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China and Platinum; an adventure to celebrate 20 years!

China and Platinum; an adventure to celebrate 20 years!

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been twenty years since Alana and I vowed to love and cherish one another for eternity, but it has. In an effort to not sound overly sappy (I can be), I’ll just say I feel very blessed to have found a partner so early in life that has not only been willing to put up with my crap but appears to be willing to continue doing so! 😛

For several years Alana and I have planned to be remarried by Elvis, an alien, or something silly in Las Vegas for our 20th anniversary. Earlier this year we started to make those plans a reality. Somewhere along the way we realized we were about to put a whole lot of money out for a long weekend to Vegas. Now, this wasn’t so much the issue, but rather our only plans that didn’t involve getting pretty far away from the city was the silly wedding redo that would take all of a couple hours. So, it wasn’t long before we set our sights a little more central to where we actually wanted to spend our time…. we were headed to northern Arizona!

As many of you know, we aren’t scared to put in some windshield time for a long weekend of exploring. This said, the 27 hours from our home to the hotel was a little too much travel for a 4-day weekend, so this exploration was going to be a bit different. We decided to fly in and get a rental car. There was a fair amount of deliberation on rental type as we are darn near incapable of staying on paved roads and, in-spite of the fact we ultimately went for a convertible car, this trip would be no different.

 

Luckily, between our VERY early departure from home and with us gaining time as we traveled west, we arrived in Phoenix with darn near a full day yet to enjoy. Alana planned to make full use of this and, after a quick pit stop to get lots of water and sunscreen, we were headed north into the Tonto National Forest where she had planned a little buggy time!

 

Unfortunately, Alana has never been overly good at handling heat and, with her not drinking as much as she should on the flight to avoid extra pit stops, it wasn’t long until the 111 degree heat got to her and we had to take a break. She came around pretty quickly once she got the hot helmet off of her head and a cooling towel on. About the time she started joking with me I knew I was in the clear to grab the camera and take some pictures of the sights from where we stopped.

 

With it being several klicks to the hotel and Alana already pushing her heat tolerance, we decided to put the top up, crank the air conditioning and meander our way in that direction pretty promptly after completing the buggy ride. This really worked out as we were feeling the time shift a bit and had to get up really early again for the next day’s plans.

 

There are many things about popular social media I don’t like, some I do. I put a fair amount of time in on Instagram trolling pages and finding new places to put on the bucket list and this is one thing I LOVE. On this day, we would be knocking a few Instafamous spots off the list. The first being Antelope Canyon.

Antelope Canyon just barely clings to Arizona and is located just south of the Utah line and to the east of the town Page. There are two sections, the upper and lower, each are overseen by separate families of the local Navajo. We were visiting the lower canyon. Both are products of rapid sandstone erosion and you can literally see where water churns and swirls through the area after heavy rainfall. When it’s dry, the caverns offer amazing sights as colors reflect off of the walls creating interesting shadows and textures.

 

The Wolf, The Monkey, and The Chief… (Alana says this sounds like the start of a bad joke. :razz:)

 

I know it sounds cliche, but as hard as I worked to capture the beauty of this place, pictures really can’t do it justice.

Once our tour of the canyon was done we decided to hit up a few other cool spots that are near this area. The first was the Glen Canyon Dam that creates Lake Powell.

 

Then, before the day’s heat got too out of control, we headed over to Horseshoe Bend which requires a little hike to see. While not even a mile, you are either going up or down the whole time and the fairly deep powdery sand makes it far more work than one would think. There is a pretty big reward for doing it though!

 

After getting back to the car we were on the back half of the day, so we set our sights back to the hotel for showers and a night on the town.

The colors that are present in Arizona always amaze me. In an hour drive you are likely to experience temperature swings in excess of 25 degrees and literally every color of the rainbow in the landscape. You will go through cactus filled deserts, pine filled forests, and rocky landscapes galore. All set below an amazingly blue sky.

 

I’m not sure how one ever would, but if you do find the landscape a bit boring, there is always the abandoned structures that are often covered in “art”.

 

The following morning we were up and at’em early again (still mostly on east coast time) and had our sight set on the Grand Canyon. With as much getting around as we have done, this spot has eluded us and we were about to rectify that.

True to form, we diverted from the pavement a bit and opted for a long cut through part of the Coconino National Forest.

 

I won’t lie, I was a little apprehensive about continuing after we passed a “Primitive Road” sign, but we rolled on. We figured what the heck, we had darn near a full tank of gas and could always turn around right!? In truth, we never did really travel over anything too crazy, but the fact that we were in a fairly low, rear-wheel drive, sports car kept me fairly attentive to the road.

 

The dirt and gravel continued for about 20 miles beyond the sign where we finally popped out on a road that was mostly paved.

 

This road wandered along a ridge and through the forest for a fair amount of time before pointing us toward Williams which happens to be on Route 66. How could we not indulge in this?

 

Having spent far more time in Williams and on Route 66 than we planned, we put more effort into actually making it to the Grand Canyon. Then, when we were about 30 miles out, we passed a billboard for helicopter tours. That was all I needed…. and after some sweet-talking Alana, we were standing at the Grand Canyon Airport in no time buying tickets. 😛 It seemed our first views of the Grand Canyon would be by air!

 

Once back on the ground, we decided to head into the park and out toward the Desert View Watchtower to work our way west. This way we would be turning right into the viewing spots. Before we got there we stopped off at the Tusayan Ruin. It was cool but we were itching to move along so we didn’t stay too long.

 

Luckily, the Watchtower was literally just around the corner so it wasn’t long before we were stopped again. I must say, the views were pretty amazing. But I must admit, it was very hazy out and it was very difficult to get decent pictures as a result. I won’t lie…. I used a lot of camera trickery and built in filters to try to find a winning picture that wasn’t so clouded.

 

As we continued along the canyon the haze continued to build and, as we neared the end, it was difficult to see the other side. Before this however, I spotted a lone Agave plant atop a ledge and really dug it’s yellow and green coloring with the pinkish/red rock in the background.

 

Just a few more pictures before we wrapped up the day.

