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Last minute notice of four open spots from, group for a Jeep Expedition across the Mojave, pronounced Mo-ha-vay. The trek included 120 miles across the open desert of the Mojave Desert Trail in Southern California. The starting point was Laughlin, Nevada with a finish destination somewhere near Barstow, California.

Total Miles: (1948miles) 1720 Pavement; 128 miles Off-Road

Equipment Features : 12 Volt Lunchbox Oven

Recipe Features : Rajun Cajun Rigatoni, Yucatan Style Beef, Chevre, Rice and Black Bean Burritos

Restaurant Features : Javier’s Lindo Michoacan Las Vegas, Nevada; Carneceria: Baker, California; Linda’s Café: Westslope I-70 in Colorado

JEEP LOG DATE: 10:6 – 10:9:2007

Denver to Vegas 1am – 8pm

Left Denver after teaching a 6:00am – 7: 30pm stretch with a one hour nap. Got on the road by 1am on Friday morning and finally, the beginning of the 4-day road trip of a lifetime! I picked up co-pilot Chef Adam Sacks, a fellow colleague and now business associate with a sense of adventure, and we were on our way. One way to either make a friend or have a complete loathed enemy is to spend four whole days in the confines of a small Jeep. Fortunately, it ended up being the first of the two possibilities.

Having both grown up in the same era and area of the country, we had lots in common and a lot to talk about. Caffeine and lots of snacks, nothing fancy as I had been teaching double classes all week and the weekend before was busy with XRRA Rock Race Finals in Colorado Springs. Stopped just outside of Grand Junction to catch another hour nap, then we slowly made our way to
Laughlin. The head winds were insane, in particular from the middle of Utah all the way to Vegas.

Along the way was a lot of historical information regarding the State of Utah, not on the top of my list (explained later) other than of course, Moab. Outlaw Country, the Place Nobody Wanted and Cove Creek Fort were all great and informative stops along the way. This lends well to the educational aspects of our trip.

Finally a quick stop by an intriguing sign off the highway somewhere in Arizona / Nevada indicated the state of my sometimes twisted sense of humor, mind and demeanor which most that know me would certainly agree…Area of Critical Environmental Concern!

A stop in Vegas but got lost. No, not the gambling lost kind either. I mean really getting lost! But we found our way past the new Trump Tower which looks to dwarf the Wynn Casino.

At this point, hunger was really kicking in and the down home goodness of Big Momma’s Soul Food Restaurant, located on the edge of the “hood” looked great; however, we wanted to leave Las Vegas so we ventured through the bright lights and we found Javier’s Lindo Michoacan, a highly overpriced and way overrated food quality of a Mexican restaurant (see The D.I.R.T. at for the full scoop and 4-lodown). At least the cold carbonated beverages were good.

After a full belly of overrated and overpriced Mexican slop we were on our way to Laughlin.

Vegas to Laughlin NV 8pm-7am

Got to Laughlin around 11pm and saw all the pretty lights in the middle of nowhere. It was neat. All this glamour in the middle of, well, absolutely nowhere!

We found the Riverside Motel, an older place on the west side of town with clean rooms and hot shower. Now what happens in Laughlin after 11pm stays in Laughlin. I will note that there are some interesting folks, in particular the locals at the Lazy River Lounge. What was most fascinating was the persistence of the locals in expressing what a nice place Laughlin was and how it is such a “nice” and “great” place to settle and raise a family. Sure..O.K. If you say so?!?! It felt eerily like we were immersed in an episode of the Twilight Zone. I would however, visit again and maybe even retire there. Go figure.

One of the highlights was shooting pool with old Al, a regular at the Lazy River and a fellow Massachusetts native who was wicked cool. I think most remarkable and memorable was the “Al Shuffle,” a little jig when the game
went well for him. Oh yeah, word of caution: Don’t mention or say the words “milk jugs” in front of Mistress Kitty. Why you ask? Well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Finally retiring after being up for 48 hours with only two hours sleep, I looked forward to four more hours of restful bliss. We got up at 6:30am on Saturday for a cup of coffee on the little patio of the bar, and reflected on how nice life in Laughlin must be. From there, we reflected on the drive behind and the drive yet ahead.

MOJAVE TRAI L First Leg: 8am – 6pm

The meeting point for the whole group was south of Laughlin at the Avi Resort / Casino. All in all there were a total of 21 vehicles with folks mostly from Arizona and some from southern and even Northern California. I think though, “the boys from Colorado” as we infamously became known, trekked the farthest to attend. I don’t know if it was the loud laughter, the most dented nerf-bars, the insane amount of time driving or the combination of it all that contributed to us becoming known as such.

