By: Tom Mueller
Wow. I donít know how the Mudchuggers continue to have great weather, great runs, great conditions, great times, great people and a great banquet. Obviously this years Sno*Blind was GREAT.
This was my second year in a row that I have been able to attend Sno*Blind and each year I really enjoy myself. This year was an exception. I had more fun this year than I did last year. At the banquet both my numbers for door prizes were called. The first number that was called I won the CB by Corba and the second ticket I got tire deflators. Bill Paquette won a $100 gift certificate to DRS Drive Train Specialist. Rob Daily won a set of lights. And Bill Green won a tree saver.
We had quite a few members from the Wolverines in attendance this year. Bill, Joe, and Zach Paquette, Bill Green, Mike Gabler, Mike Blasius, Tom Mueller and his fianc?e Kathy, Rob Daily, Paul & Eric Phelps, Ericís girlfriend Kristen, Mark Lott, Al Kittle, and Lee Murrah.
We headed out to the trails with Jerry Elsworth as our trail leader. We didnít make it to far on the trail when all 12 or 13 vehicles had to turn around Ďcause the trail that we were on was closed. We didnít give the trail leader too much of a bad time for this. In hindsight I should have for what he did to me! More on that later.
We got turned around without any problems. Our first hill however did present problems for me. It took me a couple of tries and still couldnít make it up. I finally had the jeep in front of me hook up a strap and together we made it up. I had deflated my tires (31ís) to 17 psi. Last year I had let too much air out on Friday nightís run and ended up spinning a tire of the wheel, and also had two flat tires. Didnít want that to happen again. After making it up the hill we let more air out of the tires, down to 15. Everyone else made it up the hill and we continued on our way. I must admit that the scenery was spectacular. The trails I did this year I have not been on before.
The second hill. Well, the Bronco made it up but I was a passenger in another vehicle. I gave it two attempts but couldnít make it. Paul asked me if I would mind if he gave it a try. I said no. No, to the question that I didnít mind if he tried to make it up the hill. I figured that Paul has about 20 years experience on me and that if anyone could make it up he could. I was right. He told me that he used third gear and a lot of power. Lesson one for me: donít be afraid to use the horsepower when it is needed. At the top of this hill we let more air out. I am now down to 13 psi and the truck seems to be doing much well on the hills. This seems to be the lucky number on this day.
While we were waiting for the other vehicles to make it up the hill Zach decided that I needed to be thrown into the snow. He had his can of whip*ss with him and, well, letís just say that he needs a bigger can of whip*ss!! He ended up in the snow, not me.
Now I am not sure what happened to Bill P. but while Zach was trying to throw me into the snow, Bill needed to winch himself to the top of the hill. Not sure if he lost traction or what but his winch pulled him the rest of the way up.
After Zach brushed the snow off we were on our way again. We came to a few more hills and the Bronco walked up these with no problems. We came to a wide area on top of a nice hill that the other vehicles could play. We decided to make this a lunch/potty stop. Eric was having problems in not getting enough heat. Paul and Bill P. used duct tape to block the vents just above the hood. Donít know if that worked or not. Hmm, I wonder if that is why Eric and Christen were so blue later in the day?
Later in the afternoon I let Kathy drive. I would almost regret this later. More on that later too. We were in part of the trail that was narrow. Kathy asked me if the Bronco grew five feet on either side. I said no it is the same width that it always is. Being in a full size truck on a narrow trail does make it seem that the truck grew.
Kathy must have really wanted to get as much out of the trail as she possibly could. If I had known this I would have taken some Dramamine. She drove the whole trail, from one side to the other and back. I think that we covered twice the distance than the others in the group!
Now the real test. Her first hill. She wanted to quit and give the wheel back to me. I should have taken it. I told her to remember what Paul did when he drove it up the other hill. She said she remembered. She took a big, and I mean BIG, breath, tightened her seat belt, put it in third gear and let the clutch out and away we went. She turns the steering wheel more than what is needed but she did make it up the hill. The other ladies in the group were cheering her on; she didnít need much as she was doing just fine.
