Sunday!!! Muddy Sunday!!! Sunday!!! Muddy Sunday!!!

Made it back out to Bundy Hill a couple of Sunday’s ago, after almost 7 days of sustained rain…and that puddle DID NOT look that deep!!!

I have decided that my next mod should be a snorkel, just in case I miss-judge a real water hole!

A quick tug out from the winch line, and it was no big deal!!!

The rest of our ride was just fine, with some good fun in the mud!!!

Since I did not have any passengers in my Jeep, I did not get any photos/video of the great trails at Bundy Hill ūüôĀ

And the Jeep looks cool for a couple of days after!!!

-Chris

Rocks and Valleys / Wheeling for Ronald

I completed the Michigan Mayhem : Jeep Road Trip the weekend of September 14th, albeit over the course of 4 years, and not 4 days as in the Jp Magazine article!

I got out to Rocks and Valleys Off-Road Park for the annual Wheelin for Ronald event.  Wheelin for Ronald is an annual Jeep run put on by Brian Velkey of Szott M-59 Chrysler Jeep.

Brian’s family benefited from the incredible folks at the Ronald McDonald House when their son was born, and Brian organizes Wheelin for Ronald every year as a way to give back to a tremendously helpful organization.

My day was cut short when I cut a tire, which after careful consideration, was ultimately my fault as I did not heed the warnings that were listed with my JKS Swaybar Quicker Disconnects in securing the sway bar in a safe position!  More on that in another post!

After putting my spare on, I took a lunch break.  During the lunch break, there was a raffle of donated items, with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House.

After the lunch break, I was ready to head back to camp, playing it safe as I still had four tires up on my Jeep. with a three hour ride home the next day, however…Brian offered me a ride in his AEV equipped Jeep, so that I could see all 200+ acres that Rocks and Valley’s has to offer.

And I was glad that I took him up on that offer!  After spending the afternoon with Brian, I was ready to head back up to Rocks and Valleys the next weekend!

As you can see, axle articulation in key at Rocks and Valleys!

Rocks and Valleys only allows Jeeps, trucks and side-by-sides, NO bikes or quads, which makes it a GREAT place for Jeeps!

After my weekend at Rocks and Valleys. it has DEFINITELY been added to the annual Michigan Wheelin Trip rotation!

Michigan Mayhem : Jeep Road Trip

Like many of us, I had wanted a Jeep, well…wanted to get back into a Jeep for a VERY long time.¬† I went 20 years between my last Jeep, and my current Jeep!

During that 20 year period, I still read Jp Magazine, and I now look forward to completing the Michigan Mayhem : Jeep Road Trip that John Cappa wrote about in May of 2011!

While I am not doing all three parks in four days, I am finally getting to Rocks & Valleys this weekend.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes and Bundy Hill have been annual trips since I got my JK, however I am finally getting to Rocks & Valleys!

Although it would be fun to do all three parks in four days like John Cappa’s article!

Where to Wheel / Back to Silver Lake Sand Dunes (Mears, MI)

I made it back to Silver Lake Sand Dunes again this year, and it was a GREAT time, as always!

The weather was perfect, however due to a lack of rain for a few weeks prior, the sand was a little too “soft”.¬† Test Hill took more than one attempt, and I got stuck on a hill, much less challenging that Test Hill!

There were a good amount of Jeeps at Silver Lake Sand Dunes, with a mean sounding TJ running around all day, and a clean Grand Cherokee that went everywhere with no issues.

There was a stock JL parked at the beach, that is starting to come back!

During this years trip, I was able to start teaching my teenage daughter to drive the Jeep, and a manual transmission!

My 12-year old son was also able to snow board in the sand this year!

I HIGHLY recommend that the Silver Lake Sand Dunes be on your list of places to wheel!

-Chris

Recovery Tracks / I could have used this, and could still be using it! – Bogabox

I stumbled across a product posted on Facebook that I could have used to get out of the above predicament a couple of weekends ago, as well as use it to store my gear.¬† It’s called Bogabox, and it looks like a neat concept for recovery tracks –¬†https://www.bogabox.com/

And I would have a box for my gear that I typically have rolling around in the back of my Jeep!

Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that this product in available just yet.¬† This is a Company based in Australia, and it appears that they did a Kickstarter campaign, however their web site and Facebook page are unclear as to how and when the Bogabox will be available.


Let’s reach out “down under” and see if we can get this product here in North America!

 

Communications (Comms) – Cell phones, CB’s and VHF Radios

Back when I had my first seven slat vehicle, cell phones/mobile phones, were not as ubiquitous as they are today and Very High Frequency (VHF) radios did not exist within the civilian marketplace.

The citizens band (CB) radio however DID!!!¬† However, that was 20+ years ago…

Now that every human above the age of eight has a mobile phone glued to their hand, social media is flooded with posts about what type of trail comms do people use/need?  And posts about where to mount said comms unit?

And since VHF has penetrated the civilian market, from the Police/Fire and Marine realm, many folks are asking what they should use?

