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The plans for the JV 2002 Thanksgiving Run started back in April. I knew then that I was going to try to make the trip out to JV if at all possible. I had not been to CA to see my wheelin' friends this year and a week's worth of vacation during the week of Thanksgiving would give me a few days to devote to the trip.
My very good friend, Blaine Johnson, had been answering my questions about JV for quite some time. To boil everything down to a single statement: Strip everything I could out of the TJ.....being light on the rocks was the name of the game. This being the case, I realized that the hard top and full metal doors would be shed once I made JV. I didn't want to do the drive from Phoenix with no top and I don't have a soft top. Blaine provided a bikini top for me to use but with the weather the way it was, I opted not to take the time to install it. As it was, I neither cooked in the sun nor got rained on so all was good there.
I left Phoenix a little before noon on Monday and headed west on I-10. I was in no hurry since I had the rest of the day to make Yucca Valley, CA where I had reserved a room for the night. I was to meet Garry for dinner. It was a good thing I was not in much of a hurry as I met up with a nasty head wind about an hour from Phoenix and fought it the remainder of the trip to JV. Once at JV, I checked in to my motel and discovered Garry had booked a room there as well. We met for dinner, got to know each other a bit, and then called it a night. We would be heading out to the dry lake bed the following morning to set up camp (he still had some of his gear out there).
Blaine was not able to make the trip (a last minute change of plans) so he
sent my parts (my Currie Anti-Rock and Steering system) that he had picked up
for me along with Jeff, another local SoCal Jeeper, who met up with us on the
lake bed Tuesday morning.
With Jeff's and Garry's help, I pulled the top and the doors. I had already removed the storage box from the back end prior to starting the trip. We decided to simply disco the front end for now and we would install the Anti-Rock when we got back to camp. Everyone was ready to head out to Sledge Hammer and get the day started.
Garry asked which trail I wanted to run and I told him Sledge Hammer was to be the first one for me. It would give me a taste of what JV had to offer. Jeff was up for this one as well so it was quickly decided that Sledge would be today's target. Jeff had not ran the trail either so we were both looking to Garry for some helpful assistance on which lines would be best. In many cases, there was only one line....the right one. Anything else would get you hung up, as Jeff and I discovered every now and again. <grin>
Did I mention that Tuesday was "Green Jeep" day at the Hammers? Garry took the lead and Jeff followed him. I brought up the rear (look Mom, NO spare tire.) Jeff was carrying a 35" MT/R spare in his short bus so I opted to leave mine back at camp. Yet one more thing to lighten the load on the trail. Here we are, just getting into the start of Sledge. (Hey, check out those brand new corner guards from Toys-by-Troy!)
Here is Jeff working his way up the trail. He picked up a couple of scrapes on his door panels during the two days I wheeled with him....but that didn't stop him from putting his Cherokee on the right line to get up and over an obstacle. I always have to give a tip of the hat to the bus drivers. Heck, I have a hard enough time getting my short TJ through a lot of these places.
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