-= Random Ramblings... =-

Monday, February 28, 2005

Wedding Bells

As most of you know, but some of you don't, me and my girlfriend of 1.5 years decided just a couple weeks ago to run off to Las Vegas and get married. Yes, to each other. It was all very spur of the moment, and because we didn't end up telling people until the day before we left we weren't able to get a whole lot of people to go. My sister and her boyfriend were the only two that did, and I'm glad. Our original idea had really been not to tell anyone, just go do it. Then we decided to tell our parents, so our siblings found out. Then we figured we might as well just tell people and see if we could get anyone to go. Sadly none of my friends or her friends were able to make it, but that's alright. We're actually still planning on having a big wedding with all the fixings that we promise we'll plan in advance so everyone can go to it. No excuses this time! The official date of the nuptials was Feb. 19th. It was a short ceremony in a little "chapel" (actually just a room all dressed up) in downtown Las Vegas. Apparently the same place that Nikki Hilton and Dave Chappelle got married (though not to each other). Mirella looked absolutely GORGEOUS! We're still waiting for pictures to arrive as my camera was on macro for the few pictures that were taken and they came out blurry. Once I get some good pictures I'll put them up for all to see. So there you have it. I'm off the market ladies, and glad to be.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Dry Spell!

No I'm not talking about the weather, I just noticed I haven't update my blog in almost a week! Bad Nick! Updates coming soon, I promise. I've just been real busy at work and outside of work.

Monday, February 14, 2005

When Bad Luck Attacks

originally uploaded by foxpaw.
Man... what a weekend. Dirty World Offroad Club was having a wheeling trip this weekend in the Barstow area. The plan was to hit some trails around the Calico ghost town. Mike, the club president, and Mike, a new pledge who we shall call Big Mike from now on, drove up Friday night to check things out and secure a camping spot. It was raining that night, so they decided to stay at a motel instead. As they were pulling off the freeway Mike hears a loud POP from the rear of his Jeep Wrangler, almost loses control of it, but manages to pull it over to the side of the road. Big Mike, behind him in his big Ford F150 sees Mike start to lose control, and sees his left rear wheel move out of the axle about a foot, then move back in. After catching their breath, and a tow to the motel they were heading to, Mike inspects the damage and finds out that both of his axle shafts have just snapped. Something seized up his rear differential causing the axle shafts to twist and shear off. That's bad news folks. He called me up around midnight and told me that I was going to have pick up some parts for him in the morning before heading up.

Saturday morning I meet Spencer and Gus up in Placentia at 8am. Spencer has already heard the bad news, so we let Gus know that we're picking up some parts before heading up to meet the Mikes. Since it's 8am and none of the parts stores open until 9am, we head to Denny's for a mediocre breakfast. Around 9am we start calling places looking for replacement Jeep axle shafts. The only place that has them in stock is 4 Wheel Parts. Unfortunately neither of the local store fronts, Irvine or Santa Ana, have them, only the warehouse in Compton has them. So our Nissan caravan (Spencer drives a Frontier and Gus drives an Xterra) heads west to Compton to pick them up. $195 later we're heading to Sean's house (the club vice-president) to pick up some jack stands to do the work. Finally, around 11:45am, we start the trek out to Barstow. We get there around 1pm and Mike has already started the disassembly process. He has to take out and take apart the whole rear differential to clean up the chunks of metal that used to be his axle shafts. A few trips to Napa Auto Parts later he's trying to put everything back together but can't get the differential seated right in the carrier. It's past 5pm by now and he decides to give up on his Jeep for this trip. Him and his girlfriend are just going to have to ride as passengers in other trucks. Since the Jeep was parked in the motel parking lot, and the owner had a hissy fit because we didn't have a room there at the time, we decided we'd stay at the motel instead of camping. We piled into the 5 remaining trucks (Kurt showed up in his Ford Ranger FX4 while Mike was working on his Jeep) and headed out. We took a "shortcut" through the Stoddard Wells offroad area to get to a local cafe called The Slash X Cafe to have some dinner and shoot some pool. After we were all properly fed they all went out to start hitting the hills while I headed out to a rest stop near the highway to pick up Mirella. We left her car at the entrance to the OHV area and took my truck in to catch up with them. They were goofing on this nice big, steep hill climb when we caught up to them. I'd climbed this hill before in my truck, albeit during the day, it was about 9pm by now. I figured it wouldn't be too hard as some of the other guys had already climbed it. Up I go. It takes me a couple tries to find the right line, and on one of those tries I ended up going too far to the right and off the trail. My truck was leaning a little too far to the right and I didn't have a whole lot of traction under my tires. Any false move, and I'd be rolling down the hill for sure, and not on my tires either. Some of the guys hike up the hill to give me a hand (and if you've ever met Mike you know what a big deal hiking up a hill is for him, hehehe). A few rocks stacked under my right tires and some great instructions from Mike got me out of that tight spot and back to safety. Of course I had to give that damn hill one more try, and up I went all the way to the top! Success! After all that excitement we decided to settle down and start our bonfire. We lit up all 7 bundles of wood that we had and had ourselves a big old fire! When it was out, we headed back to the motel to rest up for Sunday. We only had two rooms with two double beds, so we split up into two groups of four. Mike, Stacey, Big Mike and Kurt in one room and Spencer, Gus, Mirella and me in the other. As we're settling in for the night, Stacey comes knocking on our door. Their hotel room was broken into. They stole Stacey's purse, Mike's laptop and one of Big Mike's really expensive (like $5000 expensive) camera lenses. After snooping around a bit to see if we can't find anyone suspicious, my group goes to bed while Mike's group stays up a while to talk to the cops.

