The SOS Meet Report
Chapter 1: SOS!
I know most people have seen these photos already, but they only help tell the story so much. So I decided to do a real report using photos from everyone and filling in the gaps with some words for those that enjoy taking the time to read. Granted, while I was there and did get a lot of everyone's opinions and reactions of others that were on the trip, it will be told by how I saw it and remember it. And if anything this is more for Me and the others that were there to just reminisce a bit. So grab a beer or postpone that work you're supposed to be doing on your computer and enjoy.
We start on Saturday August 10th, 2014. I get up at 7am to finish packing and doing last minute checks on Frankenstein before hitting to road. I have a LONG ways to go in a day and as usual, am late. It is practically a miracle I am even leaving as I just got the truck road worthy the day before after a different incident a month before.
Frank-3.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
Thats a different story but needless to say, considering what I was about to do and hadn't had really any time to actually make sure it was 100%. I was a tad nervous. But I packed up and set off for the meeting place where my friends where waiting.
A mere 550 miles or 9 hours to go. Granted that was nothing compared to the distance that some had driven to meet up there so I setup off hoping not to be too late.
Of course, I was late.
Few hours late to be exactly. But I finally showed up with the only drama being stereo issues I was glad to make it there. Waiting for me where my trusted wheeling companions Mike and Ben as well as a new addition to our group, Timmy.
IMG_7670 by digirat99, on Flickr
After a great meet and greet and some mandatory **** talking we set off on our adventure that we had all been waiting for and planing for 4 months. It had come at last.
Our first trail was the Lolo Motorway. A very easy simple dirt road that snakes along the tops of the Bitterroot mountains. Of course at this point it was quiet late and Mike isn't the late night wheel type so finding a camping spot was the agenda for the day.
We hit the dirt road and before long found a lovely camp site right off the road down a small path. It was in a small grove and fit the bill perfectly.
IMG_7673 by digirat99, on Flickr
IMG_5099 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_7677 by digirat99, on Flickr
We setup up tents, started the fire and made our dinners and settled in for our favorite part of the trip.
Bull****ting and arguing around the campfire :cheers:
That and interrogating our new friend Timmy.
Okay so mostly just me interrogating as Mike and Ben had a head start from the night before.
We had a lovely night and were all very anxious for the next day. Little did we know it would be..well..dramatic..
SOS by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
We awoke the next morning ready to hit the road hard. Mike, Ben, and I had been here before but the fires had been much worse so we where looking forward to a much more smoke free horizon.
Ben took the lead at the trail head
IMG_5101 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
As I said before the trail is not hard. A subaru could do it easily. BUT..what is fun is that it is easy. And twisty and lots of bumps and whoops to..test the suspension out. Which Mike, Ben and Timmy where all VERY eager to do as they all had relatively new setups up front. Mike had brand new Kings and Timmy had new ADS coil overs and Ben had..sort of new OME coil overs. However, Mike and Ben's rear setups where...well..sad ha. All of that was nothing compared to my totally shot suspension all the way around. Thank god for big tires and low pressure. I was pretty much using the aired down tires as my suspension.
But there was no sympathy for me. My pals left me in the dust out of sheer joy of the long open stretches of road.
I tail gunned naturally...BY CHOICE! :anon: okay not by choice totally..
Mike givin her the beans
SOS by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
This place is complete wilderness area. They do not fight the fires here. They hardly do anything at all to the area. Its great. The fire weed was everywhere here
SOS by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-6.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
Once you get up to the ridge lines the road just bobs along the tops of the mountains and dips down into the saddles only to right back up to the next ridge. The views were great. Sadly, there were still some fires in the area so it was a bit smokey.
IMG_7703 by digirat99, on Flickr
IMG_5113 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_7704 by digirat99, on Flickr
One of the cool things about the area is there are lots of fire watch towers to go check out. We went to a new one this year and it was quiet the house!
SOSMeet-4.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
We tried to go in but once I moved the panel out of the way to step up we quickly decided it was a bad idea. The whole place had been infested by some sort of flying ant wasp type bug. So we retreated and continued down the road.
IMG_5133 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
SOSMeet-3.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-9.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-7.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
By this point we are nearing the end of the 100 miles of dirt road. We are on the last stretch. A new stretch for all of us as the last time we were here it was closed due to a mud slide.
