Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How I spent Mother's Day, 5/18/06.

Editor's note: This story is a long one. It was a great learning experience that didn't thankfully cost much. Since that day in 2006, the Jeep and it's driver have changed dramatically. I am more experienced and it is better equipped. Enjoy the story and the pictures. -CA

Ok, so Mother's day, 2006. Great weather in the Seattle area so as such we (Erik, Cortni, and myself) decide it'd be great to get up into the mountains for a little bit of R&R. Little did we know that it would be quite the opposite! It started off simple enough, just some hill climbs, some puddles and great scenery.

It was a good 65-70 degrees out and the top was off the Jeep. Definitely a great start to a day. I however did not take any pictures of some of the small towns we drove through on the way up. One was Greenwater, a small town with maybe 3 stores but some camp grounds and cabins you can rent. Oh, I should say it was out Highway 410, Chinook Pass. It is still closed at the summit due to snow, but we weren't aiming to go over the pass, but rather just have fun on a forest service road or two.

Most of the stuff we saw was pretty cake. What you can't see in this pic is that there is a HUGE hole up on the left that if I had a winch I'd probably work my way through it. However, being completely stock it wasn't for me. Nor would I even try and risk it. So we ended up backing down this hill and heading up another route. A route I will call, Forest Road 72. That road will forever be etched in my memory. It had some GREAT scenery though. I mean it was absolutely amazing.

As you can see from the pic above, there were hidden gems around just about any corner. The higher we went in altitude the better some of the pictures got. Below is being still fairly low and finding Mount Rainier peaking around a corner:

You'd think that was awesome, but well, it gets better, see:

That's right up near where things got.... fun? Crazy? Or rather, insane. We come around this bend and see nothing but snow. No more dirt, gravel or road. No big deal, we're not going to go anywhere so we'll just mark the snow and back out and head down another trail. Erik heads up with his Chevy (no pics there, sorry) and then I follow with my Jeep after he backs out. After reaching my stopping point, we stop, get out and take some pictures.

After having so much fun, why not go ahead and just back up the rut I made and hit some more hills!

Looks good still! No problem. But you will notice there that my front end has started to slide down out of the rut. What the ... ?! So it's time to get out and see what I'm dealing with.....

Hmmm, doesn't look too bad, should be able to just turn the wheel and get back on track.. But then my front wheel hits a soft spot with the mud and rocks and decides to shift that over.

Our thoughts have shifted into "Oh, no biggie, let's just tow it out, who cares. Ha ha ha, be sure to take pics, the Chevy gets to tow out the Jeep."

Can't be that hard to do. I mean, really. Hook, tow, move on.

Soooo, let's hook the Jeep up and get out of here!

But once we start pulling, it doesn't want to get back up on the level ground, rather just kind of slide towards a very steep drop-off with rocks and trees. Never fun.

Wait! Craig! Put on your seatbelt, it's safer that way, you do not want to die!

I wish you could have seen my expression when I realized there are no seat belts. No seat belts you ask yourself? Yup! That's right. At a certain angle, Jeeps will lock the seat belts. Great idea, if you're rolling or in a dangerous spot. But when you take the belt off and it goes all the way in, it should still be able to unlock the belt to put it back on. Or well, be smart enough to realize that it's locked because it's at an angle where you shouldn't be getting back into the Jeep! I am not quite that smart yet (at that time. I'm currently smarter after this day. That's what they call experience!) Using the term "Pucker factor" doesn't even apply in this situation. There is no feeling like this in the world when you literally do not want to get back into your vehicle for fear of death being likely shortly after you get in & shutting the door.

Thankfully a couple guys stopped off to help us out. 3 actually. 2 were really helpful and we did a lot of brainstorming, digging and rock moving. There were many moments like the following where we discussed the best way to do things.

Unfortunately, none of it helped. Well, I can't say that. We did get it moved back, but we just couldn't get the rear-end to get up on level flat ground again, no matter what we tried.

From inside the Chevy:

We just about had it. One more pull and we'll have those wheels up on the flat part in nothing flat! You can see the tension in the tow line.

