2011 January 2 trip up Copper Canyon
2010 Cowichan Valley Land Rover Rally
2009 Christmas off-road drive
2009 Solihull Society National Rally, Leadville, Colorado
2009 Cowichan Valley Land Rover Rally
2008 Cowichan Valley Land Rover Rally
2007 Laager in the Valley
2006 Laager in the Valley
2005 Land Rover Rally in the Valley
2004 Land Rover Rally in the Valley

2011 January 2 trip up Copper Canyon

January 2nd 2011. We got together at the Haida-Way restaurant on Highway #1 at Chemainus, a little earlier than the planned time, and most of us had a nice breakfast before our drive. We left, seemingly on time, heading straight up the Copper Canyon mainline. There was a bit of dust to chew on for the first few miles but it wasn't long before we had clean white snow on the road. Morning temperatures at the bottom of the mountain were minus 8. The snow wasn't very deep but was beautiful, especially with the sun glinting off the huge flakes of hoar frost. We worked our way past where any other vehicles had driven lately and stopped for a chat and to turn around at the old and derelict logging "donkey". Snow depth was 8 to 12 inches at this point, dry, crusty and offering a bit of a challenge but not causing anyone to get stuck yet, not even David, he wasn't stuck while he turned around, he was just spinning his tires a lot. Exploring was done on the way back and we stopped for lunch at a small beach beside the Chemainus River. It was sunny and bright, nice enough to entice us to explore the Holyoak Lake road and see how far we could get. Not far it seems. About 6 or 7 miles in, there is a fairly steep hill, the ground water flows onto the road here resulting in slick three inch thick ice across the whole road. It's a wierd feeling when you're driving forward then suddenly going backward despite the forward turning wheels. The Disco 2 with traction control couldn't get as far up the hill as to the glare ice but managed to slide backward down the hill none the less. "Should I scream now?" "No dear. Not yet!" Once the Disco came to a halt backward in the ditch with the bumper facing the sky, Rob said "You can scream now!" She did! I drove the 109 to the bottom of the hill and positioned it to pull the Disco with the use of a re-direct pulley. It's amazing that in the middle of nowhere, as soon as a truck goes in the ditch, a crowd can simply "appear". A bunch of snow-shoe'rs stopped to offer encouragement and watch the spectacle. It took only a few minutes and an easy ten foot pull to free the Disco. No damage except to ego and ears (remember the scream). We wrapped up the exploring with the freeing of the Disco and headed for home. It was a nice outing and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Greg Sutfin, January 2011

2010 Cowichan Valley Land Rover Rally

Year eight folks! I needed a little more help getting things ready this year as I was recovering from a bit of surgery; the help was gratefully appreciated and everything came together right on time just like it was planned. The Rally Tee shirt request went out early for a shirt with artwork by Steve Norton. Then there was the collecting of awards; Rob and Lisa arranged items for a fundraiser, and my insurance company contacted me and said they wouldn't renew my homeowner's policy. They have covered this rally event the previous 7 years but now have decided they won't cover us anymore. We have since changes Underwriters and no longer deal with Gore Mutual.

Several Landy's camped over Friday night and the tarp was erected early Saturday morning. The sun beat down just like I had requested! The Land Rovers lined up above the shade house and the socializing began. Soon our BBQ lunch got underway and just as it was ready more people arrived. Conversations got ramped up, kids had a blast, the rest relaxed and, there was enough food for everyone.

CVLRR 10 pt1 003Our campers.

About 2:30 we headed out on our "no scratch" drive to the west peak of Mount Prevost for a clear view of the valley over 2000 feet below. We could easily see south to the Olympic Mountains and east to the mainland and Mount Baker with the Gulf Islands in the foreground. Continuing our drive we returned by Highway 18 and were back at the farm by 5 PM, just in time to start cooking for the Pot-Luck Dinner. A well executed dinner was served up to about fifty people who all seemed to stuff themselves (I know I did.). While we were digesting dinner, Rob and his bevy of helpers handed out the booty from the fundraiser to an excited crowd. Bill got the fire pit flaming away and as the evening progressed some had to go home but others gathered around the fire to tell lies and solve most of the problems with the world.

CVLRR 10 pt1 062Our after dinner cake.

The Sunday breakfast, Annual General Meeting and awards presentation took place at the Mount Brenton Golf Club. We seem to keep finding better and better places to have our breakfast! Awards were presented in a dozen unannounced categories; a few were voted on and some categories were invented on the spur of the moment during the presentations. Not everyone got an award but I suspect everyone enjoyed the presentations. I cleaned up on the perpetual trophies this year, taking both the "Fix Gone Wrong" award for dropping a nut and bolt down the intake manifold on a carburetor change and not knowing about it till they were banging around in the cylinders. I also won the "Breakdown Trophy" for a small collection of incidents on my 3900 mile trip to Colorado last August that caught us (my son Jared and I) with intermittent headlights, wipers flying off in the rain, a fuel pump being installed on the side of the freeway in the desert (summer desert at high noon in the baking sun) and limping home using the starting crank to start it the last couple days. (Want to attract a crowd on the ferry? Try starting your car with the hand crank to disembark.)

CVLRR 10 BF 102Breakdown wizard award.

Finishing up after breakfast signalled departure time for some while others headed for the Sunday drive (possibility of some scratches or dents). We spent a couple hours going the first 8 km on a narrow winding track before heading to the old Mount Sicker mines. On the narrow section I managed to be the only one to get stuck in a bit of mud (glad I have a winch) and Dave some how got a couple wheels off the track and needed a pull back on. One challenging hill saw a few of the group have to make multiple runs to get up it. I was in the lead so didn't see this so needed clarification about which hill it was, my old 109 with open differentials had no such difficulty. Mind you, I was the only one to get stuck in the mud wasn't I? Approaching ferry reservations for some of those from the mainland prompted a quick return to civilization and we descended the mountain by an old wagon road. We were back on paved roads in good time and with not much more damage than a bit of Van Isle Pin Striping.

CVLRR 10 SD 003The start of our Sunday drive.

Those of us still left after the drive had the rally site cleaned up and put away in a couple short hours. Thanks everyone for making this an enjoyable weekend, so enjoyable I just might host another one.

Greg Sutfin

2009 Christmas off-road drive

The plan was to go for an off-road drive on the island sometime after Christmas. The 27th is after Christmas so that should be a good day. Whoever picked it must have a crystal ball because the day was, indeed, fabulous. Cold but as bright and sunny as anyone could wish for, and the heater made it toasty warm inside the Land Rover. Morning at our house was -5 C and in the hills, it was probably less but in the sun, who cares, it felt great. The afternoon temperature rose to above freezing.

