I am finally home in the foothills of Mount Hood in Oregon, after a long week in Daytona Beach.
I actually learned a TON during my time away. Primarily, I learned to never stand behind a man swinging a hammer at an exhaust tip (Phil, you are a great new friend – but I did warn you I would forever taunt you about that!). I learned that if you party with Rebel Off Road, be prepared to throw down (those guys DO NOT mess around).
But last, I learned about how awesome the Jeep family truly is.
The morning started off with the beautiful Florida sun peeking through the blinds. The smell of sunscreen and stale beer rang throughout our condo, signalling yet another day of Jeep Beach.
We headed to the Daytona International Speedway to hang out and meet vendors, and to take my friend Phil’s 1989 restored YJ out on the infamous obstacle course that was set up in the massive Daytona infield.
First things first, we hit the obstacle course with Phil’s YJ. Unfortunately his transfer case did not engage into 4WD properly and when he bumped some logs, he ended up snapping the front driveshaft yoke. So, we hobbled his rig off the course and ordered the parts from the show. Tomorrow morning, I will attempt a fix right on the Daytona infield.
The rest of the afternoon was spent meeting and greeting the various companies that my Jeep is made of (or that I plan to order from).
I had a great chat with Chris from SpiderWebShade and learned a bit about his fascinating company. They started in 2006 as an upholstery shop and made a few mesh screens for friends’ Jeeps. They started making 50 units per month, and now are at 5,000+. It is a VERY cool product and I look forward to giving it a full review on this site soon.
I also spent some time with Mike from Factor 55. His company makes some amazing winch/recovery points and I will also get on a review of their new FlatLink shackle thimble. I am really looking forward to testing it out in Moab next month and will also provide a full review.
At the end of the day, I met people from ACE Engineering, Rebel Off Road, Rock Krawler (have you ever held their control arms!?), Poison Spider, Rugged Ridge, Carolina Metal Masters, Bruiser Conversions, and many many more.
We retired to the condo to rehydrate, relax, and check out all the goodies we bought today, as well as formulate a plan to get Phil’s rig back on the trail tomorrow.
Tonight is also the VIP Tiky Party! Hope to post more on that later, beers providing 🙂
Today culminated one of the biggest achievements yet of Jeep Beach 2014: Completing the scavenger hunt.
We drove around between A1A and US 1, checking off an interesting list of hidden secrets such as the “mysterious” ruins of New Smyrna, a lighthouse in Ponce Inlet, and a manatee named “Cookie.”
But perhaps the most interesting thing we encountered was the “Tomb in the road.” According to the site “Weird Florida,”
“[Douglas] Dummett sent his son to school in the North and in 1860 when Charles was home from school, he was killed while on a hunting trip when his gun accidentally discharged. Douglas Dummett buried his son on the spot where he was killed. For the past century this area has been developed into a residential neighborhood, but Charles Dummett’s tomb still sits on a little island in the middle of Canova Drive.”
Pretty cool history off the beaten path.
After we completed all the items on the list, we headed back to the condo for some sun and some R&R before cruising out to the first “meet n greet” of the week.
The highlight of the meet n greet was roaming around the parking lot, checking out all the amazing rigs from around the country.
Here are some of my favorites:
After the drool-fest was over outside, we headed inside for some mingling, dinner, and drinks (the hotel made me a special vegan dinner of penne, fresh garlic marinara and garlic bread – super good!) but the drinks we pretty meh.
Today was the official first day of Jeep Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida.
This annual pilgrimage of Jeep owners is the Yin to Easter Jeep Safari’s yang, with Daytona offering a decent match to Moab.
Where Daytona can’t possibly compare with Moab’s terrain and trails, it delivers in spades better weather, beautiful beaches, and a coastal atmosphere.
Today was pretty chill; we started the scavenger hunt – a contest to take photos of your or your Jeep around Daytona Beach with various landmarks, waiters, and other curiosities.
The day culminated at the Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium, where hundreds of of Jeeps and Jeepers converged to meet with vendors, chat, and enjoy some local music and cold beers.
I spent some time meeting with the team from Spiderwebshade and Factor 55 where we discussed their newest products. I am looking forward to learning more. They snuck me some VIP tickets to the Tiky Party on Friday!
We saw some amazing rigs and saw some of the newer Jeeps from vendors – the Skyjacker jeep had some fresh damage from a crash at EJS!
Tomorrow we will continue the scavenger hunt and spend more time on the beach and in the Jeep!