Ski Blog... Been doing this since 2005!

September 23, 2007

Jeep Trip - Mogollon Rim from Christopher Creek to Strawberry

The Mogollon Rim Road is about 45 miles long and runs from Christopher Creek east of Payson to the town of Strawberry Northwest of Payson along the top of the Mogollon Rim.

Mogollon Rim Map

We left bright and early despite the possibility of rain in the area. Well, we got our rain. And hail. And lightning. And trees snapping in half and blocking the road.

Got pics of the storm brewing and some nice shots of Matt's and my Jeeps on top of the rim.

Nothing too exciting about the trail, but it is a beautiful scenic drive. Here is a link to the gallery with the pictures.

2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited

Posted by Justin at 11:15 AM | Comments (1)

September 11, 2007

Car Trouble

Last week, we headed up to Brian Head. So the Avy has 150k miles on it and had never had shocks and struts redone. So prior to taking the fam on a 1000 mile roadie, I took the truck to the shop. Turns out it also needs a tie rod. $1000 +/- later, but the thing rides much better.

Just as soon as I paid off the budgetted repairs, I get the license plate renewals for the Jeep and the Avy. There is another $800.

On to Utah. The truck is not running real well and is occasionally struggling to climb hills at 75. Weirdness. But we get there and all is well. On the way back, we are halfway between Hoover Dam and Kingman in the middle of nowhere on a 105 degree day and boom. The thing just dies. No power. Dead. I have had this happen to me 100 times before in my old Mustang (ask Tera and Jeremy about what happened). I figure it is the fuel pump and hope... pray... that it is just a bad fuse or a clogged filter. We call Geico for a tow into Kingman.

Nope, not the fuse and it is the fuel pump. The part alone is almost $500. Then there is removing the driveline, siphoning the gas, and dropping the tank. New filter. 5 hours of labor. And to top off the $1050 bill (which I haggled down to $900) is that the part isn't in stock. We spent the night in wonderful Kingman in a hotel with three kids who missed two days of school over it.

So I get back and the tires on the truck are about dead. 45k miles on them and they are rated for 50k. Not in bad shape and have enough tread left that they are still pretty good tires. I figure it is about time to go back to 16 inch rims. The 20's ride like crap because of no sidewall, plus they are hurting the gas mileage. I have a set of brand new tires in a 16" on the Jeep and figure that I can sell my 20's and tires for enough to pay for a set of rims for the Avy. Then I will swap the Jeep's 31x10.50's that are new onto the Avy and put new tires on the jeep (which I have been wanting to do anyway). Net is that if I sell my old rims, I get a new set of rims and tires on the Avy and new tires on the jeep for the cost of a set of new tires. Rims and tires = $2100 (which I haggled down to $1800 at Discount by grabbing price quotes and refusing to pay for their certificates and warrantee and lifetime whatever whatever).

  • Shocks, Struts and Tie Rod - $1000
  • License for Jeep and Truck - $800
  • Fuel Pump - $900
  • Tires for Jeep - $1200
  • Rims for Truck - $600 (less probably $500 for the old ones)

That is over $4500 any way you slice it. In the span of a week. But the jeep now has 33x12.50's and the Avy has new tires and a new suspension and a new fuel pump and both are legal to drive again. And the jeep looks pimped. I will post new pics of it shortly with the new rack on top.

I am heading to the credit union to withdraw from the savings account so that the mortgage doesn't bounce. =)

Posted by Justin at 12:03 PM | Comments (2)

July 01, 2007

Jeep Trip to Brian Head, Beaver Canyon, and Cody, Wyoming

I am packing up the boys, Jackson, and my dad and heading north for the fourth. We are planning some fishing in the Tushar Mountains (the range just north of Brian Head).

I bought a new Garvin Wilderness Expedition rack for the Wrangler and am packing the goods for the trip.

And then as I am driving to the Suns Draft Party in Scottsdale on Thursday the dreaded "Check Engine" light comes on. Looks like something is wrong with the transmission.

This started on a trip to Crown King about a month after I bought the Jeep. The tranny started slipping near the top of the mountain and I assumed it was just that it had gotten the fluid and tranny too hot.