Our Timmy's meeting place at 0930 saw a good crowd of people but very few vehicles. Rob H even drove down from Ladysmith to say hello and see us off but because of other commitments, couldn't come on the drive. The convoy ended up with just three vehicles. My two sons' in the lead car, a Nissan Pathfinder, Victor and myself in my Series IIA 109 SW and following up was Steve N, Chris A and Mike, in Steve's Range Rover Classic. It wasn't hard to keep the convoy compact and due to the small size we were able to keep moving. We took a turn from the Hillcrest Road that heads to Chemainus River Provincial Park. Turning off before the park, we headed west exploring old logging roads. A turn-off to a riverside campsite was enjoyable, flexed the suspension, gave us some ideas about future visits and showed us what a burned out hulk of a Discovery II looks like.

Continuing on our main track we had fun traversing above-ground culverts, and a stream or two. (An "above ground culvert" is essentially a big ditch dug across the road.) Going too slow through one of the culverts I hung up the rear cross member on the 109. On his return home my son was tickled to tell his mother that he had to "save" his dad by pulling him through the obstacle. We stopped to view a river ford and noticed an ancient telegraph pole hidden in the woods. How old and where did the lines lead? We are pretty much in the middle of nowhere but years ago there were some sizeable logging camps in the area.

Farther on we stopped to have a look at an abandoned railway trestle, rotted almost to oblivion. You have to know where it is to find it in the woods as it is derelict and overgrown; even when right beside it, it is well camouflaged. Up to this point we had been following an original railway bed, from the early days of logging, that many years previous had been converted to a truck logging road and abandoned since.

Our drive continued on some newer logging roads designed from the outset as truck roads. I can't say they were better but at least they hadn't been de-activated yet. We headed back to civilization and the main highway by these newer roads and finished up the day before three o'clock.

Thanks to David and Jared leading the way and showing us the sites, we had a very enjoyable day.

Greg Sutfin

2009 Solihull Society National Rally, Leadville, Colorado

Going to the Solihull Society National Rally and back was a long trip, and a long time in the planning. Where does one start when telling the tale? I can't go as far back as the beginning but will start by saying I first crossed paths with the group in 2002 when David and I were on the Border to Border Society expedition. On our last night in Moab, Utah, we meet some Land Rover owners arriving for that year's Solihull Society's National Rally. Then last year, a bunch of the Rover-Landers from the Vancouver area went to the rally at Moab. They were suitably impressed and had many good things to say about it. My interest was aroused and I eventually decided a trip to Colorado for the 2009 rally would be time well spent. The Society alternates location of the rally; even years it is in Utah at Moab, odd years in Colorado; this year in Leadville.

When I decided to go to the Rally, my 1970 Land Rover Long Wheel Base Station Wagon was still in pieces in the shop I've been renting from a neighbour. It's been apart and in a shop for the last four years. I've fixed most things wrong with it and am still reassembling her; in fact I've fixed most things two or three times but that's for another story. At this point the welding repairs had been completed and she was almost reassembled. Still had a few things left to do like paint it, install the roof and doors, get the motor running and brakes installed, you know, minor things. That was almost six months before the departure.

After my day job and on weekends I was over at the neighbour's squeezing in an hour of car repair here and there. Things were coming along, but not fast enough, so I started putting in more time. Then things started going wrong. The paint application failed; my fault! Good enough for now! I'll worry about it some other time. The brakes wouldn't work properly, despite new master cylinder and other bits. My front brakes were the culprit. On went a disk brake kit and fixed that problem. Then a carburetor replacement; fired up the engine to see how it sounded and was shocked to hear loud rattle, a really serious loud rattle. Can you say disillusioned?

My son David and a friend of his pulled the head and took the errant washer out of cylinder #1. The nut that had been in #3 was gone! I guess it made its way past the exhaust valve and is hiding in the muffler. We could tell a nut had been there by the shape of the dents in the top of the piston. One new head gasket and a replacement pushrod and she was ticking over nicely again.

The last of the "must do" mechanical issues were dealt with and she was running, complete with brakes, by the Friday afternoon before the Rally. Saturday saw a few cosmetic things done and then I left to finish my week of vacation at the beach with my loving (and understanding) wife. While I was finishing that last day of vacation with my wife, my sons and a friend went to work on the old girl (that would be the Land Rover, not my wife) and tidied a few things up. It's amazing what some time, effort and a couple cans of paint can do in the hand of a good friend and a couple of sons. I arrived home Sunday morning and found a shiny Land Rover, freshly washed, clean windows and newly painted wheels and bumper. Awesome guys! My youngest son, Jared, was going to the National Rally with me; he's a month away from being twenty one and is going to do a bunch of the driving. He had been gathering the camping gear for the last few days and now it needed to be packed, spare parts had to be decided upon (you can't take everything) and tool boxes had to be loaded and stowed. By two-thirty in the afternoon we were all packed and ready to go, changed into our travelling clothes, said our good-byes and hit the road.

We made it a hundred yards before anything happened. The engine stalled at the stop sign at the corner of our property. With a turn of the key we were running again and everything was fine. There is a bit of a history here, last time I was heading out on a big expedition, with David my oldest boy, we got a mile from the house before the throttle cable broke, I shut off the motor to slow down, it backfired, and blew up the muffler. Things are going better this year and we got to the ferry with plenty of time before the next sailing and found an empty parking lot. Trouble is, the new reservation system already had that ferry full, despite an empty parking lot. We had a four and a half hour wait before a ferry finally pulled away from the ramp with us aboard. By midnight not only were we on the mainland but the border crossing at the Peace Arch was behind us and we were well on our way. It was still dark when we pulled into a rest stop just outside Ellensburg, Washington for some shut eye. Four hours of sleep and we were rolling down the road again. The newly rebuilt gearbox was jumping out of fourth whenever it felt like it, so one of us would keep a hand on the shifter to hold it in. It seemed to read your mind and as soon as you weren't paying it the proper attention, it would jump out of gear. Darned frustrating! We better get a bungee cord to hold it in place.

