Guides

First off road adventure in our jeep Boblets Gap

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So after what felt like an eternity we finally got settled into our apartment in Virginia. We ask around a little to find out where we could go to actually take the Jeep off road. By off road we mean without tearing it completely up, we understand there is always some risk. But with the car costing 40k now since it has the lift and new shoes we don’t want to run it off a cliff. We had several leads and one beautiful Sunday we got up early and were all excited. We got in the jeep drove about 30-45 mins following the GPS to our destination and found…wait for…. it a closed gate. We didn’t want to waste the weather and had passed a biking/hiking trail along the way so we back tracked. It was a very nice long rather intense trail that had some nice hills. However after walking this trail we found it was mostly for bikers as we were constantly moving off the path to let them pass. This did give me the ideal that we need bikes, lets face it riding is much more fun the walking. Anyway we got a nice workout in then headed home for the day to get new directions for the next Jeep Trail to try.

We talked to coworkers and found another path to try. This time we did some research first on the internet and headed out the next weekend. After arriving to the GPS destination the road kept narrowing as we drove down it, which to me was a good sign. The road came to a weird cross section where the gravel went right but to the left was a dirt path of sorts. We both looked at each other and smiled then off to the left we went. We made it about 600 ft onto this road and noticed a sign that said road closed August to January but the gate there was open so I shrugged and said lets see how it goes. As we continued our drive the road was dirt with some rocks and was only wide enough for one vehicle. I looked at Rebecca and asked her if there is another car coming the other way umm how do we get past each other? Rocks and a big hill were on each side of us rolling over the edge was not an option, but none the less onward we went. The trail was never difficult enough that 4WD was needed, however without the lift I felt there would have been a few spots that may have been challenging for a stock height Jeep. As we drove we didn’t pass any other vehicles however we did pass some people on the side where there was enough room to place a tent, we waved and kept driving hoping to not hear a chainsaw and seeing any masked monster type guys jump out of the tent. The first half of the trip was mostly uphill was a couple decent size rocks that had to be driven slow over but the jeep handled it like a champ.

We traveled about 2 miles and found a neat looking bridge and got out for a few minutes to enjoy the quiet and take some pitctures. We said maybe we should have brought our hero Gannicus, but as we had a few moments to think about it he would have been tossed all around the back seat since sitting down is not a trick he knows yet. We loaded back up and started the descent down again a few decent size rocks and a just a couple ruts made it more “off roady” then a normal dirt road. About half way down the mountain we may have run over a little twig that just kept dragging so I had to get out to perform some routine off road maintenance. I found this under are jeep, after clearing it out it was smooth sailing down the side of the mountain. We did find a “gentleman ” with his dogs on the trail. After a nice wave no banjos were heard playing anywhere so our descent continued. Although I still want to know where that man lived since we were miles away from any houses.

We cleared the mountain without any big worries or my favorite part…no damage to the jeep. Overall it was a very easy trail I would give it a 2 out of 10 for difficulty, which was fine since this was really my first off road with a full size vehicle. I have been going out with ATV’s for years but of course this was a bit different. I would recommend it if you just have a stock or slightly modified jeep that you don’t want damaged for a nice 45 minute to 1 hour drive. It was probably 6 miles or so total up and down the trail. For the next trail we are going to try and find something maybe a little bit more difficulty and maybe some small creek crossings but we shall see so stay tuned. As any other Jeep drivers know it is hard to find the off road trails.

Guides

Top things to see In Silver City Idaho

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Silver City, Idaho- It’s worth the dirt road drive!
Just over 70 miles southwest of Boise is an intriguing part of history called Silver City. It named after the rich silver and gold mines that once led prosperity to this now forgotten town. There were over 250 active mines being used during its peak. Back in the day it was the cream of the crop, being the Owyhee county seat, but now it is a former shell of its once booming economy.. There are still 70 buildings, most not restored, dating from the 1860’s to the early 1900’s. This gives you a glimpse of what the architectural plans were for that time period. It was like taking a step back in time as you meander through town.

Arriving in town I parked outside of the hotel which you can still stay in. The Idaho Hotel, mirroring its 1800’s glory, was originally constructed in Ruby City just a mile down the road. But after Silver City was upgraded to the county seat in 1866 the hotel was moved to the current location. Sitting three stories high this once glorious hotel was undergoing some much needed restoration. It gives you a great view into the past and is definitely a must see when you visit. After leaving the hotel I wandered into Pat’s What-Not Shop. The woman inside was both friendly and informative. She told me that the homes are privately owned and during the winter months there are only one or two people at most who live there. They are there to keep an eye on things and greet the adventurous people on snowmobiles.

As I wandered around town there were some cows grazing over near the campgrounds. The cows looked as lackadaisical as a tumbleweed blowing across the roads, both visions fitting for this experience. The campgrounds were a typical fire pit and a plot of land accompanied by a stake in the ground with a lot number on it. There are no frills here but they are free sites so who cares. The water at the Silver City campground is from the Jordan creek and there were several signs that had the warning “High Mercury levels from mining. caution should be exercised”. This is where I got the idea that maybe some supplies were needed for these adventures such as a portable water filter.