Figuring all we had to do was just unhook it from the truck and attach it to the tow hook on the other side to better the angle on the pull, Erik pulled forward to release the tension. What happened there nearly made me faint. The back right tire of the jeep decides to just go up into the air, with the three tires on the ground being the ones pointing it down the hill.

It was at that time I made the executive decision that it was time for a tow truck. So one of the gentlemen who stopped to help took me down to Greenwater to call a tow truck from there. Unfortunately I tried to have my roadside assistance cover the tow, but I guess I messed that up when they asked where I wanted it towed to and I advised them "About 20 feet?". I guess that's a "winch" and they don't cover that. Gonna have to work on my skills to get that covered next time. Maybe "the nearest town" would have been a better answer? So anyhow, stuck up in the hills, I had cell service. Down in this tiny town? NONE. I had to buy a calling card to use the payphone and then wait for the tow truck. Erik & Cortni being the loyal friends stayed up with the Jeep, Chevy still attached because we didn't want a wind breeze to blow the Jeep down the hill, given that without the tension the rear was up in the air.

That will hopefully be the only picture you will ever see with the Jeep being towed anywhere. The driver was extremely nice though and a good guy. Told me about winches I can get for the same price I was towed for and other places we could go and everything. A+ to Fred's Towing in Enumclaw. I would recommend them to anyone. So on the way down we found a hill climb and go figure, a tree just jumped right up in front of the path I wanted to take!

Side note, no I didn't hit the tree. To top off my night, we stopped off at Carl's Pizza in Bonney Lake. AWESOME pizza. Played softball with the owner and he's a great guy. So we ate, laughed and were glad we had all vehicles and people with no injuries, deaths or roll-overs. During the ride home however, one of the pizza's decided it wanted to try and fly! (Yes, that is upside down)

Needless to say I was VERY careful about what I did the rest of the day. I was not feeling all that lucky. But isn't that how they say you gain "valuable" experience? Is when things go completely south?? Well, I can tell you that I will not be in that situation ever again.

Thanks to all that helped that day and to all for the humor that it now is. I did a lot of prayer that day, hoping the Jeep would not go down, praying that if it did, let me not be in it and the truck doesn't go with it. Now that it's said and done with, I'm ready to go climb some hills. No more of this snow.

Gotta love it...

Wow, this is going to be a multiple blog day.. been a while since one of those..

I've gotta say, I really appreciate the small things my boss does.. For example, I worked at 6 this morning.. Coming in late, no big deal. Hell, even leaving early after coming in late is ok. After all, not many people are willing to work any hour of the night. But I guess that's why I get the big bucks, right? But I digress.

Come to find out I have to do an upgrade tomorrow night too. Between 5 & 6. No big deal, I just stay late to do it... Until he tells me to go ahead and leave at 4 to do it from home. Who in their right mind would say no to that? There's no real reason other than he respects the work done.

Out of all my bosses that I've worked for this one seems to get it the most really. He's not as technical as those of us that work for him, but he tries hard. He doesn't let pride get in the way of saying "Help, this isn't right..." thus saving the customer time and money. It beats struggling with it for an hour before admitting he doesn't know. Nothing worse than a small problem growing to a large problem because of a delay in asking for help. One can only kiss so much ass to make up for it before the customer is tired of hearing it.

This isn't the first time, but it's always a warm & fuzzy when the little things that happen make you feel wanted. Definitely a reason why this place could very well be the very last place I ever work. This is why all my friends want to know if we're hiring, because the corporate environment here. This is also why I was able to lure my buddy from Boeing to come here. The benefits and pay are top notch, the BS is low, the attitude is fun, and they appreciate everything you do and reward you accordingly the whole way..

I just have to remember I need to get him something for Christmas in '09. He got all of us a bottle of wine this year. We get taken out to lunch with a few beers, he covers our asses with any other departments when we're in the right and they don't want to hear it and he just keeps us all happy by doing whatever it takes. Kudo's to the man, that's all I gotta say.

Sorting through older files..

