Dutch Creek and Murphy's Law - 2001 4x4 Blast

by Elmo and Barb

Well kids, I think the Lord above smiled on our event this year. What a beautiful few days He provided for our outing. With the humidity gone and nighttime temperatures allowing us to sleep without air conditioners I do not think anyone could ask for more. The only exception would be the few unfortunate ones who broke parts and pieces out on the trail.

Friday we started our foray into the woods with our fair leader Mr. Lee Ator. Lee took us out to Dutch Creek for the third time this year and for the first time this year I did not get stuck (although a few others did). Thank you to Lee and his gracious wife Tammy for allowing us to run on their property. One of our most memorable tow jobs was when my Dad pulled Diane Lozenski, her mom Ardith and her dad Chuck out of the creek. I don't think we moved quite fast enough though as her black 2001 TJ (upgraded from stock with only a cool stereo and a graphic stripe down both sides) filled up with water. I popped the drain plug and we were on our way. We lost a few Jeeps throughout the day with Lee being the first (carburetor acted up). Then a Toyota lost its front drive shaft and headed home for the day. Barb Anrod's '97 TJ jumped a log and decided it no longer wanted to start so we pull-started her and she later took it to Jacksonville for a new starter.

Saturday found us gathering in the lot at the American Legion for another fun day of wheeling. As we lined up a few familiar faces began to appear: Barb and her new starter and Diane with her parents. They had taken off the doors but were afraid they'd get too much water so they chose another trail. We all waved to them as we departed for Murphy's Law. Steve Gambrill (Chief) and his wife were our trail guides. Gary Williams (Murphy) was our tail gunner for the day. Then Paul (alias Sewer Rat) took over when Murph broke down. Again, we take time to say thank you to our landowners for allowing us to play on your property.

We began our run with 13 Jeeps and made it to just before lunch before we had our first problem. We were playing at the infamous carburetor alley when Craig Flowers made the rear drive shaft on his CJ7 look like an ice cream cone. As he tried to pose for the camera while climbing the wall of a crevice his Jeep dropped off a bump. That is where he twisted the drive shaft into two pieces. My daughter and Barry Pensoneau took off the loose remains of the drive shaft with Craig's help and even with the beautiful weather we were still all leaking fluids from our heads while climbing the crevice to help. Barry looked the worst after standing on his head to extract the parts. He came up a little red-faced along with all the sweat.

The next carnage was only over the hill. We were being led through a creek bed and down some rocks when Tim Preston in his impressive TJ (with large bogger type tires) started to bounce. From my vantage point it looked like he had lost traction in the slime and in doing so the truck did a little two wheel dance on the back two boggers. Tim made it up the incline and down into the creek before we were stopped. Mike Flowers' right front was attacked by a "V" shaped rock formation that took a bite out of the side of his tire. The familiar rush of air was at first thought to be from the bead, but sadly this was not the case. After a few minutes to change the tire we were again rolling down the creek bed. It was at this point that Tim first started to feel he had a problem. He could not get his TJ to climb out of the creek bed. Later, after being pulled to the end of the trail, he found he had completely destroyed his rear carrier.

Murphy's wife had baked cookies and muffins to supplement our lunch in front of the Wombles homestead on route 54 not far from the trailhead. Thank you again for your hospitality! With a cool breeze blowing through the trees we all sat and ate and enjoyed our lunches together. My wife Barbara and Murphy's daughter were getting along famously talking about horses when we broke camp to return to the afternoon of wheeling.

After lunch we headed to what I consider the coolest part of the trip. The waterfall. We all stopped to admire it as Chief gave us his idea of how to either sink or swim (depending on the size of your lift and tires). He took his fire-engine-red YJ through the deepest part just to show us it could be done. Unlike most leaders showing the troops how to do something he went right through just like it should be done. It was a little scary looking at water lines approaching the bottom of his door sills, wondering if you might be the good Samaritan who would swim out and hook a tow strap to him if he didn't make it out. Barb with her green stock TJ drove a lot to the left and stayed fairly dry. Her new starter must have been thinking "How did I get hooked up with someone like this?" My dad, Elmo Sr., in his mostly stock CJ5 (with new tires from Neal Tire) had just a little trouble with my brother-in-law Roger Gramm at the wheel, but they came through on the second try due to the carbureted engine stalling out. The rest of us with modifications from lockers to lifts all made it with little or no problems.

Our second day of wheeling proved to be little or no problem for Jim Vanderburg and family in the red TJ, Todd Whitaker with Jason as shotgun in his black "YJ's Rule" Jeep, Christian Morris in his red TJ, and Barbara (my lovely wife) and myself in our black YJ. My daughter, Sarah, with Barry and Jennifer in tow in her '94 YJ did not fare so well. On one of the passes through the creek bed she had a little altercation with a very sharp rock. The rhythmic psst, psst, psst of air had her asking who's tire was leaking. Unfortunately it was her street tire and there she sat with her BF Goodrich All Terrain bleeding air from the sidewall. We all pitched in and swapped her big tall white letter dress-up tire for her black-walled pizza cutter tire from the spare mount. (Back at the hotel Barry finished the transplant of the rest of the pizza cutters so Sarah could drive home). My dad, Roger and Jeff took turns at the wheel climbing the last long hill for the day. The red '79 CJ5 began to bog down coming up to winch hill. It was the carbureted engine and a large stick stuck in the clutch linkage. But, our very experienced trail guide pulled out his trusty winch cable, and when that didn't work he hooked up the CJ with his fire engine red YJ and pulled Roger to the top of the hill.

What a great end to a great outing. Thank you to all in attendance and especially to our workers and land owners and sponsors.~

Created: 10/11/01