by Graham McNeill
I got into this interesting conversation with a Snapping Turtle on Pokey’s trail last Friday. He (or she) didn’t have a lot to say except to complain that his (or her) water hole was drying up fast because it hadn’t rained for two months and the fact he (or she) shared the water hole with another Snapping Turtle that was bigger than him (or her). The turtle did notice that there were more guides and helpers this year than guests. It might have been the heat but most people made their plans before they new it would be blistering. I do believe that just about everyone that participated had a good time. They certainly did on Pokey’s run which I ran on Friday and Susie’s Knob that I ran on Saturday. But saying that there were so many familiar faces missing, the event did not seem right.
Rick (I love Jeff Gordon) Culberson is retiring from leading Pokey’s Run after this week end. Rick has led this trail for 10 years and it was his dream to finish the trail without actually breaking anything, but sadly, he broke a front driveshaft while driving across a perfectly flat piece of grass with absolutely no obstructions in the way to cause the damage. We left Rick to walk home alone in the 99 degree heat. The trail was then led by Jim van der Borg. Jim’s son was driving his newly purchased YJ so dad promptly guided him into the fence post at the trailhead.
Billy Walston was in his usual fine form doing his best to get everyone in trouble. This year he was guiding with the help of a crutch as he his having knee surgery the following week. The picture shows Billy’s better side guiding Mark Vitterow up Little Dakota. Billy made us all promise not tell his dad (Pokey himself) that he was not acting and driving in his usual crazy, good natured manner but was in fact driving responsible with décor and reverence. So just for you Billy, I am not going to let you down. Perhaps you can tell us one day who was driving your Toyota (disguised as a Jeep XJ) in this picture. We finished the 7-1/2 mile trail in a record time so we just turned around and ran it backwards. Jim Jr. van der Borg retired with no brakes and another TJ suffered from engine problems.
Jeff Sorenson was having a pretty good day in his YJ until his lovely wife Debbie took over spotting duties. “Just a few more inches dear, just a little bit more dear” and wham bam thank you mam they were rubber side up. The rest of the day was fairly straight forward with no more mishaps.
After the trail ride we retired to the Legion Hall and enjoyed a good dinner. One good thing about small event attendance is no lines, plenty of seconds, a better chance of winning a raffle prize and no waiting for somewhere to sit. I made fun of a few misguided soles at the raffle although I won’t mention any names even though one was Rodney Baker driving a red Bronco who has been my sparring partner at these events for a quite awhile now.
Saturday morning started with the usual insurance company mandated “Doom and Gloom” speech which is now referred to as the “Highly theatrical, very informative, safety speech”.
Shown below is trail boss Don Maxheimer making the aforementioned speech with helpers from the Suhre family.
On Saturday we were lead by John Toumbs on Suzie’s Knob. My son and I took turns driving the Willys up and down several rocky ledges that I had serious second thoughts about. Again it was bloody hot but we all survived.
At left is John’s gnarly CJ. I am not sure if the wooden devise is used for detecting water or just a hood ornament.
The day was relatively uneventful with many steep climbs, on one of which I had to winch. Kathleen and Hayward Ball arrived a day late to the BLAST only to blow a drive shaft on the first obstacle of the day. To add insult to injury his winch totally unspoiled leaving him in a very precarious position on the obstacle. We were all very concerned and busted a gut laughing. Tail gunner Todd went rubber side up after some over exuberant driving but was back on his feet in just a few minutes. The only breakdown was Rod Baker’s Bronco’s gas tank falling out which caused several stops due to lack of fuel pressure. Rod had to finally retire but fortunately it was at the end of the day.
The picture shows my son Shawn getting all twisted up going down “Full Throttle” on Susie’s Knob.
The last obstacle was the back side of Susie’s Knob. John spotted me down. He shouted “driver, driver”, I turned right. He screamed “driver, driver” again. Again I turned right. I can’t print what he said then but the audience had a good laugh claiming I was a Brit right seat driver.
I had to leave early to take my son back to college and so missed the Saturday evening dinner and raffle. I promise to be back in the Spring at the Safari to rip into anybody there dares show up. Hopefully someone will come up with new ideas to increase attendance that the club will actually listen to. It’s a great event that is tons of fun and I know in my heart that can be as big and as it ever was with just a little work. Meanwhile, until then have fun and stay rubber side down.
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