Sunday, December 11, 2011

NAXJA Christmas

Last night, the SoCal chapter of the Jeep Cherokee club NAXJA held its annual Christmas bash in Upland, CA. John Hudson (JohnX on the NAXJA forum) was gracious enough to let us defile his home this year. It was a good turnout, and everyone had fun.

It was really nice to see old friends and meet new ones. Grimmy, it was good to see you, man! Avery, Julio, Cory and Candice, Carol, bails85, our new chapter president John, DJ Josh, Jeremy, Falk (a really super cool guy), Beamer, and a few others were able to attend.

There was an awesome raffle with a few really big prizes, there was fire, there were guns, there was a chess game, there was food/drinks/booze, and there was a feeling of friendliness in the air. NAXJA wins again. Even the nuts jokes were a hoot.

I had planned to lightly sip a few beers throughout the evening but, by the time we left, I had put away a twelve pack. Oops. Ah well, all in good fun. This year’s party was a great success, and I thank everyone who was able to attend and contribute. Even Julio.

Falk, you are certainly an interesting character. I had much fun talking with you about engines, immigration, guns, and off-road stuff. People like you don’t come around very often, so it was extremely nice meeting you. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Chose Marlin over Winchester

After a bunch of research, days of reading forum posts, reviews, and watching videos from various lever gun owners, I have finally decided that Marlin was the way to go. Ten days ago, I actually purchased a 1976 Marlin 336 chambered in 30-30 at a gun show. Here in the lovely cesspool – er – state of CA, we have to wait to pick up our firearms.

Why a Marlin over a Winchester 94? Several reasons, really, made my decision an easy one. First, the Marlin fetches a much lower price, normally. Same rifle, lower price? Yea, I’m all over that. Also, the Marlin features side eject, which makes it easier to mount a scope. I won’t be mounting a scope, but the side eject was still a better choice, I believe. At the very least, it allows less of the elements into the receiver. Also, more of the 94’s “guts” come out when the lever is pulled, something I did not like. The 336 breaks down easily whereas the 94 does not.

Also, because my weapon was made in the ‘70s, it has no safety. The hammer can be half-cocked, stopping the trigger from moving, which is about as safe as it gets with the earlier models. I like that. Not that I’m against safety, I just like a simpler weapon. The most effective safety always lies with the shooter, anyhow. Right, guys?

So, why 30-30 instead of a handgun caliber, or maybe even the 45-70? The simple answer is that I don’t believe the hype. If you do enough research, you’ll see that the venerable 30-30 is capable of taking some pretty good game. I don’t feel that I need a 45-70 for almost any situation. Besides, if the 30-30 doesn’t drop whatever I’m shooting at the first time, I have six more chances. The odds are in my favor no matter what the target. The handgun calibers are all much weaker, and I want something that goes boom. That isn’t to say I won’t pick up guns in those calibers in the future, but for my first one, the 30-30 sounded perfect.

I was going to pick the carbine up today, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I’ll have the gun in my hands on Thursday. At that point, I’ll update the blog and include a few pictures.

What are your thoughts on the Marlin 336?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

California Smog Laws: Going Exempt

I love driving off-road in my Jeep. The thing climbs like a goat on crack and its size and wheelbase allows me to traverse a wide variety of trails. I do, however, have two problems with the rig: it’s a six-cylinder, and it has to be smogged every other year. Poop on both counts.

Now, I’m all for a clean environment and everything, but having to smog my vehicles is really getting to be an expensive pain in the arse. First off, there’s the smog fee itself. If the government wants me to smog my vehicles so bad, why don’t they pony up the money for it? They make the rule and the cost falls on the consumer. Second, if it doesn’t pass, I have to buy expensive things like catalytic converters or oxygen sensors and hope it’ll pass the next try. I don’t like it one bit.

Therefore, it’s very possible that I’ll be paring down my fleet in the near futures to include only pre-1976 automobiles. No computers, no catalytic converters, no mess of wiring and hoses. And no six-cylinders. I’ll take a ’72 Dodge with a 360 in it any day over a gutless 4.0 liter straight-six that has to be smogged.

I’m a do-it-yourself kind of guy, and that includes working on my vehicles. If something goes wrong, I do not want to break out a code scanner so that an on-board computer can tell me what’s happening with my vehicle. With an older vehicle, it’s almost always obvious where the problem is coming from. Parts are a load cheaper, too, and you can actually get to them without having an engineering degree.

Now, many of you may be thinking that older vehicles aren’t as reliable, and that they nickel-and-dime us to death. Sure, if you try and keep a thirty-year-old car on the road you are going to have maintenance. But, when’s the last time you completely rebuilt an engine and replaced all its crappy, Pep Boys components with quality ones? That, I feel, is the ticket. I mean, if you keep replacing remanufactured water pumps and alternators with $30 remanufactured units, they aren’t going to last long. Purchasing quality components will surely keep the vehicle running longer.

Anyhow, my plan to only drive pre-smog vehicles goes into effect immediately. It may actually save me a bunch of money in the long run, because if I score an old Dodge 4x4 truck that can pull the Jeep to trails, I can register the Cherokee for off-road use only (sometimes called “Green Stickering here in CA) and still not have to smog or insure it. Double-win in my book.

