2002 Pike County Fall Color Tour

The Jeep tours for the Fall Color Drive on October 19 and 20 were a great success. We collected $620 in donations with another $620 to be matched by the club. This will go to the Fall Color Committee to help keep this event alive in Pike County. 121 rides were given and we made a lot of new friends for Two Rivers. Many locals took the tour and had never seen the beautiful views before. 18 Jeeps on Saturday and 14 Jeeps on Sunday were kept busy. Thanks to all who participated. Here a couple articles and some photos.

Two Rivers Jeep Club's 1st Annual Off-Road Color Drive

by Tom Miller

I would like to start by thanking those who participated in putting this charity event together and making it work. Without their generosity, cooperation, participation and ideas we would not be the club we have become. The person that started this whole thing was Tom Wombles. It was his idea, and he arranged with family and friends for the acreage with these wonderful views. That brings us to the landowners. It's their generosity and cooperation that got us started and keeps us going. Tom & Debbie Wombles, Rick & Sharon Wombles, Dora Lee Claus, Virginia Williams and Gary & Sharon Williams gave us the views and the space to stage from for this event. There is also no doubt that without the generosity and participation of our own club members we would not be here, and without them we certainly would not be having successful events. The following club members were on hand and behind the scene to help make this 1st Annual Charity Off Road Color Drive a success: Dave Christensen, O. R. Freesen, Graham McNeill, Lee & Tammy Ator, Doug & Rachelle Maxheimer, Chad, Franny, Cory & Danielle Suhre, Tim Miller, Gary Williams, Carey & Janet Levoy, Gerald Bennett, Walt Gilbert, Bill & Sandy Lovstad, John & Mo Winckler, Stu Fotta & Jerrylynn, Mike Phillips, Dave & Denise Jacobs, Elmo Johnson, Ray Coleman, Allen & Alex Applebee, Rick Culberson, Dirk Tucker, Allen Grady and myself. Plus, Hamer & Jenny Tate and Tom & Debbie Wombles loaned us their Cherokees for the event. We must also thank those in the county that helped make sure that folks heard and read about this event and the Jeep Club. The Pike County Chamber of Commerce and the Color Drive sub committee, the Rotary Club, WBBA Radio and Pike Press. We would also like to thank Suzan & Gilman at Motel Pike for making sure any Jeeper helping out had a room when needed. Congratulations are also in order. They are proud new grandparents.

As for the stats, we were asking for a $5 donation per person per view (some folks gave more). We collected $620 in donations from 121 people that wanted to enjoy the ride and view (90 on Sat. & 31 on Sun.). We had 18 Jeeps for Saturday and 14 for Sunday. The most popular spot was Atlas, followed closely by Hopewell Views. As for damages (if you can believe it) Elmo lost a drive shaft (something about a tree), and Gary broke a hub (I think it had something to do with that high torque John Deere motor he had in his Jeep).

Now for something a little less boring. As I awoke from a short nap (1-1/2 hours) Saturday morning I was thinking about the rain that had started Friday afternoon. Everything was still wet when I looked out the window. After a quick cold shower to wake me up, I called Tim to make sure he was up (he was riding over with me). I got dressed and quickly finished loading the Cherokee and as I was rushing over to Tim's I noticed I had forgotten to gas up. Finally, with Tim picked up and the Cherokee gassed up, we were off. The roads were still wet and we were running late. About half way to Springfield I remembered something else. I had forgotten to pack some extra warm shirts. As we reached Pittsfield we stopped to top off the gas and were greeted by Doug Maxheimer who had just finished fueling up and was headed to Virginia's. When we arrived at Virginia's, Doug was busy unloading under the bright orange and white tent awning provided by Doug Schmitt Tents for guest registration. And everyone appreciated the fact that Scotty's Potty's had the other necessities taken care of.

It was quite nippy and windy (thoughts of the warm shirts I forgot kept popping into my head) but it was sunny. While Doug and I were preparing, Tim thought it would be a good idea to scare a few cow pies out of Gary's young cows that were next to us in a small pen. After their mini stampede (seems this was quite amusing to Tim) he further terrorized them with his laugh. You know the one! As the young cows slowly regained what little sense they hadn't knocked out of each other, they regrouped on the far side of the pen. They lined up in a straight row and stared intensely at Tim (still laughing). I wished I'd unpacked my camera. It was like one of those mass hypnosis things or they were scared "cow pie less" and frozen with fear. What do you think?

About then Franny, Cory and Danielle Suhre arrived with Chad following in his Jeep. I had a quick talk with Gary and Hamer about how much rain they had in Pike Co. (3/4" in Atlas and 1.8" in Griggsville). Soon Tim and I decided to give the cows a break and left to pick up Tom Womble's Cherokee. When we returned most of the Jeeps had arrived and Franny and Rachelle had the registration set up (which they handled wonderfully). Franny also had a small display of club stuff for sale. Things started out rather slow, but soon our first victims, oops… guests, stopped for a ride. The couple was from Mt. Zion, IL. They were co-workers of my Mom and Dad (they drive school buses). Right behind them was Graham McNeil and his business partner Tim from overseas. Graham had planned their business trip so they would come back through Pike Co. and attend this event. With our guests loaded up and a few drivers not familiar with the route we would be using, we headed off to see what kind of trouble we could find. Everything was going well and Graham was getting some pictures for the newsletter and web site. Our guests were truly impressed and as we were finishing up the last view at Murphy's Law I thought it was dry enough to go through the bypass at Carburetor Ally. I was wrong. About 2/3 of the way down the hill we lost all traction and had a joy ride the rest of the way down. Elmo and Stu were sliding right behind me. Through the thrilling downhill ride Graham's partner Tim seemed pretty calm. As we slid to a slow stop at the bottom he said something about that being fun! With Elmo and I at the bottom and Mike Phillips sorta stuck on the side of the hill, the rest were still on dry terra firma and we pondered our situation. Mike was soon assisted to the drier part of the hill and Elmo made his first of several attempts to get back up. With swampers and a heavy foot he finally made it. Then, while Graham, Tim and I were watching Elmo, someone asked how we were going to get out. Being as how I didn't have any stinking mud tires. I replied that I didn't think we would. Having said that, Graham opened his door and got out, taking his camera with him, and started walking (slip sliding). Tim started to look a little concerned. I made my first attempt and made little progress, doing a few 180's on the way back down, but each time I made an attempt I made it up a little further. Tim was still looking concerned.