I then continued my self guided tour and wandered through the streets, one of which was named “Dead Mans Alley”, trying to imagine what life would have been like back then. I passed many store fronts and even a little park. Passing many houses, including a large house on top of the hill, wondering who had lived there. I passed the old schoolhouse and eventually found my way over to the Our Lady of Tears Catholic Church. This magnificent beauty is situated on a hill towering over the town. I did not bother going up to the church because it was not open. I was told, after I had visited of course, that there is a fisheye lens in the keyhole to the church so if you visit take a peak for me. It appears they still hold church services here once a month in the summer, or if you choose you can have your wedding here. You can check the Silver City website to see when updated church services are.

There is an open house once a year that has ten or more buildings and homes that can be viewed by the public. Planning ahead and car-pooling is recommended since parking is limited and the open house draws more attention.  Sadly I  missed this by one week when I was here. But we may have to plan another trip here in the future just to get a glimpse inside these unique homes. Another thing I missed was the cemetery. It is on the right side if you are coming into town. I was still new to this whole adventure thing and afraid to go in search of it on my own so I didn’t see it until I was leaving. Lesson learned and now I always seek out the stranger things in these small towns.

There are several hiking options available nearby. One of them being Hayden Peak. With an elevation of 8403 feet it will have even the most adventurous soul tested. They are rewarded with some breathtaking views at the top though. Here is a link to other hiking trails nearby that ranging from easy to advanced.

Visiting this piece of history proves yet again that if it is down, or up in this case, a dirt road it is worth the trip. Just know that those last 20 miles up Silver City Road are not for the faint of heart. The ever faithful Google maps will tell you those 20 miles take around 50 minutes, and trust me you will want to take your time for this drive. I was still driving my ford focus rental so 4 wheel drive is not a must, but it is recommended. They say that you can drive an RV up for use in the campground…..I personally wouldn’t recommend it. Now mind you this is a summer or fall destination since the road is closed from November 1st until the Friday before Memorial Day.

Trail Guide

Mini Seal town

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Today’s little hike was a short ride to Ellisville Harbor State Park. We had heard from some locals that this is a nice area to spot some seals. With today being finally a warm (70ish) sunny day, we were hoping we would find some of the seals sunbathing on the rocks. It takes about 15 mins to get to the entrance from Plymouth. The entrance is fairly visible and on the left hand side of the road if you are headed south on 3A. The path to the parking area is to the right of the sign. The upper parking area is rather small and even with it being the off season it was full. More parking to be had down near the sign, however it is a decent walk up a hill to get to the main paths.

The trail starts easy enough, made mostly of packed down dirt. The trail branches off in some areas which we are assuming take you to the marshes and other areas of the park. Today we only had time to go on a short trek so of course we chose the trail leading to the beach. There area a few small hills that may make this more of a moderate hike than an easy hike for some. The trail spans approximately 0.8 miles through a wooded area (which would offer shade in the summer) before opening up to a nice view. As you travel down the trail you will be able to see some salt marshes in the distance and red pines decorating the way. There is even an old farmhouse you can see from the trail as you weave your way down the hills to the beach. The beach itself is mostly rock but there is about a 15 ft wide sand trail. We found that it was much easier to walk on the sand than the rocks. It was a clean trail which we hope doesn’t change as the summer visitors start to arrive. We met several trail walkers along the way and most said hi. Being a dog friendly park we crossed paths with many a k-9 and their humans. We did learn a small error on our part (after we got home) that dogs are not permitted on the beach from April 1st until September 15th with the exception of service animals. This was not publicized anywhere on the trail that we saw and others had their dogs along for the ride as well.

When we did transverse the trails and made it to the beach we were rewarded with the view we were hoping to get! There was some seals basking on the warm rocks. It was low tide so we were able to get down on the rocks to watch them sunbathe. We even got to see a few seal pups. Our new companion and old friend enjoyed the walk as well. They were both glad to take a few minutes to rest and watch the seal pups play. Our new golden retriever, his name is Gannicus (yes he is named after the character on Spartacus), couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to play. We didn’t have the tripod with us so we had to use some rocks to get pictures of the seals along the beach.  The wind was still making it difficult to keep the camera steady so I am going to have to research tricks on that.

We found some interesting little facts about the beach we were standing on. Native Americans used these shores to catch shellfish and even made some of there gathering tools from the stones on the beach. All in all it was a nice little hike at a state park located in Plymouth, MA. If your in the area and need a break from the beaches in town swamped with people I would set aside a few hours to visit this scenic beach and watch some seals have a good time just off the beach. There are a couple picnic tables along the trail that have a great view for lunch, or pack a blanket and head down the trail to the beach for lunch.