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Detonation; Rollin’ into 2018


John Lehenbauer
Mar 1, 2018
Photographers: John Lehenbauer
I can’t believe the second month of 2018 is already upon me. Heck, it is hard to believe it is already 2018. What happened to the new millennium? Doesn’t it feel like year 2000 arrived only a few years ago? As I get older, I try and come to grips with the fact that time keeps moving forward no matter what I do to slow it down. It even feels like time has sped up over the years.
Working on Diesel Power and other aspects of life seems to make time pass very quickly, but even so, my “side gig” as driver/roadie for the TEN: A Discovery Communication Company’s Four Wheeler Network ’06 Dodge Ram 3500 and fifth-wheel trailer keeps me busy. In the first half of 2018, the company’s promotions team has me hauling the trailer to different off-road events throughout the southwest.
The first event I headed to was the King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, California, which is in the high desert, only a few hours outside of Los Angeles. Distance-wise it isn’t too bad, but having to deal with traffic, stoplights, and the challenges that come with traversing slow, two-lane backroads with a 40-foot trailer can make the trip feel like Gilligan’s three-hour tour. So the journey will involve me waking up and leaving at o-dark-thirty to avoid the headaches generated by the worst traffic in the entire U.S.A. The nice thing about the race being close to home is that I didn’t have to stay with trailer the entire time it was at the event. I got to unhook it and go home for a few days.
Photo 2/2   |   I enjoyed the beautiful warm February day in Hammer Town (King of the Hammers) in Johnson Valley, California, while waiting for details about where to deliver the Four Wheeler Network’s fifth-wheel trailer. While the dry lakebed looks crowded in this photo, a steady flow of people was still arriving.
Almost three weeks after returning the trailer to its stall at the storage facility, I’ll hitch it back up and head out again. This time, I’ll go southeast to Salton Sea, California, for the Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari. Even though it is winter here, temperature in that part of the state can be in the ’80s during the day, dropping to almost freezing at night. Since it is only a two-day event, I’ll hang out and try to get a little four-wheeling and exploring in. There is a lot of cool desert topography and historical sites in the area to check out.
After TDS, I get a little break from driving (a little more than two weeks), and then I’m off again. This time, the haul is a bit longer in time and distance for two separate events that actually run consecutively. The first one is Jp magazine’s Dirt ’N Drive, which, in 2018, takes me out to the Arizona desert, northeast of Phoenix, where all the participants (and staff) gather and check in before rolling out on this multi-day event, traveling along dirt roads and trails to different predetermined locations. My job is to parallel DND on the highway as a support vehicle each day and meet up with everyone in the evenings. Moab, Utah, is Dirt ’N Drive’s final destination, and it’s where the second event Easter Jeep Safari begins.
After arriving in Moab, I have a few days’ hiatus from driving, but it doesn’t mean it’s free time. Usually, there are work assignments and tasks, and a backlog of emails I need to get caught up on. There is also an EJS vender expo I have to prepare the trailer for and help out at later in the week. Once the expo concludes, I climb back in the truck for the long drive back to California.
The 750-mile trek back to Cali is the hardest part of the whole trip. I enjoy the scenic drive and sparse traffic through Utah, but the thing that makes the drive feel like it’s endless is seeing the “Autos with Trailers/Trucks 55 Maximum—RADAR ENFORCED” speed-limit sign at the California border. By the time that point is reached, I have been driving for hours and through three states where driving at 75-plus mph is legal. Hitting that 55-mph zone feels like regressing to a horse and wagon (it’s amazing what losing 20 mph does to your senses). I hear Sammy Hagar’s song “I Can’t Drive 55” playing in my head every time. And, to make matters worse, let’s not forget the horrible increase in traffic on Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
When my Easter Jeep Safari obligation is over and done, shuttling the truck and trailer is limited to a few local shows spread throughout rest of the year. As I put aside my non-editorial driving job, the diesel-event season kicks into gear. I won’t be driving a lot, but I’ll definitely be busy and traveling everywhere.
I’m definitely not complaining about any of this. I really enjoy being able to visit different areas of the U.S. while doing my job. And even though I have been to many of these places before, I always try to learn more about them and see something new each time.


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