Monday, June 15, 2009

New Mexico State Parks, USA

Others of the 34 NM State Parks, with more positive featured facilities, are listed in comments following this post. They will be added at intervals as we travel throughout the year. This is not meant to be taken as a negative experience toward all NM State Parks, only to reveal the negative aspects of a few.

The trip around the Northwest corner of New Mexico began innocently enough after installing the Blue Ox base plate on the towed Jeep (previous post). My co-pilot wife and I loaded up the 2004 Holiday Rambler
  • and began the trip with a drive West from Albuquerque
  • Past Grants NM
  • then West of Milan
  • is the turning point south at Prewitt
  • (NM county road 412) for one entrance (another exit for the lakes privately owned South side, is at Thoreau further West).

    This entire area of the state showed great promise by the mining of huge Uranium Ore deposits, the base for clean nuclear energy like France and the rest of the world is shifting to. The large Indian and Hispanic population was being lifted out of poverty during the last nuclear energy age of the USA. The Anti-nuclear 'activists', by Legalistic Political influence, saw to it that nuclear energy was brought to an end in the USA. Now this sector of humanity is thouroughly dependant on Federal and State welfare subsistance and housing subsidies. Great move Delusional Leftist Liberal USA, keep up your destruction of society... It's good for 'your' mother earth....

    Continue South to Bluewater Lake State Park, Dam Camping Area
  • This all happens within about 2 hours of motorhome speeds from Albuquerque NM.

    West of Grants and Milan, along side of I-40, lies mostly abandoned Rt 66 Bluewater Village

  • Take the entire virtual 'Route 66' Tour on this link. "Get Your Kicks On Route 66".

    The exit ramp off US Interstate highway I-40 near Prewitt onto NM county road 412, was under temporary re-construction but open. Turn left, the grade climb of over 6 miles (9.65k) at over 7% was done in first gear, due to our gross vehicle weight (including towed Jeep) of around 27,000 pounds (12,700kg). The scenic climb showed off the mountains and geology typical of the Western States. Geology buffs and serious hikers love these ancient canyoned and heavily caved areas. Bluewater Lake Photo Tour

  • Upon arrival through the run down dreams of many years past, showcased the old abandoned relics of mobile homes from the 1960's, when this dream was conceived as a bright new recreation and retirement resort. The old, totally run down Bluewater Lake Lodge is boarded up now and sagging on its foundation, with a real estate 'For Sale' sign in its driveway, and a horsemans camping facility
  • nearby. Abandoned cars from years past, are scattered around like derelict trophys in every yard. Rare is the well kept home and yard.

    Approaching the State Recreation Area, we see a set of signs, confusing as to where to proceed for camping. A turn right choice, marked 'Camping', proved to be a major mistake, when the long abandoned boat launch ramp from years past, loomed in front of the MH with Jeep in tow (No way to back up). The newer Jeep quadra-Drive II system of getting the proper sequence of the Jeeps transfer case out of towing neutral and into drive, proved frustrating to me, so my extremely tech savvy co-pilot, sat with her little owners book and practiced and exercised the electronic 'gear grinding' procedure.

    I hiked in the opposite direction, searching for a campsite with electrical power and water. Finally there appeared on a sign near a building indicating Headquarters (closed), a piece of copy paper with small barely readable print, indicating the sites 'possibly' available. No numbers, just the small print layout of the 'Park' roads. 'Unimproved' primitive sites are $10. This State of NM Parks website
  • reflects the level of innovation that prevails in NM divisions. Go ahead, try the links and look at the maps. Now try a Texas State Park link
  • Or try Oregon state Parks
  • Do you notice the difference?

    Returning to the Jeep, now in 'drive', my co-pilot followed me as I drove the MH through the really primitive (unimproved) campground in reverse of the indicated direction. Luckily the MH fit on the dirt and gravel trail. We used the CB radios to relay observations about the campsites and roads while I parked in the middle of a road that had been last paved many long years ago.

