By: David Austin
Each year Why Not Customs holds a fund raising event at Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch (SMORR) in Seymour, Mo. for Veterans. The event, 4 Wheel 2 Heal (4W2H, is dedicated to taking wounded and disabled Veterans, from all branches of military service, to off-roading events. These events involve four wheeling, rock crawling, mud bogging, shooting and camping. Their mission is to boost morale for these veterans and give them an experience they will never forget.

We have been friends with Chris Palsmeier of Why Not Customs and Brandon Powell of SMORR for years now and have always enjoyed getting together with them especially when it is for a great cause. So, we marked this event on our calendar early in the year, because it doesn't get any better than spending time with good friends at SMORR, as that is one of my favorite places to wheel. Even though we opted for the old folks way of camping (stayed in a motel), SMORR has some of the best camping facilities I know of.

As the event drew near, we rushed around in order to head out of Yukon, Ok. around noon on Thursday to get a jump on the exciting weekend. We had the C4X4 Buggy and DragonFly loaded up and ready as we met up with our neighbors, Kent and Rana Steeds, who were also loaded up and ready to convoy up I-44 to SMORR.

All went well despite my usually ritual of blowing a trailer tire in Tulsa. We pulled into a truck stop to change it out and came to find out my trusty jack was low on fluid. I had to dig out my extra jack that I had brought as a backup. As soon as the weight of the trailer begin to lift,my backup jack started shooting a stream of fluid out of the base. I thought I was in good shape having 2 spare tires and 2 jacks. Oh Well!!!! A big thanks to Kent Steed for digging out his truck jack and to Ford for putting a 4 ton hydraulic jack in their 1 ton trucks. (flat repair pics) After this short stop, we had no more issue and were soon unloaded at the ranch and headed to the motels so that we could be well rested for an early day of wheelin.

Friday morning we grabbed a quick breakfast and then headed out to the park and put together a game plan. Starting off on 2 and 3 rated trails the first day and then progress as the weekend went on to the harder trails as we didn't want to break anything on the first day. We checked in and were warned by Brandon that the trail ratings might be a bit off due to all the heavy rains they had received this summer and we would probably be encountering some major wash outs.

I took the lead and headed down a nice little 3 rated trail that I had ran several times in the past and it had some nice little flexing places. My wife Judy and our friend Kent had to do a double take when they saw the C4X4 buggy drop off and nearly lay completely over on the driver side in the first ditch. After I cleared the first wash out, I stopped and spotted them through the obstacles.

During the course of the first day wheelin, on several occasions we were surprised by a major upgrade in difficulty on lower rated trails. We even got a chance to see the rear tires of Kent's Zuk elevate to an uncomfortable height off a sharp drop-off that snuck up on us when we took a short 5 rated trail after missing a turn. Whoops, oh well!!!!!!

Saturday, the park began to fill up with wheelers but never got too crowded since there are so many trails available at SMORR. Our plan was to up our game a bit and hit some 3-4 rated trails with an occasional 5. For most of the day, there were just 3 rigs running in our group so we were able to mark trails off our map fairly quickly. We later picked up Chris Palsmeier and his family with his 'Blown Budget' CJ-7 to run some trails with us. We slipped over to the back of the park and ran one of his favorite trails called 'Rocky Road' which is rated as a 5. After Chris lead the way through, I followed closely behind and ended up high centered in the C4X4 Buggy on a big rock. All 4 tires were off the ground and I was helpless. I had to ask my wife to pull me off the rock before I could continue, then naturally; she drives right on through the rocks.

Around 5pm we headed back to camp for the raffle that was to raise funds for the cause. I helped auction off the custom made Why Not Customs clock to benefit the 4 Wheel 2 Heal group. We Okies did not fare so well at the raffle, even Kent struck out.

After another good nights rest in the motel we came back out Sunday morning and started hitting trails. We hooked up with Chris again and a few of his crew to hit some of the bigger trails. We had a couple of 5 rated climbs that were on our agenda. First up was Wagoneer Hill that had given Kent some issues last year. It was no easier this year and had actually been upgraded from a 4 to a 5 since last year. It was then on to some mixed trails and then we had no choice but to do the new hill that was named after the event. Why Not Hill that was rated a 4 before all the wash outs showed up. The larger rigs made it through, but had to really watch how they straddled the wash. If the rear tires slip off, you'd be stuck. Going up that steep of a hill, all you can see is sky so it is hard to pick your line so naturally, we had a couple slips and a few recoveries. There was a YJ that had lost all power after becoming hung up in the ditch. We worked well over an hour on the YJ recovery. Even Chris (Mr Why Not Himself) laid his Blown Budget CJ over on the driver's side.

After investing some quality recovery time on Why Not Hill we were back to the trails. Then after running around the back side of Double Whammy to check on another Jeep, I left the C4x4 Buggy unattended for a short while and she decided to split a radiator hose. I had to use the old duct tape trick and after several layers I was able to get the leak slowed down to a small stream. We topped of the radiator with water from the coolers and I made a run to the bottom of the mountain and a nice bubbling brook (creek in Okie). We let it cool off while waiting for the remainder of the group to work their way down the hill. We almost made it back to camp before I had pull over under the shade of the trees and let it cool off again as the pit crew filled their water bottles back up and followed in pursuit. Finally making it back to camp, we put the C4x4 buggy to bed for the night. With the buggy out of commission, I jumped into the DragonFly and we headed back to the trails.
As the sun began to fade into the evening skies we drifted back to camp and grabbed a sandwich from the camp café. After which, we loaded the rigs back onto the trailers and headed on back to the motel for some sleep before we headed westward home the next morning.

What a great weekend of wheelin' and fellowship we enjoyed. The event was a huge success and everything went off smoothly and 4 Wheel 2 Heal received a nice little chunk of change to help support their cause.

A Big THANKS to the WHY NOTS (Palsmeier) for putting this event on. Also want to give a big THANK YOU to Brandon and the whole staff at SMORRs for making their park available.


Until Next Time------Okie Out

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