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Mike

Where Did Off-Roading Start for You?

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Where did off-roading begin for you?

For me, I've always had an interest and a passion for the outdoors.  Add to that turning 17 and getting my license, naturally I ended up leaving the pavement (in a 1975 Ford Maverick mind you),.  Obviously I only stuck to local spots, but did sink it down past the floor boards trying to cross a drainage stream.  Yes, it was a very bad idea, but I was young and it was worth a shot. :grin:

A year or so later, I got my 1st truck.  A '91 Nissan pick-up with a cap,. This extended my off-road exploring, and my begining of learning Wharton.  Most of the exploration I did was out of night time boredom.  But I learned how to drive soft sand really quick in that little 2wd truck.  That truck also took me through my 1st trip through some of the trails in Bald Eagle State Forest, which actually was by accident, missing an exit on I-80 and all around the Pine Creek valley of PA,. 

Fast forward about 5 years or so and I got my first new vehicle, a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500.  That truck did see some trails, still while new, but being so wide, and so new, kept me out of most of Wharton except for the wider areas.  It also lead me to getting my 1st beach pass for Birgantine. 

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Wanting to keep the truck in good shape, but still wanting to get off the blacktop, I picked up a quad.  New Jersey being what it is, I had a few small areas local to me to ride, but I quickly wanted to get further out,. Wharton was not an option, even though I knew of people riding there, I didn't want to chance getting ticketed or towed.  Doing some internet searching lead me to find Tower City Trail Riders, now Rausch Creek Trail Riders,. A friend and I went up there to check it out, did a one day trial pass, and were booked.  We both bought memberships that day.  The Trail Riders property is ran a little different than Rausch.  It;'s open to members only, no day passes.  But, it's open all year, every day, except for a few weekend dates during hunting season.  I spent 4 seasons going up there, even picked up a seasonal campsite for a few years.  But, after a while, it got hard to get up there enough to make the money spent worth it.  

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Also while I had the quad, I had found a ATV forum, Davids ATV Zone, later the ATV Zone which still exists, and became a moderator on the site.  Ended up getting to go on a bunch of good trips with a bunch a good people from there, similar to what we have now.  We hit up places like Paragon and some now off-limit places like St Clair, PA.

Eventually, I sold the quad for a Motorcycle.  Ended up with 2 different bikes before selling them to buy my house.  Same with a 20ft how rider boat I had.  All the toys got traded in when the house came.  

So, I had the house, and still the Ram, owned at this point with no payments.  Everything was going good.  Then the head gasket went on the truck.  Only 50,000 miles on it, but 10 years old at this point, so I had to decide to replace the motor for over $6k or bite the bullet and get a new vehicle..  Missing all of my old toys, I wanted a vehicle that could replace all of the fun things I liked about them.  This of course led to my 1st Jeep.  And, as usual, one Jeep turns into another Jeep, and here we are,.  

 

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I got into wheeling and trucks when I couldn't afford drag racing anymore. I was still paying for motors after they went to to scape bin. Wheeling was a lot cheaper. The last time I bought a car for myself was in 05 that lasted 3 months and I was right back into a truck. 1 f250, 1 sport trac, 1 expedition, 1 Nissan king cab, 2 blazers , 3 dodge pickups , 1 dodge nitro, 1 Chevy colorado, and 1 jeep. And out of all those trucks the f250 and 2 blazers where the only used trucks that I bought. Wow that was a lot of money.

Pissing off my wife since way back

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I grew up in frankinville, farm life. Ive been in the dirt/mud/woods for as long as i can remember. From two wheels to six and all in between. I have had trucks, broncos, blazers, race cars, and now my first brand new car, my jk. My jeep is def my favorite 4x4 and cant wait to do more with it. 

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I started growing up on public lands in Texas. First car was a 83 CJ7 on 31s.  I went to school in Chicago and built a Bronco II that I took to parks from IN to TN and all the way to OH.  After I moved east I had an explorer that was stupid big for the city that I took to Paragon and Rausch.  Eventually it just had too many problems and I traded it for a project CJ 7 with a nice cage and nothing else. I lived that jeep, but had no place to work and by that time my now wife convinced me to move to the city and the Jeep was sold. 

After we moved out of the city I got the itch again and ended up with my current Jeep. 

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19 hours ago, Mike said:

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So, what you're saying is, you were never skinny as a youngster either.  Same here....

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21 minutes ago, kobbs_77 said:

So, what you're saying is, you were never skinny as a youngster either.  Same here....

Thanks, dick.  :thefinger:

Actually I was around 24 - 25 in that pic.  I got out of high school around 175, started working at the FD around 180 at 21, going from breaking up and pouring concrete while attending college full time, to working 9.5 hour days 5 days a week and classes 3+ hours 4 nights a week and eating quick, heavy meals.  My co-workers don't exactly have the healthiest lifestyles.  I probably put on 20+ lbs in my 1st month.  Been a battle back and forth ever since.  Add a few shoulder, leg, and back injuries into the mix, and the weight kept staying.  I know all the means to loose it, but, now I'm married and just don't give a shit anymore. :lol:

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Bought my first jk in 2008 and somehow stumbled onto the quadratec forum. Quickly met a few guys who took me to the pines in the pre pre JC era. Back in the jk forum days we would meet up at the ranger station pretty regularly. Started slowly picking up on stuff and the rest is history. Traded the 2 dr for the 4 dr about 6 years ago I think.