    Another very nice 'Dam' camping area is accessable only to large 4x4 trucks with short wheelbase, due to 'imaginative' pavement engineering. Apparently the little red and green 'Reserved' or 'Available' markers on site posts mean absolutely nothing.... unless a little piece of paper with current date (old ones are still in place) is attached.... or the person shows up to claim his 'Reserved' campsite. More about this bizarre system later.

    The $14 electric and water site (most always occupied in NM state parks) she picked, was steeply sloped dirt and gravel (Lock brakes and block the front wheels firmly before attempted leveling), on a scenic and panoramic hill, surrounded by Pinon, Cedar and Juniper trees complete with birds. A table and grill are provided on the tent pad.

    The beautiful Blue colored Lake could be seen a few hundred yards (500m) down the ancient, steep sandstone slabbed and rocky shoreline. The electrical and water connection made to the coach, we drove the Jeep around this NM 'State Park'. Luckily the Jeep is true 4x4, not just AWD, these frequently muddy trails were dry and rutted into moguls interspersed with miniature canyons.

    The trails were all along the old northern shoreline of a drought depleted Lake. Last flow OVER the 90 foot (27m) high dam was in 1941. Rutted, muddy shoreline does not stop the avid camping fishermen parked near the water. The surrounding roads/trails are truly 4x4, and require 'low range' with extremely high clearance to get over the rocky outcroppings. Several very nice, designated as 'improved', desireable camping sites along the upper loop, were completely isolated by poorly engineered and unmaintained access roads, accessable only by high clearance 4x4 trucks and SUV's. Lot's of people love it this way of course. I would have as a young man, but never had much time (worked, supported a family) or had the spare cash to camp back then.

    Hiking into the interesting flora and fauna of quiet Bluewater Creek canyon, below the 90 x 500 foot (27 x 152 m) concrete dam, was primitive and rocky. The unique Dam uses a cleverly engineered self siphoning system to control the level of water held behind it. The tricky technology was unknown until engineers finally found the original drawings.

    Use a hiking stick, wear high topped aggressive soled boots, to protect from ankle twists, rattler strikes, and cactus. Bring water, NM is hot and dry, you will drink twice your normal consumption. Remember you are at over 7,500 feet (2,286m) altitude and the climb back out of canyons is strenuous.

    The hiking trails in NM are poorly marked, very primitive and in isolation, so be alert, pay attention, make notes, and bring a GPS with spare batteries. Do NOT hike into NM backcountry terrain without a compass and a plan. Of course knowledge of how this technology is to be used, also will help you to survive.

    To be safe, carry a day pack with overnight shelter provisions, Compass, loud Whistle, LED lights (one miniature bright red flashing), including extra water, basic first-aid and non-perishable energy snacks, Maps are very good if you orient yourself first. Very experienced hikers have disapeared each year, never to be found, among NM's Fascinating
  • primitive trails and caves. The nearby El Malpais National Monument
  • near Grants NM is famous for it's history of swallowing up humanity. Enjoy, Respect and Be Prepared, will allow you to repeat these exciting experiences. Check out 'Big Lar's pictures of a portion of El Malpais

  • The abandoned boat launch ramp of years past, was hundreds of yds (meters) from the water. A later ramp extended into the lake and was used by a few boaters that day. The lake is used by groups on outings, so the nice two reserved group structures (one Lakeside, one Canyon side) with their large oversized grills, were busy with kids, friends and familys.

    The smell of burgers and sound of kids playing and having fun, filled the air. I hiked down across the steep rocky sandstone shoreline to the water, and had to go back up by way of the boat launch ramp. Abandoned, broken concrete walkways and structures from years ago are evident. This park shows State of NM negligence in abundance. Funding for maintenance and dreamed of improvements is gone, due to well publicised political corruption at the NM State level.

    After spending one extremely quiet, star emblazoned dark night (bring your star gazing equipment) in this high altitude, relatively 'Primitive' State Park with it's frolicking, dark headed ground squirrels entertaining us during breakfast, we broke camp. Firing up Thunder Pig with Jeep in tow, we crawled away in 1st gear, down the steep, scenic entrance road, stopping to take a few pictures of Mount Taylor visible on the horizon North of Grants NM.

