Touring the Hot Spots on the Right Coast with the Best of the East
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Have you ever done something once, swore you wouldnt do it again without some changes, and then done it again the exact same way? Such was the problem that faced the veterans of the Wild Wild West Tour (Four Wheeler issues May 00 and June 00). Bob Hazel was the brain behind the infamous Wild Wild West Tour, in which a small group of dedicated four-wheelers went on a multi-state tour of nine hard-core trails in seven days. Because of the Tours success, he decided to run with the theme and dreamed up the Best of the East Tour, in which a mixed band of Wild Wild West veterans and unsuspecting newcomers took part in a tour of some of the most hard-core off-road places near the right coast of the U.S. Of course, the schedule was hectic and basically impossible, which has become a Bob Hazel trademark. Fortunately, it was also a whole lot of fun.
This year the Tour spent seven days and visited five hard-core areas. Because many of the East Coast areas involve visiting assorted short, hard-core obstacles rather than dedicated trails, its difficult to determine just how much off-road ground was covered. By all accounts from those who took part, it was plenty. The Tour started in Tellico, North Carolina, then traveled to Blairsville, Georgia; Monteagle, Tennessee; Slade, Kentucky; and the Paragon Off-Road Park in Pennsylvania. On-road miles totaled 1,285 from start to finish, not including the trip to the start and from the finish.
This year the long-haul gang included a few veterans of the Wild Wild West Tour plus a few new ones. They included Mark Lloyd and Michelle Blanco in Marks CJ-5; Superlifts own Bret Lovett and the author in Brets YJ; Bob and Trey Hazel in Bobs hybrid CJ-7 (The Cat); the Conrad family (J.B., Hope, Randi, and Morgan) from J.B.s 4x4 in their freshly finished CJ-7; and Tennessee Off-Roads Dave Cagle in his TJ. In addition, Scott Baker and Ryan Vredenberg joined the group for a few legs of the trip.
Whether it was because of lessons learned on the first Tour or because of sheer luck, there was much less breakage on this trip. The weather was also much more cooperative this time with unseasonably cool weather that helped make up for the brutal heat wave endured during the last Tour. But rather than babble on about the Tour, were just going to dive in and show you some of the highlights. Bob is planning another Tour next year, although its uncertain exactly where (probably the Midwest or possibly California). For more information, contact Sports-In-The Rough, Dept. FW, 284 14th Ave. NE #5400, Hickory, NC, 28601, 800/556-2801.