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Al Dormer's Account of Birthday Party

The Calabogie Expedition

Once again we attempted what is becoming an annual event to reach Calabogie from Oompah via the backwoods. Everybody met at the Silver Lake café and included Martin Rothman our intrepid tour guide in his series one, Peter Gaby with his Toyota, Ron and Nancy from New jersey in a thinly disguised 109 dressed up to look like a 110. Kevin in his lightweight, Kevin in his beautifully finished 88 series 3 along with all his emergency medical apparatus, Reno and Elsie with their Rangy, and of course Francois with his trusty Unimog. Lastly yours truly driving Riley my trusty, temperamental series 3.

After a leisurely breakfast we set off to buy our permits for the trip then made our way to the start intending to traverse the route by way of Lemkie's Trap Line. (Aptly named as it successfully trapped and maimed at least three of the vehicles). Martin in the lead takes off like a greyhound with the rest of us trying to keep up. The first major obstacle is a bridge spanning the creek which doesn't look too safe. This is approached through a flooded area with the approach to the bridge being washed away.

We send Martin over it first and as expected, he gets stuck. A little bit of bridge building is the order of the day and all set to help with this. Kevin checks the depth of water on the upriver side and estimates less than two feet while Monty my spaniel checks the other side by jumping in. This is about five feet deep. I make a mental note to bring a personal flotation device along next time. I am next over the bridge and make it without incident having been shown the way by Martin. Reno is next and he stalls as well, then he decides to winch himself across using my vehicle as an anchor. My Riley is not too keen on this and starts to head backwards to the water. Panic stations on my part, I suggest that Reno drive as well as winch and all is well.

The rest of the vehicles cross without incident until the Unimog's turn. This is the last vehicle and Francois is doubtful if the bridge will take the weight of almost four tons. We point out that Kevin is a trained paramedic and has all his equipment with him and that Ron is a firefighter and of course Dave Lowe is a licensed diver and could be at the scene in a couple of days if required. Thus assured the Unimog takes the plunge and apart from the bridge disappearing under the water, it makes it safely across. The bridge slowly re-emerges from the water to suffer more punishment on the way back.

Onwards and upwards on the Lemke trail with more boulders and rocks than I have ever seen since digging my garden last fall. A location check is called for and Martin and Reno compare their G.P.S. devices to the map and both come up with different locations. Reno bought his at Wal-Mart in Florida and I suspect it only shows where the nearest Wal-Mart is. The one that Martin has is I think a T.V remote controller but he doesn't know the difference.

The mosquitoes have heard of our coming along with the deer flies and they are lying in wait for us. Up three hills down two dales into nowhere and we have a pow - wow at the junction of three rabbit paths. (I won't call them trails). Martin and I go one way, Kevin and Ron another. We come up with nothing. A friendly here's our bleating and advises us the way to go, which is back. Up the hill and round a bend Riley jumps out of second gear and rolls back fortunately is stopped by a tree after denting the roof at the back and breaking my side window.

Francois severs a brake line and says said he has no brakes. I start to worry that a Unimog will help me down the hill until I remember that Peter in his Toyota is between us. Peter's Toyota stopped Gorden's 109 last year on the same trip so reassured, I continued down the hill.

Disaster strikes in the form a bang from under Martins truck. Quickly all the Land Rover doctors gather round and we all guess (wrongly) what it is. The problem turns out to be a broken gear in the front differential. (Jeff Berg must have been there in spirit). Martin wants to stop and fix it; we all want our dinner. The light is fading when we hole up by a lake to pitch the tents I light the barbecue, spill some fuel on the ground and up she goes all over the ground. Reno fears his Range Rover will go up in smoke but out of nowhere Ron appears with his extinguisher and does his firefighter thing. The fire is soon out and I eat my burnt sausage and underdone pork chop feeling a little foolish. To end a perfect day it starts to rain and into the sack we go.

Next morning after an early breakfast Martins truck is located on some level ground and raised on jacks and stands and is proceeded to be ripped apart by Martin, Francois and myself. It is raining harder than ever. I have no dry clothes, the broken window letting the rain in and all. I am lay on the ground struggling with the half shaft when a fleeting thought passes through my mind that I should get rid of all my Land Rovers. This thought is soon dispelled by the look of rapture on Martins face as he surveys his broken gear. Martin decides to change into jeans, not wanting to spoil his designer pants. I yell at him that this is no time to hold a fashion parade.

I retire to the relative dryness of the canopy between Peter and Reno's trucks. Peter's placid presence placates me and during the long interval between breakfast and lunch we all enjoy the lesson given by Martin as to how not to change a differential. Francois fixes his brakes during this time, we all attend to the vehicle's needs and as Martin now only has two- wheel drive we decide to turn back.

The corduroy road and bridge awaits us. Martin is first across. Me second, except that I don't make it. The bridge parts and down I go with the frame resting on the bridge. I can't open the door to get out. Kevin tries out his new winch to pull me back, no good. Martin connects at the front and with a little help from the engine I am clear. The dog doesn't like it. At this time my exhaust manifold gasket is leaking and the fan is filling the interior with smoke. I have a smoked hot dog. (Literally). He wants to ride in another truck. As he is all wet and stinks of smoke, there are no takers.

All the other trucks pass safely and we are well on the way to the next obstacle. This turns out to be the floating bridge. Surprise, surprise! All are safely across without incident. Francois fears about a floating Moggy is groundless and we speed on our way back to civilization. Martin chooses to stop at the stop sign on a tee-junction which is on a hill. I of course have little brakes, my engine won't idle, the cab is full of smoke and my clutch is slipping. Reno who is behind is looking uncomfortable as he imagines my truck stuck to his hood as a mascot so I call out to Martin as diplomatically as the circumstances will allow to move along.

Back at last to the birthday party site to survey the damage and to tell of our adventures. Martin proudly lays out the broken pieces of his differential on a blanket for all and sundry to gaze at. I take two beta-blockers and six Valium tablets. Calabogie has foiled us again for this time, but be assured one day WE WILL GET THERE.

From the July 2001 OVLR Newsletter
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