(The Atlantic British "On the Road" Discovery 2, and its pilot and captain Eric “extension 231” Riston, are off on another adventure. This time they’re off exploring the wilds of west central New Jersey.)
For those that don't know, New Jersey has far more to see and do than you will see in reruns of “Jersey Shore.” This weekend’s adventure had me leaving home on Thursday with my daughter riding shotgun, and my camp trailer in tow. The drive to the event was fairly unadventurous; some traffic and a GPS blunder but we arrived with little issue. The minute we arrived, my daughter was off to play with the other kids, leaving me free to get the trailer set up. Shortly after setting everything up, the first of several rains arrived.
The evening activities consisted of chatting with friends while trying to keep track of bedtime for my daughter. Little did she know we had BIG plans in the morning and her godfather was going with us. It would be a treat for all involved. Off we headed to bed on a slightly damp night in a perfectly dry trailer.
Friday morning came early, as it always does when camping with little ones. Once up and dressed we headed to the main house for breakfast and to round up Godfather for the trip. We broke the news to my daughter that we were off to Diggerland USA. What is Diggerland? It's an adventure park where kids can drive altered heavy equipment and, of all things…Toylanders! What’s a Toylander? It's a miniature Series or Defender Land Rover that kids can drive. Was it worth the trip? You bet it was, my daughter loved it. Though we did find her limits on the ropes course. After Diggerland, it was back to the event site just in time for dinner. The rest of the night was more laid back conversation as some later arrivals drifted in. After turning in fairly early, I could occasionally hear loud laughter and revelry coming from the other camps. The last time this happened I looked at my phone and saw that it was a bit past 4am.
Saturday morning again came early but probably not as early as it did for those who had only just gone to sleep a few hours before. All of us gathered, some a bit bleary-eyed, for a delightful breakfast of homemade waffles, complete with maple syrup produced on the property by our hosts. The rain started again overnight and wasn’t letting up, so I headed to the barn to see who was working on what. A Series One 80-inch that is undergoing a full restoration was having a charging issue. After futzing with it for a few hours, they realized the wiring had an issue, and the original 1951 voltage regulator needed service. They pulled the regulator off just as my daughter came out to the barn to see what I was up to. After we explained the issue and what the fix was, she wanted to help. After a little instruction from her Godfather, she was sitting in the driver’s seat sanding the regulator contacts like an old pro. After her service the charging system worked; she was shocked SHE fixed it. Well maybe not exactly, but she certainly did help. Series Land Rovers are so easy to fix, even a six-year-old can do it!
The rest of the day Saturday was spent sussing out with brake issues on the Series One. As it turns out, some replacement brake shoes come with curve that doesn’t quite match the diameter of the drums. After some judicious swapping of various different shoes, it was running, charging and now stopping. There were four Series One 80”s in attendance, and now that they were all driveable, all were gathered together for a series of photos. It really was great to see so many very early Land Rovers lined up together.
Just as we were preparing to do some off-roading on the small network of trails located on the property, the real rain moved in. It came down in buckets with no end in sight. The woods very quickly became slicker than most guys cared to drive on. The normally tame side slopes and mild descents quickly turned into a slip and slide that could just as soon send you into a tree or another vehicle. The On the Road Discovery 2 was pressed into service to recover a very stuck 80”.
Saturday night’s big group BBQ dinner had to be moved into the house from its usual location outdoors under the stars and shade trees. Once again the evening’s conversation stretched into the wee hours, though not as late as Friday night as many were already struggling after only 3 or 4 hours of sleep.
Sunday morning it was still raining. The group all piled into vehicles and trucked off to breakfast at a local country store. Breakfast lasted a couple of hours as everyone lingered and chatted over waffles, eggs, bacon and plenty of coffee to fend off the previous night’s revelry. The ride back to the event site got tricky when we realized all roads leading to it were flooded over. Not fast moving water, just pooling water a couple feet deep over all the roads. “Have Rover, Will Travel,” and slowly thru the water we pushed. Safely emerging on the other side of the flood area, we made our way back to the site. It was a total washout there, so I packed camp and headed home.
The ride home was very wet but a fine ride. Over the course of the weekend, the event saw nearly 8 inches of rain. My trailer remained dry, my boots didn't leak, the Rover *did* leak (I hate sunroofs). All in all, it was a fun, family-friendly event with friends from near and far. Be sure to check out Diggerland and let your little enthusiast drive their very own Toylander.
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