While I was playing like a pig at the bottom, Elmo and Stu were prepping for our rescue. With Elmo at a dry spot on the hill, Stu was hoofing down with the hook. Over one-hundred foot I would guess. Now, upon seeing this the old Cherokee got it's second wind, not wanting Stu to get bragging rights I would guess. It was around the 6th or 7th attempt and Tim and I very slowly continued going up, up and away past Stu and on up the hill. The look of disappointment on Stu's face, unfortunately, was not caught on film. Sorry. I think Graham made it up about the same time as Tim and I. I guess he just wanted some exercise.

As we returned to Virginia's I noticed the other Jeep's were gone. We were promptly scolded for being gone so long. Sorry, my fault. Franny and Rachelle said it became busy shortly after we left. Well, Tim said he really enjoyed the ride and the views, and our guests from Mt. Zion said they would be back next year, quite possibly with a bus load of friends. They truly enjoyed it. Another couple stopped Saturday for two views and enjoyed it so much that they came back Sunday for the other two. Many people wanted to see the old cemeteries at Atlas. A few folks stopped there to look for relatives and I was told that somebody did find one. Many of the locals didn't know the cemeteries were even there and some who have been in Pike Co. many years commented they hadn't seen views like these before.
Originally it was proposed that this might be a Cherokee only event because of the cool and unpredictable weather thinking that most folks would rather ride in the warmth and comfort of a Cherokee but it was apparent early on that it needed to be opened up to any Jeep with a seat in order to have enough Jeeps to keep a steady flow for the event. It was a bit of a surprise then when the most requests were for open top and modified Jeeps. Yes, there were requests for Cherokee's too. I think Walt Gilbert, Doug Maxheimer and one other were the only ones that showed up topless and Walt made more trips out than anyone did.

A plus for us was having home cooked and homemade goodies right next door at Virginia's. Virginia and Sharon Williams have been doing something for the Color Drive for the past 14 years. I'm told Sharon has quite a following for her homemade chicken & noodles. She has some of the same people stopping by year after year just for the chicken & noodles. Sharon said there were folks knocking on the door at 7:15 am Friday to make sure they got theirs before she ran out. I heard Sharon say she and Kelly had cooked over two hundred pounds of chicken for that weekend and they did run out Saturday. Sharon went home Saturday night and made more for Sunday and in her spare time she whipped up some beef stew. Wow! Some of the other stuff that was there besides the chicken & noodles and beef stew included, Italian beef, beef & noodles, BBQ pork, sloppy Joe's and hot dogs. As for baked goodies they had all sorts of cookies, quick breads, tarts, lemon squares, and other pastries.

Saturday turned out to be fairly busy and steady. We were scheduled to give rides till 4:00 pm, but people kept stopping by 'till around 5:00 pm and there were still enough club members on hand to take care of them. Then everything wound down and we all left for dinner.
Sunday morning started out a little nippy (there was a hard frost on the ground) but only a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky. Things were pretty slow early on but Sharon kept us busy when she fixed up some home made apple fritters with powered sugar and cinnamon & brown sugar. She passed them out to us still hot and Virginia was offering up some fresh hot coffee. Seemed like a nice way to start a morning to me. Needless to say I didn't go hungry all weekend, thank you very much! By the way, it was Gary's birthday on Sunday and he chose to share it with us (since he had to be there anyway to make sure Tim didn't scare his cows again) and we sang Happy Birthday to him. We did get an 'Aw-Shucks' out of him but he wouldn't tell us how old he was. Then things started to pick up around 10:00 am and by the early afternoon we were pretty steady again. The weather was beautiful all day and things were drying out. We even made it around carburetor ally. Again, just like Saturday we had folks still stopping by 'till after 5:00 pm to get a ride and we still had club members on hand to take care of everyone. I think we were all back by 5:30 pm and had things all wrapped up and taken down by 6:00 pm.
Although this weekend was not peak color (it was just starting to turn) the views were still awesome and enjoyed by all. I heard nothing but positive comments about the whole event. Most of those that took a ride returned excited and thrilled by the experience and said they would return next year with family and friends. Some of the critters spied by our guests included deer, wild turkey, great blue heron, owls, vultures, red tailed hawks, chuckers and of course cows (some of which will never forget Tim).

To wrap things up, I again would like to thank everyone involved for yet another successful club event. Our club has done many good things for Pike Co. and the residents of Pike Co. have done many good things for our club. That personally makes me feel good about being a participating member of Two Rivers Jeep Club. I think we all have a sense of pride in what our club has accomplished here in Pike Co. and with the generosity, cooperation, participation, and ideas of landowners, club members, businesses and organizations throughout the county, I know that next year's events will continue to be successful.

I would like to take this last bit of space to encourage club members to consider participating in next years color drive event. It will be October 18th & 19th. And if there is anyone that would be interested in coordinating next years Charities Off Road Color Drive event, please let any board member, Doug Maxheimer or me (Tom Miller) know. Hope to see you at the Kick-Off Dinner!

Created: 12/09/02