Tuesday, May 27, 2014


We have been in Quad City suburb Colona IL for a week. Jo has had several visits with her 96 year old mother. The Cooper Clan sisters (Arla, Jo and Barbara) and family members have gotten together for pizza and cards, Tuesday happy hours, and, usually at Jo’s urging, a few meals out. Jo and I also have sampled a few Whitey’s milkshakes, always excellent.

A small carnival appears for the Memorial Day weekend  in Colona every year, and for the first time I attended it, just to reminisce and take pictures. The rides seem much the same as 50 years a ago, as do the games of chance/skill, but I missed the bumper cars.

Pictures are taken in the Canon A1100 IS 12 mp point and shoot camera.


I was there at twilight, the time families with young children attended. Ride tickets were $1.00 each, and rides charged between 3 and 5 tickets to ride. Oh, the effects of inflation!


This ride was best suited to the very young.  IMG_5773

And this ride was a scaled down roller coaster.



On this one centrifugal force overcomes gravity.


A tamer example  of centrifugal force.


This carnival had no ferris wheel. While this ride at first glance seems close, the passenger cages rotate 360 degrees while the big arm rotates. I would be quick to pass on this one.



The object of this one was to throw a ball at the cups and win whatever prize was named in the cup you might knock over.


Here the contestant had the satisfaction of popping a balloon with a dart to win the promised prize.



Of course, all sorts of delicacies were available at the food booths.


The plastic headlight covers on our Jeep looked like they had cataracts, so I invested in the 3M product kit to remove the clouding and make them clear again. This is the first time for me  to clean the covers. Mike has done two, so he is the old hand with using the kit.

The first picture is the before condition.



I used the masking tape in the kit to protect the finish on the body  while successive higher grits on small sanding disks powered by an electric drill were used on the plastic to remove the haze. Mike Williams and I took turns in the grinding/polishing process.



This is the final result we were able to get with all of the sanding disks in the kit. While it is a big improvement, we could gotten it clearer  with more disks.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Jo’s oldest grandson, Adam, took us 4 wheeling Missouri style in his older Jeep Cherokee (XJ) which has been duly modified as you will see from the pictures. There is little public land in Missouri accessible to 4 wheelers, so private enterprise has stepped in to fill the void. This 4 wheel drive park is about 25 miles from St Clair and covers 600 acres of wooded steep hills with plenty of ravines and a live stream for those who like to play in the mud.

While Jo and I drove to the park in our Jeep Grand Cherokee  we did not run it there. I took about 25 minutes of video from Adam’s Jeep to show some of the trails, including one which Adam could not go up for want of a rear locker. The road deserves a name, but Adam says naming rights go only those who can drive up it.IMG_5771

When we paid our $10.00 per person admission fee the cashier gave us this rough sketch of the roads in the area, color coded for difficulty level. The more challenging roads were named by signs in the field.


As we started, Adam's Jeep was relatively clean. Contrast this view with the ones at the end! It has the venerable Jeep 4.0 L 6 cyl engine, front lockers, more rugged larger tires, a lift kit and torsion bar release for greater articulation.


This road is typical of the easier roads in the park.


This road is named, so it must have a lot of challenges.


And here is the lower part of the Stairway To The Moon.


Ruts like this one are common. I got out here to get shots of the Jeep going up this road.




Climbing the hill.


And topping out.


This is typical of a lot of the roads – a steep downgrade to a stream or gulley and straight up the steep hill.



In competition, rock crawlers are to go up the rock between the small tree  just to left of center and the red painted line on the right.  We saw several spots like this which look impossible but are climbed by the rock crawlers.


Here is the live stream and one of the large rocks to keep the area interesting.


At the end of the 3 hours spent at the park Adam is reattaching the front suspension components while I am just getting in one of the pictures. Note that the rear vision mirror is turned in.


Jo and the now muddy Jeep. Adam was adept in snaking the Jeep through trees and no new marks were made on it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

MOAB 2014 – HIDDEN CANYON AND 3D May 9, 2014


On Friday I caught a ride with Doug and Peggy Bogart in their Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon model, duly tricked out by Doug. The road was rated a 3 and the only obstacle making it a 3 was about 100 yards of climbing over rough terrain .Doug thought that I could take the hill in our Grand Cherokee. I had not been on this road before.

