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August 2011 Firing Order Editorial

Posted in Features on August 1, 2011
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As I write this, our staff has recently returned from Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, and we’re scrambling to get this issue shipped to the printer on schedule after having been out of the office for a full week. Of course, dedicated pros that we are, we go to Moab each year armed with our laptops and notepads, and each year we intend to adhere to our deadlines and file our stories in a timely manner while we’re on the road. But somehow, each year, things seem to get in the way.

Deadlines? We don’t need no stinking deadlines.

Maybe it’s the balmy temperatures and the crisp high-desert air. Or the panoply of cool concept Jeeps that the Mopar guys bring—and let us drive—every year. Or the sadistic pleasure we derive from watching guys break at Potato Salad Hill. Or the refreshing taste of pale ale at the Brewery after a long, dusty day. Whatever the reason, we don’t ever seem to get a lot of actual magazine work done during Easter Jeep week. What we do, however, is a lot of great wheeling with trusted colleagues in one of America’s most picturesque places. Along the way, we meet lots of our loyal readers, talk shop with friends in the aftermarket, and upload a few photos for our Facebook fans. Hard work!

If you’ve never been to Moab, you really owe it to yourself to visit at least once in your lifetime. It’s a veritable one-stop Bucket List of four-wheeling, with some of the country’s most celebrated trails and obstacles—Hell’s Revenge, Poison Spider Mesa, Double Whammy, Golden Crack, the list goes on—all located just a few minutes’ drive from town. And contrary to common belief, you don’t need a massively built rig to enjoy some world-class wheeling on Moab slickrock. Plenty of trails within the Moab network can be easily traversed by a bone-stock 4x4. We’ve done it ourselves, several times—and to prove the point, if you surf the Internet, you can even find a viral video that’s made the round in recent months of a guy driving Hell’s Revenge in a Crown Victoria. (That’s not to say the stocker trails aren’t challenging in their own way. The first time I ever drove Hell’s Revenge, many years ago, I nearly wet my pants—some of those fins are really narrow and really steep!)

Another reason to be in Moab during Easter Week is the opportunity to witness the gradual evolution of trail technology with each passing year. Think of Moab as a kind of rolling test lab, where enthusiasts and aftermarket parts makers from across the country come to shake down their latest parts and products, and it’ll start to make sense. One thing we noticed at this year’s Safari—continuing a trend we first observed last year—was the proliferation of street-legal, daily-drivable Jeeps on the trail in place of the more heavily modified, built-from-ground-up rock rigs. Primarily JKs and Unlimiteds, these vehicles tend to sport off-the-shelf suspension kits in lieu of custom-fabricated systems, and run tire sizes of 40 inches and under, with 37s seemingly the size of choice for most Jeepers. We saw far fewer fullsize rigs running gigantic rubber at Moab than in years past, and not many tube-framed buggies at all—at least compared to a few Safaris back. And old-school CJs, which were all you saw at Moab maybe 15 years ago, are now as rare on the trails as Series II Rovers and Unimogs. Regardless of brand, there’s always a near-infinite number of beautifully built trail machines on display during Easter Jeep Week—you won’t see more true works of art except in the Louvre—and you can see a few of them starting on page 20 of this month’s issue.

Moab was so much fun this year, in fact, that yours truly is going back there again next week for another day of wheeling—er, hard work.

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