GPSr tracks for the entire 5Mile & Eureka area found  here:

It's New Years weekend and its 10F outside with much snow on the ground. I've been cooped up for 5-6 weeks due to work, then illness.

The sun will be out (sort of), but temps will be cold. I decide that a ride (solo) from 5 Mile Pass to Eureka is in order. The Polaris has new Elka Stage 4 shocks, new gnarly tires and I'm ready to get outside.

The ride starts off with trails that have been run many times and the snow has turned to ice, so staying in a straight line is tough.

Once I get toward 12 Mile Pass, however - its a whole new ball game and the snow is virgin. No tire tracks at all. Somewhere along the route from 12 Mile Pass to the West of Allen Ranch Road, I slide just enough to hit a rock. I didn't realize my tire had gone flat for a few miles because this tire is TOUGH (despite the sidewall gash).  I pull over, retrieve the air compressor and proceed to inflate the tire in hopes of finding the leak.. it didn't take long to see and hear the air escaping from the massive gash. Bummer. Literally, BRAND NEW tires. 


After 30 minutes of trying to get 5 plugs to hold, I proceed through deep snow via Chilius Pass and down into the West side of Eureka.

It's not near 1pm and I'm ready for lunch. HWY6 Diner is in order. The food and view are both nice.

The return route was uneventful.

Whats the lesson to be learned? At 10F and in deep and frozen snow, even the best tires can fail. Always be prepared to address the issue.



So, I've owned a Note3&4 since prior to then being in full release. Yes, I was an early adopter and pre-ordered those devices. I kept that phone longer than I usually keep any smartphone because I didn't care for the Note 5 specs. 

I liked having a removable battery and SD card, spec's the NOTE5 didn't seem to support. 

When I heard about the Note7, it was advertised as a removable battery and memory card; sadly only 50% of that was true.

So, I pre-ordered the Note7 from Verizon's website. The process was painful because each time I placed an order for one phone, their site would place an order for like 3x phones. The only solution was to go into a Verizon store to have the orders cancelled; I had to do this 2 times before a proper order took.

Then, miraculously, my Note7 arrived in the mail and literally 2 weeks later I started getting texts, messages and announcements that I should power it down. Really? A $900 phone and I need to stop using it like now!?!?

So, I pay my first visit to the Utah Jordan Landing Verizon store where the VZW rep says "Don't bother turning it in, because I'm not.. we're expecting to have replacement devices by X date".

I then return at "X date" and am told that it will still be another 2 weeks and to not bother turning my phone in, despite the warnings.

So, mid-Sept arrives and I'm customer #2 in line at the 10am opening of our local VZW store. There are about a dozen customers in line for the same thing.. returning their Note7's.

At 9:50am, I hand my phone over (it was silver), and am given a BLACK version (that's all we have, says the VZW rep). He then takes almost 2 hours to "try to backup my phone" so the config is the same. He fails. I end up with a black phone, when I bought a silver unit and I have to set it up form scratch. I then go to my online Verizon account and notice no $25 credit was issued.

So, in the end, I commit to buying a $900 phone, have to worry about it burning down my property for like 3 weeks, have to take time off from work to replace, the actual process takes 2 hours and still fails, I get no phone/service credit and end up with a black phone when I originally ordered a Silver. How is that for satisfaction??!

Samsung and Verizon.. REALLY?! You can't do better than this?

Early fall in the Tintic Mountains

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Labor Day weekend, 2016 and I find myself working the entire weekend. During a lull, Aaron Serr and I decide to load up the ATV's and get in a couple hours of riding. Originally, the goal was to ride the Skyline Drive out of Fairview, but with foul looking weather, we instead decided to run into Eureka.

Winds were easily 40-65mph the entire time, so it made eating dirt a necessity.

My intent was to run the entire 2015 Tintic Elks Poker Run route, with an emphasis on "the secret trail". Sadly, about 14 miles into the ride, Aaron's machine decided that anything over 25mph was asking too much and we made our way down the mountain and back into Eureka.

Considering its only 4 September, the fall colors were already showing themselves!



On Saturday, March 19th, my lovely wife and I decided we wanted to hike the entire Devil's Garden loop. Reviews indicated that with some of the side trails and doing the primitive return loop, it would be about 11 miles total.

