Tuttle Creek ORV Park
29 August 2004

(Pretty Jeeps All In A Row)

Brent & Justin Kalemkiarian wanted to get in one more 4-wheeling run before Justin headed back to college for the fall, so a handful of us (including 4 of the same vehicles that had gone the month before) headed down to Kansas once again for a little fun in the sun. Despite getting a fair bit of rain the preceding week, the high ground & trails of the ORV park were dry. The creek and the low lands had plenty of water in them, though.

The cast:

  • Ben "Obi-Wan" (me) & Micah Hollingsworth - black YJ
  • Matt Hickey & Josh Welter - blue YJ
  • Brent & Justin Kalemkiarian - black ZJ
  • Steve, Ben, & Bryan Dickey - white TJ
  • Jerry & Michael Westhoff & Kneen Knapp - red TJ
  • Bryan Bennett - silver XJ

Four of the six Jeeps were father/son teams, which was cool. This was Bryan's first trip to Randolph after moving to Lincoln from California just a few weeks before to attend school at UNL. This was also Steve's friend's first trip with us, but he was a seasoned Jeeper who had been to Randolph before. On the drive down, my "friends" had been giving me a hard time about never having used my pretty new winch off-road. Because of the nice weather, we ran into several other groups of wheelers that day, including some of the KC Jeep Club, who we'd cross paths with several times throughout the day. They're nice folks.

As usual, we started out along the north edge of the park toward the three lesser ledges. While there, we could hear somebody in the trees to the south loudly revving their engine as if stuck. Keep reading. Since he had the best-equipped Jeep in our group, Matt played on the ledges more than the rest of us. Once again, he nearly got hung up on the U-bolt plates from his SUA front springs. Fortunately, this time the soft Kansas rocks prevented him from getting stuck. Someday he'll see the light and go SOA. :-)

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After a brief stop at the minor ledges, we headed south en route to the plateau and the major ledges. I was tail gunning at the time. Steve took a wrong turn from the rest of the group and headed toward the top side of the whoops. There, we ran into the group from KC that were trying to extract a YJ from some bottomless mud. I decided to head over and lend a hand. He'd somehow managed to get his right wheels up on the dry ridge and his left wheels into 2 feet of mud. Although he had tow hooks on each back corner, the one that we really needed to use to pull him out was buried in the mud. I tried to winch him out backwards from the exposed tow hook, but that just wasn't the right angle to free him from the mud. They kept digging with my shovel (the first time it had ever been used), and eventually exposed his left rear hook. With one Jeep holding a snatch strap on his right side roll bar to keep him from rolling sideways into the mud, my winch pulling on his right rear tow hook, another winch pulling on his left rear tow hook, and two full-size trucks using snatch straps on his rear receiver hitch, we finally got him extracted. The only real damage was a slightly wrinkled left rear corner and a blown bead on the left rear tire. This proved to be quite a good stress test for my winch, and it quieted my friends' good-natured ribbing. BTW, if any of the KC group has photos of this incident that include me, I'd love to have a copy. Please email me.

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We then made our way through some mud puddles and steep hills to Party Cove, where we stopped for lunch. Bryan had a little trouble climbing the slick, muddy hills, which were made even worse because you had to ford some watery mud holes just before you hit the hills. We all made it eventually, though.

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After lunch, we headed south toward Denise Butts Hill. That's where we discovered that Bryan's tail pipe had been ripped out of the muffler and wrapped around his rear axle. I stopped and watched him remove it, then we hurried to catch up with the rest of the group.

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Once we were all back together, we headed over to do Corkscrew and Driveshaft. While at the top, the three larger Jeeps (Matt, me, and Steve's friend) climbed the big ledge above Driveshaft. We then watched the KC group climb Driveshaft before heading back down that route ourselves. Driveshaft has gotten worse lately than it was a few years ago. It's pretty well dug out now, which requires that vehicles with open diffs pay much more attention to taking the correct line (hugging the right wall) and maintaining sufficient momentum.

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After Driveshaft, we ran Witches Loop (passing the bottom of Arp Hill and Woody's Lane), then ran along the north lake shore for a bit to the spot where we've frequently played on the banks. The water level is much higher than in recent years, our normal playground was completely underwater. It's still a pretty spot, though. Speaking of scenery, I don't think I've ever seen more foliage in bloom down there than there was on this trip. Sunflowers, thistles, goldenrod(?) and some little white-ish plant were everywhere in the lowlands by the lake.

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After that, we headed down the creek (Brent's favorite spot) to the whoops. Matt tried unsuccessfully to climb a couple of them, as a large mud hole at the base prevented any traction he might otherwise have had. He succeeded only in covering his Jeep and his passenger with mud, so we then headed back down the creek to wash off our wheels on the way out.

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Although I didn't see it, I'm told that Bryan got stuck in a mud hole en route to the staging area, and had to be pulled out by the Dickeys. That stuck and his tailpipe removal made him the only contestant for the hard luck award from our group on this trip. Oh, and if you ever try to pass Bryan on the highway, be careful. He likes to bully people. ;-)

Once back at the staging area, we wandered over to the top of Rock Rash to watch a couple of the KC group make successful runs. The first one, a tube buggy based on a Blazer chassis running 38" tires, tried a couple different lines at the exit rim before finally squeezing between two trees. He rubbed both tires at the same time & wrinkled all his fenders, but he made it through & out. I was talking with a friend and didn't see the second Jeep (a TJ owned by Lee Kelly), but he garnered a huge cheer from the other spectators when he finally emerged. We finally called it a day and headed back home around 4:30pm.

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If you have a burning desire to print some of these images, or if you want to see some of the shots that I didn't think were worthy of this page, you'll probably want to grab the full-size versions from here. Be warned: most of them are roughly 1 MB in size.

Back to Obi-Wan's trip reports page
Last updated 6 Sep 2004
Obi-Wan (obiwan@jedi.com)




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