Our trail leader was freelance editor Jim Brightly, who was actually doing an article for 4WD and Sport Utility Magazine. The first leg of the trip was 68 miles to our camp destination. The trail itself was a combination of semi-soft sand and hard packed sand, pretty much a road that could be traversed by most cars compared to what I am usually accustomed to wheeling. I sort of admired that milder aspect as it was a nice change from the hardcore trails I usually traverse. Not having to worry too much about major parts breakage and enjoying the diverse scenery was great fun and the chances of actually driving back to Colorado in one piece were greatly improved. The odds were in my favor!

With that said, there was some minor breakage. First, a flat tire due to a sidewall tear on a TJ in the group and then, a Grand Cherokee steering pump that got bent and snapped a belt. Someone pulled out their tool box while I went to go get the shop-box out of my Jeep. This is one of those testosterone things, my toolbox is “bigger than yours,” and by far when I whipped it out, folks were impressed. “Look at the size of those channel locks, my I feel insignificant” and “Damn that guy could build a whole Jeep with what’s in there!!” It was a “Tim the tool man” moment with oohs and ahhs. Needless to say, it was another feather in the cap of preparedness and boost to the Jeep ego.

I have collected those tools, bolts, nuts, lubes, thread locker and the like over a period of 17 years, the epitome of “just in case.” I did not, however, have the needed fan belt or 16mm wrench.

*Mental note-to-self: Go buy these items just in case!!

The magnitude of the diverse ecology of the first 68 miles was amazing, as was the history behind the trail from the days of it being a route used by the government for communications. At one point the government attempted army desert training, inclusive of using camels instead of horses.

Finally arriving at the camp spot in the mid-Mojave desert, we quickly unloaded and set up the kitchen. COFFEE first and foremost, followed by a cold carbonated beverage was in order. Tonight we dined on a not-so stable camp table that ended up being more like a wind chime.

On the menu?

Recipe: Ragin Cajun Rigatoni Pasta with Chicken, Andoullie and Tasso Ham in a Mushroom Creole Cream Sauce

I made this ahead and assembled the separate ingredients on the trail. I do recommend complete assembly at home and simply reheating on the trail for even quicker cooking and clean up.

After this evening’s dinner we went to the group area to sit by the fire, mingle with the members of Jeep Expeditions and chat. It was an early night as most dispersed at 9pm, quite an early night. Must have been something I said. Of course the “boys from Colorado” stayed up late by the camp site, chatting more, laughing a lot and enjoying cold carbonated refreshments in the cold and windy desert night.

Mid Point Mojave Mile 68 – 128 and into Utah Sunday 10/7

Setting up the back of my trailer as a sleeping unit proved to be great and while I don’t have any pictures, it was great to be out of the cold nights wind. Dreams were intense and vivid at one point, feeling like coyotes were nipping at my toes and desert rodents running up inside my trailer. Nonetheless, deep sleep from the lack of previous days was refreshing.

Woke up at 6:30am and started breakfast coffee. I enjoyed the desert morning air and silence. There is just something about the solitude, smells and visual ecstasy in the desert that is just darn cool! From there, we broke down and packed up, which took most of the morning. We were on our way by 9am for the final 65 miles of the desert portion of the expedition.

First stop was the Mojave Mailbox to sign the traveler’s guestbook. Of course, leaving a sticker strategically located on the bottom of the box was in my plan. Inside the mailbox, people take and leave multiple goodies. The most unique was the bag of Shrimp Chips, tasty little puffed rice chips with shrimp flavoring.

Onward we went for a side trip to see some ancient volcanic tubes in the earth. Note to self: This would make an awesome family trip in the cooler months of the year. My wife and daughter would really enjoy researching and being immersed into the abundance of historical and ecological surroundings this whole area has to offer. The cylinder tubes we and others explored were really cool. Ancient lava flow bubbles – the champagne bubbles of the earth if you will.

Along the way we crossed a salt lake bed to add to the Rock Pile at mid point. At the top is a plaque and I won’t divulge what it says as it would perpetuate years of horrible events. You must travel to the sacred spot to find out for yourself. I, of course, had to be different and balance one rock atop another (a little reddish rock balanced atop a triangular rock). Adam climbed to the top to read the plaque, also leaving his rock from the trip. The crystallized flats were semi-soft and salty mud flew everywhere as we trekked across it. After the salt bed came an area of soft sand dunes until we finally reached the mines area. It was a great little playground where the JGA Jeep got to stretch and flex a little.

