TL;DR at the bottom if you don't want to read this monstrosity lol.
Yes, I've actually been home since 5pm yesterday but I've pretty much been being lazy recuperating, mud riding takes a lot out of ya, still surprises me sometimes.
Anyway it was fun! Even though I had this back and forth battle with a head ache all weekend, I still enjoyed myself!
Friday when I got to the park the ride had already been in full swing since 8am Wednesday morning so there were TONS of people there. Thankfully this time I knew exactly where the Mud Mafia was camping at and by chance there were a few of the crew there, Wade & Stephanie had come back to came to meet Wade's daughter and her husband (I think he was her husband, fiancee if anything).
I managed to gain my first battle wound before I even cranked the Honda, hell before it was even OFF the truck lol. Managed to smash my left index finger with the ramps, they got me before I could get my fingers in the right spot, I knew damn good and well they could bite the shit out of you but I was too slow. It didn't hurt as much as it looked like it did which was kinda weird. Sucker bled and bruised and swelled up immediately, and now the two joints in that finger are bruised and there's a nice cut across my finger between them but nothing is broken so we're good!
Thankfully that was the only battle wound I acquired on the ride, made me a little worried at first, thinking if this was how the ride was going to start I might be in trouble. Nothing else happened though, to me or anyone else, so that's another plus!
After I got the Honda unloaded and got some ice and a band-aide on my finger we set off for the sand pit, which is the popular hangout spot at the other end of the high-line.
Now there's the high-line which is the main entrance into the riding portion of the park, but there's also a "back" entrance that you can take but you'd be taking the REALLY long way around to the sand pit if you went that way. It works if you'd like to avoid the congestion that the highline becomes from time to time when you just want to go ride the trails. It's also the best way to get to a neat little spot that's a dead end into an open area, used to be a barn or something out there, that borders a pasture. The ride there is a blast, and that's a nice quieter party spot if the sand pit is too much for ya.
The sand pit is the main party spot, and it's essentially a big "pond", pond isn't really accurate because other than various hidden holes the park management has dug out, the water is ankle high most everywhere. The holes have been dug to make riding fun and sometimes surprising, fun and rude sometimes lol. Plus it makes for GREAT entertainment for party goers and spectators along the border of the water. Most everyone pulls up into the water on their rides or lines the trees along the edge. This leaves a nice path all the way around the pit for people hunting a party spot, friends, or looking for one of the two exits.
Other than that the park is 4000 acres of beautiful oak and pine woods with trails of all kinds, dry and muddy, and I swear we ended up in one spot that was so leafy and green it felt like we'd stopped in a jungle! That's one of my favorite things about the rides is simply riding through the woods and enjoying the beauty of nature. Yes, even though I'm in the midst of a bunch of ATVs/UTVs lol.
Okay so that's the gist of the park, now for a continuation of the event!
Our little group hit up the high-line on our way down to the sand pit, and this year it looks like the park management learned from last year and made essentially two lanes going down the high-line, one on each side, so we didn't end up in massive gridlock like last. I'm talking gridlock that had us on that damn high-line for HOURS, and not just a couple I'm talking 4-5+ hours...it SUCKED. Made lots of people pissy and well, there were numerous situations where tempers flared. This year there was none of that that I could tell! So it was much better.
We got to the sand pit and found a spot to park beside the path to watch everyone coming and going and partying and such, while we broke out some drinks and proceeded to mingle some. We were also keeping a look out for the rest of the Mud Mafia since they'd all been out on the trail.
At this point I'm told that the week has been nothing but broken parts and the crazy shit that lead up to them. It seemed that EVERYONE in our group broke something or had something act up on this ride. Not surprising since this park is known to at the very least try and break something of yours, and sometimes it's gone so far as to claim vehicles for itself...literally every time we've been there we've run across at least ONE ride that has unfortunately been left to the woods and usually the mud hole it got stuck in. Always a sad sight to see for the poor lil ATV's that end up sitting forlorn and abandoned by their previous owners.