 

…and almost as quickly as it began, our weekend was largely over. We still had one more day, but most of it would be spent flying home and giving those three hours up that we gained on the way out. We were treated to a very nice sunset on our way back to the hotel.

 

 

….If you are looking for a little humor…. Here are the top songs from the year we got married 😛

Topless for Tatas 9

Topless for Tatas 9

Topless for TATAs is a non-profit 501(c)3 that raises awareness and funds for breast cancer research. While active throughout the year at various events and venues, TFT hosts an annual offroading event at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park in Pennsylvania. The first event was in 2009 with 65 participating Jeeps but it has rapidly grown from there and now sells out to over 500 jeeps in just weeks. In 2015, TFT boosted attendance to mark the 7th anniversary of the event and raised nearly $38k in doing so. This money was donated directly to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

Our first time ever visiting Rausch Creek was to attend TFT5 in 2013. It was here we became hooked on both the event and park. This year we decided to get a little more involved with the event by being trail guides. As you can imagine, with so many Jeeps lots are needed. We left the level of trails we would guide up to the event organizers but lucked into running Blacks. (The park rates it’s trails by colors: Green being the easiest, followed by Blue, Black and ending at Red for the most difficult). While we have ran many of the Red trails, it was nice to take it a bit easier and back off a bit as guides.

Our group was a mix of participants and sponsors. Some of whom we knew and others began as strangers and ended as friends by the end of the first day.

Since many groups get fixated with trails that have cool names, we decided to play most of the weekend a bit differently and stick largely to the numbered black trails. The first of which was trail 5 which has a nice little drop-off obstacle almost immediately after starting it. Here is a pic of us nearing that spot.

 

Our friends Chad and Sam were behind us for most of the day. Their “2XtheCJ” has become pretty recognizable and you will likely remember seeing pictures of it if you’ve been following us for any length of time.

 

I think Jeff, who followed Chad all day, ultimately formed both a love and hate relationship with Chad’s 4BT Cummins powered rig and its exhaust…. But hey, at least he never had to worry about mosquito bites!

 

It’s tough to get pictures, spot, and work recovery gear when needed. I try my best, but sometimes action is simply missed. This was the case with our line-up as I missed a decent picture of Brian who was following Jeff. I was back on track though with Dave who tried a little bit of a different line. While he didn’t make the drop totally under his own power, this line did at least allow him to stay off the hook and he only needed a little rock to resolve the “turtling” all us with “school bus” JKUs had done previously.

 

Next up was one of the event sponsors, Jason who was representing Spiderwebshade. He opted to spot his wife on yet another line to avoid the drop altogether.

 

For the most part, avoiding the drop became the theme for all of the remaining rigs who were associated with JMG Designs, another event sponsor. Without this obstacle in play, we were rolling pretty quickly and I needed to get back in the Jeep to move on. Sadly, this meant no more pictures from here.

 

In spite of the fact that the Topless For TATAs trail is largely a blue trail, we felt it was an important one to run during the event. We simply made the most out of all the black offshoots and hills.  It was one of these small hills that Chad decided to try a rather interesting line on. Beyond the pretty spectacular flex everyone achieved, it was pretty amazing to see his 134″ wheelbase make a turn that not even the 2-doors were able to pull off without a rock or reverse.

 

After completing the TFT trail, we decided to dive into Cemetery. It was just feet into the trail where Chad’s behemoth came to an abrupt stop. Luckily, wire and parts were on hand to make a quick patch/repair and we were moving again in no time.

 

Cemetery is a fairly short trail. This said, for a long time it was our favorite. This changed a few years ago when the park had to deal with some logging that literally destroyed this area. The main portion of Cemetery used to be red with a blue trail that ran along side it and worked as a bypass. Sadly, this blue bypass was totally ruined by the logging and, shortly thereafter, the red portion was stacked out with rocks from the blue portion to the point it was derated to black. It was nice to see that some of the smaller trees have filled out and are returning some shade to this trail.

 

You may notice that our line-up has changed in the picture below. Unfortunately, Brian’s rig suffered a cracked weld or two on the front track bar bracket and a poorly functioning steering gear early on and he made the safe call to call it quits while his Jeep was still functioning well enough to get back to the lot and home.

 

Our plan was to head over to Boot Hill next but we got tied up in some traffic and, after reviewing the radar, we decided to try to beat the oncoming storm and head up to the festivities and raffle instead. This proved to be a good call as we just barely got settled prior to the rain.

The raffle was awesome (as always), but we were pretty quick to bed afterwards to rest up for the following day.

We initially thought we would have a pretty large group for day two, but at least one of the members of the JMG crew was not feeling very well and missed joining us at staging prior to our group’s release. We had hoped to rejoin them once they arrived but that never seemed to pan out. With that said, we decided to start Sunday a little deeper in the park on trail 16. This is a pretty neat trail but for some reason it doesn’t seem to get a lot of action.

 

Sorry for the redundancy with Dirty here, but with the missing JMG Jeeps we were down to just a trio and were rolling too fast through the trails for me to get many other pictures.

 

In fact, I was only able to snag one more pic of Chad and Sam as we wrapped up 16 and headed to 13.

 

Tackling 13 was pretty smooth and brisk… Before we knew it we were headed into 20, which we had decided would wrap up our day and event. We weren’t that deep into 20 though when we came across some stopped rigs. After a quick check on them to see if we could help, opted to take 15 out while heading toward the parking lot. It looked like they were going to be a while and we didn’t feel like waiting.

The picture below is the last we would take of the event.

 

We’d like to give a shout out to all the people that work to put this event on and the sponsors. Thank you so much! Next year will be TFT10! We can’t wait to rejoin the trail guide team and be a part of it!

For more information on Topless For TATAs visit toplessfortatas.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram. For more information on Rausch Creek Off-Road Park visit their website HERE.

 

Overlanding The Allegheny National Forest

Overlanding The Allegheny National Forest

In spite of our best efforts, our winter projects rolled right up to the beginning of spring.  Normally this is okay, but the tail end of our winter was more spring-like than some of the first weekends of the actual spring.

Due to the ugly weather (and some other things), we have had a heck of a time getting out to enjoy the fruit of those winter project efforts. Something that needed rectifying and pronto!

