Traverse City 2000
By: [unknown]

Traverse CityóThe four-wheel drive club ĎThe Wolverineísí had a four
wheeling drive outing to Traverse City on July 7-9 and had a large turn out.
Members that showed up were Tom & Kathy Mueller, Al Kittle, Mark Lott,
Laura, Paul, & Eric Phelps, Ericís girlfriend Kristen, Mike Blasius and his
girlfriend Jill, Rick Banister, Bill, Nancy, Dave, and Michelle Green, Jeff
and Sharon Patterson, Rick Ingman, Mike and Ann Gabler, and their son
Andrew. Rick joined the fun on Saturday night, in time for putt putt and go
karts. But more on that later.

Eric and Kristen left on Friday afternoon. Eric told me that they
arrived in Grayling around four in the afternoon. They went to Traverse
City to shop and look around the town. The next group to arrive was Tom,
Kathy, and Mark. They left together around 2:30 in the afternoon but was
quickly separated. Those darn traffic lights. Tom was in front and made
the light. Mark got stuck by the light. Tom pulled over to wait for Mark
but didnít see Mark drive by. Tom and Kathy waited for a few minutes and
then decided to see if Mark went down on US-23 to I-96. We were going to go
on M-59 to I-96.

Mark stayed on M-59 while Tom drove down US-23. Tom got the idea to go
to channel 19 on the c.b radio to see if any trucker has seen a green jeep
pulling a blue jeep with big tires. He figured that if a trucker saw that
he wouldnít forget it. No luck. They got on I-96 and kept going hoping
that they would hook up. Mark was waiting at a Mobil station off of M-59
when he heard me on the c.b. I told him where we were at and that I would
keep going and he could catch up. He did and we were a small convoy again.

We made it up with out any problems. I was flat towing Paulís
powerful Tracker, which towed better than his camper. He told me that it
would and low and behold he was right. All the way up I kept telling Kathy
that the guy in the Tracker is tailgating. Kathy said as long as he
doesnít pass we will be ok!

We made there around 7:30. Started to set up camp when I noticed that
Eric and Kristen showed up. We said hello and continued setting up camp.
About forty-five minutes later Paul showed up. He was towing his camper.
At a closer look we noticed that Laura was driving! Laura had taken her
test and passed with flying colors.
Congrats Laura.
Other members showed up at various times. Shortly after Jeff and
Sharon showed up we went for a quick night run. A few of us went in the
stealth mode and this was Kathyís first night run and she liked the stealth
mode! I sometimes wonder about that girl!

Back to camp around 11:30 or so and everyone went to bed.

For those of you who have done a camping trip with us knows that Tom is
usually the first one up and usually has the coffee ready in the morning.
Well, this trip was no different, he was the first one up but the coffee was
delayed. He almost got hung from the highest c.b. antenna! Kathy forgot
to pack (honest) the coffee. Tom went to the local store at 6:50am to get
coffee and fill up the truck. The sign on the door said that the store
would open at 7:00am. I thought thatís not too bad I can wait. 7:05 the
store still isnít open. 7:10 not open yet. Finally at 7:18 the store
opened. I filled up the truck and got the coffee and headed back to camp.
Paul was the first one to ask if the coffee was ready. I told him no and he
shot me! Not with a gun but with a look that is usually reserved for Kathy
with the kids. I quickly got the stove lit and made the coffee.

Howard Palmer called us on Friday night to tell us that he would be
there on Saturday morning around ten. Howard and his wife showed up about
9:30 and b.s.íd with us until 10:30 or a little later. I always wondered if
Howard Palmer was the same Howard Palmer that I knew at K&M Boat Company.
When I called him back on Friday that was one of my first questions to him.
He asked me if I was Doug Muellerís son. I knew that not too many people
know Howard that is in the club, unless you are an old time member, and I
think that I shocked a few when I told them that I knew him many years ago.
It was good to see you again Howard. Would you be interested in being a
trail leader in your neck of the woods? Mind us camping on your front or
back yard?

We left for the trails around eleven. I have no idea which way we were
going but I knew that the trails were rather easy, so why is it that I owe
$3 to buck a stuck? Hmm, I think that it is sabotage on my hubs! (I have
auto locking hubs, it is just that no one told the hubs that they are auto
locking hubs). I will get to that in a minute, or less, depends on how fast
I can type and how fast you can read!

The weather was rather pleasant. It had rained on Friday night and
again on Saturday morning. The trails wonít be dusty, as I have seen them in
the past.

We made it to the pit sometime at oíclock in the afternoon. There was
sand, gravel, sand and gravel and hills. This is were I would end up paying
two dollars in buck a stuck. I headed off into the gravel and within 20
feet I was stuck. Everyone else seemed to be having a great time. Paul was
circling the Bronco like the Indians did with covered wagons. Paul yelled
out the window that he could run circles around me! Kathy was up on a hill
video taping all of this and hopefully she has gotten some good stuff. Mike
(Blasius) came to my rescue and pulled me out. This is when Paul told me
that the right front tire wasnít spinning.

I came back to level ground and tried getting the hubs to engage. No
luck. So what did I do? I promptly drove into a gravel hill and got stuck
again! Buck number two! This time Paul in his powerful Tracker came to my
rescue. Thank you Mike and Paul.

