The Amazing Keithmobile-D

The one, the only, Keithmobile-D (that’s the 5th Keithmobile, in case you’re counting – I use the same letter naming scheme as the Enterprise from Star Trek).

the amazing keithmobile-D

It really is a good looking car. And it’s still going strong after 5 years. My faithful companion on many an adventure… often in places where cars weren’t meant to go. 😉

It’s safe to say it – I love my car.

Outlanding in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

I found a new place to go Outlanding! It’s a bit of a drive from where I am (about an hour and 45 minutes), but it’s BIG and has all sorts of trails of all different types and best of all… it’s legal to go there!

Of course, I’m talking about the Pine Barrens here in New Jersey. I went down there to explore it, and found out that the area is literally criss-crossed with dirt roads and assorted trails that can be navigated by various types of off-road and soft-road vehicles. So of course, I dove in and went exploring!

I’ve added a set of photos to my Flickr page with pictures from the trip, but here are a few choice samples.

lonely road

This is the first road I went down. I think it must’ve been a fire road, because along the left there were many ditches dug in the ground – probably to contain a forest fire.

fire scorched pine barrens

As you can see, the ground had been previously scorched by fire. But I’ve read that this is a natural part of the growth of the forest, so I guess it’s not too bad. Still, it was weird to see.

keithmobile in the pine barrens - front

The Keithmobile was really in its element out here. The roads were rough, but not too rough. Perfect for a soft-roader like the Outlander.

At one point, I did come across some rather tricky bits – some sand that had been shaped into very steep hills and bumps and ditches. But the Keithmobile powered through it just fine, although I’m sure I scraped some sand into the front grille. After a while, the trail became too technical for me – which is just another way of saying that it suddenly became very hard! I fully admit and realize that the Keithmobile isn’t built for serious hard-core off-roading, but that’s OK. I just turned around and tried a different trail. I was just glad that the soft sand didn’t bog me down – I was worried for a minute there! Soft sand can be dangerous – it’s easy to get stuck, and I don’t have the right tires for driving in soft sand (big tires with bead-locks so you can let out the air to make them soft so they drive better on soft sand).

orange dirt road

This stretch of road reminded me very strongly of the dirt roads in the Australian Outback. I’d actually driven on such roads on a place called Kangaroo Island years back – although on Kangaroo Island, the road was full of holes! Still, it was fun.

over the tree-tops

The pine barrens are surprisingly… flat. Seriously, go look at a topographical map of the area. It’s very, very flat. So I couldn’t get a good picture of the area – I tried holding the camera up over my head, but all you could see was more pine trees. But I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?

Anyway, those are just some of the better pictures from my collection. I didn’t take that many, because I went alone – next time I’ll have to bring Amanda so she can be my co-pilot.

I should mention, if you don’t have a good head on your shoulders, it’s very easy to get lost out there – there are literally miles and miles of trails, and no signs. And since it’s so flat, you can’t get above the trees to get your bearings. If you have a GPS unit, I recommend bringing it. If you don’t (like me), bring someone who can take notes of the turns you make so you can find your way back. Or, just trust in your own sense of direction (as I did).

Rest assured, I’ll go back there again! It was a blast!!

Scoutlanding Report #2

Amazing, but yes, this is in fact only the 2nd Scoutlanding report. Read on for my report on the day’s adventure!

Amazing, but yes, this is in fact only the 2nd Scoutlanding report. Anyway, here’s my results from today’s adventure:

If you turn onto the road for Fitchburg High School (the new building) and follow it down a ways, you’ll come to a fork in the road. The left-hand fork is a dead-end, but if you bear right and go about 1000 feet, you’ll come across a path on your left that is wide open (no gate, no signs). There’s a stream not too far down, and also some signs that warn of a cross-country cable buried in the vicinity – these signs have the AT&T logo on them. Interesting, huh? I didn’t go beyond the stream, because I was just Scoutlanding – but I probably could’ve made it a ways beyond. However, it’s never wise to go Outlanding alone, so this trail will have to wait for another time.

Following that same road and bearing left when you come to the next intersection or two will bring you by a road called “Telephone Road.” This dirt road is a dead-end, but it has more of those AT&T signs at the end, and probably connects with the other end of the previously mentioned trail.

Going further down this road (again, bear left at any 3-way intersections) may bring you past a road that says “Road closed to thru traffic.” Ignore this sign – the road is quite open; though it does turn to dirt for a good portion of the way. Following this road to its end will bring you out onto Rindge Road.

Not bad for a short Scoutlanding trip, eh?

Scoutlanding Report

Today I investigated some Outlanding locations I had reported recently, near Mt. Watatic. Unfortunately, the gate at the entrance to the first trail was closed, and I wasn’t able to find the second location mentioned in my post.

Today I investigated some Outlanding locations I had reported recently, near Mt. Watatic. Unfortunately, the gate at the entrance to the first trail was closed, as you can see.

I wasn’t able to find the second location mentioned in my post – but I did find some dirt roads, and in general that entire area is full of twisting, fun roads. So, it was good.

On my way back, I investigated another spot on Rindge Road that I had been down recently. It’s a good trail – part of it is even paved – and easy to find. On Rindge road, just look for a small concrete column on the right side of the road painted in florescent orange – that’s the trail. Along the way there is a tough technical challenge – a section of the road has washed out, creating a steep, deep “gully”. The first time I went up there, it wasn’t that bad and I was able to go over it relatively easily. This time it was much worse, and I had to take a careful track around the edge of the crack, to avoid scraping the bottom of the Keithmobile.

After that section was passed, there’s a fork in the trail. Going right takes you back to paved roads; going left takes you down a narrow but fairly easy trail… easy, that is, until you get to this [Edit: sorry for the blurry picture]:

Needless to say I didn’t go through this. That mud is too deep for the Keithmobile, with it’s relatively narrow tires. Even a jeep or jacked up truck might hesitate to go through that muck – although if you were going fast enough you might make it through. Still, mud is dangerous for any vehicle – I’ve seen even the best off-road vehicles get stuck in mud – and so I didn’t risk it. Turning around on the trail was a challenge, but I’ve learned my lessons well – I keep my eyes open along trails for places to turn around (without scraping the paint). So this wasn’t so bad; a 4-point turn on a dirt trail and I was on my way out.

[Edit: Although it doesn’t look bad in the picture, that mudhole is bigger than it looks. And the ground all around is soft and mushy – plus, I checked it out and the hole is quite deep, more than just a few inches anyway – and that’s too deep, IMHO.]

Anyway, that’s all for today’s Scoutlanding report. Happy trails!

Outlanding Location

This report comes to us via a friend of mine.

This report comes to us via my friend Tom:

A trail by Mt. Watatic, near the 119 + 101 Intersection (I’ve blogged about Outlanding locations near here before). If you’re coming from Fitchburg (via Rindge Road) you’ll take a right, and then your very next left.

Continue taking left turns, towards the mountain. One of the roads may be called Mountain road or Watatic road. You’ll come to a big trail with a gate – it may be closed by now, but it was open. The trail is not too difficult, though it gets very steep at the top. It takes you all the way to the top of Mt. Watatic!

Alternatively, if you find the gate closed, or if you just want another place to go to, keep going on that road, and you will come to a portion of road with a sharp “S” curve. Just before the curve starts, there will be a big trail with a warning sign (a “no vehicles allowed” kind of sign). This trail apparently goes around the mountain and is somewhat technical – worthy of going very slow – but should be passable.

That’s all for this report. I’ll examine these trails myself later this week or more likely this weekend and report back on whaat I find. Until then…!