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D.E.D. in the Desert

Posted in Events on December 1, 2005
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We needed this real bad. Los Angeles traffic worsens by the minute, and our oppressive corporate skyscraper gets taller and taller with every day that they expect us to wear shoes. Asphalt streets and concrete deadlines. The Orwellian world of caller I.D. and red-light cameras is not fit for adventurous four-wheelers. It was time for a D.E.D. tour.

You've seen them before, from that little chingo with the yellow flattie to the North Dakota trek with the army-green Scrambler with that clutch-exploding M715 in between. And remember the time we bought a flatfender sight-unseen, flew to Utah to get it running, and ended up having to buy a $500 truck to haul it home? They're all D.E.D.s, involving little more than a minute or two of planning, a few Southwestern states, a random vehicle of questionable reliability (come to think of it, they've all been Jeeps) and, naturally, Dirt Every Day. It's a Freiburger/Pewe tradition, with other guys there mostly to sit mute when nothing needs to be said, to trade off cheatin' death, to admire patina and coolness when it presents itself, and to pass the Corona.

This time, we'd chiseled a week of freedom out of The Man long before we noticed that we had a Jeep that was prime for a trip. It had been rotting for a year after we'd retrieved it from Bob Farnsworth, a reader and Jeeper from way back who had been backhanded one too many times by his 1973 J10 after the gas tank fell out while he was driving it. With 401 power and a four-speed, we weren't passing up the asking price: free. It came less rubber, so we rolled some old 33x13.50 Baja Claws under it and dragged it home.

The year's rest hadn't healed much on the FSJ, and time lost wrenching and sleeping in the shop turned our week into five days. Not enough time to cross the state line at any kind of relaxed pace, but enough to get lost locally. We took the opportunity to find the away-from-home right at home, exploring the local desert and many of the dirt roads we'd often seen from the highway and wondered about. It took a couple days to get relaxed with the routine-evidence of too much cage rest - but by the time we'd been deeply embedded with camp stink over 700 miles of dirt, we had no need to come home. Exploring mine sites, ghost towns, abandoned air bases, backroad pawn shops, and greasy spoons, we'd found our peace at a comfortable distance beyond the fringe of tract homes that separate our world from the real world. Come along and decide for yourself which side of the homeowners-association border that reality falls on.

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