Since starting my job as online editor for the truck group in the Summer of 2004, I had heard all the guys around the office talking about Moab. "Moab this, Moab that. Dude, Moab is so awesome." Growing up in a San Francisco suburb, my experiences with nature's wide-open spaces were somewhat limited, other than the bi-annual interstate trek between home and college in central Texas.
Online video guru John Adolph and myself rolled into Moab 8 p.m. on the Sunday before the week's festivities. The drive in certainly afforded us some opportunities to behold some of Utah's natural beauty, but by the time we actually rolled into town, we were guided only by headlights and the signs of Moab's Main Street.
The next day, the vast expanses of otherworldly red rock against the backdrop of the snow-capped Rockies truly inspired awe in the most reverent sense of the word. I couldn't think of a more perfect setting to go 'wheeling. But being a Moab rookie, I didn't have a trail-worthy ride. I consulted with John, and we decided that either we would hitch a ride on a rig, or get left in the parking lot. We approached a massive yellow Suburban, and asked the drivers if they had room for two more. They immediately said yes and invited us to join them.
As unwieldy as that rig seemed at first, it took to the trails like a mountain goat, wheeling around narrow and steep passes with ease, even if it meant a few three-point trail turns. Rather, I should say its driver, Steve Frisbie of Missouri Off-Road Outfitters, adeptly managed the massive machinery of the nearly four-ton beast like the off-roading pro he is. In addition to having a five-speed manual transmission, itself highly unusual in a Suburban, it had three tractor-like levers protruding from the transmission hump. One was the high-low selector for the front axle, the other the high-low for the rear, and the third a gear splitter to give the yellow monster a total crawl ratio of more than 100:1. "You mean you can run in low-range in two-wheel drive?"
"Sure can," Steve said in his matter-of-fact Marine manner.
Throughout the day, the skies alternated between blue with wisps of clouds, to foreboding gray clouds and chilly winds. Thankfully, the day we were wheeling on Flat Iron Mesa, we were spared any significant rain or disruptive wind.
Unfortunately, we were not quite as fortunate on our outing to the Moab Rim trail. Toward the end of the ride, the skies quickly went from serene blue, to gray, gusty and frigid. Right in the middle of our first attempt to do a video feature on Jesse Johnson's custom CJ, we were hit with a sudden frigid, dusty gust and a faceful of rain. It almost seemed as if it was Mother Nature's way of reminding us who was really boss.
Before coming to Moab, a co-worker of mine talked about his "Jeep moments." His dream of getting in a Jeep and escaping from the urban madness of Southern California. Until coming to the Easter Jeep Safari myself, I dismissed his daydream as a pleasant but distant bucolic fantasy. After coming to Moab and experiencing a week-long "Jeep Moment" for myself, I'm already envisioning my dream rig, right down to the armored corners and recessed LED taillights, to the spray-lined floor and fenders and double-low transfer case. Whether I can convince my fiancee of the practicality of said rig is another matter altogether. Maybe that turbodiesel 2.8 CRD could help convince her it's an "economy" car. Hey Jeep, just in case you're reading this, make mine a turquoise Rubicon Unlimited with the CRD and a six-speed.