(Preface... Forgive me for any names or relations that I got wrong. I am horrible with names in general...)
Just like last year, the 2006 trip was a great time for all, at least until Sat night...
I arrived late Friday evening without my Cherokee, unfortunately. By the time I got there, Bill (91G-Dub) with his near factory '91 Waggy, Nichole & Dave (DLShaffer) in their '91 Suburban, Art & Sara (arter) in his heavily modified '86 trail Waggy, Ann & friends (Battle_Wagon_NJ) in her very nice burgundy Waggy, Doug with his very brown Cherokee WT and his buddy, in a nice XJ, and finally John and Heidi in his Dodge Ram, were already there. I set up my tent, realizing I forgot half my tent polls in the rush to get out that night. Fortunately I packed two tents, just in case, so I managed to cobble another poll from the second tent. After that I spent a bit of time shooting the bull with Bill and Doug, then called it a night. About 30 minutes later, the first thunderstorm of the weekend started up. With just a small leak in the tent, I went to sleep...
Sat morning awoke to a calm cloudy day, pretty cool for this time of year. Everyone did their morning rituals and generally milled about, awaiting the beginning of the festivities. The group pulled out of the campground around 9, which is also the time JR and his son pulled in in their sky high Honcho. Sweet truck! We unloaded his camping gear, and headed out to the Atsion ranger station, which was the jump off spot.
At the ranger station, we met up Greenfire in his beautiful slightly lifted '90 Waggy. Bill held the group meeting and we were off to the trails. Since my Cheorkee didn't make the trip, I caught the backseat with Nichole and Dave. Almost as soon as we started, the group got split...What happened there Bill?
We proceeded down some graded sand roads through the Pine Barrens. The beginning of the trip was very picturesque. The rain the night before was very welcomed since it kept the typical dust down to nothing. The drive continued for about an hour or so until we got to the first play spot.
Then the fun began. JR in his Honcho was the first in, and first stuck. His Honcho rides on 38 Swampers, which promptly went away in the mud. After attempts at rocking forward and backward got nowhere, out came the tow straps. We hooked him up to Dave's Sub, and with a bit of effort, out came the Honcho.
We then pulled up to the rest of the group, where Art had found another hole The Sub to the rescue again. Finally John tried the same hole in his pretty much stock Ram, with predictable results Once again the Sub came to the rescue. Starting to see a pattern here? Dave then proceeded to blow through the hole with his Sub, which had 35" Mud Hawgs.
We proceeded down the trails taking in the scenery of the Pine Barrens. The group came up to a large puddle, or small pond, depending on how you look at such things. The water was 20" minimum judging by how little of JR's 38's were visible. I think there was a bit of worry from the stock Waggy contingent, but everyone made it through without incident. But as we were milling about waiting for everyone to drive through, the first of several mechanical incidents happened. Bill's Waggy decided it didn't want to start. Fortunately it was just being a bit grouchy, because it finally started on its own accord.
Then the group drove to the Emilio Carranza Crash Monument. We all got out and checked it out. Now the second mechanical incident reared its head. Ann's Waggy didn't want to turn over. It was cranking very slowly. Art and Bill proceeded to swap out the battery with the secondary battery from Art's Waggy. This unfortunately didn't do the trick. We then tried to bypass the starter solenoid, which also didn't work. Finally a little hammering on the starter motor itself did the trick.
Nest stop was lunch. On to
Apple Pie Hill, which is the highest spot in South Jersey. There is also a fire ranger tower on the top of the hill, which people are free to climb up and look around. It isn't for those that have a fear of heights! We had an excellent lunch of Weber grilled burgers and dogs. Donated goodie bag items were also given out. Thanks go out to all of the sponcers of the trip!!
The afternoon was more of the same. Beautiful trail rides to the play spots, where Dave, John, Art, and JR got their truck dirty! Dave was gaining confidence with his new tires, and by the end of the day we couldn't keep him out of the holes! Couldn't blame him for a bit of trepidation early on, since the Pines had claimed and engine and trans in a couple previous trips down here.
We wound up the day and made our way back to camp. The pot luck dinner cooking began, and the rains started. The dinner was excellent, with pulled pork, corn on the cob, pasta salad, and brats and kraut. Everyone had very full bellies. Like I said, the rain also started, and just got heavier and heavier. The dirt road along the campsite turned into a river. Unfortunately my tent was at the bottom of it
The air mattress saved me on this trip.
Around 9:00, the group decided to go for a night run. I decided to stay back, since I was beat from the days activities. I went to bed, but was awoken around 11 by Nichole. She was trying to tell me something, but my mind wasn't working. Probably after the 4th or 5th time through, it finally started to sink in. Apparently Art was having trouble with his Wag. After I got more of the story, trouble was a gross understatement. His wheel and axle had fallen off!
I got dressed and caught a ride back out with Dave. When I got there, a tow truck had shown up to lift the back of his rig up so that he could slide the tire and axle back in. I do not know what all happened afterwards, since Bill took Art and Sara home. I am sure they will chime in soon enough.
I woke up early Sunday morning and broke camp. I left early, around 7:30, for home. Unfortunately most everyone was still asleep...