Updates when I get it back from the shop.

Posted by Justin at 11:45 AM | Comments (4)

June 09, 2007

Jeep Trip to Turkey Creek

Jarrett and I went out jeeping with Tom and Ray at Turkey Creek (Black Canyon Wash) in the Bradshaw Mountains between Phoenix and Prescott. I posted new pics of the trip in the gallery.

I posted a couple weeks ago about the new skid plate and oil and tranny pans. Well, thankfully, I didn't get to test the oil pan because the skid plate did its job. I did get to test the rock sliders, diff skids, oil pan skid, and the flex of the suspension.

Grinding on the rocks

Testing the articulation of the Rubicon Express lift:

And another:

Great trip. The weather was in the low 90's in Phoenix and the mid 80's at the trailhead when we got there at 9:00 AM. It was a dry winter and it is a drought to begin with, so there was no real water in the wash like there normally is, but the run was still great. A good way to spend a Saturday.

Posted by Justin at 07:01 PM | Comments (3)

May 28, 2007

Jeep Work Weekend

OK, the last two weekends were loads of fun. Last weekend, I replaced the oil pan in the Wrangler with dad and this weekend, we installed the new Skid Row Engine and Transmission Pan skid plate.

For all the pictures of the Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited, check the 06' Jeep Gallery page. Here are a couple pics of the new skid plate. In the gallery, you can see the front and rear bumpers, the winch, and the Rubicon Express 3.5" lift.

Here you can see the shiny new oil pan and tranny pan protected by the skid plate.

Posted by Justin at 05:30 PM

May 21, 2007

Jeep Repairs

Pictures of the latest Jeep trip are up in the photo gallery. I have set an account up so that the folks that go jeeping with me can post their pics to the trips section. Waiting on more pics including the one of me winching myself over the rocks that caused the damage.

Damage Totals are as follows:

Not the worst way to spend a Saturday, but we had some major problems. First, the exhaust flange bolts where the exhaust manifold connects would not come off. Not only that, but they are in a disasterous location. Second, we had to loosen the exhaust at the cat to get enough clearance to remove the pan. Third, we had to remove the starter. No big deal on that. But here is the kicker--Quadratec sent me a bad oil pan with a huge hole in it. And I ain't talking about the drain plug.

So there we are trying to find a new oil pan at 4:00 PM on a Saturday with my entire Jeep torn apart. Thankfully we were able to get one at Moore Jeep before they closed. The oil pan skid is ready to bolt on, but I cannot get the Lower Control Arm nut off without an impact wrench. Gotta do that then drill three holes and the underside of the Jeep will be much closer to bulletproof.

It is kinda nice to work on the Jeep and certainly fun to do it with my dad. The Jeep has some nice dings underneath, but nothing damaging. Just character building. The Skid Plates help a ton and some of them are scratched pretty good. The Transfer Case skid has a nice big dent in it. But it is a Jeep. If your Jeep doesn't have some dings, scratches, and dents underneath, you ought to consider owning a minivan that gets better mileage or an H2 with 24" rims for driving around town. They are rigs for offroad, not for sissies.

Posted by Justin at 05:45 PM | Comments (3)

May 16, 2007

Jeeping Adventures

I took the Wrangler and both boys to Crown King via Lake Pleasant this weekend. Good news and bad news of course. Good news first, I got to test my winch and do some amazing crawling on one of the turnouts over some crazy rocks. Bad news is that I get to purchase a new oil pan and transmission pan.

When I did the suspension lift, the factory tranny skid plate interferes with the new driveshaft angle for the front axle. So what does one do when that happens? Well, the folks at Four Wheelers simply removed the skid and didn't tell me. I ordered a Warn tranny / oil pan skid when I did the lift, but they told me that the Warn wouldn't fit a Rubicon. They neglected to recomment the Skid Row skid plate that would.

But it is not all bad. Nothing leaked but the damage (mostly a large dent in the oil pan) was right where the drain plug is which makes changing the oil a PITA.