The landscape slowly changed as we entered the Great American Desert. The horizon is way out there and sort of smooth and flat. Where there isn't a farm, the foliage is short, no trees, just sage-green bushes and tufts of grass with the space between filled by old Mother Earth. Neat to look at and interesting because it is so different from the temperate coastal rain forest we live in in the midst of the Coast Range of mountains. We'd been having spectacular sunny days on the coast and the weather was no different here; not a cloud in the sky. One town and gas stop blends into the next; the gearbox keeps jumping out of fourth, better get a bungee cord to hold it in. Washington becomes Oregon which becomes Idaho. It gets hotter and the engine temperature gauge goes up with the ambient temperature; on any sort of a hill it goes well into the red. Having had temperature problems on a couple of other Land Rover expeditions, I came prepared this time with a handheld laser thermometer. The gauge on the dash might be screaming HOT but the thermometer says the rad is doing its job and the hottest part of the cooling system is well below the boiling point of the coolant mix. Checking does show that number four cylinder is running hotter than the rest. Out comes the tool kit, off comes the valve cover and a few minutes later the valve clearance is readjusted and we're on our way. The gauge still goes way up into the red on hills but number four cylinder isn't as hot as it was.

We continue our drive across this Great American Desert. Our day continues as before, one gas stop at a time; till again we stop to fix a problem. Before I left home one of the things I wanted to do was install a supplementary fuel pump; a simple little electric one that sits in-line till you need it. I hadn't gotten it installed and as the daytime and engine bay temperature climbed, we had increasing problems with lack of fuel, especially on hills. The gas is vapourizing in the fuel line, vapour lock, and the mechanical fuel pump isn't getting enough fuel to the carb. On a smoking-hot off ramp on the side of the freeway, miles from anything, I installed that electric pump. Good thing I had it with me huh? The back of the Land Rover is neatly stored with almost all the gear in five big totes. It is an easy job to empty the back of the truck to get at the top of the tank to connect hoses to the new pump and check the fuel pickup tube for dirt. An hour after we stopped we were on the freeway without another fuel or vaporization problem the rest of the trip; except for once, more on that later.

That desert landscape seemed pretty much the same from one state to the next along the freeway. We kind of miss the boredom of the trees back home! Night time driving was different; we're kept on our toes because when using the headlight dimmer, sometimes the lights would go out altogether. Touch a finger to the switch on the dash and they are back on again. Dimming the lights meant tapping a toe and a finger at the same time. This was fixed by changing the headlight wire from one bayonet connection to another on the back of the switch. Easy enough to do but we had to take out three screws to get at it. Another night is spent driving, with just a few hours sleep at another rest stop." What state are we in now?" The horizon and landscape seems to have been the same for the last eight hundred miles. One of my new wheel seals is leaking and Salt Lake City is just ahead. Bill and Great Basin Rovers are there somewhere. A look in a local phone book, punch a few figures into the GPS, 2 miles driving on city streets and we're at a place deep in Land Rovers. "It's got to be the place. What do you think Jared?"

At Great Basin Rovers Jared and I meet owner Bill Davis and Tom his shop guy and got an introduction to the shop. I buy a seal for the rear wheel, stuff the drum and brake shoes in a parts washing machine and in an hour or so the new seal is installed. Before we leave, the valve cover comes off, yet again, to check to see if there is oil pressure at the rocker shaft; there is; we were worried because for the last day and a half the oil pressure light has been on, even at highway speeds. I feel proud that my old leaf sprung Series Land Rover is just like Discovery's and Range Rovers 25 to 30 years newer; faulty sensors! Next morning the oil light is working properly again. Oh! And somewhere in Colorado we buy a bungee cord! No more jumping out of fourth: unless we forget to put the bungee in place. We wouldn't forget would we?

We've made it all the way to Colorado and haven't had any "real" problems yet. I've phoned home and given Erica an update and caught up with what's going on there. Seems it's sunny and a bit warm at home. At a gas station in Colorado, in the desert, under a baking hot sun; the attendant says to me "Well? Hot'nuff for yuh?" referring to temperatures in the high 90's. I smiled, told him we live up in Canada, on an island on the West Coast and that I'd just been talking to my wife. It's hotter there than here in the desert! He asked me if I was kidding. I wasn't!

Guess where we spent the night? There isn't enough time in the day to get to Leadville from Salt Lake City when you don't get underway till afternoon rush hour. A rest stop on the side of the road in Colorado allowed us to get a few hours sleep in the wee hours of the morning, and thanks to a noisy reefer unit on a transport truck, we got rolling about dawn to pull into Leadville right in time for the 8 AM registration. Don't be worried about our seeming lack of sleep. Often while one drove, the other slept; we were getting more than just four hours sleep a day.

The Rally registration was actually online or on Tuesday but there was one set for Wednesday morning too, before setting out for the trails for the day. We hadn't made reservations for a campsite and thought we would just wing it. After meeting Paul Donohue of the Solihull Society at the registration desk, and getting some advice on campsites and the town, Jared and I drove away to look for groceries and a home for the week while the rest of the Rally members headed out on the trails. There wasn't room at the private campsite for the four nights of the Rally so we went to the lake looking for space at one of several National Park campgrounds. They had loads of space! We grabbed a good looking site at the Silver Dollar Campground, the closest park campsite to Leadville. The camp hosts were very nice and helpful. The site was perfect for our needs, quiet and scenic, and we were allowed to have a campfire. Camp was quickly made ready, the truck was unloaded of everything but trail gear and we headed back to town and the registration hall.

For some reason I expected trail leaders to guide a trail and return to town for the next group and there would be an endless stream of trails and guides to follow. I must be from a little hick town out west or something! (Oh! I am!) There was somewhere around a dozen trail guides and when they left first thing in the morning for their designated trail, they were gone ALL day. There was none of this morning trails and then afternoon trail stuff. The trails were singularly or in combination long enough to last the whole day. There we were, noon in downtown Leadville at the big Rally and nowhere to go.

After more advice from Paul, we ventured out to some popular grade four rated trails that are clearly marked on government maps. We should be able to traverse these on our own without getting into difficulty, and see some of the country. Thanks Paul! Awesome route! We drove over the 13,200 foot Mosquito Pass trail and enjoyed every mile. The route is littered with old mine sites, deserted buildings and antique mining equipment. The trails are so popular there is no need of walking anywhere if you break down. In the couple hours we were on Mosquito Pass we passed well over a dozen other vehicles out for the day, singularly and in groups of two or three. And somewhere up here as a trail guide for the Rally is Bill Burke in his Land Rover leading a group on a Training class. We didn't see them, they must have gone exploring up a side road. {Bill Burke's 4-Wheeling America LLC A very well known name in off-roading, not just Land Rovers.}

After crossing Mosquito Pass and getting to Alma it was just a short drive along highway 285 before the turn to a windy Weston Pass. This was an easy grade three trail that would take us through an alpine area back to Leadville after topping out at 11,900 feet. There was less traffic on it, possibly because it wasn't as challenging but it was certainly scenic.

Arriving back at the registration hall in the late afternoon, we found Bill Burke there with his trail members from the day. He was putting on a jacking and recovery safety workshop. It made an informative and entertaining completion to our first day at the Rally.