Older cars and trucks aren’t for everybody, that’s true, but they are definitely for me. I still have my ’68 Plymouth, and it’s being rebuilt slowly but surely as I write these words. Now I need to replace the station wagon with a late-sixties MOPAR one and find an early ‘70s Dodge truck. Can’t be too difficult. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 24, 2011

NAXJA SoCalFest 2011 in Big Bear, CA

Each year our Jeep Cherokee club, NAXJA, goes up into the hills of Big Bear, CA, for an annual camp and trail run. This year it fell on May 20th through the 22nd, which we loved because it was much warmer than the April dates of previous years. I believe my first trip to SoCalFest, years ago, netted 19ยบ temperatures at night. We didn’t have rated sleeping bags, we had a small tent and were not at all prepared for that kind of thing. Now we are much more comfortable in the current setup. It’s still tenting, but a lot more luxurious.

I toodled up Friday afternoon/evening in my gutless but well-built 1988 Jeep Cherokee. For those who care, it’s up about 6 ½” on 34” mud tires on aluminum Soft 8s, locked front and rear with 4.88 gearing powering Chrome-moly shafts. I have other goodies like a winch, rock rails, a roof rack, a CB, nice trail tool bag, farm jack, etcetera. The essentials are all there for a very reliable and stout trail vehicle.

Anyhow, this year was pretty much like any year at SoCalFest: Although we plan to get there at a decent hour, things go wrong and we get there *just* before sundown, and rush around getting the tent up, setting up camp, blowing up the inflatable bed, breaking out the forehead lights, turning the lantern on and then, finally, cracking a beer. I do it in that order because if I crack the beer first, I tend not to be nearly as helpful. The wife appreciates it.

Every year, we drink our fool heads off around various campfires and then get up bright and early on Saturday to meet the rest of the club at the Big Bear Discovery Center for the day’s trail run. This year, however, we decided to do things a little differently. We still drank our fool heads off around various campfires, there’s no negotiating that. But this year we slept in on Saturday and ran Gold Mountain with a small group after we had relaxed and had a nice breakfast. Genius.

About ten minutes into the trail, which was recently inducted into Black Diamond ilk, at the first obstacle, a familiar Jeep came into sight. It seemed one of my buddies, Avery, who has a white Comanche built beyond belief and a friend of his in a red Cherokee had busted right there, and were just then getting one of the Jeeps trail worthy again, after many hours. I was leading our little group, but since they were already ahead of me I let Avery take the lead.

Gold Mountain is an interesting trail with a few really fun obstacles. The scenery is great, the shale below the tires sounds bitchin’, and you really don’t have to be built-to-the-hilt to run the thing, although stockers do end up with issues many times. There are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view or have a bite to eat, and the rock garden at the end of it always produces a thrill or two.

Then it was back to base camp where we participated in the club’s annual SoCalFest raffle. This year I didn’t win anything, but I wasn’t able to donate so I didn’t feel too badly. More beers and inappropriate jokes accompanied the raffle, and the rest of the night was spent singing songs and laughing loudly around a campfire. And drinking beer. The rangers let us know the next morning that we were a little too boisterous for their tastes, but other than that the trip was pulled off without a hitch. We made it home just fine (we usually stop at a little place in Seven Oaks called “The Oaks” to eat, but didn’t this time, which worked out because when we got home we found out my wife’s family was in town, and ended up going out to eat with them anyhow) and we were, as always, thankful for a shower and a soft seat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hi, and welcome to my outdoor blog.

Hi there. My name is Derek Odom, and I’m a full-time freelance writer and author. What you may not know is that I’m also an outdoor enthusiast, big time. I own a 1988 Jeep Cherokee that’s lifted and sitting on 35” tires, locked and loaded – hence the name of the blog. I also enjoy boating, fishing, camping, shooting, dirt roads or just about anything else that involves nature of some sort or being outside. Okay, I’m not base-jumping any time soon, but you get the drift.

I’ll be documenting my off-road and camping/shooting/fishing adventures on this blog, and I hope that at least some of you find the entries to be good reads. My girlfriend, Eliza, and I are always doing some sort of camping or wheeling. We cannot get enough of it, really. The Jeep club I am a part of ( offers many opportunities throughout the year to hit the dirt and we have many independent friends who love to camp, fish, hike or shoot and so we are never without options. When the Jeep is down for repairs, we take our 1986 Crown Vic 8-passenger wagon. Yea, it’s like that.

As for guns, I own a Kimber Custom TLE 1911 model .45 semi-auto, a CZ-75 B 9mm, a Mossberg 12-gauge and a .22 rifle which is a Ruger 10. The girlfriend has the hand cannon, in the form of a blued .357 Ruger six-shot revolver. You should see her eyes light up every time she gets it in her hand. A little unsettling, really. We shoot as often as money will allow, as ammunition isn’t cheap. We always use ear protection and obey all local laws any time we have a gun out, whether at the range or out in the mountains at one of the “self-serve” shooting areas that are completely unmonitored.

When wheeling, we stay on the designated trail as much as humanly possible, because land use and keeping trails open are important to us. If you are reading this blog, you’ve probably seen the asshats who take off into the brush with their rigs and start mowing down bushes or small trees after a few beers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a fan of throwing back a couple cold ones and have even been known to have one at a lunch break on the trail, but driving completely obliterated is another thing entirely. Stay on the trail, and save the beer guzzling for the campfire.

Anyhow, since this is just my introduction I’ll quit with the politically correct banter and see if I can’t get going on an actual post that may be more informative as to how we actually do things, and some of the adventures we have. Let the good times roll.