    Driving West on I-40 a short distance to Thoreau
  • then turning North on NM state hwy 371, we started across the over 100 miles (160k) past Crownpoint
  • (seasonal Indian rug auctions) toward Farmington NM. This highway, known as 'The Bisti Highway'
  • to locals, was built as a welcome, beautiful shortcut to I-40 over 30 years ago. It replaced a well over 100 mile (160km) desolate, desert dirt road across arroyos and down through canyons with sometimes flash flood swollen water crossings. It is apparently headed in that condition again due to negligence. Lack of State funding for this important route across the Navajo reservation, is resulting in an interesting trip at cautious speeds.

    Scenery is sweeping with panoramic distance. The ancient Bisti is a Badlands to be remembered, great photos by 'Big Lar'
  • As we approached the town of Farmington from the South, a down hill with a slight curve brought the MH rig speed up to about 60 mph (96kph). The road had several unmarked, severe undulations in sequence. They sent the front wheels of the big coach bouncing into the air, and out of contact with the pavement. The rig leaped into the oncoming lane, pushed by the leaping, towed Jeep. The entire rig started to head over the edge into the deep valley. With prayer at just the precise moment, the wheels regained contact and we gradually came back into the correct lane. Another State of NM maintenance funding negligence. Of course there is always great sums of tax payer money available for the endless expansion of the Litigation
  • system in the USA, New Mexico being no exception.

    When Bill Richardson
  • became Governor, the NM Highway Dept, mysteriously was ordered to buy a new Twin-Jet Cessna Citation
  • for our new Governor... to use in his campaign travels. I now see why. The state of NM has bad State highways...... due to lack of funds!??

    Farmington NM
  • is in the center of the busy area known as Four Corners
  • (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, all contact near Shiprock. Surrounded by federally taxpayer supported Indian Reservation, Coal deposits, natural gas, oil wells and commerce, it does very well. If anyone can't find work here, they do not want to work, (common problem with our United States Federal and State subsidised 'wellfare' dependency system)

    After topping off the fuel tank, The quiet night was spent in the Farmington 'Sam's parking lot under big trees and a really nice grassy lawn beside the coach. Quite nice really, in comparison to the primitive rocky site at Bluewater State Park. Walmart (one of the busiest in the nation) nearby filled our shopping needs. Sam's lunch counter polish dogs with saurkraut, were our evening meal. I hiked the area of parking lots and stores for my relaxation. Morning sausage bisquits from the McDonalds restaurant nearby, was a treat.

    Historic Durango Colorado
  • with it's narrow guage railway, is approximately 60 miles East and North of Farmington NM. Passing through Aztec NM
  • and then turning North over the low mountains, and through the San Juan River valley is very nice scenery in spite of Colorado doing improvements (widening) to their state highways. They are evidently better managed and far less corrupt than NM.
    Their fuel was even equally priced (a rarity) .... on this trip. Apparently water resource management is non existant in Colorado. The old antiquated 'spray high into the air' overhead sprinkler irrigation systems are clearly evident all throughout this part of Southern Colorado. Must be nice to have so much water that they can literally 'Blow It' into the wind....

    Two nights stay in the very nice Alpen Rose RV Park
  • North of town across from the Glider Park, click on this link for a slide show of Durango from the air
  • allowed us a short time to tour the area by Jeep. The population growth is very evident and the new homes and condos extend up into the mountain valleys around the Ft Lewis College
  • and beautiful mountain golf course. Be sure to enjoy the Family entertainment at The Bar-D
  • Take in The historic Durango-Silverton Narrow Guage Railway
  • It passes right by the Alpen Rose RV park.

    An industrial area South of town has a large, very busy Home Depo and Walmart as anchors, surrounded by a myriad of other prosperous businesses. The main streets of Durango are only allowed to build, IF the historic 1800's Victorian theme is adhered to. Lots of entertainment in 1800's themed saloons is available for those that appreciate the amentities. Rain was an afternoon occurance with lots of snow seen in the surrounding mountains. We did not go North to Silverton
  • and Ouray
  • this trip, due to the rainy, snowy weather.

