Reiter Spring Clean May 2008

The sunny day and a chance to get out was obviously the lift EVERYONE was looking for. If room in the parking lot would tell you anything, I’d say this was the best attended May Reiter clean up in years. It was difficult to find a path open to pick my way back to the Tamer enclave, clustered around Gary and Lori’s motorhome. Reclaiming our right to Tamer Time, we let the crowds thin out some, and then closer to a little past 9:39AM, we started heading up the trail to our usual picking place – the Wall trail. While the rest of the Tamers headed up, I caught site of new members Josh and Mel. With Josh saying he wasn’t sure exactly where we were headed, I hung behind until Mel got the tires aired down, and then we headed up the road – typically at the speed of Moose. (Ol’ Blew can go almost as slowly as Moosenstein can, I‘m glad to report.) We finally caught up to the rest of the Tamers at the first fork just before you get into the woods at the wall, and they had plenty of trash waiting to throw in Blew’s bed. Karl was there with his squirrels of Fury, Dirtball with Dirtball, Gary TJ sporting his new dana 60 in the front, Tom Baker driving Penny’s Jeep, Ed D out taking in the sunshine, and Ilene sucking up to the DNR lady, who had hopped a ride with her. It was the usual assortment of beer bottles, shot up toilets, chip bag wrappers, beer cans, and of course, a busted up TV, a car door, and other assorted junk. On the way up, I had seen an overturned and flattened motorcycle trailer, and some propane bottles – which I figured I’d get on the way back down before lunch, I figured that – yes I did……..

As I entered the woods, I had little thought of the old adage, “There is really no such thing as a simple run.”It seems like the run to the Wall would be the simple and usual cakewalk that it always was. First note that this might not be the case – was the snow laying in the woods, evident as soon as we got out of the clear-cut. Second hint was what appeared to me to be the immense rock I had never seen before at the end of the first big puddle. Again – driving Ol’ Blew – with its stock size, pizza cutter thin tires, and Armstrong steering, I wasn’t too enthused to start a-blowin’ and a-goin’ through just any terrain that showed up. So – I pulled out of the puddle, and realized the “big rock” I thought I was looking at – was instead a huge pile of ice. Apparently – over the winter – anyone who broke through the puddle when it was iced over, pushed all that ice to the end of the puddle, where then it dropped off, and heaped up like the ice jams along the shores of the Great Lakes in winter. But after a little more looking, it was obvious that the obstacle wasn’t as bad as it looked, and Blew got through it with no problem, and no dragging much of anything of any importance.

The next puddle was the same with the ice pile at the end – and Blew also tackled that with a little scraping. The third puddle has a little rock outcrop in it on the one side – and Tom and Karl were both mightily impressed with Blew’s articulation. No – not that the stock suspension, and the rear “Camper Special” helper springs have any give in them, but the half-ton “Flexible Flyer” frame, and the wheel base provided a magnificent twist that apparently was quite the crowd pleaser.

There was quite a bit of trash in all the bypass areas through the woods even before the stream – and it was a little disheartening to see how many side trails are being cut in the area. Not good trails really – just those that give evidence that the users are of the “I’m stupid and really don’t know how to wheel but I’m here anyway busting up the woods” type of user.

Just after crossing the stream – what to my wondering eyes should appear – was a mighty deep puddle that even before I got out and looked at it – I knew I wasn’t taking Blew through it. Other Tamers who had already gone through it were running back to me to wave me off, in the slim chance that I had taken total leave of my senses. Not a problem. If I’d run Blew through that – I think he’d probably still be there.

So – Blew got parked, and to head out to the bounteous trash pile we usually find in the bypass area, I hopped a seat with Ed. D. Ahh – how my friend Ed has grown in his wheeling. When I first met him, he was just a little sprout, worried about his clearcoat, and having little knowledge of why he’d want lockers and gears served up with those 35’s he just put on his rig. Now – just 2 years later – here he was – dropping into mudholes, bumping into trees, turning on a dime with his sliders on a stump. It makes an old Moose proud. And let me tell you – that Unlimited of his is one comfy ride!