Sunday morning! Everyone's up and out by around 9am so we decide to head back to Slash X for some breakfast. On the way there I'm driving along behind Big Mike's Ford when all of a sudden... POP! Big Mike's truck starts swerving a little and all this rubber starts flying towards me. Yep, flat tire. He pulls over to the left and we all pull over to the right to wait for him. As we're waiting a CHP pulls up and tells us we can't wait there, we have to keep going to the next offramp. So off we go. Big Mike catches up with us and we head over to Slash X to have our breakfast. Breakfast is pretty good, and by about 11am we're ready to hit some more trails. We head towards Calico. There's a big dry lake bed over there, with some trails on the other side of it. Since it rained pretty heavily on Friday the lake bed wasn't entirely dry, it had some patches of mud, so we had a nice mix of being able to drive as fast as we wanted to, and slogging through some nice mud. Part of the way across the lake bed Big Mike flips the switch in his truck to switch gas tanks (yes his truck has two 16 gallon gas tanks) and his truck sputters and dies. Big Mike gets under there, cleans out his fuel lines, and the truck starts right back up. We keep heading towards the trail until his truck sputters and dies again. After a little troubleshooting they notice that the fuel filter is pretty dirty, so we send Kurt racing off to pick up a new fuel filter. Meantime Spencer, Gus and me are tearing it up in the mud. Most of it was just surface mud, but then Gus found a nice big, deep mud puddle. I let Mirella drive for a bit and she's having a blast tearing it up in the mud. Her last run in the big puddle we ended up with the two left tires in the mud and the two right tires up on the lip on dry land, tipping over to the left way more than I was comfortable with. Fortunately she drove it out without incident. I take my turn charging through it, and on my last run as I'm pulling out, my engine starts sputtering and the check engine light comes on. We'd been hitting the puddle pretty hard so I figured I probably clogged up my air intake. I limped back over to Big Mike's truck and popped the hood, opened the air box and sure enough it was all nice and wet in there. I took out the air filter, shook some of the gunk off of it and set it in the sun to dry while I tried to mop up the water that was left inside the air box and the throttle body (the tube that goes from the air filter to the engine). Kurt gets back with the new fuel filter while I'm doing that, Big Mike puts it on his truck, and it starts up again. Time to get going. I put the mostly dry filter back in, hook everything back up, start up my truck and it's running fine again. The check engine light is still on but I figure when I get home I can find out how to clear it and see if it comes back. For now, we move on. We get to the other side of the lake bed and find our trail. As we're heading along driving towards the canyone Big Mike's truck dies again. More troubleshooting and there's gunk in the fuel filter we just put in. That means there must be a bunch of gunk in his rear fuel tank, so he can't use it. Off goes Kurt to fill up a 5 gallon fuel bottle that Spencer has so we can get Big Mike enough fuel to get off the trail and back to the motel. We're done. We get back to the motel without incident (bet you didn't see that coming). Big Mike didn't have enough cash on him to fill his front tank with gas, so we start siphoning gas from his rear tank to the front tank a gallon at a time. The gunk was all on the bottom of the tank, so there weren't any problems with the fuel that we were taking out. Around 4:30pm me and Mirella decide to take off. Around 6:30pm Mike sends Stacey home with Spencer. Around 7:00pm the AAA tow truck finally show up to take Mike's Jeep back to Spencer's house where it's going to sit until it can be repaired.

After a much needed 2 hour nap I pulled the air filter out of my truck, and gave it a nice thorough cleaning. Normally you can't clean or wash an air filter, but I have a reusable K&N air filter, precisely because I knew that with all the driving in the dust and dirt that I would have to clean it pretty often. I looked on the internet to find out how to reset the check engine light but the only way to do it is to disconnect the battery for 20 or 30 minutes. I didn't want to do that, so I kept looking and found a note in the Factory Service Manual that said that if after 3 trips the engine that tripped the light is gone, the truck's computer will automatically switch it off. I left the filter drying overnight, oiled it this morning (K&N filters use an oiled gauze to filter out dirt) and put it back in the truck, turned it on to drive it to work to make sure there weren't any other problems and the check engine light didn't come back on. Sweet! My truck is just fine :)

Overall this was definitely not a typical offroad trip for us. We have never had this many problems in one weekend. We figure we've paid our karmic debt though, so the next trip should be problem free, right? I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Raining again...

It started yesterday evening, and has continued pretty much non-stop in varying strengths since then. Rain. I don't really mind it so much, I actually really enjoy the rain. I didn't enjoy the two hour commute in to work this morning that it caused though. Plus I'm supposed to be going offroading and camping with my offroad club, Dirty World Offroad Club. The rain isn't going to change our plans any, but it sure will make things interesting.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Flickr Badge

Thanks A for the reminder that I can put images from my Flickr photostream on my blog using a Flickr Badge. If you look at the bottom of my sidebar you'll see a random sampling of photos. It should get more interesting as I upload more pictures.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Burnout 3

So I finally got the chance to play Burnout 3 on Sam's Xbox on Saturday evening. I have to say that I'm now even more pissed that they haven't come out with a Gamecube version of it. Burnout 2 is easily the most fun game I have for my Gamecube right now. It's been a favorite of mine ever since my first crash. Just seeing how much better Crash mode and how much fun the new Road Rage mode is in Burnout 3 makes me want to go get a PS2 or Xbox or something so I can play this damn game. The only flaw I can find in it is that the music and the dj get real old, real fast. Other than that, it's the perfect game for mindless destruction.

Damn you Electronic Arts. Damn you Criterion Games. Damn you to heck.