I’m Sammy, your average guy from Albuquerque, NM, with a moderately restromod CJ2A. In 2011 I met Kevin Carey of Method Motorsports on Pirate, and we became friends ever since. Earlier this year he gave me a simple call with “Hey dude! Come run the 61st Jeeper's Jamboree on the Rubicon Trail with me this year! You can fly out and ride shotgun!” When I agreed, I had no idea what I was getting into...
I spent the 3 days before flying out to Sacramento gathering my crap together and fitting only what I needed into a duffel bag and a camera pack. All of the electronic stuff went in my carry-on bag, such as my trusty Nikon D7000, 3 lenses, iPod, chargers, and my flight tickets. Clothes, sleeping bag, and tent got stuffed in my insanely heavy duffel bag.
I flew to Sacramento on July 23rd with no idea what was ahead. The beautiful JK on sticky 37” Nittos that was waiting for me at the airport gave me a little clue. I hopped in the Jeep and officially met Kevin in person for the first time. He then told me I need to navigate him via my phone and that we have someone to go meet; Steve Sasaki of Powertank. I sat there going “wut” as we rolled up to his house. Seems that someone overfilled Kevin’s powertank that day, and as he was packing his Jeep before picking me up, the safety pressure valve let loose (and scaring the crap out of him!) and he needed a tank. Steve stepped up and helped him. Before you knew it Kevin had a new tank and we were off. I was star struck.
We left Steve’s, went back to Kevin’s house, dropped my crap off, and went grocery shopping in an impressive manor. 2 carts filled with… adult beverages… and snacks. We headed back to his house and began packing and loaded down his JK with all of our stuff and promo items for Yukon Ring and Gear. As Kevin packed I worked on the Jeep doing lubrication in the joints, driveshafts, and u-joints.
The next morning we were both exhausted but headed out to Georgetown, stopping for coffee for him, and a Monster for me. We got to Georgetown by 8:15 or so, just in time to meet up with Bryan Crofts and his lovely girlfriend Tahnee. Jay Lowe, Bob and Paula Roggy, Slapps Danny and his wife. Nowhere was really open except the bar, so Kevin, Bryan and Tahnee, Jay and myself walked down to the bar to get a bloody mary to start our day right. After our bloody mary we went to grab some breakfast, and then back to the saloon where I met Bob Sweeny, the President of Jeepers Jamboree. He was hilarious, and asked me if I was ready? I just smiled and nodded not knowing what he meant by that, but I would soon find out.
Jay split from us to go pick up Fred Meyling, who was going with us thanks to Wheelers for the Wounded, a nonprofit organization that Kevin helps run in California. Fred was going to be riding with us that week, and I’m sure he’ll I agree when I say he had a huge grin on his face the entire time.
Kevin, Bryan, Tahnee, and I left Georgetown and headed to our first stop on the trip, Uncle Toms Cabin. I’d heard a lot about this oasis in the forest and was excited to finally see it. Kevin explained to me there was nothing technological about it, the electricity is run off of a generator, and there’s porta pottys if you need them. Oh, and “there’s like $30k stapled to the ceiling!”
We stopped in for a cold one, where I met the bartender and learned more about the historic location. Of course I had to get the bumper stickers, and then staple my own dollar to the ceiling after drawing a shout out to New Mexico on it.
I also learned that it was the 150th anniversary of Uncle Toms and that surprisingly, they now had wifi! No one believed it until Bryan hopped on his phone and sure enough!
After visiting for a while, taking a bunch of pictures, and all around chewing the fat we set off again to the airdown spot at Loon Lake. I was blown away by the remarkable beauty of the country we were driving through. Coming from the Looney Toons “Wrong turn Albuquerque” I was blown away at the water, trees, rocks, and geography. Kevin was telling me about the area on the drive in, that the Rubicon trail is a county road, and the general history of it. I should have been taking dictation.
Bryan was unloading his Jeep from the trailer when we met up with Jay, who had Fred with him. We aired down Kevin’s new 37” Nitto MT’s and started off. In our group was Kevin and I in Kevin’s 07 JKU, Bryan and Tahnee in Mr. Sparkles, and Jay and Fred in Jay’s TJ. Instantly there are just boulder fields and I’m loving it. Kevin is bumpin’ Fleetwood Mac, Gorillaz, Moonshine Bandits, and just about anything else with a huge bass line. He comments on how heavy the Jeep is, since we’re loaded down. Our first stop of the day was the granite bowl, where we stopped for some pictures. I’m already admiring the terrain and terrified that I didn’t bring enough SD cards.
Our ultimate destination for the day was Rubicon Springs. We stopped just before Buck Island for a much needed dinner since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Dinner was awesome and perfectly cooked. After dinner came Buck Island, where you actually drive over part of the dam. That was really a neat experience. Just past the dam was one of the first times Kevin was challenged that day since he was open in the front with a limited slip in the back, and just couldn’t make one line up the hill unless he kissed a door, which he wasn't willing to do. I felt bad because I said “Let’s try the center line, that looks like fun!” So we backed down and tried the different line where he made it. I did get a good video of Jay driving up with Fred, and Kevin spotting.
We did not do little sluice, but we did do the bypass. Definitely still interesting, and a few of those gut wrenching moments… The one trail we did run into trouble on was big sluice. Coming down between a tree and a rock, between being very top heavy and having aired down a little low, we almost kissed another tree. Kevin made it clear that he’ll do anything to save the doors on the Jeep, whether it be stack rocks, winch, unload, take the doors off, anything. That’s the moment I learned that all you need to say is “Kevin, tree, about to touch” and not “Kevin! Kevin! Kevin! Kevin! SHIT!”