The four days we were in the area it rained every day, usually in the evening or overnight. Lightning happens here in the mountains every afternoon too; if it's three o'clock, there's a lightning show on a mountain peak somewhere up here and the rest of the day is bright and sunny. During one nighttime lightning storm Jared didn't even wake up to the thunder, I don't know how he could have slept through it when it was right on top of us. Some of the nighttime lightning shows are awesome. The daily rain keeps the dust down and bushes cool; fire hazards are low enough that campfires are allowed.

Thursday I had hoped to do one of the routes with a trail rating of five, just to see how this stock rig and driver would handle it. The overnight rain looked like it was going to continue through the day (it didn't) and the low ceiling and mist swayed me from trying the trail. We elected to head an hour out of town and do the Tincup Pass route. It was a good decision and a long day. We headed in convoy from Leadville very close to the 8 AM start, stopped for gas before leaving the highway and at the trailhead had a poke around the business section of the community of Tincup. The general store has a multitude of Hummingbird feeders hung above the boardwalk and humming birds must travel to them from miles around because they are loaded with 6 to 8 birds at each feeder, each bird is flitting from feeder to feeder making for some busy flight ways. I have photos of this but they don't do justice to the real thing. Across the road (track?) from the general store are a couple of boys feeding chipmunks.

Now these chipmunks act a little different than any others you might know; there are dozens of them and they sure aren't afraid of people; in fact they climb right over you trying to get a handout. Chipmunk feed is for sale at the store and the little creatures know it. Two boys sitting there had chipmunks all over their laps and climbing up their legs and arms to get seeds and hand-outs. Entertainment for hours, but we had to leave or lose our guide. The trailhead is right of town, heading up the mountainside to the alpine. After a photo session at the Great Divide and pass summit sign, we continued on to one of the alpine lakes for a lunch break. During the lunch break it was interesting to look at some of the expedition equipped vehicles, even more interesting to read about these same vehicles later in issues of the Overlander Journal magazine.

The lead vehicle and trailing one have radio communication with each other over Citizen Band radios, most of the rest of us have CB's as well and there is good chatter explaining various aspects of the trail. At one point the "tail end Charlie" left the group and we assumed the job. It was while climbing one of the steep sections of the trail that we learned it's good to have a vehicle behind you when Jared asked "How long has the back door been open?" I ran back along the trail looking for flotsam and jetsam that might have been expelled. At about 12,000 feet and with a steep climb back to the truck, having found nothing laying in the ruts, I decided to backtrack no farther and give up as lost anything that may have come out. During the rest of the trip we found nothing missing so what ever was gone, must not have been too important. This was after Tincup Pass, 12,154', and on the way to Cumberland Pass, 12,015', and was followed by Hancock Pass, 12,140', in an area littered with 14,000 foot peaks.

Our leader took us to a high alpine museum and historic site of an alpine railway tunnel and rockwork done to make the railway possible. We stopped at some dilapidated mine buildings on our way back down then continued to town, arriving in Leadville at about seven o'clock, right in time for the Rally cocktail party complete with finger food that made our dinner for the night. The evening "Meet and Greet" was at the Leadville Mining Museum. The museum was a highlight; I sure enjoyed the time spent there. It was a long and satisfying day. Did I mention there were no breakdowns?

Friday was a day with no planned trails, you could go out on your own or kill time anyway you wanted. Jared and I explored town, went on another museum tour, went to the library to send Emails home and ate in town. Dinner was the best Chinese food I've had in years! (Szechuan Taste II 500 Harrison Ave. Leadville, CO.) Friday was the vendor show day. Mid afternoon various vendors with an interest in Land Rovers specifically and Off Road in general, put up their displays. It was uplifting how many businesses participated. Everything from Land Rover dealers to tents sales, fridges and paintball were represented and displayed. A raffle was part of the day's attraction. Did I buy enough tickets? Everything you can imagine was raffled off, from pick axes to tee shirts. Two main prizes were a high-tech trail refrigerator and a roof top tent; no Land Rover for a prize this year. Despite buying a fist full of tickets, I didn't win a thing; but a guy from Land Rover Flatirons (a dealer north of Denver) gave me a tee shirt.

Saturday we decided on a set of trails that would eventually get us looking down on Vales highest ski run. After mustering at the downtown gathering site and lining up behind our chosen route master for the day, sixteen Land Rovers headed out to enjoy this route. There was a bit more bush to drive through, and lots more traffic. I didn't count but I bet we met up with and passed over four dozen other vehicles; a merry mix of 4 x 4's, ATV's and motor bikes, even a horse. We had minor creek crossings, alpine meadows, shepherds with their flock, and got to look across the valley and down onto the ski lodge at the top of Vale's highest run. My only off-road casualty of the trip happened on this gentle drive. Just as my front wheels were approaching the peak of a long steep and rocky climb, the engine sputtered and stalled: it wouldn't restart. One of the others in the group gladly dragged me a car length to get me over the top. Just as I was cresting the hill under tow, I noticed I had that new electric fuel pump shut off. Flip of the switch, on with the ignition and she was running like nothing had happened. Two more high mountain passes were crossed this day. I don't know their names but they were both in the 11,000+ foot range.

Saturday's drive made for a short day so we could get ready for the Rally Dinner at the Mining Museum. The hall was full with about 300 Rally participants and organizers. The meal was catered and well served. The company was good but we ended the evening early to get a good night's sleep. First thing in the morning we were breaking camp and on our way home. Our return trip was somewhat longer than the route south but the terrain was more varied. We stopped in Yellow Stone National Park to do some touristy things and Cardston, Alberta was a stop to see the Remington Carriage Museum. From there we took the Crowsnest Route and Highway 3 back to the Coast. There wasn't so much of a rush to get home and we stopped in Hotels at night. As far as Land Rover troubles, the trip home was somewhat uneventful, except for the wipers breaking in Alberta, one flew off landing on the road behind us, I fixed them just in time to cross into BC where it wasn't raining. Then of course the starter motor quit. Good thing for a hand-crank; sure draws a crowd at a gas station and on the Ferry.

We arrived home after 3900 miles. A pretty good shake-down cruise after a four year repair job! Let's see! What next?

Greg Sutfin

2009 Cowichan Valley Land Rover Rally

A1 Rally site, can't get better than this.

Year seven of this casual get-together went smoothly as always. It seems everyone who attended had a good time, and that's what it's about. Weather cooperated and couldn't have treated us much better. The only downside was the high forest fire hazard rating that saw back-roads closed to us this year. Each previous year we have taken one of several routes to one of the summits of the twin peaks on nearby Mount Prevost. One, to get some pristine and new vehicles off-road for the first time without subjecting them to damage from foliage or obstacles, two, to get some restored and pristine aged vehicles off-road one more time without subjecting them to the same hazards, and three, for the great view.