While doing some disk cleanup on my web server I found an old logo from when I was messing around.. It's quite entertaining really...

Click for the full size version (in a new window)!

Yeaaaah, apparently I was passing all kinds of ideas off.. But doing this maintenance, I found an old story that I will be reposting after this..

I just have to copy/paste and format to this window, as it has pictures and a write up that will take up probably the whole page. It is quite long. Mother's Day of 2006. I shall never forget that day and the experience gained..

Some other notable pics I found:

Who knew Jeep's could even get this fast? However this was before the tire change, lift, etc..

Hmm, I took this with my phone probably about 3 years ago of an incoming storm that looked absolutely nasty!

And finally, last, but definitely not least.. one of the fun pictures I took of one of my heroes.

I think I need to go to bed earlier when I know I have to get up at 5:30 to work. Though I can say there is a certain satisfaction in getting up, putting on my super comfy robe, then sitting downstairs doing work without having to commute, sit in the office, and listen to people talk. Working from home will never get old.

Well it's lunch time, time to go reheat some of that excellent dinner that PB cooked last night.. After that I'll work on porting that story into this blog format to share with the world how I nearly could have died & totaled my brand new $25,000 Jeep when it was just 3 months old!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I think I'm going to start posting photoshops into my blog. By photoshop I mean actual pictures that I take that I then photoshop in whatever way to make them look different/better/worse. The key is actually photoshopping them first. I will also then post the orginal above or below it to show the differences..

That will start after I finish playing with fire & tools in the garage so that I may get the Honda out of it.. That little muffler "break" is a fun little project. I should take some more pics of it and it's completion. Maybe tonight. I need to go buy a torch after work to finish the project. Gotta weld the metal together to keep it quiet and permanent.

Other fire/fun projects I need to do: strip the bike of it's stickers, give it an oil change, apply new stickers to the Jeep, change it's oil, move the winch box inside the hood, take the rear seat out and fix that, build a speaker box for it, put that in, then change the differential fluids as well as the spark plugs.

All this while playing sports 3 nights a week (Fri, Sat, Sun) while going to church Sun mornings and snowboarding sometime in there over the next 2 months. Staying busy? Just a little bit. But I like it. Besides, when I'm rocking out in the garage I get cooked real kick-ass dinners. Which reminds me, I should have her type up the recipe to last nights amazing dish so I can post it to my recipe blog.

Anyhow, time to go back to drafting up some football plays & making sure the nations ports run smoothly..

Monday, January 5, 2009

The new year...

New Year's eve was pretty uneventful. It was nice having friends join us to bring it in with fun & alcohol. All I gotta say is nummy crackers! Ok, maybe not so much. I need to make sure to keep an eye on dates. If the "best before" date says 01Feb06, that means they are probably not the best.

One sad, sad, sad thing with the new year came with the death of my beer fridge. I bought a new huge cooler to use instead, but still, it was a sad event. Time to browse for a new free beer fridge. Though I'm not sure how I'd get it to the house yet, since the back of the jeep isn't all that feasible during the winter months. Once the top comes off however, I think I can fit one back there.

I got my Christmas present from PB over the weekend. A very nice looking snowboard that has some nerd-ism in it that I hadn't realized until looking at my cell phone picture. I know she didn't notice it, and I'm surprised I didn't notice it when I was looking at it when I got it. I'll show that in a later pic that I take with a real camera, not my crappy cell phone camera. Her getting me a kickass present is A+ to begin with. Nerd built into it is another bonus point.

Here it is another Monday, everyone's back, life goes back to normal. Or at least until it snows again. Sports during the next 2-3 months are going to be pretty intense. Friday night indoor soccer, Saturday afternoon we have flag football then Sunday night we have indoor soccer again. However, some sports will have to suffer as we miss a day here and there to go off snowboarding! Because that's happening for sure. I need to go find some bindings & boots however.

I'll probably write more later as I do more recap. Tonight I'm hoping to get all our pics of Leavenworth / Soccer / New Years up on myspace/facebook. We'll see. Gotta get the muffler of the Honda fixed first and foremost.