We where all enjoying our evening when Frankenstein decided to..retaliate.
I was once again tail gunning and luckily not going super fast but I came up over a small whoop and when the truck rebounded..it exploded.
SOSMeet-17.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
Luckily..if you can call it that..it wasn't my first time and the instant it happened I reacted and somehow managed to keep it half on the road and the other half in the ditch on the right. Which was better then the 1000' cliff off the left side.
IMG_5137 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
The damage was pretty bad. My rim was horribly bent. The steering rack was once again split in half and this time the passenger side mount had been ripped off the cross member. Brake line was destroyed and so was the CV axle and the bleeder valve on the brake caliper.
SOSMeet-19.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-20.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-18.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
Not a trail fix type situation..
Also I apologize but the pictures are a bit thin here as we weren’t totally focused on photos so this is a wordy section.
The problems just kept adding up. We were on a basically single lane road. With not a lot of room for others to pass, much less any room for a truck to turn around. Frankenstein was resting on the rim so getting him out of the ditch was an issue as well. Not to mention Frank had no brakes now and no steering. We had no way to tow Frank even if we got him out. I couldn't find a repeater on my HAM radio to get in touch with my dad and we knew there was no cell service within 40 miles until just outside Lolo, MT.
But this wasn't our first rodeo. So we came up with a plan and executed.
I knew that I needed my Dad. We had just gone through this and we knew how to fix it and how to trailer it. But he was 500 miles away back in wyoming. It would take him at least a day to get here. And we had to decide the best way for him to get to Frankenstein as there was NO room for him to turn around close by. So the options were have him drive 10 miles down the highway more and 10 miles on dirty to just drive in facing the right way. Or take the shorter route and back the trailer up to Frankenstein for a mile.
We sent lead foot Ben off to Lolo to call my Dad to bring a trailer and the FRV, the only rig we knew of that could tow the fat *** of Frankenstein the speed limit. He set off in a cloud of dust and a phone number to make the rescue call.
This left Mike, Timmy and I with the problem of getting Frank out of the damn ditch. It took a long time but we ended up using two high lifts to lift Frank off his own tire so we could get him to move. Then I used my own winch to winch off of Mikes truck to pull him out. Amazingly I found I actually still had power steering to the drivers side wheel, but only in one direction. I used the engine and reverse gear in 4lo as my brake. We would jack the truck up and place the blown out LBJ on a log and slowly winch it forward. Using this we got him out of the ditch.
SOSMeet-23.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
Then Mike had a good idea.
Using my shovel we placed it under the LBJ. Timmy held on to the handle to semi “steer” Frank and Mike got in his rig and pulled me while I used the clutch as a brake to not kill Timmy. Using this method, We drug Frankenstein about 20 yards down the road to a sort of wide spot to get him off the road with plenty of room for my dad to either pull bye or back up too. The shovel barely had a dent in it after. Quite the shovel!
Jacked up the truck and put some wood under the LBJ and Frank was good! Least good enough for me to camp in.
We then set up camp. Right in the middle of the road. Luckily it was not a popular road so this wasn't a major issue. But we had no place to go really. So I took my frustration out on splitting logs and we had a fire in the center of the road before long.
Ben finally showed up with a rather humorous story on how the phone call went. It went something like this.
Ben-”Hey Steve, this is Ben, from Tacoma world?”
Dad-”Oh yea! Hows it going bud?”
Ben-”Not...not great. We need you to come tow Monte. He broke another lower ball joint on the trail.”
Dad-”......................You ****ing kidding me?”
Ben-”What? No sir, he broke the other one this time. We are at the end of the Lolo and he wants you to bring the trailer and everything from last time. Its real bad. Worse then last time.”
Dad-”I told the bastard to replace the other one! There is internet proof! I posted it on the internet!”
Love that guy. It was a great bit of humor to hear in the situation and to me really was nice to hear my Dad having a bit of a sense of humor about it.
Anyways my Dad said he would leave the next morning and would be there sometime in the afternoon.
Despite my frustration. We had another fun night under the stars. It wasn't the worse camp site. Then again it never matters when you are with good friends in an great place with good drink and a campfire. And an awesome Dad for that matter. One that I can always call out SOS to and will always respond.
The Theme of the trip..It has begun.
To be continued!
The Rescue and Repair?