This past weekend, the boys and I went up to Tree's Ranch near Lakey, TX. I turned 40 last week and there could be no better way to mark this milestone than to spend some time camping and off-roading with my sons. As G. said, the ranch was a "good pick for my birthday party." We pulled in late on Friday night, make that Saturday morning since it was 1am. I let the boys sleep in the back of the truck while I set up camp, trying not to disturb the neighbors too much. The next morning, we joined up with a great bunch of drivers and spent the day tackling some trails that were challenging due to crumbling rock and slick mud. At one point our entire group of seven vehicles got stuck at the bottom of an incline and had to winch back to the top one by one. Our trail guides J. and the brother sister team of M. and C. were a great source of experience and know-how.
At the BBQ that night, just before the raffle for the 10,000lb winch, Richard Cruz of Midnight Fourwheelers stood up on stage to tell us about a wonderful cause. I learned about a project called Wheelers for the Wounded. Founder Jason Havlik is a gulf war vet and a private contractor who has participated in OIF. He has heavily modified a JK Wrangler with the help of Overbuilt Customs of Jacksonville, FL, not only for heavy-duty trail abuse, but also to accomodate injured veterans.
(Photo source: Overbuilt Customs)
Starting in February 2009, he is going to tour the country helping wounded troops participate in off-roading and to raise awareness of the challenges they face.
Here in TX, I'm planning on attending the fundraiser sponsored by Midnight Fourwheelers on 1 NOV at Boulder Creek Farms as well as the main TX event for Wheelers for the Wounded on 2 MAY at the same location.
Wherever I go in our great nation, it is such a reassurance and an inspiration to see Americans doing whatever they can for injured troops. Wheelers for the Wounded is especially uplifting because it aims to help veterans get the most important component of recovery: participation in life.