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Trails and Tents Tour 2006 Off Road Adventure Day 1

Loading up the Hummer H3 and Leaving Los Angeles towards Apache Junction, AZ

Day One: Sunday, Dec 4, 2006
Los Angeles, CA to Apache Junction, AZ

Miles traveled: 450
Cokes Destroyed: 3
Orange Juice Consumed: 1 glass
Tents raised: 2
Dinners on plates: 1

Senior Editor Ken Brubaker

I can't believe I'm doing this again. You'd think that after spending 9 days with Holman during last year's H2our fiasco, I would've learned my lesson. Yet here I sit, planted in a seat next to Holman for the next 5 days. Lemme see; where did I put the Suicide Hotline number?

Today's observations:

1. Holman and I are still in the Honeymoon Phase (maybe that's a bad choice of words), and we haven't battled yet. The week is still young.

2. Remember the Mega Blanket, the two Coleman Colossal sleeping bags zipped together? It's baaaack, much to Holman's annoyance. It's joined by a new playa this year, the Mega Tent. The Mega Tent is a 14x12 Coleman Evanston hinged-door tent that's big enough to park the Hummer in. Seriously. I love it, but Holman is becoming unhinged (no pun intended) at my propensity to "go big" all the time. He opted for the smaller, easier-to-heat Sundome tent.

3. As we checked in to the Apache Junction KOA Campground near Apache Junction, Arizona, the friendly staff casually mentioned that we should keep an eye out for wild javelinas which inhabit the area. So far we have no plan should our camp be invaded by the tusk-bearing creatures, 'cept to run by the store and pick up some barbeque sauce.

4. I've had enough of the highway, I'm ready to point the Hummer toward the trail.

5. I love camo pants.

Tech Editor Sean P. Holman

Thank you readers (I think). It is because of your many, many letters and website hits from our original H2our de Force (www.fourwheeler.com/h2our) story last year, that Ken and I have finagled another paid vacation from the boss. Is this a good thing? Well it is no Disneyland, that's for sure. I mean the guy snores, goes to bed with a gallon of Orange juice, yet wakes up with a helping of Coke C2, is this backwards or what? You have also placed two grown men in the tight compartment of a midsize SUV and sent them once again on a cross-country trip for its pure entertainment value. Ken is happy the windows roll down.

One thing I have noticed about the winterized Ken (I usually only see our Midwest Bureau chief during the warm months - I was under the impression he hibernates the rest of the year) is sleeves. You may remember the sleeveless Ken from such events as the original H2our de Force, Top Truck Challenge, and Real Truck Club Challenge. As it turns out, in winter, Ken actually wears shirts with sleeves, and today, even a jacket!

Today was the getaway from So Cal day, which doesn't sound like much, until you realize it takes three hours of driving east from our West LA office to clear civilization. The H3 easily swallows our six months worth of gear (are we going to on an expedition?) And this first part of the trip wasn't much of an adventure, well, unless you consider piloting a fully loaded 3.5L Hummer H3 against a 50 mph headwind and sometime 70mph gusts an adventure. Turns out it is.

Unlike last year, Ken has not robbed a Coke from a Mom and Pop gas station (although, there is still time), nor has he attempted to mire our Hummer in the ocean for a photo shoot, or split his head open on the door of the truck, although he has attempted to trip over the tent poles endangering our shelter, needless to say, in order to preserve my nylon refuge, I surrendered my flashlight to him.

Ken has also decided to take a vocal stance against the rest of the staff for voting against any more cammo covers for a while. He has already asserted his need for cammo by proudly announcing he will wear nothing but cammo pants the entire trip. I think this is a ploy to distract me from knowing he only has one pair of pants. Maybe we are staying at KOA's for the laundry rooms?

Coleman has also once again stepped up big for this trip. The new deep pocket twin size air mattresses are sure to give a good night sleep, as well as the super comfortable Coleman sleeping bags and awesomely warm tent heaters. These are all good things for a guy like me that has a narrow comfort zone of 68-72 degrees. What can I say, I live by the beach and my internal thermostat is a little spoiled. I believe this is why Ken is making me camp in December, possibly the quip I made about the cammo pants?

Cammo pants aside, Coleman was generous enough to send us two tents (unfortunately the walls are too thin to keep the snoring out). One tent is the perfect size for me and my gear, the other tent, is, well - massive. I mean massive on an outright giggling scale. It literally has a swinging front door and a covered porch. It sleeps eight. It is seven feet tall. It can park our H3 inside. It can easily fit three or four mega blankets with room to spare. It is massive the way the Hoover dam is a big beaver structure, the way Big Foot used to be an F-150, or the way Ken's six-acre backyard is compared to my townhouse patio. As of 9pm, we had set it up, but we hadn't taken the tour yet. Ken swears there is a basement and game room. I don't doubt him.

For this trip, we are planning on making it somewhere through New Mexico before heading back on a Northerly (read: freezing) route back to LA, possibly stopping off at the Grand Canyon during our travels. Our blogs will be posted daily and we'll keep you informed of our progress. Blog to ya' later.


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