After 3000+ miles and 17 days in, we begin to head south out of Tennessee towards Jasper, Georgia…but first we take a day off and hit another amazing place close to Pigeon Forge…
Event Intermission: Gatlinburg, TN
North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge happens to be in Gatlinburg. And similar to Pigeon Forge, this place is full of cool things to do! From water slides to aerial trams, alpine slides and roller coasters, this place is a family fun center on steroids.
Even though the weather changed and we literally were soaked to the bone while coming up the mountain on an open ski lift, we would go back in a heartbeat!
Yes. We kept our word to the Sheriff and made the trip back to Georgia to attend one of the bigger shows in the area. This year, we had much better communication with the event staff and they knew we were coming. Our spot was fantastic, right out in front of the parking area and registration. We did our best to control the line of rigs wanting to get on to the CTI Trailer and we think everything went smooth this year! A shout out to Sheriff Donnie Craig and his staff!
A Stop at Clemson 4Wheel
After wrapping things up in Georgia, I knew I had a few days until I needed to be back in Pennsylvania for the Coal Pit Crusade that would be taking place at Famous Reading Outdoors, a park I had heard so much about but had never visited. I also knew that both Golden Spike and the Dodge needed some TLC. It just so happens that our friends at Clemson 4 Wheel were on the route.
The entire staff at Clemson is amazing…so much so they are more like family. What was started in 1970 by a talented mechanic names Fred Perry, has turned into a first class operation with some of the most experienced Jeep mechanics in the business.
And it’s a good thing that I stopped. I had been chasing a sound in the LJ since it was built and I knew it was also due for a nut and bolt check. A huge shout out to mechanic and my buddy Cole Conner for taking time out of his already busy day to help me out. He had a rear axle seal replaced in no time, we replaced the factory worn transmission mount with a Daystar mount and gave the jeep a thorough once over.
After cleaning the pint of gear oil from the rear brakes…they worked MUCH better!
Famous Reading Outdoors
After just a short 24 days on the road, we had covered 3 large events, just over 3000 miles and got to wheel in a great off-road park…but it was time to head towards the final event of this Tour, the Coal Pit Crusade. Famous Reading Outdoors is another huge outdoor playground and makes up a corner of the big three parks in this area, the other two being Rausch Creek and Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA). All three of these places are the real deal. I know that a lot of Jeepers in the West don’t really understand private parks back East…since we wheel on mostly public lands out west. I can only say that until you have experienced it, it doesn’t make sense. But these places are for your enjoyment specifically. And they are enormous! At 64,000 acres, Famous Reading has 100 square miles of property. Think about that. The Johnson Valley OHV Area in Southern California, is about 96,000 acres, with 53,000 of those acres shared with the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.
And when they bring out a “water truck”…they play with big toys…
These parks are heavily wooded and full of rocks and ledges, unlike the open areas of the west. These parks are tight…and you don’t get to pick a line per se…its more of a point and shoot kind of wheeling…although there are many technical rock crawling trails throughout the park. All in all, another amazing place to wheel! Only getting to spend one day at Famous Reading was a real bummer…but I know that I will be back to spend a few days playing in this Offroad Mecca of Eastern Pennsylvania! And, home was calling…hard!
The 2,000 + mile trip home
After 30 days on the road it was time to head back west! And what began as a fairly uneventful trip, was interrupted with some crazy weather as I came through the northern portion of New Mexico. At one point there was 2-3″ of hail on the highway and traffic came to a complete standstill as vehicles slid off the road. Sometimes being in a heavy truck has its advantages as I led the Department of Transportation vehicles through the storm.
Once through the storm, which only lasted a few miles, it was back to the western sunsets which meant I was getting close to home.
For Part 1 go here.