with Murph, The Seasoned Rookie.
I find myself rather misplaced as I write this article. Much to the chagrin of the Izook Staff, I have once again put off my entry until the last minute for an incredible on-location story. At the moment I find myself on a United Airlines flight to London, off to visit Elisa Beasley (firstname.lastname@example.org) for an overseas Rookie Interview; while Im here Ill call on Maggie and the Queen to join me at the clubs, and set my watch to Big-Ben time. A spring arrives, and leaves, then reappears, then goes away for a while. Soon, Spring sticks his head around the corner and yells yoo hoo, then scampers away giggling, so it is safe to think the following: Yes, its finally April, and almost summer. Time to think about bringing your Zook out of Hibernation. Help Murph find his little pills. Out of hibernation, you say? Ive been driving it around all winter. But what about maintenance, I would then ask. You see, driving around in the winter can be some of the hardest miles on any car possibly as much as a mild trail run considering the cold starts with thick oil and such. Come on, Murph. I maintained my rig. I mean, I tried to remember to check the oil that day at the gas station. Uh Huh. See folks, I know it, and you know it. When its cold, wet, and miserable outside, nobody wants to lie on the ground and do things like wiggle the u-joints to check for wear (did you forget youve been in 4x4 mode a little more often than usual) and check the various fluid levels, or even change the oil? Not me. Thats right, fellow rookies, your fearless leader is just as guilty as you might be. The first thing to do is give the truck a good cleaning. Save the Armor-all and Windex for summer today were going under Scope down! Although there are several options, my favourite method is to run a hose to the laundry room sink and get a nice stream of warm water going. Not steamy scalding hot room temperature like one of your finer Merlots will do fine. Now get out your pressure nozzle. The $2 trigger from Lowes will do just fine, however I like to spend a little extra for the metal kind that wont break until the third time you drop it on the driveway. Now, get down there and blast. Knock away everything, all the salty buildup and mud along with whatever might be up under your truck getting ready for the great Rust Festival to be hosted under your rig. Cancel their prom, my friend. Blast everywhere. Under the fender wells if you happen to have any intact. (note: in the event that your truck is still equipped with OEM fender wells, apply a chainsaw liberally until yours are gone just like pretty much every other Zook in existence.) Spray behind the bumper, as well as everywhere you plan on working. Tops of skid plates too would be good those make a nice shelf for stuff to accumulate upon. If you decide to blast the engine area, be sure to keep water away from the carb, air intake, and the electronic thingies that nobody in the world knows how to fix. When finished, go inside and make a sandwich and let the undercarriage drip-dry unless you want to be rained on. Extra Provolone on mine, please. No doubt by now you have a mental list going. Things youre gonna do when it gets warmer. On your way to the local auto-parts-o-rama, check for all those little things like the busted turn signal, the rattle in the back, the squeaky door, you know what I mean. Repair all these while the oil is draining from the crankcase. So now youve taken just a few hours and the truck is now ready for Spring. Tires aired up, brakes checked, fluids changed, and all those odd little annoyances tamed. Who knows you might have found something ready to break that you caught just in the nick of time! As I mentioned in my introduction, this months Seasoned Rookie article is coming to you from overseas. Many of you may have heard our friend Geoff Beasley speaking of a Suzuki X-90 which he has spent quite some time modifying. Today I sit with none other than his sister Elisa at the White Horse Pub (or, as the locals call it, the Sloaney Pony) in Slone, London. As we begin, our server Marjorie brings us a proper round of Guinness... SR: Well Elisa, why dont you start by telling us a little about yourself. EB: Well, Im still a California girl at heart. Ive come to England to study medicine. Im in my first year of studies which focuses on the general pre-med science. Mainly Physics, Math, Chemistry, the whole lot of it. Oh yeah, and a Zook-load of Biology. SR: And what about your truck? EB: Sadly, my little truck is not here with me, hes sitting in a garage all tucked away. Its a black 1997 Suzuki X-90. SR: An X-90? What the heck is that? Something like the old LJ series? EB: No not at all. I like to think of it as, well, its like a truck version of the Honda Del Sol. Two doors and no back seats just perfect for me and a friend. It has a five-speed transmission, transfer case, and a 1.6 four under the hood. SR: That sounds very mechanically similar to the KickTrack (Note to rookies: Kicktrack is Zookspeak for the Suzuki Sidekick and Geo Tracker.) EB: Youre right for the most part it is indeed a KickTrack with a different body attached. SR: I take it people certainly notice something thats so odd-looking, even in California? EB: Yeah. My friends tease me and call it a half-car and ask me why I didnt just buy the whole thing. SR: Your brother Geoff has been talking quite a bit about some modifications you two have done. What all have you two cooked up? EB: Geoff and I installed an Old Man Emu kit, which gave about an inch and a half of lift, plus the 27-inch tires (stockers are 24 inches) brought it to three inches total. Im still looking for some custom front and rear bumpers, but havent found many options in that department. Marjorie enters with two plates of Fish and Chips. Murph smiles and hints that maybe