I'll post pics as soon as I get them back from Matt, Scott, Tom, and Ray. It was a great trip and the boys thought the winching was awesome. Tera stayed home so she didn't see what I did to "her" jeep. She thinks the Jeep is designed for her to drive back and forth to work as opposed to a Rubicon being made for offroading. As long as I clean it and don't tell her what I do with it when I am up wheeling, she is OK with me driving her Jeep. Small price to pay for selling her Jetta that she loved so I could have a Jeep. I did allow her to pick the color though so that counts for something.

Posted by Justin at 01:26 AM

April 23, 2007

Weekend in Moab

Took a roadie up to Moab to help my grandfather this weekend. Doing some mining work and needed a driver. Only real mistake was taking the Avalanche, not the Wrangler.

Jeep Mecca. It is like a Jeep Magazine photo shoot everywhere you look. Pimped Jeeps that just make you jealous. And make you want to spend money.

This trip was on his dime, so I ate Prime Rib and Tri-tip. In exchange, he made me take my black Avy through sage brush and cedars and now it needs a wax job, let alone over rocks and nastiness. I have a Jeep for stuff like that and I would have enjoyed it instead of seeing every rock with a $$$ on it and having my mind constantly worrying about what damage I was doing to the highway truck.

"The Damned thing is a 4 Wheel Drive. What'cha got a 4WD for if you don't take it off road?"

Uh, for driving up I-15 and Parowan Canyon in a snowstorm. My Avy is for road trips not for off-roading. I have a brand new Rubicon that is lifted, has a winch, high lift, every kind of off road supply you need, and instead, we are taking the family road trip wagon through the mountains.

It is payback for when I was a Junior and Senior in high school and I took his old red and white Ford places that it never should have been.

Posted by Justin at 12:17 PM

January 22, 2007

Snow Storm in Arizona and Jeep Trip to Crown King

I drove across mountain passes on a 70 mile backroad trip from I-17 to Prescott via Crown King this weekend. The trip was absolutely awesome, although you rarely could see more than a few hundred feet due to snow and visibility issues.

Four jeeps and a Toyota Truck went out with us and we didn't do a lot of slipping and sliding, well, at least not as much as we thought we would. The scena[e-jacoby]ry was awesome and I took both boys who had a good time.

Bad news is that the same storm that dropped over a foot across the pass was mostly wind at Arizona Snowbowl and blew most of the snow off the San Francisco Peaks. I mocked the Hopi Gods last week and I take some accountability in that my lack of faith may have caused their anger and shortened the ski season for Flagstaff.

Posted by Justin at 12:59 PM | Comments (2)

January 20, 2007

Jeep Trip to Crown King Tomorrow

It snowed in the high country in Arizona today, although Snowbowl and that other Indian resort that wants to shut down skiing everywhere but at the runs next to their casino have yet to report snowfall totals. Snowbowl opens tomorrow, but my skis are in my condo.

We are taking the jeeps out to Crown King and the back way into Prescott tomorrow and doing our annual snow run.

I got the blankets, the winch, the jackets, some Oreos and a case of water and Pepsi ready for the trip. Hoping that I get stuck and can use the winch that I paid for but have barely wound the cable on. But not so stuck that I tear stuff up.

Posted by Justin at 12:52 AM

October 19, 2006

New Pics of Jeep Trip to Turkey Creek

Just posted some new pics of the jeep trip to Turkey Creek in the photo gallery.

Check it out.

Posted by Justin at 07:57 PM | Comments (2)

October 02, 2006

New Pictures in the Gallery--2006 Wrangler

I posted some new pictures of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited in the gallery. Check them out.

Posted by Justin at 02:06 PM

September 17, 2006

Jeep Trip to Wickenburg

Yesterday, I took the Wrangler out to the Linda Mine outside of Aguila, AZ. The monsoon rains did a number on the upper road, but the powerline road and the main road in was in surprisingly good shape. We grabbed the flashlights and took the group underground into the mine while we were there. (I worked at this mine for two years underground, so I felt fairly safe going in that conditions were ok)

My exhaust continues to take a beating. It has gotten even worse. It keeps dragging and I need to lift the thing and get some more clearance. We came back, ran Box Canyon, then had lunch at Anitas and watched the ASU game in the back room. The weather was almost perfect, not getting past the low 80's. Just a great day.

