DISCLAIMER: First of all, I suck at names...so forgive me if a screw them
up! Send me an email and I'll fix 'em! Thanks. If you want a
link to your name, and I didn't do so...email me as well. Oh yeah...this
is a BIG report. 186 or so pictures and a LOT of text! Sorry if it
takes you forever to load...
New Years at Ocotillo Wells has become quite a tradition for the Dehesa crew
here in SoCal. Exactly two years ago I moved to San Diego, and this is
where I met most of this crew for the first time. I only stayed one day
that first year, but knew I was in for some long-term friendships. Last year's cold weather and bad conditions (which I wasn't
a part of) are probably at least part of the reason why this year's was such a
great success! Everyone was jonesin' to have a good time out there.
I have to say, in as much honesty as I can muster up...it was one of the best
time's I've had in a very long time...and I've had some good times, let me tell
FRIDAY Dec 29, 2000
Jess and I left San Diego around 4pm on Friday (some of us have to work) to
meet up in the desert with those who apparently don't have jobs and had been
there since Wednesday! We arrived around 6:30 or so...boy camp sure was
full! There were more motorhomes and campsites set up than I had seen out
there before, and our normal spot by the brick-shithouse had been taken!
<gasp> Anyway, I hopped on the CB to try and figure out where we
were, but to no avail. So we peered through the lightly dusted air for the
telltale Kilby blink-o-matic-I'm-too-lost-to-find-camp-strobe. Voila, there
it was. Our camp was HUUUGE (as usual). "Got wood?"
The wagons were circled, and
completely closed-in already! We managed to find a spot to squeeze the
Jeep in and did our how-do-ya-do's... Brett Culpepper,
Matt "Is this where all the homos are
camped?" and Vicky Osburn
(and dog), Bud and Aileen Boren (and dog), Seth Markowitz
(down from San Francisco!), Matt Brookins, Brad "You
better delete that or I'll......." and Lori Kilby and kids (and
Dennis and Kendra "Who let the dogs out?" Osburn, I think Bill Cue
"I figure I'm good till 2006" was here already too...Robin
"There's a rock under my rocking chair and it
won't work" and
Jeremy Noriega (and dog), Mark Alligood and Kimi,
and Jessica/Sarah, Pam
and Dave Wills (all the way from KANSAS!), boy I think that's everyone. Oh
yeah! Scotty from up in the LA area brought his wife Tiara (sp?) and kids (and
yet another dog) down as well. He had emailed me earlier in the month
about hanging out with us, and I suggested he come down for the trip. They
seem like great folks, and I hope they hang out with us again soon! "Aaarruuuuu!"
motorhomes and a bunch of tents and trailers and stuff! The campfire "What
we need is some liquid nails." was
roarin' and the welcome was, as expected, very warm. Suddenly the thoughts
of work, computers, and stress went right into the fire. I seriously felt
an amazingly relaxing feeling...as if I'd come home from a long absence.
After hanging around for a bit, sipping on a pale ale, and catching up with
those I hadn't seen in a while....we were off! Mark, and Matt were pretty loopy by this time so they hopped in Brett's Jeep.
Seth hopped in too. Not sure what his excuse was. He's loopy by
nature anyway, so maybe that's why. Jess and
myself hopped in mine and we went off to find some fun. Following Brett is
always entertaining...as I managed to do a few times this weekend. You'll
understand why it's fun after reading on... First target was "BlowSand".
It's a big sand dune drift up on the side of a hill and is where most of the
action is this weekend. ATV's and Bikes and Rails and trucks and Jeeps and
you name it, all trying to conquer the beast. Of course, we had our hand
at it! We tooled around spewing sand all over the place for a while, and
made one last climb up the side of things and stopped at the top. Brett
had apparently overheated a bit as coolant splashed all over everyone when a
hose was yanked! We were revving pretty high coming up the hill, so it
wasn't anything serious. We decided to go find some slower terrain to keep
the temps down. Towards the back of BlowSand, there are apparently some
rocks that I'd never found before. We hit them and Brett took his typical
"this doesn't look like a trail" line and had at it! He
got hung up on some boulders, so we stacked and climbed up on his Jeep to help
him get some traction...he was out in no time. As they continued, I
attempted a different line. Seth kindly reminded me that my lockers needed
to be actuated. Of course, I told him they were (like, duh) before I
looked down to see that in fact my compressor light was off and the ARB's were
not engaged. Did I say "duh"? At least I didn't forget the
hubs this time!