This hike did not disappoint. The hike starts out gentle enough, with a man-made walking path, until you hit sand at the Landscape Arch. Many a baby stroller turned around after the first mile and returned to their vehicles. We pressed forward.

The hike is an excellent combination of slick rock scrambling, elevation gain, narrow path, sand and sand stone.

A few photos from our journey:

Circleville to Panguitch and Back

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On Friday, 14 August and immediately after ending the work day, my youngest son (Nick, age 17) and I departed for Big Rock Candy Mountain in central Utah.

I had that very morning reserved a room at the BRCM Motel; a place I will likely not stay again. We had an outstanding supper at Hoovers (me: 18 oz Prime Rib, Nick: Burger w/Hoover fries).

While sitting outside the motel enjoying a cigar, I approach a large group a few rooms over and we began discussing trails and riding options. It would seem at least one member of their group recognized me as he had my Facebook profile photo up on his phone.

The following morning, we departed at 0730 to enjoy a quiet breakfast at Butch Cassidys in Circleville. We got there at exactly 0800 when the establishment opened. The waitress, a very nice lady with a thick New York accent went above and beyond, giving me two maps for the Markagunt and Panguitch Loop areas. Score! The drive into Circleville was  spectacular, with the sun just coming up over the mountains. With nobody on HWY89, I pulled to the side to take a few photos:


After concluding breakfast, we went straight up the mountain via the Paiute 01, destination: Panguitch!

Trails covered were as follows:

Paiute 01 --> Paiute 88 South --> Paiute 67 --> Paiute 68 West --> Markagunt trail system South --> cross HWY20 --> Markagunt 02 Trail East --> Unknown trails South and into Panguitch --> Casto Canyon --> Fremont 01 --> Fremont 02 --> Horse Valley/Canyon trail --> Circleville and back to the truck.

Total mileage for the loop was just under 150 miles!


Within just seconds of coming off the Markagunt trail system and hitting asphalt into Panguitch, the sky opened up with rain, lightning & thunder. Our original plan was to fuel up and head into Casto Canyon to make camp (tent) there. Instead, we rolled across the street to "Church's Blue Pine Motel". On the outside, it looked sketchy, but to our delight, the rooms (we had 3 bed, 2 room + bathroom) was totally awesome and clean. It was now near 5pm and time for supper. Usually we'd go to the Cowboy smoke/steak house, but this time we walked next door to Foy's Country Corner restaurant. Nick was brave (or stupid) and ordered Teriyaki stir fry, while I just got a turkey sandwich.

Across the street, we saw the movie theater / ice cream store. Watch a movie while eating Ice Cream. Unfortunately, they only had two movies and neither was appealing, so we opted for ice cream alone.

After a fine cigar sitting outside the Motel room, we watched the sky light up with thunder, lightning and rain. We watched the tourists run about taking photos of virtually everything on Main street.

The following morning (Sunday), we decided to depart by around 0800. Not a cloud in the sky, the day was going to be perfect!

We ran main street / HWY89 to the Casto Canyon trailhead/turn-off and hit the dirt.

Not too far into Casto Canyon, we decided to stop and make breakfast. I broke out my backpacking stove, old canteen cup and our favorite breakfast stuff + some awesome instant Filipino coffee.

20150816_084649.jpgThe rising sun and the reflection against the red/orange Hoodo's was breaktaking!


Slightly more than halfway through, I let Nick take point. I'm thinking he thought it was a race, he tore up the canyon so fast. At one point, he almost got his machine sideways:

At the 2:56 mark, you can see Nick almost get sideways!

Sadly, Casto Canyon is only ~5 miles long. It is interesting to note that to enter, you must go through a super small 50" gate, but to exit at the North end, you have a ~60 inch or so wide gate. I'm wondering how many have entered from the North, only to find they can't exit the south side.

Onto the Fremont trail we continued. With the sky clear and cloudless, the scenery was just amazing.


Somewhere along the trail, we encountered a slightly steep, loose gravel section that required me to tow Nick up. I tossed the winch cable underneath the machine, hooked up, put in 4WD/Low gear and up we went..


What a fantastic weekend to share with my youngest son, Nick. It's looking favorable I'll do this trip again in late September when its a bit cooler out.