So – we get through the bypass without the slightest waver, and park and start to pick our way through the trash. As Josh and Mel came through the bypass area for the very first time ever – their progress was certain, but his aim was not. About 2/3’rds of the way through – Josh got a little close to a tree and his passenger side mirror got plucked off like a kid pulling the petals off a daisy. (Obviously – the tree loved him not.) With this incident in mind, it became quickly obvious that this was actually the Bermuda Triangle of mirrors. Much like at a carnival fun house having “The Hall or Mirrors” I dubbed the Bypass “The Forest of Mirrors”, having quickly picked up the remains of at least 3 mirrors that had bit the dust. One mockingly had in its shards part of the legend that objects were closer than they appeared (yeah – like that tree you cleaned me off against) and I mused that maybe they should say, “The person driving the rig this mirror used to be attached to is less skilled than he appears…..” Yeah well – happens to the best of us. I must say – I think they used to put better hinges on mirrors than they do now, since I must admit to a time or two having folded a mirror back in this area. (But Gary – do note – I STILL have my door handles – well – more or less. Make that less…..)

Well – its 11:30AM, everyone is a number of trash bags filled, and our stomachs are telling us that its WAY close to lunch time. We start heading back. This time, fickle Moose that I am, I’ve hopped in with Karl for a ride. (Oh Karl – sorry – I owe you a nickel.) His rides cost 5 cents. To show how far I’ve grown – not only do I enjoy my ride with Karl – I don’t even think about hopping out when we get back to that deep puddle and slot where the road used to be. But it is obvious that people have been working on it, and not in a good way.

The ground on either side was above Karl’s doors. The trail in front of Karl’s hood was probably another foot above the sheet metal. The climb out of the slot was about straight up, and to add insult to injury, it was obvious that the area under the rear wheels was probably dug even deeper by another foot. If you did get up, the hump you had to drive over would probably hang up under the mid crossmember.

Karl gave it a couple a runs, but I swear our little Karl is growing up. Even he saw no percentage in beating his stuff. So after two or 3 quick and sudden stops at the end of the slot, he pulled cable and helped himself up. Karl can never sing the song, “I Got Da Power”, because I am here to tell you – his squirrels of fury – while having attitude in abundance, had no strength. That 4 banger in his rig gets an A for effort, but is hanging around a D-minus for horsepower. So we got up on the cable.

Tom Baker was next in Penny’s Jeep, also not showing any way he could get up straight on. However, by taking a line to the left of the slot, and putting his front left wheel on the top of the bank, he did make slow and steady progress towards the lip of the crater. However, about the time of greatest torque needed to get up, he was leaning hard to the right into the pond – and he would have twisted over under acceleration into the abyss onto his side. So – it was pulling cable for him too. Without the torque – the line was good – and he easily crawled out.

I think Gary was next – and that is always a good show. He tried once straight on, and it was too dug up for his rig as well. So he pulled the same line to the left, getting both wheels of his front end up on the road. Then – with a little backing up to get a run, and a little more wheel speed, he crawled the rear out – no winch needed. Very impressive.

Sooooo – we’d seen Dirtball at the other side of the pond, but he had disappeared back into the woods. Finally – I got curious to see what was keeping him. So – here I see a blue YJ with its nose winched up in the air on a tree, with Dirtball holding him back. The YJ belonged to a guy from Oregon who is working up here who Karl had invited to the run. Coming out of the bypass, something horrible had happened. The conversation went something like this:

Mark: “So what’s wrong?”

Ed: “His shock is off!”

Mark: ”So kick it out of the way and come on.”

Ed: “No – you can’t do that.”

Mark: “What do you mean – it’s a shock.”

Ed: “No – you have to see this.”

