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2001 Annual General Meeting & Ma Earth Trail Ride
By Graham McNeill - October 13th, 2001


This year's Annual General Meeting was by far the shortest in recent history. For once it could have gone on longer as the weather forecast was for a very wet trail ride. 105 members, family and friends with 48 Jeeps gathered for breakfast at the VFW Hall in Pittsfield for the 2001 Annual Meeting and Ma Earth Trail Ride and Night Ride.


The meeting was uneventful with President O.R. Freesen, Trail Boss and Safety Officer Tim Miller, and Secretary/Treasurer Graham McNeill returning for an additional three-year term as Director's of the Board. Minutes of the meeting will be published in the next newsletter along with the Secretary and Treasurer's reports. One high point is the fact that the club has donated nearly $15,000 this year to various charities.


Randy Whitaker and John Toumbs are seen here accepting a plaque from Trail Boss Tim Miller.


Randy and John were second place finishers in this year's Tombstone Invitational Rock Run. As usual the chrome dome blocking the picture is the infamous pecan pie stealing Tom Miller

John is jokingly explaining to the audience that he had read in a manual somewhere that you have to test your rev-limiter at least once a month. This way he is able to keep Randy in front of the Jeep running very fast to prevent him from being run over.
Ma Earth Trail Ride
Six trails had been originally planned for this year's trail ride but several inches of rain in the preceding days reduced the selection to just three. With clouds starting to darken the sky the convoys left the VFW. It was not expected that we would be able to complete any of the remaining Ridge Rambler, Murphy's Law and Back 40 trails in their entirety.

We were only on Murphy's Law Trail for a few minutes before the first casualty - Scooter Hansler broke a clutch component in his CJ7 and was forced to ride with the big Kahuna - Murphy himself, an always fun and entertaining experience, but sometimes somewhat on the terrifying side. A few yards later fallen tress required trail leader Steve (Chief) Gambrill to break out the chain saw to make room for the Jeeps to proceed. Bob Kavka is seen here doing a mighty fine job of holding back Chief's YJ.



It looks like Frank and Jude were having a good day anyway.

Frank Fleeger who normally likes to aim his Jeep YJ at trees was unable to make contact with this branch despite several attempts.

The rain started to come down fairly heavily at times and trail leader Gambrill thought it would be best if we did not get caught in the gullies. Previous heavy downpours have left Jeeps struggling for many hours to exit this trail due to the many creeks and long muddy hills.


This is one of the Jim Pleskos about to negotiate the waterfall, - he has 35" tires on this TJ. If you miss the correct line on this obstacle you can expect water up to your dashboard. Luckily for Jim, Ingrid Plesko was along to make sure that this did not happen. Jim maybe a swat team member and dog handler but Jim knows his place with his wife in the passenger seat. Members have noticed there are many Jim Plesko Jeeps in the club these days. This is a result of an incorrectly worded article and photo description in 4Wheel Drive and Sport Utility Magazine where fellow club member Jeff Dieken is listed as Jim Plesko. As a result decals bearing Jims name as driver of the jeep are appearing on many jeeps these days.


Steve Gambrill carefully spots another Jim Plesko Jeep (a.k.a. Larry Schultz) through a minor inconvenience.
The Tank was tail gunner for the day with the unfortunate luck to be also the chauffer and general transportation for yours truly. I made him put the roof on because I didn't like getting wet. I didn't bring my own Willys because it was sans roof or heater and complete with 1940s era non-windshield wipers. It's certainly nice to be driven the 600 miles to and from Naperville. It's amazing what you miss when you have to drive
This creek was dry when we entered the trail. Although not a raging torrent at this point it doesn't take a lot of rain for the creeks to become anti social.
"Don't worry Pete it's only flat on the one side." Another member of Team Plesko jacks up the TJ as Pete ponders how an AT tire is going to get him off the trail.
Pete Niles had the bad luck to tear open a tire on a rock. Pete looks on as Team Plesko changes the tire for him - must be nice!!!!

We were off the trail without further incident. The rain came down harder so we convoyed out for our usual shopping trip to Farm and Home in Pittsfield.

Thanks Murph for letting us use your property again.

The Party
Debbie and Tom Wombles hosted a hog roast at their farm. It was a well-attended gathering with excellent barbequed pork. The lovely Ric Schultz with pal Kim and kids came dressed in Halloween garb entertained us. It was Tom's birthday and he was dually embarrassed with presents and cards, and kisses from the cheerleader.

The night run to Dutch Creek was cancelled due to the heavy rainfall which was a great shame as this is one of the highlights of the Ma Earth Trail Ride.


Thanks Debbie and Tom for being great hosts.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is Craig Jessemen's Jeep pictured at the Pike Motel after a hard day on Back 40.

Ridden hard and ………..

Nothing that money and a power washer won't fix. If it ain't dirty and ain't broke, you were obviously not having enough fun.

Final Thoughts for the Day

2002 will be a year of many volunteers. With two major national trail ride events the club will need more volunteers and help. Please let us know how you can help. Even if it's sticking on a few stamps or contributing ideas it will be appreciated. We will need members to help with club promotional ideas. We will need new trail guides and tail gunners, people to physically help at the events. Help with trail sign up at the regular club runs. Next time you come down please ask if there is anything you can do to help with the days activities. Thanks.

Created: 10/20/01