Instead of that usual Saturday drive, we quickly tossed together an obstacle course in a corner of one of the fields. Not all the Land Rovers gave it a try. A little off-camber and cross-axle route through some trees started the course followed by some handling challenges in the tall, dry grass. A short blind-folded driver section, uphill, challenged the automatic transmission vehicles a bit but everyone got past without incident. I was hoping to catch a few with the slippery, long grass but only one with a non working front drive was challenged by it. After the long grass it was back to the main field to test the driver on some planks and finally the balance. I happened to have a couple of 20 foot 4 X 12's laying around that nailed together nicely to make an ideal teeter totter for Land Rovers. Some of the drivers were able to balance there vehicles on it. Challenging but possible! It helps to have a mobile passenger; the jury is still out on whether a power seat helps the adjustment; a reclining seat certainly helps.

Obstacle, I'll show you haw to balance.

A Bar-B-Q lunch of hotdogs and hamburgers was provided by my family and after the obstacle course, the rest of the day was spent enjoying the company, the vehicles, and some mud. Rob and Lisa Hoban orchestrated a raffle with items donated by participants, the Rover Landers of BC and a few friends. Our Pot-Luck dinner was surely the best we've had with ribs, stews, Lasagnas, curried chicken, chicken wings, salads galore, plenty of soft drinks and munchies topped off with a special cake made for the event. Margaret has made a Land Rover theme cake for the last few years but this year with a cast on her hand from recent surgery, wasn't able to bake, so Erica, my wife, came to the rescue once again. Despite the gnashing of teeth and claims by her that it wasn't turning out, she presented us with a remarkably well decorated cake for the occasion.

Mud, stuck again! Good eating though.

That Land Rover isn't just decoration. It is a little cake model set ontop of the main cake and stuck on a mound of chocolate boulders.

With Derek absent this year we almost forgot the Welly Toss. Although it wasn't as well organized, we got through the competition unscathed. I think this was the first year a boot hasn't gone flying backward into the crowd of onlookers. Everyone present eventually got up and heaved an old boot across the field, with winners decided in each of the categories; Youth, Ladies, and Men's. Lacking the traditional winner's plaque usually made with materials donated from Wise Owl Parts (nobody asked them for a donation this year. I told you it wasn't well organized.) We waited till the regular awards ceremony Sunday morning to distribute merchandise prizes.

Night and darkness eventually arrived, Camp fires still allowed, no other firesa few small groups chatted around the tents and the campfire till finally all was quiet, except the snoring. It didn't take long before the birds were doing there best to wake the campers. Those birds are early risers around the farm! They seem to have done their job because everyone was up and on their way in time to make it to Lake Cowichan in convoy fashion for the breakfast meeting and awards ceremony. The Shaker Mill treated us well for breakfast and we were fortunate enough to have a room separate from the rest of the clientele for the awards ceremony. Prizes were give with a "green" theme: small Douglas Fir trees for carbon off-set for fuel inefficiency and smokiest; Award Carbon off set, most fuel inefficient P38, David Award Carbon off set, smokiest LR, Dave nylon "Zip" straps (green ones) as a Land Rover universal repair kit; a shovel went for unloading the dump box mounted on the 130. Other prizes included a 12v impact wrench; hydraulic jack; shop creeper; Matchbox Land Rovers; power inverters; digital pressure gauge; million candle power spot light; fancy glasses and binoculars. The two perpetual trophies were also awarded, the "Breakdown" award to JD for his turbo on the new engine and the "Broken Pulley" award for a fix gone wrong to Victor for some transmission problems. It was all in good fun and ended with the start of our Sunday drive. This year was an easy drive on mainline logging roads around the lake, stopping on the south shore at a private beach for a picnic lunch and swim.Sunday drive, I need a nap after the harrowing drive Departure from the beach signified the end of the weekend events as everyone took their separate paths for home.

Clean up at the farm was a snap. I would like to thank all those who made year seven a success, especially my wife, Erica, and our boys David and Jared; Victor and Margaret Gerwin for help, both physical and mental; New comers to the event, Dave and Evie Frisby; Rob and Lisa Hoban and many others who helped in large and small ways. We had over Twenty Land Rovers this year, 5 RR's, a Freelander, 4 or 5 Discovery's, a 130, 110's, 90's, an 88, 3 109's, and maybe more. I wonder what would happen if we advertised? It is good to see some of the more modern cars come out but sad to see fewer of the oldies. I'd like to offer a special note of thanks to those who donated to the raffle; and also to those who bought the tickets. The small amount of money will go a long way toward supporting the website and next years Rally.

Greg Sutfin

2008 Cowichan Valley Land Rover Rally

The Cowichan Valley Land Rover Rally happened on June 7th and 8th and went well, yet again. ”This was the best one yet!” was said by more than one participant. Organizing it was both harder and easier than in previous years. Not having a working Land Rover to go exploring the area’s constantly changing off-road trails made it so the Scratch and Dent drive wasn’t finalized till the Tuesday before. The route for the Non-scratch drive was the same as 5 years ago but included some new logging road I wasn’t aware existed till two weeks before, when Erica and I went for a short outing in our Ford. Set-up of the field was normal, and I had lots of help.

Weekly mowing of the field didn’t start ’til mid March. In previous years I’ve started as early as mid January and as late as the end of February. The grass simply didn’t grow ’til March, but it made up for it, and seems to love growing in our unusually cool spring temperatures. Shortly before ”the date”, I missed a weekend mowing due to a small household calamity. Two weekends of working on the Land Rover and field disappeared down the well. Literally! Our deep well, submersible pump system packed it in. They have a life expectancy of 10 years and it had been there for 31, so I guess we did well, but it packed it in two weeks before the rally. Can’t do anything about it but install a new system. The rally and Land Rover would have to wait. Big mistake! When I mowed 12 days after the previous cut, the grass was so long and thick, I even had to rake it, and had my son Jared out there raking too; I usually just mulch. Victor came and trimmed with the weed eater and championed the yard clean-up.

With the grass and yard under control, and volunteers to help planning and setting up, some of the load was eased. Except for the Tee Shirt! Damn! Did I forget? Leave it too late? Where do I find a good drawing or suitable picture of a Dormobile in time to have Tee shirts this year? ”ERICA?” ”Are you busy right now?”

