V.O.T Five Days in the backwoods of Vermont
Well the write up for this did not happen the way I would have hoped by doing a section each day, so here it goes from the end of the event looking back.
Team Lucky 8 had Team members coming in from all over the country. Gerald was from Texas, myself(Bill) coming from Chicago, Justin, Ed, and Dave F from NY, Dave K, Randy and Jensen from PA, and Ren from NH. Most of us had never met before or if we had it was a brief hi how you doing at a Rover event a year ago. The strengths and weaknesses of each unknown to the others, even themselves in some cases.
We’ll start with Justin, what can we say about this guy that hasn’t already been said. He’s a great guy, quick with a joke or a helping hand. He went way out of his way for all of us on one occasion or another. He spent hours wrenching on other peoples trucks that weren't quite ready or had broken down even if they weren't on our team. It is about the Land Rover and Off Road community for Justin not just about selling parts. I know everyone on the team walked away at the end of the event with one really great friend that had their back.
Gerald, a lady’s man to the end, I think he picked up a woman in every town we went to. Did an outstanding job as a navigator, was there to help with the parts runs and the shower " If it was for a Woman". Gerald is a friendly guy that you just can’t help but enjoy hanging out with. He took some amazing pictures and video throughout the VOT hopefully it will be up by the time I post this.
Bill, a radio operator and the P38 trunk monkey.
(Please let me interject, that last statement is what Bill wrote about himself. It is unbelievably humble and in my opinion nowhere near the description Bill deserves. Bill jumped in a truck and drove 11 hours to meet us in Buffalo. Arriving in Buffalo he immediately help load the VOT trucks on a trailer and then drove 7 more hours to the event. His ass must be made of pure iron. The driving would be an accomplishment in itself but it was nothing in comparison to the energy Bill brought to the team. Bill truly possesses the eye of the tiger. Whatever needed to be done he was there ready to do it. Monsoons and mosquitoes did not seem to affect him whatsoever he was under the greasy truck ripping parts and axles out as fast as his hands could move. When done with that he was ready to move to the next task at hand. I am truly a better person having worked side-by-side with him. Justin)
Dave F. This guy started the weekend completely unsure of his capabilities on the trails and his DII’s. By the end of the weekend he had it locked so tight even Justin was having trouble keeping up. He was always there to lend a hand when work needed to get done. Also he is one of the best trail Chefs I have ever had the privilege to know. I really want to hire him to cook for my Army unit. He cooked for probably 100+ on a couple of the nights, there wasn’t a empty stomach insight when Dave was at the stove. Plus he would wake up before us along with Ren(his cousin) to make sure the eggs, bacon and coffee were ready to go when we got our lazy asses out of the sack. He was the driver of an 03 D2
Ren, this guy is a total class act, when you first see him you feel like a midget. You quickly learn though that he is the proverbial gentle giant. Always the first to throw in and help with a repair or whatever was needed. He was also apparently a good video guy once the vid of the P38 driving in reverse gets posted you’ll understand.
Ed was a camp favorite and the master of the booze and tunes. He brought out all the stops to help keep the spirits high at the end of a long day on the trail. He also had a speaker system and a ton of music to keep the group entertained in to the late hours of the night.
Randy, most everyone knows him or has bought parts from him, he runs Rover Bones. Randy is a pillar of the Land Rover community and was always ready to help. You could find him out there spotting and helping sort out broke down Rover’s. When trouble reared its ugly head Randy step up to the plate and took a parts run down, mud, rock and 60 miles on the highway to get a team mates truck back up and running. He always put the team first, even when it wasn’t the fun or easy thing to do. He even offered up his DII for others on the challenge trail so they could enjoy the event from the drivers seat.
Dave K. Another great Rover guy, and Randy’s Navigator along with his son Jensen. The two of them could be found smiling during the heavy rain storm, helping rig winch lines, spotting and doing whatever needed to be done to get the teams to the top of the mountain. With no rain gear and soaked to the bone I think they looked the happiest I saw them all weekend.
Jensen is a great kid and is going to grow to be a part of the Rover community of the future. He was always helping out and ready to do whatever he could. On top of that he builds a pretty mean bonfire too. Jensen filled in as Ed’s Navigator for a few days and even helped drive Randy’s truck through one of the challenges.
