Texas Spur JJUSA Attendees "Two"
Mother Nature "Zero"
Now that the dust has settled from the 2008 Spring Texas Spur Jeep Jamboree taking place just south of Llano, Texas March 28th-30th, at our host location nestled in the spectacular Texas Hill Country at the Rugged; "Inks Ranch". It's time to put the weekend in perspective and add some sort of written record of our adventure together to accompany the digital photos and video we collected from our weekend together.
As I look over the thousands of photos submitted on site by generous Jeep fans just like you, I can't help but think; this event gets better each time we go. In 2005 when JeepTales first started as an online photo archive of Jeep Events from around the United States no one ever imagined both the First Texas Spur and JeepTales would morph into what they have become today.
In 2007 JeepTales enjoyed nearly 5,000,0000 unique visitors who dropped in, either take part in some sort of the sensory participation whether it was to view photos, watch a few videos or ease drop on a couple of our on-site PodCast. Who knows, a few of those visitors might have even stopped in to read our event reviews.
We have now assembled a fairly recognizable team of JeepTales Agents who help our cause behaving like Wheelin' Disciples, spreading the word about JeepTales.com and who also assist the world at large to learn more about The Jeep Jamboree USA Experience through our website, Jeep On-line Forums and other dynamic enthusiast publications. I can't begin to thank all of your enough for your continued support you have offered us over the last few years and we hope to continue to grow and serve your needs for years to come.
As the JJUSA participants representing ten states gathered for the 4th Spring Texas Spur Jeep Jamboree approached our home away from home for the weekend, The Oxford Ranch Campground many of them who had made the pilgrimage in past years made the observation that our welcoming familiar purple flowing carpet of lush Texas bluebonnets was noticeably absent compared to years past. I'm told that if the rainfall in October is low the crop of Spring Wildflowers Season will suffer the following spring. There were a few small patches of the welcoming native Texas flora but in a considerably smaller quantity than what we were accustomed to. Although I must admit the bright pink flowers form the blossoming Mountain Laurel was a welcomed familiar site as I drove in to Llano from West Texas on Thursday afternoon.
It was the lack of Bluebonnets that was our first hint that perhaps Mother Nature was going to throw us a curveball this weekend. For the past few years the only weather setbacks we have suffered was a few cold nights a half day or so of spotty rain and a burn-ban or two eliminating our friendly nighttime campfires. This year we were in for the Full-Monty as there was a three month long burn-ban in effect. The weather prognosticators had predicted a 40%-60% chance of rain and severe Thunderstorms for the better part of the weekend. The forecast called for extremely wet weather creating new and unique challenges for this particular venue. The massive pink granite domes become incredibly slick when they are wet making not only walking but driving extremely hazardous. As the water sheets off the rock it creates mud puddles at the entrance point of many of the obstacles adding yet one more degree of complexity as Jeep and driver are forced to spin off the excess mud to gain the much needed traction to traverse the obstacles we have come searching for.
As you free your tires of excess mud and moisture the other challenge comes from suddenly gaining traction on the rough granite surface often if you are applying too much throttle the sudden tire grip can cause catastrophic results to your drive line components.
As we began our adventure, Tony Winkler the area JJUSA Coordinator, emphasized the importance of paying close attention to your spotters and trail guides during the Friday morning drivers safety meeting to make sure we were all as out of harm's way as possible during our off-pavement journey. Thursday evening had been clear and cool with a few light rain mists in the afternoon, but no real measurable precipitation. On Friday morning we were greeted by low hanging clouds flat light and almost what could have been described as a fog. All the drivers and riders who had been to a Texas Spur before were well aware of what the ranch held in store for them today slick obstacles and new challenges that would test all of their modifications since the last visit to the Inks Ranch. Everyone I visited with at breakfast that morning was up to the challenge and could hardly wait to hit the trail. After a hardy breakfast and gathering up our lunches we grouped into our respective color groups for our wheeling' adventure.
There was an unusually high number of first time attendees (a dozen or so by my count) most of whom were guest of Grubbs Jeep who were gifted a coveted ticket by this generous Jeep dealer as a "thanks" for their 4x4 Jeep purchase during this past year. Tickets for the Spring Texas Spur Jeep Jamboree are not easy to come by because of the high demand. In fact this event sold out on December 2nd 2007, less then 24 hours after the tickets had gone on sale. I had the pleasure of visiting with a few of the Texas Spur rookies on Thursday night and they were all equally excited about the privilege of being able to attend such a highly desirable event. Most of the Texas Spur tenderfoot attendees were well prepared for this event because they had been to JeepTales.com or had come across other articles about this event like the story in www.JPFreek.com from the year before.
On both Friday and Saturday we were met by just about every type of spring weather challenge one would expect. We had some wind, chilly afternoon and evenings and from time to time heavy rainfall. One good thing about the weather was it helped to keep down the dust on the long dirt road ride onto and off the ranch. We had a few axles, drive shafts, U-joints, a set of spider gears or two fell victim to the traction issues and at least one blown transfer case as well as a few knocked off rear license plate brackets. Most of the damage was repaired by day two or folks made due with what they could. There were a few folks who suffered a bruise or scrape from slipping on the slick rock. But all and all we managed to escape any severe damage or any real injury. All in all, I would have to say the foul weather added a new dimension to this event many of us had never experienced before.
On Friday night we had such a tremendous rainfall a few tent campers had to move because their tents were taking on water. I for one love the sound of rain on my tent at night but several times during the night I could feel the charge of static electricity on my arm hair just prior to the clap of lightning and thunder. The storms made of an interesting night of camping. On Saturday night as I gathered digital photos someone mentioned to me that the county wide burn-ban had been lifted so when I was done gathering photos I could join my friends at our common camping area and relax by the warm flames of a welcomed campfire.
Besides the joking and cutting up that happens around a campfire like this one, made up of my friends from www.WranglerForum.com, I heard the same comment over and over again. "This was the best Texas Spur I have been to so far and I can hardly wait for September and next Spring!" I know all of my friends are all planning on coming back... We hope to see more of you next time!
Thank you: Inks Ranch, Oxford Ranch Campground, Jeep Jamboree USA, San Antonio Jeep Exclusive Trail Guides, Tony and Nancy Winkler for all you do for this event. And thank you my friends who make this trip year after year making it one of the most exciting off-pavement events a person could ask for. I hope we continue meeting you at our tiny slice of Hill Country Heaven for years to come.
See you again on the trail soon,
If you have pictures or video to share from this event, email info@JeepTales.com and we will send you a link to upload your images.
Podcast (audio files)