No one needs to tell you to hold on when you drive Wipe Out Hill. Dennis Boxdorfer takes us to Moab with his Palomino truck camper, Jeep, and a full roll cage.
The time any of us get to enjoy a hobby is very precious. Everyday, life seems to create time devouring challenges that rob us of our free hobby time. Sometimes I feel hobby mugged by a surprise something or other that needs my attention now.
It may seem selfish and trivial when people are struggling with natural disasters and the economy, but time to enjoy what makes us feel connected to our hobby passions is important. Hobbies that were once so fulfilling can be hard to rekindle if neglected for too long. If there was such thing as a Hobby Doctor, they would tell you, “Use it, or lose it”. Or, as I like to say, “Passions put on pause, can disappear”.
For Dennis Boxdorfer, Jeeping is his passion. As the owner of a busy construction company, his truck camper is the tool of choice to escape the pressures of work (and other pesky time bandits) and steal away to the Jeep trails where his bliss can run wild. You go Dennis. And we should all follow your lead, at least until we hit Wipe Out Hill.
ABOVE: Dennis and Cindy in Utah
TCM: How did you get into truck camping?
Dennis: It’s kind of funny story. The reason I have our truck camper is because of Jeeping. We go Jeeping as often as we can. We’ll go someplace and spend a weekend or week Jeeping.
I was originally going to buy a toy hauler for our Jeep, but it was $75,000 and it was huge at 35-38 feet long. Then one Sunday morning it came to me. I Googled, “truck camper” and your magazine came up. So, I started reading it. I told my girlfriend, Cindy, “This is what we need”. We wanted one that fit our budget, so I did a lot of research.
I corresponded with Gordon a few times and he was very helpful. Ever since that day, and you can look when I subscribed to Truck Camper Magazine, that was the day I figured it out (Editor: It was September 5th, 2010 at 10:51am). I’m sold with the camper. Both of us are really happy with our decision.
TCM: Why is your camper named Luella?
Dennis: That’s my mom’s name. She died when I was fifteen years old. Cindy loves that name. My Jeep buddies teased me when I painted my Jeep purple, and they nicknamed it Barney. I didn’t like it but eventually gave into it. When we got our truck camper, Cindy thought we had to name it as well.
ABOVE: Thousands of Jeeps invade Moab every year at Easter for the Easter Jeep Safari sponsored by the Red Rock Four Wheelers Association, Inc.
TCM: Tell us about what you love about truck camping and Jeeping in Utah.
Dennis: We go out to Utah for the Easter Jeep Safari. There are a lot of people who go to the Easter Jeep Safari and we’ve made lots of friends from all over the country there. When we first went to the Jeep Safari, we went on organized trail rides almost every day. Now, we go on two organized trails during the week and the rest of the time we hang out with friends and do our own stuff.
TCM: Is there a limit on how many people can attend the Easter Jeep Safari?
Dennis: They do have a maximum, but there are ten million acres out there with certified trails. I think there were 2,000 registered vehicles for this event. It’s a big club. They send out a full color newspaper every winter in January that’s about fifty pages. Everyone who was registered for the past five years gets a copy.
ABOVE: Wipe Out Hill at the Easter Jeep Safari, Moab, Utah and Barney, Dennis’ Jeep
TCM: I see that Wipe Out Hill was from the Jeep Safari. What’s Wipe Out Hill?
Dennis: The Saturday of the Easter Jeep Safari is called Big Saturday. Our group went on Wipe Out Hill this year. Ever year we go to a spot for lunch. We had a couple of gas barbecue pits going. It’s a big family affair.
Wipe Out Hill is a lot worse than those pictures show. In the pictures, you can see that my hand is holding me in my seat. On Wipe Out Hill, the back tires came off the ground.
TCM: Aren’t you concerned about getting hurt?
Dennis: I’ve got a full roll cage and we have seat belts, so I’m not concerned about injury. We’re really careful, but you need a lot of skill. During the Easter Jeep Safari, the trail leaders spot you and help you maneuver through the obstacles. It’s like jumping out of an airplane. You get an adrenaline rush.
TCM: You’ve jumped out of an airplane?
Dennis: Yes, haven’t you?
Dennis: I own a construction company, which is a high stress job. We sell steel storage buildings for RVs and workshops. I don’t know where the next dollar is going to come from. There are so many things that can go wrong. It’s just the nature of the business. When you have that kind of stress, I‘ve found having activities like Jeeping, and finding dirt roads that scare the bejesus out of you, takes your mind to nothing but that moment. It helps me clear my mind. It’s a way for me to relax and get away from the stresses of every day and as a bonus, have a lot of fun!
ABOVE: Jeeping down Long Canyon Road
TCM: How did you get into Jeeping?
Dennis: I’ve always liked Jeeps. I lived in Colorado when I was young, when CJ7s were new, so it’s been awhile. Ever since I was in Colorado, I’ve wanted a Jeep. Now that I’m older and had a better job, I have one. Actually, I bought it with a friend of mine. We found an ugly duckling Jeep for sale and went over with the truck and bought it. I have had it since 1991.
TCM: Tell us about your Jeeping club.
Dennis: The Red Rock Four Wheel Drive Association is the club who produce the Jeep Safari. They pull the permits, organize the trails, and run the event. You have to register with them. I am personal friends with several of the trail guides and officers.
LEFT: Dennis and Cindy high above Hwy 191 running north and south from I-70 through Moab and into Arizona CENTER: The tractor trailer pulling two full size tanker trailers give perspective to the height
TCM: I see that you also go to Moab. Is Moab really as good for Jeeping as everyone says it is?
Dennis: I would even go so far as to say it’s a Mecca. It’s a really good place to go Jeeping. A lot of people go out in groups all the time. Moab gets really hot in June, July, and August. In the winter it gets really cold.
