FAMILY 4WD Adventures

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my JEEP    ... Jeep specs, pics, etc.

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On July 6th, just 1 day before my 10th anniversary (July 7, 2006) I called my wife and told her, "Baby, I'm coming home with mah Jeep!"  To my surprise, she met me in the driveway as I drove up, with a bright red ribbon drapped across the driveway ... her way of welcoming a long time dream of mine finally realized!

I found it on the lot  in Round Rock Texas at  Round Rock Jeeps!  I had been trying to buy a new Jeep and wanted the Rubicon.  I had a big long list of  "customizations" they were to add to it, but my financing just wouldn't cover the whole deal.  I left in great dismay - "crushed"!  On m way home I was asking God what I should do.  He said, "Why don't you drop by the old motor place on North Mays that your Dad used to go to?"  I thought to myself, "Why not?  I've seen a Jeep there now and then!"  So I headed off for what I would later find out had become "Round Rock Jeeps". 

When I arrived I was met with at least "20-plus"  Jeeps, and all "used" Jeeps, just waiting there for owners!  It was like the "happy hunting grounds"!  AND, being "used" Jeeps, they were affordable!  I was definitely hearing from God!  There she was!  A "mint condition" white Jeep Sahara!  I knew that was the one!  I searched through the others to see if I could find a Rubicon in the same scheme, but there was not one.  All the Rubicons there were 'automatic' transmissions.  But my "baby" was a 5-speed, manual transmission!   

*NOTE:  manual transmission lends itself to "push starts" and "engine braking" ... something done a great deal in mountainous terrain and on wilderness excursions ... automatic is "preferred" by veteran "rock crawlers" ...  the two, however, are both a matter of preference and nothing more - one is no better than the other. 

Meet the JEEP Wrangler, Sahara package ... 1999 Edition! 

my Jeep on the lotWhen I saw this baby it had a "rock crawlers" set of tires on it already, a 2-inch lift, and a bumper!  I took it to run it by Herbie, my mechanic at Round Rock Mufflers, and he said (and I quote) "Rich, this is a 'cream puff'!  You could run a bunch o' Jeeps by me here and never see one in this good o' shape!"  That was enough for me!  I bought it!!

I later found out, through my dealings with Round Rock Jeeps, that George Feit, the Jeep Sales Rep, was about as reputable as they come!  He's a Jeep owner himself.  As long as he's as part of the dealership, you're in "good hands"!

I traded in my GMC Pickup for this thing and good a "great" deal!  Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't buy my Jeeps any other place!  We quickly ordered the "safari rack", something I'd purposed to add from the very beginning.  Immediately George talked me out of the usual "Wilderness" brand because I was looking to actually "haul" something in mine.  If you're going "out there" you've GOT TO take some "stuff", right?  

George talked me into getting a "Congo Cage" for the Jeep and the "Congo Safari Rack" to go with it!  It has a payload of 500 lbs!  That's more than I planned to haul, so I was convinced.  I could even get on this thing and not worry!  So we ordered it!  The installation was not that difficult from others, and the instructions were pretty simple.  What?  Of course I read them!  Hey, I wanted to get this right the first time! 

After the rack was installed it was time for a camping trip to "test" it out, right?  Right!  My sons are always ready for a camping trip, so I set the date!  My oldest Joshua, couldn't make it - he had to work.  That left John, my 8yr old (at the time) ... with John's job (school) he's off on the weekends - perfect!  We hit the road with all the gear we could imagine on "top"! 

packed and readyLOADED and READY , we packed up for one of my favorite places to go camping, and that's KRAUSE SPRINGS, located in Spicewood Texas, just off of Spur 191 ...

John loved it!  And camping with him is fairly easy, if you've got his favorite foods, which at that time you could count on one hand!  We went swimming!  Yes, it was October, and "YES" the water was cold ... incredibly cold - 67 degrees to be exact!  But it was "his" idea!  We also explored the area, visited with a bunch of Boy Scouts who came out, and had a wonderful time! 

wilderness camping areaWe took the Jeep down to the wilderness camping area where there are no picnic tables, water faucets, or electrical outlets ... just a natural stream that runs right by your camping area!  You go to sleep with the sound of the water falls in the area, as you drift off for the night! 