Meanwhile everyone else was having a great time at the pit. Someone
yelled, ďIs this our lunch stop?Ē That is all it took for us to open up our
coolers and start making lunch. We were stopped for about an hour, maybe
forty-five minutes. Enough time for me to have lunch and take a quick nap.
We were off again. After a bit we came to a nice mud bog. Al drove is
quad right into it. One of his tires had broke through and needed to be
pulled out. Paul and his powerful Tracker came to the rescue. We have
video of all of us bouncing on this mud bog. Not all of us at once but at
separate times. Mike (Blasius) was getting to brave and walked more towards
the center and his right or left leg fell through. (I have a 50% chance of
getting that right). He didnít fall through but the color of his pants
started to change color. Eric was getting dead branches and poking them
through the Ďcrustí to see how far they would go. One of the branches was
about ten foot tall. He made that one disappear!

Rick wanted to see if he could make it across a short portion of the
bog. Bill (Green) got in and road shotgun. Off they went. The right front
tire broke through, but my thinking is that because Bill was sitting on the
passenger side is why they broke through! Again, Paul in his powerful
Tracker came to the rescue. Paul has a winch, which is what Rick needed.
Mike (Blasius) hooked a strap onto Paulís Tracker to act as an anchor.

Just down from the mud bog is a few big hills. This was our next
challenge. I decided not to give it a try, as I didnít want to donate any
more money to the fund. The weekend just began and I am in it for two bucks
already! I canít remember who made it up and who didnít. I drove the
Bronco up to the first hill and pulled off into the grass so that I could a
better angle with the video camera. Kathy rode up with Paul and had a
blast.

Time to move on. Kathyís turn to drive. She enjoys driving just as
much as I do. Although after this last stop I am not so sure that she will
drive again. There were some small hills in the trail that she didnít see
and she was going to fast. The front of the Bronco came up and went down
hard. I was out of my seat and the only good thing is that I had my seat
belt on. She did this on all three or four hills. Everything in the back
of the truck was on its side. She said that she was sorry and that she was
more concerned about the truck! A true four wheeler! Paulís comment to us
was ďNice bounce!Ē

Kathy drove for a bit. We switched, she always switches when things
get bad! We came to a hill that she didnít want to take. I told her that
if she doesnít think that she could make it then I will drive. Hmm, I think
that I just figured out my problem. I WILL make her drive next time so that
she will have to pay the buck a stuck!

Anyway, I jumped in the driverís seat. I tried to lock it into four
wheel drive with no luck. I got a running start and made it about 3/4 of
the way up. This time Mike in his Ford backed down and pulled me the rest
of the way up. This is buck number three. These runs are getting costly.
Maybe we should see about taking Visa or MasterCard!

The trail leader continued down the trail. Some of the group was
started to get concerned about the amount of gas they had. We turned around
to come back the way we had come. The only problem with this is that DNR
was on the trail, sideways to block the trail. Jeff made it past but the
rest of us didnít. I was a little nervous in that I didnít have an ORV
sticker. I thought that we didnít need one so I didnít pick one up.
Unfortunately, Al got a ticket for having his quad on a road and not being a
registered vehicle got a ticket. The officer told Al to get it off the
trail or they will take it.

Mike didnít know it yet but we were about to load Alís quad into the
bed of Mikeís pick-up truck. We got it loaded and we were on our way again.
Mike said that he was going to slow down seeing that he had the quad in the
bed. I am still waiting for him to slow down!

We were able to make to Ranch Rudolph without further incident.
Everyone made it to the bathroomís without any accidents. After Ranch
Rudolph we headed back to camp for dinner. I didnít go around to see whom
had what but it seemed that everyone was able to have something to eat.

After dinner we headed into town for putt putt, go-kartís, and ice
cream. Bill Green was along so an ice cream stop was mandatory! We had 19
for putt-putt. We split into two groups. Donít know who the winner was but
we had fun. Next, came the go-karts. We had two groups for this too. The
heavy weights and the light weights. I was able to lap Kathy twice and was
working lapping her the third time when our time was up.

Next came our ice cream. I had a double scoop. One of white russian,
and the other of moose tracks. Both were good. Kathy had the chocolate
peanut butter, that looked good too.

Back to camp where everyone went to bed rather quickly. I think that
it was around 12:30. A full day of fun and more fun.

We had rain on Saturday night. I didnít hear it but it rained. I am
glad that it stopped when we cooked breakfast. Again, I was in trouble for
not having the coffee ready. I slept in! For us breakfast consisted of
bacon, eggs, orange juice, and thanks to Mark we also had hash, no not that
kind, corn beef hash.

After breakfast we headed out on the trails. Shortly out of camp it
started raining. Kathy was driving; Jeff was leading and getting wet. He
forgot his doors. Kathy told him that we have doors and windows and that we
were getting wet too. Our roof leaks! Oh, well I needed a shower! For
some reason Kathy didnít want to drive so we switched. We stayed in the
truck as we switched. I climbed into the back while Kathy hoped over to the
passenger seat. Then I climbed into the driverís seat. We were stopped when
we did this!

A bit later the rain stopped, the sun came out and the humidity
climbed. There wasnít a breeze at all. The mud bog seemed to be like a
sauna. We headed back to camp to pack up and head home. I think that we
were on the road home around 4:30.

All in all I think that it was a fun trip. Maybe at one of the
meetings I will have an edited version of the video that Kathy and I shot.
I still have to learn how to use Premiere so donít hold your breath that it
will be at the next meeting.