Thank heaven I married that woman! A drawing was done, Victor checked it, had a few changes made, and we got it to the silkscreen shop in time. Next, it’s time to panic about the Sunday drive. A few phone calls, pull a few strings, get some knowledgeable advice, and a route is in the making. But I’ve got no suitable vehicle to check it out with. Another phone call and Dave tells me he can’t take me, but I can take his D90 on my own. (He trusts me he says.) After a few miles and 4 hours, I have two routes planned, depending what skill levels and vehicle capabilities are going on the ”Scratch and Dent” drive.

Friday, June 6th, Derek, Joan, Jordy and Rick show up to get the field set-up. JD, Lynn, Erica and I already had the shelter framework in place but all the tables, electricity, water, BBQ’s, tarp and other stuff needed setting up. And it was! We were ready for Saturday!

Saturday, June 7th, the show was good, conversations were endless and more people were introduced to the regular crowd. Lunch went well, with my family supplying the grub, then we headed up Mount Prevost to the war memorial cairn for our afternoon outing, arriving back at the farm just in time to start the Pot-Luck dinner. Again, this was a success, and nobody was left hungry, especially after the cake and other deserts. Margaret presented us with another of her custom Land Rover cakes. (See photo section.)

After dinner we drew the raffle prizes to much excitement, and raised over $230 in the process. The money is in support of the Van Isle Website. I am touched that so many of the group donated such wonderful items to the raffle, making it something special. A campfire was lit and, as the night cooled, people headed home or to bed, ’til just a few of us remained; we headed for bed about midnight.

Sunday morning saw us at Genoa Bay Cafe for a buffet, awards and prizes. Six vehicles then headed west to the Cowichan River for a day of off-road. The tank traps of the old roads provided much entertainment and schooling. The Power-line service road presented some great views and good branch scratches. It also presented an obstacle questionable for the 110’s to navigate. The owners wisely decided to follow directions from some ”Quad” riders, for a much safer route out of the woods. Jordy, David and I were unable to get the Lightweight back up the hill, so continued along the power-lines, meeting the rest of the group back at the farm.

Many hands make light work. And boy did that field ever get cleaned up fast. Dinner Sunday consisted of Pot-Luck left over’s, just enough to feed the clean-up crew. Good bye’s were said, broken Land Rovers were left in the driveway and field, and that was it folks; all done till next time. (Please note. The broken Land Rovers in the field are my project Land Rovers. The silver 110 in the driveway is only there till it is fixed and driven away. No hurry Derek, the neighbours might think we finally have a classy vehicle.)

Special ”Thanks” to Victor, as always. He is forever helping, I hope I don’t ever overlook letting him know I appreciate it. Also special ”Thanks” are due to Derek, Joan, Jordy, Rick, JD and Lynn for their hard work. Thanks too, Rob and Lisa, for your welcome lead in organizing and looking after the raffle. Many others contributed money, food, raffle items, humour and good times. Most of all, thanks to my family, Erica, David & Jared, for their sacrifices and hard work.

Greg Sutfin & family

2007 Laager in the Valley

Laager '07. It has been, and is gone. I can't wait till next year's Laager to see what happens then. This year was the fifth Land Rover get-together we've hosted and you'd think I'd have learned how to schedule by now. Next year the schedule will be much simpler because I won't be trying to fit in any "work shops". With the exception of the year Dave Blair demonstrated the back woods welding, there haven't been any work shops, despite the schedule. There simply hasn't been time!

Most of the event infrastructure was in place before the weekend and the helping hands that showed up Friday to finish off the preparations were critical to the site being ready. Sure enough, everyone started pulling into the yard early Saturday morning. Socializing with those not seen since last year, and visiting with new arrivals, filled the morning until the burgers and dogs were hot and ready on the BBQ. Four dozen hamburgers and hot dogs sure disappeared quickly!

Did you notice the rain? Yes! It rained. Lots! A brand new tarp was used this year, forty feet by twenty-four, supported by a large aluminum pipe on cedar tripods about 15 feet up. "Why so high?" was a common question. With the rain and cool weather, we assembled a brick hearth at one end under the tarp and got a bonfire going by mid-morning. It was kept going till midnight and was enjoyed by everyone. The tarp being so high made the fire pleasant because there was no trapped smoke. It seemed like a good excuse for having the tarp so high. It was pre-planned. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

The mud pit was a little too good this year as shown by the inability of anyone to get through it (without being towed.). My neighbour, Jeff, left his big four wheel drive tractor to pull anyone out. (A New Holland 110. Coincidence or what?) It came to good use. Thanks Jeff. In fact, the mud was so good and so slippery that the tractor had a little trouble. Oliver Balme in his Camel 110 started the run for the pit. He attempted four or five times without success but hoped that getting repeatedly towed out would take the lumps out of the pit and allow someone else a successful run. Not the case! My son's friend Ryan Blasko gets the "Broken Pulley Award" for his performance in the mud pit. Ryan was in a Toyota pickup when he attempted the mud. Somehow he broke the transmission cross-member. The transmission dropped a bit, limiting the shifter so he couldn't get into reverse. With the lower transmission and, thus, angled motor, the fan was levered into the radiator; these problems were compounded by a wet distributor.

We hit the trail for the "No Scratch" run right on time, and for the first time had radio communication from the front vehicle to the rear and half way in between too. (Thanks Rick.) There was no view from the Cairn on top of Mount Prevost this year but a few good photos were taken of "April in the mist" as she peered into the fog from a jutting rock on the edge of the precipice. On the way home, I was taken by the beauty of a maple glen darkened and shrouded in fog. Several others mentioned this spot but I don't think anyone got a photo. Pity! It was awesome!

As soon as we arrived back at the farm, our Pot Luck dinner got under way. I enjoyed my dinner! Thanks everyone for a good mix of foods. Thanks, too, to my wife's friend Kathy Jackson who each year has freely contributed a main dish. We haven't asked her to; she simply sees the need and fills it. This year the large lasagna was compliments of the Jacksons. Previous years she supplied chili.

The Welly Toss followed dinner and was won by Steve Norton, Stuart Longair, and Kerry Russel in 1st, 2nd and 3rd places respectively. The competition was organized, overseen and judged by Derek Norman. He also made the award plaques; Oak for 1st, Cedar for 2nd, and Plywood for 3rd. Thank you Derek! Thanks to Wise Owl Parts for the plates on the front of the plaques.

As the evening progressed and the crowd got closer to the fire, The video "1st Overland" was put on the DVD player. It was a good movie, but by the end of it most had retired for the night with the comment that they were going to have to find the DVD to watch it in its entirety.

