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Summer 2000 DML BBQ - Saturday July 1, 2000

Report by Jason Bleazard
Still photography by Norah Bleazard, Jim Knox, Andy Levy, Carolyn Martin and Jon Steiger
Video footage by Jason Bleazard, Norah Bleazard, Ed McCarrick, Jon Steiger, and Bob Tom

I'll try to keep the thumbnails as close as possible to the relevant text. Clicking on any thumbnail will bring up a full-sized image.

Note: I hate the phrase "Click here". In case you don't know by now, any time you see a hyperlink, it means you can click on it to get something relevant. Most of the links in this report take you to the same pictures as the thumbnails. I've linked to them from the text in order to clarify which picture is which.

[ Clicking on this image will take you to the video page... ] At times, you will see a small icon of a movie projector in or next to a description. This means that there is video footage of whatever the description is talking about on the video page. Clicking on the icon will take you to that page.

Trail vehicles present in order of arrival with details:
Jon Steiger 92 4x4 Ram
318 V8 automatic regular cab long bed
4" suspension lift, 33x12.50 Cavalier Mud Kings (see below)
Jason and Norah Bleazard 98 4x4 Dakota Sport
318 V8 automatic club cab
we change tires to 31x9.50 Super Swamper TSL radials
Adam "Mr. Plow" and Dave Gemel 00 4x4 Dakota SLT
4.7L V8 automatic club cab
patriot blue
stock suspension, 32x11.50 Goodyear Wrangler AT/S
David and Carolyn Martin 98 4x4 Dakota Sport
318 V8 5-speed regular cab
3" body lift and 33x12.50 Kumho mudders
Peter Cutler 97 4x4 Jeep TJ Wrangler
2.5L 4 banger, 5-speed
?" suspension lift, 31x10.50 tires
Ed McCarrick 00 4x4 Dakota Sport
4.7L V8 5-speed quad cab
4000 miles, barely broken in, stock 31x10.50 Goodyear RT/S
Jason Mooberry 94 4x4 Dakota SLT
3.9L V6 5-speed club cab
blue and gray
4" suspension lift, 32x11.50 BFG AT
Andy Levy 99 4x4 Dakota Sport
318 V8 automatic club cab
stock 31x10.50 Goodyear Wrangler RT/S
Chris Saltsman 97 4x4 Dakota Sport
3.9L V6 automatic regular cab
stock height, 31x10.50 BFG AT

Drag racing vehicles present (these go nowhere near the trail):
Jon Steiger 96 2wd Dakota SLT
318 V8 5-speed club cab
Bob Tom 97 2wd Dakota Sport
318 V8 automatic club cab
Jim Knox

91 4x4 Dakota Sport
premag 318 V8 automatic regular cab

Thursday June 29

2:30pm Before leaving for the BBQ, Norah and I go for a tour of the Bramalea assembly plant in Ontario where DC builds all LH cars (Intrepid, Concorde, LHS, 300M) for the whole planet. We are deeply impressed.

8:00 we meet Adam and Dave at the duty free just before the border crossing. We head out for Jon's, and get into a hail storm on the way. Most of the traffic has pulled over to the side and stopped. Since we don't have shelter anyway, I fail to see the point. We do slow down to 20 mph, the same speed as the semi truck in front of us. We follow his tail lights.

10:00 arrive at Jon's

Bear in mind that Jon has posted to the event profile page a description of his Ram as having P235/75R15 work tires. He apparently expects to get stuck frequently. He re-enforces this fact in e-mail he sends to myself and Norah as late as June 27 (two days before we arrive).

When we see the Ram, we discover that it is now sporting a 4" Rough Country suspension lift and 33x12.50 Mud King tires. Apparently Jon has been feeding it Fords or something, as it has grown up quite nicely. Possibly this is what happened to Ed's Ranger. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

Jon has also set up a video camera and set it to snap pictures of the barn interior every two minutes for a webcam. The warning that this is about to happen is that the computer plays a clip of a song which goes "Mud, mud, glorious mud". Every two minutes.

We wonder what other surprises Jon has in store.

Friday June 30

After we wake up, Adam cooks a pancake breakfast on our Coleman stove.

