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Posts posted by 4x4tographer

  1. Awesome day on the trails with @theksmith @kaspily @Bradywgn71 @gmookher!


    Massive thanks to @theksmith for planning/leading this rock crawling adventure.


    Great seeing @Curly and Mrs. Curly at breakfast! That was a nice surprise. 😊

    We even had a @Eugene sighting - Cottonwood was an ORP magnet today!





    *click on any photo for the full-resolution image*


    The road out to Smasher.



    Ledge, ledges and more ledges! From mild to wild, there's something for everyone. 




    Plenty of rock gardens to keep you on your toes.



    "The Squeeze" was filled with loose boulders.





    No room for error on this one - literally 2-3 inches away from fender damage. Note the broken window glass on the ground at the top of the ledge. 




    A look back at Mingus.



    More ledges!




    Our lunchtime views



    Look closely and you'll spy the Verde Canyon Railroad tracks.



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  2. 4 minutes ago, sunroom73 said:

    Thanks for the invites! I was actually planning to join the Vulture run this Saturday, but had forgotten about my sons soccer game. I may just do a quick shakedown run through Bulldog Canyon this weekend to make sure it's trail-worthy before venturing too far outside of the valley. 

    Hi Frank! Nice to “meet” you and welcome back!

    @WILL E frequents Bulldog on the weekends. He might be out there too!

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  3. 13 minutes ago, Mick Bowers said:

    Bobbie’s Spaghetti Sauce


     I pound ground beef ( can add Italian sausage if desired)

    Chopped onion to taste

    Chopped garlic to taste

    Fresh sliced mushrooms (if desired)


    1  jar Rao’s Tomato Basil sauce

    1  14 oz Hunt’s fire roasted diced tomatoes

    1  14 oz Hunt’s tomato sauce


    1 Tbsp dried basil

    1Tbsp dried oregano

    1 Tbsp Italian seasoning


    8Brown ground beef in large pot.  When brown, add chopped onions, mushrooms,and garlic.  Cook until onions are softened.  Add Rao’s sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce.  Stir to mix.  Add basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning.


    Simmer for at least 30 min., but can simmer longer if desired.  



    If you're interested in submitting it - you can find the submission form here:




    100% of the proceeds are going to benefit Operation Homefront, which is a charity that helps military families. 

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  4. Back fresh from another adventure with a great group of folks, exploring the wonders of the Mogollon Rim!


    @theksmith @LaZorraRoja+Grace and @Mick Bowers


    We met up at 10am at the PIE Bar in Strawberry, a fun little outdoor restaurant that specializes in empanadas (hand pies). There are probably 20 savory selections and about 10 sweet selections along with 5-6 dipping sauce options. Good music, a nice outdoor seating area, and just 2 minutes from fuel in the town of Pine - PIE Bar was a great meeting location for a Rim Road adventure.







    The vast majority of our path took us along well-groomed forest roads. However, we did list the "ORP-Famous" Just a Forest Road. Also known as Clover Springs.  Just a Forest Road lived up to its name, with plenty of bumpy sections. The road has certainly changed over the last 4 years, with my memory of it being quite different and more technical than in the past. There are also at least 2 new "by-passes" around some particularly bumpy sections. A welcome change (except we chose to take the bumpy way out!).


    The rest of our time on the trails was spent on easy-going dirt roads. Total mileage was ~120 miles, broken into roughly equal parts of about 40 miles per day. The small group and easy trails made for pretty quick days, with us arriving at camp rather early each day, leaving plenty of time for relaxing and hanging out by the campfire. 


    On this adventure we took in the sights at:

    • Milk Ranch Point
    • Battleground Ridge
    • General Cabin
    • Myrtle Point
    • Blue Ridge Reservoir
    • The Mogollon Rim





    For our first night, we camped out overlooking the rim on our way towards Milk Ranch Point. We had a HUGE camp site all to ourselves and a nice view. We set up a potable fire ring near the edge so we could take in the views while we kept each other company around the fire. 









    @Mick Bowers and his famous camping spaghetti!





    @LaZorraRoja's pup, Mochi, kept a close eye on everyone. 





    While cooking dinner, the moon rose over the Rim. 





    Friday night, we had pretty "mild" temperatures dipping down to about 42 degrees. 







    Day 2 - The sun put on a heck of a show in the morning while cooking breakfast.





    After breaking down camp, we made our way down to Milk Ranch Point to take in panoramic views of the valleys below.






    On the way back we stopped by Dickinson Flat, a meadow that plays host to a famous aerial landmark you may has seen when flying into Phoenix.





    We also stopped by a few overlooks along the way.






    General Cabin - an old cabin used by the Forest Service.





    We also visited Battleground Ridge - the site of an ill fated ambush by Apache warriors from the San Carlos Reservation on the US Army. About 20 Apache were killed in the attack. You can still see the remains of the rock walls the Apache built to hide behind during the ambush. 







    We made it to camp around 3pm - here was our view from our Saturday night campground - one of the "fingers" of the Blue Ridge Reservoir. Camp was on a cliff about 400ft above the water. 




