Norah's announcement of "we have company!" awakens Andy at 8:30 (far too early). Dakota Dodge and his girlfriend Amy have arrived fresh from their hotel room where they spent the night after the drive in from Detroit. Introductions all around, a quick inspection of Dakota's Dakota, and then Jon and Andy head to the hardware store to pick up some new bolts for the bumper mounts. Their days are numbered. After a few more tries with the hammer, Jon brings in the big guns. The plasma cutter makes slow progress at first and Jon tries a SawZall, but goes back to the plasma cutter. The rest of the install goes fairly smoothly.
3rd Annual DML BBQ and Trail Ride - July 6-7, 2001
After the surgery is done and a quick photo op while the Dak is still on the lift, we decide things are far, far too clean and we need to get dirty. We all roll down to Jon's brand new mudpit. Along the way, Andy chooses the road less traveled, and in the middle of Adam's warning about there being a nasty dip, it's hit. Luckily, the tow hooks performed the first of many, many saves for the weekend, protecting the fascia and radiator from sure damage.
Dakota, Jon and Jason proceed to christen the new mudpit, and after a while, Andy decides he can't weenie out of it any longer and takes "just one run." After the second, he pulls off to the side to spectate. Jon & Dakota show off with runs in reverse and 2WD. Then, Adam gets one of his famous (notorious?) ideas.
Jon and Adam plunge into the mudpit sideways. The Ram makes short work of the mud, but upon approaching the opposite bank, we all discover that Jon's brand new winch mount with bottom-mounted tow hooks is at the perfect height to catch on the ground and Jon is stopped dead in his tracks. And with the hooks digging in, he can't move backwards easily either. Jon had previously said that if anyone got stuck in the pit for more than 5 minutes, he'd pull them out with his brand new 12,000-pound winch. As his penance for this wonderful idea, Adam hops into the pit to attach the tow strap Dakota has thrown to him, to pull the Ram to the proper orientation for driving out.
We returned to the barn for a quick lunch, and discussed the fact that no one had looked at the trails since last fall. With such a large number of guests coming, we thought it prudent to go out and make sure everything is clear. We all pile into Jon and Jason's trucks (as they have the most experience on these trails) and set out to check things out.
A quick check of the trails finds them relatively clear and dry, to the disappointment of some (most). The Longest Hundred Yards, which took nearly two hours to navigate last year, is just a few ruts and a small area of mud. The turn at Washboard Hill is a little sloppy, and tight enough that Jon has to start into it, and then back up to complete the turn. Mud Lane is a little sloppy, but more navigable than before. Jason & Norah walk through it fairly easily, but Jon tries another line and manages to come to a halt in the thick of the mud. The Ram bucks and looks like it's going to fold in half before Jon backs off. He backs up and tries again, this time with more throttle, and makes it through. In the process, Amy learns a valuable lesson in rolling up one's windows when taking on the mud - Jon's 33" mudders spin plenty of mud into the cab and onto her.
The rest of the trail inspection passes without incident. Ed appears and pizza is ordered. After dinner, Adam starts thinking about the water level in the mud pit. It doesn't seem to be deep enough, and may not be challenging enough for everyone to enjoy to the fullest. And then, Adam gets another idea.
Adam proposes dropping a tarp into the bed of one of the trucks, using Jon's 200 GPM gas-powered pump to fill it up, then dragging it down to the pit to raise the water level. Somehow the Bleazard's' truck is nominated and we set about the task at hand. The first run is only partially successful. The tarp isn't quite big enough to hold things up under the weight of the water, and quite a bit is lost through the tailgate. Nonetheless, a sizeable quantity of water is delivered to the pit. It'll be slow going, however, if we lose half the water on each trip. A search is started for something better.
Someone finds a 200-gallon tank on a trailer used to spray pesticides. It's determined that this could work, so Jon's Ram hauls the tank down to the lower pond for filling. It fills in a minute, but when we bring it to the pit, we realize that it drains much, much slower. Over an hour later, we would still be watching the water dribble out. Not a good solution.
A much larger tarp is found. This one allows the full load of water to be delivered to the pit, with only minimal spilling on bumps. We estimate the capacity of the bed at around 300-400 gallons. This puts the truck well beyond its rated payload of 1450 pounds, but it has no problems - when the tailgate is released and the water rushes out, we observe the truck rising several inches to its original height. After 3 full loads of water, the pit is deemed ready. It's late and we're ready to kick back and relax. While some decide to go to bed, or just relax in the barn, a fire is lit up and is enjoyed with some marshmallows (thanks Mrs. Steiger!).
Click on any thumbnail for a full sized version
"Working" on Andy's Truck
Breaking in the Mud Pit
Adam & Jon's Excellent Adventure
Riding the Trails
Filling the Mud Pit