We went on a little adventure for Chef’s birthday.
By now, you know how Fezzik, my 98 Montero, has been making slow, steady progress back to 100%. Staring down the barrel of the new engine’s first oil change and a second coolant flush for the now confirmed to no leak radiator, ol’ Fez is really coming along.
But he’s still not 100%. I haven’t had time (or inclination, really—it’s stupid hot in Phoenix this time of year) to get the skid plates installed, replace my transfer case shifter, change fluid in the differentials, or deal with the stupid, little things completely unrelated to the accident standing between me and a couple grand in insurance money.
July was a bit of a crazy month.
V took P to Salt Lake City for 4th of July with friends.
I took Fezzik to Mitsubishi Owner Day in LA with friends the following weekend.
Then V took P to LA to see her Great Grandpa and extended family the weekend after.
Thinking they would be coming home on Sunday, I immediately agreed to a Saturday wheeling trip out Box Canyon, an hour southeast of Phoenix, two weeks prior.
I was originally planning on spending the day finishing those aforementioned repairs—but when your best friends with lifted, double-locked Jeeps on 35s plan wheeling trips that are basically rough dirt roads so you can join them without fear of breaking something because you’re not quite ready—and it’s for Chef’s birthday—you say yes immediately when invited.
So we went on a little off-road, four-wheeling adventure for Chef’s birthday.
It was 79° and lightly raining as we left town at 8AM. After nearly 100 miles of tarmac, we made it to the dusty trailhead out in the desert.
Airing down to 15psi at all four corners made Fezzik far more comfortable, but I still left the windows down and fan off, being extra careful not to tax the cooling system. (I am still running straight tap water and CLR at this point. Fight me.)
Box Canyon was incredible. I’ve never done anything like it.
Fezzik did great. But I discovered something.
I’m not into rock crawling. At all.
And I’m not a fan of trudging through the barren, rocky desert, either. Unless there’s a cool, mountain forest at the end of the trail. Or a beach.
I loved being out with the fam. I loved tackling just about every obstacle on the trip on the first try, thanks to my factory air locker and imminently capable truck. Fezzik took everything thrown in front of him with absolute confidence—aside from a particularly long, slow trudge up a ridge, where a belt-driven fan and lack of 4-LO led to a transmission temp warning. (Half an hour crawling up a hill in 108° temps at 1,500rpm will do that to you.)
But that one off-camber obstacle in the apex of a right-hand curve on a shelf road where I found myself teetering back and forth, with one spotter hanging from the roof rack on my side and another pushing from the other—that I then had to go back through a second time because turnaround trail—made it perfectly clear.
I ain’t down for that. It’s just not my cuppa.
To be clear, I’m not worried about body damage. On the contrary. A ding, a dent—maybe even a broken window or two—I’m down. But I have zero interest putting my truck into any kind of situation where failure means walking away completely empty-handed is the best case scenario.
Later in the day, I had a blast watching the Jeeps lock up, dip in 4-LO-LO, and scale a rock ledge with steps as tall as my hood. That was badass—but it’s not something I’m interested in doing, personally.
If there’s a bypass, I’m happy to be a spotter or cameraman. If not, I’ve got to don my Buzz Killington cape and turn back. Here’s the RimLink frequency if you need a helicopter. I can’t wait to see the videos when you get home.
Wheeling is all about understanding what man and machine can do together in the wild.
I am glad I had the scare that I did that day. And I’m glad I had to face it a second time.
I am better for it. Clearly.
But I wrote a couple checks my ass was lucky to cash that day and I be very careful about such things in the future.
Wherever there is any doubt, there is no doubt. That’s the first thing they teach you.
It’s one thing to push through your fears and grow. But you have to draw the line somewhere.
Build the machine to do what YOU want to do. And NEVER risk it all unless you—YOU—really want it.
I didn’t really want it. At least, not that day. I guess this makes me a little different.
Figured I’d share this discovery, even if it does feel weird doing so.
PS: Two weeks later, front ball joints are dying, and I have to move left rear tire to permanent spare status due to torn sidewall. Shit happens.