Sunday, October 25, 2015

Jeep.....Just Empty Every Pocket!

Lake Mead NRA, Boulder City, NV

So we've been in Lake Mead for 2 weeks, and finished our 1st week of volunteering. We've returned to the same job we've had the last 2 years as Road Monitors. We're only required to work a total of 32 hours a week combined, and for that we're provided a FHU site in a small volunteer campground near Boulder Beach. We use one of the parks 4x4 trucks to drive the 500+ miles of back country roads throughout the park.
We record road conditions such as washouts or hazards, disturbances such as missing or damaged signs; signs of travel off the designated approved roads into or across the desert; we perform light maintenance of signs, roads and removal of disturbance tracks and some litter. And though we don't have to, we enjoy the work so much we usually work at least 3 days a week.

A couple of weeks ago Joan's cousin Theresa called us and told us about a trail ride through Death Valley being held by a local jeep club. Their jeep was unavailable so they decided to ride with us. We left early Saturday morning and drove about 90 miles to Indian Springs just northwest of Vegas to meet up with the club. There were 35 jeeps in all divided into 2 groups.

And even though it was raining (and I mean the heaviest rain we've seen in the Vegas area in the last 3 years) everyone was still eager to go. We drove a 160 mile loop into and out of Death Valley where the rain relented, leaving the temps very comfortable and the dust level very low. The route was mainly desert trail but there were a couple of cool spots; including this one requiring some technical driving as we descended an 8'-10' dry waterfall.

And we rounded one corner to see this unusual sight.

The route home after the trail ride was about 90 miles, and Joan's cousin suggested we take a short cut across country. About 5 miles into the short cut we realized the rain had left more of an impression along this road and ended up slogging our way through numerous gigantic mud puddles. I think it looks as though we had too much fun!

L-R  Theresa, Brian, Joan & I
Recuperating from our long day off-raoding

Driving around Boulder City we see lots of neat sights, including this one......

Wow! Just look at that style.
It's got to be a strike!

And Joan & I got in a little bowling practice before the remainder of our fellow volunteers show up....

Over the last 2 weeks we've made some modifications to the jeep; including adding front and rear bumpers, a winch, CB radio and relocating the license tag and 3rd brake light.

I've done these mods myself, and I must say I've really enjoyed being able to do that. Besides the monetary savings, it gives me a real sense of accomplishment while I'm getting an education about the jeep itself. 

So forgive me if I brag a little with these pictures.....

Well that's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Swinging For the Fence

Boulder City, NV
Lake Mead

Joan and I arrived at Lake Mead Friday, a couple days ahead of schedule. September seemed to fly by so fast as we were wrapping up our summer job driving and inventorying BLM roads in Nephi, UT, about 50 miles south of where we started in Tooele, UT. Between April 13 when we started and October 9 when we returned to Lake Mead we drove almost 21,000 miles; worked in 4 states including Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana; and saw some spectacular scenery that 95% of the population has never seen.

This summer we were a little warmer than usual as we have been working summers at elevations between 5K'-8K'. This year we were working in the lower deserts. In Montana during August we had a couple of 100 degree days. And while we thoroughly enjoyed our summer job, there were days when we didn't see eye to eye on how to get it done. We got upset with one another as co-workers often do; but those disagreements and conflicts were soon forgotten as we enjoyed the scenery around us and the camaraderie of our other co-workers.

We had a final game night with our other teams before we left. L-R...Joan, Jessica, Daniel, Maxine, Dave, Chuck, Claudia and me!

We headed to Moab to meet up with Gay & Joe (Good Times Rollin') and do a little 4 wheeling.

Joe & Gay in Pearl showing us the way

We drove Onion Creek-Thompson Valley  our first day there.....

Driving down Dragon's Tail

and followed up a day later on Hell's Revenge.

The wheel wells look a little fuller with the 35" tires
After a few days in Moab we headed towards St George where I would be meeting my old Florida softball team to play in the Huntsman Games and where our jeep would be getting a little work done...if you know what I mean. Joan and I decided we would like a little more clearance for rocks and things while we're off-roading so we had a Tereflex 2.5" lift and BFG 35" KO2 tires installed. This netted us a total lift of 3.5" measured at the bottom of the drivers door (from 18" to 21.5" of clearance). We're also planning to add different bumpers and a winch while we're staying in Lake Mead this winter.

The Cardiac Kids - 2015 Mesquite
Last Saturday I met up with my old team, The Cardiac Kids just before the first game of a weekend warm up tournament in Mesquite. One of the first things my coach ask was when was the last time I'd played. My answer was "March". Yeppers, a 6 month layoff. I guess he and I were neither one sure what to expect once we were playing. But I think I impressed him during my first at bat when I hit a 3 run home run on my first swing. Yes, it was truly an ESPN moment. We played 7 games in 2 days and won the 2015 Mesquite Can-Am Tournament.

Some times we play...and some times we play!
L-R Gary, Buster, Gary, Frank, Kenny, Stan,
Tommy, me, Steve, Ray, Kooch, Dave & Bobby
On Monday were started the Huntsman seeding games. We went 3-0 in seeding, and were quickly 'bumped' from A to Top Seed in the AAA bracket. Wednesday we started bracket play and came out cold. We lost 2 games and that was the end of our Huntsman Games. All in all we played 12 games in 5 days. And my 6 month layoff is reminding me how out of shape I was every chance it gets. Everything hurts....even typing!

Well, that's about it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come!