Sunday was sunny with a few clouds and, later, wind. Breakfast and the AGM were held at the Genoa Bay Café which opened early, just for us. About 20 of us and a few kids feasted from the buffet table; all you can eat and more. The meeting dealt with trophies and awards. By the time that was done, it was noted we weren't a club so all the directors were dismissed. Awards and trophies went as follows:

Farthest traveled to be here, light to-see-the-way: Grant & Barbara Balmer, Westbank (Kelowna).
Broken Pulley award: Ryan Blasko, Toyota PU in the mud pit.
Breakdown award: Bernie Buttner, for a story about a seized engine on the way to Moab and a 650 mile tow home.
Spot light award: Glynn Trafford, so he can see the light to get a L/R.
Creeper award: JD Baillie, because he is now doing his 3rd engine change.
Fender protector award: Dave Harmer, because he's going to be spending a lot of time converting that Toyota to a Land Rover.
Hammock award: Steve Rogers, to catch some shut eye next time he misses the turn to the parking lot and has to spend 8 hours getting back across the Mexican border.

Once the group was flush with their booty, we headed to the drivers' meeting. Scratches guaranteed! Ten Rovers, a Jeep and a Toyota headed to Silver Lake. The convoy kept close and in less than 40 Km and 1 1/2 hours, we arrived at the south end of the lake. Most of the 12km, once we were off the logging main line, was old railway bed from the early days of logging. The going was easy for the vehicles except for the overgrowing Alders. We grabbed a bite of lunch and devoured a Land Rover cake made and sent by Margaret Gerwin. Most of us walked down to an old trapper's(?) cabin before returning. No dents this year but the alders left their calling sign. Tina probably had a bit of a muscle strain too. It was her first time off road and in their new, to them, 1998 P38 RR. Seems she was grinning in delight for several days. The facial muscles must tire and cramp after a while.

A good crowd returned to the farm and helped pack things up. The tarp was folded in quick order. It didn't have to be taken down because the wind had done that for us while we were up the mountain. Tripods were taken down and debris cleaned up. We only have a SS mug left behind this year and a small plastic salad bowl. Nothing was found out of place in the field so we won't have any problem turning the horse out on it. Thanks for being so tidy everyone.

Once everything was cleaned up, the mud pit just looked too tempting. Dave, Oliver and Steve took multiple runs at it but stayed out of the deep muck. Steve found out how useful the Disco air dam is at clearing mud. (Not!) He figures the car looks better without it and will just trim a couple of places to make the support piece look proper.

I'm back at the shop working on my Rover now and planning for next year. Maybe my 109 will be back on the road by then. I hope you all had a good time. It sounds like you did. And I look forward to seeing everyone again next June.

Thanks also to my wife Erica for her help and patience (she drew and arranged the T-shirts); to sons David and Jared for their help and to David's girlfriend Natasha. All helped, and put up with me for several months leading up to the Event. I owe thanks to Victor Gerwin and his family for their help and support and to Rick Mellenger for showing up extra early to make sure I got the last few things in order and to help where I still needed a hand. Also, thanks to Andrew Grant for missing dinner to help with the tarp, and Derek for looking after the signs, trophies and Whelly toss. Thanks JD for help with keeping things in order on Saturday, and Stuart for cooking so I could eat lunch. Everyone gave a helping hand in some way and I thank you for it. I apologize if I've missed adding your name to the list. As a parting comment, I must mention Ann, who administers the information on the VanIsle Land Rover Network website and reminded people to get the Laager on their calendar and pre-register. We missed you Ann.

We hope to see everyone again next year.

Greg Sutfin & family

2006 Laager in the Valley

The fourth annual Vancouver Island Land Rover get together was called a Laager, a South African word referring to a camp protected by circled wagons; it was an enjoyable meeting of Land Rover enthusiasts. I'm probably right in claiming it's the second largest annual Land Rover event in British Columbia but haven't really done much research into it. I do know it isn't as big as the Rover Landers of BC "Founders Day Event", the Vancouver based Land Rover Club's annual January show and AGM.

Starting in late February, and then every week or so, I could be found mowing some of our acreage on my little antique JD garden tractor. It took less mowing this year than last and, due to the torrential rain we had a few days before the big event, the grass was a bit longer than I wanted; I would have liked to cut it one more time. When the first Land Rovers began rolling in on Friday night, I found the ground was also a bit softer than I wanted. Other than a spot when you first drove onto the field, it was okay, and just hard enough. Those downpours helped the mud pit as well, so they weren't so bad. (Thursday it rained over two inches.) Friday was mostly sunny, Saturday and Sunday were beautiful.

By Friday afternoon the site wasn't ready; Victor and I had most things in place, the water hose and power cord, the shelter frame was up, fire extinguishers were out and garbage cans were located. That morning I had our next-door neighbour come over in his BIG tractor to run back and forth in our mud pit to soften it up; he did a wonderful job. Our early arrivals helped finish the shelter, the top went on easier than ever; must be the practice, and of note, it turned out to be a sun shelter again this year. Once the shelter was together, we were finished and ready.

"Build it and they will come." We put the place together and sure enough, Saturday morning the Land Rovers came. There were Series Ones, Twos and Two A's, Series Three, 90s, 110s, Hybrids, Discoverys, Range Rovers and a Freelander. If you include a couple of non-runners at my barn, there were 30 in total this year, up from 25 last year. A photo of each Land Rover with its crew was taken as they lined up in the field. Everyone mingled and eventually a few got around to trying out the mud pit. Our planned "Workshops" didn't happen again this year; the day seemed too full and we just didn't get around to them.

Mud was the entertainer of the day. It was much better mud this year than last; last year it was rather smelly, (just ask Pamela). This year it was just dirty and slippery, (just ask Rick). Cheering could be heard as Land Rovers, a Jeep, Chevy S10 and motorcycle, gained inch after inch in the pit. There are a few muddy moments that need mentioning. My son David in his V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee showing us "how to do it", then stalling just a couple of feet from the end. He thought it had run out of gas by the way it choked off and came to a stop but it seems his air cleaner had filled with mud and water instead. Jonathan Hebden took his motorcycle through to show us "how to do it". He tried three times and only got through once. The other two times resulted in a muddy face-plant. Rick Mellenger went in on foot, to toss Natasha in, slipped and fell, parking Natasha safely on the grass on the other side while he sported mud from chin to toes. Then our award-winning Oliver dutifully drove his 88 into, and back out of, the mud, with a finesse deserving admiration. He didn't have lockers, spectacular tires or anything else out of the ordinary, just skill. He picked a good line, right through the middle, and kept moving; when there was doubt he gently massaged the throttle and used ever so little steering to keep things moving.