Lunch today consisted of Yucatan Style Beef, Chevre, Rice and Black Bean Burritos

The final stretch to pavement in California

We Left the playground for a scenic photo opportunity of the whole group at a neat railroad bridge. We then left the bridge and stopped around 4:00pm, then it was onward to Afton Spring campground. We came across the only water crossing for miles and concluded the Mojave Desert trip, the desert part anyway. For some it was another couple days onward to an expedition to Octillo Wells. We were graciously offered to join, tempting as it was we both did had a few personal days saved up but the consensus was ultimately that we should get back to Colorado. We aired up and said our thank yous and goodbyes until the next expedition (MOAB IN MAY)!!!

We rested at a quick stop off I-15 in Baker, California where we ate some great tacos and drank wonderfully flavored horchata. Something about a restroom essence restaurant would deter most, but this didn’t scare us off. It’s gotta be good because no gringos would even consider entering a place like this. I, of course, had to order the burrito la lengua with chicharon. Yes, cow tongue burrito with crispy fried tidbits of pork fat. YUMMMMM is all I can say although next time in Baker I think the Alien Jerky place is deserving of a visit.

This was the first of many stops this evening as we realized we had a long trip ahead. For some reason it seemed as though an additional 1000 miles was added to the trip back to Colorado. We stop 15 miles west of Vegas for a quick nap and then awoke to the voices of Nevada’s finest, not directed at us but rather at someone they had pulled over and stopped right behind us. Fascinatingly enough they didn’t even come to check on us in the Jeep, just leaving after they finished with the folks they pulled over. Pretty awkward we thought.

Utah proved to be the longest stretch as the first 250 miles into the state seemed to last forever, especially since there wasn’t a single place to get a cup of coffee.

Everything was closed to get coffee. I am proclaiming action be taken against the state of Utah for lack of adequate coffee supplies to weary road travelers. We finally did find one place that was open for coffee. What is wrong with Southwestern Utah?

Driving for 30 minutes, sleeping for 30 minutes, driving for an hour and sleeping for an hour proved to prolong the trip that much more.

Monday morning to Monday Night

Finally daybreak and still another 500 or so miles to go to Denver. At least this time there was not a head wind we were traveling into and the snow storms originally forecasted for this day were not in sight. It was clear sailing all the way. We ate at a roadside stop on I-70 around 3pm, just outside of Grand Junction, called Linda’s Rainbow Truck Stop.

Linda herself was our server but explained she no longer owned the place. The BLT was decent and substantial although I do prefer crisp bacon rather than undercooked, rubbery bacon. The fresh-made beef soup that Adam ate was less than desirable. Damn those chefs are picky!

We finally arrived back in Denver around 8 pm. Back at home and back to reality.


I have to say it was one of the most truly epic trips that I have experienced.

Adam is a former Jeep owner himself, and now after the trip I am holding him accountable for getting back to his roots by trading in his little Subaru thing and getting his Jeep once again!

Of course his wife may or may not approve; however, we Jeep folks know one of two things will happen regarding trading in a vehicle for a Jeep. Either way it will be a win-win situation.

* Published by JPFreek Jeep Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.

Dad & Son Overlooking Rim and 191 to the East

Easter Jeep Safari is one of those must attend events…at least once in your life. The opportunity came up and I took it this year. This would be my second EJS event, the first was back in 2003 Feasting on the Slickrock Trails. This year however I asked my dad to come along. It was a long overdue father son trip indeed. My dad is the one that inspired the off-highway adventure nature I have, although he won’t admit it, it is also where I get a little bit of the *crazier side I have. Having never wheeled or trekked out west my dad was inspired with the geological aspects as well the flora and fauna found in the area.


Spanish Trails arena yielded some great activity, meeting up with the Crane Hi Clearance Crew for some new style vendor booth action. A well crafted Dana 60 Diff Cover grill…with long arm kit was put into action!!! We had an opportunuty to whip up some 7 Bar Grille specialties with the Culinary Modification Tools. The smoke of charcol grilled goodies wafted through the crowd. Crowds of people meandering being led by thier noses found their way to us. All it all it was a great day and wonderful chance to introduce people to the Culinary Modification Tools:



Easter Jeep Safari 2009



P.S. Night Run finishing up.

The big day was a combined three trail run: Poison Spider, Golden Spike, Rusty Nail (reverse) with our gang of 6 rigs. For each of the rigs running it it was an initiation run in some form or fashion. For me it was the very first maiden run with my newly installed 5.3 Vortech v-8. Let’s just say I finally found my pedal by the second day. The first night in Moab I was definitely pedal shy, I had been to Area BFE (another great article on Area BFE in summer 2009 issue) as well an obligatory and now standard protocol Poison Spider night run.  Those who know me well and my typical 4 cylinder style of “throttle-heavy induced wheeling” placed bets on 20 minutes time. That is 20 minutes before I end up with rubber facing the sky…not even out on the trail just on the pavement! BTW I beat all bets and will be collecting soon!