she join us at the clubs later that evening? SR: What was it that made you want to be a Zooker? EB: Well, my brother was surfing the net one night and showed me a page that featured the X-90. I fell in love at first sight. I have had several lemon cars in the past, and was about fed up. I needed a new car, and the X-90 fell into my budget... so... SR: Wow. You seem pretty into the scene. What about mechanical know-how? Do you work on your truck yourself? EB: When I was still working 40-hour weeks along with taking classes full time, my only option was to go to the local quick-lube. I would watch over their shoulder to make sure things were done correctly. I dont think they cared much for that. When it came to installing the lift kit, I was there with Geoff working on everything I was capable of doing. I like to know whats going on within my truck, so I always keep a hand in the project in progress. When we installed the oversized tires, we had to modify the wheel wells a bit and I was there for the cutting, pounding, and bending. (Laughs) so I guess to answer your question Im quite involved with my truck. SR: When did you start hitting the trails? EB: The first time I ever went out was a great time. My brother took me to the Samoa Dunes in northern California. That has always been my favorite place. When I go out there with Geoff I can do whatever I want to up and down the biggest dunes I think I can handle. Hes always there for both encouragement as well as rescue. SR: What are your scariest and most frustrating memories during your Zookin career? EB: (laughs) Does it count if youre driving someone elses rig? During the 2001 Rubicon trip last August, Scott Gomez let me drive his truck for a while. I took it right up a cliff, and it was a long way down. I couldnt see where I was going because of the truck angle all I could see was sky! I learned a lot that day not only to trust my own judgement, knowing the limitations and dimensions of someone elses truck, but also trusting the Spotters to be my eyes and safety net. What made it scary was mostly that I didnt want to trash someone elses rig!
SR: Have you noticed that Zooking has carried over to daily life for you somehow? EB: Well, I found myself pulling off onto the side of the road for some quick bouncing around while driving home from work in my California days. Essentially, its made driving fun again. As I said before, Ive had such rotten luck with cars that I had accepted grenading front axles and exploding radiators as something that just happened. Now I know that I have a safe dependable vehicle that can go most anywhere! Not too long ago some travel arrangements to Utah got messed up I had no problem making the ten-hour drive instead of making different ticket arrangements. Marjorie returns with two more pints of perfectly poured Guinness with a smile every bit as wonderful as what fills the glasses she carries. SR: Wow, Elisa, youre quite the trooper! What sort of off-roading do you like the best? EB: Water! (laughs) Theres an obstacle course at Hollister that I like to splash around in. It also seems to be the best way to get an easy post-trail cleanup. The rocks are cool too, but I really like the mud. Being with the guys and getting dirty, thats always a good time. Kinda like battle paint. Thats when you see people REALLY getting into it. SR: Is there any word on the off-roading scene for you over here in London? EB: In a word, no. There are quite a few Land rovers over here, mainly Highlands and Defenders, but people tend to spend more of their non-working hours in the pub than anywhere else. I do, however, have a friend who takes his Rover into the marshes for duck hunting. I hear that truck has seen some fun. SR: Do you have any advice to pass on to the rookies looking to become seasoned? EB: Just remember that its supposed to be fun. We do it because we want a break from everyday life, and its a fun way for us to get go. Getting frustrated isnt the answer when things arent going right on the trails, or anywhere else in life for that matter. Make sure that if you do mess up, learn from the mistake and share the knowledge when someone needs it. Also, dont take it personally when some of the guys give you a hard time on every subsequent trip for something silly you may have done the time before. The rest of the trip was wonderful; blessed with Elisa and my new local friends, we spent quite a bit of time doing normal London things instead of just tourist stuff. The Andy Warhol exhibit at the Tate was wonderful, as well as visiting the site where St. George slayed the dragon with Clare North (Many of you may remember her from ZookiMelt 2K a few years ago.) There is indeed some amazing feeling walking through the zebra crossing where the Abbey Road album cover was photographed. Remember. There is no shame to being a rookie -- youre trying something new. A Seasoned Rookie is someone who comes back again and again. Cheers, Murph *Special Note*
I'd like to thank everyone who helped made this special edition of the Seasoned Rookie possible. To Elisa, Tom, and Aki: You made a tourist feel like a welcomed guest and helped redefine the meaning of "just around the corner." - Cheers. Nicki: thank you for opening your home and cupboards to me, and for making sure I left safely. BRanDeE*, I'm still convinced you had a party here while I was gone... Marjorie: Yes, we are indeed crazy, but only as much as you are good looking. Thank you for playing along. Mom and Dad: Where to begin... EuroWallyWorld is a must see. Coudn't have done much of anything without your love and support. Special hugs go out to Lamar and Jaqlyn for making me WANT this to happen.
Would you like to be a Featured Rookie in a future issue? Suggestions for a future article? Questions, concerns, or want to give me some cool parts for free? Drop me a line...