Mark: (grumble grumble)

(After a look) Mark: “OH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The nickname of the guy who owns the YJ is “Treetops” – because he is about 6’8” tall and looks to weigh about 148 Lbs. His suspension is those nitrogen high pressure shocks, which provide ALL of the suspension – both damping and holding up the body. There is no spring at all. The top of the left shock should have been attached to a hoop. Instead – both welds had broken, and the renegade shock had punched the front clip and left fender up about a foot, and popped the hood up.

So – Tom went back to camp, where thankfully Gary had his welder in the motorhome. Once he got back we had to position the suspension so he could weld it up.

“Let the winch down.” Well – the winch wasn’t all that exacting, so it was probably a bad idea.

So Mark gets out his bottle jack, and positions things just right. Then Tom hops on top of the Jeep to start welding. “Hey – why is this too low – I told you to jack it up.”

“We did jack it up, and then you hopped on.”

(a pause) “Oh – well – let it down then…..”

So – after getting battery cables strung all over, and about 2 pairs of still too light welding goggles on, Tom lit and arc, filled in the holes, and got things stuck together enough for ‘Tops to at least get out of the woods.

By this time – we could kinda see lunch slipping away. It was 1:00PM. Gary was busy sliding logs across bypasses around the holes, and also apparently was having a pretty vociferous difference of opinion with some ATVers who were wanting to go anywhere they damn well pleased.

So – now the rest of the Tamers and friends came out. Ed D. with his new found devil-may-care attitude (he must have been happy not to be on his scooter today) took a pretty good run at the obstacle straight on. And again. And again. (pause) And again. Finally – he took the left line to get up, getting front up – then winching to get the rear out.

Then the same with Josh and Mel – although she was out taking pictures, while Josh also tried to drive up. I was not to be. He pulled the same line to the left, and winched up.

Treetops then worked on getting up – and that gas-shock suspension looked positively spindly as it unloaded. The winch point was a little off to the right, and to pull him that way only locked his right front tire harder into the bank. I was starting to think we’d be pulling his Jeep up out of the hole, while leaving his front end firmly behind in place. So we also got him lined up a little farther to the left, and popped him up like a cork shooting out of a champagne bottle.

Then Dirtball came up to put on a show. As with the rest of us – he tried straight. He tried to the right, her tried to the left. He fell into the trench, he tried again. Finally – he also got up on the left, stayed up, and with enough wheel speed also got up, no winch needed. What a show!

So – now its approaching 2:00 PM. You think we could get to lunch now?

Well – lets just say that – the notion that the price of gas will eliminate the interest in motorsports – is greatly exaggerated. The first sunny day in forever had a WHOLE LOT of people wanting to go wheeling in the woods. And there was such a traffic jam at the stream crossing – there was nowhere for us to go. And by this time, and bunch of Toyotas were coming back to the slot. With them in the way – we couldn’t get the traffic behind us on their way to the Wall so we could turn around and skedaddle – so there wasn’t much for it but to help the Toys climb the obstacle as well.

Well – now – not only had we missed lunch in a most convincing matter, but now we were also hearing that the drop boxes were being hauled off. And we all still had bags and bags of trash in our rigs. It was time to git – before anyone boxed in our rigs one more time. The Tamers headed west, and few more buggies headed east, and finally, I was unmolested enough to do a 13 point Armstrong steering turn in Blew.

But it was really late now (about 4:00PM) and we were both hungry, and concerned we’d be stuck with the trash. As I passed a few more groups of folks coming into the area, they at least were giving me the thumbs up on wheeling “Old Iron” and we hit the sunlight – just in time for Treetop’s YJ to stop running. He said he didn’t hear the fuel pump running – and after a quick check of the wires, Josh and Mel put him on the strap so we could get back to the parking lot. Gary and Mark were waiting at the quarry. On the way down – ‘Top’s Jeep fired up again, and we all got back to camp. The Waste Management folks waited for us, thank goodness, and Lori had saved some burgers and they were sizzling on the grill after we got in.