with Rae Champoux photos by Rae, Lisa and Murphy
Two Girls and a Samurai
All weekend long I had been talking to my husband Mitch about me taking the Zuk out for a little bit of female bonding/ wheeling with my best friend, Lisa Ellsworth. Saturday morning rolled around and Mitch was not feeling well at all, so he said take the truck out, you two wont break anything that I wouldnt break myself. Just make sure that you go out with someone you know will get you back here if you break down. With that said, we packed up lunches, slapped on the sun block, loaded the Samurai on the trailer and headed for the Badlands!! While we were going to be on the trail, we were going to leave Mitch at registration in the shade where hopefully he would feel better eventually. He brought along his remote controlled gas powered 4x4 truck to keep himself occupied too.
Now, I have driven the Samurai before off road, But only on the blue trail and with Mitch or BillyBob by my side. Lisa had never driven off road in any Samurai before. So I thought we would take it easy and hit the blue trail, or maybe green. One of the two easier trails, but they would still be fun. The groups for both were a lot bigger than I wanted to wheel with. We both were chomping at the bit to get out on the trails. I didnt want to wait around for a trail leader to come back in so, with the suggestion of Tim Porter, we chose to run ORANGE. I have wheeled orange a few times as well as Lisa had, but neither of us had ever drove it. I told Tim I was ok with running it as long as he guided and let us follow right behind him. He promised to let us know when something hairy was coming up so we could wait for him to make it thru and come and spot us thru it. There ended up being five Samurais in our little group Tim and Zack Porter, Lisa and I, Lisa Taylor and a friend in her truck, her brother in his truck and gunning our group was Kevin Walker.
So off we were headed towards the trail head of Orange , as we passed by registration I hollered out of the truck at Mitch we were gonna run orange and wed be careful. Once we were all staged at the trails beginning, I bailed out and let Lisa take the first leg of the trail. Putting the truck in 4L and sliding it into first gear, I reminded her that she had gears working for her so she didnt have to pay that much attention as you normally would to the clutch. With smiles from ear to ear we eased down into the trail behind Tim for an afternoon full of fun. It wasnt long before Lisa found out the hard way that the truck is in desperate need of power steering. She was coming over the top of a small off camber hill and needed to turn hard left. With two hands on the steering wheel, she wasnt making enough headway moving the big 33s on her own so I leaned over and have two helping hands on getting the turn completed. We ended up doing that all afternoon long, whether she was driving or I was the passenger helped the driver steer. Team steering we called it by afternoons end. The trails were very crowded as they always are come Saturday afternoon. It was not long before we ran into some other groups out on the trail. Some of the Bedford Boys were on the trail and someone has broken down. While they were trying to get that fixed and back on its way we all stayed in the shade as much as possible, and eating lunch. After about a half hour break we were back on the trails twisting and turning our way thru rocks and mud. When we would come to a stop Lisa and I would take turns driving. It made the journey a lot more interesting for the both of us as well as gave our arms a chance to rest! It wasnt long before we were stopped again due to another group in front of us. I was driving at the time and was sitting at the bottom of a small but steep hill when I heard the most amusing music coming from Kevin Walkers orange Zuk at the back of our pack. There is something about being out on the trail and hearing the theme song to The Jeffersons to set you silly for the rest of the day! All in all we had a blast on Saturday, wheeling on orange did take us a lot longer than it should have with as few people as we had in our group but Oh well! No one broke down, no one got hurt... You just cant ask for a better time!
We ended up with some new natures pin striping and customizing on the truck. I hit the front passengers side corner pretty good leaving a nice dent and Lisa Ellsworth rubbed the drivers side of the targa bar against a large tree leaving a big crease in it, which she later autographed for us.
I love The Badlands and whenever I have to leave, I cant wait until the next time I can head out on the trails there with the great people I have met over the years. Special thanks to Tim Porter who kept me from putting the truck on its side a few times and thanks to Kevin Walker for keeping us all entertained with the music. I hope that next year we can hit the trails together again.