Taylor and I decide (again) to go to Barnwell Mountain
By again, I mean... we've decided to do this before. Taylor usually doesn't wake up until 2pm and Barnwell is about 2 hours from my house. So you might be thinking, "Ok... and what's wrong with getting there at 4?". More about that later.
So we decide again to go to Barnwell Mountain ... at 11am on 050806. Barnwell is right outside of Gilmer Tx. It is pretty close to Shreveport Louisiana but we couldn't go play there of course on account of Hunter taking Taylor's ID for what had to have been an illicit venture of some unknown type...
Taylor needs a wake up call and after just a few attempts he answers. Sure enough it's going to happen! We're going to Barwell! Taylor arrives looking (and smelling) like the skull and crossbones flag on a pirates ship that docks at an island of bordellos during the peak of hurricane season. You got the picture right? Scary, weathered, full of wind and smelling of funk...
Anyway, we finally depart ... at noon, rather than 11... To.... Spring Creek barbeque! Sometimes Mr. skull and crossbones needs a little greasy ribs for breakfast if you know what I mean..... Well something was in the sauce that day because things broke loose in Taylor bout the time we rolled into Terrell, and again at Wills Point, and Fada, Angler, and Gilmer. Twice in Gilmer if you count leaving the park. Somehow and miraculously like the expanding universe, the 2 hour trip ended, finally at about 3:40pm. when we arrived at Barnwell Mountain.
Barnwell is a great place for all terrain vehicle enthusiasts, which I am not. Barnwell has topography similar to La Luna. I like the place and I like to watch other people break their rides there too, but I just go to learn about my vehicle and spend some time closer to the planet. Most people who go to Barnwell really love to take care of the place. You don't see trash in this park and today happened to be clean up day. People would pick up items and dispose of them along the way like children at an Easter egg hunt. I liked it.
My priority was to convince myself that I didn't make a mistake by trading my 2001 Dodge 4x4 off road RAM for a 2005 Jeep Liberty Sport.
The ride was comfortable, the new radio wailed most of the time, and Taylor watched old Bugs Bunny cartoons along the way. The first bio break made time for me to pack a cooler with a six pack to make things a bit more challenging. Taylor picked up an FHM magazine but he couldn't focus on the articles, what with his belly curse and what not.
We made Gilmer, topped off the tank, yea verily,
I got 21MPG vs. 11 in the Dodge. So far so good. A local gringo tried
to hex the deal by telling us how Barwell would eat my new Jeep, then questioned
my IQ. Even that did not deter me from my goal. I figured, what
would some dude driving a Buick know anyway?
The people at the park were great. Each had stories to tell and home remedies for almost all that ails you. The red dirt was packed and dry but like it had got a lot of rain recently. I was hoping for some mud and I could see rain showers everywhere but where we were. Never found the mud, but that is probably a good thing seeing how I'm at a place where the local euphemism of "It's coming a floater" means "it's going to rain". I did find the burm that left me stranded in the middle of the park with my Dodge running, air conditioner on, cell phone secured in my LOCKED car. Here is a picture of that debacle:
Yeah, I locked my keys in my truck there once.
The Jeep had absolutely no problems here. It got up on top like Paris Hilton climbing the Abu Ghraib prisoner pyramid. I didn't have two seconds to gloat the accomplishment when one of those Easter egg hunting trucks passed me dragging a huge tractor tire. Apparently, men with real off road rides drag tractor tires when they clean. I think he got the "big one" that day. Suddenly I realized this hill was fly shit to that truck. People amaze me. Who leaves a tractor tire anyway? Did the tire pass right then, just so I could get my perspective?
Time flew. I got lost. Several times actually. I like getting lost. Things shouldn't be all that predictable I like to say. The park does a good job of warning drivers, usually, that eminent danger is right around the corner.
I could tell from the look on Taylor's face that the purging strategy that suffered my patience earlier was beginning to pay off when we saw some of the more aggressive hills. You can't tell if from the picture here, but next to the "POSSIBLE DAMAGE" is an image that looked alarmingly like my Jeep in the near future. It is belly up and looking more like the ash remains from a giant hookah party bowl than a Jeep.
Anxiety is a good thing sometimes. I ran from that place to another place, and them some more places, but I was still lost. Every turn produced a giggle at any thoughts of quitting smoking.
Now I'm not saying that I fell into the rabbit hole where the Queen of Hearts has her tea, but I'm also not saying how many times I threw the little Jeep in reverse. I remember hearing that cheese grater sound you get when the planet wants to put a raspberry on the belly of your vehicle only once in my Dodge. By the time I saw this sign I think that the raspberry was a bit more like the kind of rug burn produced only at a good whore house. My Jeep was raw down there.
The whole time I kept thinking about that six pack in the cooler and the cartoons we enjoyed on the happy asphalt trail that delivered me into this dungeon. All the beers were still cold and miraculously still in one piece. They were bobbing like canoe's in a perfect storm. The radio was silent now as it interfered with my ability to see... I chanted "Auntie Em" in my head while Taylor played with the camera.
The Dodge wasn't going up the five black diamond DeWoody Trail but it never had me chanting "Auntie Em" in my head either. Low-rider city. I wanna lift kit!
On the plus side the Jeep was a lot more nimble and the only rattle I heard was my knees knocking.
I did what I could to hide my nervous excitement from Taylor.
But something told me that Taylor knew the reality of the situation when he showed me this picture he took:
Luckily, they grow replacement testicles on the property.... Free with the price of admission!
The main trail back to the park entrance revealed itself magically and immediately after the spare nut sack shrub was harvested. Harmony restored and a fresh flood of testosterone flowing in my veins, the Jeep trotted confidently towards the park entrance with reckless abandon. I had survived nearly 4 hours negotiating crevasses, ravines, boulders, burms, stumps, and cliffs only to pitch the cooler on the way out on a flat stretch with a tiny bump. At least I didn't fall off the edge of the planet.
Today I learned MPG matters but so do lift kits and big tires. I learned noon is as late as you want to take Taylor on a 2 hour road trip. I learned Jack Daniels cures bronchitis, hic-ups, most allergies and no doctor wants you to know. I learned that keeping beer in the cooler can be a real challenge at this place, and not because your drinking them either. I learned the skid plate group is the best factory option for a Jeep Liberty.
At the end of the day, I learned that the Jeep will have no problem getting me to Rancho La Luna or to the waterfalls at the top of Mattacannes!
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