We backed up and tried the harder line to the left of the big boulder. Bryan got out to spot, as did Jay. Kevin started to head down off of a ledge and got bellied up, and ended up backing up again. We stacked rocks and tried to make it a lot better, but still ended up bellied up. It definitely was a huge drop, and in a long wheelbase Jeep, even harder. I’m standing there going “This dude is a champion spotter for WE Rock….Why can’t he drive off this ledge? I see a line, why not take it?” Eventually Bryan had to bypass us and provide a winching anchor which saved Kevin…. He ran outta talent lol.
After the excitement of almost kissing two rocks and watching Jay, Kevin and Bryan lift tires off the ground, I was ready to get to camp for the night. At this point I didn’t know where Rubicon Springs was, where we were going, or where we were camping. We came across a bridge where Kevin suggested I hopped out to take some pics. It was a bridge that was rebuilt in 1982, very cool.
After a couple more hours of wheeling, walking, photographing, and spotting, Kevin points out the banner “Welcome to Rubicon Springs”
That banner stuck out like a beacon. It was amazing; he explained to me Rubicon Springs was a stop on the trail in the early days of motoring, where there was an actual hotel. We rolled up and I saw a bar, a cooking area, several other buildings, and a dude. "Bar Bitch" met us on the trail. Bar Bitch was a good friend of Kevin’s dad, and he also had his son, "Son of a Bar Bitch" with him. Kevin’s dad and Bar Bitch’s were best friends. That was awesome. Bar Bitch showed me why Rubicon Springs was called such, told me who he was, and welcomed me. After chewing the fat for a while, we went to make camp in the Pirate camp, and relax.
Next day, we went back down to camp where Kevin pointed something out to me I’d never seen. Yep, piss tubes. A funnel connected to a tube that went God knows where. You peed in it. No dividers, no care. I didn’t think he was serious but he actually was. Surrounded by plywood, it was great. We went off wheeling a little bit after going back to Rubicon Springs. Kevin wanted his Jeep spotless, and I couldn’t blame him, we found a water crossing and washed the dust off. Little inexperienced me wanted to say this was a bad idea, but then I remembered I was the one who greased the Jeep and there wasn’t a leak in sight. We rinsed off the Jeep, and went on our way. It’d been years since I had my feet in the cool water, and sand under my toes. This was a very cool experience, one I’ll never forget. Jay and Fred went with us, and just hung out near the banks and laughed when one of us would slip and fall in the water.
Kevin wanted to go back to Rubicon Springs, which was an awesome call on his part. We opened up the bar, actually Fred did. He got the first drink, a Captain and Coke. Bar Bitch was pleased we made it right when Amos’ Place was opened.
While at camp lightning started crashing and the sky opened up. It started DUMPING rain, as we scrambled to tarp up the Jeeps and then back under the easy up. Suddenly 6 people walking to dinner flock under the easy up. 2 of them Kevin knew, it was the Eldorado County Sheriffs, 4 we didn’t know, but hey, we made friends quick with John, Dave, Brandi and Christy.
That night, the party started happening. Jeeps of all breeds started rolling in, the bar was in full swing, and there was a band playing.
The stars at night are absolutely amazing. I’d never seen so many stars in my life! The only glow from our camp was Rubicon Springs off in the distance!
Next day we hung out at the river under the Poly easy up, just relaxing and having fun. Our new friends were there as well, the ones who we met in the rain. Kevin was in his mankini and upset that Lance wasn’t there to support him. I went off the rope swing a few times which was a blast. There were probably 50 people floating in rafts, including one huge little island that they had created with the rafts. After a while I ended up with a new nickname, Amish (Thanks Ian)
Saturday morning we got up with the dynamite blast, oh, right! They light off a quarter stick of dynamite to wake up the cooking crew every morning at 5:30. We loaded up the Jeep with our vendors gear and headed down to Rubicon Springs. You get to meet big names from all the companies, and you’ll probably end up with even more swag!
Kevin and I didn’t pack food, we packed snacks. You get fed on Jeepers Jamboree, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food is amazing. Saturday night we had steak, and that was probably the best steak I’d ever had.
Sunday we headed out via Cadillac hill with Dave from Poly/ Synergy. We ended up stuck on the trail for awhile; I heard there’s always something to cause a backup every year but who cares you on the Rubicon! Scott Hartman was walking around with a ball of tin foil that he’d been cooking some sausages in on his exhaust. Guess the party never stops!
The rock rollers were working their asses off to try to get everyone out smoothly and keep Jeeps coming. I walked maybe ¼ of Cadillac to take pictures and thought I was going to die because the terrain is so tough, and those guys are there for 12-14 hours helping out. After Cadillac we stopped at Overlook pass to take some pictures of the Jeeps and of us. A little further along the trail, they were serving a quick pulled pork sandwich lunch, and again Bob Sweeny was there checking on everyone, making sure everyone was good, asking how the trail was, and being an all-around gentleman.
As a first timer to Jeepers Jamboree, I had no idea of what to fully expect. Having done it now, I plan on doing it again. If you have a choice between 2 trips, I would seriously go to Jeepers before anything else. If you want to be get a nickname like Amish, meet friends that will last a life time, be surrounded by some of the most beautiful terrain you’ll ever see, and have a relaxing trip, Jeepers Jamboree is for you.
P.O. Box 900
6275 Main Street
Georgetown, CA 95634
Phone (530) 333-4771
Fax (530) 333-0245
email - [email protected]