the records show that even though I threw the empty bottle into the fire, and it did spurt flame vapor out nicely, I did retrieve all the melted glass before leaving camp the next morning. Roughwheelers don't trash campsites.
Sunday we broke camp at the usual time, and wandered across the desert, like Moses looking for the "water into wine" trick, getting sort of stuck & unstuck as we crossed wash after wash, until we did finally stumble across the trail that Fearless insisted must be right around here somewhere. There was some discussion later about the "Watch the person behind you" rule, because somebody apparently didn't want to. We took this newly found trail back to the main road and piled some rocks to mark it. Rhonda says it shouldn't be too hard to find again. Get off the 10 after the rest stop, double back to the corner, and get on the graded road until the right turn at the big duck. At least that's how I seem to remember it. I guess we'll know where that one leads to next year.