Garmin tracks for this trip found here:

Many have asked for my recipe, so I'm going to finally publish how I put together this awesome meal. It's not inexpensive, but is relatively easy to make.

Let's begin:

Fresh ingredients required (feeds 4-5):

1x Pound pealed/deveined shrimp
3-4x lobster tails
2x chicken breasts
1x box of cherry tomatoes (any variety, but organic is best)
Green onion/chives
Fresh Garlic
Mushrooms (or in jars)

Other ingredients:

Course ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper (if you choose)
Course ground sea salt
Bertoli or Newmans Mushroom white pasta sauce (x3 bottles)

My grocery haul:


Lightly coat a frying pan with virgin olive oil, add the mushrooms, shrimp and chicken. Peel and crush fresh garlic into the mixture, add seasonings to taste.

20150427_090714.jpgWhile that's all cooking, pour the pasta sauce into the slow cooker (crockpot), add seasoning to taste (at least pepper and salt).

20150427_090911.jpgNow its time to steam the lobster tails. Add water to your steamer, toss in the lobster tails and steam for ~15-20 minutes.

20150427_091150.jpgWhen the lobster is done, cut into generous portions and toss into the crockpot along with all the other fresh ingredients. Slow cook for ~6 hours, then warm until ready to serve.

Now it's time to slice the cherry tomatoes in half and cut the green onion/chive up and put over the pasta sauce/fresh mixture. Complete cooking the pasta and pour the sauce/meat over the noodles and serve.

I hope you enjoy as much as my family does.


In about August 2014, I started planning a fall event in the San Rafael Swell. The plan was to stage at the end of the pavement near Temple Mountain. I posted an invite link on Facebook and invited many to participate.

As the week neared, the weather was looking to be perfect. Mid-70's and full sunshine were forecast for the entire weekend. It was going to be great.

I took that Thurs & Friday off and was on the road by early afternoon on Thursday. Traffic was mild and the trek south/east was uneventful, except for what I noticed on my speedometer. I truck has just clocked 111111 miles. It was an odd sight.


GPS Tracks for the weekend here: TempleMountain-Area.gdb

An interesting history of the mining in the area found here: SanRafaelOralHistoryReport4-16-2012.pdf




Upon arriving at the Temple Mountain area, I found my staging/camping location was already fairly full, but I did manage to carve out an area large enough for my rig and friends.




That Friday, I decided to pre-ride many sections that I thought could be technical. Behind the Reef and Little Wild Horse trails had a few technical rocky sections and I determined that we'd avoid the rock craw on Little Wild Horse.




100 miles ridden on Friday and only two sections that were somewhat technical. I mapped everything out with the GPS, plotted on the BLM / County map and prepared for Saturday's ride.


Saturday, the sky was clear and morning temps in the high 50's. Everyone donned their gear, with one heavy jacket in sight and off we went.

One of the many exciting discoveries had to be an accessible mine near Tomisch Butte. The mine seemed to cover the entire length and width of the mountain. We entered near the chute and would come out on another section of the mountain. Probably not advisable for us to have wandered through given it was a uranium mine..

A few videos:

Jim's "BruteForce" Chili Recipe

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The recipe is very easy.

Assemble the following:


Bear Creek "Darn Good Chili"

1 small can tomato paste

1 can of Stagg Dynamite Hot Chili

2 pounds stew beef, or slice up your own new york steak (3-4 small steaks works)

2 fresh jalapeno

2 fresh Serrano

Course ground black pepper

Course sea salt

Cayenne pepper

Season the stew meat with cayenne, black pepper and salt. Brown the meat thoroughly (or cook all the way if no slow cooker)


8 cups water into the slow cooker

Add the Bear Creek into the slow cooker

Add the Stagg Chili

Add the Tomato Paste


Once the meat is browned or cooked, add to the slow cooker.

Cut Jalapeno to size, add

Toss in the Serrano, without cutting

Add pepper, cayenne and salt to taste. I usually like quite a bit of Cayenne pepper


Leave the slow cooker on LOW and allow to cook all day. I usually start mine at 5am and serve by 6pm.

Best served with crackers or corn bread.