After getting through this area and detaching my soft top from
his roll cage, Brett managed to find a crack that was about
as big as a house. I'd say it was roughly a 20' climb, with a MAJOR crack
down the center of it (probably like 4' wide?) I forgot to mention we
forgot the camera back at camp <bowing head in shame>. Anyway, Brett was
determined to get up it! Vvrrrrmmmmuummmummmgrrrrrrr <clunk>.
Sitting on his left side... <reverse> VVrrrRRRrRRmmmmMMMM...
<clunk> Right side. <reverse>
VrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRMMMRRMMRMRMMRMRMRMMRMM <clunk><grind> Left
side. Brett must have "technically" rolled about 12 times while
I was airing my tires down a bit further. Man, what a great spectator
sport! There was one time where he backed up quite a ways, revved the
engine and actually took off like a bat out of hell towards the rock. My
eyes got a big as cueballs as I couldn't believe the speed he was going to take
it at. The guys in the back seat were screaming for their lives as Brett
slammed on the brakes right before contact. You should have seen the smile
on HIS face. I about spit my tonsils out of my throat I was laughing so
hard...the buzzed boys thought for sure they had seen the end! So anyway,
Brett managed to get really close a couple times before he twisted his
driveshaft. The carnivore had made its first visit. We wanted to get him down off the hill, so I got behind and
lined up my Jeep to pull him off. His left rear tire needed to come up
over a rock... and unfortunately, as I was pulling him over his rear Revolver
shackle extended fully, allowing the front of the rear spring to bend and snap
in half. The carnivore was hungry. Hoboy... "I
have one but I left it back at camp" Not only do we still have to get him over this
rock, but we need to get him back to camp! After futzing with it for quite
a while, we strapped my Jeep to his axle and pulled the axles as close to
straight as we could, chained up the spring and limped him home dog-leggin'
it! We got back to camp, surveyed the damage, and decided it was time to
hang by the fire and have a couple cold ones. Seth had to get up in three
hours to go pick his woman Christine up at the San Diego airport...haha! Donald
Clark and a buddy showed up later that evening in his 1/4-elliptical YJ.
SATURDAY Dec 30, 2000
Boy did we goof off all morning! We didn't even think about running a
trail until really late. Typical Dehesa-time! I have to say I sure
enjoy waking up in the morning and not having a damn thing to do. Well,
except thinking about what to eat. Derrick and Sharon Josten showed up
that morning, even though they weren't feeling so well! Troopers!
Also new to the camp were Steve and Debbie McKay and kids (one who claimed to be
king of the hill, even though she's a little short queenie!) A few of the
gang were staring at Brett's Jeep, trying to figure out what exactly could be
done...oh the wheels were churnin'! Another group of us decided to try and
make our way to Truck Haven via back-roads. This was a leisurely
whoop-de-do stroll through the desert with a group that consisted of the
following vehicles: Matt, myself, Donald, Bud, Derrick, Robin, Jeremy,
Steve (I think that was all). We didn't get very far before we found some
Jeepers that had been traveling with a GMC truck that broke an A-Arm.
They had it tied up with rope, but it wasn't a perfect fix. Of course,
having three on-board-welders in the group, we were all over that. The
kids played, the dogs roamed, the spectators drank, the masters went to
work, and one of Brad's kids did a bonzai slide down a really steep hill!
What a maniac! A while later (I lost track of time), and they had him back
on the road with a worthy fix. They were very appreciative (free beers!)
and we all eventually parted our ways. Them Jeepers were good folks, and
hope to see them on the trail again sometime!