So, we set our sights on 5/20/17 and decided this would be a trip with Klondike. Initially, we tried to put a rookie trail ride together.  When scheduling became an issue for people to tag along, we changed it up and decided to visit the Allegheny National Forest for some solo overlanding fun. 😛

The Allegheny National Forest covers just over half a million acres in Northwest Pennsylvania. While the area is wild and beautiful, it also lies in a rich oil and gas region. In addition to the O&G production, logging is also present which means, over time, the area has become full of roads and trails now under the control of the US Forestry Service.

It didn’t take us long after entering the region to find one of these roads and start exploring…

 

We quickly realized that the area was far too large to cover in one weekend so we set our sights on the north-central area (south of the Kinzua Dam, along the river and Kinzua creek/bay). Our plan at this time was to come back for another area in the future (more on why we may not later).

This new strategy meant hitting some pavement again to work toward that target area, but we needed to stretch our legs. So before the cruise there we made a quick stop for a super short hike at the Tidioute Overlook.

 

It was a pretty neat spot that had a nice view of Courson Island on one side and of Tidioute City at the other. The nicer thing by far, was the leg stretch!

 

Before long, we were back in the woods and on dirt. All of the roads were pretty well maintained. Often so much so that it was easy to find yourself gawking and moving a touch too quickly. A situation soon to be reprimanded for by the rogue holes that were sparse but prevalent.

 

After a long run on Hook Run Road (FS-160) we ended up stopping at Jakes Rocks. Here, we took in another short hike and a few overlooks.

 

The Allegheny River was not the only sight to see on this little hike. There are many outcroppings of large rocks that host interesting vegetation and critters.

This tree is proof that where there is a will, there is a way…

 

On our way back out I got caught partially in the moment and on a mission at the same time. This little bee was fun to watch hopping from flower to flower faster than I could ever muster a camera focus. This was the closest I got.

 

After a bunch more dirt road exploring we decided to set our sights on finding a campsite. Dispersed camping is allowed in many places throughout the forest and you can spot areas that are set up for it.

Knowing where you can and cannot be, however, is another matter and proved to be rather difficult. We have always had good luck with National Geographic maps and, while we consult several other sources, they have proven to be very reliable and our “go to” for navigation. Unfortunately, we found a very high level of inconsistencies with all of our navigation sources. We used Gaia Maps, Maplets, Google Maps, NatGeo Maps, The Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM), and the Jeep’s GPS/Map (which is actually quite good). Sadly, we had a hard time finding consistency among any of them on what roads we were able to be on and, as soon as we thought we had it figured out, we came across a closed gate or sign stating otherwise.

Eventually, we did find a nice secluded spot to set up camp and we were at least fairly certain we were allowed to be there.

 

This site proved to be pretty amazing really. It was about a mile down a dead end, two-track dirt road and from the time we turned on it until the time we left the following morning, there was not another human soul to be heard or seen. We did have a few visits from a noisy turkey and a nosey raccoon that tested our trash bin.

We all slept pretty amazing but broke camp fairly quickly after breakfast to beat out weather we thought was headed our way.

Once rolling again, we got some cellular reception and learned that weather was still out a few hours so we made a few stops before heading home. The first was an overlook of the Kinzua Point and Complanter Bridge.

 

Just a short jaunt down the road was the Kinzua Dam.

 

The walkway at the dam had several flowering bushes and trees all along it and, since I am still working out all the features of my new camera, I decided to snap a few shots.

 

Then on the way out we spotted something that supports my theory that Pennsylvania is thirty years behind the rest of the country…. Kegan didn’t even know what this was. 😛 This said, I don’t remember ever needing to put $0.50 in one or there being QR-codes on them. 😉

 

This was the first real run with the trailer and Klondike pulling it. For the most part, everything went absolutely great. I did have an issue with the rubber skirt I added to the fenders to fully cover the tires that needs worked out but I think it will be a pretty easy fix. Klondike, on the other hand, was both amazing and horrible… She performed much better than expected in every way except fuel economy which is the entire reason we have this rig! I hate to admit it, but we saw tank averages as low as 10.8 MPG. This is a major bummer and will likely impact our uses for her in the future.

As for the Allegheny National Forest, the date restrictions and limited availability of >50” wide vehicles, along with the uneasy feeling of knowing if you are legally where you should be will likely prevent us from spending much time there in the future.

If ATVs, dirtbikes, or side-by-sides are your thing, this is a really neat place you should check out. Even mountain bikers have more resources available than “highway legal vehicles”. There is always hiking, but from what we could tell these trails are largely multi use or more designed for multi-day backpacking.

 

Hopefully you enjoyed this, if so tell us and leave a comment!

Hiking Cantwell Cliffs (Hocking Hills, Ohio)

Hiking Cantwell Cliffs (Hocking Hills, Ohio)

This past weekend had a split personality. Saturday was cold and started with snow while Sunday was in the 60s and warm. This worked out for us fairly well since we had our CPR re-certification to do on Saturday and were stuck inside for much of the day. Sunday would so nice that we wanted to make the most of the weather by getting outside.

Our destination would be the Cantwell Cliffs for a hike. While part of the Hocking Hills State Park, the Cantwell Cliffs reside to the far north and are fairly disconnected from the other hiking regions. Supposedly the result is a less busy trail system that is also touted as the most photogenic. At least on our visit, the trails were pretty darn busy and, while the area is absolutely beautiful in person, it’s tough to capture the scale and colors in a photo.

 

The trails themselves are fairly short and you can easily hike the entire network in a few hours. This said, they are also some of the most technical trails we have hiked in Ohio and (in our opinion) are not well suited for young children.

This point is made clear almost right out of the gate as you approach the steps at “Fat Woman’s Squeeze” (seen below). The steps are very narrow and have some loose stone and leaf debris that should be taken with caution.

 

As I already mentioned, vertical scale can be tough to capture in pictures, so I had Alana and Kegan stop about 1/4 of the way through this entrance for a quick picture as I stood at the top.

