Archive for December, 2014

Such A Good Deal!!

I’m booking a rental car for an upcoming trip and I’m at the stage where Hertz gives you the option to upgrade your current car selection.  This is a good deal right?  Right?!



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Many of you know that J and I purchased an old Jeep for our Arizona place.  We wanted to do some rock crawling, playing out in the desert and use it to tow our boat in and out of the water.  Our Jeep has affectionately been nicknamed El Blanco Crappo.  El Blanco when the Jeep is actually running good and El Blano Crappo when it’s broken.  We bought El Blano Crappo for $4000 and have discovered the anagram of the name JEEP…  JUST EMPTY EVERY POCKET.  It seems like as soon as we fix something, another part elsewhere breaks.  I guess that’s just part of owning an old vehicle.


Originally we purchased El Blanco Crappo with the intention of using it to pull our boat in and out of the water easier.  We learned the hard way that El Blanco Crappo isn’t quite ready for that type of job yet.  Last time at the river we decided to pull the boat in and out with the Jeep.  Well launching the boat wasn’t a problem at all.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the case when we go to pull the boat OUT of the water.  We learned the El Blanco Crappo’s emergency brake was just a decorative feature of the vehicle.  As J backs up into the water and I’m approaching with the boat onto the trailer; the boat started pulling the jeep down the ramp and into the water.  J quickly grabbed a rock and placed it under the tire to keep it from rolling back even farther!  Then when J tried to pull the boat out of the water El Blanco Crappo didn’t want to go into 4×4.  So he’s spinning the tires on the boat ramp trying to get the boat out of the water.  Unfortunately, as he’s spinning away the boat moves off the bumpers of the trailer and comes to rest on the guide pillar.  So there we are on the boat ramp, trying to pull a boat that’s tilted on the trailer out of the water.  We attempt to back up the boat again so that it can rest on the bumpers like its suppose to, but since J can’t get the jeep to pull the boat out of the water fast enough the boat continues to rest on the pillar at a 20 degree angle.  Not good for the boat or the trailer!  Finally J got the Jeep into 4-wheel drive and just pulled the boat out with me sitting in the angled boat.  People are pointing at us and laughing.  J is anything but laughing.  J decides to go to another boat ramp to try and fix the boat.  Finally after two attempts we get the boat back on the resting bumpers and J lets out an exasperated sigh of relief and frustration.

Lesson learned?  Yup – Go into 4-wheeldrive before going down the boat ramp.

So after that little adventure we towed El Blanco Crappo back to San Diego for more repairs.  Finally we did manage to get it working in almost perfect condition for our most recent off-road trip to Joshua Tree.

We loaded up El Blanco into our fifth wheel toy hauler and headed to Joshua Tree with four friends.  The weather was a bit warm for October but we installed the bikini top to the Jeep and make a little shade for Bogie in the back.


The trail that we decided to take was rated a 6 out of 10 and would pass several old gold and turquoise mines.  We would take rest stops at the mines to explore and take pictures.  So on Saturday morning we packed a lunch, all the emergency gear, bogie and Bogie’s bed and headed into the Joshua Tree National Park.  We drove several miles until the trail head where some of the land cruisers decided to air down the tires.  The trail started off as hard pack earth but transitioned into a sandy wash.  The land cruisers hauled ass in this section.  Their weight and long wheel base allowed them to traverse the sand with ease.  Unfortunately for us, being so light and having such a short wheel base El Blanco was swerving and fishtailing something fierce.  The faster we drove the easier it was to keep in a straight line, but because we’re dealing with a 20+ year old suspension system we were getting beat by the braking bumps.  So it was either get beat by the braking bumps or swerve from side to side fishtailing.  We decided to fishtail it.


At the first rest stop there was still mining equipment littered about which provided some cool exploring opportunities.

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About half way through the trail it started getting gnarly.  The rocks were getting bigger and the trail was getting steeper.  But through it all El Blanco slowly rolled over all obstacles.  That is until the last leg of the trail.  We had just finished a very rough steep section which required us to be in 4-wheel low and was on the downhill section of the trail when we hear this loud knocking.  We stopped and looked underneath the vehicle but didn’t see anything terrible so we go back in and started to roll again.  KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.  We pull over again and tug on the front 4-wheel drive shaft – yup it’s disconnected and resting in the protective pan.  DAMN IT EL BLANCO CRAPPO!  The vibrations of the trail must have backed out the screws holding the U-joints and released the drive shaft.  The knocking we heard was the drive shaft hitting the underside of the vehicle.  So the bearings have been thrown somewhere on the trail and overall it’s unfixable – BUT MacGyver J kicks in and he zip ties the shaft to the frame and we pull it out of 4-wheel drive.  Thankfully we had already completed the hardest sections of the trail and managed to get to the main road and make it all the way back to camp in 2-wheeldrive.   We were so lucky!  Had we broken the shaft before the gnarly section we would have been screwed!


We’ve learned two important lessons from this excursion.  1.  I don’t really care to go on a trail rated harder than a 6.  2. You can never bring enough backup fix it equipment.

So El Blanco Crappo is back in San Diego up on blocks as we fix the drive shaft and put on new brakes.  I can’t wait till he’s fixed again and we can take another jaunt up to Joshua tree and do more exploring.

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