My Off Road Radio Got To Play Around At Cal4Wheel’s Winter Fun Fest This Year!
Every year, the California Four Wheel Drive Association puts on an awesome event called Winter Fun Fest. Winter Fun Fest is held in January each year, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. Normally, it is the “snow wheeling” event for Cal4Wheel each year. This year, 2018, we didn’t have any snow in the weeks leading up to the event. But we did get some rain! So I affectionately started calling it Winter Mud Fest. What was even better about this year’s Winter Fun Fest, was that we got to run an in person Ham Radio Class, on sight, at the event!
What Is Winter Fun Fest?
At each Winter Fun Fest, there are tons of activities to do. Aside from the wheeling, there is a vendor show, a raffle, and some awesome dinners that takes place over the entire weekend.
The wheeling is usually why you show up to Winter Fun Fest though. The nice thing about wheeling with an organized group, is that you just have to be a good sheeple (a sheep people!), and follow the leader!
Someone else plans the runs. Someone else gets the permits to get through the seasonal trail closures. Someone else is in charge of trail safety. And perhaps the best part, there is always someone else there to lend a helping hand if something happens to you or your vehicle. Think of it like an organized trail guided tour with a bunch of people that love wheeling as much as you do!
There are runs for every type of vehicle and adventurer. On the easier side is the famous historical tours. Which are perfectly ran by a local that knows all the goods on gold mining in the area. You can get on these with a stock 4×4, and sometimes a good all wheel drive if there isn’t a lot of mud or snow.
On the more extreme side, there is the Fordyce run. This one requires 35” tires, lockers front and rear, and the ability to air down to 15 psi or lower. And, of course, there is a mix of everything in between, including a night run on Friday for those that love wheeling, at night, in sub-freezing temperatures. Ya’ll are nuts.
So, enough with the “what is Winter Fun Fest” stuff, and let’s get on to how Winter Fun Fest was THIS year!
My Off Road Radio’s In Person Ham Radio Ham Cram Class
We got our weekend started off nice and early on Friday; right around 4:30AM. Why on earth would we consciously set the alarm for that early!! Oh ya, it’s because we had 25 people showing up nice and early for our off road ham radio technician license class! After getting up to Grass Valley and setting up by 8AM, the first participants started showing up.
The class went smooth for most of the day. We supplied pizza, sodas, and water for lunch. And every participant got an 8 watt, IP54 rated, pre-programmed handheld radio, and upgraded antenna. By the time 4PM rolled around, more people were showing up to check out the vendors, and get ready for dinner. The class took their exam, and then dinner was served!
We had 17 people pass the exam on their first try. Since then, we have had another 6 pass their exam for a total thus far of 23 newly licensed ham radio operators! Now they just have to wait a couple more weeks for their call signs to appear in the FCC database!
As of this writing, a bunch of their call signs have already shown up! Congrats to all of the new KM6’s!
If you haven’t gotten your technician license yet, go check out our online ham radio class that you can take from the comfort of your home. We help you along the way, and explain everything as you go. The class is complete with audio so you can listen along like a podcast. It also has practice quizzes and a practice exam to make sure that you are ready for the FCC exam.
My Off Road Radio On The Siberian Express
Saturday started out nice and early. My Off Road Radio and the #RunnerCrawler got to hang out on the Siberian Express run all day Saturday. There was a little bit of a mixup as the instruction packet said to leave the fairgrounds at 8am, but meet at the trailhead at 8:30am.
Unfortunately, it takes a good hour and 15mins to drive that distance. So, we waited around for the mob group to leave at 8am, only to realize that the rest of the mob figured out to be at the trailhead at 8:30am, and no one waited to leave the fairgrounds at 8am. No biggie, so off we went!
The Siberian Express run on Saturday was a lot of fun. It is ALWAYS a great time when you get to spend the day driving around dirt roads with 20 other vehicles. We only have 1 complaint from Saturday, and that is how the trail crew communications were handled. On our registration packet for the Siberian Express run, it had a ham radio frequency listed that our run was going to use for simplex communications.
Well, the trail crew decided to change it at the trail head, to the same frequency that another run was using. So, the entire day, we kept hearing multiple trail crews on the same frequency. I never did fully figure out what was going on all day. From what I could figure out, there were 3 different trail crews all talking on top of each other, trying to talk to their personal trail crew. I eventually decided that trying to listen and understand the mish-mash of doubles and crew confusion was not worth it. So I turned off our TYT TH7800 ham radio and turned up the music!
The other bad part about Saturday’s run, was that we developed an exhaust leak. And, unfortunately for us, the group wasn’t moving fast enough to help keep exhaust fumes from coming in the cab. So, by the time we got to lunch, I had a pretty sweet headache going on, and was fairly light headed. The lunch stop definitely came at a great time.
If you are ever curious about how to fix an exhaust leak by swapping out your destroyed exhaust manifold gaskets, check out our writeup on it!
Saturday was capped off with the ever-famous Winter Fun Fest Raffle and steak dinner! The Madhatters 4×4 Club of Northern California (based in Livemore) runs the raffle every year. It is a big way for everyone to donate money to Cal4Wheel, and win some incredible prizes too. This year, the raffle ended up raising right around $8,500.00 to go towards fighting the good fight to keep our trails open in California.
Right now, there is also a 5$ Jeep Raffle going on with Cal4Wheel. You can literally win the above Jeep, built by Crawler Concepts and a host of other vendors, for just $5.00. Anyone can enter! So head to Cal4Wheel’s Win A Jeep page.
My Off Road Radio Putting In Work For The SnowCat Run
Sunday had a little lazier of a start. We got to help lead the SnowCat run! Which didn’t leave the fairgrounds until 9:30am. Since, there wasn’t much snow, we decided to take the Snowcat run into Fordyce! Okay, maybe not the full trail, we just went in to Eagle Lakes.
On the way in to the lakes, everyone was taking the bypass for driveline hill. Well, someone had to step up and entertain everyone. So the #RunnerCrawler stepped up to the plate, got a little tipsy, got help from the spotter, and eventually made it up in slick, sandy, slippery conditions. Exhaust leak and all.
Lunch on Sunday was at Eagle Lakes. I still am not sure how, but we packed in 11 vehicles into a space where really you should only have 3 at max. We had some cold, leftover pizza, and before long, a vivid discussion of off road ham radios, antennas, and radio programming came up. Luckily, we packed up our vendor booth that morning and had everything there in the #RunnerCrawler. Sure, I didn’t get to eat lunch, but I did get to sell some ham radio stuff like a druggie in an alleyway.
I also got to program a few radios with our handy dandy laptop sitting on the hood. If you haven’t checked out our radio programming services, go check them out! We make programming radios, EASY for you. This allows you to get the most out of your ham radios, and really use them to their potential!
After hanging around back at the trailhead and airing up with our Smittybilt 5.65CFM compressor. We took the #RunnerCrawler down the road to find the 5$ Trail. The 5$ Trail is a trail that has been blasted through the granite and shale rock from Cisco Grove Campground, to the Fordyce Trailhead. It allows green sticker vehicles that are not street legal, to get from Cisco Grove parking area, down to Fordyce without going on the freeway.
We found a great little spot on top of a shale hill. Once we scouted out the spot, we stopped and had a narcissistic photo shoot of the #RunnerCrawler. Some of the edited, and some of the non-edited photos are above. Photo editing can do some awesome stuff, but “ain’t no one got time for that!”.
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Also, if you don’t have your Ham Radio Technician License, head over to our Online Ham Radio Class and study up!
And, of course, don’t forget to check out our MORRFlate 4 Tire Off Road Inflation Deflation Kit!