 

Those willing to make the “squeeze” and take on the steps are treated to an amazing rock cliff/cove and small waterfall at the base. In our case, the previous cold snap left some ice and icicles that had yet to thaw in the day’s warmth adding additional visual interest. This cliff itself stands about 35-40 feet above where I am standing and closer to 50′ total top to bottom.

 

We decided to start out on the Gorge Trail (yellow) first. This loop runs along a small stream crossing it several times. The hiking itself is fairly easy with exception of balancing on logs or jumping over the water crossings. This would be no biggie at all if you had a set of waterproof boots or didn’t care to get your feet muddy.

 

There really isn’t that much that differentiates this trail from others in southern Ohio beyond hiking so close to a stream. This may be why I took so much interest in the old cedar log covered in thick moss on the return leg. There was just something that seemed special about the orange wood and vibrant green moss in an otherwise monochrome brown landscape.

 

Rather than returning all the way back to the entrance before doing the Cliff Trail (Red), we decided to cross over a bit early. This path was a pretty steep climb, but took us along another cliff and waterfall view that made it well worth it.

 

This was still only about half way up the cliff/gorge as the small bridge (made more visible in the picture below) is the upper side of the trail we would be on during the return to the trailhead.

 

One problem with this bit of a shortcut we took is a smaller loop that had a third cliff face and waterfall had been bypassed. So, we opted to take on “the squeeze” again to visit this loop. This time, instead of making the full decent, we took an even tighter squeeze that shoots off to the right from where the picture below was taken.

 

Once we wiggled through the rocks, I took this picture before setting of on this final loop.

 

This little “adder” hike would turn out to be our favorite of the area and visit. If you only have time or desire for a quick hike, take this short cliff trail loop. It is sure to please and is full of interesting spots.

 

This little loop will take you right along the cliff and right under a trickling waterfall. Be prepared to make some elevation changes though!

 

Soon we decided it was time to make the hike up and out. As Alana and Kegan started the trek, I waited under a ledge for a final photo.

 

As I mentioned, the trails here are not very long. Even with us doing both loops and then adding another bonus variation of a third loop, we had less than 3 miles on us. I think this is about right though given the terrain. While we could’ve hiked a lot further, we did feel as though we had gone farther than we actually had.

While I have included an image of the trail map below, I would recommend visiting the park website HERE prior to a visit. Statuses, conditions, and rules are always changing and we are not able to keep these up to date.

 

BONUS:

As we left, we decided to take the path less traveled along some very remote and beautiful roads. This path would ultimately take us through the Clear Creek Metro Park. Beyond being Ohio’s largest state nature preserve, it also offers other activities like canoeing/kayaking, fishing, and hiking. We will be sure to revisit this park in the future, but for now we only stopped at a few Civil War era log cabins. The first wasn’t much to look at but the patina on the second had my attention for some time.

 

Although the cabins were locked, the windows were open and there was enough light coming into the cabin for me to sneak a few pictures of the inside with my camera held tight to the glass. 🙂

 

As Alana and Kegan waited for me to have my moment, they plotted our path to some dinner and home. I knew it was time to go…

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. If so, please leave a comment.

Shawnee State (Ohio) Forestry Roads

Shawnee State (Ohio) Forestry Roads

If you are looking for a little backcountry getaway, Ohio’s Shawnee State Forest may be just the right destination. Especially if you are looking for more of a drive than a hike. With the recent cold snap and projects on pause, this is just what we were looking for.

The forest itself is nearly 64,000 acres and is nestled between the Scioto and Adams counties. Nicknamed “The Little Smokies of Ohio” there are some similarities, but I personally think this is stretching it a bit. The Shawnee Forest is the largest state forest in Ohio but is far from an untouched resource. We were a bit saddened to see all of the logging that is present. Throughout our visit, evidence of past and current logging is evident.

The Shawnee is also one of the only state lands to have open forestry roads. These roads are very well maintained. There would be no problem exploring this area in any vehicle. To this point, exploration by car is likely the way most will utilize the area. An exception to this would be if you had horses. Bridle trails are plentiful and from what we could tell well maintained. A massive place for improvement would be in hiking trails. While the forest does have over 60 miles of hiking trails, they are not well suited for day use, but rather for backpackers looking to backcountry camp on multi-day hikes.

Our visit would begin on the north side of the forest and meander along the forestry roads in an serpentine fashion. We would be following a modified version of the “Panoramic Scenic Drive “. Our hopes were that we would catch the highlights of this loop but also get into the more remote areas. We used Maplets to navigate the park. The map below is the path we took.

 

Once in the forest, it didn’t take us long to realize a fall revisit is absolutely necessary. While many of the views were just a bit too masked for pictures, it was easy to see the through the trees in person to wonderful views of the valleys below the high spots.

 

About a third of the way into our loop we passed the Copperhead Fire Tower. We learned that this 1924 built structure was the first fire watch tower in Ohio and still stands strong. It is open for the public and, even though it was pretty cold and very windy, we decided to make the 60 foot climb to the top.

 

 

In a quest for pictures, I was the only one to make the full climb with Alana and Kegan stopping after about 40 feet for either being cold and/or being bothered by the wind.

I can’t wait for a fall sunset/sunrise revisit here.

 

As we headed back toward Klondike (and her heated seats and steering wheel). I grabbed this shot of the road we were on. As you can see, even the gravel/dirt roads are in excellent shape. There really is no reason any car couldn’t handle this journey.

 

Just around the corner from the spot above was a large overlook that was begging for a photo-op in spite of the fact we had yet to fully warm from the fire tower climb. I was hoping for a family picture here, but Alana and Kegan were not getting out so it’s another shot of Klondike in the landscape. As you can see the running lights are still on, this is because the Jeep is running with the heat on max!

 

Back on the road for some time, we were soon transitioning to the southern half of the forest that is split by SR-125. About half way along this transition is a small loop for access to Wolfden Run Lake. It’s not much of a drive at all, but is a gem of a location for fishing, day camp, or picnic. In our case…. It was another photo-op with just Klondike. I will take the blame on this one though as I backed here up to the water’s edge and it was a bit muddy to get out. (In truth, I asked if they wanted out before backing there and the mud was more of an excuse to stay in 😉 .)

