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Detonation - Campfire Stories

Detonation

John Lehenbauer
May 17, 2017
Photographers: John Lehenbauer
Over the years, it has become very apparent to me that the thrill and adventure of traveling cross-country is alive and well. Whether done on an interstate or a one-lane dirt road, people continue to traverse this country every day. I know everyone has a different idea of what an adventure is, but when it’s time for war stories around the campfire with your buddies, no one ever sits around and talks about the trips that went according to plan. Those just seem to fade from our minds. What stands out and gets people fired up are the crazy trips they’ve gone on. The outings that totally went south (broken down, stuck, stranded, and so on) are the ones remembered most.
I have quite a few crazy outings that would make for good campfire conversations. But my return from the 2017 Jp Dirt ’N Drive is the thing that has me thinking about such tales. I drove The Enthusiast Network’s ’06 Dodge Ram 3500 and towed the Four Wheeler Network events trailer, and it reminded me of the adventure I had last year with the same rig on the 2016 Jp DND.
The adventure started a little more than a week after I was hired at TEN in March 2016. I set out from Los Angeles for my first stop: Las Vegas, Nevada. Vegas was the starting point for Jp Dirt ’N Drive, and my assignment was to shadow the convoy for the next few days, all the way to Moab, Utah. There were no issues on the drive to Las Vegas or the next stop, Bryce Canyon, Utah. But things did get interesting during the final leg of the trip headed into Moab.
Photo 2/2   |   We stopped to take in the beautiful panorama on the way to Bryce Canyon in 2016. At this point, it had been an enjoyable trip with no problems. The canopy is still attached to the side of the trailer.
The morning I was to head out of Bryce for Moab, I was asked to haul a Jeep CJ7 with a bad engine in the trailer. That was not a problem. The trailer had plenty of room. So, we got the Jeep loaded and hit the road. A second Jeep ended up caravanning with us because of front-end problems. Along the way, we stopped to pick up a used engine at a junkyard that Trent (my new copilot and the CJ owner) knew about. The guys at the junkyard strapped the engine to a pallet and loaded it in the side door of the trailer. As they put the engine in the side door, I paused. The spare tire compartment was just inside the door and now underneath the engine. There wasn’t really anywhere else to load the engine, so I crossed my fingers and hoped the spare wouldn’t be needed.
Of course, we weren’t back on the road too long when one of the trailer tires blew out. At that point, we were then in Middle of Nowhere, Utah, with an engine sitting on the door of the spare tire. Our first order of business was getting the spare out. We ended up sliding the engine part way out of the side door (glad it was a Jeep I-6 and not a Cummins) and using an ice chest to support the end of the pallet. Once we had the spare, we found the lug nuts on the wheel with the flat were too tight for the small tire iron in the trailer. Luckily, the gentleman in the Jeep following us had a socket and a breaker bar. We might have been there awhile if not for his tools. After much longer than it should have taken, the spare was installed, everything was put back inside, and we got back on the road.
When we finally arrived in Moab, I dropped Trent and his Jeep off at Grandpa’s Garage, at the south end of town. I left Grandpa’s and drove back toward the north end of town. On my way there, the passenger side of the trailer was hit with a gust of wind crossing the Colorado River. The gust ripped the sunshade/canopy off the side of the trailer and blew the retractable part onto the roof. The support arms were then dragging on the blacktop and there was nowhere to pull over. After dragging aluminum arms for a half-mile, I was finally able to pull onto the side of the road. With the shade destroyed, I cleared stuff off the roof, cut what was left of the canvas loose from the trailer, removed the arms, and then crammed everything inside the trailer.
After a day of unfortunate events, I finally made it to my destination. With a good night’s rest, I was ready to go again. Chalk that day up as another adventure to talk about around the campfire.

John

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