    After filling the LP at Alpen Rose, we headed South toward the Southern end of Navajo Lake State Park in NM
  • The lake extends into southern Colorado but this trip was to see NM State Parks. A shorter route from Ignacio Colorado was passed by, and we entered from Bloomfield NM. The NM State roads were not good, (again) so the travel was slow. Navajo Lake State Park Photo Tour

  • We crossed the massive, very impressive, US Corps of Engineers built, earthen dam. Arriving at the Navajo Dam State Park visitor center (Pine Site), a small print, copy paper Map?
  • of the layout was given by the friendly ranger. What is the problem here? Texas has Toyota printing their great, large maps with big detailed legible print and detailed roadways to each beautiful, well marked campsite. NM is so far into the 'Primitive' that it can't seem to evolve?

    At The Pine River Recreation Area
  • We found the area the ranger said, seemed to be vacant. We pulled into an 'Improved' site #36 with the Jeep to hold it. It was not marked as occupied by the all important, current piece of paper. The camp host was gone so we asked the alternate host about the site. She said take it, if it is not marked with a paper stuck onto the post, in spite of it saying 'Reserved' on the red marker (reversible to green 'available'). As mentioned before, what a bizarre system...

    As soon as I brought the motorhome to the site my co-pilot was holding, a family with a large towed camp trailer showed up. They supposedly had reserved this #36 site, but no one had marked it with 'their' paper (host gone). The stalemate was resolved peacefully when a casual observance by the pleasant young man, revealed that he knew our older son. We put away our guns and knives (just kidding) and he told us about a better 'Improved' (water/electric) #54 nearby campsite often reserved by friends (also not marked with their paper) We quickly took it in the name of the reserved family, after driving off some dismayed squatters, and stayed for three $14 nights. Buddy, the alternate host riding around in his green 'Gator', kept our little papers displayed properly to prevent unnecessary further conflict.

    The surrounding familys were nice, friendly and quiet, so sleeping was great. We drove around the rest of the State Park Campground in the Jeep, to find out that it also would have been rated as 'Primitive' in Texas. The word 'Primitive' or 'undeveloped' is used in NM to describe a rough road to a rocky patch of ground for camping. I would call that 'Hobo style' for the homeless anywhere else. In spite of this archaic system, most of these sites are in high demand. 'Improved' sights with power and water are filled quickly by thursday

    The NM State Parks Division
  • could expand the number of camp sites at our 34 State of NM Parks. (not all allow camping) 'Improve' (water electric) more of the 'primitives' to upgrade them and they would attract even more happy visitors. Maybe some day in our dreams, we will get rid of the archaic NM 'Patron' system and elect an honest state government, like many other states that spend the collected taxes on worthwhile amenities the 'taxPayers' can enjoy....

    Boating and fishing on the three very long 'arms', dammed up lake (only way to have a significant lake in NM), is the main attraction here. Every close campsite had a large boat or it's trailer sitting in it with their camper/truck, or on the roadsides nearby. Getting through this maze with a MH is daunting due to this system ...or lack of. The Navajo Pine River Marina is about a mile (km) or so, down the road, along with one 4x4 detour available to lakeside where we fished for a time.

    We drove around to the Sims Marina
  • and campground (Sims Mesa) the next day, it's easily visible across the lake. We made a stop for gas at the Navajo City Roadhouse. About a 45 minute drive later, we checked out the campsites (also mostly 'Primitive') at Sims Mesa, we talked to the marina operators for a few minutes and found a fishing site on the rock shoreline. No luck with fishing, but may return some future date to camp here. Sims Mesa Campground is close to the lake. We returned to Navajo City Roadhouse
  • back about 35 miles (56km) for burgers and conversation. Patricia sat with us and told about her Mustang hobby. Real wild Mustang horses, not the cars. Patricia and her cohorts calm them down after capture and prepare them for adoption by dedicated individuals saving them from the other fates available.

    We met Patricia's newest young employee, Lucy from Bristol England, (she was a novel 'hit' with the male customers) between waiting on frequent customers buying the 'Roadhouse Stimulous burgers' at two for $5. Or The Roadhouse Roadkill Burger. Lucy enjoys watching vids of Free Running, also known as Parkour. The oil patch surrounds this area, and service personell are endlessly driving their trucks to this remote station for gas, burgers or burrito's. The Trading Post News
  • is also one of Patricia's pastimes.