 

While we enjoyed the drive through the southern part of the forest, there were not many special spots for pictures. This was largely due to the dark and chilly weather along with our unwillingness to get out and walk a bit. Normally, weather doesn’t deter us too much but we knew before we even set out on this trip we were not feeling like much more than a drive.

Another note on this area is that there is still a fair amount of visible damage present from the 2009 fires that charred approximately 2800 acres. As if this were not sad enough, it’s made even worse by the knowledge that the cause was ruled arson but remains unsolved.

As we headed out of the area we crossed a small bridge that had a stream running over a solid slab of rock. The reds in the stone and green of the moss was honestly pretty amazing in this otherwise very brown environment.

 

It might sound weird, but this little spot made our day. Alana rolled down the window and we just listened to the water for a few minutes. I’m pretty sure she even took some phone video.

 

It’s always interesting what you can find and enjoy when you just slow down and open your eyes. These little trips help ground us and realize the world and life is much more special than just working and paying bills. Take a break from the “hustle and bustle”…. Explore! You might find more than you expect.

 

Hopefully you enjoyed this. If so, please leave a comment.

 

WeatherTech KL Cherokee “FloorLiner” Review

WeatherTech KL Cherokee “FloorLiner” Review

There are many things we like about our KL Cherokee. We have come to enjoy exploring with some comforts and this little Trailhawk has a bunch of features that make long road or trail days nice. One feature we don’t really like (or even understand) is the carpeted floor Jeep has made standard across its vehicles. Sure it cuts down on heat and road noise, but it’s tough to keep looking decent.

The most common solution to this would be to get some rubber floor mats. And when we were ordering Klondike this is exactly what we did. Sadly, the factory floor mats are lacking coverage in some places sure to see lots of wear and tear. The dead pedal that is built into the driver’s side floor is completely left uncovered.  Oddly enough, this usually isn’t something we care about with an auto transmission, but find ourselves putting our left foot there with Jeep fairly often. The result in just 5k miles is carpet that is matted and dirty.

 

With winter knocking at the door and all the salt, road grime, and wetness that comes with it, we began looking for other options. After a fairly extensive internet search and some phone calls, we settled in on WeatherTech’s FloorLiner kit.

We purchased them directly from WeatherTech for just over $189.90 plus shipping. The kit would include both driver and passenger front mats (liners) but also the rear, which is a large one-piece instead of the factory two.

 

We couldn’t be happier with the fit and finish of these liners. They dropped and locked into place absolutely perfectly.  Our only slight dissatisfaction is that the dead petal is still not completely covered. Still, coverage is greatly improved.

 

Here is a shot of the passenger side. Nearly every bit of the carpet is now protected.

 

The rear mat is in a whole new realm of carpet protection. Again the fit was absolutely perfect! Another very slight negative that is best visible in this picture is the color that is close, but still off just a bit. They don’t match the plastic, carpet, or leather, rather falling somewhere in the middle of them all.

 

In Summary:

The fit of the WeatherTech FloorLiner is absolutely perfect. Coverage is greatly increased but there still are some areas where carpet will see wear and dirt.

Color is close, but not exact. We suspect those with the more popular black interior rather than our chocolate wouldn’t have this issue.

There is less texture with these liners than with the factory mats, while we got in and out several times (almost trying to slip) and always found the traction we needed, our feet were clean. Adding a covering of mud may change this.

Would we order them again? Yes, without hesitation.

Nine overland trips every Jeeper should do!

Nine overland trips every Jeeper should do!

Mrs. SSS and I have another cross-country trip planned next year to see our son who is stationed in Washington. Our trek will take us through many places we still have on our bucket list, and as such, we are planning an overlanding adventure to make the most of the trip. (This is actually the whole reason we purchased Klondike.) A recent article from Sean Holman of Four Wheeler Magazine came in perfect time for us and our planning. I have found the information and links so helpful, I wanted to share….

Hopefully it will inspire your next adventure!


 

 

Sean P. Holman
Content Director, Four Wheeler Network

 

In the spirit of escaping the daily grind, we polled the staff for some of their favorite overland trips that are right here in the good ol’ U.S.A. While this is just a handful of the awesome adventures that await you in the American backcountry, these are some of our most well loved excursions filled with adventure, history, and scenery. Any of these trips can be done with a well-equipped stock, or minimally modified rig. So in no particular order, here is our list of domestic excursions every wheeler should consider.

Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks is a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina featuring miles of OHV routes along the Atlantic Ocean, giving wheelers a unique opportunity to wheel right on the coast. One of the more popular areas is the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (www.nps.gov/caha), which is home to lighthouses, Civil War history, and protected sea life. Most of the OHV routes can easily be traversed in a stock 4×4 with proper tire pressure, although some routes are seasonal. Plan to visit the remote town of Carova Beach and/or have your rig ferried to the incredible South Core Banks.
Info: North Carolina’s Outer Banks
www.outer-banks.com

awesome Adventures outer Banks North Carolina Photo 39472315

Death Valley, California
Death Valley National Park has the distinction of being the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America and encompasses more than 5,200 square miles of desolate terrain. Off-highway trails abound, and any explorer with the right resources can easily discover vast amounts of geologic and human history. Because of Death Valley’s size and desolate nature, you can go days between human contact in the backcountry and the hostile environment is a study in extremes. The terrain can be challenging, but a stock SUV can access the majority of trails with proper equipment and a skilled driver.
Info: Death Valley National Park
www.nps.gov/deva/

awesome Adventures death Valley California Photo 39472318

Moab, Utah
Moab is often considered the sport of wheeling’s Mecca in the United States. With incredible scenery unmatched by just about anywhere else on earth and trails of all lengths and difficulties that crisscross the terrain, anyone can find enjoyment in Moab. For those looking to extend their journey to Moab, try arriving via the dirt trails of the San Rafael Swell or Mexican Hat.
Info: City of Moab
www.discovermoab.com