Within this post, I will answer these questions…

Following is a definition of the aforementioned CB radio from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_band_radio):

Citizens band radio¬†(also known as¬†CB radio) is, in many countries, a system of short-distance radio communications between individuals typically on a selection of 40 channels within the 27¬†MHz¬†(11 m) band. Citizens band is distinct from other¬†personal radio service¬†allocations such as¬†FRS,¬†GMRS,¬†MURS,¬†UHF CB¬†and the¬†Amateur Radio Service¬†(“ham”¬†radio). In many countries, CB operation does not require a license, and (unlike amateur radio) it may be used for business or personal communications. Like many other¬†two-way radio¬†services, citizens band channels are shared by many users. Only one station may transmit at a time; other stations must listen and wait for the shared channel to be available. It is customary for stations waiting to use a shared channel to broadcast the single word “Break” followed by the channel number, during a lull in the conversation.[1]¬†This informs people using the channel that others are waiting.

A number of countries have created similar radio services, with varying technical standards and requirements for licensing. While they may be known by other names, such as the General Radio Service in Canada,[2] they often use similar frequencies (26 to 28 MHz) and have similar uses, and similar technical standards. Although licenses may be required, eligibility is generally simple. Some countries also have personal radio services in the UHF band, such as the European PMR446 and the Australian UHF CB.

Ok, so the CB is a free, less the cost of equipment, method to communicate over shorter distances, 4 – 7 miles, dependant on the type of antenna being used.

Here is the Wikipedia definition of the VHF radio (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_VHF_radio):

Marine VHF radio¬†refers to the radio frequency range between 156 and 174¬†MHz, inclusive. The “VHF” signifies the¬†very high frequency¬†of the range. In the official language of the¬†International Telecommunication Union¬†the band is called the¬†VHF maritime mobile band. In some countries additional channels are used, such as[1]¬†the L and F channels for leisure and fishing vessels in the Nordic countries (at 155.5‚Äď155.825¬†MHz).

Marine VHF radio equipment is installed on all large ships and most seagoing small craft. It is also used, with slightly different regulation, on rivers and lakes. It is used for a wide variety of purposes, including summoning rescue services and communicating with harbours, locks, bridges and marinas.

A marine VHF set is a combined transmitter and receiver and only operates on standard, international frequencies known as channels. Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) is the international calling and distress channel. Transmission power ranges between 1 and 25 watts, giving a maximum range of up to about 60 nautical miles (111 km) between aerials mounted on tall ships and hills, and 5 nautical miles (9 km; 6 mi) between aerials mounted on small boats at sea level.[2] Frequency modulation (FM) is used, with vertical polarization, meaning that antennas have to be vertical in order to have good reception.

Modern-day marine VHF radios offer not only basic transmit and receive capabilities. Permanently mounted marine VHF radios on seagoing vessels are required to have certification of some level of “Digital Selective Calling” (DSC) capability, to allow a distress signal to be sent with a single button press.


Sidebar…remember the Nextel phone, and the Push-to-Talk feature?¬† Now, if that service still existed…and if it does, there can’t be more than two people that still have it…it would be the perfect trail comms solution.¬† However, since we’ll assume it doesn’t my vote is for the CB radio.



I vote for the CB radio based on wheelin mostly within the midwest where it is relatively flat, with little elevation change.  With that said, I understand that a VHF or other radio technology may work better than the CB, in different terrain and I welcome your feedback on these other radio technologies.

The CB allows for instant communication, between multiple vehicles/locations, over several miles in most conditions, with minimal investment.  As far as I understand the technology, all CB radios are equal in strength, according to FCC Rules, so I would not advocate for a large CB unit to mount within your Jeep/HMMWV/HUMMER.

Considering that the use of CB radios is not what is was back when Burt Reynolds and Jerry Lee were trucking Coors Light back from the west coast, I chose a “semi-permanent” CB install, which I have outlined below:

As previously mentioned, I wanted to have a CB in my seven slat vehicle that did not take up a lot of room, and be semi-permanent, meaning I could easily remove it from my vehicle, yet quickly install it and have the use of a full sized CB antenna.

I initially considered the Cobra 75WXST 40-Channel CB Radio, however because this unit has to be hard-wired in for power, it would be permanently on the dash, and I wanted to be able to stow my CB when not in use, especially when the top and doors are off!

After further research, I went with the Midland Radio 75-822 Portable Mobile CB Radio, Large LCD Display, Keypad Lock, Plug and Play, Rugged Construction, Up To 40 Channels.  The Midland unit is very similar in size to the Cobra, however uses the cigarette lighter(who remembers when there was a coil in that spot for lighting a cigarette?!) outlet for power, so it can be easily stowed when not in use.

The Midland also has a removable battery pack, and antenna, so it can function as a hand-held CB when/if necessary,

I installed a CoolTech VersaMount2 (http://www.cooltechllc.com) to my dash/grab-handle to mount my CB when in use.

 

I did have to add a mic clip to the VersaMount,

as well as a mic button to the belt clip on the back of the Midland CB, in order to have a good one handed grab of the CB when needed.