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I'm a rag top guy.  Once the kids wore out my drivers seat climbing into the back of my two door volvo convertible, I realized I needed a  4 door convertible.  Only one in the US is the Wrangler.  Got onto JK Forum, found a thanksgiving ride back in 11 and met @jdam.  He suggested JKO, we visited the HOM.  There is a funny story about a skid plate for the evap, @HEAVYMETAL tells it better.  

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I'm a rag top guy.  Once the kids wore out my drivers seat climbing into the back of my two door volvo convertible, I realized I needed a  4 door convertible.  Only one in the US is the Wrangler.  Got onto JK Forum, found a thanksgiving ride back in 11 and met [mention=31]jdam[/mention].  He suggested JKO, we visited the HOM.  There is a funny story about a skid plate for the evap, [mention=25]HEAVYMETAL[/mention] tells it better.  



I still smell the cigars when I work on my jeep.

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It started for me in highschool. I wanted the typical Camaro or Mustang but my parents thought I would kill myself. So my dad saw this CJ at a gas station for sale and I ended up falling in love with it. Ironically it had a v8 in it. Once the bug bit that was it, I've been a Jeeper ever since. 

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I've been wheeling since 1985 as an infant with my dad. I was in a car seat while rolling in an 83 Toyota on 44" Ground Hawgs. One of my oldest memories is the smell of mud when it hits an exhaust header. This was every weekend growing up. Some of you might remember the club "Toyota Heaven" back in the late 80s. My dad and his buddies started that group.

Fast forward to winter of 2001. My dad bought me a 1995 YJ. It was a 4 banger 5 speed with 97k on the clock. Bone stock green and tan with 235 all terrains. Eventually that ended up with about 5" of lift and 35s before I sold it and bought a 2001 XJ in 2005.

My 01 XJ was bone stock the day I bought it. After a bit I installed a 6" Full Traction long arm and 35s. That was sold in 2007 and I bought a 2004 BMW 330i which is still my favorite car till this day.

In 2008 I bought an 89 Toyota pickup for next to nothing. I had 33s on it and it was an absolute blast! I beat the dog shit out of that truck and had no care in the world. You couldn't kill that damn thing. I was lazy and didn't replace the timing guides. That eventually at a whole in the case and antifreeze hit the oil. Once the old 22re shit the bed I sold it to a buddy for almost as much as I originally paid. It was crush by a tree 6 months later.

2010. This is where I bought my silver JK which you all know the history off and still own today. She's 7 years old and has 38k on the clock.

In 2013 I bought a 2013 Ram 1500 hemi for a tow pig. It was a great truck and did the job of daily driver/ toy hauler. That truck was short lived and traded.

In 2015 I bought my 15 tow beast Cummins which I have today and probably won't get rid of.



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IDK whether it was my cousin's CJ5 or my VW bug that got me interested the most in off-roading.  

When I was 17 I'd go driving unplowed roads after heavy storms or around a friend's farm with my cousin.  Usually he drove but occasionally he'd let me take the wheel.  I loved the ability to go places nobody else could.  

Later, when I was 21, I owned a VW Beetle and discovered (accidentally) that it made a pretty good off-road vehicle.  Farm land, fire trails through state forests and the Pine Barrens became frequent destinations.  

But I was almost 40 before I bought my first real 4WD vehicle, an Isuzu Rodeo (2nd Gen).  I only did few excursions on hunting and snowmobiling trails near my then-home in NE PA.

When the Rodeo started to die I leased a Nissan Pathfinder (2nd Gen) and spent a lot of time down in the Pines, on Island Beach State Park, local fire roads and "informal trails."  I even took the Pathfinder cross-country to wheel in SD, WY, CO and UT.  But wheeling was a means to an end at that time.  The kids and I (to varying degrees) enjoyed camping, hiking and fishing.  Overland-style off-roading was a way to explore new and more remote locations.  We'd head out on a Friday night or Saturday morning with tents or pulling a camper and be gone for a weekend to a week.  Sometimes we'd base camp and sometimes we'd stay one night and move on the next morning.  

When I turned-in the Pathfinder I got a Honda Pilot (1st Gen), which was really an SUV-styled minivan with AWD, and virtually unusable off-road.  While I had the Pilot I also got an old XJ for $3k and started wheeling that until Mike got his driver's license; then the XJ was his.  