awesome Adventures moab Utah Photo 39472321

Black Bear Pass, Colorado
Proving that Colorado is home to some of the most spectacular trails in the United States, Black Bear Road starts from U.S. Highway 550 between the towns of Ouray and Silverton and ends up in Telluride, Colorado. Reaching a maximum elevation of 12,840 feet, vehicles on Black Bear Road navigate tight switchbacks, loose terrain, and falling rock, but those who make the trip are rewarded with views of Ingram and Bridal Veil Falls and an unmatched perspective of Telluride. The local trail system includes other famous routes, such as Imogene Pass, Ophir Pass, Bullion King Lake, and Red Mountain Pass.
Info: Mile High Jeep Club
www.mhjc.com

awesome Adventures black Bear Pass Colorado Photo 39472324

Mojave Road, California
One of the original routes through the Mojave Desert to the California Coast, the Mojave Road is located mostly within the Mojave National Preserve. This trail is a step back in time with rich history that follows the path of Native Americans and early settlers of California. The 138-mile route starts on the banks of the Colorado River, crossing several mountain ranges, and terrain types before culminating near Barstow, California. While the trail isn’t technically difficult, it is does cross deep sand, sharp rocks, and desolate areas, giving travelers a glimpse of what it must have been like for settlers during the turn of the century. The Mojave Road Guide by Dennis Casebier is a must-have resource for anyone who plans on traversing the historic route and is available from the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association (www.mdhcs.org).
Info: Mojave National Preserve
www.nps.gov/moja

awesome Adventures mojave Trail California Photo 39472327

Morrison Jeep Trail, Wyoming
The Morrison Jeep Trail, located northwest of Cody, Wyoming, and southwest of Billings, Montana, is known for its 27 tight switchbacks that make up the ascent from the Clarks Fork River to the top of Bear Tooth Plateau. This trail is another example of stunning scenery that can be accessed behind the wheel of a capable 4×4. After paralleling the Clarks Fork River, wheelers start the 2,000-foot climb, before being granted admittance to the stunning high country of Wyoming and Montana. Any number of trails in the area can extend your backcountry stay indefinitely.
Info: Magic City 4-Wheelers
www.mc4w.com

awesome Adventures morrison Jeep Trail Wyoming Photo 39472330

Border to Border
Back in 2010, Four Wheeler contributor Chris Collard successfully navigated from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, almost entirely on dirt. Even with the population explosion in the West, we were amazed that the ability to drive the entire height of the Western U.S. was still possible. Collard did have to make some adjustments to the formula, such as hitting pavement on East-West routes to bypass land closures, as well as adding in a few side trips, extending the run from about 1,300 miles to more than 2,700 miles. With the ability to complete this epic off-road journey fading fast, this is one you’ll want to attempt sooner than later.
Info: Four Wheeler
www.fourwheeler.com

awesome Adventures jeep Jk Wheeling Photo 39472333

Rubicon Trail, California
Long considered one of the best wheeling trails in the world (hey, there are even Jeeps named after it), the legendary Rubicon Trail is known for amazing scenery and challenging obstacles. From tight boulder fields to granite slabs with unbridled vistas, the Rubicon is often rearranged by winter weather, making no two trips exactly the same. No one who has ever traversed the Rubicon will argue that The Rubicon Trail should be atop every wheeler’s “To Do” list.
Info: Friends of the Rubicon
www.rubiconfriends.com;
Rubicon Trail Foundation
www.rubicontrail.org

awesome Adventures rubicon Trail California Photo 39472336

Lewis and Clark Trail, North Dakota
Four Wheeler contributors Manrico Delcore and Mary Beth Debicki negotiated the Lewis and Clark Trail in 2005, as did Senior Editor Brubaker and Tech Editor Holman. From the trail we experienced immense views of the North Dakota badlands and sat at an overlook of the Missouri River once use by Lewis and Clark themselves. If you like to combine history with your adventure, this is a great trail to explore.
Info: Four Wheeler
www.fourwheeler.com

awesome Adventures lewis And Clark Trail North Dakota Photo 39472339

Source
2016’s Top Off Road Trails & Parks in America?

2016’s Top Off Road Trails & Parks in America?

PartCatalog just released their 2016 “Top Off Road Trails” in America list (or at least in 38 states in America). Additionally, they announced the highest rated trails/parks based on all of the submissions they received. It’s important to note that this list is for all venues of off-roading. Why is this detail important? Well, some parks or trails are better for certain types of vehicles. For example, Windrock OHV Park in TN earned second place but is far from a top pick in our opinion for full-sized rigs. I do see where side-by-sides and ATVs would strongly agree with this award though.

Even though we already spoiled this a bit, their top rated trails/parks for 2016 are:

SMORR [MO]

SMOOR [MO]

Windrock [TN]

MOAB [UT]

As for the remainder of the list, I personally don’t agree with many of the rankings, but to be honest, this is pretty trivial when compared to the other issues I have with it. First, and the biggest, some of these places are private property and you need special permission to use them. Others are closed, and have been for some time. Some places, that happen to go by different names, appear in multiple rankings under both. Lastly, and when compared to the prior is fairly minor, but it’s a mistake to not separate parks or trails that only allow certain vehicle types. Some are only for ATVs and/or dirt bikes and at least one is only for full-sized rigs. But, much like our latest presidential election, the people have spoken and this is what the greater good had to say. Still, I think more vetting should have been done prior to publishing.

Having said all of that, it is still pretty awesome to have a list this encompassing. Even if in the end, it is only used to kick-start one’s own research.

Thanks to PartCatalog for putting the list together…


Click on the state abbreviations below to jump to your state or scroll through the whole list…. I took the time to add links to destinations where I could. Just click the park/trail name to go to that site!