Differential Gear Oil Change

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“Borrowed” this write-up from

What you need:
drain pan with a wide opening
13mm socket or wrench for cover bolts
3/8" square drive for fill plug
torque wrench
screwdriver or small pry bar
5 quarts of GL-5 75W-90 or 75W-140 gear oil
new differential cover gasket (optional)
solvent and rags/paper towels

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The cover gasket on these differentials is reusable, but I thought a new one was a good idea. The Mopar-branded one is $27 at Geno's. Also, sells a Fel-Pro brand gasket for $20.

The first thing I recommend before you drain the oil out of a differential or transmission, transfer case, etc., is to make sure you can loosen the fill plug. You don't want to drain the oil and then realize you can't fill it back up! The 3/8" square drive from a ratchet or breaker bar is perfect for removing the fill plug on the cover.

Then start removing the 14 bolts from the differential cover. I used my impact wrench just because I have one, but these bolts should not be very tight. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Oil may start dripping a bit as tension is removed from the gasket. When you have about three or four bolts remaining at the top, gently pry the cover away at the bottom to allow the oil to drain. Don't pry so hard that you bend anything permanently. Loosen more bolts if you have to.

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After most of the oil has drained you can remove the rest of the bolts and pull the cover off.

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My drain plug had a moderate buildup of powdery iron on the magnet, about the same as I saw on the G56 drain plug when I changed the transmission oil. It wipes clean with a paper towel.

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Clean up the inside of the differential cover. I swish a little kerosene around and dump into the drain pan to get most of the oil off, then spray with WD-40 and wipe with paper towels. Here is the clean cover with new gasket.

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Then put the cover and gasket in place and put the bolts back in. I used my air ratchet wrench to save time, but any ratchet or wrench will do.

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Don't go crazy tight on the cover bolts. The manual calls for 30 ft lbs. Save your retard strength for those shock mounting bolts!

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With the cover bolted in place it's time to refill the axle with fresh gear oil. I'm a USAF vet and am a fan of Col Amatuzio's products, but of course you can use whatever GL-5 gear oil you want. Amsoil sells a simple hand pump that screws onto quart or gallon-sized bottles, but I'm sure you can get that same pump from other places. A funnel and length of hose would be an alternative if you don't have a pump.

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From what I understand the fill line on these AAM 11.5" differentials is a little below the bottom of the fill hole. The cover has a fill line stamped into it, but it's not very helpful because you can't really see the oil level until it comes up to the bottom of the fill hole. I put a little more than four quarts into it and then tightened the plug.

That is all there is to it. I worked at a leisurely pace and it took me a little over an hour to do the job. Now I need to do the front axle!

Over the weekend and on June 21, Eureka City via the Elks BPOE 711 facilitated yet another great Poker Run.



A friend of mine and I took off pulling my 43' 5th wheel. Sadly, on the steep climb up toward Eureka, my trucks transmission decided to give up the Overdrive clutch pack and valve body, leaving me with 1-3 gears.

We got situated in the High School parking lot and went for a short ride around the Tintic Mountain. Just prior, we hit the 3 Prospectors and were the last guests just as we overheard that the folks who owned the adjacent gas station were doing a "hostile take-over" of the restaurant and converting it to a BBQ place. The current tenants/proprietors were being made unemployed. Sad.

The next morning, we hit the 3 Prospectors again for a great breakfast before setting out for the Poker Run. Although the run wasn't supposed to start until 0830, we were told that a few machines had already hit the trail 30 minutes prior.

Before the first station, I had already come up on the first machines to hit the trail. They were rolling at a leisurely 5mph (or so). At an intersection, they paused and I managed to get around and ahead of them. Sadly, my two riding companions weren't quite so fortunate and continued to be "stuck" behind them for most of the remainder of the run.

I completed all five stations and had a great time. The locals and Elks that were manning the poker & fun stations were all very nice and polite.

On Saturday evening, I waited until just around 11pm before hitching the 5'er up and making the very slow (35mph) trek back home. Being locked in 3rd gear, it took almost 2 hours to do the ~40 miles home. As of this writing, my truck is already at J&G Transmissions.

Rattlesnake trail / canyon.. easily the best trail of the day:

A few photos and GPSr tracks from the day.

Derek, Shawn and I after completing the Poker Run.

A view from the mountain directly South of Eureka.


A view from the peak directly North from the top of the "Rattlesnake" trail.

Tracks from our route that day, to include a large loop past Vernon Reservoir and through Cherry Creek:

 Where is James King?


Language Translation


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