I had just turned 65 and was content to just read about off-roading. Then, I received an invitation to go. Some excitement might be just what I need now that I'm officially a senior-citizen, I thought. Attica, Indiana, a small town on the Wabash River, is home to the 800-acre Badlands Off Road Park and our off-road destination.
Andy, my 21-year-old son, extended the invitation to go off-roading. He enjoys off-roading in his '95 Bronco with its 351 Windsor motor, E40D transmission, and stock lift and which is modified with a full Detroit Locker in the 8.8 rear axle, an Aussie Locker in the front Dana 44 TTB axle, a K&N filter, and a Dana 50 stub-shaft upgrade for the TTB Dana 44.
The trip from our home in Cary, Illinois, took under four hours. As we approached the entrance to the Badlands, described as "mild to wild," the terrain seemed harmless enough. We registered and began our trek on the marked Green Trail. As we approached the first earthen hill (looked like a mountain to me), I checked my seatbelt. The Jeep Liberty in front of us cleared the 45-degree hill, and it was our turn. I thought, "We'll never make it," as Andy stepped on the gas. We ascended with little trouble. I was Bronco busting!
The 50-foot rock cliff ahead looked bad: It was almost vertical with jutting rock shelves. We slowly ascended, the 32x11.5R15 Goodyear MT/R tires gripping the rock. We went up almost gently. The tires gripped, and the Bronco pulled us up. I was white-knuckled going down, but it was great!
After climbing the next hill, we dropped down a slippery, mud-encrusted, winding trail that ended abruptly in a rocky creek. As we entered the creek, the water lapped at the underside of the Bronco. The vehicle's rock sliders moaned as we scratched our way across the rock creekbed. I kept thinking that we could never be towed out of here, but we made it through.
Andy and I spent the rest of the day riding the remaining trails in the Bronco. The only thing busted at the end of the day was a leaf-spring support. I realized I had a great time, I forgot about being 65, and I now look forward to some more off-road Bronco busting.