Memorial Day at Saint Anthony’s

Friday — Saint Anthony Sand Dunes

The Jeep was loaded and waiting on the trailer Friday morning. The motorhome rolled out by 7:30 AM, headed east toward St. Anthony Sand Dunes.

Lynette and I left early because there was a report of wind that afternoon. If you know Eastern Idaho at all, it’s always windy. So when the weather calls for extra wind, you plan ahead.

After a six-hour drive, we were not disappointed in the wind. Sometimes, the weather gets over-hyped and doesn’t deliver. This was not one of those times.

When I got to the campground, I have no idea how fast it was blowing because I couldn’t open my eyes. After finding my camp spot, my wife and I both went back to the little gift shop and gladly over-paid whatever price they asked for two pairs of googles. Once I had the googles, I could see enough to unload the Jeep and get the jacks down on the motorhome. We hung out inside because being outside was like being hit by a sandblaster.

Luckily, the wind died down to about 20 MPH around 8:00 PM.

Our group went out for a ride at dusk. The night was pleasant and the sand was smooth after the wind. We found a couple of different hills and played chase the taillights. After a couple of pictures, we were ready to head to camp and have some dinner and a campfire.

Our camp for the weekend (photo by the author)

Saturday — Thunder Mountain

Thunder Mountain (Photo by the author)

Saturday dawned with the promise of good weather. The sun was out and after breakfast, we headed out to spend the day around Thunder Mountain.

On our way, we drove past a burned-out RZR. What first caught our attention was the recovery guy launching and catching a drone from the window of his pickup. We watched him launch and retrieve the drone and began following him to see what was up.

When we found the RZR, we knew. It was burnt to the ground and had attracted quite the crowd.

Just doing Polaris things (photo by the author)

My Jeep ran strong and pulled every hill I wanted. I was smiling all over myself how well it was running, even in the big dunes behind Chokecherry.

We went back to Thunder Mountain that night and watched the racing up and down the mountain. There were so many lights and rigs to look at, with lots of good BS’ing. It was one of those epic, awesome, off-roading nights that makes us all want to do more of this.

I should have known it was all going too smoothly.

Sunday — Chokecherry Hill

Chokecherry Hill (photo by the author)

After two days of running my Jeep hard and not having problems, all of a sudden I started having some heating issues.

Just driving down the access road to Thunder Mountain had my Small Block Chevy running at 230. I knew something was up but kept pushing.

On the way to Chokecherry, in the big dunes, I melted a spark plug wire — just enough to cause a little miss. Some black tape and it was back running fine, but I noticed a new oil leak towards the back of the block. Also, the plug wire melted because everything was just running a little hotter than normal. Something was up.

When I got to Chokecherry, there were lots of people hanging out and watching the show. We ate sweet and spicy Brats and had a few beers. I was letting my Jeep cool down so I could check the coolant in the radiator. Since I had been running hot, I thought maybe I had leaked some coolant and needed to add some.

The Saint Anthony Sand Dunes are huge! (Photo by the author)

When I cracked my radiator cap, I was greeted with oil floating in my coolant. My heart dropped. I asked Gabe and Wayne to look and they confirmed it was definitely oil in the coolant.

I had a blown head gasket. I did not think my engine had got hot enough to blow a head gasket, but it sure looked like it. And now I had to limp it back 13 miles through the sand dunes to camp.

I had to stop and let my engine cool down several times. Of course, Sunday was a hot day, making it miserable to stop and cool down in the sun with no shade for Lynette and I. Luckily, I have great friends who waited with me, stopped at the lake, talked to me, and gave me crap as I limped it back. Finally, we made it back to camp and pulled it on the trailer, happy to be back. I vowed not to start it again until I pulled it off the trailer at home.

Since I had an Atlas transfer case and Dynatrac Pro Rock 60 to put in the Fire Jeep, I knew this would be it’s last trip for a while. Little did I know how right I was!

The RZR

The next weekend, completing the deal I made at Saint Anthony’s (photo by Lynette White)

While I was at the dunes, I had been in negotiations with a friend to buy his RZR 1000 XP. After blowing my head gasket and being pissed about Jeeps on sand dunes, I made my decision.

I was buying a sand dune runner. I called Jeb and told him yes and before I had even left the sand dunes, I was making plans to not only go get the RZR, but to come back to Saint Anthony’s again this summer with the new RZR.

I knew I might not run many rocks in my Fire Jeep this summer, but it sure looked like I would run some sand dunes in my new RZR!

Written by: Nathan White