Area BFE
Area BFE

When I finally got my dad out on the slickrock, especially coming up to obstacles my fathers demeanor began to change slightly. Not in a bad way but he was finally coming to terms with the realization that he had either created a monster or it must have been the damn mailman.  By the time we got to Rusty Nail’s “no left turn obstacle” (right turn as we ran the trail in reverse) my father completly regarded us all a “a bunch of frikkin nutcases” he meant that in a nice way of course! If you have been to or attempted the obstacle you know that it could cause some tension, especially if this was your first time coming to an area like this. Basically the obstacle runs along a cliff drop-off of about 1000 feet or so. I have to say it has been my favorite obstacle ever to traverse, and I will say did it quite eloquently at that. It was a great trip overall.

No Left Turn (No Right Turn the way we ran it).

All in all I don’t think dad will be back out to Moab to run Cliff Hanger, Metal Masher, Pritchet Canyon, Hell’s Revenge or any other 5 or higher trail for that matter. With Crane hosting the campsite and 7BG hosting dinner each night we had some seriously good times. We’d venture to say we had the finest dining anywhere in town during EJS. Some say we should open up a 7BG place out in Moab just for such occasions….things that make you go hmmmmm!
Now for some things you can sink your teeth into and that make you go MMMmmmmMMMMmmmMMM………Here are one of the recipes (more to come soon).
Pork Tenderloin with Duo of White Beans and Greens Stew fra Diavolo:
Serves 6 – 8 6 each Pork Tenderloin brush with a little olive oil and season to taste with Salt, Pepper, Granulated Garlic.
For the White Bean Stew:
1 head Romaine Leaf Lettuce (clean, chop into bitesize pieces) Set aside until later.
2 tablespoon Olive Oil (Pomace or Virgin)
**OPTIONAL: 2 Tbs Bacon, Pancetta or Artisanal Veal Pancetta from ( Diced fine.
1 small White or Yellow Onion (peel, dice small)
6 each Cloves Garlic (sliced or chopped)
to taste Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (add less for mild add more for hot spicy)
1 each 20 Oz. Can White Beans (Cannelini or Navy)
1 each 20 oz Can Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
3 cups White Wine (1 Cup for the recipe, 2 cups for the Chef of course)
2 Cups Chicken Stock (or Water will work fine but not be as flavorful as using stock)
In a skillet: Heat the oil in a pan and sear the seasoned pork tenderloin, cook on all sides until golden pull out of pan and set aside.Add the garlic, onions and peppe flakes to cook until softened. (**Optional: Add the oil and bacon, pancetta or veal pancetta to cook until golden then add in the onions, garlic and pepper flakes). Add in the wine to “deglaze” and let simmer for 30 seconds. Add in the beans, utilizing the a little bit of the liquid that the beans were kept in is ok and will add a little body to the dish. Add in the chicken stock (or water) and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add in the chopped romain and place the tenderloins back in. Cover with lid and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the tenderloin is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
Serve and enjoy.
MORE MOAB EJS Recipes (Die Trying Sirloin Steak) Coming Soon!!!!
Die Trying Top Sirloin with Skillet Sweet Potato & Roasted Corn

Die Trying Top Sirloin with Skillet Sweet Potato & Roasted Corn

Thank you to this 7BG MOAB EJS trip Sponsors:

(*sidenote from a 2007 trip to Moab: PSNR: “I may be crazy but I’m not stupid!!! “)

imag0189Have I mentioned how much I love road trips…well once again I do! I had just over 48 hours to tackle a 1200 mile round trip trek to meet with some of my fellow JPFreek peeps this past weekend. Busy with several other projects this trip was literally thrown together. A vague menu had been planned for two breakfasts and a dinner that I would be responsible for, of course recipes included some of our 7 Bar & Grille Culinary Modification Tools let’s say we had to validate that they are truly “Trail Proven”!

Everything was prepared on site and nothing in advance, although the recipes within this article make suggestions on items that can be prepared in advance for ease of preparation on the trail.

*On a side note I want to express to everybody, be sure to look for other recipes coming soon (how’s that for pressure to produce) from fellow JPFreek Staffers, incorporating other items from the Culinary Modification Tools line up in everyday cooking. Expect to see some recipes soon from fellow chefs Mark Stephens, Greg Machado and even our visionary fearless leader Frank Ledwell.