After breakfast, Adam breaks out a Canadian Flag and long wooden dowel to be used as a flag pole. He attaches the flag to the pole using nylon cord and duct tape. He then attaches the pole to the right rear corner inside the bed of his Dak with duct tape. Lots of duct tape. His plan is to leave it there all weekend. He takes it on a quick test run around the back of Jon's house and down the road. It makes it at least this far okay. This eventually becomes known as Flag version 1.0.

We think David is planning on showing up "late morning", probably around 9-10. We wait until 12:30, then head to town for lunch. At 50mph, Adam's flag topples.

1:00 David arrives to find an empty barn. He and Carolyn pose for the camera. David checks the computer to see if it worked, and inadvertently closes the webcam process. For the next two hours, the webcam picture is he and his wife in a passionate embrace.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are in town doing our grocery shopping. Norah and I are in our truck, Adam and his friend Dave are in Adam's truck, and Jon takes his bike.

We return and meet up with David and Carolyn. After getting some of the food put away, Adam proceeds to implement Flag version 2.0. He and Jon drill a hole through the pole to attach it to the tie-downs in Adam's bed using nylon cord. They have to remove the tail gate to get better access to a tie-down spot. They tie the pole in, remember the rule "if at first you don't succeed, use more duct tape," and proceed to do exactly that. I begin to wonder if Adam is a graduate of the Red Green School of Engineering.

Norah generously volunteers to clean up around the barn and get ready for the next day. The rest of us hit the trails to do some grooming and trail clearing. I ride in Jon's Ram. Flag ver. 2.0 topples as soon as it runs into trees.

We survey the first 100 yards of mud and slippery hill, and go into the ravine to the upper waterfall. We spend some time trying to figure out how to make a trail up the waterfall, but decide to leave well enough alone. We come back along mud lane. There is some clearing of trees, fallen branches and loose grape vines which needs to be done. Fortunately, Jon has a chainsaw on a stick which makes quick work of this. We return to the barn.

At this point, David and Carolyn depart for the night. Apparently Carolyn thinks they made the trip to do some shopping.

Jon and I put the Swampers on Norah's truck. Then Norah joins us, and we head out to do more trail clearing. This time we go for the lower waterfall. We also remember cameras.

Good thing, because Adam gets stuck (for the first and last time all weekend). From this he learns that mud is not to be driven slowly. He finds that the other extreme works better and is more entertaining. This is the only time I get to practice using our tow strap. Jon almost loses his boot trying to hook the strap up to Adam's tow hook. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

There is more work to be done here, and a few stumps which need to be uprooted.

We finish the clearing, turn around and head back to the barn as the sun is setting. We order a pizza for dinner, watch some videos and pack it in for the night.

Saturday July 1

David shows up more or less at the time we expected for a change. Peter arrives in his Jeep. I decide it must be time to get dressed for the day. Bob and Jim arrive. Ed arrives, having cut short his vacation and driven in from Myrtle Beach. Jason arrives and I proceed to crawl under his Dak to check out his lift. Chris calls from somewhere and asks for directions. Andy arrives, then Chris. We wait for Bill, but he is unable to make it.

Adam is now bound and determined to fly the Canadian flag from the bed of his truck. Jon finds a LARGE cinder block laying around. They put it in Adam's bed, and then set the flag pole in a hole in the block. Adam decrees that version 3.0 will be the charm. He is correct, as the flag and block stay put.

Around 11:30, we decide to get in a quick introductory run down to the ravine and back before lunch. Chris decides to bow out, as does Jim. Chris rides in Andy's truck, and Jim and Bob ride in Ed's quad cab.

I express my opinion that getting eight trucks across Ranger Gulch might take longer than we wanted, so maybe we should just take a quick jaunt around one of the new trails. This will either teach me for doing my own thinking or teach Jon for listening to me.

We spend the next two hours regretting my decision to go down this particular trail right before lunch. It becomes known as the longest hundred yards in history. Jon walks through without much problem, as do Norah and I. Ed gets stuck. He gets pulled back, then tries again and manages to keep his tires up out of the ruts and makes it through without too much fuss. David walks through without any problem.

Jason gets stuck, much to his disgust. We try pushing him, which doesn't work. We try climbing in his bed for extra weight, which doesn't work. Peter tries to winch him back, but runs out of room. So Peter decides that the proper thing to do is to drive his Jeep up a tree. But when he tries to turn around, he ends up digging himself a three-foot hole which we all try to avoid.