There were 13 vehicles on this run, all Jeep WranglersIMG_5726

It is a good idea to arrive at the gathering place at least 15 minutes before scheduled departure time for socializing (above) and the drivers meeting (below). Our trail leader is at the far left and did a great job. All of the Jeeps had CB radios for communication on the trail.




Ritual “airing down” takes place as some wide spot on the trail before the 4 wd needs to be engaged.


The  first stop was at Tusher Tunnel, a natural opening through the rock wall so one can see the valley on the other side.


On the trail to Tusher Tunnel.



Our road was the access to some named trails rated 4 and higher. One was Pickle, only a half mile long which takes an hour! Above is the last of several obstacles on Pickle, a near vertical climb.



This is just  the approach to the climb in the foregoing picture.



For drivers who want to go around obstacles, sometimes there are easier routes or bypasses, as here.



Jeepers sometimes go out of their way to find obstacles. Here the crack above can be straddled to make crossing it exciting



This lunch spot overlooks Hidden Canyon. We watched other groups of vehicles passing on the roads below.



An unobstructed view of Hidden Canyon.



With the delay in Flagstaff, we arrived three days late for the FMCA 4 Wheelers rally in Moab. Our Jeep is suitable for the trails rated 2 and 2 1/2. Fortunately, Gemini Cliffs (2 1/2) was available to run with a group on Wednesday. We had not been on  it before so it was a treat for us.


The white Jeep behind us is about to drop over the rock outcropping at the top. That one was typical of many of the obstacles on this run. The trail leader on a pre-run had stacked rocks to make going up over an obstacle like this one easier. We did that one without a hitch.


Gemini Cliffs is also called Hook and Ladder in the guide books of the Moab area. It is southeast of Moab and has its own fine scenic views of the LaSal mountains.



We just climbed from the highway below to the plateau here, with a good view of Wilson Arch below.




Here was a steep spot with some rocks to climb on the way up. This road is very difficult do drive after a rain.




The trail leaders usually find very picturesque places to pause for lunch.



There were only five vehicles in our run, a nice number.


At the end of the run we dropped down a steep “slick rock” hill about 200 ft. long to go from the plateau down to the highway in the valley. Maybe the next time in the area I can drive up it!


At the end of all runs in the area, it is time to “air up” the tires. Many with tires larger than ours reduce air pressure to 10 lbs. I am not that brave and drop mine to 17 lbs.



On the first day of our five month summer trip the “check trans” light came on periodically in the motor home. Attempts to make it stop failed, so we took it to a Freightliner shop in Flagstaff for professional checking out at 5:00 PM Sat. We parked in their service drive for two nights, and after hours of computer analysis on Monday, the conclusion was that there was an intermittently defective sensor in the transmission. It has not come on again since leaving Flagstaff Monday afternoon.

Making lemonade out of lemons, on Saturday we explored Sunset Crater and Wupatki Pueblo.

At  Sunset Crater we learned that one volcanic hot spot created the Bill Williams Mountain farther west at Williams AZ, After many many years the surface of the earth shifted west over the hot spot and more volcanic activity created the San Francisco Peaks.   The same process repeated and volcanic mountains northeast of Flagstaff were created, with the Sunset Crater area being the last, between 1040 and 1100. The actual eruptions there continued over a few years.




Paved foot trails wind around the lava flows. Sunset Crater is in the background in the lower shot



Ponderosa pines growing in the harsh conditions of the cinder areas take grotesque forms when they die.





Here is a large trench resulting from a lava flow.


Sunset Crater is in the background. Years ago visitors were permitted to take a trail to the top. Lucy and I walked part way up it in the early 1960s. The trail became deepened with use, and the trail was closed in the 1970s. Nature has not yet filled in the old trail visible from upper left to higher right.


The San Francisco Peaks still were snow-capped in early May.



The reddish cinders deposited at the top of the volcano similar to those shown here caused it to be called Sunset.



North of Sunset Crater is an area of several pueblos or villages of the natives who farmed in the area.This one is named Wukoki Pueblo and is unusual for its being visible from miles around.


The walls have been stabilized.


While this pueblo is not fortified as much as some others, its being built on a large rock gives it some defenses.



These pots are on display at the Visitors Center and are said to have been made (left) around 700 and (right) around 1100. It is amazing that they have survived intact.



This is the largest structure at the Wupatki Pueblo. It had about 100 rooms on its four levels.




Nearby structures with a ball court at the lower right. It is too large to be a Kiva.


Part of the nearby structures. They also were quite high.