Tuesday, May 19, 2009

OJT Sayersbrook Bison Ranch Recap (Part 1)

This past weekend was the Ozarks Jeepthing members-only trail run at the Sayersbrook Bison Ranch. The event was organized by past club president and current club vice-president Aaron LaRose and it completely exceeded all expectations.

Unfortunately for me the event got off on a shaky start when Thursday, the evening before the trip after I re-spooled my winch, I (
for some reason) flipped my differential locker switch as I was pulling my jeep back in the carport. But nothing happened. No "axle locked" lights on the dash. I then put the jeep in 4-lo and hit the switch again; nothing. That's when panic started to set in. I hurried to the house, got my tools and immediately took the dash apart so I could inspect the wiring. Everything looked fine. About a month earlier I had done the "locker bypass mod" which enables the use of the lockers in 2wd hi and 4wd hi, so I removed the jumper cables I'd installed and still, no lockers. I spent the rest of the evening until about 1 am tinkering with everything I could think to tinker with and nothing worked. So I looked on-line and found out that the Youngblood Jeep service department opens at 7 am so I went to bed, tried to sleep and got up at 6:15am so I'd be the first in line when they opened. Turns out they don't acutally start servicing vehicles until 8 am and after twiddling my thumbs for a few hours they told me the switch was bad and that the replacement would be $211 (installed) and they'd have one by Monday (the closest one was in St. Louis). I told them not to order one, paid them $85 for looking at my jeep and went home. I then took my dash apart, removed the switch and drove to work so I could test the switch in my co-worker Chad's rubicon. Turns out the switch WAS dead, and when I put his switch in my jeep it worked! Luckily Chad is a great guy and he let me borrow his locker switch for the weekend so my crisis was over and everything was back on track. And I needed to be at the group staging point in an hour; so I hurried home to pack and load the jeep for the weekend. I'm not sure what caused the switch to go bad, but I probably shorted it out with the bypass mod. Since it's not really necessary for me to lock the diffs in 2wd or 4hi, I'll keep my switch in stock mode when I replace it. Here's the $211 part:

My sister Tina loaned me a TON of camping gear that I loaded into 2 large tubs that fit perfectly in the back of my jeep. I ended up taking more stuff than I needed, but I didn't know what the accomidations were going to be like so I erred on the side of needing everything.

I planned to drive up with the first group and met everyone at the T/A truck stop in Strafford at 2 pm. about half the people had their jeeps on trailers and the other half are like me and are too cheap/poor to afford a jeep, trailer and a tow rig. We headed out at 2:30 and as soon as we got on the interstate discovered that Matt had a problem because his trailer was whipping around like crazy once he got above 60 mph. We pulled over on the shoulder of I44 (which is never a fun experience) and moved Matt's jeep to the front of the trailer and strapped it down really well. That fixed the problem and the rest of the trip was uneventful. It turns out that keeping a lifted jeep at 70 mph is no easy task and I burned about half a tank between Springfield and Cuba where we turned off on the way to Potosi.

The road between Cuba and Potosi was very hilly and twisty so I had trouble keeping up with the more powerful tow rigs, but we made it to the ranch a little before 6 and it was much nicer than I expected. They do indeed have lots of Bison and you drive over several cattle grates on the way back to the camping area. Next to the camping area is a nice sized private lake and a very nice covered pavillion/dock area. There was a large parking lot for the motor homes to set up, a clean restroom facility with running water, a hu
ge fire pit for grilling, a cool circular pit with benches and tables for evening bon-fires, a small sandy beach and a neat little amphitheater facing the lake. All in all I was very impressed.

I quickly set up my tent (with help from Casey) about 6 feet from the lake, set up my sisters Coleman grill and cooked an 8oz filet for dinner. People were arriving most of the evening and since I'd had a very rough time the previous 24 hours, I went to bed around 9:30 and slept like a baby; even with the pooring rain that apparently kept several people up most of the night.

By morning the rain had stopped, but unfortunately my iPhone was a casualty since I hung it in a pocket on the wall of the tent and it ended
up getting very wet. I tried to turn it on but the screen just went white and then wouldn't turn on the rest of the weekend. Luckily I took a few pics friday evening before it died:

This is turning into a pretty long post and I've got lots more to talk about so I think I'm going to split this up into 2 parts. More to come....

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