About this time I'm starting to think that this is someplace that nobody should be who doesn't have front tow hooks.

Jason eventually manages to power through the mud. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ] Peter attempts to churn his way through. The tip of his exhaust pipe keeps hitting the mud and entertains us by making loud popping sounds. He gets stuck. David brings his truck back, and they hook Peter's winch cable to David's truck. David pulls Peter out with the winch cable, using it as a tow strap. (Note: this is not recommended procedure if the stuck truck needs more than a light tug to get going, the cable can't stretch to absorb the energy like a strap will.)

Andy gets stuck almost immediately. Adam pulls him backwards so that he can have another run at it. He eventually manages to pull his way thorough the first part, spraying mud behind him in a big rooster tail.

Andy then tries to blast through the rest of the mud in front of him. He gets thrown to the side of the trail, coming within 6 inches of a few trees. Unfortunately, he is stopped by the same spot in the trail where Ed and Jason were stuck. David creates a new bypass by driving through the trees, and knocking some of them over with his brush guard. (Note: this is not recommended procedure unless you know the land owner.) David's right outside mirror does not survive this process.

David comes back on the trail behind Andy's truck. He hooks up a tow strap, and yanks Andy way back so that he is clear of the mud. Jon goes back to his garage (we haven't traveled very far from it yet) and gets a chainsaw. He finishes removing the tree that David pushed over. Andy goes around the mud using the bypass created by David.

During this process, Andy receives some new custom pinstriping (a.k.a paint scratches) from a dead grape vine down the left side of his truck. Amazingly, even during this and everything else that happens during the day, he does not stop smiling or having a good time. We admire his spirit.

Adam's turn is next. He briefly asks opinions on trying to go through the newly-created bypass. I reason that since he has tow hooks, he should just stay in the mud, because it'll be pretty easy to pull him out.

We take bets on how far he will make it down the middle of the mud. He plants the throttle and goes straight through it at top speed. At one point as he is travelling about 30 miles per hour, the ruts in the mud throw him towards a tree on his right. This makes Dave quite nervous as the tree it comes within about 8" of the passenger side door (and Dave's head). Adam earns the nick-name "The Adam Blaster". [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

We go through a couple of other slightly muddy spots, without much drama. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

Until we arrive at Slippery Hill. Going down is not too big a deal, except that you don't want to do it very quickly lest you slide over the edge to the left and roll down to the bottom. Too much speed will also prevent any directional control at the bottom of the hill, as there is a large patch of very slick mud there. You must make a left turn in this mud and head up a rise of about 10 feet. It doesn't look like anything serious on foot. The problem seems to be that everyone's tires get coated with mud, and the soil on the other side provides about as much traction as glare ice.

Jon makes it up, as do Norah and I. Andy gets almost to the top, and his wheels start spinning. We lose count of how many times he backs up and gives it another shot, trying to get enough momentum to make it over the top. He discovers that his truck has an annoying tendency to slide sideways when he's trying to get it to go forward. He manages to get his 318 turning at 5500 RPM on one try. Eventually either dogged determination wins out, or the Mud Gods take pity on him, as he finds a tiny scrap of traction and and makes it over the top.

Ed is next in his new quad cab. He works his 4.7 fairly hard as well. He makes it up on the second try. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

David makes it, but with a lot more wheel spin than any of us expected. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ] Peter does the same thing. Jason starts spinning out. About the time I think he's not going to make it, I hear him yell to his truck "COME ON BABY, GET OVER THIS F***ING HILL!!!" As we all know, trucks like to be sweet-talked. His Dak digs in and goes over the hill. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

Adam takes a couple of tries, but blasts over the top as well.

By this time, we are very overdue for lunch. Rather than go down to the ravine, we decide to go back for lunch. Instead of trying to climb slippery hill in the other direction, we head back along Mud Lane (the original, named before we found the other severe mud area).

Again, Jon blasts through the mud. We crawl through without much trouble. The rest have results similar to the first mud stretch earlier in the morning (except Peter churns through in his Jeep without assistance). [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

Fortunately, there are bypass routes through the trees which are relatively dry. Unfortunately, we discover that it is impossible to get enough traction to get our tires to climb up out of the ruts to get to the bypasses. Frustration is having dry ground six inches away and not being able to reach it. We manage to maneuver the winch trucks around. Eventually we get in position to winch some of the trucks sideways onto the bypass. Andy, Ed and Jason end up taking the bypass around the worst of the mud. Adam flies through it. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ] We check under his truck for a hidden rocket assist engine and find none.

