Topless Tour 2018: Stranded in the Midwest

Two time zones, mud, and mayhem!

Jered KorfhagePhotographer, Writer

Editor’s note: Our Staffer, Jered Korfhage, is reporting from the road while on the Topless Tour 2018—a Jeep trip across the country with no top, no doors, and lots of wheeling. Below you’ll find his latest adventures.

This is a sunset from the west side of Texas. Ahead of me lay endless hours of cow farts, oil drilling, and potato chip snacks.

Fast forward just over 24 hours. South of Nashville, Tennessee, I happened upon a YJ in need of a tug to safety. They too had recently departed California, crossed Texas, and ended up in the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

It had also been over 24 hours since I’d left pavement. Solved that problem with a 3am cruise though Tennessee back roads in search of old cemeteries.

The hours just before sunrise in Kentucky proved to be the coldest yet on the trip. A ski jacket, hat, and gloves were the solution.

Arrived! If you’re in northeast Ohio on a Friday, the place to be is Brookfield, Ohio, amidst the flying mud at Yankee Lake Truck Night. Here are just a few of the cool rigs I found playing in the mud, plenty more to come.

Wheeling in Ohio means ruts. Big ruts. Don’t blink, these will swallow you.

After a generous application of throttle, I smacked the Jeep’s front tires into a very stationary boulder. What now?

The axle was pushed toward the rear of the Jeep by about five inches crunching the lower passenger control arm. The front passenger shock tube was thoroughly damaged, and the driveshaft was bound. We pulled the front driveshaft and dragged the Jeep off the trail. Using a 12,000-pound winch and a recovery strap, we were able to return the control arm to (almost) its stock shape.

Coaxing the arm back into the mangled mounting bracket required some additional help from the winch.

By the time everything was reassembled, a hurricane had descended upon the Ohio Valley.

With no top, no doors, and my only tarp keeping my emergency gear dry, the Jeep got wet. Very wet.

The Ohio backwoods claimed a front shock, control arm, fenders, one headlight, and every sense of dryness.

On a positive note, the BFGoodrich KM3 tires were right at home in the Ohio chocolate pudding.

The Jeep’s highway manners were rather compromised from the assault to the frontend. A friendly Rubicon owner offered a quartet of shocks and a pair of control arms to get my JK back on the straight and narrow. The fenders were a loss, but the headlight only required some basic first-aid. Time to escape the sweaty mosquito jungle of Ohio!

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