Brandon and Gwen's Adventure

Brandon and Gwen's Adventure

Monday, April 20, 2015

Special Announcement

I am honored to be taking part in a monthly Google hangout discussion called Overland Roundtable. The event is hosted by Dan Cole of 4x4 Podcast fame and will take place on the third Sunday of each month. We will be discussing products, vehicles and other overland related subjects. There will be a total of five regular presenters in addition to guest speakers. If you would like to know more about the show, please tune in for the second episode which will occur on Sunday, May 17th at 8:00 pm Central.

You can also leave a questions and comments via voicemail at 904.600.DIRT, or if you prefer, email us at

We look forward to hearing from you!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Jeep Safari 2015

Easter Jeep Safari 2015

I packed the Jeep up while Gwen was working nightt call at the hospital. I managed to pack "ten pounds of .... in a five pound bag". It's impressive how much stuff you can fit in a two door JK if you get creative. Once Gwen got home the next morning we loaded up Ninja and Kokopelli, punched the directions into the GPS and headed out. Gwen tried to catch up on sleep by catching short naps as the miles ticked by in the rearview mirror. 

We made it as far as Oklahoma before popping up the tent and grabbing some sleep. Before we left I had modified the cap to our air mattress to accommodate a valve stem so that we could fill it up with the ARB compressor rather than the silly little battery powered pump that came up with the mattress. With the mattress inflated and the tent popped we settled in for the night. 

The next morning we arose as frozen burritos. What was originally supposed to be 46* ended up 29* and our sleeping arrangements turned out to be seriously inadequate. After packing the tent  and air mattress back into their respective bags and rolling the sleeping bag back into a swiss roll, we hit the road again in search of breakfast and more importantly, coffee. 

With the Jeep refueled and our stomachs full, we rolled on again with memories of the cold night fading with each mile. We were more than two thirds of the way there when we made the decision to to find a pet friendly hotel rather than braving the cold in our cheap ass sleeping bags -we really need to address this reality before our next outing. It will certainly make our nights more comfortable and our willingness to camp during the cooler months will be greatly increased. 

We arrived at Kokopelli Lodge in Moab around three o'clock, checked in, and unpacked all of our gear in preparation for hitting the trails on sunday. With the dogs walked and our Jeep unpacked, we headed over to Eddie McStiff's for a bite to eat and a cold beverage before heading back to the Lodge and getting some much needed sleep. Sunday morning we headed over to the Spanish Trail Arena to pick up the information needed to join in on the three trails we signed up for over the week: Seven Mile Rim Trail, Fins 'n' Things, and Dead Man's Point. 

We met up on Main Street just below the Sunset Grill where we receive the obligatory waivers and instructions regarding where we would rendezvous shortly. Waivers in hand and respective CB channel assignments passed out, we headed for the trailhead. We arrived at the trail where tires were aired aired down and a safety meeting was conducted by the trail leader;  a member of the Red Rock 4-Wheelers -the respective event host. We were asked to stay on trail, tread lightly, and to avoid stepping on the crypto biotic soil. Apparently, this is the first stage of life in the desert and it creates a stable environment for larger plant life to deposit roots. 

With the education process complete we headed onto the trail where problems began almost immediately. One participant had rented a Jeep from a local rental agency, which will remain nameless for professional reasons, and nearly had a wheel fall off on the first hill climb. Gwen and I were riding behind him and I noticed his left rear wheel was wobbling badly. I honked the horn and flashed my lights frantically before he finally came to a stop. As it turned out, there was one broken stud, a missing lug nut, with the remaining three loose. I had seen this many times before when I used to work pitcrew for a Porsche team. More often than you might think, wheels are over tightened which leads to stretched wheel studs. Once the studs are stretched, it is only a matter of time before the lug nuts work themselves loose. The only remedy is to replace them with new studs and to tighten them to the proper torque with a torque wrench. These specs can usually be found in your owners manual. This phenomenon isn't exclusive to wheel studs either, any bolt that is over torqued will lose strength and eventually fail. Just a little info to keep in mind when you are cranking down on the hardware on your latest project. 

About halfway through the trail, the wheel worked its way free again and the client called the insurance agency where the consensus was reached to leave the Jeep on the trail. So he and his copilot hopped into a generous participant's JKU and we continued on our way. That is until the only non Jeep broke down due to a faulty fuel pump. It was an early 80's, late 70's Chevy pickup that was built up and capable rig. The owner got it up and running during lunch and finished the trail without a hitch. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed ourselves.

I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking....