Ultimate Adventure was another amazing challenge for the staff and crew. Although we didn’t rack up as many miles as we have in prior years, we got more seat time on the trail, saw some really cool roadside attractions, and had the honor and very humbling task in Etna, Oklahoma, of helping clean up the property of the town’s tornado victims.
The heat wave was certainly taxing on our energy levels, but it didn’t make a dent in our zest for adventure. In our exploits over the week we all saw more land and experienced more adventure than the average on-road traveler could ever hope to see. This fact explains our passion of four-wheel-drive vehicles and our insatiable appetite to travel on and off the beaten path exploring as many trails and roads as we can. Life is short. Don’t hold back. Hit the trails and experience as much as you can!
Next month we’ll bring you part two of the Ultimate Adventure story. There are web exclusives at 4wheeloffroad.com. Also check out our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/4wheeloffroad) and YouTube page (www.youtube.com/4wheeloffroad).
The first day of the UA old friends and new get together to check out the rigs and new har
Day 1, Saturday, July 2:
Hotel Check-In & Vehicle Inspections
The first day of Ultimate Adventure is check-in day. Amazingly, everyone showed up at the Country Inn & Suites in Nevada, Missouri, on time—even Tim Hardy, who is known for arriving days late. Only one straggler pulled into the driveway while Editor Péwé was a few minutes into his introductory speech.
Usually at check-in we are on the phone catching calls trying to find out where some people are or taking calls and being told someone’s rig is broken down on the side of the road. It’s not all that unusual to have to send out a search, rescue, and repair party before the UA starts. That’s also one of the greatest aspects of the event. if anyone ever needs a helping hand, there’s always someone immediately there. Everyone searches their rigs for needed parts, tools, or the knowledge of how to fix some gizmo that’s out of whack.
Editor Péwé doesn’t let anything slip during the vehicle inspections. Every part and safet
Day 1 in the hotel parking lot is a busy place. It’s a time for old friends and cronies to catch up and for the film crew to interview the drivers and co-drivers. It’s also a time for the invited readers to get to know the staff and crew. There’s a heck of a lot of last-minute work being done on the rigs. The UA just wouldn’t be an adventure without a number of participants frantically wrenching away trying to finish their rigs in the hotel parking lot.
The first meeting always starts with Péwé shouting, “Drivers meeting!” He gives his friendly but authoritative spiel of critical rules, regulations, safety procedures, buddy systems, food and meals, why you need tow hooks and not just shackles, staying hydrated in hot weather, and even how to pee in the woods!
Safety is always the number one concern. Driver and co-driver are expected to be buckled in at all times, and the driver should always keep both hands on the steering wheel or another safe location inside the vehicle. There’s no need for faux fancy driving such as hanging your left arm out the window like you’re riding a horse. Accidents happen all the time, and people lose parts they should really keep!
After the drivers meeting it’s time for vehicle inspections. Rick personally makes sure each and every rig is properly equipped. Every vehicle must be licensed for street use, and everyone must have a valid driver’s license, current registration, and current proof of insurance. Other requirements (parking brake, recovery points, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits) are inspected before drivers receive their Ultimate Adventure windshield sticker.
The drivers meeting and equipment check isn’t as stuffy and boring as it sounds. There’s always some comic relief in the background or a practical joke being played on an unsuspecting target. Afterwards there’s always a pizza-on-the-Petersen’s-crew party, cold beer, and lots of wrenching into the wee hours of the morning.
Necessary Vehicle Equipment & Gear
- Front and rear axle lockers (no limited-slip differentials)
- Must be self-sufficient with trail food and water
- Front mounted vehicle self-recovery winch
- Rollbar (rollcage preferred)
- Adequate first-aid kit
- Seatbelts for all occupants, worn at all times
- Parking brake
- Secure battery hold-down
- Adequate towstrap with winch and strap attachment points on the front and rear of the rig
- 35-inch minimum tire size and adequate spare
- Working CB radio
- Fire extinguisher within reach of occupants
- Towstrap and jack (Hi-Lift preferred)
- Removable mudflaps are a great idea for large tires but not required
Ultimate Adventure Parks
Kansas Rocks Recreation Park
Bourbon County, KS
D-Day Adventure wPark
Early Sunday morning brought the first road-day drivers meeting, which was quick. For the
Day 2, Sunday, July 3
Kansas Rocks Park
After a quick breakfast early Sunday morning, we heard “drivers meeting” and scurried outside. It was going to be a hot day. When we had pulled into town Saturday the temperatures were in the triple digits with humidity around 90 percent. Today wouldn’t be any different. The hotel parking lot was on fire with activity. After listening to Rick’s sermon of hydrate, hydrate, hydrate fifteen times, we took care of any last-minute details, such as food and water for the day.
Our road days are filled with stops, always a great time for one more meeting before we ma
Our destination was the Kansas Rocks Recreational Park just outside of Fort Scott, Kansas. On the UA there’s never a straight line from Point A to Point B. If one highway made a straight shot to any wheeling area, we wouldn’t take it. It wouldn’t be adventurous and we wouldn’t get to experience the backroads and small towns in the heartland of America. We might have missed some unique roadside feature like a shack with the world’s greatest fried chicken, an old Jeep that Péwé wanted us to see, or a talk with some old coot who holds the secrets to life. That’s why we love driving on- or off-road. We highly recommend touring backroads to everyone. If you don’t, you just might miss some life-changing opportunity or a really cool experience.
Former UA’er (2005) and cover boy Jake Good drove with us from Fort Scott to make sure we
We started off on some out-of-the-way small side roads outside of the town of Nevada then turned onto US-54 into Kansas. The day at Kansas Rocks was wet and muddy with steep climbs, slippery rocks, trees, chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, and snakes. We couldn’t ask for anything more! It was a long day packed with great wheeling, which also included breakage, mechanical failures, and trick on-the-fly trail repairs. It also rained heavily midday.
It had rained heavily, and the trails were slick and muddy. It was so slippery that everyo
Kansas Rocks is an extremely large park with approximately 50 trails that range in difficulty from beginner to extreme. The majority of them are covered with dense foliage and are heavily treed. There are lots of rocks and slick mud here, and the rigs running the Nitto Mud Grapplers had less trouble making progress than the vehicles with less-aggressive tires. We could have spent a week or so here, and we look forward to our next visit.
Luckily the Ultimate F-150 was rolling on 40-inch Nitto Mud Grapplers, which greatly helpe
The Ultimate F-150 performed flawlessly until the very last heavily treed hillclimb. The side panels, doors, and rear driver-side window were mangled, and the driver-side mirror glass found its way into the mud on the ground. There’s one little-known rule on the UA because it’s rarely considered: No go-arounds for fear of body damage! At the top of the climb was a tight rocky pass coined Zuk Squeeze. Our F-150 was a tad too wide and thoroughly wedged itself in this Samurai-sized notch, but the torque of the EcoBoost never let up, and with everything in a severe Go or Break binding point, the rear driveshaft blew out and the truck had to be winched to the top of the hill. Tech Editor Fred Williams and master fabricator Justin Scheller quickly had the shaft repaired with a little improvised construction, spare parts, and welding.
The last hillclimb of the day was treacherous, but a number of other rigs made it up. Some went around a bypass or else we would have been winching into the wee hours of the morning.
Before we left the park, the Kansas Rocks crew and helpers from the Kansas City 4-Wheel Drive Association and the Brush Beater Jeep Club cooked us an amazing steak dinner with coleslaw and potatoes and topped it off with ice cream served from a Jeep YJ ice cream truck!
Kansas Rocks is heavily forested. The tight, tree-lined mazes made for the most technicall
Even the smallest of rocky ledges on the trail were a challenge. Tires quickly filled up w
Just as much time was spent on recovery and repair at Kansas Rocks as on four-wheeling. We
Trail repairs are great fun. Throw a little mud in and … well, you crawl under the rig and
On the other side of Zuk’s Squeeze was an unassuming 2-foot ledge, but the slick mud made
The Ultimate F-150 received a fair amount of damage on the last trail of the day. The clim