Which led me to the JK.  I was still unfamiliar with rock crawling and similar technical-style off-roading.  I though that was the domain of buggies and purpose-built vehicles.  But I was a member of NJJC since owning the XJ, and went out to Rausch Creek with them for the first time just a few weeks after getting the JK, where I was introduced to rocks, mud, hill climbs and rocky off-camber trails.  I was both terrified and grinning like a fool all day as Chris Barnes guided our Blue-Green group around RC, and later laughed and listed as others bragged around the campfire (in the rain and fog, as I recall) that night.  At the same time I found a bunch of guys on JKOwners who wheeled the Pine Barrens and started trail riding, camping and wrenching with them.

Certainly the technical challenges of building and maintaining a Jeep for more difficult terrain, as well as conquering that terrain, is enjoyable.  But also the friendships and associations made with both NJJC and the JC (now DOR), and the camping trips and other events they each run, are as important to me as the off-roading.  I've missed that these past 3 years while I wasn't able to wheel.  Now that I'm back in I look forward to the non-wheeling aspect as much as the wheeling, and am excited to see DOR start up monthly trail rides.  I just wish they weren't always scheduled during the NJJC trail rides, because I miss wheeling and hanging with you guys.

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It started for me when I was 3 with a jeep power wheel. Then it went to 4 wheelers. Then building hybrids and taking them to wheeling in the country. Then all of my friends and myself got hooked on building Sammys. Which then moved on to getting hooked on jeeps.

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Back in 2011 I was looking to buy a new car and thought it would be cool to have a convertible but was worried about how it would hold up in the winter, that's when I started thinking about a Jeep. I mean everyone has always wanted a jeep right and they hold their value so why not. After about 6 months of looking around thinking I could go through that or over that I finally went down towards Atco raceway and drove down a dirt road maybe 200 feet and there was a puddle I manage to since around that just to find another puddle a short distance away that I couldn't get around so I decided to turn around and that's when I decided to look for a forum. Jay was actually the first person to guide me through the woods and introduce me to many other people only a few of which I still talk to. 

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in 2004-05 i had a MJ stock 2 wheel drive id load my quad on it and go out off roading then i got and xj and started "upgrading" LOL.

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3 hours ago, Bump said:

I was 16 or 17 and it snowed a foot.  My father owned a restaurant and he had a strict rule of being open every day, so he called-up my cousin who had a CJ5 and asked him to go pick-up a chef and a waitress so he could open.  I went with my cousin and afterwards we just had fun blasting through the snow.  When I was in my early 20's I owned a VW Beetle as a beater and "accidentally" took it off road one day (actually, one night) and discovered I could run most any trail I found in my area (central NJ -- the land of unicorns). 

The got married, had kids, it wasn't a good fit until I moved to N..E. PA and had to regularly deal with unpaved roads, hunting trails (often used as shortcuts) and snow.  But I had 3 kids and drove >100 miles round-trip every day.  My brother-in-law, who rebuilt a CJ5 and ran local trails in PA convinced me a Wrangler was impractical.  So I compared the 4-Runner, Land Cruiser, Pathfinder, Cherokee and Rodeo, and the Rodeo won out (regrettably).  It did well off-road but Isuzu dropped-out of the US passenger vehicle market and I got stuck with no support and limited parts.  Got separated and moved back to NJ, started wheeling the Pines to keep myself busy on weekends without the kids.  Eventually got divorced and got custody of the kids, and the Rodeo got too expensive to maintain so I leased a Pathfinder.  Spent a lot of time in the Pines and up in Stokes trailriding and camping with the kids.  Even took the Pathfinder out to Black Hills, Moab and Colorado for off-roading and camping, but was too scared to do anything harder than level 2 (of 5) trails.

Replaced the Pathfinder with a Pilot and loved the comfort but hated the off-road capability.  So stuck to local trail riding and camping.

Then the kids got older and didn't need to all be shuttled around, and finances took a major bump.  Jeep had just been bought by Fiat and I figured they'd eventually kill or ruin the Wrangler.  The economy was just starting to recover and good deals were still available.  I figured it was now or never and bought a 4-Door Wrangler Rubicon.  My plan was to build an overlanding rig (before I even knew what overlanding was).  Bought a roof rack, 12V fridge, budget boost and 35's.  But I joined North Jersey Jeep Club and got involved in rock crawling, so my build went in that direction.

I still enjoy overlanding.  But I love rock crawling and technical trails.  Best is when I can combine them, which is why I'm building an "expedition" trailer.  But after towing with a borrowed pickup and trailer to The Cove, I'm thinking long-term about a pickup with a slid-in camper and a Jeep on a trailer.  Maybe not the JK.  I'd like something smaller and lighter.  Not a buggy, because I still want to be able to drive it on-pavement on the weekends. 

You know you posted that before, right? :stickpoking:

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15 hours ago, Mike said:

You know you posted that before, right? :stickpoking:

Getting senile.  Deleted.

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6 hours ago, Bump said:

Getting senile.  Deleted.

I did like it though. Both times.

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Little Mill in the late 80's with my first motorcycle 1984 CR80 then my first truck a 1980 F350 1 ton 4x4.

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