[AL]   [AR]   [AZ]   [CA]   [CO]   [FL]   [GA]   [IL]   [IN]   [KS]   [LA]   [MA]    [ME]    [MD]   [MI]    [MN]    [MS]   [MO]   [NE]   [NV]   [NH]   [NJ]   [NM]   [NY]   [NC]   [OH]   [OK]   [OR]   [PA]   [SC]   [SD]   [TN]   [TX]   [UT]   [VA]   [WA]   [WV]   [WI]


Alabama 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Stony Lonesome – Bremen, AL
#2 Hawk Pride Mountain – Tuscumbia, AL
#3 Choccolocco Mountain – Jacksonville, AL
#4 Gray Rock – Gardendale, AL
#5 Top Trails – Talladega, AL

Arkansas 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Hot Springs ORV – Hot Springs, AR
#2 Mack’s Pines – Dover, AR
#3 Hillarosa – Blevins, AR
#4 Wolf Pen Gap – Mena, AR
#5 Mulberry Mountain – Ozark, AR

Arizona 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Carter’s Offroad – Bryant, AZ
#2 Byrd’s Adventure Center – Ozark, AZ
#3 Lake Havasu – Lake Havasu City, AZ
#4 Broken Arrow – Sedona, AZ
#5 President’s Choice – Parker, AZ

California 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Rubicon – Georgetown, CA
#2 Ocotillo Wells – Borrego Springs, CA
#3 Johnson Valley – Johnson Valley, CA
#4 Glamis Sand Dunes – El Centro, CA
#5 Big Bear (John Bull) – Big Bear City, CA

Colorado 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Black Bear Pass – Telluride, CO
#2 Imogene Pass – Ouray, CO
#3 Ouray – Ouray, CO
#4 Taylor Park – Tincup, CO
#5 Alpine Loop – Telluride, CO

Florida 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Ocala National Forest – Silver Springs, FL
#2 Florida Cracker Ranch – Bunnell, FL
#3 Hog Waller – Palatka, FL
#4 Hardrock – Ocala, FL
#5 Iron Horse Mud Ranch – Perry, FL

Georgia 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Durhamtown – Union Point, GA
#2 Highland Park – Cedartown, GA
#3 Possum Creek – Ray City, GA
#4 Fat Daddy’s – Blairsville, GA
#5 Moccasin Creek – Blackshear, GA

Illinois 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 The Cliffs Insane Terrain – Marseilles, IL
#2 Two Rivers Jeep Club – Pittsfield, IL
#3 Little Egypt – Marion, IL
#4 Fox Valley Off Road – Ottawa, IL
#5 South Fork – Taylorville, IL

Indiana 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Badlands – Attica, IN
#2 Haspin Acres – Laurel, IN
#3 Redbird – Linton, IN
#4 Interlake – Lynnville, IN
#5 Lawrence County Recreational Park – Springville, IN

Kansas 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Kansas Rocks – Mapleton, KS
#2 Tuttle Creek ORV – Randolph, KS
#3 Central Kansas Off Road – Florence, KS
#4 Kansas Badlands – South Haven, KS
#5 Syracuse Sand Dunes – Syracuse, KS

Kentucky 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Black Mountain – Harlan, KY
#2 Dirty Turtle – Bedford, KY
#3 Wildcat Offroad Park – London, KY
#4 Rush Offroad – Rush, KY
#5 Turkey Bay – Golden Pond, KY

Louisiana 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Muddy Bottoms – Sarepta, LA
#2 Catahoula Recreation Area – Sicily Island, LA
#3 Tower Trax – Fluker, LA
#4 South Toledo – Anacoco, LA
#5 Cooterville – Delhi, LA

Massachusetts 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Gremlin Graveyard – Sturbridge, MA
#2 Old Florida Road – Adams, MA
#3 Cape Cod National Seashore – Wellfleet, MA
#4 Pittsfield State Forest – Pittsfield, MA
#5 Nauset Beach – East Orleans, MA

Maine 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Rocky Mountain Terrain Park – Carthage, ME
#2 Wicked Hills – South China, ME
#3 Maine Jeep Jamboree – Bethel, ME
#4 Aroostook – Presque Isle, ME
#5 Down East Sunrise – Ellsworth, ME

Maryland 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Assateague Island Beach – Berlin, MD
#2 Budds Creek – Mechanicsville, MD
#3 Backbone – Oakland, MD
#4 Savage River – Grantsville, MD
#5 Piney Mountain – Friendsville, MD

Michigan 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Bundy Hill – Jerome, MI
#2 Rocks & Valleys – Harrison, MI
#3 Silver Lake – Mears, MI
#4 Turtle Ridge – Drummond Island, MI
#5 Washita Offroad Park – Farmington, MI

Minnesota 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Iron Range OHV Area – Gilbert, MN
#2 Snake Creek – Kellogg, MN
#3 Spider Lake – Pine River, MN
#4 Appleton OHV Park – Appleton, MN
#5 Moose Walk – Finland, MN

Mississippi 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Mudslangers – Woodland, MS
#2 Muddy Joe’s – Kiln, MS
#3 Red Creek Offroad – Perkinston, MS
#4 Barnyard Mudboggers – Fulton, MS
#5 Burdens Creek – Mount Olive, MS

Missouri 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 SMORR – Seymour, MO
#2 Flat Nasty – Jadwin, MO
#3 Moonlight Racing – Sullivan, MO
#4 Rush Springs – Pineville, MO
#5 Bricks – Poplar Bluff, MO

Nebraska 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Off Road Ranch – Norfolk, NE
#2 Dismal River Trail – Halsey, NE
#3 White Sands Raceway – Ashland, NE
#4 Fiddler Creek MX – Homer, NE

Nevada 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Rock Bottom – Logandale, NV
#2 Tie Rod Canyon – Las Vegas, NV
#3 Hunter Lake Trail – Reno, NV
#4 Bronco Falls – Logandale, NV
#5 Ryan’s Trail – Nelson, NV

New Hampshire 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Field & Forest – Harrisville, NH
#2 Little Monadnock Family Trails – Troy, NH
#3 Ride the Wilds – Coos County, NH
#4 Carnage Hill – Richmond, NH
#5 Classic 6 Roads – New Hampshire, NH

New Jersey 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Pine Barrens – Hammonton, NJ
#2 Wharton State Forest – Hammonton, NJ
#3 Island Beach State Park – Seaside Park, NJ
#4 Atco MX – Atco, NJ
#5 Butterfly Bogs – Jackson, NJ

New Mexico 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Chokecherry Canyon – Farmington, NM
#2 Las Cruces – Las Cruces, NM
#3 Chama – Chama, NM
#4 Gordy’s Hill – Socorro, NM
#5 Red River Offroad – Red River, NM

