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CALMINI Customer Appreciation Run 2002

CALMINI Customer Appreciation Run 2002

An Annual Event; Not To Be Missed.

Editor: Eric Bewley Story/Photo: Ted Holman

LAKE TAHOE, CA -The X90 was Rubicon ready, or so I thought. I was running BF Goodrich All Terrains, 235/75/15’s, as they had been highly recommended for my street/trail buildup. I keep losing air in two tires and returned to my selling dealer who told me that I could not run these on eight-inch wide rims. I rushed to Les Swab, another tire dealer, who installed a set of seven-inch wide rims. They pointed out that one of the tires was coming apart inside. The tires had less then three thousand miles of street use, so I returned to the Goodrich dealer. He agreed the tire was bad, but refused to warranty it. It had major cord separation, yet he informed me that “Michelin” did not cover this sort of defect. Before you buy tires for your rig, check the “quality” of the company you are doing business with. BF Goodrich is definitely off my list and should be off yours!

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So, enough harping. I spent the better part of a day “clearancing” the wheel wells for my tiny tires the day before leaving for Tahoe. Eric Bewley, Sky Schueler and a friend of theirs were to meet us in Grants Pass at 9:00 to head south. About 1:30, their newfound friend limped into town. Apparently he had needed his beauty sleep and slept in! We set off for the Rubicon taking the Highway down through Greenville (for those of you who have never been there, what a killer place). Dustin and Shad, Dave’s best friends, were driving the X90 and I was dragging the Four-Door on a trailer.

We made it as far as Sierraville before our newfound friend’s rig blew a U-Joint. It was now also running on three cylinders. Nice, nothing like being prepared for the trip!

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The next morning had us meeting up with the rest of the Calmini crowd at Loon Lake. It was a pretty intense moment for me, realizing how much effort had gone into getting here, the friends that I was with, the hugs and handshakes and the part that was so missing, my kid flicking dirt at me and warning everyone about “senior” drivers on the trail while pointing at me. It was great having good friends around me and I just want to say thanks for making this come true after such a brutal year.

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Drew from Calmini had volunteered to drive the 98 Four-Door and I was in the X90 with Dustin, Dave’s buddy. We lined up and headed out the first 100 yards. Ahhh, the forgotten sound of breaking axles soon pierced the morning air. First Sky leaned his Samurai’s pumpkin against a huge boulder at the “Gate Keeper” and boing, a front drive axle. Next was Drew, in my rig, who hung the rear diff and drive shaft on a rock and popped an outer CV joint on the Four- Door while trying to drag it off.  I also found that the lack of ground clearance and the lack of positive lock up from the “Limited Slips” were going to provide a challenge to my added lack of driving skill. I was already getting grief from Steve about driving a “Barbie Jeep”.  Shad and Drew were learning the limits of driving a “Grocery Getter”  and things had finally settled down,  well sort of . Tommy was in his usual good form, if you call three- hundred stitches to sew his ear back on good form! . The weather was incredible , but the trail seemed to be a little more torn up then it was last year. It couldn’t have been that I was driving a rig that had three inches less ground clearance then anyone else’s? What ever, it was great to be back on the “Con”!

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That night was spent at Spider Lake where Tommy told of his terrible tumble down the hill after losing his brakes and having his ear torn off by the roll cage as it slid by. Oh, then he mentioned that it was just thirty-two days ago! They did a pretty good job of putting it back on, but it is pretty weird seeing a guy with his ear lobe on top instead of the bottom where it belonged! In a moment of reflection, just before settling in, Dustin, Shad and I said our Hello’s and Goodbyes to Dave. We knew that he was watching and laughing up a storm at us. Always did, always will…

The next morning was on to Buck Island . Things were going pretty smoothly  with Steve constantly asking me instructions about which way the trail went. I was happy to oblige, I just pointed to the trail of oil left by the International Scouts from last year. The X90 was doing pretty darn good, just getting high-sided occasionally on the Rock Sliders and needing three bodies to push it forward again. The trail was pretty nice and all of the rigs were getting trough without a hitch.

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We came to the “Slabs” and I wisely opted out by taking them rather them the “True Sluice” down to Buck Island. Every year, Steve takes everyone up the trail and every year I just shake my head. But hey, everyone should try the trail at least once in an unscratched rig.

We spent the night at Buck Island and what a night it was. The boys showed me an underground tunnel that goes from Buck Island to Loon Lake that was carved out of the mountain. It’s huge! Calmini put on their Annual Feast that night and it was great. The “young folks” among us hiked up on a slab and started howling at the moon as they collected every ounce of beverage in camp for some form of Liquid Ritual. Across the lake, someone was yelling back, but was quickly over-whelmed by our howlers. Funny, for more noise, just add beer…

The next morning was painful for the younger crowd. I mean really painful.  The slow pace got slower with frequent stops to gain a firm grip on Mother Earth for the really wicked ones. I on the other hand, felt great. I bet just saying that still makes them pissed. We headed into Rubicon Springs,  finding the trail in remarkably good order. Even the tougher parts were easier this year. That said, Drew immediately tore the rear bumper ends up on the Four Door. Nice…Even Mikie managed to get through without a scratch.   The weird part was that Steve would offer a blessing as each one of us passed.   No one tipped over, so it must work.

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We pulled into the ‘Springs” and everyone took the classic picture on the bridge and we were off up “Cadillac Hill”. Sky’s Samurai starting making terrible noise from underneath, both front and rear. At lunch time, he figured out that he had a busted rear axle, a possible busted front axle and a front locker going out. Hmmm, that’s how I’d want to get out of here, one driven axle. The climb out was pretty smooth despite this. A Nissan Frontier with a three-inch lift was along for the trip and this was the first spot that was a serious challenge. Eric told me that Jimmy was just slowing it down so that Sky wouldn’t get left behind, but I know that Pickup was really having to work at getting up the hill.

We popped out on top around three and I had Steve take a picture of Shad, Dustin and myself with the rigs. I am going to make a print and take it up to Dave’s spot so he can see that we made it on the Rubicon Trail. I know he will be proud of us all and would want to wish everyone well. See you next year guys and thanks.

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