After a bit I took over. The days ride was almost over and she was tired of driving. At this point is where I got myself into trouble. We were second in line and coming out of the trail was a snow bank. I donít know what it is with snow banks and me but I just canít resist them. Our trial leader went through the bank just fine. I decided to go to the right just a little bit further than he did. I guess that I went too far. I got stuck. Jerry had to come back on give me a tow out, all this within 50í or so of pavement. The whole time Kathy drove she didnít need the tow strap!! I needed it at least three times.
I kept telling the others in the group that I had to get the tire pressure right for when Kathy drove. Somehow, I donít think that excuse worked.
The banquet was a lot of fun too. We all kidded each other. If you donít like being teased or donít have a sense of humor then you might be in for a long night. At the banquet there are awards that are passed out. Awards for St. Bernard, someone in the group that rescues people, snow mechanic, along with others, but the one that I was nominated for Sno*Dummy.
Our wonderful trail leader nominated me for this for getting stuck 50í from the pavement and for my Ďwifeí doing a better job on the trails than I did. Everyone at my table, including me, was laughing. My Ďwifeí kept telling me that she is sorry and that I will never live this down. Well, there are a lot of things that I will never live down and a lot of things that I will never forget; the club will make sure of that!!
Fortunately, there was a wonderful group of people in the crowd that decided to be human Popsicleís. They used their jeeps without tops!! Not those kind of tops, they had shirts on, carharts coveralls, etc. They used their jeeps without a roof!! And someone in the crowd nominated them for the Sno*Dummy award.
I held my breath as Jason asked for the vote. I know that there were a couple of people nominated other than me and the Popsicleís but I donít remember whom. Of course the Wolverines really cheered for me but the rest of the crowd beat them out when we voted for the human Popsicleís. To the person that nominated them I say thank you, again. I did thank him at the banquet.
Sundayís run was fun too. The group kept telling me to let my Ďwifeí drive so that I may pick up a few tips. Kathy didnít want anything to do with the driving. After all I had to redeem myself!! Not sure if I did either.
The trails we did on Sunday I havenít been on either. We did come across a number of hills in which I made them up. The group thought that Kathy was driving, as we didnít get stuck, yet.
There was this one hill that was nice and steep going up and just as steep going down. This was a hill that you had to wait at the bottom for the all clear to start up. Now we are at the bottom of the hill waiting for the all clear. Kathy tells me how to start up in third gear and give it power. She wanted to make it up the hill the first time. Believe me so did I. We got the all clear and away we went. We made it up and at the top of the hill there is enough room to stop, change gears, and then come back down. As we crested the top Kathy couldnít see the bottom of the hill until we started down. Again, she tightened her seat belt, pressed her feet firmly on the floor boards (thank goodness for no rust), placed her hands on the roof and said that I could start down, she was ready. I was already going down the hill when she told me this.
We were told to use first gear, low range and let the engine control your speed. Someone should have told the engine that was its job! About two thirds of the way down Kathy closed her eyes because she thought that I was going to lose control and she didnít want to see us hit a tree, or another vehicle. Well, I thought she had her eyes opened so I closed mine because I didnít want to see us hit a tree, or another vehicle. We made it down just fine. We didnít hit anything or even lose control.
Of course later on the trail I did get stuck. I wasnít paying attention and didnít see where the trail went. I thought that it went right and it went left. By the time I realized it went left it was too late. I tried to make the correction but it was too late. The winch from the Jeep saved me again. This was the only time that I got stuck on Sunday.
We headed back to town around 1:30 and was heading home sometime around 2:30. I know that my Ďwifeí had a great time, and I know that I had a great time. Next year Kathy and I will bring the kids and a friend of Kathyís. I know that we are looking forward to another great year in 2001.