This year will be referred to as the Alternate Ultimate Adventure. We were plagued with little issues that popped up at various stages of the Ultimate Adventure, only to point us in a different direction for our own personal AUA. In following with the rules from this year’s UA, there was no whining from the Offroad Power Products (OPP) crew, and there was plenty of hydration as this was in the hot and muggy dirty South. Our first indicator that it was going to be a little different than everyone else’s experience occurred on the very first obstacle of the first trail day when Cooper took the diesel JK up what should have been a relatively uneventful obstacle, only to find out the front locker wasn’t engaging and the skinny pedal wasn’t friends with the rear ring gear. We removed all the teeth from the ring gear at that point and limped back to town with FWD low range. To fix this issue, we set up a flatbed tow truck to haul us to a 4 Wheel Parts outlet in Atlanta where Cooper began the tear down process to assess the extent of things.
At that point, we left “Hotlanta” with the front locker working and all the gears set up and working properly, happy as clams to be rejoining the UA crew in Georgia for some 4 Wheelering. We ended up showing up just in time to head back to camp for our host dinner of smoked pig, which was a welcome treat at that point. Next day was a road day that would take us to Florida. After a few hours of driving, we took a small detour to a wrecking yard where AUA event number two would take place. There was a lonely car in the parking lot that was screaming for someone to drive over it. So without skipping a beat, Cooper decided to go ahead and give it what it wanted. Unfortunately, this caused an issue with a weak radiator to rear its little head, splitting the top part of the tank off of the radiator. Luckily, we managed to locate a replacement radiator a “measly” 300 miles away. Remember, at this point of the AUA, we were still in the Florida heat, so babying the JK along with the heater on full tilt in order to alleviate any overheating issues wasn’t THAT bad to deal with.
We picked up the new radiator at a Performance Radiator in Jacksonville, FL and proceeded to make the 60 mile trek to that evening’s campsite just as it got dark, meeting up with the rest of the UA crew at the exact same time. A little parking lot radiator swap had us ready for the next day that would surely test any weak points in the coolant system. The day could best be described as “stinky, soupy mud day,” as it was spent tearing up a mass of “mud” strewn fields and water holes. Many a time throughout the day you would hear someone yell “Hey that isn’t mud!” as this park also doubled as a cattle ranch with over 1200 head of cattle wandering around, leaving their mark wherever the need arose.
The next day brought about another road day, another highlight of the trip, as we had the opportunity to drive the whole crew of vehicles onto the beach in Daytona. This was one of the most welcome sights as we also got to go for a swim and scrub some of the nastiness from our tired bodies (this may go down as one of the stinkiest and funkiest UA’s in history). The next day led to another road day, AKA our last day wheelering. The day was going perfect, Jeep was flawless, but about halfway through the day the tranny shifted into neutral and stayed there as a default. After pulling off with Trent McGee from Airaid, we determined that the pump in the tranny had given up. At this point, with the extent of this repair, we threw in the towel for the diesel JK and stashed it at the local Napa Auto Parts store to retrieve at a later date. Bryan and Cooper then hopped into Hercules (Fred Williams of Petersen’s Magazine’s O.D. Green 5.9 Cummins JK) to make the remainder of the trip to South Carolina for the final day of 4Wheelering. The final day was no let down, there were only two obstacles of the day, but because of the red clay and the complete and total lack of traction, it made for some rather amazing spectating.
All in all, we wouldn’t change a thing. The rules are the rules for the reason they are, and they carry on to more than just the Ultimate Adventure, no whining. We had some issues and all of them were diagnosed to a specific fault that is repairable. Even with all the time away from the UA, we still met some amazing people from all over the country and learned a lot (like we love the weather in the North West) and will never forget this year’s Alternate Ultimate Adventure.
Written By: Cooper Rasmussen