4X4 Play     January 2002 - Cass, AR
"Coil & Leaf Sprung LRs on the trail"
Rich's RR & Mark's LW
. The Poker Run - Invited by the local Cruiser club on their annual Poker Run, we drove up on Friday in awful driving conditions (rain and sleet), spent a fun evening with Rover Chat over a couple of beers in the local watering hole in Ozark, Arkansas. We were up early for full breakfast (with pancakes and grits), where the waitress knew more about the trails than any of us. We met up with our buddies in the Cruiser Club, and left for the trail head. About a dozen trucks in all, with hats off to the guy in the Chevy Blazer with the street tires, who only had to be towed a couple of times. See Rich's trail report below! .

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Rovers meet The Cruisers - My First 4x4 Experience
Rich Armstrong, 1992 Range Rover County - Tulsa, OK

Meeting Rover Members:
All week I had been trading emails with Mark, an avid Rover guru who was persuading me to go offroad with him and a group called the Green Country Cruisers. Sounding just like the S.E. Hinton Novel, "The Outsiders" - I could imagine myself with this new Rebel Rover Offroad group taking on the rich kid's in their Toyota Land Cruisers (Or was it the other way around....). I had never actually met Mark Kiely, just talked on the phone and through emails. I was given his telephone number by my Rover Mechanic (Dave) who told me that he also wanted to start up a Land Rover Club. At first I was a little upset, after all I started handing out flyers, made a newsletter and started a website called www.tulsarovers.com - this was to be my club. No, I didn't know a thing about off roading, but I did know I love Rovers and thought Tulsa should have a club.

After our first phone call, I came down to reality... Mark had a bigger broader picture for a club, and had offroad experience. He also has tremendous web design skills. He was already helping to host the Cruiser Club and wanted to start the Oklahoma Rover Club (OKRovers). He wanted me to get involved, I was shocked, I thought he had ideas of stealing my plans - but instead he just had a better plan and similar interests. After all - without the offroad aspect, what was I to become - President of Tulsa Rovers (comprised of Soccer Mom's in Disco's - Discoveries). Mark took off with the web development and after a look, I knew he had the steam and desire to make this club great. So I bowed down in what I thought was defeat. But then he asked me for help, go on an offroad outing, write columns, etc. - Teamwork.

He had told me about this offroad trip with the Cruiser Group - they had invited us Rover people to their annual outing. Was this a trap? Would they just mock us the whole time??? I left on Friday in a snow blizzard to see what I was up against.. My stock Rover was to be no match for the Land Cruiser 40's I had envisioned in my head with the Swamper/Mickey Thompson Tires. I caught up to Mark Kiely and Erik Neal on the Highway heading to the Ozark area of Arkansas. They were doing 55-60 and about to get run off the road by semi trucks. What a beautiful truck Mark has - nicely accessorized. We stopped at McD's along the way and met.

These guys were super nice - Rovers were a great conversation to start with. We wolfed down some fries and headed to Ozark, AR. We stopped at the Ozark Inn and got some rooms, and then headed to the local tavern. I offered to drive and took my truck since it had seating for all of us - I wedged it next to a hay bail truck at the local tavern. Mark asked about the kind of beers they had - ha ha ha - we got Bud and we got Bud - no imports here. With a jukebox filled with Box Car Willie and Hank Williams we sat down and talked Rover talk for almost 2 hours straight. I think Erik was eyeing one of the local girls over by the pool table, with evil kin folk staring at us - oh please God lets not get into a fight...(just kidding Erik). By this time I could feel a little more relaxed - these guys were cool (part of my posse) - Rover Group now ready for some offroad...

Cruisers vs. Rovers - The Meeting
The next morning we got up and met at the local diner - time to meet our match. The Cruisers - how would they take to us Rover folk? I felt like Ponyboy, I just wanted to fit in. Amazingly this was not a Truck competition - in fact no competition at all. It was a very relaxed atmosphere where you could nose around at other people's trucks and see their ideas and customizations. And there was even a stock Chevy - so I didn't feel outcast. Randy and Jody were so nice and made everyone feel welcome - good strong leaders of the group. Wow a lot of trucks!!!

We started on our journey, what was I getting myself into?? - or my truck for all that is concerned. This green whopper is my everyday driver. What if I break something? Randy did an excellent job with his CB broadcasting - leading us down the trail. Our first big challenge - a big hill ascent with a good size rut up the middle. Randy had no problems but made it muddier for everyone else. I wimped out and took the high side past the gulley. Mark was anxious at the point he was to try to pull a J--p out.. (Rover pulling a J--p - great Rover Advertisement heh??) Didn't happen though. Winches are nice.. And lockers also make all the difference in the world. I found myself asking Erik, "what the hell is a locker?" Onward went our outing, crossing streams and through rock piles. Lots of rocks. I bet my steering is out of alignment already I thought to myself. If I just had some better tires my Rover would take the mud better...but other than that - my truck to me was like Superman - here was my truck - 0-60 in 5 minutes but now it is climbing over rocks and up hills better than any billy goat. Also I enjoyed seeing some diversity: Rovers, Taco (Toyota Tacoma), 40's (not malt liquor), Jeep, Chevy and more... I let one of the Cruiser guys, Bo drive my truck - worried - nope - I figured he would do a much better job than I would, plus I enjoyed the break.

What was impressive is how the group really enjoyed getting someone unstuck or helping everyone keep going. Lots of expertise in this group. When someone got stuck it was almost like a choir all together rejoicing as they mumbled - Winch. Hell this was the first time my truck has been in 4 wheel drive low. My favorite was crossing the streams. Sometime I would like to see some snorkle action with the Taco in a deep water stream.

It's not already Over?
We all met at a picnic area and had our final poker hand draw - I got two of a kind. (Cool) I walked away with a real nice Hi-Lift type jack - wow my first piece of offroad equipment. Mark won some nice driving lights, and Bo got a tow rope. (He loves tow ropes). Mark, Erik and I decided to mozy back to Tulsa - This was a great trip, I can't wait to see all the pictures.

The Cruiser group was so nice to us and we really appreciate getting to participate. One day maybe when the Rover group gets on its feet, we can offer them to come trail with us. Mark and Erik have worked so hard to start up this Rover Club - maybe one day when we are 20 or more members large, I can look back and remember riding with some true legends on the trails. (Thanks Mark and Erik and the whole Cruiser Group). Now I got to get back to removing some minor scratches from my Rover..

Trail Reporter
Rich Armstrong
Erik Neal
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