Tuttle Creek ORV Park
3 April 2004

A group of us from southeast & south central Nebraska met up at the Tuttle Creek ORV Park in Kansas for a day of wheeling. The only breakage this time was Randy's front license plate frame -- a nice trophy for his first off-road adventure. Except for Randy, the rest of us had gone wheeling together the previous summer. Jon had made some improvements to the $500 Sammy, but his treatment of the rig certainly didn't reflect its increased value. I initially wasn't planning on doing any wheeling before I got my ladder bar installed, but my 4-yr-old son had been asking me when we were going to go wheeling again, and the weather was great, so I decided to just take it easy and hope for the best. Good choice.

The cast:

  • Ben "Obi-Wan" (me) & Micah Hollingsworth - black YJ
  • Matt Hickey - bright blue YJ
  • Ethan Joy & father-in-law Larry - dark blue TJ
  • Jon Isaacson - olive drab Samurai
  • Randy Gehrt - dark green XJ

Jon & Randy had arrived at Tuttle the night before (Friday), and stayed until Sunday. Ethan, Matt, and I drove down early Saturday morning. We hit the ORV park around 10:30am. We started with the standard counter-clockwise loop around the park. Shortly after starting, we decided Randy would be much better off if he disconnected his sway bar.

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While we were there, we ran into a group of Land Rover (Disco & Range Rover) owners from Kansas and Nebraska. Just before we left for the day, we got to watch one of them get stuck in the mud down by the lake and then winched out (no photos, though -- I'd filled my memory card).

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We played for a while on the 3 short ledges in the northwest corner of the park. Jon made a valiant attempt at climbing the middle ledge.

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We then made our way over toward the big ledges by the plateau. Jon took the Sammy airborne a few times, and Matt managed to get high centered on his front diff and spring plate. SOA, brother! I pulled him backward a foot while the others removed the offending rock from his path. I'd hoped that I'd get to use my winch for the first time off-road, but Matt's only rear tow point was his 2" receiver hitch pin. :-( Micah picked up a pet rock ("It was lonely") which he later named "Rocky." NOTE that photos #32 and #33 are actually 2-3MB AVI movies, not still photos.

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We then descended Jeep Hill, which is much more dug-out than the last time I'd driven by it. Ethan briefly got his rear wheels airborne while dropping over a ledge. Despite his shorter wheelbase, Jon managed to keep all 4 on the ground.

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As we stopped for lunch, some guys in a 3/4-ton Chevy pickup wandered by. They'd just bought it as a parts truck, and figured they'd put it through its paces before stripping it down. Its bald tires got stuck in a very small mud puddle, but Jon's Super Sammy saved the day.

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While the rest of us were eating, Micah preferred to drive Daddy's Jeep and then play with his own toy Jeeps that he'd brought along.

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After lunch, we worked our way through the southwest area of the park, then up Corkscrew, then made a couple loops down Driveshaft (which has also gotten pretty badly dug out) and up Eagle's Nest. The smoke you see across the lake was from brush fires that were intentionally set to burn off some of the undergrowth before the dry season hit.

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We then made our way up the western shore of the lake. On our way over there, Jon got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out by Ethan. Later in the day, we watched both a Grand Cherokee and a Discovery also get stuck in this same creek.

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Jon and Matt both tried to make it out to a little island 50 feet from the shore line, but decided to turn back. We decided instead to simply wash the mud from our wheels and continue on. Micah really loved driving in the lake. Farther north, we played on the dirt embankment for a while. This is where Randy suffered the only damage of the day, when he ripped his front license plate off the Jeep while backing down a steep hill.

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With our resident daredevil Ethan leading the way, we skirted along the narrow shoreline and made our way up to the rock garden closer to the bridge. We decided there was no way we were going to get Randy's low-riding XJ any farther, so we stopped there for a while. Jon, Matt, Ethan, and Micah played on the rocks with their Jeeps for a while before we headed back to the main ORV park. I would have done the same, but I'd been having trouble with axle wrap lately, and didn't want to push my luck until I got my ladder bar installed. Ethan & I then headed home around 3:30pm, but Matt stayed a while longer to hang out with Jon & Randy.

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This was the first time I'd used our "new" 2001 Chevy Tahoe to flat tow my Wrangler. I was very impressed. Towing the YJ behind the Tahoe wasn't quite as transparent as it was behind my dad's 1-ton Ford van with a 460 V8 and 4.10 gears (duh), but it was noticeably better than my '77 Wagoneer with it's fresh 401 V8. The Tahoe is also more comfortable than either of those vehicles. The added weight and wheelbase (vs the Wag) were very noticeable, as were the 4-wheel disc brakes and the awesome little 5.3L Vortec engine. I only averaged 11 mpg round trip, but half of that was driving 65-70 mph into a 20 mph head wind through hilly terrain. Dropping my speed to 60-65 probably would have improved mileage a bit.

If you have a burning desire to print some of these images, you'll probably want to grab the full-size version from here. Be warned: most of them are 2-3MB in size.

Back to Obi-Wan's trip reports page
last updated 9 Apr 2004
Obi-Wan (obiwan@jedi.com)




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