It was a diverse crew, but we pulled together quickly and made one strong team. By the end of the weekend we were reading each other like a seasoned team that had worked together for years.
Getting to Base Camp (Rockingham, VT):
We all arrived at base camp at different times and by different methods. Randy, Dave and Jensen were the first to show up trailering in the DII and got the team a great site to set up on for the night. Ren was next and ran off the villagers that wanted to move in on the site. Ed showed up a short time later with his RRC on a tow truck down with charging system issues. Then Justin, Gerald, Dave and I showed up in the Dodge with the Rhino and DII on the trailer around 11pm. Camp was quickly set up and even though everyone was tired help was given to trouble shoot and fix Ed’s RRC. Randy gave him a alternator to replace what we thought was a bad one at first. Ren helped Ed install it but no dice the new one still wasn’t charging. So the beer and trouble shooting began, around 2am we gave up and went to sleep so we could look at it again in the day light. Trevor, came by and taught us a neat trick to get it to charge by jumpering the two poles on the back of the alternator. That worked and got it going, but now the factory anti-theft decided to come to life and the horn and locks were going off every 30 seconds. After a few fuses were pulled that problem was solved. Then we moved on to the no low range on his transfer case. Some disassembly and cussing later we found the selector on the case was frozen and the solenoid was not playing well with others so we pulled it and slapped it back together to hit the road.
Hitting the trails, Rockingham, Grafton, Chester, Cavendish, Reading and West Winchester.
The trails were great the scenery was even better. It reminded me why I want to retire to New England. The day started out pretty easy but then we got to the first challenge. A steep climb that was a bit muddy and had some pretty huge rocks in the way. Randy was the first to go up from our two truck convoy. It took him a couple of tries to make it over a large rock that was in the worst possible place in the trail for a rover. Ed and I took the bypass since he didn’t have diff guards installed on the RRC and we didn’t want to risk it on that large rock. We found out that the bypass was just as steep and was a slick rock face. It took a couple tries and some easy use of the skinny pedal but up we went to rejoin Randy. Somewhere during the rest of the trails we busted the rear sway bar link and it was smacking into the springs we kept thinking the rear axle was ripping loose on us. The rest of the day was more great trails and us trying to keep up with Randy on the Forest roads. We found ourselves at the last challenge trail of the day. It filled was with mud and granite boulders. The RRC had No sliders, no diff guards and a Bottorf bumper barely protecting the front. We crossed our fingers and dove in. One of the last huge slabs of granite re-shaped a radius arm mount on the frame but nothing serious. Then it was off to camp to install Ed’s 3” RTE Springs so the tires would stop getting cut up by the rear fender lips. We met back up with everyone else and prepared to get to work. Ray 1920SF on most forums offered the use of his X jack to make our lives easier. Just a FYI that thing is awesome. Unfortunately while I was behind the truck holding the filler on the exhaust I noticed a lot of fluid running down the inside of the passenger tire. I Told Ed we should top off the swivel balls as he was leaking pretty bad about that time Ed announced the brakes were gone. So work stopped on the springs and we moved to the brakes. A flex line had been rubbing on the tire and it was torn open and dumping fluid. Luck was with us again, we went and asked around to see if anyone had a spare brake hose and I happen to find one. 1920SF to the rescue again he had a spare.. Then 2.5 quarts of brake bleeding later still no brakes. That led to some excitement the next morning on getting down the long steep grade out of camp. I want to note here that the Rover Community is awesome, helping out with parts, fluid and even the offer of trailering the truck home for Ed or a free 200 mile AAA tow. Rover owners are some of the best people hands down. We feasted that night on Pulled pork and homemade BBQ sauces courtesy of Dave F.
West Windsor, Reading, Woodstock, Bridgewater and Barnard
The day started with another great breakfast prepared by Dave F. and Ren. Then it was time to load up all the gear. After that was done we hooked a kinetic rope to the back of Ed’s RRC and to Justin’s P38 Range Rover. The P38 became the braking system for the RRC and was able to lower Ed down the hill to the main road for a tow.