Posted by Justin at 11:34 AM

August 24, 2006

Stupid Ideas and Misguided Ride Pimping

OK, so I bought my new jeep a month or so ago. Love the thing and took it out on the trail this last weekend. Well, couple of issues. First, when you go jeeping, everyone has a CB. I mean sure, the antennas look so "Truck Stop"ish and you feel like you should be wearing a wife beater and drinking beer on the porch of the trailer when Cops comes around, but you really want to be able to talk to the other folks out there. CB's are almost mandatory on a jeep if you go offroad. So the solution to issue one is that I bought a CB and a nice firestick antenna. Quadratec did not have a 3' Firestick, so I got a 4'.

So now the second issue. I had to fly to San Francisco again on Monday at 5:00 AM. I just mounted the CB and antenna this weekend and got to the airport. Went into the parking garage and kept hearing thunk, thunk, thunk as I drove in, but it was at 5:00 AM so I was only half awake. Well, my antenna is about 6" too long and was hitting the support beams then snapping back and hitting my roof. I was driving out of the garage last night and realized what was going on. Some days, I feel like an idiot.

So let's discuss this weekend's trip the back way to Crown King. Well, I have a $30,000 brand new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited that is about as loaded as can be. And I put in about $2000 worth of armor plating on the gas tank, differentials, steering box, sides, etc., to protect critical components, as well as a new $400 exhaust package. Every single skid plate is dinged and the exhaust is partially mangled. Had it not been for the armor plating, I would be in some seriously bad shape. Especially the back side of the rear diff.

There is no fluid on the garage floor at night so either I didn't puncture anything or all of the fluid is already drained onto the trail. I know this much, some rocks on the trail have some of my paint on them. My diffs and body armor are like some teenage tagger, spreading paint all over the place.

Posted by Justin at 12:18 PM

July 19, 2006

Jeep Trip Last Weekend to Crown King and Prescott

On Saturday of last week, my buddy Nick and my middle son Jarrett went out jeeping in the new Wrangler with me to Crown King and the back way into Prescott. The weather was cool among the pines at 7,000 ft and a nice break from Phoenix.

Arizona Virtual Jeep Club has another trip planned from Lake Pleasant that is a moderate jeeping trail, meaning most stock jeeps and 4x4 trucks can make it. Check out the AZVJC online at and if you want to get out of the heat, take a trip to Crown King.

For those of you that have spent time in Arizona, our state offers so much diversity in both climate and recreation. Snowbowl and Sunrise offer skiing. The state ranges in elevation from near 100 feet in Yuma to 12,000 feet at several of the peaks in the east. Offers deserts and high plateaus as well as pine forests and everything in between. 4x4's look good on 20's rolling in the cities, but take a trip out of Phoenix with your H2, Jeep, or truck and get some dirt on the tires. Explore our wonderful state.

Posted by Justin at 10:48 AM

June 30, 2006

A New Vehicle for My Adventures

I broke down last night and managed to convince my wife that a Jeep Wrangler was a good idea again. We sold out my old Jeep the day my brother moved in with us again. It was a fluke coincidence that I closed the deal hours before he arrived.

With three kids and gear to haul, my old Jeep just did not offer enough room in the back seat or behind the back seat for the kids and a cooler and some luggage and... I opted this time for a 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited. I bought it at 7:00 PM last night and just got back from taking a couple baby trails by the house. The Rubicons are so different from the regular old Jeeps. They just grab and go. The lockers rock and this is an automatic so no more burning the clutch or shifting. Makes life so much easier.

My cousins have a Rubicon too and are using the condo this weekend for their wedding anniversary or we would be out on the trail as we speak. That was a big factor in buying it. I absolutely love trailing with them and with the place in Utah, there are so many areas in the mountains to explore.

The downside to living in a city is that if you don't get out of it occasionally, you lose touch with reality and nature. Hence why I ski. Humans were not made to live in massive cities, but then again, I don't exactly want to be Ugh and eat raw meat that I killed with a spear and die at 35 either. So skiing, the condo, the mountain bikes, and now the Jeep let me balance the Ugh side of me with the side that likes Suns tickets and Starbucks.

Posted by Justin at 03:32 PM | Comments (4)