New York 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Tall Pines – Andover, NY
#2 Tar Hollow – Hancock, NY
#3 Demon Run Trails – Cath, NY
#4 Whispering Pines Hideaway – Lyons, NY
#5 Lewis County (Tug Hill) – Lowville, NY

North Carolina 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Uwharrie National Forest – Uwharrie, NC
#2 Tellico – Murphy, NC
#3 Brown Mountain – Morganton, NC
#4 Dirt City USA – Polkton, NC
#5 Brushy Mountain – Taylorsville, NC

Ohio 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Southington Offroad Park – Garrettsville, OH
#2 Wellsville – Wellsville, OH
#3 Yankee Lake – Brookfield, OH
#4 Phoenix Offroad Park – Wintersville, OH
#5 Powerline Park – St Clairsville, OH

Oklahoma 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Disney (Hogan’s) – Disney, OK
#2 Arbuckle – Mill Creek, OK
#3 Clayton (Green Acres) – Clayton, OK
#4 Little Sahara – Waynoka, OK
#5 Sundog Trails – Lexington, OK

Oregon 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Oregon Dunes – Reedsport, OR
#2 Blue Ridge Trails – Coos Bay, OR
#3 Christmas Valley Sand Dunes – Christmas Valley, OR
#4 Santiam Pass – Mckenzie Bridge, OR
#5 Firebreak Five – Tillamook, OR

Pennsylvania 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Rausch Creek – Tremont, PA
#2 Anthracite Adv Area – Coal Township, PA
#3 Majestic Trails – Smethport, PA
#4 Rock Run Recreation – Patton, PA
#5 New Lost Trails (Ride Lost Trails) – Dunmore, PA

South Carolina 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Carolina Adventure World – Winnsboro, SC
#2 Gulches Offroad Park – Waterloo, SC
#3 Battery Park – Nesmith, SC
#4 Pine Grove – Westminster, SC
#5 Sand Hill – Chesterfield, SC

South Dakota 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Black Hills – Custer, SD
#2 Talsma’s Trail – Avon, SD
#3 Oahe Downstream – Fort Pierre, SD
#4 Baja ORV – Interior, SD
#5 Revheim Bay – Mobridge, SD

Tennessee 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Windrock – Oliver Springs, TN
#2 Ride Royal Blue – Pioneer, TN
#3 Brimstone – Huntsville, TN
#4 Adventure Offroad Park – Pittsburg, TN
#5 Golden Mountain – Sparta, TN

Texas 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Hidden Falls Adv Park – Marble Falls, TX
#2 Wolf Caves – Mason, TX
#3 Barnwell Mountain – Gilmer, TX
#4 Katemcy Rocks – Mason, TX
#5 Bridgeport OHV – Bridgeport, TX

Utah 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Moab – Moab, UT
#2 Sand Hollow – Hurricane, UT
#3 Hell’s Revenge – Grand County, UT
#4 Paiute Trails – Maryville, UT
#5 Behind the Rocks – Moab, UT

Virginia – 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Big Dogs – Gore, VA
#2 George Wash Natl Forest – Hollins, VA
#3 Red Cloud – Woodbridge, VA
#4 Spearhead Trails – Norton, VA
#5 Potts Mountain – Covington, VA

Washington – 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Moses Lake Mud Flats and Sand Dunes – Grant, WA
#2 Walker Valley – Mt Vernon, WA
#3 Evans Creek ORV – Carbonado, WA
#4 Beverly Dunes – Royal City, WA
#5 Juniper Dunes – Pasco, WA

West Virginia – 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Hatfield McCoys – Lyburn, WV
#2 Chaos Offroad Park – Capon Bridge, WV
#3 Burning Rock – Tams, WV
#4 King Knob – Philippi, WV
#5 Bear Wallow – Logan, WV

Wisconsin – 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Black River State Forest – Jackson County, WI
#2 Cheese County Trails – Monroe, WI
#3 Eagle River – Eagle River, WI
#4 Florence County – Florence, WI
#5 Apple Valley – New Auburn, WI


source

Redbird State Recreation Area Review

Redbird State Recreation Area Review

Location: 15298 W County Road 350 N, Linton, IN 47441
Website: http://www.in.gov/dnr/outdoor/4225.htm

Redbird is a “State” Recreation area and I applaud Indiana for supporting a place for legal trail riding. This being said, I’ve found that most state ORV areas are not very challenging to those with experience and Redbird is no exception to this.

Trails are almost all dirt and many of them are over groomed in my opinion. The park offers a nice map but you are better off using it to start your campfire. The map reads easy enough, but trail markings and actual placement didn’t match it. We spent over half of our day on foot trying to find out where a trail started and went. This ended up being time very well spent as several times we started walking into what looked like a full size trail only for it to quickly narrow to a dirt bike path. One actually just ended with no turn around space!

The area is for mixed use (ATV, dirt bike, and 4×4). Of the 25 trails on the map, only 9 are open to Jeeps. Trails are rated Easy, More Difficult, and Most Difficult on the map but signage and trail markings offer more delineation once on-site. The odd thing here is that I would consider everything up to the very toughest level to be extremely stock friendly. The last step is a doozy though! So, be prepared for extreme off cambers, steep hills, and, no matter how dry it’s been, many climbs top off into bowls of mud so self-recovery is a must. Having said this, we were there when it was dry, but even a small amount of rain would change things drastically as the dirt is mostly clay and would turn to slime with any amount of moisture.

Where to Stay?

We stayed at the Days Inn in Sullivan. This is an older hotel and, while it isn’t anything to write home about, it was clean and fairly cheap. We would stay there again if visiting Redbird.

One of the guys in our group camped at Greene-Sullivan State Forest and had nothing but praise about the park and campground. Having not seen it ourselves we can only convey his experience and thoughts.

Summary:

Redbird SRA is a very well maintained area that is well suited for a beginner. The trails consist of almost all dirt and, while there is a rock garden, the rocks are too large and spread out for anything less than a buggy (at least when we were there). If it rains or has recently rained, prepare to slide around and get muddy. Experienced wheelers will likely bore quickly.