As it turns out the RRCs brakes began to work 30 min later….. It’s a Land Rover who knows….. The trails today were amazing the challenges were exhilarating. The day was racing by with great views and good fun. There were two challenges this run, the first was a creek bed filled with granite boulders. At one point Justin went crazy(ok more so than usual) and let me take the wheel of the P38. I had a great time working my way through the trail. I am constantly amazed at how capable they are and how under-rated they are by the off road community. Justin did a great job prepping the truck for the adventure with some armor, up-rated suspension (both from TerraFirma), tires and a winch by Ironman 4x4. It was literally point and shoot with it for me on the trail. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite that easy for Dave in the DII he blew a front diff at about the half way point. So out came the kinetic rope and the P38 pulled him the rest of the way out and to base camp for the night. We started trying to make the climb and no description or picture will do it justice but it was steep. Then the rain started…. It took us about 1.5 hours with the Rovers all hooked together winching and praying to get halfway up. At that point we got Dave and the DII to a safe spot. Disconnected from our kinetic energy conga line we managed our way up the rest of the hill to the peak. The peak was to become our camp for the next 2 nights. Much to our surprise Ed was already there and waiting on us, with his brakes coming back to life he decided to stay and finish the next two days of wheeling. Camp was set up in the rain, plans were thought up discarded and re-invented on the spot on what to do with Dave’s truck. Finally it was decided that Randy would drive back down and go to the base camp and get a spare diff that was needed for the repair and Gerald would go with to navigate. So Justin and I went back down the hill in the P38 to get started along with Dave and Ren on the repairs. Oh did I mention that Dave and Ren were cooking dinner for 100+ folks that night? The Fajitas were awesome, and I hear the tequila shooters were as well. So we moved all the gear needed for that back up the hill after we tore apart the front end of the DII. Dinner was cooked and a great success for all. Just as we finished up eating a call came over the radio that a Series Rover had rolled near the bottom of the hill. So off we ran down the slope, amazingly no one fell and slid all the way to the bottom. After assisting with the righting of the Series we headed back up the hill as the Diff had arrived and it was time to get back to work. Dave, Ren, Justin and I headed back to the DII to button it up. With everything fixed and one highlift thrown into the wood line in anger the DII was back under its own power and finished the trek to the top before midnight. Another great day of Rover fellowship, great wheeling and hard work under our belts.
Barnard, Stockbridge, Bethel, Royalton and Pomfret
The day started out uneventful, even relaxing with not having to break down our camp. All four trucks were back at 100% and ready to go, so we started off down the slope. Unfortunately Dave had a tire go flat on the way down so once we hit the bottom we were going to have to change it. Then to add to the fun Justin smashed the front diff against a rock causing the guard to fold into the cover putting a pencil eraser sized hole in it. We got to the bottom and immediately went to work. I cleaned up the diff and liberally applied JB Liquid weld to the hole hoping to seal it up. Justin gave a hand to both me and Dave getting his tire changed. 20 min later we were back on the road for another great day of fun. In Bethel around lunch time we caught up to a team headed by Laz, of 2 1995 RRC’s one of which had just lost brakes. We pulled over with them in the Fire Station parking area and got to work. Turned out a rotted front steal line had gave out so with the help of some creativity and cleaning out a gas station of all the brake fluid they had Team RRC was back on the road. Thankfully the rest of the day was filled with more great trails and laughs. That night at camp there was a real sense of satisfaction in all that we had accomplished as a team in the last 24 hours. Especially as we enjoyed some great BBQ ribs from Dave’s grill that once again fed the masses.
Barnard, Bridgewater, Woodstock, Hartland, West Windsor, Wethersfield, Baltimore, Chester, Springfield and Rockingham
The final day, was designed to be much more relaxed so that we would take in the scenery. We had done a great job coming together as a team and as friends. We took in the views enjoyed the fresh mountain air and relaxed for the final trails leading us back to base camp and the end of the adventure. The last challenge trail was taken in stride. Jensen even got a bit of wheel time in on the challenge. Then as suddenly as it all started it was over, camp was set up, the bonfire was lit and the awards handed out.
I can’t speak for the others on the team but I know that I personally made some great friends on this trip. It is definitely one to remember and one I hope to do again next year.