    The sunset lighting up the hills and trees 




    Two Wise Guys crackin' jokes!





    Moonrise, over the trees. We had 2 back-to-back moonlit nights!




    Moonrise over the lake.




    Night 2 was much colder - we dipped down to about 35 degrees. The campsite had a well-built fire rig that did a good job reflecting the heat towards us, making for a pretty comfortable evening of social banter!






    Sunday morning sun! We woke up to 35 degree temps, and the sun rose shortly after - allowing us to take in some radiant heat! 




    Sunday was all about getting to the 260 to get home. We spent about 2-2.5 hours on the trail, stopping here and there to take in the views. 








    All in all - a great trip with great people. I had a blast hanging around the fire and getting to know everyone better, trading jokes, stories, talking rigs, and just relaxing. 


    Already looking forward to the next adventure!




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  5. Hello everyone! Looking forward to hanging out with you this weekend. 


    @Mick Bowers @theksmith @LaZorraRoja @Zavala


    Here are a few reminders:




    Friday, October 27th @ 10:00am

    Where: PIEbar AZ

    5096 AZ-87, Strawberry, AZ 85544 (map)

    We will meet up for a late breakfast at PIEbar AZ!  PIEbar AZ is a local favorite in Strawberry, specializing in hand made empanadas. EMPANADAS = hand pies! The comfort food you hold in your hand! 


    **Please arrive with a full tank of gas**

    The nearest gas station is a Chevron located just down the road in Pine (map)




    • GMRS channel 20 (462.675 MHz)




    • Please bring a bundle or 2 of firewood - it will be chilly at night
    • Dress for the weather (see latest forecast)
    • Your camping junk!
    • Warm bedding
    • Meals
      • 2 breakfasts
      • 3 Lunches
      • 2 Dinners
      • Snacks
    • Bring MORE water than you think you need (dosing fires, emergencies)
    • First Aid Kit
    • Fire Extinguisher
    • Recovery gear / traction aid




    Looking like sun, clear skies, and some fall chill in the air!



  6. Maintenance Day - 63,800 miles!


    Ran up to the brand new Autozone that just held its Grand Opening today in our neighborhood. There was a mini car show that was organized by the local car club here in the neighborhood. Spotted this pretty CJ that is owned by the guy that runs the local car club.




    Avert your eyes, purists!






    Picked up some materials to perform an oil change, air filter, cabin filter, and the front/rear differentials.

    The Autozone was nice - running a lot of grand opening deals. Ended up with a free oil filter and a free bottle of Orange Clean hand cleaner.


    All pretty routine for the most part. A few things I noticed:


    Oil - The 3.6L consumed about 1/2 quart of oil since the last change 5,400 miles ago. Still using Mobil1 Extended Performance 0w20.


    Cabin filter was disgusting (I didn't write down the last time I changed it). I might have skipped it my last oil change.


    Differentials - I've been running Royal Purple front and rear (75w90 and 75w140) since I bought the Jeep in 2018.

    My last fluid change, I couldn't find any locally, so I used MotorCraft. My last differential fluid change was 21,800 miles ago.


    The front fluid was pretty predictably dirty and stinky with a good-sized blob of very fine sludge on the magnet. Pretty typical.


    The rear surprised me, the fluid was VERY clean looking and I had minimal sludge collected on the magnets. I can only guess that maybe the front is still "breaking in" as it gets used far less than the rear since the JL has the front axle disconnected unless it's in 4WD. The rear must be very well broken in (just my unprofessional opinion).


    Pumping fluid in the front:





    Here's the rear draining:




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  7. Keeping an eye on the forecast - if you haven't seen it all over the social feeds, there is a cool and wet wave moving into the region next week. 


    The temperature forecast WAS cold (lows down in the 30s), but steadily has been climbing. With the potential for rain earlier in the week, I'm hopeful that we'll have a dust-free trip!


    Looking forward to seeing you all next weekend. Looks like it's going to be beautiful!



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  8. 5 hours ago, Zavala said:

    @4x4tographer Can you please move me to the stand-by list?  I didn't realize we have a family conflict on Saturday afternoon, so at best I could do Friday but would have to head out from camp first thing Saturday morning.  Thinking you should open up the slot for someone else that can make the whole trip... And if nobody signs up, I'll aim for joining the first day, if that works?


    Sounds good!

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  9. 3 hours ago, jgaz said:

    Great write up and fantastic photos, especially of the eclipse!

    What set up did you use to take the eclipse photos?


    I tried the “back alley” method of trying to use my iPhone to take a picture thru a welding helmet lens.  
    Let’s just say mine sucked compared to yours.  I was in the Grand Canyon on a nice flat rock on Windy Ridge.


    Thanks for posting these



    Thanks Jim! My first time with solar photography - pretty happy with the results. 

    You can get some pretty decent results with a tripod, camera and lens with a long focal length, and a solar filter.  I have a few telescopes, but for this trip they were far too bulky to pack into the Jeep along with the entire family.


