Wheeling in Hollister Hills, January 2001
You Can Fix Anything With Duct Tape

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January 24, 2001

The day started out innocent enough; Three trained idiots wanting to get their vehicles dirty and have some quality time with nature. The cast of characters includes Tom, Rachael and Ryan. Tom brought his CJ-7 and Rachael brought her TJ for Saturday's romp in the mud.

Immediately when we arrived at the mud pit in the park Tom's CJ began overheating from idling too long. We watched a few trucks hit the mud pit and then proceeded to the obstacle course.

Once at the obstacle course, we were amazed to see guys blasting through the Rubicon simulator and beating their trucks all to hell. The picture to the right is of this completely custom vehicle we saw there. Notice the snorkel on this beast. Tom got brave and decided to drive over one of the boulder fields.

Now we were looking to climb to the top of the park to eat lunch, so we decided to take Gusto Grade Road which is a route that we hadn't tried before. The trail consisted of several narrow humps with large ruts carved into alternating sides. Tom led the way and was doing quite well until he got his right front tire a little too high up on the side of the trail and his left tires fell into the rut. Tom, of course, is quite proud of his near-roll-over. So we removed the top and tied the CJ to a tree so it wouldn't tip further and the extraction went off without a problem. The nice thing about having an old Jeep is that he drove away without any damage!

We managed to eat lunch at the top without breaking anything and so it was time to have more fun. We decided to try out the Five Fingers Hill Climb that we had heard about. On one of our previous trips someone had rolled a Suzuki on Five Fingers. Tom attacked the hill and was doing quite well until we neared the top. It was then that we discovered that the last 10 feet of the hill was almost impossible without a serious lift, tall tires, a running leap, and some kind of magic jesus voodoo. So we drove back down the hill and Tom high-centered his Jeep on a hill. This is where our real trouble begins.

It turns out that Tom has now twisted his powersteering gearbox to the side so that he can now only turn left. I'm not going to draw any diagrams, but you can't go very far without turning right. This gets Tom in big trouble when he needs to turn right to get up this small hill pictured to the left. The Jeep is tipped in such a way that gasoline is pouring out of his gas tank and is close to tipping all the way over. These two guys helped us hack together a fix for the steering. Since Tom is missing two bolts that are supposed to hold the gearbox in place, screwdrivers, duct tape, and a crescent hammer are called upon to bring us out of this mess. What an amazing hack, we drove all the way home to San Jose with screwdrivers and duct tape holding the steering in place!

On our way out of the park, we happened upon this guy who rolled his Suzuki on a trail up above us on the hill. So we assisted with a come-along. The Suzuki was placed too precariously to just flip it over, so we rotated it a bit so that it didn't want to continue rolling down the hill. Then we all pushed it over onto its wheels while the owner was inside and stood on the brake to keep it from rolling down the hill.

Surprisingly, after a few tries and despite the engine leaking oil, the Suzuki started up and was driven down the hill and back to Hollister.

We hobbled home to San Jose via back-roads at about 35 mph without trouble and now Tom is working on getting his power steering brackets replaced.