I have parked some distance away to allow the other trucks room to clear the mud. Our truck happens to be in some mud itself. With the Swampers, I don't think this is anything serious. As I try to leave, nothing happens. Hmmm. I try another gear and use more throttle. The truck moves reluctantly. Then I decide maybe I would have more success if I remembered to release the parking brake. Norah decrees this the "dumbass" maneuver of the day.

Andy later parks in the same hole later. He has some small trouble getting moving with the stock tires, but with a short roll in reverse he is able to power forward and clear it without further problems.

We return to the barn without further delay. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

We return to the barn at about 3:30 for lunch, which consists of sandwiches, pasta salad, veggies, chips and dip. Most of are so hungry we could have served old tires and nobody would have noticed until halfway through. (Little did we know Adam was planning on preparing exactly that later in the ravine.)

Bob was supposed to depart at 3:00, so he bids us farewell and leaves promptly. Jason Mooberry also departs. Peter mutters something about being awake since 2:30 AM the previous day and collapses into a chair asleep.

The rest of us decide that we would like to go down to the ravine and see the waterfall. Andy decides that his truck has been through enough today, and leaves it parked. Chris decides that we're all having too much fun and fires up his "Barney truck" to come with us.

We decide to take an easier route, as we would like to be back before dark. This route takes us through the spot where Adam was stuck the day before. The mud from that spot must have re-located itself to the morning's entry trail, because none of us have any problems getting to the ravine.

Jon takes the sane path through the ravine, trying to stick to relatively shallow water and avoid the huge rocks. We follow Jon. Ed passes us, but falls in behind Jon quickly.

David drives directly towards the deepest water he can find. Adam finds even deeper water, and races David to get there. Chris falls in behind them.

At the second waterfall, we park our trucks and watch David try to climb up the waterfall. He discovers that the moss on the rocks makes them just too slippery to climb. This does not deter him from trying several times anyway. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

The rest of us gather around and watch in amazement. Nobody else is crazy enough to try.

Not to be outdone, Adam turns around and tries to drive his truck straight up the ravine wall. Once forward progress ceases, he plants the throttle and treats us all to a big smoky 4-tire burnout. I start to wonder if he's really doing this on purpose or if his throttle is stuck open and he can't shut the engine down.

It's also worth noting that the Canadian flag and cinder block do not move, which is fortunate as Adam's tail gate is still sitting in the barn. Spray-in liners are amazing things.

We line up in the stream at the top of a rock ledge and pose for pictures. Most of us stand in our truck beds (David on his tool box). Chris realizes that his fiberglass tonneau is not easily removable, so he stands on his nerf bar.

After pictures, David goes down over the steep part of the ledge and drives through a deep water hole.

Adam then decides to follow David's path through the stream, only he does two passes. After getting back on dry land, Adam notices that one of his smoked headlight covers is now missing. A search ensues. Ed is the only one wearing sandals, and he finds the cover in the water sitting on the bottom of the stream. Lesson: headlight covers do not float. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

Adam and David then do a synchronized attempt to climb up the ravine wall. Adam finds more traction than he wanted, and does not do a burnout for fear of launching himself into orbit. [ There is a video clip about this on the vids page... ]

After we tire of these antics, we head back up the ravine. Again, Jon, Ed and I stick to the banks or shallow water while David, Adam and Chris head straight for deep water. They are all bouncing up in the air off of large submerged rocks. On one of the drops, Chris and Andy hear a large bang. Adam comes over the radio and tells Chris that his license plate is no longer attached.

Strangely enough, Chris was the person who assured us that he would have no problem with his license plate coming off. The rest of us with gen III Daks were smart and removed our front plates and brackets.

It turns out that Chris hit a rock on his grille guard. It breaks off the lower horizontal bar (which the license plate mounts to), bends the internal structure of the guard, and puts a small bend in his air dam. Adam and Dave remove the bar from the other side so that it does not hang down in Chris' way. We name Chris' truck the "Purple Boulder Eater" and proceed.

We get back to the trail entrance. Adam and David proceed up the ravine to see if they can make the upper waterfall. The rest of us stop and contemplate our options -- drive more along the ravine bottom, or figure out how to get there on the trails without battling Slippery Hill again. It is at about this time that we hear the call over the radio "Adam has a flat tire!"

