Prepping for the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari event is something that should take a whole lot of planning, thought, and prep. So naturally, I wait until the week of the event to even select which of my project vehicles I’ll bring, let alone perform any maintenance or last-minute modifications. But with the echoes of Ultimate Adventure 2017 still ringing loudly in my ears and a Cummins-powered CJ that served as the official UA vehicle sitting in my garage, at least this year the vehicle choice was easy. “Prep? Bah, well, maybe I should at least grease all the zerks,” I thought. Good thing I did, because while diving underneath the day before my planned departure I found a toasted 1350 U-joint in the rear driveshaft double-cardan joint, some loose bolts, and a couple of the gearboxes low on lube. A monsoonal rainstorm of epic proportions was supposed to be hammering SoCal right over my scheduled departure time, but no matter. Some rain gear, tarps, a rebuilt driveshaft, and boom – road trip to Moab! Come along and browse the photos and captions to see what it’s like to spend an 800-mile day behind the wheel of an awesome Ultimate Adventure project vehicle.
Christian Hazel Drives the UACJ6D to Moab Easter Jeep Safari.jpg
I was going to leave for Moab Friday morning, so I dove under the Jeep at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday night with a grease gun and a pump-bottle of 90W gear oil.
I found a bad U-joint in the 3,000-mile-old rear driveshaft so I yanked it suspecting something was amiss since the angles were perfect.
First thing Thursday morning I called Oceanside Driveline to see if they could squeeze me in for an emergency jointectomy and give the UACJ6D’s rear driveshaft a look-see.
Goodbye greaseable U-joints. I never liked you anyway.
While Paul and Jeff at Oceanside Driveline were going over my driveshaft, I hit the local hardware store for some tarps and rain gear just in case our crack SoCal meteorologists miraculously got their forecast correct.
I just got done shopping when Jeff called to say my driveshaft was all fixed up. In addition to rebuilding the shaft with new Spicer 1350 non-greaseable U-joints the shop found an imbalance in the ’shaft, which they corrected.
Back home I got the driveshaft reinstalled, finished topping off the Offroad Design Magnum Box and NP205 with fresh 90W, and hastily grabbed and stowed all my spares and strapped down my gear. By now the rain was starting to come down hard.
It rained hard all Thursday night and into Friday morning, but the forecast called for a lull in the weather to come around 8 a.m. Sure enough, the skies dried up, so I dropped my youngest son off at school, topped off the 20-gallon tank with diesel, and hit the I-15 northbound toward Utah.
I had been expecting a miserable, cold, soaking drive. Instead I got exactly one raindrop on my windshield the whole way. By the time I had gotten to Norco from San Diego the sun was actually poking through.
Coming up through the infamous Cajon Pass the weather was simply beautiful. Crisp air, blue skies with white clouds, and the Cummins in the UACJ6D was happily chugging along at 70 mph with traffic, heads turning with every car I passed.
The Cajon Pass at 70 mph. With over 260 lb-ft on tap, 4.88s in the Ultimate Dana 60 axles and 38-inch Falken WildPeak MT tires, the CJ-6 has no problem keeping up with traffic.
I don’t run a fuel gauge in the UACJ6D, so a pair of Daystar Cam Cans holds a couple extra gallons of diesel and non-potable water in case I wind up needing either.
This is what the driver of the UACJ6D sees when looking down and to the right.
I topped off the tank in Baker, California, with some 4.50/gallon diesel fuel. The UACJ6D got 17.6 mpg on that leg with a lot of heavy throttle to make it up the steep grades.
Leaving California and entering America. What a great feeling.
I ran into my Cummins support vehicle right outside of Las Vegan, Nevada.
I got 10-to-1 odds that say I can make it to Las Vegas from here!
Some say the buffet here is good. They lie.
Dropping down out of Vegas the weather started clipping 80 degrees and I realized that wearing four layers of cold-weather clothing was indeed a bad idea.
This is what the drive sees when they look straight down. The foot-to-pedal angle gets a little uncomfortable after 12 or so hours.
Yay, Arizona. Even more America!
I had stopped to buy a sandwich back in Barstow, California. I stuck it in the ARB ’fridge but half-way through the Virgin River Gorge I could resist its siren call no longer. I pulled over for a turkey and avocado BLT with the Virgin River singing to me on my right and the I-15 howling on my left. Good stop.
I left the 10-pound Power Tank at home and mounted up my big 15-pounder since the 38s are a little CO2-thirstier than the 35s I usually run on my other hardcore trail Jeep.
Heeeeerrrrre’s Utah! I used to travel with Ed McMahon everywhere so he could announce where I had arrived.
Blue sky, red rocks, and a patina’d old 4x4. What’s better than that?
I only have two gauges in the UACJ6D. One is the Murphy gauge for the Cummins R2.8 that tells me anything from rpm to engine temp to fuel usage to volts and more. The other is the Magellan TRX7, which in addition to navigation, serves as a really handy-dandy speedometer and altimeter. Right about here it’s telling me elevation is climbing and the temp feels like its dropping.
I hit Cedar City with roughly two hours of daylight to spare. I bailed for a super-fast fuel stop shocked to discover I was only getting about 16.5 mpg on the last stretch, but it’s all climbing mostly. Time to get going if I don’t want to do the highest portion of the drive, through I-70, in the dark.
The sun may be getting lower, but man, what a view.
There’s tons of old farm vehicles, buildings, and equipment to keep your eyes occupied.
Cows and a UACJ6D shadow. Moooooo!
In a few more miles I’m about to take a right turn on I-70 and head pretty much straight at those snow-capped mountains. Brrrr.
My timing may be poor, but at least I brought a lot of warm clothes. The sun was just about to sink below the horizon as I hit I-70.
The new plan was to have dinner in Richfield, fuel up, and don every single outer-garment I had in the Jeep.
What a great sunset! Unfortunately that’s also the last of the free heat aside from what engine thermal comes up through the floorboards….which ain’t much at 75 mph.
This stretch of I-70 is one of my favorite interstate drives in the country. Just keep your eyes open for elk on the shoulder!
As the sun dropped further below the horizon so did the temps. Right about here at 7,000ish feet in elevation it’s probably 35 degrees with a wind chill of -700 below.
I don’t always selfie, but when I do I make sure the photo is blurry and I look stupid. After bailing at the Richfield exit I grabbed a quick dinner at a local restaurant, topped off the tank to the tune of 17.1 mpg for that stretch, and hoofed it at speeds between 75-80 mph.
By the time I arrived at the Hwy 191 exit off the I-70 it was pretty late. The temps through some of the passes were in the 20s and I was glad to be 30 miles from a warm bed.
Verne’s Wicked Willys pickup and Hazel’s UACJ6D. We certainly have a vehicle type here at 4-Wheel & Off-Road.