(The story of Calico 95)

You get a great run, great weather, fun four wheeling, good times, long lunch break, time to explore mine sites, a chance to heckle other vehicles, jokes around the campfire, and friendships.

Since I'm "Blazer-less" and "Jeep-less", I was counting on hitching a ride with someone at the run site. But, lets start from the beginning!

Hector suggested we hitch up with his other club, the Roughwheelers, for their March run to Calico. It was decided that that was exactly what we'd do! The group of Todd & friend Chris, Rob, Tina & Jonathan, Hector (also "Toyota-less") and Wayne, Scott & his friend (oops, I forgot his name) all left Friday evening after work. They picked a perfect site for the night and set up camp.

A while later, the Roughwheelers pulled in, found not enough flat spots for tents and mosied up the road about a quarter mile or so and set up camp.

Come Saturday morning, Gary, son Wayne and his girlfriend Alisa pulled into camp. Dolores (my friend and co-worker) & I left in plenty of time to arrive by 9-ish, the starting time, but we didn't see the main road into the campsite (reading the directions wrong, I'd guess) , and headed out cross country on a lesser traveled trail, in her Honda.

We saw vehicles up ahead and thought we'd found everyone, but it turned out to be a pick-up and a quad. We asked the girl on the quad if she'd seen any four wheelers, and she replied, "TRW?" Yep, that's them! She pointed up the road and away we went. Now, understand, you just can't go zipping along on the dirt, graded road fast in a Honda. So over rocks and bumps we went, and suddenly, WE FOUND THE GROUP!

As we pulled up behind Rob & Tina's car carrier, we heard scraping and scratching underneath us, and Todd yelled, "Do you have skidplates under that Honda?" Laughing but concerned, we yelled back that we didn't but probably did need 'em.

We unpacked our lunch supplies, grabbed a ride with Wayne to the Roughwheelers camp and unloaded, re-loaded and away we went for the days adventures. Dolores rode with Ed (Gas Man), I rode with Keith (One Eye Jack) and Hector rode with Vic (Rooster).

Now Dolores hadn't been four wheeling before like this, just the usual tooting cross country 20 years ago in the family pick-up. She was NOT prepared for what lay ahead. The first big hill saw her grabbing the rollbar, then her head, shouting, "I forgot my helmet". After the "controlled slide" down to the wash, she WAS ready.

Ed kept telling her, "We're gonna die" and that kept her adrenalin and anticipation level up. She had fun! After that, she sat back, relaxed (as much as anyone could when you're going over rocks and bumps) and enjoyed the day like everyone else did. It was a good run. Some of the spots were remnants of pavement used by the miners on the "olden" days. Chunks here and there, with dirt and drop-offs in between to make it challenging but not dangerous.

The run was not all hard, but interesting enough to be fun. Several times our "Fearless Leader" Bob Hughes had to scout out the trail ahead, only to find it didn't go through, so we'd dutifully turn around and head back out again. We headed to the "perfect spot" for lunch, but the red Wrangler had a problem that had to be repaired. Apparently he hit a rock, bounced up, than came down and ripped his exhaust system nearly off. [Baker]

Tools came out, hood went up, heads scratched, ideas abound, then the solution, "Anyone have any baling wire?" What's that old saying, "Baling wire, bubble gum and duct tape 'll fix anything" The exhaust system was wired up, and the family had to turn around and head for home, before any more damage might occur. We bid them a fond farewell and Rob & Tina led them to the trail out.

We continued on to that lunch spot, parked, ate, explored and relaxed. The sun shone just right, Jonathan climbed into and out of their buggy and everyone had a nice leisurely time to relax. Some explored many of the mine sites.

Keith & I went into the bowels of one HUGE mine shaft, big enough to practically fit all the vehicles into (if they could have gotten into it) with room to spare for a dance. IT WAS HUGE!

WE climbed, scrambled for rocks, went in and out of the tunnels, felt the cool breeze always in our faces, and saw light at the end of the tunnels!