    The afternoon was spent back in the State Park. I met Tom Ross at the Navajo Lake Marina
  • Tom ramrods the operation, keeping the marina afloat and riding at anchor during storms. He came from 5 years of experience at Prudhoe Bay Alaska
  • Tom grew up in Flour Bluff
  • on the south side of Corpus Christi Texas. He had lots of storys for this avid listener, so I returned often to his worksite afloat. A few storys entailed sunken boats. Insurance does strange things to owners ready to leave boating as a hobby.

    One very large deck boat is now partially high aground in the marina after slowly sinking at its bouy. The marina crew called the owner, asking if they should tow it to shallower water near the launch ramp. The owner declined their assistance. It totally sank before the owner showed up days later. It seems the owner gave it to an enterprising fellow after it sank (AFTER the owner had collected his insurance money). The salvage fellow tried to raise it and failed to get it anywhere but hung up on the rocks of the nearby shore with the stern still sunk. The big, hulled boat previously came from a resort in Arizona and had a large insurance policy.

    Another story entailed a big engined, go-fast boat just outside of the floating breakwater. Seems the husband always drove the boat, never the wife. One day the wife showed up wearing a 'good' life vest. She got into the boat and gunned it just out of the harbor, but close to the floating breakwater. Before it got up 'on plane', she cut the engine. The stern settled into the water just as the wake followed over the hull. It sank immediately as she swam toward the breakwater. It is still on the bottom where it sank. These are flooded canyons and very deep. Big insurance policy on that one also.

    Another involved a big deepwater sailboat more fit for an ocean. The owner called the marina to inform them that it was not seen at the bouy for three days. The marina asked why they were not notified as soon as it was not seen? It was far too large to be removed at the launch dock without anyone taking notice of the huge endeaver.

    Suspicious circumstances indicated it is most likely down in over 300 feet of water in the deep river canyon bottom. Insurance was also generous on that one. Boating is a different hobby. I often heard the saying, "The second happiest day of my life was getting my new boat". "My happiest day, was the day I finally sold it". "A boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into". Tom also mentioned the frequent occurence of "The insurance papers rubbing together and the friction causing spontaneous combustion aboard some heavily insured boats".

    Tom told of seeing the biggest offshore oil rig, 'Bullwinkle'
  • being towed out of the Texas harbor entrance past Port Aransas
  • He also watched as equally large 'Popeye' was towed out. We spent many hours swapping storys before I bid adeau and left Navajo Lake for the last time (this trip). We had fun, so we will be back in spite of the prehistoric (in comparison to Texas) NM campground situations.

    On Sunday morning we hooked up the Jeep and proceeded East across the scenic expanse with it's massive sky from horizon to horizon, toward Dulce
  • where we stopped for Indian Tacos along the roadside (never pass them up). Then on to Chama
  • where we turned South, passing Heron lake (state park)
  • Abiquiu Lake reservoir
  • ElVado Lake State Park
  • They are all in a row along the Rio Chama and held back by Dams, as all significant lakes in NM are. We wanted to check out El Vado Lake State Park. As we drove the 15 miles West (24km) toward the lake, the paved road was typical NM State road quality.

    Rocking and swaying the big rig along the poorly maintained pavement, we approached an oncoming MH of our size. To avoid a mirror to mirror hit, the narrow, poorly paved road, forced us to the extreme edge, which was broken away. The edge of the soft blacktop pavement gave way beneath the right side tires and we dropped off, rocking the entire rig violently and tilting precariously toward the ditch.

    As we rolled along, still under power and momentum, the right front tire (new Michelins) eventually climbed back onto the pavement. We sweated that one out as much as the 'Bisti Bounce' experience. On closer inspection along the return trip, I noticed that many, many trucks had done the exact same maneuver and luckily had created a somewhat flat, small graveled shelf, but much lower than the pavement. Of course NM's state highway dept is oblivious to these conditions. Washington DC needs to send Santa Fe Politicos even more 'stimulous'....

