and painted javelinas…

And…

We think they only bring her along for the keg of brandy she usually has strapped around her neck. After departing Moab, we made a brief stopover in Sedona, Arizona, home to more red rock ...

My bride has acquired quite the photographic collection of me in an assortment of hospital “gowns” over the past seven years.  This one was the result of what we thought was a gall bladder attack (why the Hell would my own gall bladder attack me?) but actually turned out to be an intercostal muscle strain.  It felt pretty similar to being shot in the chest with a large caliber weapon.  After some  morphine and a few muscle relaxants, I was sent on my way with a hefty supply of some heavy duty pain meds.  DAMN! ain’t old age grand?!  I have discovered that by taking 2 or 3 Vicadin in the morning just before hitting the road in our Urban Assault Vehicle, highway lanes appear about 40 feet wide and other traffic mysteriously vanishes.  Okay, I don’t really do this but it sure is fun telling Queen Bee that I do.  

A new addition to our navigation system is a GPS which runs off the “Streets” program in our laptop.  I think that ours is the Archie Bunker model as it gives you voice directions to keep you “on route” while traveling and has a natural tendency toward abuse.  Should you miss a turn, a female voice pleasantly announces, “Off route.”  If you fail to make the necessary correction, she becomes blatantly obnoxious, “YOU’RE OFF ROUTE!!”… “YOU’RE OFF ROUTE, YOU MEATHEAD!!!!"… “WE’RE DOOMED, DOOMED!!”… "WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!”  Such are the joys provided by modern technology.  Our next stop was Moab, Utah for a bit of “wheelin’”…

From Yellowstone we headed south to Grand Junction, Colorado and spent a couple of days getting to know the doctors and nurses in the emergency room of the Community Hospital…

We ended up leaving the Jeep on the mountain overnight since none of us had any metric allen wrenches in “half” sizes to disassemble the rear axle lockers to remove the broken axle shaft spline.  The next morning, armed with every conceivable size metric wrench and a welding unit, repairs were completed and our Jeep returned to civilization.  But here, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story.  Since a combination of tall gears and stock axle shafts were the primary cause of this debacle, I took it upon myself to “upgrade” things a bit.  And now, with a 2006 Rubicon 4:1 transfer case, alloy axle shafts and extra heavy duty drive shafts and universals, not to even mention the $4,500 I no longer possess, we are back to doing those things we love…

   Jeepin'                                                                     October 3, 2007

From the grimace on this guy’s face, it would appear that the gopher may have gotten in one last bite.  And this little guy seems to be observing the action so as to gain a few pointers on ways to avoid the world of fast food…

And even…

Of course we did find a little time to engage in one of our favorite pastimes, “wheelin” there, too!   We encountered more Baja buggies than rock crawlers on the trails and had one fly past us at something around Mach 3, hit a huge rock, and flip 3 times before landing like this…

I don’t know what this procedure is called, but the coyote jumps up and down just outside the hole until the inhabitant gets curious enough to pop his head up for a  look-see.  This “dance” generally results in a quick meal for the coyote…

The circle is now complete.  After leaving Los Angeles on April 22, we have traversed the nation in a circuitous pattern, covering some 16 states and 9,000 miles in a bit more than 5 months and have now arrived, once again, at Dockweiler State Beach within spitting distance of the Los Angeles International Airport.  After leaving Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we spent some time in Yellowstone National Park enjoying the large herds of buffalo and elk as well as some of the smaller, seldom seen, wildlife….

I think that the name, “Team Air,” was appropriate for these guys.  Other than a couple of scratches, no one was seriously injured.  This is testament to a well designed and properly welded roll cage.  By comparison, our broken axle fiasco was mere child’s play, we didn’t roll, not even once!!  We’ll be heading out of here on October 20 for Mexico and Queen Bee will be going a bit further north to spend some time in Malibu.  My Bride is already dreading QB’s departure as she will now be the sole object of my unbridled affection…and occasional teasing.  She is certainly looking forward to the arrival of THE brother-in-law, one of my favorite “targets” in San Carlos, Mexico, this year.  See y’all next month with the latest pics of Melvin Sugar Bear.  Hugs, Chuck and Zook

Since off road driving and, most especially, rock crawling, is not something you want to be doing alone, it is not unusual for someone to ask if they can tag along with a group.  We hooked up with these folks from Austin, Texas, on a run up Poison Spider Mesa…

You might pay special attention to the left rear wheel.  This is what happens when you break an axle.  Coupled with the fact that we were about 20 miles out of town near the end of a particularly treacherous trail, the situation soon turned ugly…

And…

Bruce’s Rubicon was fresh out of the box and dirt just didn’t seem to stick to it.  The tires weren’t even dusty after a day on the trail!  Our pals, Don and Winnie (we call them Fred and Wilma, but don’t tell them!), always travel with their trusted Saint Bernard…

Occasionally my Bride will either climb or fall out of our Jeep and manage to get a picture of our vehicle when I am not breaking something…

And…

Although badgers live in the Park, they are pretty timid and secretive and not usually found cavorting about in the middle of the day.  Another rarely seen spectacle is a coyote staking out a gopher hole in hopes that the inhabitant will get careless…

This was taken on a trail named, “Cliffhanger.”  Just below that precipice which the lead Jeep is astride is a drop of about 2,000 feet straight down into a canyon.  Not only is this stuff fun, it also makes for one great adrenaline rush!!  That is until something breaks…