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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday I met up with a guy from the forums and we hit JW Corbett in South Florida. Really cool guy, very knowledgeable and has a kick ass JKU. I couldn't have found a better guy to go with on my first ride.

Betty Blue is only two weeks old and totally stock (even tires) so I admit I was pretty nervous. I had no idea what to expect out of the trails, the terrain, the capability of the Jeep or even the strength of the vehicle. We were in the middle of nowhere, literally. My cell had an "X" where there should have been signal bars. But after seven (yes, 7!) hours of wheelin' I have to admit she handled it like a champ. Betty made me proud!

So here is what I learned after a successful day.

- Always go with a full tank of gas. I started with 7/8th's of a tank and by the end of the day was down to 1/4 tank. 4WD uses a lot of gas apparently.

- Taking a brand new Jeep off-road is not the craziest idea I've ever had.

- Always, and I stress always, go with at least one other vehicle capable of pulling you out of trouble. Never wheel alone!!

- Highly recommend you wheel with someone knowledgeable who has done it a few times before

- Go with someone who knows the terrain. Where we were I could have gotten lost for days and had to use a lot of Bear Gryll's survival tactics.

- Take more survival gear and food/water with you than you ever think you'll need. You might need it.

- You really need a CB. We each brought a pair of walkie-talkies but a CB would have been better. $$$

- Take off the whip antenna when going off-road. Damn thing smacks into everything, including the Jeep. Time to buy a 13" antenna. $$$

- A stock Wrangler is far more capable than I ever thought it would be. It is strong and is a blast to drive. You quickly learn the limits of the vehicle. Better tires would be a big help though. $$$

- Having bigger tires, a lift and better suspension would be a huge help. Now I know why all that stuff dominates the forum. Time to save. $$$

- Sugar sand is fun to drive on. But it's a Florida thing.

- Jeep headlights suck, especially when dirty. Need to upgrade ASAP. $$$

- Be aware of your surroundings and don't get too close to the vehicle in front of or behind you. Pretty much common sense but the guy driving behind me almost hit me quite a few times. Give people space to clear an obstacle and then go.

- A winch and proper recovery gear is a MUST HAVE! Now I need a new front bumper and winch. $$$

- Don't be a daredevil. If you don't think you can't clear the water/mud/obstacle, take the side route. Getting stuck is part of the fun. Breaking something is not. No shame in being a wuss. Live to wheel another day.

- This is really addicting and I can see myself wanting to go every weekend.

- Save a lot of money because once you go and see what modded Jeeps are capable of doing, you might as well just open your wallet and dump the money out. $$$

That's all I can think of. Curious to know how others felt after their first time out.
 

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Sounds like you had a great time! You are spot on with your observations.
 

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You forgot...
-Don't freak out when diff fluid leaks from underneath. It's just overflow from the factory. :)
 

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Your off on the right foot. Welcome to the Jeep Jones.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A few more observations:

- The gas gauge was way off. It said, "83 miles to empty" for like 50 miles. LoL. I guess it needed to recalibrate and compensate from all the gallons used on the trails.

- Mud and sand from top to bottom. I spent over an hour hosing off everything including light water in the engine bay (while being mindful of the air intake) and she's still not clean. Ugh.

- Took her to a high pressure touchless car wash, still not even close to clean

- Bought cleaning supplies and hand washed her, in the rain! I think she is now clean, maybe. LOL

- Going on trails leaves lots of scratches and weird whitish residue on the plastic fenders, mirrors and soft top. I hope 303 Protectant can help. Anyone else have ideas? What can I use to clean the plastic windows?

- Getting Betty dirty is the fun part. Getting her clean again is a major pain in the a$$.

- F it! Let's go again!! :)
 

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A few more observations:

- The gas gauge was way off. It said, "83 miles to empty" for like 50 miles. LoL. I guess it needed to recalibrate and compensate from all the gallons used on the trails.

- Mud and sand from top to bottom. I spent over an hour hosing off everything including light water in the engine bay (while being mindful of the air intake) and she's still not clean. Ugh.

- Took her to a high pressure touchless car wash, still not even close to clean

- Bought cleaning supplies and hand washed her, in the rain! I think she is now clean, maybe. LOL

- Going on trails leaves lots of scratches and weird whitish residue on the plastic fenders, mirrors and soft top. I hope 303 Protectant can help. Anyone else have ideas? What can I use to clean the plastic windows?

- Getting Betty dirty is the fun part. Getting her clean again is a major pain in the a$$.

- F it! Let's go again!! :)
After scratching up my ride the first time I invested in some "Jeep condoms" AKA Trail Skinz!
 

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Sounds like you had a great time and learned a lot! Congrats and keep on enjoying this addictive pastime. The only thing I would add is my usual contrarian position on "never go alone." That's decent advice if you are brand new and if you have no recovery equipment and no ability to walk out of an area and survive till you get to civilization.

But honestly, any of those can be overcome. The first time I ever wheeled with another vehicle was a year ago, and I've been doing this since 1998. Every time I go to Utah (1-2 times a year) I rent a Jeep and head out into the desert. The first time I did that I had been wheeling exactly 3 times in my life, many years ago.

I made sure I had good maps, I had backpacking equipment (the wheeling was part of a backpacking trip), and I remained extremely thoughtful about everything I was going to do. We got stuck once, and it took 4 hours to get free. Had we not been able to we were going to sleep in the Jeep that night and walk 30 miles to UT 95 the next day. Not optimal, but not life-threatening either.

My point is not to say Woo Hoo! Look at me, aren't I something. In fact, just the opposite. I discovered that I had a love of getting out on desolate trails while out west on backpacking trips, and I decided to learn how to do that safely. This meant me and whoever my companion was just had to go do it. We didn't know what we were doing, but we had a lot of experience with cars and half the fun was figuring it out for ourselves.

Again, not to rain on anyone's parade -- it's fun going out with friends, and if you don't know what you're doing you can learn a lot faster that way. At least, you can learn what that person knows. But it's not the only way to learn the craft, and if the option is "wait till you can find somebody to go with," or "go yourself and take precautions," I always opt for the latter. :D

In fact, neither of the two people I texted last night for a 6am spur-of-the-moment wheeling trip this morning could go. So I loaded up the recovery gear and went myself. Had a blast. Got stuck so deep in a deceptive mudpit (it's not rained here in 3 weeks so I thought it was six inches or so deep) that I literally plugged my exhaust pipes and had to shut her off. Used my handy hitch mount winch for a backwards pull rather than drag it in deeper with the front bumper winch. Glad I didn't stay home.
 
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