    One of New Mexico's famous Patron Politicos, Manny Aragon
  • left for prison last week amid a party atmosphere thrown by his supporters/constituents, at a plush hotel. He was finally charged by the FBI, with a $650,000 embezzlement of State of NM taxpayer money, and found guilty (will wonders never cease?). The actual lifetime amount embezzeled/diverted? by this longtime NM political power broker and his cronies, is suspected by many, to be at least multiple tens/hundreds? of times higher over his long political career. Albuquerque's former Mayor, Ken Schultz, a car dealer from Antioch Illinois, got off with probation.

    Las Vegas Nevada knew and loved Manny dearly, an avid lifetime gambler, who always traveled in fine style with his own security detail. He is notorious for his visits to the Casinos (NM has many) His close support for Governor Bill Richardson was legendary. Bill Richardson appointed his many political suporters to generous government posts. Bill appointed Manny as president of NM Highlands University
  • in Las Vegas NM.... Before intense pressure from the faculty staff forced him out.

    Bill Richardson was a Bill Clinton era state department appointee. North Korea loved Bill Richardson and Jimmy Carter, they gave NK their Nuclear Reactor, you know, the same Nukes that we are fussing about today. Democrat Bill Richardson ran for US president in 08 and was selected for an appointment by Obama. Bill is now under FBI investigation for similar 'alleged' (pay-to-play) dealings to finance his astronomical political aspirations. According to some unconfirmed reports, it appears that the State of New Mexico has lost about 2 billion of it's tax dollars through corruption laced investments. What is it about these guys?

    The NM State Parks and State Highways will some day be rebuilt, when the current Santa Fe regime is finally removed...if ever. They are all powerful Democrats and as is their custom, depend on graft and corruption to maintain their voting base. ACORN and SEIU
  • voting blocks are now their staunchist supporters in Congress, and they are in turn Federally funded by US taxPayers.... Generously.

    The drive south along the heavily flowing Rio Grande River, after meeting the Rio Chama in Espanola, was beautiful and scenic. The yearly thunderheads and their rainstorms were visible all along the route of I-25 south of Santa Fe amid the expanse of horizons in each direction. We drove in rain sporadically and enjoyed it. The yearly average rainfall of our area is approximately 8 inches (20cm) so you enjoy each and every drop.

    We will most definetly return to these areas again. There are at least the rest of the 34 NM State Parks to see. We heard that Sugarite Canyon State Park
  • near Raton is very nice. Conchas Lake State Park
  • North of Tucumcari NM, we are invited to visit some time again, watch for future report in 'comments' below, including Santa Rosa Lake State Park
  • near Santa Rosa NM which is near the famous deep divers water of Blue Hole
  • Remember Our state of New Mexico is truly "The Land of Enchantment", in spite of it's archaic, primevil management. The loose primal infrastructure of NM is of course, exactly what contributes to its "Enchantment" and "Primitive" appeal. This rough, 'risk involved' system is exactly what many 'structured' individuals seek after a lifetime of being coddled by their own well manicured, sanitary ambience.

    We stopped at the local Giant station, to fuel up and dump the holding tanks after the 600 mile trip, readying them for the next adventure across our great nation. After pulling onto the lawn (we don't waste water), I washed and waxed the Jeep.. and the Coach for it's back yard storage under a cover.

    Travel, Enjoy our "One Nation Under GOD, The United States of America". Vote like your life depended on does.
  • Friday, June 05, 2009

    Blue Ox Jeep tow base plate install

    2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee;
    This vehicle replaced our 2001 of the same model as described in a previous post about buying used vehicles. The order was delivered in exceptional time by 'drop shipment' from Pender Nebraska, Home of Blue Ox Tow
  • we checked various sites on the internet and found the best sale price at
  • Adventure Rv was much better and great to deal with.

    Beware a low price bait and switch by JC Whitney
  • who Google Bombed
  • the base plate search engine as well as their own search site. My phone call to JC Whitney found out their actual price of the base plate was much higher for this vehicle.