We gave up on trying to make it to Truck Haven, as it was starting to get a
bit late...so we decided to head back the way we came and just goof off
some. Robin and Jeremy passed us (they had left earlier) saying they left
their camera at the trail-fix location. Time to play while we
waited! I took off towards what seemed like might be some fun twisty
hills. I climbed my way up to the top, and started heading over the edge
to another side. Wow, there were lots big ruts! Matt met me on the
other side and was working his way up the part I was coming down. "I expected an entourage."
we knew it, everyone was going every-which-way in a melee of twisted
metal! Everyone was on their side at least once during this extravaganza
of testosterone! Bud ended up busting an inner on his 44, so he three-wheeled
it outta there. Munch goes the carnivore... Derrick stalled out, and had to be winched to flat ground
so they could figure out his bugs. Oh...the Jeepers that were with the guy we fixed were watching us from the top
of another peak and hiked their way over to us to enjoy the festivities! I
have to say Donald's 1/4-elliptical was fun to watch climbing around these
ruts...I don't think he lost much traction the whole time, and his diffs are
OPEN. Quite interesting... To be honest, the pictures say enough
here...so I'll just shut up and let ya gawk at 'em. What a blast!
Back to camp! Will Robinson and Christina and kid had shown
up...first time we'd seen his Jeep in person with the new 700R4 and 350 (which
he let me drive! Whoohoo!) I
think Matt B's S.O. and kids showed up this day? Bill D's boy and
friends/family (yes, another dog) showed as well.
As usual, we hung out and told stories of the day thus far...fed our faces and
chilled out for a bit in preparation of the "Turkey Hunt"! Get
this...Brett's Jeep was FIXED. They built him a new driveshaft out of
square-tubing (it's beautiful) and welded/bolted his spring back into
place. One of the most beautiful trail fixes I've ever seen. Talent,
I tell ya. Talent! I believe Dave, both Bill's, Matt and Brett were
the culprits. The driveshaft was actually pretty damn close to being
balanced, and I bet it holds up a hell of a lot better than a stock one!
No way you're twistin' THAT thing in the same spot!
For those of you who don't know what a Turkey Hunt is, it's a blast.
Essentially, you wait 'til it's dark and one person goes out into the wilderness
and hides. It can be anywhere, we don't care. The only stipulation
is that those of us waiting in camp have to be in CB range of your hiding
spot. When the Turkey is ready, he notifies the camp and we're off!
Jeeps bust out of camp in all directions! The Turkey has to respond with a
"Polo" every time a hunter says "Marco." Your only
basis for proximity is the power-bar on your CB meter when the Turkey yells
"Polo"! Participants were Donald, myself, Matt, Brad, and
Will. Donald hid first. Without going into the boring details of
"Marco" and "Polo", I found him hiding off in a very dark
spot behind a rock to the left of BlowSand. Him and his buddy even had
the tail lights and reflectors covered with coats and stuff! As I was
spanning the area with my headlights, I barely got a glimpse of
something...almost kept going! Anyway, it was my turn and Jess and I hid
in a deep rut way off the back side of the hill. Ironically, Donald ended
up returning the favor and finding us (said he saw fresh Swamper tracks!
Damn!) He broke a shackle hanger and went back to camp. Carnivore
needed a snack... Since Brad
was the 2nd to find us, he tore off to hide. Matt ended up finding him and
I ended up in the middle of nowhere stuck in these twisty ruts. For some
reason, his meter strength NEVER changed for us, so it was impossible to even
guess where they were (I thought for sure we were close the whole time...but we
weren't!) Anyway, dumb luck found us right on top of them after everyone
had already found 'em. We were off to camp, and Matt was to hide. As
I left, Brad was climbing up on a rock for fun. About half-way to camp,
Matt gets on the horn and says, "Hey you might wanna come back here.
Brad blew a bead." Brad was hung pretty good (he wishes this sentence
was over now) on
this rock. Apparently he got stuck on his rocker and was doing donuts
around the rock before his bead popped.
So, another trail fix is in order. We couldn't get the Jeep up high
enough with the bottle jack to get a nice bead to seat, so our drunken JAFO's
(Dennis and Bill C) decided it was time for ether. "Anyone
got a lighter?" We stood back.
Bill was generous with the helping of ether, and Brad couldn't seem to get the
damn stuff to light. Well, Dennis took over duties of the child
lighter and whhaaaaaaBAAAAAAAAAAMMMM. Holy shit, I'm suddenly deaf in my left ear
(I was probably 20 feet away.) Bill C and Dennis were about 1-2 feet away
from the explosion and they
both fell back. "Was that your beer can that
flew by my head?" After realizing they were all OK we realized we blew the
bead a little bit TOO much as part of it was hanging over the rim.
