What I Did On My Summer Vacation
By Wiley & Dana Johnson

I drove across the country and went offroading.

 My wife and I went to Slade, Kentucky for vacation this year.  We left Houston, Texas on July 10 and drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas.  The next day, we drove to Memphis and visited for a bit then on to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky for a couple of days.  On Thursday, we drove across Kentucky's back roads to reach Slade in the early afternoon.  Slade is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest and in the Natural Bridge State Park. 

We stayed at the state park lodge where we had a nice room and access to the dining room for the breakfasts included in the registration.  The Kentucky Challenge organizing committee also provided box lunch's each day and a good cookout.

The ratings are a little different from what we are used to here in Texas - a 1 to 10 rating system.  Bob and Rusty Fleming also went to this event.  The first day, both of us selected the same run.  It was a little above middle.  We wanted some challenge but not so much that our wives were not comfortable.  The land around the national forest is beautiful.  Lots of trees, some rocks and plenty of trails.

The local off road club has worked very hard with the National Park Service and has a good relationship with them.  So much so that while jeeps and such are allowed on the trails, 4-wheelers and motorbikes are not.  Just the opposite from around here.

The first day's ride was very nice.  It had a few technical challenges but it was not too difficult.  A lot of locals referred to it as hard but there are places at Ft. Hood and Angelina that are as difficult and Clayton has many more complex trails.  I got the Sammy a little off in one place but it was my fault.  I tried to follow the line through the obstacle that the TJ in front of me took.  I backed down, looked again and drove up the correct line for a Samurai with no problem.

The best fun was that Dana got to drive the Sammy off road for the first time.  She was quite nervous and up tight because she said she did not want to hurt the Sammy nor have me yell at her. (Something I never do, of course).  She did really good!!!!!!  We can't wait for the next event for her to drive it again.

“Dana Gets To Drive”

I had some noise underneath the Sammy and upon checking the next morning before the run, I found that the u-joints on the back of the rear driveshaft were about to fail.  With this information, Dana and I decided to come back a day early.  It was actually a good thing.  The schedule I had planned for the two days to get back was unrealistic and would have seriously damaged my sensitive body.  Taking three days was much nicer.

“The Staging Area: Kentucky Challenge”

The Jeep Grand Cherokee that is our travel car and tow vehicle performed perfectly and got about 14.5 mpg towing a 2200-pound Samurai for 2300 miles. 

It was a great vacation and well worth the time, effort and money.  I would have liked to not miss the second day of wheeling, but the trip taken as a whole was one of the best I have ever taken.

Wiley Johnson