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Story and Photos By, Dan Starc


Continuing the tradition, we met at the Loon Lake Chalet very early in the morning last August. It was a beautiful California summer morning and we were itching to get going. We would run with a Chrysler contingent so this was going to take a while.

At around 8 AM we met at the Loon Lake Dam "Big Rock", one of the classic staging areas for the trail. Our group consisted of 6 Jeeps, ranging from 1953 to 1996. Unfortunately, one rig was missing in this group shot. Still, you can see Jeff's and Danny Mini's '53 M38A1, Matt Wuebbling's '96 Grand Cherokee, our '89 Cherokee, Dave and Martina Durham's '79 CJ-7, and Ray and Wanda O'Kelly's '66 CJ. Missing in the picture is Scott & Deb See's '92 Wrangler Sahara.

Jeff and Danny brought their bone-stock rust-red '53 M38, which gets used once a year, for three or four days, to cross the Rubicon Trail. The original flathead four gets started once a year, usually the day before Rubicon!

There are more cobwebs than wires under the hood, the leaves are beyond flat, and there's practically no tread left on the tires! Still, they made us all look bad, as they have been crossing the Rubi' in this Jeep for many, many years. Add a giant ice chest, 3 young boys in the back, a cowbell and duct-taped longhorns up front and the M38 was a sight to behold! The sleeping bags hanging off to the sides acted as bumpers against the rocks and trees, very much like mooring bumpers on a boat.

The luxury liner of the group was Matt and Don Wuebbling's '96 dark green Grand Cherokee, with a V-8 and a mild lift. Matt had traversed Wentworth Springs earlier that week, and reported that it looked TOUGH. Next year…

Dave and Martina Durham brought their always-improving (and recently rear-locked) light blue '79 CJ-7. Every year, Dave seems to find new things to add to the comforts of their rig (don't we all?). But this year the Durhams had a few surprises in store for us.

Next, was Ray and Wanda O'Kelly in their orange '66 CJ. This was their first Rubicon trip, so they were very anxious. They were in for a treat.

Area veterans, Scott and Deb See joined us in their ultra-clean, very trick, golden '92 Sahara. This rig probably has it all (does it, Scotty?); a true wolf in sheep's clothing. They were another pair that made the trail look easy. Plus, the amenities they carried made the trip more enjoyable…just ask those of us who used their hot water shower!

Closing the group was us. Dan Starc & Julie Stumpf, in our '89 XJ. This year, we decided to bring our dogs, Boo (the big one) and Buddy (the little one). They have accompanied us to other 4x4 trips, but not the Rubicon, so we thought it was time.



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