We inquire whether Adam has a full-sized spare. He does not. We get back on the trail. Jon heads over to see what Adam's situation is, while Ed leads me and Chris back to the barn.

Once back at the barn, we discover that the FRS walkie-talkies have enough range that we can talk to Adam down in the ravine. We are impressed. Several minutes later, they have Adam's spare tire mounted and head back to the barn.

David apparently either found or created a shortcut, and arrives first. A moment later, we see a Canadian flag flying between the rows of grapes, and we know that Adam is on his way back. We survey the damage -- one large hole in the sidewall of Adam's new 32" tire. He also managed to remove a plastic splash shield. Considering how he was driving, we concur that he is fortunate to have a truck which operates normally. Gotta love these Dodges.

Adam makes a small monument with his broken parts in the garage.

Peter awakens. For the next half hour, he says nothing but "grunt". He then announces that he will have to leave before dinner.

This spurs the awards committee (Jon, Norah and myself) into action. We quickly decide the awards and call everyone into the barn for the awards ceremony. The winners were:

The Kodak Moment Award For Excellence in Camera Operation Bob Tom
honorable mention goes to Carolyn Martin
The Mud Bath Award For excellence in mud collection with a vehicle Peter Cutler
The Martha Stewart Award For conspicuous cleanliness of a 4-wheel-drive vehicle Jim Knox
The Trottmann Award For outstanding vehicle parts breakage and other general carnage Chris Saltsman
(for bashing his grille guard)
The "Don't Try This at Home" Award For outstanding demonstration of questionable driving techniques Adam "Mr. Plow"
The Tsunami Award For excellence in displacement of large volumnes of water using a vehicle David Martin
The White Knuckle Award For distinguished use of interior grab handles Dave Gemel
The "Are We There Yet?" Award For displaying extreme tolerance of long interrupted stretches of driving on pavement in a quest for short periods of driving in mud Ed McCarrick
originally filled out to Adam and Dave for driving from Windsor, Ontario
then we remembered that Ed, who actually lives the closest to Jon,
had cut his vacation short and driven in that day from Myrtle Beach
The Mud Always Wins Award For inarguably demonstrating the lack of traction properties of a vehicle in deep mud Andy Levy

After the awards ceremony, Peter uses his newly-won roll of paper towels to wash some of the mud off of his Jeep, just so that he can see well enough to drive home. We bid him farewell and he departs.

Dinner consists of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. We spend the evening talking about the day's events, then watch the video tapes we recorded. It seems that we just can't get enough of this. While watching videos, Andy poses for the webcam.

Chris departs that night. Andy borrows our tent and stays in the barn for the night. Jim sleeps on the swinging couch.

Sun. July 2

We wake up and have left over cold cut sandwiches, ice cream and cake for breakfast (YUM!). I wash some of the mud off of our Swampers, then switch back to our street tires. We loan our spare to Adam so that he can have two 31" tires in the front and two 32" in the rear. We pack up and clean up after ourselves. Jon goes to church and trusts us unsupervised in his barn. We don't break anything (that Jon noticed :-).

Before heading out we have a lunch of the left over burgers and hot dogs. We line up our trucks for some last pictures. Norah and I, Adam and Dave, Jim, and Andy head out in convoy and head for home.

We stop at the service center on the Thruway to gas up. Andy has noticed a vibration coming from his tires. He looks, and finds a 4-inch long stick and some mud in his right front rim. He removes it. This makes his vibration problem disappear almost entirely. However, he still has a buzzing sound coming from the left front wheel. When he arrives home, he pulls that wheel to find a HUGE hunk of wood wedged between the inner rim face and the outside brake caliper. Not to mention even more mud that falls out of the rim when he pulls it.

Andy stays on the Thruway as the Canadian contingent turns to the north. We get through the border without incident (once we find the correct exit for the Peace Bridge). Adam takes off trying to make up some time (my standard cruising speed must take too long to get back to Windsor). Jim hangs with us until he has to split off on the 403 in Mississauga. We work our way up to the 401 and home.

By this time, we are dirty, tired, but very happy. We braved mud and rocks and survived. And more importantly, we met new friends who share the same passions. We can't wait until the next time.