(JANUARY 2000)

Friday Night
As usual the club met at Winchels to gather the troops and do a little show and tell before heading off into the wild blue yonder. Bob Baker has finally got his jeep back together after Johnson Valley. It was sporting some new treads along with a host of other improvements. Along with Bob and his son Aaron were Pappy and Cupcake, and surprise!! Princess (with Inky). Also 10-Ball and Knucklehead, Boot and Terry, myself (Chris) and last but not least Montego and Ziplox, making the scene seconds before 8:00 I might add.

Well, with Cupcake leading the way, we were off shortly after 8:00. On the way to camp, we picked up a couple of tagalongs, Scarecrow and Casper jumped in line at Green Valley, and we also picked up our guests Berda and John (in their CJ5) at our gas stop in Temecula. After gassing up, we were off to camp. After turning around only once, we set up camp in the cold mountain air at around mid- night. No campfire, it was pretty much all business with most everybody crawling straight into his or her warm sleeping bags to rest up for the next day.

Amazingly we didn't lose anybody overnight. It was seriously butt freezing cold. Reports confirming the temperature plummeted to 20 degrees at one point. After defrosting, we packed up camp and were on our way.

We arrived at the squeeze at around 10:00. We all made it through without too much effort, and after some discussion, we decided that we could have gotten John through in his Chevy. (With a little momentum!)

The next event was without a doubt the highlight of the trip. Shortly after the squeeze we came upon one of the nastiest downhills I have ever seen. Being stopped fourth in line, I was out of my jeep talking to Berda, when I heard somebody scream my name. After running to the scene, I saw the Bogart Engineering jeep nearly vertical with the right rear tire dangling in mid air. On the back of the jeep were Lauren, Dave and Louise hanging on for life. Well, with nowhere else to stand, I stepped on the dangling tire and threw myself across the back of the hardtop. With that little bit of extra weight the tire came down enough for Nancy to put it in reverse, and back up to the top with all of us along for the ride. Needless to say, she picked a different line for her second attempt and made it down all right. After a little coaxing from dad, Princess took the plunge next with Inky. The rest of us followed without any mishaps and were glad to put that obstacle behind us.

The rest of the trail that day was pretty uneventful. We did stop at a place called Split Rock (which is exactly what it was) to look at petroglyphs. We did find some bumps on the rock were also interpreted for us by Russ. As it turns out, our native Americans had quite the sense of humor. We hit pavement shortly after this and stopped by the local liquor store, where you could also do your grocery shopping and buy any needed parts for your dune buggy all in one stop. Back to the dirt and on to camp. Cupcake found us a nice spot with a great view of the desert, and a ready made fire ring to boot.

The tents were set up and the cooking fire was ready by just after 5:00. Afterwards, it was your typical Roughwheelers campfire. if there is such a thing. There were some Christmas trees burned some tequila passed and of course some firewalking. Even though camp was made in daylight, there were no early peakers, although it must be noted that Rooster was not able to make this trip.

After a much warmer night we packed up once again and headed out towards the sun on time. After a little bit of scouting we found our way towards the Salton Sea. We began the day with another BIG downhill, although it was not nearly as nasty as the first. After our decent, a few of us turned around for a little hill-climbing contest. Louise was the winner as she coaxed the TJ almost to the top. As we continued on we hit a very small section of slickrock. It was at this point that 10-Ball found a way to put a nice looking bend in his drag link. And wouldn't you know that Montego was right there with some good advice and tested methods for straightening bent steel. Not long after, we were motoring again. Well the plan was not to tally too long so that some of us could get home for the big game, so we took the cut across trail towards the sea. The end of this trail was pretty interesting and by the time we reached the last wash, I think all of us were whoop di dooed out. But, even after subjecting our stomachs to the ride of their lives, it was deemed that lunch was in order. After lunch it was only a short trip down the wash to pavement.

That would normally be the end of the story, but not this trip. As we were stopped to air back up, Princess started jumping around, it turns out that the SCORPION that was under her shirt didn't like that too much and so it stung her. Needless to say, a quick air up and off went the Bogarts to seek medical attention. As it turns out, California scorpions are not poisonous, which was welcome news.

The rest of us finished airing up and hit the pavement to gas up for the trip home. Now this would normally be the end of the story, but we did have one more glitch. On the 10 freeway shortly before Palm Springs, Russ started losing oil pressure and was soon laying a white smokescreen in his wake. After pulling over to check it out, it was decided we would try to make it to the nearest rest stop. At the rest stop, Louise volunteered her AAA Plus membership to get the Wrangler home. This is where I had to say goodbye and good luck to the group. I did get in touch with Russ later, and it turns out that all he needs is a new engine.

In closing, I would like to say that Cupcake did a great job of leading this run. She either did a lot of research on it or Fearless gave her some copious notes. Either way, thanks Nancy

As yet unmasked