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story and photos by Ray Alexander
I had heard rumors that rich people lived in Scottsdale. That very well could be true, because I saw a man who came to an auto parts store in a chauffeured limousine.
There were 750 people and 250 Jeeps registered for this year’s Jeep Jamboree, sponsored and run by Airpark Jeep. Some of the vehicles were seasoned veterans, but most were newer models. Jeep has been putting effort into building what the people want, maybe it is working.
The kickoff point for the trail poker run was Kohl’s at I-17 and Carefree Highway. This year the turn off of Carefree Highway was the near end of Castle Hot Springs Canyon Road.
I was riding with Jason DeMonto again this year; he owns Trail Concepts, but he still works with the dealership on the Jeep Jamboree. This started better, but with an untold number of Jeep trails available people still got lost. I saw one bush on fire; I imagined some cursing took place there. People were calling their recent friends for the trail waypoints. The reply came, “You didn’t want them on Monday when I offered (sucker).” Every one made it back to the dealership safely.
Jason tried to be the first Jeep to arrive at certain places on the trail, but with other drivers getting lost and inadvertently taking a shortcut, getting there first has never happened. Jason needs to learn to cheat better.
I think the event should be made tougher; all contestants exchange their GPS, cell phone and the fuse to their navigation system for a hand drawn map, not to scale, a star chart and a sextant.
A couple of years back, after being on a different Jeep Jamboree trail, I predicted that I-17 would someday get washed out. This year, true to my prediction, Phoenix has had so much rain that I-18 was indeed washed out and I-10 was flooded. The bridge was left standing, but the water did an end run, removing the road surface.
As we progressed up Castle Hot Springs Canyon, it became clear that, if you lived here, you needed to own a dozer. I have made jokes that that, “If you see three rocks across the road in Baja, turn around. You were not going through unless you had your personal dozer with you.” We also saw multimode optical cable washed up and severed. There was water running in the canyon, but not deep enough to test the deep water snorkel.
As we moved up the canyon, I began to notice places where the road for last week was 4 to 5 feet higher than where we were required to drive today. Nature was at it again. We arrived at the spot Jason wanted to get to first, but Jeeps were already coming through. This was a rocky drop-off with boulders running to half as big as a Jeep. Here I learned that rock rails can help and they can hurt. The hurt came when a Jeep dropped onto a boulder and became high-centered. With no rail, the rock would have done a little clearance work on the Jeep and allowed the tires to once again contact the driving surface.
There was some changing of drivers before the vehicle started through this boulder patch. Most people made it through without a problem. A mechanic from the dealership was coaching drivers through, and when the Jeep was ready to roll off a large rock, he would say, “Let it drop down.” I kept thinking, when it rolls off that rock, gravity will make sure it drops.
Carl Hutton took a more difficult route through this area and made it look easy. A tourist from St. Louis, MO, he was enjoying this event.
Jason was not running clean-up and wanted to get back to the dealership early. I was disappointed, they didn’t have a Hellcat. Now I am going to have to wait for a long time to drive one.
At the dealership, there were several inflatable playground items for kids to play in and on, and valet parking. There were two shuttle vans running to offsite parking. Vendors and the children’s playground consumed more than half the parking area, making offsite parking mandatory.
The Tommy Ash Band, formed five years ago, was awesome. They have toured with Dwight Yokum and will tour with him again in November. The music sounded much closer to classic rock and roll than country.
If all the doors that have been taken off Jeeps were laid end to end, I don’t know how far they would reach, but it would be a considerable distance. The four door Jeeps seemed to get this change more than the two door models.
The dealership had a used GT-R. I wasn’t going to buy it so I didn’t carefully note the price, but I believe it was over $71,000. Another indicator of rich people in Scottsdale.
If I were doing the ramp challenge, I would set the air pressure in the left front tire very low and hope it didn’t roll off the bead. Then set the right rear tire very high. However, unless you did an air leveling system, you are not going to beat David Cessna. With his air system, David alters the center of gravity. I saw that David had a clean area on the windshield. I think this means he rolled it again. The ramp challenge, as usual, was a crowd favorite.
Trevor and Randi Whitmer have started business selling “Redneck 4 Life” apparel and stickers. I suppose the stickers include windshield banners because I saw more than the one their Jeep. Trevor or Randi, I’m not sure which, did the ramp challenge and, frankly, I was disappointed, I expected more from a redneck.
I persuaded the General Manager, Mr. Coye Pointer, to pose with my car. He also drives a SRT8, but I believe it is the Chrysler version. Last year Mr. Pointer told me about his December promotion, “buy a car, get a guitar.” Coye and Alice Cooper are friends, Coye bought 20 acoustic guitars and had Alice sign them. The first twenty customers who bought a car in December received a guitar. Now the Alice Cooper pictures and news releases on the dealership walls made sense.
Prizes valued at several thousand dollars were given away to raffle ticket holders. The poker run produced some phenomenal hands. The best hand was a royal flush and the prize was a set of tires, a Mr. Wolfensleger took them home. Four of a kind received a winch and a straight flush got a bumper. This dominated the crowd. Still, you might have gotten something you didn’t want or need, but it wasn’t a Fiat or, even worse, a Ford poster.
There was ample food and soft drinks. The food was good and the soft drinks were cold. Once again, Chrysler Airpark did an excellent of preparing and hosting this event.
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