<shaking head> We really shouldn't put drunk guys in charge of trail
fixes! I think that was about it for wheelin' that night... Bummer
too, as I was looking forward to Matt hiding since he knows the area so
well. Next year you're first, dude! "I know Greengo"
Back at camp, the usual shenanigans were going on. Lots of happy
people, lots of BS'ing
"Are you a Leo?"
, lots of marshmallows flying across the fire
pit! Yes, Brett managed to get that game going. It was a
war! Of course, most of us were too drunk or tired this time to actually
get up out of our chairs so we just attacked each other that way. Finally,
they were all gone and we kicked back and enjoyed the conversation again.
Until Brett came back with ANOTHER bag! Attack!
SUNDAY Dec 31, 2000
Lots more relaxing! Some folks went out I think, but not sure who did
what. We vegetated for a while, and watched as a few of the boys were
working on Pokey. Brad had a spare inner 44 shaft, but it wasn't the right
size. It was too long and too fat in spots. Not to be beaten by a
bigger shaft, they chopped it down and turned it down in the right spots to
make it a perfect fit! Amazing. "I don't need no
stinkin......." I think this was mostly Jeremy's fix...he was definitely
the dirtiest! Yet another trail fix. Meanwhile Dave was doing some
work to his beast to get it out on the trails. Bud and Brookins were drunk
already (or so I thought) until I realized that they still hadn't gone to bed
from the night before!
"Read between the lines!"
In typical Dehesa fashion for New Years Eve, everyone brings
some form of food for a major feast! "I'm just trying to help get rid of all this corn."
Check the pics...MMMmmmMMmMMmmm! Everyone stuffed their faces and belched accordingly.
Thanks to the ladies who did most of the preparation! I'm guessing that
was primarily Vicky and Aileen...you rule as always! "His
tent isn't staked down, I already checked"
Later in the evening, we decided to make our way out to Pumpkin Patch.
Myself, Matt, Mark, Bill D, Brett, Dave, Will, and all the typical JAFO's!
This is a very cool area to see...essentially there are a ton of nearly
perfectly rounded rocks scattered throughout this area. They were formed
quite similarly to how a pearl is formed in a clam (one grain of sand or
particle, that grows into a round shape.) The same type of things happened
here when these were underground. Erosion has caused them to show up on
the surface. Unfortunately, my camera died so no good pictures were taken
here. It's a really cool thing to see... Oh wait, we're not even
there yet. <grin> Ok...we're on our way. Playing around,
goofing off on our way. Brett takes a detour. Here we go! I
follow, as Mark does behind me. We're in a monster rut. The thing's
probably twice as high as our Jeeps in many spots, and it's tight! You
pretty much grind through, fall on your side...grind through, fall on your other
side...repeat until completed! As you may have gathered, most of the
terrain out here is just hard-packed sand that falls away if you push into it so
falling on your side isn't typically detrimental to your body.
Unfortunately there are the occasional carnivorous rocks scattered within, which a few of us
managed to find! I blew a right rear bead and as I got out, realized that
my body had been scraped and dented up pretty bad on that side. Just a
matter of time before it happens, right? Anyway...we worked on getting my
bead back in place (minus the ether!) and I trudged on. POP. There
went the other rear bead. Damn! This one was wedged up against the
wall of the rut, so I had to get tugged up and out of the rut to a flat spot to
fix it. Oh look, bent up my left front fender too! Mark ended up
doing some damage to his sides as well... More Carnage!
Camp was pretty nuts by the time we got back...you could sense the
anticipation of the New Year in the air. This was, by far, the funniest
New Year I think I've ever had. Picture this, if you will: Folks of
all makes and sizes, ages and backgrounds. 95% with some kind of explosive
in one hand, and some type of drink in the other. DING. New
Years! Chaos! Everyone running around the fire, blowing off
fireworks, hugging, kissing, passing drinks and champagne around, singing and
even some dancing, 47 dogs running around and howling. "Cheers
Bud! Cheers Bud! Cheers Bud!......." Then the marshmallows came out.
