Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tri-State Jamboree Ride Review - 2017

Low Mountain Overlook
We took three rides this past Jamboree.  Here’s the scoop on these rides from a more experienced perspective.

#11 Low Mountain
This 55 mile intermediate ride took us into the Arizona desert.  Guides Reg and Ken piloted us through a 2-mile stretch of lava rock, which riders in previous years really disliked.  They reported that the BLM had done some work on this stretch this year, which seemed about right as the road was not that bad.  When we reached the top, we recognized a couple of signs and realized that we had been on the south side of the road previously – traveling up from Mesquite, NV.  Now we know.

We hit a long stretch of mud on this ride – an added challenge courtesy of our much needed snowfall this year – and came off the ride with ATV, boots, and pants splattered with the stuff.  All part of the fun.  There were no “intermediate plus” surprises on this ride – or maybe we’ve just become better riders.  The trail was fun and the scenery was great. 

#23 Diamond Valley
When we signed up for Jamboree we agreed that we’d take a Beginner ride on the Friday so I could do most of the driving and give Paul a break. 
World's Largest Laccolith
When we saw that Diamond Valley, one of the new rides of 2017, was listed as a beginner ride of only 35 miles, I jumped in line to sign up.

The guides told me as I walked up that “this is not a Beginner ride.”  When I asked how difficult it was, they told me “Intermediate minus.”  Hmmmm.  I signed up anyway.

It turned out I was the only one who signed up.  When we reported for the ride, guides Dale, Fred, and Lee were happy to take out a single machine.  This broke two Jamboree records in our book – the only ride we’ve ever been on where we were the only riders, and the only ride we’ve ever been on where the quads outnumbered the side-by-sides.

I drove.  I learned that 1) driving an ATV on paved roads is difficult, especially without power steering (oops); 2) I hate being off camber (major oops); and 3) I’m not a very fast driver (thanks to Dale, Fred and Lee for putting up with the slow pace). 

The ride featured an up close view of the world’s largest laccolith.  (Laccolith: noun; geology.  A mass of igneous rock formed from magma that did not find its way to the surface but spread laterally into a lenticular body, forcing overlying strata to bulge upward.)  It also featured a significant stretch of mud.  Paul got to drive that section.  One advantage of fewer machines – not nearly as much mud splatter!

All in all a fun, albeit slow, ride.  I recommend they reclassify it to at least Beginner Plus if not Intermediate.

Top of Dutchman's Draw
#25 Dutchman’s Draw
Our third ride was the exact opposite of the Diamond Valley ride – it was full!  Twenty machines – not including guides, tackled the very dusty road toward the more beautiful trails through the Dutchman’s Draw.  And when I say dusty, I mean “can’t see ten feet ahead of you” kind of dusty.  I think I may have preferred the mud.

Guides James, Rulon and Jerry took us through the amazing tree-filled trails at the top; then stopped for lunch on a flat, sunny plain with no trees at all.  Really?  How do you expect the ladies to heed nature’s call when there’s not even a tree to hide behind?  Thankfully there was a ditch about 100 yards back, and the gentlemen on the ride were kind enough not to watch.

The description of the ride was accurate; 50 miles of intermediate level terrain.  It was quite popular as it was a new ride, but again, worth taking.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tri-State Jamboree Ride Review - 2016

Elephant Butte
At our first Tri-State ATV Jamboree, we participated in two of the 28 rides offered.  Here’s the run-down on those two rides – from a rookie point of view.

#6 Maildrop / Barracks
This ride is pretty popular – so popular, in fact, that they actually offered it as rides #4, #5, and #7 as well.  It is billed as 40 mile intermediate ride.  The trailhead is near Kanab, about an hour’s drive from Jamboree Headquarters.

The ride was every bit as beautiful – and as much fun – as the description portrayed.   With our lead guide, Jim, leading the way, we visited several spectacular viewpoints and other interesting sites.  I was first to find the elephant in Elephant Butte, which garnered me $2 from Jim.  The photo I took at a really interesting rock formation ended up on the cover of the 2017 Jamboree Newspaper.  And the consecutive banked turns on the ride were really fun to drive – at least, that’s what Paul said.  I was too busy hanging on.