Well while we're out there we find out that Wade's oldest and one of the regular Mafia members, Ashley, has broken his front axle. Which isn't so bad he can't ride, but he's no longer 4 wheel drive, and for a guy like Ashley, and well any of those boys, that simply won't do lol. I don't blame them, but at least his ride could still move of it's own accord, which couldn't be said for Richard's poor Can-Am Commander which broke (and I've forgotten the name of the part) something that is evidently NOT supposed to break and although they tried welding it a few times it just wouldn't hold anymore. So needless to say, this time around I never saw the Commander move which was a total bummer. Richard and Melissa are a blast to ride with and by the time I got there they pretty much spent the rest of the ride in their camper.
So I keep digressing, there's a lot of stuff that went on!
We chilled at the sand pit for a bit and then decided to head back to camp to start working on dinner and hopefully meet up with the rest of the crew.
The rest of the Mafia kinda straggled in not long after we got back and this is where we found out they'd been on their way back to camp and had decided to stop on the side of the trail and make the Harlem Shake video Frank, Bruno and a few of them had mentioned a few weeks ago. Kinda bummed I missed out on that, but holy crap the video I saw that they took is freakin hysterical!!! I'll totally be sharing that once it gets posted, Tim's gotta do the editing.
After food we all kinda settled in around the camp fire, at this point the hoodies and such had been broken out because it was getting chilly.
We actually sat for a while and I was starting to get sleepy, which was kind of a bummer, but at the same time I know most everyone there had already gotten in nearly 3 full days of riding in and at that point I'd have been dragging too!
After a bit though Marcos started getting a few that still wanted to go ride organized and so once we had a decent bunch we set off for the back entrance to the trails, headed out to the old barn site.
Now...one thing to know about this sort of thing is...trying to wrangle a bunch of drunk, party hyped people is pretty hard haha.
Plus one the way out we kept having other groups intermingle with our group and we'd picked up some new people that decided to ride with us, and well at one point after we'd stopped for a beer/pee/dance break the front of our group, which consisted of Tim and Marcos and a few others, got ahead of us enough we couldn't see their tail lights or their whip lights through the trees. By the time we got everyone situated, poor Stephanie thought her son-in-law had left her but he had just moved forward with me when the front of the group headed out so it took a minute to get her attention lol.
When we got everyone together I found myself leading the bunch...I've never lead a group before and I was thinking "Holy crap I'm fixin to get this group of people lost in these woods FOREVER!!!! D=" lol
Either way I figured the rest of our group couldn't be too far ahead so I took off, sorta quick but not so fast the rest of everyone couldn't keep up. Thankfully I lucked out and the trail we were on was pretty straight forward and it didn't have a lot of forks or anything that made me have to stop and make a decision on which way they might have gone. I don't know that park as well, or I didn't, I know it a little better now.
We did find them though and proceeded to make an official ride count with Tim since he was the official leader, to make sure we didn't really lose anyone else if we could help it. Granted at some point you have to stop and tell yourself that we give plenty of warning and we don't ride fast so if people get left behind well they were just being goofy for too long lol.
We made it to the old barn site, and then worked our way back after a bit, where when we got back to the camping area the group split up into a high-line group and camp group, for those who still wanted to ride and party some and those who were ready to call it a night.
I headed off with Marcos, his girlfriend Ashley (we have at least 3 Ashley's in the group, 2 girls and 1 boy lol), Sammie Jo, Ashley (the guy), his girl, Stephanie and her son-in-law Peter, and a guy who Sammie Jo was riding with who she dubbed "Silent Boy" I recognized him but I didn't remember his name and yes he was a rather quiet guy lol.
We were down there for a little bit before Ashley, his girlfriend, Stephanie and Peter and I decided it was time to call it a night. At this point it was around 2:30am so yeah I was getting tired and standing around wasn't really helpin. So we set off, Marcos and his bunch stayed down there and didn't get back to camp until around 4am I was told lol.
I ended up making a kickass bed in the back of the truck, folded the seats in the back up and piled a shit ton of blankets on the floor of the truck so I wouldn't end up hurting my back or hips like last time. The floor is not even, down the middle it rises a little to make room for the drive shaft or something underneath the truck.