AGAIN. Only this time...we weren't just sitting around in our chairs
nonchalantly throwing them at each other. This was an all-out strategic
war! Alliances were formed, sneak attacks were prepared, marshmallows were
licked before they were sticked! "This
marshmallow is wet!" Drinks were thrown! Ambush!
Ambush! Ambush! There wasn't one person who went to bed that night
that didn't have gooey marshmallow grub or some other ingredient stuck in their hair or in their ear or
on their clothes. I can't even tell ya how much damn fun that was!
MONDAY Jan 1, 2001
Uhhhhh. <moan> First hangover of the
weekend. I must have sat in my chair by the fire for what seemed
like hours. Eventually swapped out my rear u-joint at the pinion
because I was getting a vibration the day before. Based on the
strange wear I saw between the yoke and DS, I'm getting a LOT of axle
wrap. Ladder bar's gotta happen or I'm gonna mess some stuff
up. Aired up, and started saying goodbye's. A few of the
gang (the same gang that apparently don't have jobs) stayed over an
extra day. We left casually around 4pm, and made our way home with
a completely relaxed state of mind.
I think the carnivore was fed well this weekend.
Below are some of the pics and Brett's account from the extra day they stayed... "Hell I have a hard enough time getting her to let me..."
What a weekend... After spending Christmas with the
families, I hit the road in TW Wednesday PM. I headed south on 5
and wound up sleeping north of grapevine. Woke up on Thursday to
blue skys and hit the road again. By 9 am, I was in Burbank, it
was 75 degrees, and Brad Kilby was sending his lackee to get me a cup
I spent much of Thursday hanging out with Brad...
sniffing around under the jeeps, drove the TJ-7 (long arm kit works
better ;-) and checked out the warehouses. Brad is
particularly fond of showing everything he has in inventory... if you
get the chance, check out part number 164234-435 bin number 65, my
Around 3, I hit the road for Ocotillo. After
sitting in some stupid LA traffic (5 hours worth) I arrived. As
expected, the boys were in full form, drinkin' and tellin' lies.
I hung out til I passed out... then woke friday to some bitchin'
Friday, I had the doors and hardtop off before anyone
else had gotten up! I was aired down and up the first sand hill
in a major hurry. Tore around in the sand... checked out some
rocks (baby sized) and tested the long arm. Everything was
working great, so I went back down to camp and grabbed Matt B...
he and I tooled around for a while, found some harder rocks, and had a
great time. After lunch we headed out again and this time
brought Brett Culpepper, Bud, and Matt O. I nearly
lost TW on a sand hill I tried to cross, but Matt B was kind enough to
get out and watch, so I made it through fine..... though my pulse was
a hell of a lot higher!
Friday nite, was marathon time. Matt B, Mark and
myself piled into Brett's orange monster and went for a
"short" nite run with Al. Up the sand hill a few
times, brett overheats. We screwed around with that for a while
then headed down some of the hardest rocks close to camp. Al
made them all look easy, as I spotted ;-) and Brett made them look
hard as Nobody spotted. After a good solid high center, we got
brett free and found a 6' across, 15' high jeep swallowing crack.
Brett WANTED it. After about 20 attempts, all of which would
classify as a roll under any other circumstances, brett gave it one
more. BOOM... twisted driveshaft. We pulled the
shaft and tried to tug him off of the obstacle, but the damned
revolver shackle inverted and took out the leaf spring with it...
Sigh... Gonna be a long nite.
We finally got him extracated around 1:30am. I
passed out around 2am only to wake up at 4:30am to go get Christine at
the San Diego Airport. She and I hung out in La Jolla with
friends, then headed back to Ocotillo.
Sunday we did our first wheelin' together. All
in all, she was a good sport... and even enjoyed the sand running.
The rock stuff still scares her a bit, so we didn't do too much.
I got a few pics which I'll post soon.
Sunday nite was NYE... a great time. Monday was non
stop driving home... made it back in about 9 hours. Found out
that had we not taken 99 we would have been in Stop and Go traffic for
about 5 hours.
Thanks to everyone who made it a great trip.