    These particular shots were taken with my trusty old Nikon D800, which is a full-frame DSLR. My Nikon has been relegated to nighttime astrophotography duty and I have a semi-permanent clip in light pollution filter from Astronomik. The filter probably has no real relevance here, but it was installed (too lazy to take it out!)


    The lens is a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, which is the longest focal length "non-telescope" lens in my collection. To keep things safe, I picked up a Thousand Oaks solar filter from Agena Astro that is sized for my particular lens (77mm filter size).


    I LOVE the D800 as it was one of the first heavy hitting high-megapixel full-frame professional cameras on the market @ 36.6MP. This allows you to really get a lot of detail in "normal" photography and also allows you to really crop in to offset the fact that you might not have a super long lens.


    Here's a shot that is NOT cropped, to give you an idea of how much latitude you get when cropping with it.




    And the same shot cropped down to probably 10% of the original image frame.




    A much longer lens is more ideal that relying on raw MP count. Maybe @J2DXPLR will post up one of their captures. They were also shooting on a D800 and I believe a 500 or 600mm Tamron lens. The difference is extremely impressive and I think they have a lot more detail since they didn't need to crop the snot out of their shots. 😊 You can see the sun spots in their images - it's AWESOME.



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  10. WOW! What a trip! 😎


    It was so great to see everyone, old friends and new friends alike! Our family had a heckuva good time on this one, exploring an area we've never been, and seeing a celestial event like no other.


    Massive thanks to everyone that made the big drive to hang out with us:

    @theksmith @johnpa @J2DXPLR @Visket @Alexis


    For this trip, we congregated near Mexican Hat, Utah, which was just a few miles from the centerline for the path the moon's umbra would take as it transited from the PNW down into Central America - pass right right through the Four Corners region. Just 6 hours away and with plenty of trail options to explore, it was a natural choice!




    We selected John's Canyon for the trip - it was rated as a moderate trail and would serve as a good "gatekeeper" to filter out the Prius drivers and get away from the big crowds that would descend on the region. In the below map, I marked where we stopped to view the eclipse - note the blue centerline for the umbra - we were approx 3-4 miles from "center".




    John's Canyon Trail was rated as moderate - but we found it to be very easy. It was a smooth dirt road for the most part, with a few minor dips. Any stock, 2WD high clearance SUV would have no issues on the trail all the way up to the John's Canyon Waterfall, where you'll need some flex and good clearance. From that point on, the trail is more "traditional 4x4" territory.


    We meet up "early" in the morning at 7am MDT, just 30 minutes before sunrise at a 7-11 in Mexican Hat. The trailhead was a quick jaunt up the road about 4 miles. As we passed through the area you could see the local authorities prepping for a crowd. The EMTs and LEOs had set up a base camp on the corner and there were port-a-potties around. Further up the road we ran into small crowds of RVs, van lifers, and campers. 


    As we stopped to air down, the sun rose.




    Our sleepyhead friends know how to boogie! They caught us up just as we were stopping to air down. The sun had just broke over the canyon walls behind them, illuminating their dust wake. 




    Airing down and enjoying the rising sun!




    In terms of weather.... what weather?




    This is a look west from the trailhead at Cedar Point. The famous Muley Point is hidden behind this formation.




    @Alexis taking in the views:




    Along the way we saw a great many things! The trail was fun, winding through the canyon, hugging the walls. There were interesting boulders and petroglyphs along the way... and of course plentiful views of the Goosenecks below through which the San Juan River has slowly carved out the canyons over the millennia. 






    Look closely - this view of these petroglyphs is from the road - they're easily the largest I've ever seen.




    This rock face was perfectly flat and approximately 30-40 ft across.




    We stopped here for the eclipse, just inside of the "new" Bears Ears NM.




    Here's a view looking north. What a great place to witness the eclipse!




    A photo of the spot on iPhone:



    We watched the eclipse just over this ridge:





    Speaking of eclipses:




    Full annularity at approx 10:29 am MDT




    Now - we all know the moon isn't perfectly round (neither is the Earth for that matter). It's a spheroid and has mountains and craters. If you look closely at the below photo, you can see those mountains and high-points at the southern pole of the moon interacting with the edge of the solar disc:




    During a TOTAL Solar Eclipse, this would result in something called Baily's Beads, which you can see with the naked eye during a Total Eclipse (not safe during an Annular Eclipse).


    Another shot of the mountains at the edge of the solar disc:




    Moving out of annularity: 




    One last shot:ADCreHf4OE5g_EKr9miPo47Hyrc-BUIBRi5rgIwk\\


    During the eclipse, we noticed the air temperatures began to fall as the moon's shadow passed over us. We also noticed a red shift in the light around us. You can see this if you look closely at this Timelapse:




    After the festivities and some lunch - we spent about 3 hours sitting and marveling - we headed down the trail a bit to John's Waterfall.










    After the waterfall, some of the group split off to head deeper into the canyon to camp. The rest of us made our way back out the way we came.


    All in all - a wonderful trip. I really enjoyed hanging out with you all and sharing in this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle!




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