We set up the TAJ-3 (from REI) and pitched a minimal campsite.  I explained to John how much we had to bring just because he won't eat Backpacker meals.  All we needed could have easily fit in my Osprey Crescent 90 backpack.  My wife says, "you can fit anything in that big thing!"   But I was glad he was here - we had a 'blast"!

Hey, he's "eight", right?  Big deal Dad, what are we doing next?  So, pop-tart in-hand we were off to the next adventure!  From AUSTIN TEXAS, near the FM620 and PARMER LANE area, head WEST on FM620.  Follow FM620 all the way down to highway 71.  The road will actually "dead-end" into FM620 & 71!  You will now HAVE TO GO either East or West.   Turn WEST onto 71 and proceed towards Spicewood, TX.  When you cross the Perdenales River bridge, you're almost there!  Look for SPUR 191 on the right.  Take this road.  If you need supplies, the station right there is your best bet!  They've even got FIREWOOD!  Follow SPUR 191 and take the next RIGHT onto KRAUSE SPRINGS ROAD.  There's a sign there telling you KRAUSE SPRINGS (pronounced "Krau-see") is that direction.  The entrance is just after the river crossing on the left.  The water just barely covers the road, but if you're in your JEEP, you'll enjoy a quick acceleration as you "SPLASH THROUGH" the water to the KRAUSE SPRINGS entrance!  Yeah, it's a "Jeep thing"!   Proceed through the large gates and follow the road.  Signs will direct you from here.  Don't forget to stop in at the SIGN IN HERE area and register.  Your camping fees are a mere peanuts for what you get! 
Tell the owner, Elton Krause, that   "Rich says 'Hi!'" ...

Well the rack made an awful "howling" noise when the top was up - NONE when it was down!  Don't quite understand that part, but I fixed it right quick.  By having a 1/4" sheet of plywood cut I painted it with a black "plastic coating" spray and mounted it just behind the leading edge, holding it in place with the newly received light mounting brackets.  It did the trick!  There's still the wind noise of before (over the soft top) but the noise from the rack is totally gone.  Now, it's time to get all the light brackets in place and start adding my camp area and running lights ...

Yes, I'm still using the TREO 650 for pics ... I'm still saving up for the camera.  I'm looking into a Canon SD550 digital camera.  It has over 6 megapixels and uses the SanDisk chips my Treo uses, for compatibility's sake.  I love the size and resolution - I can have it handy at any time!  BUT, with all these upgrades on the JEEP, it's had to sort of take a side-burner.  My birthday "IS" coming up in November!   
At KRAUSE SPRINGS there are several areas to camp.  The are many "trailer sizes" for the refined traveler.  There's the 2nd level for family campers and Base Camp setups.  There's a stream that runs through this area, and the sound of the waterfalls in the background makes for some great "dreams" and some wonderful sleep!  If you're impressionable, the constant gentle sound of running water might make it harder to "go the night" without having to do a "bathroom run" ... small side-effect for such a wonderful atmosphere, right!

And then there's what they call "The 3rd Level"! This level "almost requires" a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get down to it.  The ride is a rough, uneven steep decent.  "Piece of cake" for a veteran "Rock crawler", but it'll scrape the sideboards of my city-fied Suburban if I take "IT" down that way!   There's no returning back that route either, UNLESS you've got a 4-wheel drive unit!  There IS a "weenee route" at the far end.  It goes back up a gentle slope at the far end that routes around to the upper areas, for those without a 4-wheel mode of transportation. The pics below are my climb straight up from my serene little campsite.    

      
   
The above pics are the approach, a view of the ascent, and a 2nd shot of the ascent.  I'm still learning how to cover these effectively on the shooting, so be patient with me.  To a novice 4-wheeler this is a breeze of a run.  But, in the absense of anything else, it satisfies that "twich" ... you know, the need to just "4-wheel SOMETHING"!  John loved it!  

 

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