Trail’s End: H2our De Force, 3,698 miles, nine states, nine days

Ken BrubakerPhotographer, Writer

Here at Four Wheeler, we love 4x4 adventure travel, so in June 2005, we inserted two staffers, Sean Holman and Ken Brubaker, into a ’05 Hummer H2 SUT for a 9-day, 9-state, 3,698-mile, on- and off-road trip from California to Illinois. Its formal name was H2our De Force, but we simply called it H2our. The trip was documented in three consecutive issues of Four Wheeler, beginning with the Nov. ’05 issue.

The plan (if you want to call it that) included wheeling in each state to experience nine different types of wheeling in one trip. The trip, which began in Hollister, California, started badly when Ken split his eyebrow open on the H2’s door while loading the truck. Less than three hours later, Sean had to use his criminal justice degree to keep Ken from being arrested (defense: head injury). Over the next few days, the boys almost allowed the Pacific Ocean to swallow the H2 at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and experienced inexplicably closed trails in Washington state; deep, H2-swallowing snow in Idaho; beyond-remote, rugged Montana backcountry that included a fascinating interaction with a crusty ferry operator; mosquito-saturated wheeling in North Dakota and Minnesota; tight, steering linkage–bending trails in Wisconsin; and rutted Illinois farmland trails.

H2our was punctuated by many late-night campsite setups by Hummer light; creative ways to access the Internet for daily update blogs on (in 2005, the web infrastructure wasn’t near what it is today, BlackBerry smartphones were yet to be distributed to the Four Wheeler staff, and Facebook wasn’t available to the general public); the alienation of many Four Wheeler readers who met Sean and Ken along the way and thought they were seriously disturbed; and in an especially memorable moment, a poorly planned route that resulted in virtually no sleep for 41 hours.

Another aspect of H2our was what happened when Sean and Ken where forced to spend nine days together, most of the time sitting less than 3 feet apart. Back at Four Wheeler HQ, bets were being taken that one of the boys wouldn’t make it to Illinois. Along the way, Ken got annoyed at Sean’s endless verbal evaluation of windshield bug splatter. Sean was annoyed with Ken in general. We wrote that when the boys arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport to put Sean on a plane to Los Angeles, “Everything that needed to be said (and a few things that didn’t) had been said.” Thus, the boys just uttered a primal grunt and parted ways.

Near H2 drownings, sleep deprivation, and staff bickering aside, H2our was an outstanding trip filled with awesome wheeling in amazing places. You can read all about the nine-day journey by clicking here, "Hummer H2 SUT - H2our De Force". H2our proved that incredible adventure can be had with a stock 4x4 and a desire to explore.

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