    A pair of Knee Pads and a 'creeper' help while positioning and bolting everything in place. The parts list check (first step) contained all of the neccessary items as listed, along with the personal tools list required for the job. The instructions with photographs detailed the front facia removal, mostly reusable snap and push pins with a handfull of 10mm body bolts. The personal tools required, matched all fasteners except for the spare 'plastic pop rivets'.

    Harbor Freight
  • sells the special tool for these type fasteners ($14.99). The new plastic pop rivets were included so cutting off the original plastic 'pop' rivets is permissable. The front grill piece comes off as an assy, exposing the front bumper cover fasteners. I cut off the hard pointed ends to make removal easier.

    Be sure to disconnect ALL of the wiring and hoses exactly like the instructions tell you. DO NOT try shortcuts to save time, it doesn't work, believe me, I tried it. Mark the windshield washer hoses to avoid confusion. The wiring connectors are all different so they will not be easily swapped. The trick is removing each different locking design. Pull up a chair and relax while you figure out each puzzle created by the fun loving design engineers. Keep a roll of tape handy for the frustration of breaking the connector. I like black duct tape in various widths from Harbor Freight or ?

    After all framework is exposed and easily accessed, take off any cover plates or tow hooks mentioned in the instructions. The Blue Ox Base Plate is built to fit tightly. I used a floor jack and small frame jack to raise it into place and force it onto the frame horns. A few whacks with a heavy mall, drove it into it's proper position as described in the instructions. Put the temporary (horn and reservoir) retaining bolts in place as described. After doing all of the checks with the bumper cover held in place, make sure the clearance is as needed.

    Set the bumper cover aside and proceed to drill the PROPER sized holes (use the base plate holes as a drill guage for a tight drill fit), only 'AFTER' making sure the drilled holes will be positioned in full metal framework and not on the edges.

    The instructions say use Red Loctite (RED thread lock fluid). I found out the hard way, not to use anything other than RED thread loc. ($1.99 Harbor Freight) A couple of bolts came loose on the last Jeep and required Crown Coachworks Albuquerque New Mexico
  • to reinstall a set of new bolts, special ordered from Blue Ox. (after my call for help, they shipped out some spares fast) The shock of repeated towing stresses the fasteners and unless you use RED loc tite they will come loose eventually.

    Drilling the holes is easier if you use the correct drill bit and a powerful drill. The holes in the base plate will align the drill bit. Install each bolt after coating it with RED thread loc. Torque to proper tension and NO LESS. The frame is 'squeeze sandwiched' between the base plate tabs and the lock washers with nuts. The hard to reach nut positions are aleviated by the use of Blue Ox nut plates with rods attached cleverly for holding in place.

    The large spacer washers are exactly that, spacers to hold the reservoir away from the base plate tabs. Do use the bolts they give you to hold the reservoir in place and follow their instructions. Do not try to do it 'your way'. It doesn't work and you will have to redo 'your way' afterward to get the grill and facia assy in place so that the reservoir cap is removeable.. like before you started. I tried it and learned just like the RED loc tite experience.

    As the front bumper cover is handled, be careful not to scratch the finish. Surprising how fragile these safety protection things are. Do not tighten the final bolts on the bumper cover and grill until everything lines up properly. Don't forget to go back and check the fasteners for tightness. A few of the push pins and fasteners may break if brittle.

    No problem, the plastic 'pop riveter tool' from Harbor Freight comes with lots of spares for the $14.99 price. The new base plate from Blue Ox even came with new safety cables and threaded chain links for fastening to the base plate. The new 'towing slugs' are nice and shiny... when new.

    I keep one complete set of spare parts including extra towing 'slugs', lock and clevis pins and retainers with the RV and tow unit at all times. A spare wiring harness is in the kit as well. During our first venture, we met a family searching for a lost towing part, along a trail at a remote campground. We aquired a complete set of spare towing parts shortly after witnessing their frustration.

    Now the Jeep with tire pressure at 40 psi for easy rolling, is ready for the next trip, obediantly following behind the Motorhome. It is easily disconnected for side trips, sightseeing the areas during the overnight camping stays. No idea Where
  • or When
  • how Far
  • how Close
  • or how Long
  • but the idea is just to get on the highway to see the attractions of this Great Nation. One Nation Under GOD. The United States of America.