The neat thing about the industry of magazines in general these days is that you don’t have to move to L.A. to be on staff! Frank Ledwell our fearless-visionary-leader was great in communicating the coordinates and destination location. Thank goodness it wasn’t in downtown L.A. I packed up after an early start to teach a class that morning and finally left the “big city” of Denver by 3pm.  I was able to drive straight through to about Roswell, NM before nature caught up with me and sleepy eyes proliferated. I would drive for a few miles…pull over….sleep for ten to thirty minutes….get up drive some more….repeat! Finally at about 1 am Saturday morning I finally pulled over somewhere south of Artesia, NM and slept a good two hours. imag0188

After some shut eye I was awoken to the lights of an 18 wheeler thinking it was heading straight for me….ahhhhrrrrg! After shaking off the sudden scare it was time to forge on towards the Texas – New Mexico border. By 5am I decided once again I would get some more sleep, the border was only 16 miles to the park/campsite anyway. Frank, Mark, Jackie and Alan were planning on hiking to the peak of Guadalupe mountain, at 6:30am and wouldn’t be back to camp until at least 10:30 that morning.

imag0191Finally arriving at this beautiful little jewel, known as the Guadalupe N.F. Campground, in the Texas panhandle I stretched out in the Chalet Expi, kicked up the tunes, and I was able to catch up on some general paperwork and yet a little more sleep.

Getting out and stretching to absorb the cool desert air and suns’ warmth, the first of the JPFreek team arrived back at camp. We have all previously communicated via the WWW so this physical meeting was a first. With the typical introductions and greeting aside, let’s get right to it, set up camp kitchen and start on brunch. This morning’s brunch was in part brought to you by Torpedo Farms Pork of Pueblo Colorado ( ). The Roasted Green Chile Pepper Sausage and Egg burritos were just what the chef ordered. Additionally it was time to “Trail Prove” some of our new 7 Bar & Grille Culinary Modification Tools, the first in order of course to start the party (I mean business meeting and product ideation and testing session) right was the Poison Spider Bloody Mary Mix.

With that out of the way we got down to business. Ledwell gave us all the lowdown and “state of the union” address. Exciting times these are ahead I must say on several levels, and that’s all I can say for now!

Hunger slowly creeps and as the chef I get down to it…..a little appetizer of Hot Smoked Salmon Tortilla Wrap with Las Cruces Green Chile Challenge Sour Cream and Spring Onions.

As the appetizers, conversations and carbonated refreshments flow, the good times roll. Discussion focused on all the good things coming down the pipe for JPFReek…NOT to be confused AT ALL with JP in no way shape or form (just wanted to clarify that so the masses didn’t think they were reading something other than JPFreek). The night moves on into dinner: Seared Pork Cutlets with Creamy, Porcini-Laced Cabbage and Potato Stew.

With dinner out of the way it was time to get to know more about one another on a personal level, backgrounds, upbringings, stories of yesteryear and the like. Waiting for one more arrival of JPFreek staff from the west Texas town of Midland, Machado finally showed up. A little late mind you but well stocked, full cooler in-hand and pitcher of margaritas in the other! Les Bonne Temps Rouillie! Good times were had by all and one staffer is now officially dubbed “Quilla” (pronounced Killah) go figure. What happens in the desert stays in the desert!

Finally it was bed time once again, as another breakfast was to be had before getting back on the long trip home. Simple Scrambled Eggs and Hash Browned Potatoes (using our Culinary Modification Tool Stuck in the Mud Spud Spice) .

A quick trip well worth the lack of sleep!

P.S. To my fellow JPFreekers, our readers want to see how you use those other Culinary Modification Tools of ours, we’ll be waiting to see what you whip up with them here at the 7 Bar & Grille.

JPFReek Meet & Greet Guadalupe Mountains Breakfast

Roasted Green Chile Pepper Sausage, Cheese and Egg Burritos

Pinwheels of Hot Smoked Salmon Tortilla Wrap with Las Cruces Green Chile Challenge Sour Cream and Spring Onions

Seared Pork Cutlets with Creamy, Porcini Laced Cabbage and Potato Stew

Pepper Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Burritos: serves 4

  • 1lb Torpedo Farms Roasted Pepper Sausage Links

  • 8 Whole Eggs, Cracked, Whipped

  • 1 Tbs Oil (for cooking)

  • 4 – 10” Flour Tortillas

  • ½ Lb Cheese (your favorite) shredded *Queso Asadero works really well for this

  1. In a skillet heat 1 Tbs. Oil.

  2. Place the sausages in the pan to brown on all sides and cook through (165F internal temp).

  3. Take the sausages out and set aside, let rest and cut into bite size pieces.

  4. In the meantime, add the eggs to the pan over medium heat and scramble.

  5. Cook the eggs until they start to firm up add back in the sausage.

  6. Over another open flame heat the tortillas slightly.

  7. Build your burrito and enjoy!

*Asadero is basically a Mexican style mozzarella. “A flavorful, Mexican melting cheese, Asadero has a creamy, smooth texture with a sweet, buttery flavor . Excellent for melting, Asadero is also ideal for baking because its stronger flavor adds to the appeal of a baked dish!”