TCM: What are some of your favorite places in Moab to go Jeeping?
Dennis: We like to go exploring in Shaffer Canyon, Long Road Canyon, and Canyonlands National Park is gorgeous. There are hundreds of places to go. The spot that we found this last time was overlooking Mineral Bottoms.
We like to go boondocking in Utah with our friends, Ray and Lori from Denver who have a Hallmark pop-up camper. They found a spot years ago and we can’t believe no one else goes out there. You need four wheel drive to get to that spot.
ABOVE: Dennis and Cindy’s 2010 Palomino Maverick 8801 and 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD diesel and Ray and Lori’s 1983 Hallmark pop-up on a 1985 full size Ford Bronco, the camper was custom built by Hallmark to fit the early Broncos
TCM: Is the boondocking spot with Ray and Lori at Mineral Bottoms? From your photos, it looks like you spend a lot of time camping there.
Dennis: It’s at the edge of a rim where we stayed. Those pictures show the Green River. You’ll see there’s a road down there. The area at the bottom is known as Mineral Bottoms. The road starts at the top of a plateau. It’s a thirty mile drive back down in there. In the pictures, we are overlooking that area.
Ray and Lori take a river trip every fall in September. Living in Denver, they’re 350 miles from the area, so they go out more often than we do. They’ve been doing that for fifteen or twenty years. We let them take us exploring because they know so many places.
ABOVE LEFT: The storm coming in CENTER: After the wind stopped. They had trouble opening the doors of the camper because the wind was so strong so they had to stay inside. The temperature dropped about 30 degrees during all of this, RIGHT: A photo of the wicked sky then it began to clear out
There’s a funny story about our adventures with Ray and Lori. We were on a rim about 2,000 feet above the Green River at Mineral Bottoms. It was a gorgeous day, but windy. Then the wind picked up considerably and we noticed clouds moving in. The clouds continued to get very dark and ominous and the wind picked up to almost hurricane velocity. I had the camper jacks of my camper down on solid rock and the tie downs were connected to the truck, but the wind was rocking us anyway.
ABOVE: Ray, Cindy, Dennis, and Lori in the Palomino truck camper
What do you do when you are camping out alone and about one and a half hours from civilization in a bad storm? Get inside the camper, tell stories, write a song, and have a few adult beverages until the storm blows over. That’s what.
ABOVE LEFT: Morning. A little chilly. Couldn’t think of a better place to have fresh brewed Kona coffee and hot cinnamon rolls, CENTER: The Green River, Mineral Bottoms, Utah, RIGHT: The bad weather moved out and the only sounds we heard were the birds chirping as they flew by to say hello
The next morning was quiet and calm with blue skies and temperatures in the 50s. We had coffee and caramel rolls looking out over the rim as far as we could see. It was so quiet and peaceful we could have stayed there for a few more days.
ABOVE: View of the Green River from inside Dennis and Cindy’s Palomino 8801
TCM: I think we’ll ask Ray and Lori for an interview. Other than having Ray and Lori as guides, how do you know how to get around?
Dennis: Delorme makes great big maps and books for every state. They put everything in them; backroads, GPS coordinates, and difficulties of trails. We’ve got Delorme maps for Utah, Colorado, and Missouri (where we live). The entire book is like an atlas, but only for one state. They are topographic maps with outdoor recreation, things to do, BLM areas, and state lands. The maps are really handy.
ABOVE: Dennis and Cindy’s 2010 Palomino Maverick 8801 and 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD diesel and twenty foot enclosed car hauler trailer with a tandem axle
TCM: How do you tow your Jeep?
Dennis: We have a twenty foot enclosed car hauler trailer with a tandem axle. I have a tool bench, toolboxes, lights, and electric outlets. It is a portable garage inside.
I would never flat tow my Jeep. You are wearing out your tires and running your drive train unless you take the drive shafts off. Sometimes you have to do that, if you don’t have enough money for a trailer. I bought my equipment over time. I also use the trailer for my job, so it’s not just for my Jeep.
Right now I have a factory receiver hitch on my truck. My friend who happens to be a certified welder made me a stinger hitch that’s a solid twenty-eight inch long bar. We fabricated the chains and lights and then got under truck and changed out to grade eight bolts.
Torklift makes a SuperHitch and I’m going change to that soon. It’s a better set-up than what I’ve got. Before my next long excursion, I’m going to buy it. Twenty-eight inches isn’t long enough because my camper jacks hit my trailer when I make tight turns. I’m going to a thirty-six inch hitch.
TCM: Do you ever go truck camping without your Jeep?
Dennis: Yes. We went to Peoria, Illinois to visit Cindy’s youngest son at Bradley University. We have also gone to Lake Peoria. There’s a RV park next to Lake Peoria. It’s not new and modern, but it’s right on the lake.
TCM: How is Johnson Shut-Ins State Park related to your truck camper? I didn’t see any pictures of your Palomino in those photos.
Dennis: That was our very first trip with our Palomino 8801, other than the trip back from the dealer. Missouri has some of the best state parks in the country. They are so well maintained and clean. They’ve even got hook-ups. We were at Johnson Shut-Ins State Park in late October and the weather was so nice. It was Halloween weekend and all of the RVs there were decorated! There was a full moon, we were out in the country, there were coyotes calling, and we had a bonfire. We had a good time.
We are very comfortable and enjoying our camper. After we got home from our last trip we looked at the size of the house and we said that we couldn’t believe we had to clean all of it.
TCM: We know that feeling all too well. Thanks for the interview Dennis. We’ll have to get out to the Easter Jeep Safari one of these years. That looks like fun.
Dennis: You’re welcome. And come on out to the Jeep Safari. There are lots of truck campers there. You would love it.