2001 - Fourth of July


Picture this; You're at a Hawaiian Luau, with mounds of roasted and barbecued pork, ten varieties of sliced fruits, salads, cookies and cakes. The sun is setting over the hill, the water splashes over your toes. A dozen figures clad in grass skirts are swaying to the music that drifts through the air. Are you in Maui? Not this time. You were probably in Rockport, Illinois at Tom and Debbie's 4th of July Luau Run.

Yes, there was a lot of delicious food, yes the sunset was beautiful, and the music played all night. But the water may have been from the squirt guns or the kid's pool. And those grass skirted figures? Well, they were our very own members; Tom, Paul, Gerald (was that really a wig?), Mike, Tony, Steve, Tim (nice wood-en Jeep), Tom, John, Walt (what a wriggle!), Gary, Alan(he didn't want to take it off), and of course O R with his buxom yellow halter top filled with (you ask him what was in there).

The guys danced for dollars and also raffled off Tim's wooden Jeep and Tom's skirt and coconut bra. The "Horrendous Hula Hunks" raised $700 for the Pittsfield Girl's Softball League. The club will cheerfully match the pot.

O R had some trophies to award, and he wasn't quite sure who they should go to. But he ad-libbed quite well, and most everyone had a good laugh.

Thanks to Tom and Debbie for hosting the night, and to all who helped make it a great success.

Jeepin' July 4th Run on the 7th

They talk about the weather being hotter than a firecracker on the fourth of July…well it certainly was!!! The only day I remember being that hot was the day before the 4X4 Blast last year. I spend most days in an air-conditioned office. I thought I was going to literally melt, and from the looks of most of us out there you would wonder as even the skinny guys were dripping, but the humidity only dampened our fun a little.

We did not start our day with the traditional VFW breakfast, as the cooks were busy cooking for the Pig Days festival, so we started with the gentleman cooking us pork sandwiches the night before at the festival. I was busy in the morning changing my daughter's on-road tires to her off-road tires after Barbara fixed us breakfast at the Pine Lakes campground. What a great place to camp!

After a lengthy driver's meeting going over driver etiquette and care for the environment, we were off to run with Lee Ator on Dutch Creek. We were particularly interested in running this trail as earlier this year we helped to blaze a new part to this trail while climbing over chunks of ice about 6 to 8 inches thick and as big around as a Jeep. What a difference 6 months or so makes. There certainly was no ice to be found except in the better coolers on this outing.

I don't know how some of you prepare for running trails, but I have been around equipment most of my life and I check out my Jeep pretty thoroughly before hitting the trail, and up until something happens to change my mind I feel very comfortable with my Jeep's readiness way before even loading it onto the trailer. This day was no exception until we aired down and locked up. At the command to start your engine we all heard a noise much like the pop of a firecracker, but sadly it was my battery blowing it's lid. In typical form all our trail buddies came to the rescue, but no spare battery was to be found so we just filled the old one with some of the water from our stash, pull-started it and went on like it never happened. As the day progressed so did the heat and humidity, but not enough to stop us. We were having fun. Running through Dutch Creek is so cool, in more ways than one. It was actually cooler in the creek bed than anywhere else around and it was really cool running down a creek bed as if it were your own Jeep highway.

After a few hours of wheeling with The Muppet man (Jim Henson from Kansas) ahead of me, we came to the part of the trail not really made for full size 4X4's like Jim's very sharp looking 1/2 ton Jeep pick-up truck. Jim's poor old power steering pump was really getting a workout, not to mention the fender flairs. He did a great job negotiating the tight turns and narrow passes. After lunch was when the action started to heat up, both literally and figuratively. We headed for a down hill pass that looked to be somewhere between 75 and 80 degrees and about 65 feet in length before it flattened out and took another dive into the creek bed. Our fearless leader, Lee, was the first to show us how it was done. Before the cameras could click a second picture he was sitting in the cool creek bed telling us how easy it was.

Next to make the run was The Muppet Man in his big blue truck. As Jim edged off all we could see from topside was the underside of his rear bumper. As he began his descent his truck went a little right off the trail and then stopped with the rear end still pointed up the hill. We thought he had hit a tree, or stump, or something that did not want to move, but after inspection we found the casting had broken loose from the left front wheel; tie rod still intact. After a few less than successful ideas on how to fix it with the tools and parts we could come up with from within our group, Lee decided to call in the John Deere Tow and Recovery Team. Lee headed home and got his son to bring back one of their tractors and the rescue was under way. The next problem was when the tractor arrived and could not climb the hill out of the creek bed to get to Jim's disabled unit, which was sitting there looking a bit like a duck with the right front tire turned as if turning to the right and the left front tire turned as if going to the left.

It was very evident the Ator's knew what they were doing as it was not long before a little of the hill was chopped down with an ax and a shovel to make it just flat enough for the tractor to climb the hill and take Jim, his girlfriend and the truck off the trail.

Chad assumed the lead as Lee went with the disabled unit and tractor and we followed the creek to a point where it was a little mushy and sandy. My daughter, just ahead of Barbara and I at this point, drove her Jeep through like there was nothing to it, so Dad decided he didn't need quite as much speed to get through. As you might guess, Sarah got to pull us yet another time that day.

After thanking Lee for his hospitality and the use of his land, it was off to Wal-Mart to procure a new battery for the Black Sheep Jeep. Then it was Luau time at the Wombles' farm.

Tom and Debbie hosted the Luau and provided a piñata for the kids and some cool little boats with a balloon attached. (I didn't get one, but that's ok). The kids could blow up the balloon and then let the boat scoot across the wading pool provided for just such an event. Man, they thought of everything, including the grass skirts for the trail guides to hula with. Now, that was quite a sight!!! A little scary and a lot funny, but all for a good cause. They danced to raise money for the Pittsfield Girls Softball Team.

Once again, thank you to the landowners and to those who made the day such a success with their involvement in our club.

Created: 07/12/01