Pinwheels of Hot Smoked Salmon Tortilla Wrap with Las Cruces Green Chile Challange Sour Cream and Spring Onions


½ Lb Hot Smoked Salmon (

2 ea 10” Flour Tortilla (flavored tortillas work well too)

½ Cup Sour Cream

1 Tbs Las Cruces Chile Challenge Culinary Modification Tool

4 each Scallions, cleaned, chopped

Method of Preparation: in a bowl mix the sour cream and Las Cruces Chile Challenge to incorporate well. Flake the hot smoked salmon into small pieces. Lay the tortilla flat and spread the sour cream Chile Challenge mix. Sprinkle the salmon and scallions liberally. Roll and slice!

Seared Pork Cutlets with Creamy, Porcini Laced Cabbage and Potato Stew: Serves 4-6

  • imag020312 quarts Water (for boiling potatoes)

  • 2.5 lbs Yukon Gold or Red Bliss Potatoes, precooked, dice ½ inch pieces.

  • 1 each Red Onion, Chopped Fine

  • 4 each Cloves Garlic

  • 1 each Small Head Cabbage Chopped (about 2 cups chopped)

  • ½ cup Dry Porcini Mushrooms (found in gourmet shops) rehydrated

  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream

  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil (for cooking)

  • 6 ea 6 – 8 oz. Pork Loin Cutlets, season with salt and pepper.

  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. In a pan add the water and potatoes, bring to a boil, cook until the potatoes are fork tender (this can be done at home well in advance). Dice into ½ pieces, leave the skin on.

  2. In a heavy bottom skillet, heat the oil, and sear the pork cutlets until browned on both sides. This will create yummy flavors.

  3. Once browned pull out and set aside.

  4. To the same pan, add the onions and garlic, cook until soft, stir well to pick up the yummy browned bits of the previously seared pork cutlets.

  5. Add in the cabbage and let cook until softened.

  6. Add in the potatoes, and rehydrated mushrooms (liquid included) mix well and let simmer for 5 minutes.

  7. Take off the heat and slowly add in the cream, stirring well. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

  8. Put back on low heat, add the Pork Cutlets, cover and let simmer until the cutlets are cooked through to 145F internal temp.

7 Bar & Grille Breakfast Taters: Serves 4-6


  • 2lbs Red Potatoes, Diced ½ inch

  • 1 each Small Yellow Onion, Diced

  • Olive Oil & Bacon Grease (the 10w40 of cooking fat)

  • 1 Tbs. 7 Bar & Grille Stuck in the Mud Spud Spice

Heat the oil and Bacon Grease over medium heat. Add in the potatoes to cook until slightly browned. Add in the onions to cook. Season with Stuck in the Mud Spud Spice. Enjoy!

I must admit I am not always the most healthy-minded individuals (Bacon Grease?!?!) so with that in mind coming soon to “health-ify” and adapt some of our recipes for the more nutritionally minded will be a 7 Bar & Grille Outdoor Healthy Lifestyle Nutrition Specialist and Correspondent (Machado my friend I’m here to help)…..more details to come soon!

So all in all it was a great trip. On the way back I couldn’t resist the urge of stopping in the legendary Roswell, New Mexico. I was hungry and in seach of my favorite elixer of cow innards in spicy broth, menudo (I know you’re thinking oh god does this guy eat anything else!?!?) and maybe…just maybe capture a photo of an elusive alien being.


I will say…both were found without much probing at all! Eat well, wheel well and responsibily…until next time we’ll see you on the trails.


And remember….



“MissionOuray” An experienced first timers Jeep Jamboree ride along!

Mark M. DeNittis September 12th– 14th, 2008

The phone call came last minute on Wednesday night (9.10.08) from editor, Frank (n’beans) Ledwell, “can you be in Ouray, Colorado this Friday to ride along with the folks of Jeep Jamboree USA?” “Sure, I can leave after my class finishes at 7:30pm, drive through the night and get there sometime Saturday morning.  At this time Frank was dealing with hurricane Ike that was targeting the Texas coast and Houston, his hometown, and my old chefing grounds. Communication was quick and mostly I spoke with Corporate Jeep Jamboree HQ to figure out just who I was to connect with once I arrived. Kudos to the JJUSA Team for the great communications on such quick notice.


Note: Ouray is pronounced “YOU-ray” not “Oooooh-ray” or “Hooo-ray” it’s “YOU-ray” as my good friend, Colorado native, Josh so kindly reminded me. He wanted to bonk my noggin, for improperly pronouncing it, when I first told him I was headed to “Ooooohray”.  I tried to talk him into letting me borrow the Crane-Hi-Clearance rig for the run as my Jeep is currently under surgery receiving something to the effect of a well known tomato vegetable juice implant.

