Winter Fun Fest January 17th, 18th, 19th, 2003



We left home for Winter Fun, which was held in Grass Valley, about 2pm on Friday afternoon.   We did fairly well until we hit Sacramento, then the traffic caused some problems.   We had to make a pit stop there as the kids were getting tired of being in the car seats.   We made it to the fairgrounds around 6pm and found our site and set up camp.   We had dinner in the main hall and got our registration package and shirts.   There was not much to do the first night so we turned in early as our club was doing breakfast the next morning, and we had to be there at 4:45am to start things.  

Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley:   N 39 12.309      W 121 04.829 

At 4:45am our club started breakfast.   On the menu today: ham, eggs, potatoes, biscuits, gravey, and cereal.   We also were in charge of handing our "box lunches", which were actually shrink wrapped military field meals.
Everyone pitched in and the food was great!  Our club has done breakfast at this event for quite a few number of years, and everyone was happy as it was not as cold as it had been in past years.
We signed up for the SUV run.   April was going to drive the Expedition on the run, but I ended up driving.   The run was advertised to be a easy trail with little or no 4wd use needed.   This was not quit how it worked out!   We first stopped at the site of some old hydraulic mining.   Miners used high pressure water to erode the hills.  The water and dirt ran then down through man made channels over sluice boxes where the gold was removed.
In the picture above, you can see the lighter cliffs, the tops of which were the level of the original valley floor.   The miners would watch the color, or amount of gold in washed down dirt as it passed over the sluice boxes, and if the amount dropped, then they would aim the water cannons at another spot.   In this picture you can see that there are high spots here and there that were left, as the gold must have been less in these areas.     
The trail leader stopped at this spot and various others to tell us about the history of the area.
The trail stared off like just a normal, hard pack, smooth fire trail.  However, the trail had not been run for a while, and the snow and rain had turned it into a muddy mess.    
We had to stop a number of times for vehicles that were stuck.  The Expedition did really good and never got stuck.  
We were in and out of the snow.   The trail would be really muddy and then would dry out and you could even see traces of dust.   Just around the corner, it would be muddy ruts again.
We had fun watching the trucks in front of us bounce around and be thrown around by the ruts.   Once they were clear, it was our turn.
In a few spots, the puddles were really huge.   I was shocked that they called this a SUV run.   I have no complaints, as it was not a hard trail, and was actually quite fun, but you were not going to make it without 4wd.
This is Greg's Suzuki, half way through the run.   He started out clean, but was having fun playing in the mud.
We stopped in a small town called Washington for lunch.   We ate in the Washington Hotel.   The food was..... different.   
After lunch, we headed out.   We made the second stream crossing of the run.   
More of our club making the crossing...
The kids did really good for the amount of time they had to be in the car.   Emma got out and hit people with snow balls at one stop.
We made it up the hill to this point, where we had to break a section of trail.   There were a few guys on ATV's that ran up the trail and checked the pass.   They came back and said that there was no way we were going to make it without major trail breaking, so we turned around and headed back.   Some of our club went on the Avalance Express run, which was unlimited snow depths and special equipment required.   We later found out that they were up in the pass area futher up this trail.   When they found out that we had been here, they were shocked.   Again... what happened to limited use of 4wd for the SUV run?
Although we did the SUV run, the rest of our club did the Avalanche Express run that was for people that were looking for deep snow.   Here you can see the rest of our club in line, starting with the white Jeep Cherokee just to the right of the picture center, followed by a red CJ, then a red Jeep pickup, then a black Wrangler, red Wrangler, orange CJ, and black 4 Runner.
This is the raffle Jeep that they will give away on February 8th.   I know that I am going to win it, so you can expect to see it in future runs!
That night after dinner they had a raffle for some great prizes.   They also had a silent auction, and you could buy tickets for the raffle jeep.   After the raffle was Monte Carlo night, followed by another raffle.

Sunday morning after breakfast, they had the "River Bottom Games".   Because of past problems with locals showing up and getting in the way, they moved the games to the fairgrounds, so they could control who came in.   


There were three obstacles. The first was a timed tire change.

Second, you had to come as close to stakes in the ground in front and behind your vehicle without going over them.
Third, and the most interesting, was the blindfolded obstacle course.   There was a roped off course with railroad ties in it.   You had to drive the course, hitting all of the ties, and not any cones or ropes.   You are timed on your run, and then they have a final competition, where the drivers started driving a little faster.
This guy had just taken out the yellow rope behind him, and had now just killed a cone.
Some did better than others.   If the passenger, who was now navigating, knew the vehicle then it made things a little easier.  
This is the campgrounds we stayed in.   Most of the vehicles in the center of the picture are our clubs.   

So in the end, April did not drive, but I did get to wheel the Expedition!   This is most likely the most mud it will ever see.


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