And some from our Glacier Trip...
My daughter decided to dye her hair pink over the weekend, and reveled in the attention - especially when the road was a one-land road and we had to wait for the other side to go by...
Here's the mostly full version:
We went early Sunday afternoon up Blue Mountain near Missoula. The road winds up for about 20 miles before coming to a saddle and getting into the real off-roading. This was the first real off-road trip for my wife's Wrangler and she put it through its paces. We had planned to make a big loop through the mountains and come out north of Missoula. We did stop for an early lunch before the wife was a bit too vigorous on the pedal and ripped a side-wall early on. After that, it was smooth sailing through the mountains to the overlook that we turned around at the time before. On Sunday, we decided to see how far the road went. Immediately following the overlook, it got narrow and tricky and for the first time since I've been off-roading, I was actually a bit worried about whether the Jeeps could handle the terrain. The rocks were sharp, the inclines were steep and angled. But the Jeeps handled it like champs. The stock Wrangler was much more capable than I gave it credit for initially and my wife often had to wait at the top of the mountains for us to power our way up there. She would take off leaving only a dust trail behind and be up the incline and terrain in no time. We, the kids and I, in the Commander walked up the mountains she flew up. But, in the end, we always ended up at the same place. My wife in her Wrangler is like a kid with a Camero and I feel like the old man in the Caddy. She flies, tossing caution to the wind, and I meticulously pick my lines and crawl up the mountains.
We had started out on a Forest Service Road, completely legal, but at some point, after some fantastic off-roading - we unknowingly ended up on some logging company land. We actually didn't know we were in the wrong place until we came to a locked gate - and it was getting dark. Going back presented us with a 6-hour night time offroad trip over some rough terrain, so we took a minute to recover ourselves. While we tried to figure out what to do, some redneck came along and bitched at us for "tearing up the land" (although we stayed on trails the whole time - and it was ironic that he was bitching at US for tearing up land that was being logged...). We may have had a slightly belligerent exchange of words after he refused to either call someone to unlock the gate, or to let us know about another exit. Either way, he wasn't happy when he left, and he also wasn't happy when he came back the second time. We left the area in order to avoid further complication and to find some cell service. When we came back down, after failing to find service or an exit, we ran into the friendly State Patrol coming up the mountain. And honestly, it was a relief because we knew we would be off the mountain. What wasn't a relief was that the guy we had exchanged words with had apparently accused us of trying to use our winch to pull the lock off the gate. Once we got back down to the bottom of the hill (Yay!), we continued to have a conversation with the State Troopers, who were actually relatively nice - considering the circumstances. Then it all went to hell when the County Sheriff's Deputy showed up. He looked like he had just woken up, was unshaven, and looked like his uniform had been tossed on. The whole time he was there, he was bitching about how he had been called from home, how he had just cleaned his tires and now they were dirty, and how someone was going to pay for it. Because it was his jurisdiction, we were arrested for trespassing. Not just cited and released, but had to go downtown, get booked, have our pictures taken - the whole nine yards. Luckily, it was a Sunday night, and Missoula is pretty quiet. We were in and out in under an hour. That was the first time I was arrested - and really it wasn't that bad because I knew I hadn't done anything wrong - despite the fact that the cops kept trying to trip us up and misread Montana Laws to us over and over again. The worst part about the whole thing was having to be cuffed in front of the crying children. It would have been better if they had just taken us back out of sight or something. A family friend drove the XK home with all the kids (and my mother-in-law), and my wife's Wrangler was towed (unnecessarily as it turns out).
During the trip back to town, I figured I could either sit there handcuffed in the back seat of the car with my wife and be quiet and contemplative, or I could make the most of the situation. For the entire trip, I talked back and forth with the cops about their jobs, my job, their doo-dads and thingamajigs in the car - GPS, laptop, AR-15, etc. They were very willing to talk about it all. One thing that concerned me was that they had an AR-15 with a flashlight with a green lens and when I asked why they had a green lens, the Trooper didn't know. He just said that that was what they were given. That doesn't make me real comfortable with the training level they received on the lethal equipment they are issued. We talked about the GPS systems and whether or not they would be upgrading to Windows 7 from Vista when it came out also.
At one point during the process, the State Trooper told me that the only reason they had physically arrested us was because the Sheriff's Deputy was in a bad mood and he wanted "someone" to go to jail. He said they usually just let people out and give them a warning not to be there. I did find it interesting that the Trooper tried to lull me into admitting messing with the lock on the gate by saying, "You know, if it was me down there, with my kids in the truck and just a small lock between me and safety, I'd do whatever it took to get them out." I told him that he may do that, but that I didn't. Tricky little critters those law enforcement people are.
The next day we went to the courthouse to be arraigned only to find out that the Prosecutor had not filed charges, yet. We went to talk to him and he said they were waiting on a Sheriff's report and statement from the belligerent redneck. We explained our story and he sounded like he would be dropping the charges, but still wanted to see the other report first. I will be pressuring them next week to press or drop the charges because I will plead not guilty and fight it. Montana Law requires that entrances to Private Property be posted with obvious notices and I know that we never passed any. If it goes to court, I will make them show where and when the notices were posted and when they were last maintained. Without that information, they have no case. The other part that is kinda strange is that ever though we were "Trespassing" on Plum Creek logging land, Plum Creek has no say as to whether we are prosecuted for it. The county can prosecute without the permission or even knowledge of the Private Land Owners we apparently offended.
Once I get my mugshot, I'll share it also.
That was without a doubt the most expensive off-road trip I've been on yet:
Replacement Tire: $120
Bail for PolarBZ: $185
Bail for PolarBZ wife: $185
Towing fee: $216
Total so Far: $716
The next morning, we picked up the Wrangler, talked to the prosecutor and headed up to Glacier National Park for our vacation.