So that was Friday. Saturday consisted of riding more trails, just with the entire group. Which is always fun, and this is where we rode through most of those pretty woods I was describing earlier. The boys put up our traditional "Mud Mafia Was Here" sign. They have these lil signs they like to find a tree to nail up on along the trail, usually someplace we've stopped for a bit to mingle.
At some point we lost some of our group, I'm still not sure how, but we stopped and waited for a bit and they still didn't show so we moved on. Usually most everyone is not like me and knows the gist of where to go in most of these parks lol.
Frank found us some FUN muddy trails, nothing like they'd gotten in the days before that broke stuff, but it was still fun, to me anyway lol.
After all of that we hit up the sand pit to mingle and continue to drink and scope stuff out. We did what is evidently our traditional walk around the pit as a group and then shortly after we got back the call was made to head back to camp and get food going for dinner since by now it was around 5:30pm or so.
It was here my party train ran out of fuel and since it'd been rainy off and on all day and when the sun set it got COLD, not just chilly, but cold I was not really in the mood to do much else but chill. Not to mention this was where the headache I'd been fighting nearly all weekend won and I was hurtin pretty good. I'd hoped that food would help but it didn't and I'd already been medicating for it, so I didn't want to pump anymore pain relief into my system figured I'd had enough and if it wasn't helping it wasn't going too.
So when the rest of the bunch decided to go hit up the high-line to party, I wanted to go, but didn't. Maybe if they'd been heading back out into the trails I'd have gone, but they were just going to go post up on the highline and drink the night away and party it up with the hundreds to thousands of other people out there.
I chilled at camp, around the camp fire, had some coffee with Tim and actually did enjoy just relaxing some. Round 9:30pm I decided to call it a night. Tim was starting to meander around and pick up his stuff and get his camper loaded up some so he wouldn't have to worry with it too much in the morning. So I went back to the truck, rigged myself up a nice little "tent" in the back because one of the other camps had decided to turn on these BRIGHT ass lights and despite the tint on the back windows it was still shining through the front too. I fiddled around on my phone for a bit while I was winding down and then eventually called it a little after 10pm.
Sunday was essentially just move some stuff to the back seat, load up the Honda, try and get out of camp (our camp was within sight of the exit and it took 20 minutes just to get on the lil county road up there lol). I was on the highway about 40 minutes after I'd left camp.
Basically after that it was drive to our lake house, unload the Honda, wash it and the truck off, put it up, gave AJ his medicine and made sure his food and water were good to go and then headed back home. Once there it was simply unload the truck, put everything up, get stuff that needed to be started in the wash, showered (one of the more glorious parts of coming home from a ride lol), ate, and then just bummed around online here.
All in all it was a good ride! I hate that I couldn't spend as much time as everyone else, from the sounds of it I missed out on most of the craziness, but maybe that's a good thing too. Either way! It was good.
I figure the next ride will either be in July or will definitely be Texas Redneck Games at the end of summer.
I'm going to stop typing now because that shit is LONG.
OH and I think the Honda has some wheel bearings wearing out in the front. One of the wheels is cocked out some and I can hear this metallic popping sound every so often when riding, sounds like metal joints popping, makes me cringe, but the Honda does have some age on her so it's to be expected eventually. At least it didn't break while I was out riding!
TL;DR - The ride was great! Got there on Friday, smashed my finger with the ramps unloading the Honda, it's bruised and cut but looks worse than it actually is. Rode the high-line a few times, hit up the sand pit (party central) a few times, rode plenty of trails, muddy and dry, through beautiful East Texas oak and pine woods, had a great time with friends, it was kinda rainy and dreary on Saturday but still rather enjoyable. The Honda did great but I think it showing some age because I believe I have a wheel bearing wearing out, causing one of the front wheels to cock out some and there's a metallic popping that can be heard every so often when riding rough terrain, which was everywhere lol.
So yeah, great ride, glad to be home because I'm sore as hell! Riding is a work out for sure!
I'll have another journal in a moment, partially to get this long ass thing off my front page and to let everyone know what's on the agenda for StangWolf now.