9.12.08 8:30pm – 9.13.08 7:30am

This was my first trip to Ouray (YOU-ray) and certainly won’t be my last. I still had no clue where I was supposed to meet or what I was even supposed to do. I just know I was supposed to get connected with Kathy of JJUSA. I love these types of renegade road trips, I thrive on them. They remind me of my earlier days, and according to my wife and family, those days really never ended for me in the first place.  The trip down was awesome. I had never been through that area of Colorado. A full moon, clear skies and nobody else on the road, what more could I ask for? Getting to the Blue Mesa Reservoir around midnight I was in awe. The scenery was spectacular! The actual driving time took me about five hours from Denver to Ouray (YOU-Ray). I stopped a few times to along the way to take in the view, stretch and catch 30 minutes of sleep here and there so I wouldn’t careen off the road at 65-75 miles per hour.

Ouray, (YOU-Ray) Colorado is absolutely magnificent. I stayed just above Main Street on the second switch-back at the Chalet-Expi (back of my Ford Expedition) in a room with a view, nearly 360⁰ degrees of view mind you.

Having been on a total of two hours of sleep since Friday morning I needed some coffee. I recalled that a young couple, former students of mine had a bakery in town on Main Street, and it just so happened the first one I pulled into was theirs, the Beaumont Artisan Bakery and Café owned by Erin and Trevor. I walked in and with a hearty “I hope there’s no garnish on the floor” a saying they would surely recall from the days of classroom kitchen cleanup time. Erin had their bright eyed 16-month old snug as a bug in a backpack style sling while she worked the counter, tended to customers and slung dough around. They are well known for their artisanal breads and killer pastries. Stop in if you get a chance as it is the perfect spot for coffee, breakfast, lunch or planning a luncheon picnic for the trail.

· Beaumont Artisan Bakery and Café 460 Main Ouray, CO 81427 970-325-4677

9.13.08 – 7:30am – 9:00am

A phone call from the new Jeep Jamboree event manager Kathy came around 7:30am and gave more insight into where I had to be. The Jeep Jamboree breakfast meeting was above the fire station in the community center. The breakfast was big, filling and just what I needed after a long night of traveling. The coffee and Doritos at 3:00am just didn’t cut it.  All the food for the event was put on by Lamplight Restaurant & Catering by a husband and wife team. The Jeep Jamboree coordinators brought them all the way in from Monticello, Utah.

I met some of the head honcho JJUSA folks, introduced myself and expressed I would greatly appreciate riding shotgun with someone as my Jeep was still awaiting the 8 hamster replacement. They teamed me up with ‘Than Larsen a.k.a. Leather Head, a retired aviator from the Salt Lake City area. He had his leather aviator’s cap and goggles on just for the ride. I mean we would be traveling at more than 12,000 feet above sea level so why not wear them. I had flashbacks of Snoopy in his Red Baron doghouse. The JJUSA folks warned me that Leatherhead was a wild one, I expressed that I wouldn’t get him into too much trouble then. They didn’t know I had a reputation of my own that actually made the pairing quite perfect. As we exchanged general formalities it came to light we both had much more in common than just our wild reputations. He had been an integral part of the writing of “Lovin’ Dutch Ovens” cookbook by Joan S. Larsen (his former spouse). Leatherhead was the tailgunner for the group we were in, his 2004 mostly stock Rubicon TJ could easily traverse the trails ahead.

9.13.08 – 9:00am – 5:15pm

Meeting at the trailhead just south of town I took in the first of many magnificent views. The importance on attendee safety, comfort level and Stay the Trail couldn’t have been stressed more. I thought this was a very respectable approach considering the nature of the wide array of experience levels of the all the attendees. We headed out to trek across a multitude of trails that were very scenic and mildly challenging. For flatlanders visiting the Rockies the challenge factor may have been considered more moderate. For me personally it was certainly much different than the open throttle, boulder strewn hardcore trails I am used to maneuvering. Even stranger for me was riding shotgun in another Jeep, I felt so cheap, dirty and guilty, like I was cheating with a mistress while my darling TJ sat silent in Denver.

Animas Forks, Ghost Town, Picayne Gulch, and Corkscrew Gulch were some of the trails that were on today’s agenda. Basically it was meant to be a large loop that would lead us back into Ouray (remember it’s pronounced YOU-RAY) Scenic views were bountiful and around every turn. Leatherhead and I had a wonderful time speaking about our various life experiences, children, grandchildren and the like. It made for one of the most memorable days of wheeling for me. Isn’t that, in part, what the “Jeep Lifestyle” is about, camaraderie the outdoors and creating lasting memories?! We had a diverse group of folks from all over the U.S. and one woman from British Columbia. Some first timers and some seasoned veterans of longstanding Jeep Jamborees. A lunch stop at the Animas Fork Ghost Town gave me an opportunity for two things, No. 1. Get some magnificent photos and No. 2. SLEEP. Being noon now and having only two and a half hours of sleep over the past thirty-one hours I kicked the seat back and “zonked out” for a solid 45 minutes. The Animas Fork Ghost town made for some great photos as well.

