By Ken Womack
This was a run to Shiloh
Ridge ORV Park that Larry Crawford and I had talked about for weeks.
See, a lot of the Freeport Area SHR’s work most Saturdays and some
weekends, so they plan their 4-wheeling excursions well in advance, then cut
loose with a well-planned trip. This was one of those, and I was ready to try
out my new Warn Manual Hub Kit with new stronger 1-pc. axles. It was also time
to run with my new 4-wheeling friends from New Caney, Buddy Overstreet and Jimmy
Larry’s Son’s Tony and Chris left Fri. afternoon to secure campsites
and set up early. Larry & Carol
Crawford, Allen & Renee Dunbar, Ralph & Robin Cook and their families
left after work. Tony has a red Raider (Dodge), and Chris was getting to try out
his new ‘92 red YJ. (I think Amanda did most of the driving). Buddy and Buck
arrived Friday night also, and had their camps already made. Buddy’s camp
trailer is truly awesome, but would take half a page to fully describe it. Buddy
and Linda have a CJ-7 named Rebel that has a 304 V-8 w/Motorcraft 2 bbl. carb
(that runs vertical), Wagoneer Dana 44 axles front and rear, Dana 19 transfer
case, and 5.39 gears in the axles, and a T-18 transmission.
Jimmy (Buck) has a CJ-7 with a 258 six and also the Motrocraft 2-bbl. He
runs a Quadratrac full-time 4-wheel drive case, Auto, Dana 44’s front and
rear, with 5.39 gears. Both Buddy and Buck run 36 X 12 Buckshot Mudders that
work extremely well. Buddy does all his own work, and so does Buck, and if he
needs help, Buddy’s there. Buck’s Jeep is named Boss Hog, and is a nice
bright Yellow. (No, Daisy Duke or her Jeep wasn’t there, Darn it!) These guys
know how to build em’ and drive em’. More later.
I arrived with “Jeep Thrills” early Sat. morning, unloaded, and was
anxious to hit the trails before the hard rain came. Buddy, Buck and I left for
the Ravine (where the steep, short hills are) and got there as a gentle rain
started. The red clay covered hills got slick real fast. I led our small group
on some warm-up hills in and around the ravine. On a not too steep hill, I had
some serious traction problems, I could not steer, and the traction just
wasn’t there. In my haste to get
to the trail before rain, I neglected to air down. BIG
MISTAKE! I could not climb this
easy hill. On the third attempt, I hammered down, but got too far to the right
side of the hill. With lockers front and rear, Jeep Thrills just didn’t want
to steer with 35 lbs. of air in the tires. I tried to steer back into the ruts,
but couldn’t. I kept climbing the high side, felt the Jeep tipping, got it
slowed down to nearly a halt, and then I was on my side. Bummer! No injuries,
except to my pride.
After some excellent ‘wheeling, we went back to camp for lunch. After
lunch we met up with Larry and his Boys to make another run.
This time we ran the whoops (a Shiloh Ridge manmade set of obstacles) along with
some long, steep, slick hills. They were a blast, cause you just can’t crawl
them. They require some momentum.
Slipping, sliding and just having a blast. I don’t think ANY of us really
wanted to run in the mud, but hey, WE WERE 4-WHEELING! Might as well enjoy it!
And we did!
It was refreshing to run with 2 generations of 4-wheelers. The young ones
showed enthusiasm, raw talent, and an eagerness to 4-wheel the right way, with
respect for other ‘Wheeler’s and using the Tread Lightly! ethic. Kudos to
the next generation! Yea!
After returning to camp, we all cooked, ate and relaxed ‘til a huge
thunderstorm came in to totally soak a large number of 4-wheelers. This
spectacular lightning storm lit up the sky and put out a deluge of water,
ruining camp for lots of folks. Several tents leaked and some tents blew down.
Unfortunately, Larry & Carol, Allen & Renee and Ralph & Robin and
their families were some the folks that got rained out. They packed up the crew
to stay at a nearby motel. I was lucky that mine didn’t leak and Buddy &
Linda’s Jeep Camp Trailer was high and dry, literally.
Buddy can haul one or two Jeeps, all his gear, tools, heater, BBQ Pit,
etc., etc., etc. in his 3-axle fifth-wheel float trailer. He has fold-down
tables and bed, heater, generator, and is 3-feet off the ground. The trailer has
a tube frame roof support, with a roll-down canvas roof. Very ingenious, and it
works very well.
The next morning gave us some cooler weather, but the rains had let up,
though the dark sky threatened all morning. The trails were really slick now,
but we had a blast anyway. Buddy and Linda left for home, but Buck and Zane (who
showed up Sat. night) ran with us ‘til 1 pm. Tony’s red Raider ate a
starter, but that was the only serious mechanical problem. Chris and Amanda’s
new Jeep worked very well. Even
though it is open front and rear, and has only a four banger, (which works well
off-road), they did quite well. As I said before Amanda did much of the driving,
and did quite well, I must say.
Even though Shiloh Ridge isn’t a rock-crawler’s dream or real, real
challenging, it IS FUN! Lot’s of area, lots of terrain, with mild or harder
stuff. It can be as hard or easy as you want. Excellent for a 4-wheeling
camp-out. The price is reasonable, with on-site camping. The staff works hard to
give 4-wheelers challenges, and even creates some for us. It’s fairly close to
Houston (2 to 3 hours) and can be great fun for a day or a weekend.
I had a great time for many reasons. One was the chance to run with new
friends, another to run with old friends and another to run with the next
generation. It’s always a pleasure to run with The Freeport chapter of the
SHR’s, and a great pleasure to run with Buddy & Linda, Buck, Zane and
Buck left just about an hour before we all did, but Larry and Crew and I
convoyed back home, with a stop in Lufkin to eat a wonderful Sunday buffet. We
were stuffed and left for home.
Thanks to all that made this run, it was cool!