It was indeed a great day. Dolores didn't want to go into the mines, but kept saying "You're gonna die" "We're alive, We're alive" we shouted as we emerged from the dark stretches of the mines.

We gathered everyone back together with a toot of Gary's horn and away we went. More trails, more beautiful green mountains and trails. Heading down to the home stretch, we came upon some more paved parts, very broken up, remnants of old mining activity, and began the slow, steep descent to the bottom. Slow, sure, exciting.

We kept the person behind us (and in front of us) in sight, gave guiding directions as necessary and everyone came through with no problems.

Many people were amazed at Wayne's ability to maneuver his Suburban through the skinny, tight places, with nary a scratch. We made our way up and over, down and around and even got a back or front tire off the ground, depending on what spot we were in. It was fun. Camp arrived way too soon, as we said our good-byes and thank-yous to our guests, friends and fellow four wheelers.

Dolores and I started to set up camp, so that we could cook dinner. Todd & Chris helped set up my new "6x6" dome tent. We were going to put it on the back of Todd's car carrier, but it wouldn't fit. Geez, just turn it around. (Duh!) Still wouldn't fit. Something's wrong here!

We found a spot on the ground, but not having time to prepare it for a tent, we found 2 rocks for Dolores to sleep on! The tent was huge. Reading the box, I got the surprise of my life. I had read the box upside down, That darn tent was "9x9"! Oh well, I really got a bargain! It was roomy inside, to say the least, and that was nice.

Dolores had prepared pasta with garlic & clams, and we invited Hector to share dinner with us. He decided to not open his can of chili and partook of our offerings. We added salad and apples to complete the menu. Todd barbecued steak and although we offered to be taste-testers, were declined. It sure smelled delicious! Rob & Tina shared our Paul Newman's Own salad dressing and some grated cheese. I'm not sure what Wayne and boys fixed for dinner, but they looked fed and happy later. We sat for a while to let dinner settle, then headed over to join the Roughwheelers around their campfire.

We found out how fast everyone can move when an old dried out Christmas tree is tossed on the roaring fire, and how Yuma got its name, and how to do a body parts account during an accident and about imitation cookies. We were treated to REAL cookies baked by Wayne (not our Wayne, darn, darn) but Gary's son.

We had a real nice, fun time, and Dolores & I headed back to camp. Too early, according to Hector. We weren't there to see Chris and Vic enjoy a nearly full bottle of drink. Chris wasn't up to his usual funny self the next morning.

We all fixed breakfast, undid camp, loaded up the vehicles, then headed for Calico Ghost Town to explore, play horseshoes (a Roughwheelers tradition) and eat pizza (another Roughwheelers tradition) . Dolores travelled slowly down that graded dirt road ever looking out to find the perfect red and green rock for her garden. After finding them, we went to Calico.

Dolores went up ahead to find the ladies room, we waited at the bottom for Rob & Tina. Tired, the guys boarded the tram for the ride to the top, Me, I ran up those -- stairs. (I lost count after 40). We passed each other now and then, wandering through the shops and the grounds. We watched the Roughwheelers play horseshoes for a bit.

Dolores and I had a hamburger and lemonade (okay, okay, I confess, we had a piece of candy too!) then headed back down the hill. We came across the rest of the group eating pizza. Looked really good! We bid our farewells and thanked everyone for such a wonderful weekend, and we headed home.

Even tho I was "Blazer-less", it was great fun. Thanks, Keith for the ride. You were good. Good directions to the vehicle in front of you when they needed help, and a good friend. Thanks again. Dolores says thanks to Ed too. She had fun.

Dolores thought the weekend was really fun and is thinking about how she can fanangle a Jeep out of her budget! She commented on what a great bunch of people we were, how we all helped everyone, gathered the cameras when the photo opportunity came up, and generally just enjoyed each others company. She was really glad that I had invited her to come along.(I was glad she was able to come). She can't wait until another run comes up....