The next portion of trail brought us up through an interesting valley. Over 90 years ago they built a cable tram. Laying one solid cable the length of the valley is mind boggling even by today’s technological standards. Traversing mild switchbacks we meandered our way to 12,693 feet above sea level. GPS is a wonderful invention and Leatherhead was well versed in GPS navigations. He had this whole trip already dialed into his unit. Large, a mild word to use really, snow capped mountains and rolling high country meadows made for such scenic views. Finishing this section we made our way down into Silverton, Colorado to get to the next section of trail known as Corkscrew Gulch which would bring us back to Highway 550 approximately where we started our day.

While climbing the first steep incline at the start of the Corkscrew Gulch trail, one of the more modified CJ’s of the group had vapor locked. Within minutes the experienced team of Jeep Jamboree folks, one whom was a Mopar expert riding along in his Cherokee, they had that gremlin squashed in no time. The next issue was a little more difficult, another 4×4 coming up the section of trail we were coming down. Not such a big deal really however there was really not much room at all for passing on this section of trail. The nice thing about this stop was certainly the scenery, snowcapped peaks, green mountains, red dirt mountains and Colorado blue sky made it all worthwhile. I actually dozed off yet once again for a few minutes to catch up on some more sleep. After figuring the passing by thing out, it was another twenty minutes back down to pavement. Corkscrew is a stretch of trail that gets into the trees with lots of whoop-dee-doos. The Ouray (YOU-ray) General Store can be seen sitting high on a cliff west of the highway, Leatherhead informed me of the longstanding Ouray (YOU-ray) town joke of this neat little cliff side dwelling, not really a store at all! When out-of-towners ask about where to get anything the locals suggest that they attempt going to the General Store on the cliff.

Hitting town by 5:15pm our Trail Leader Larry (no not the cable guy) was surprised that we did the whole trail in such a quick manner, getting back to town well before the anticipated time of 6:00pm.

5:30pm – ???

Needing a place to stay, more so shower and clean up I decided not to stay another night in the Expi-Chalet. Leatherhead suggested that the Matterhorn Hotel may have some vacancy. The Matterhorn is centrally located on 3rd street, what really isn’t centrally located in a small town like this?

The Jeep Jamboree dinner and raffle was from 6:00pm – 8:30, the team Alan and Jackie were there to download attendee’s photos to be put up on the website for future viewing. The food was plentiful and filling. Lamplight’s well known Bow Tie Pasta Salad, Iceberg Salad with Fixin’s, Big Honkin’ Beef Steaks, sautéed veggies all served with a classic Baked Potato were enjoyed by all. The meal was topped off  with Chocolate Brownie Cake for dessert. Dinner is always a great time for meeting new folks, I sat with a couple and their daughter from near Denver and a gentleman from Baton Rouge, LA. He was concerned about family down on the coast that had just weathered hurricane Ike. The folks winning the “I traveled the farthest to attend the Ouray (YOU-ray) event” clearly went to the two women from Costa Rica.

After the dinner Jeep Jamboree did the all awaited raffle of prizes from event sponsors. From the TeraFlex toolbags all the way to the full set of free tires, to the future Jeep Jamboree Event Tickets for two. The neat thing about the person who won the Jeep Jamboree for two was, this was his wife’s first JJ and obviously she was now posed for a second JJ in the near future.  As Paul Harvy would close “and the rest of the story” from that evening was interesting to say the least and better explained or more appropriately told in a Trail Bytes feature at the setting.

To sum up, Jeep Jamborees are everything they claim to be and more. The focus on camaraderie and safe trail practices was amazing. The trail leaders and trail gunners deserve and extremely big thank you. They are complete volunteers and expenses for these trips are completely out of their own pocket. They just love doing it, are well experienced 4 wheelers, great at it and truly enjoy meeting folks. Way to go JJUSA I am sure with being the official publication of Jeep Jamboree USA there will be future events myself and/or the other JpFreek team members will attend. To plan your next Jeep Jamboree go to for more information.

Additional Note: A friendly shout out to Josh, I hope I covered the pronunciation of YOURAY enough to your satisfaction. Hopefully future visitors to our great state won’t be as so inclined to improperly pronouce it by sounding it out by how it is actually spelled “Ouray” mistakenly calling it OOOOOOOH-ray! LOL 🙂

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