Before we started the ride, Jim asked if we would be interested in taking a slight detour which would present a bit of a challenge but the ride would be worth it.  Of course we went along with it.  When we saw the “bit of a challenge” we were more than a bit concerned.  It was steep.  Paul drove it like a champ but it pushed our little machine to its limit.  That was when we broke the code:

The Code:  What we considered “Oh, s__t!” is considered “intermediate plus” in the Tri-State Jamboree.

The “slight detour” ended up adding 20 miles to the ride, and unfortunately, our little machine ran out of gas.  We were more than a little embarrassed, but our tail gunner, Donnie, came to the rescue and wouldn’t take any money.  I hope someday to pay that one forward. 

I’ve heard from other jamboree riders that their guides also took the longer route.  If I ever have any kind of input on the content of the Jamboree Newspaper, I plan to strongly encourage the editors to just tell people up front that the ride is 60 miles so they are more prepared.  That said, the ride was definitely worth the extra miles and extra time. 

#19 Curly Hollow
Our second ride of 2016 started a little closer to Jamboree Headquarters – in a neighborhood near St. George.  It was also billed as 40 mile intermediate ride. 
Top of Curly Hollow

The description boasts many elevation changes.  We rode up and down dozens of hills on the trail as we made our way to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Virgin River.  Then it was back down, and before we knew it we were on the banks of the Virgin River. 

OK – there was one minor obstacle – the trail down to the river was very steep and very rocky.  We made our way down and relaxed a bit on the sandy banks, steeling ourselves for the eventual climb back up.  It was not without incident.  As we started the climb, I felt the front wheels of the ATV come up off the ground and found myself sliding off the back.  I scrambled to my feet pretty quickly, was completely unhurt, and managed to hitch a ride up to the top on one of the side-by-sides. 

Virgin River
When we got to the top, I learned that one of our fellow riders and a fellow photographer had captured the whole thing on video.  He very graciously sent me a copy.  Don’t look for me to post it any time soon. 

The rest of the ride was dusty but uneventful.  It really was about 40 miles, and most of the terrain really was intermediate skill level – with the above-mentioned exception.  Again, a ride worth taking.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

What a Difference a Year Makes

Tri-State Jamboree Newspaper Cover Photo
March 8 – 11, 2017 marked the second time we participated in the Tri-State ATV Jamboree.  This time, our familiar experience was punctuated by a few key differences.  True, we were returning to our old stomping grounds, but we were wiser.

First, we were no longer rookies –both to the Jamboree in particular and to ATV riding in general.  We knew where to go and what to expect at the Jamboree, and were even able to give advice to this year’s first timers.  But we had also logged a lot more hours riding – a critical factor in Jamboree riding as even the easiest rides carry an expectation of ability to ride what’s in front of you and keep up with who’s in front of you. 

Old machine - check out the rope stirrups
Second, we had a much better machine.  Our new Polaris 570 Touring Model is a legitimate two-up, as opposed to our under-powered Yamaha of last year with the “Queen’s Chair” and the makeshift stirrups.  I never dared drive the Yamaha with Paul riding behind, where I’ve driven the Polaris with Paul riding many times now – even on this Jamboree.

It was really great seeing some of the friends we’d met last year.  “Cousin” Carol Richardson was back, along with her little dog Tinkerbell.  She introduced us to “Cousin” Etta, who drove her own quad and had a helmet with her name on it.  “When I call it, it will come,” she quipped.  Our friends Peg and Jerry from Riley, Idaho were back, as well as Arvin and Lorelei from Minnesota. 

Cousin Etta
One of my photos (above) was featured on the cover of the 2017 Jamboree newspaper, winning me a free registration and instant credibility in the new circle of Jamboree participants.  Of course, with this newfound credibility likely comes the expectation of future participation.  No worries.  When we get our second home in Hurricane we expect to be active members of the Tri-State ATV club.  Who knows?  I might even get to guide a ride someday!