The real purpose of this trip was to visit the famous (infamous) Rubicon Trail and try out The Black Pearl on the holy grail of Jeep trails. More on this later…
Then, disaster struck. As we approached the gatekeeper, we paused to lower the tire pressure and noticed a passenger rear shock was dangling beneath the Jeep. With no replacement bolt, the decision was made to remove the shock, completely, but with all the trouble we had encountered to make it this far, we were starting to believe that God just didn’t intend for us to make this trek.
Along comes a fella in a stoutly built Toyota FJ40 and announces to us that he is a trail chaperone of sorts and lives mid-way on the trail. He asks if we have brought camping gear and where we plan to stay for the night. When we reply that we are starting a day trip (it is getting late in the day), he informs us that the Rubicon Trail takes 2-3 days to complete if you have never been there. He eyeballs our baby Jeep on 31” tires and gives us a trail map and some advice. Then, he flags down another Rubicon visitor and secures a shock bolt for us.
James walks the first two hundred yards of the trail (The Gatekeeper) and returns with a broken ego and enough humility to forego this trip. It was a difficult decision because who knows when we may be this way again with the Jeep.
We left Moab with a new lower control arm and headed over to Ouray, CO for a little more 4-wheelin’ fun! We booked a tent site at the KOA and bedded down for the evening with thoughts of Black Bear Pass on our minds
We drove along the narrow switchbacks and took in scenery that only God could create.
We stopped for lunch in Telluride and had some great steamed burgers. Who knew?? Then, we headed out to find the trailhead for Imogene Pass to take us back to Ouray.
With temperatures dipping into the low 30s, we went exploring for some sources of heat and were able to sleep comfortably on our last night in Colorado
So, James turns 54 today and is clearly the senior citizen of this group. Anxious to get to the trails, we made a pit stop to check out some ancient artwork and wonder about the meaning of it all. The Colorado River is running alongside these cliffs and there are a few bathers. It looks refreshing on a hot day.
The scenic beauty of the “Top of the World” trail cannot possibly be described in words or depicted in photos. It was a fun, challenging, and beautiful afternoon drive to one of the prettiest destinations I have ever seen.
Back at the campsite, little did I know that the biggest Birthday Party of my entire life was about to unfold. I received cards, letters, and ca$h from family and friends, carefully selected gifts from my lovely wife, a birthday cake, and even had a beer with Mason (he drank cream soda). It was the perfect ending to a great day!
Thank You, Shelly Hinkle, for making my 54th Birthday a day/week/month to remember! I love you to the top of the world and back!!
It has been 32 years in the making, but my dream to go 4-Wheelin’ in Moab, UT has finally been fulfilled!
Mike was a gracious host and led us on a “family oriented” trail, rich in history and scenery. During our visit to Canyonlands, I earned his seal of approval as a driver capable of piloting a Jeep in Moab, UT. He gave us a few pointers on driving some of the more notable Moab Jeep trails, and we said farewell as we headed back to camp to retrieve kids and dogs and explore on our own.
We ran the rest of Fins & Things after dark! It was a great adventure that we will never forget.
WOW! Just Wow! This was on Shelly’s bucket list and I was happy to help that dream come true for her. What I didn’t know (and I’m not sure how this escaped me) is that Arches would surpass The Grand Canyon, for me, in natural beauty and wonder.
We enjoyed a full day of driving through the park and seeing these breathtaking rock formations.
The temp was 91° and the sun was hot but we loaded up on water and ignored our hunger to take in these wonders.
What a fabulous day to be alive! God is quite the artist, and we are so thankful to have had this experience.
And they are off! A quick re-route on travel eve and we are headed to Farmington, NM instead of Zion. A brief geography lesson, last night, helped us with this determination. While Shelly is somewhat disappointed, I am excited for some off-roading at Chokecherry Canyon. We are about to find out what The Black Pearl is lacking. It will be fun, even if we have to take the bypass routes. We will also detour to take in the obligatory 4-Corners. Angel Peak is also on the short list.
And… I received some of my Birthday gifts today!! While Shelly has been giving me some of my favorite things all month, I received a beautiful buffalo leather computer bag that I can’t wait to put into action!
We will check in later with an update on Farmington. Be sure to check in for some amazing pics and details of our adventures.
As a rural “farm kid,” I did lots of camping on the family farm. Now, I’m not talking about camping in a fancy tent, with LED lights and instant pop-up accessibility, I mean sleeping under the stars with an old army blanket and waking up mosquito bit and damp. I used to make fun of the folks who had tents, and RV campers were just city slickers pretending to camp (I believe pretenders are called “posers” these days). So, when Shelly (my lovely bride) told me she loved to camp, my almost 54 year old body creaked and groaned a little louder and my brain went into panic mode. Here’s what happened next…
To continue, Shelly mentioned setting up “camp” in an actual campground (KOA). Now, remember, I’m a farm kid. That ain’t real camping. Real camping involves finding a remote spot, building a real campfire, and communing with nature. Fast forward, and my body tells me that having running water and electrical hook-ups, not to mention real toilets and hot showers, is not all that bad. Imagine that!
So, here we are are killing it! Multiple tents (for honeymooning purposes) and a plethora of camping apparatus have been begrudgingly purchased and incorporated as part of daily life. I believe we are on “Week 8”. To be fair, we have had a few breaks where we traveled away from camp and stayed in hotels, but usually I find myself curiously drawn back to camp life. Who knew?? – James
P.S. Our latest tent purchase arrives on 9/22, via Amazon. See the quote above…