This set up, paired with a tailgate mounted/spare tire mount gives me a very functional, CB solution, that is easily removable when not in use.

And when not in use, and especially with the top/doors removed, is the bare Versamount 2, and the end of the coax cable back to the antenna mount.

For an antenna, I chose the¬†Quadratec¬†JK-ANTMK-L¬†Extreme Duty Stainless CB Radio Antenna Rear Tailgate Mount with 48″ Antenna¬†for 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JK

I added the Firestik SS-3H Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Antenna Spring to my antenna mount for what little flex I can get between the tailgate and tire, however more for the couple of extra inches to reach above the top for better reception.

I also recommend investing in an SWR meter, to properly tune your CB antenna for optimal radio performance, as well as preventing damage to your radio over time.  I recommend the ASTATIC PDC1 100 Watt SWR/RF TEST METER W/ Workman 3 foot jumper CX-3-PL-PL as it is simple to use, and comes with the needed jumper wire.

I have found this set up to work well for me, and believe that it would work well in your seven slat.¬† Another reason that I like the “semi-permanent” install is I have found that there is very little CB radio traffic off trail.¬† I spend a lot of time on the highways around the mid-west and Ontario, Canada, and the only time I have heard even a small bit of radio chatter is during a long delayed traffic stop, in the event of a bad accident, or bad weather.

As always, I welcome your input and feedback, and would enjoy hearing from you on your trail comms set-up?

Where to Wheel / Bundy Hill ORV Park (Jerome, MI)

Another one of my annual wheelin trips is out to Bundy Hill ORV Park in Jerome, MI.  Bundy Hill is an old gravel pit, turned into an all purpose off road vehicle park, open to every kind of off road vehicle.

https://www.bundyhilloffroad.com/

Bundy Hill is located just west of Michigan International Speedway, near the Irish Hills.

Bundy is 350 acres of “mild to wild” off road opportunities.¬† There really is a trail for every type of vehicle and skill level.¬† Bundy is private, so ORV stickers are not needed, however trail flags must be attached to your vehicle.

Trails are rated in level of difficulty from Green (easiest) to Red (hardest) and all trails are well marked within the park.  Some trails are clearly marked as one-way only, and there are some trails limited to dirt bikes only, so there is little concern with coming head to head with a motorbike on a tight trail.

BUNDY HILL MAP

There are some man made rock obstacles that are a test of man and machine.

There was an old GM pick-up that had been crushed and driven over a few times as well.

Bundy offers plenty of water to wade into, if you need to test out that new snorkel!

At check in, the park officials provide a brochure/map that has there number on it if you are in need of getting unstuck, should you be wheelin alone, or you get that stuck!

I highly recommend making a trip out to Bundy Hill, and getting some Bundy Mud on your ride, because it still looks cool days later!

Where to Wheel / Silver Lake Sand Dunes (Mears, MI)

 

 

 

One of my annual wheelin trips is Silver Lake Sand Dunes, in Mears, MI.  Within the Silver Lake State Park, there is an off-road vehicle (ORV) scramble area.  The scramble area is over 400 acres open to motorized vehicle traffic, and as close to the desert you can wheel in the mid-west.

Silver Lake is located on Michigan’s northwestern shore, in the heart of a summer vacation mecca.

Because the ORV area is part of the State Park, there are rules, regulations and of course…fees.¬† Click on the link below for details.

Silver Lake State Park ORV Area / Rules & Requirement

The rules and regs have helped keep the dunes open, as there is always a movement by the Fun Police to shut down the ORV area.  The Michigan DNR maintains a clear presence, and patrols the ORV area often.  Their patrol vehicle is not a seven slat ,however they do have some pretty cool tricked out Ford Raptors!

I assume that it goes without saying, but we all know what happens when we assume…you need to air down before heading out onto the dunes.¬† My first time out on the dunes in my JK, a gentlemen in a large tire Dodge Ram let me use his TeraFlex 4807200 Air Deflator, and it worked great.¬† Simple, the size of a key chain, I purchased this same Deflator and it resides in the glove box of my JK at all times.

When you first enter the dunes, to your left is Test Hill.¬† Test Hill got it’s name, as it is the test of your vehicles ability.¬† The difficulty of the “test” can vary, as the dunes are constantly changing with the wind.¬† My first time at the top in my JK took three tries, in the past couple of years I have made it up on the first go.

Test Hill is within the area of the dunes where traffic is directional, so there’s no worries about someone coming up the other side.¬† It can also be entertaining, to just sit and watch various vehicles attempt Test Hill.

To the north of Test Hill, the rest of the dunes area is pretty wide open wheelin, with a few water holes, and some of the holes are deceiving.  Here is a meme from a photo of a JK at the dunes, so go around, or have a snorkel!

The dunes is a great place for the HMMWV or HUMMER, as there is very little area where the trail gets tight, if at all.  You enjoy great views of Lake Michigan, and can even enjoy the lake, when you need a break from behind the wheel.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes deserves a spot on the list of places to wheel, and I look forward to getting out on the dunes every Summer!

Hope to see you out there!