Got up about 0700, got a shower and my stuff loaded up in the Jeep, went and had a good breakfast at Stoney’s in Russellville, gassed up and meet up with the others in Dover at 1030.
We found out that Jayston came down sick and had to drop out, which stinks, he put the route together and was going to lead it. I was really looking forward to getting to know him better on this trip. Tod stepped up and lead the group in his extremely capable 80 series, (Tod lead our trail ride at Rendezvous in the Ozarks 2017) then Justin in his 4Runner with a brand new front bumper he made over the Christmas break, then me and my WILLYS JK, Walt followed me in his 1st GEN 4Runner, that everyone in the group loved watching it do it’s thing! Then Joe was behind him in his fairly new Ruby JKU and Randy took Tail-Gunner in is Ruby overlanding tricked out JKU.
We got on the road about 1100 or so. We were on the trail within 5 miles or so. It was a really nice ride nothing real crazy, there were a few tight spots but being the shortest wheelbase had no problem at all fitting. I think it’s cool it wound up being an even split three Jeeps and three Toyota’s.
We stopped at Birch Cemetery and walked around a little, pretty cool seeing it out in the middle of the forest. We stopped early to set up camp around 1600. Very pretty area right on the river. I made fajitas for the group, everyone seemed to like them and we enjoyed a relaxing evening sitting around the campfire, getting to know each other, we are a pretty diverse group (IT guys, salesman, fireman, military Vets etc..) with a common passion for enjoying and protecting the great outdoors.
Everyone is sleeping in their vehicles except Walt and his co-driver they pitched tents, hope it’s not to cold of a night for them. It’s nice being up off the ground and able to crank the jeep to run the heater if I need to. It got up to about 35 today, lots of ice on the mud puddles. Low tonight is 20 so I’m hoping to stay warm, I’ve got my mummy bag inside a big sleeping bag and the tent heater if it gets too bad. My cold weather long underwear and wool socks are very nice to have on!! Hoping to be able to get some good rest tonight.
Woke up around 0700, slept very well last night considering it was 18 degrees at 0700! Never had to light my heater or start the jeep until I woke up this morning. Within a few minutes it was warmed up. I tried to get everything that I could packed away before opening the door and letting the heat out. Got everything pretty much ready to get on the trail then I heated my coffee up and had a dehydrated eggs and bacon breakfast. As we went to leave for the trail, had a couple frozen shut e-breaks that needed a tap or two with a hammer, It was a cold start but the heated jeep sure felt nice (much different than the cold morning starts on the Harley).
We got right on a really nice trail to start with, several water crossings and amazing overlooks! The Ozarks are so beautiful!! Stopped for lunch and I relocated my CB antenna and the reception was much better! Had a chicken salad sandwich that Cindy made me for the trip and it was off the hook!! Finished our trail ride on a really technical section that was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed watching Tod and Justin in front of me, I’m a Jeep guy but must say I like watching those Toyota’s work as well. Our campsite is in a beautiful valley, with a creek right across the trail. Walt was in charge of the fire and I don’t think he will ever get out of that job on future adventures! It was picture perfect and nice and warm. It’s several degrees warmer tonight and being down in this valley blocks most of any wind blowing. Had fajitas again for dinner, Tod shared a couple of hotdogs and Randy made a Dutch oven Apple crisp that was really good.
We had great conversations around the fire once again, wheeling with someone is great but sitting around the fire at night after a day of wheeling is like icing on the cake!! What’s even better is getting up and doing it all over again the next day!! We used iDrop on our phones to share pictures and videos which was kind of cool that it worked without and phone service! ( benefits of being on an adventure with a diverse group! Thanks Justin!) We all went to our rigs and turned in for the night around 2130. All in all it’s been a great trip and everyone is really enjoying it and getting alone great.
Slept really well last night it’s amazing how much better 30 degrees feels than the teens! Woke up about 0700 this morning, last night I strategically put my travel mug full of coffee and backpacking stove next to me on my sleeping platform, so I was able to heat up a cup of Joe while my Jeep warmed up, enjoyed my coffee, got dressed in a warm Jeep then bailed out to get everything ready for another day on the trail. Breakfast was a chicken salad sandwich with coffee.
Our morning drivers meeting, we got a game plan for the last day of our trip, the plan was to end in the afternoon at Oark, I asked for a spot to peel off early around noon so I could get to Russellville and pick up Cindy and head to SE Texas for New Years celebrations with our family. Joe recommended that I stay long enough to see the old homestead (sure glad I did!!) I said that would work, so we hit the trail.
Our first stop of the day was right down the road at Union School House. This was an amazing piece of American history that you could walk through and really get a true sense of what it would have been like being a school kid at the turn of the century. I really want to bring Beth Ann back for her to see this. After we left the school house we hit some beautiful trails on the
way to an old homestead that seems to just be out in the middle of the woods that was open for folks to walk through and get a glimpse of how it was to live in past. I’m really glad that I took Joes advice about going to see the homestead, I love it and the trail getting there was amazing.
After checking it out we headed for a fire tower to enjoy a view of the Ozarks. This is where I would depart the pattern and head to pick up my bride to head to TX to see our Moms and Sisters. We made it up to the fire tower and it was so foggy you couldn’t hardly see in front of you, will have to come back another day to enjoy that view. Utilized Tod’s amazing on-board air system to quickly get my 35’s aired up for the 500 mile drive ahead, reconnected my sway bars said good byes and shook hands with my new friends before taking off. This Adventure was my first multi-day overlanding trip. I must say I am hooked on the overland state-of-mind and lifestyle. The benefits of unplugging and going places with no phone signal probably have more health benefits than eating fat-free! Tod, Joe and Randy made a conscious effort to stop and show Justin, Walt and I sites they have seen countless times like cemetery’s, an Old School House, Homestead. The three of us were extremely grateful for this and hope to pay that experience forward some day.