with Brent May
WHY I ZOOKAnd other stories about ZookiMelt
In what seems like an eon ago, I purchased my first Suzuki Samurai. A few of my close friends and I were wanting to start a 4×4 club, and big mud trucks just wasnt something we were interested in. We wanted something small and agile to run around the woods in, on some of the 4-wheeler trails that seem to be everywhere here. A Jeep just wasnt in the cards for me, as everyone I looked at was way over my budget. Bob Smith suggested a Suzuki Samurai (he already had one), and found one for under $1,000. It was already built up a little and was ready to go right out of the box. I was sold!
I picked up my new ride two weeks before this event Bob had been hearing and reading about online called ZookiMelt. It was held in Attica, Indiana just a couple hours drive from where I lived. A few of the guys in our newly formed club had already gotten Samurais earlier in the year and had attended the Southern Indiana Fab-Fest in beautiful Brown County Indiana. A few of the people there had already been to ZookiMelt, and hearing their stories just wanted to make us go that much more. Plus it was a chance to see our new found friends again. Attending your first ZookiMelt can be a little intimidating. Especially for someone new to the sport that has never been to anything like that (like me). Just the sheer number of people and rigs can be a little over whelming. After checking in, finding a camping spot and setting up my home for the weekend, I walked the whole place wide eyed, jaw dropped and with camera in hand! Believe me, there is PLENTY to keep the photo bug happy! Everything from showroom stock (and like new) rigs, to wild tube buggies, and back yard creations will be found. And the owners are always more than happy to talk about the thing that brings so many of us to the Badlands in July! Looking for some parts for your rig? Oh believe me, they are there too! Being my first (and a few others in the group) time off road, we signed up for a trail called Green Trail. Its a great little trail for the mildly built rig, and persons new to the sport to cut their teeth on. But, its also a trail a stocker can run and not have to worry about falling behind (trust me, we had one in our group). The trail leaders that day were the best! Very understanding of our newness to the trails, and always more than willing to help us get through some of the trickier parts of the trails. And the trails! Oh my gosh, who could ask for better trails! Attica offers everything from easy trails you could take your daily driver through and not have to worry about more than getting a little dirty (Blue, Green Trail), to full on completion type rock crawling trails that will challenge even the most seasoned veteran of the sport (Purgatory, Pink Trail), and everything in between. And they all have one thing in common, Trail leaders that love the sport and are always more than ready to make the weekend the very best it can be! And who can forget about the night run! Seeing all of those rigs heading off into the darkness to run trails that even during the day are a challenge is nothing short of cool. All of the trails are marked and groups line up and leave at each meeting spot, so theres no need to worry about getting left behind and having to run a trail on your own. But maybe youre just not quite ready to hit the trails yet. Maybe you would just like to drive around and watch others. Then what options do you have? PLENTY! The Badlands has a great couple of places a person can just kick back and watch all the fun. One is The Dunes. A large pea gravel pit that you can play all day in, climb to the top of one of the large dunes and watch all the action below and on a couple of the trails. Or, head to the most popular spot, the Rock Quarry. This is where all of the hardcore buggies and their owners come to test their skills against car size rocks and awesome trails. The cool thing about the quarry is, you can park and watch almost all of the rock trails, and sit and marvel as man and machine try their best to climb trails one would have a hard time even walking up and never have to leave your rig. And even play around yourself on some of the easier obstacles that can be found there. And there is still more to do on top of that! There is the RTI competition where people drive their rigs up an incline to see who has the most flex, or least, and compete to win the coveted LIMPY or STIFFY awards. Then there is the always the fun Rally. A course lined out to challenge man and rig to see who can get the fastest time. The Rock Rage competition is for those that love the rocks and the challenges that driving through them pose. Two classes make up this group, the Modified Stock (those with a tire under 36), and the unlimited class (tires over 36). All of these events draw a crowd of spectators and are always fun to watch. The Staff at the Melt make sure there is plenty to do for all people and skill levels, and its all set to a schedule so you will know exactly when and where its going to happen. So what do you do after a long day of wheeling? Head back to camp and visit with old friends and make new ones of course! There is nothing better than sitting around the campfire with a cold beverage, telling tall tails of the days fun, the carnage, the oh my gosh, did you see what so-and-so did stories, and planning the next days fun. Every year the Staff at the Melt make sure there is an awesome dinner lined up for each and every camper that attends. And believe me that right there is worth the price of admission! Another big draw is the Raffle! A chance for everyone to win some great prizes donated every year to ZookiMelt from our wonderful vendors. And donate they do! Were not talking some measly $2.00 gift card here. I mean real prizes and hardware that ANY Zooker would be proud to have, from some of the biggest names in the business! But more than anything, its the people that make ZookiMelt what it is! I guarantee that you can stop by any campfire on any night and be welcomed like a long lost friend! And if you do happen to break something out playing, dont worry if youre not the best mechanic in the world. You will always find a helping hand (or 2 or 10), to pitch in and help get you back in the action. No matter what you drive, from a Samurai to a Sidekick, to everything in between, you will find and make friends at the melt!
If youve never attended ZookiMelt, I encourage you to do so! And even if you have in the past (maybe even last year and all the years before), come on back and lets meet up around the campfire! Maybe share a trail ride together! Now, I need to start planning for this year! SEE YOU AT THE MELT!!!