Sometime during this, the barbecue was fired up, hotdogs and hamburgers were served; chips, pop and other donated goodies were available to one and all.

Mid-afternoon the troops were gathered for our "No Scratch Run". About 18 vehicles went on this delightful drive to the Memorial Cairn on the eastern peak of Mount Prevost. This is the fourth year for this same "No Scratch" outing and we haven't followed the same route yet. It was enjoyable, provided spectacular views and was the highlight for some. On return to the Laager, we dove into the Pot Luck dinner, watched some slides of Rover Lander trips and a home movie of the Border to Border '02 trip, drew for an Air Compressor and enjoyed a campfire before bed.

Sunday morning dawned misty and by 7:15 cleared to a beautiful blue sky. Breakfast was at "The Shipyard" in Maple Bay with 26 attending. We returned to the Laager to muster for our "Scratch & Dent" drive. No dents this year and no real scratch either, just a bit of dust rubbed off by overhanging branches. We visited the historic Mount Sicker Mine area and lumped along a few kilometers of rough road. It was only about 30 kilometers total but took us 5 hours. We had a bit of spectator sport as Phil Armstrong and his wife drove their "90" along one of the more difficult trails. There WAS a winch used in a couple of places. Well done Phil!

After this "Sunday Drive" it wasn't long before the campers were on their way and the campsite was stripped to bare field for the horses. The cleanup done by everyone before they left was fabulous. Nothing left for the horses to get into trouble with and the shelter came down easily. The biggest loss was a diamond pendant that went missing during the mud runs. (Not in the mud, but in the spectator area). It got dropped in the grass and hours of searching turned nothing up. No one else suffered any damage did they?

I did a little less prep work this year and we had a few more attendees, so the advertising previous years must be paying off. I didn't go searching for donations, handouts or prizes but a few of my helpers asked select vendors for some trinkets. Derek managed the "Welley Toss" again this year and had gift certificates from Wise Owl Parts. Taking first place, Kerry Russell; second, Darren Russell; and third, Jonathan Hebden. Alan at the Roverworks provided a gift certificate that went to Oliver Balme for his mastery of the mud pit. Ross Grant managed a donation of a 12V air compressor from Air Zone Recreation for the door prize that went to Rob Hoban. Victoria Land Rover provided some posters and license frames for give-a-ways and there were a couple of trophies handed out at the Sunday breakfast. The Breakdown Wizard award was presented to Dave Blair, and the Broken Pulley award to Stuart Longair.

I look forward to hosting another Laager next year. Plan for the Vancouver Island Land Rover Laager the weekend before Father's Day next June.

Greg Sutfin

2005 Land Rover Rally in the Valley

This year's Land Rover Rally in the Valley was held on June 11th & 12th, at the Sutfin farm just north of Duncan.

This was the third year for the fledgling event, which was a success again because of the help of a few friends. Victor Gerwin and I prepared the field and yard and set up the shelter frame with the help of my son's friend (thanks Joel). I had far more lawn mowing to do this year because of the weather. I kept about an acre of our bottom field mowed with our lawn tractor. The first mowing was in February due to fantastic weather, but then I had to keep at it. I mowed at least twice as many times as previous years!

Victor spent hours on the weed whipper trimming up the perimeter. Jim kept the event website information up to date, Derek made and put up signs and looked after trophies, Steve was our T-shirt maker. Jeff, my neighbour, prepared the mud pit for us.

Dave, Derek and Victor all showed up Friday to make sure last minute things were taken care of. Dave Looy and Dave Harmer did cooking and other things. The Rover Landers provided for the toilet. Stephen and Dave Blair carried out their planned workshops. (Somehow I weaseled out of mine, something about the clock going too fast). And Saturday's Welley Toss was administered by Derek.

Thanks goes to Wise Owl Parts and the Rover Park Boys for supplying prizes and parts for trophies. Thanks also to Dixon Strachan (Rock Island Rovers) and Paul Quinn for prizes they donated. Land Rover Victoria gets thanks for the posters, magazines and license plate frames that we gave out. Special thanks to Steve for knowing how to cook great ribs and for the Land Rover Chocolates that are going out as gifts to certain suppliers.

I have to give a special thanks to all that attended. We had 25 Land Rovers confirmed as being here with photographic evidence. One more was here but we weren't able to catch it on film due to a malfunction with its Stealth/Normal mode switch. Our log shows 53 people here, but I know a few slipped in and out without signing our guest log.

The only 'flattish' area of our property was mown to provide parking, camping and picnic space. I didn't know how many might show up so didn't know if I would need a larger area or not; it turned out that we had plenty of room. It will be enough room for next year as well, even if we have a few more Land Rovers. If anyone can suggest improvements, please let me know and I will see what can be done. This is held on one of our working fields and when it isn't being used for a Land Rover gathering, the horses are on it. One of our only rules for the event is that NOTHING be left behind on the field after camping. Each year I am incredulous that a place can be left so tidy after so many people have spent a whole weekend camping and "carrying on". Erica and I spent quite some time scouring the grounds for anything that might have gotten left and we found nothing. Last year I only found a plastic wrapper for a drinking box straw and a bread bag closer. This year we found nothing, even after I scoured the area of the welding seminar.

The first attendee arrived Friday night, the rest on Saturday and one snuck in Sunday for breakfast. We visited and examined each other and each other's vehicles, had a potluck BBQ, and a Wellington toss c/w 1st, 2nd & 3rd prizes. There was a fun little mud run at the base of our irrigation pond.

Each year we have professed that this is a technical weekend, a weekend to learn new things about fixing and maintaining our Land Rovers. This year, for the first time, we got around to having a couple of seminars. Thanks, Dave, for the welding demonstration using car batteries, and thanks to Stephen for the information on installing a relay to brighten our headlights. This is the third year in a row we didn't get the axle changing demo or winching demo, although there was a bit of winching done in the mud pit.

In the afternoon, just before dinner, we went on a 32k drive climaxing in a short walk for a view from the top of Mount Prevost. Back on the farm, after dinner disappeared, and the sun started disappearing, Land Rover videos were shown on a large movie screen. We had our slick little canned campfire for atmosphere and, a little distance away, a real campfire for a conversation pit. Sunday we convoyed to Birds Eye Cove in Maple Bay to the "Shipyard" restaurant for breakfast. There were 20 of us. Speeches were made and awards were announced.

Afterward a few hardy souls in 8 Land Rovers went on an escorted drive to the Shawnigan Lake area. It was a somewhat more challenging drive than Saturday's and there was a bit of body damage. I hear that Dave's Land Rover managed to get some mud knocked off of it, which, according to Pam, was a good thing. Because my planned Mount Sicker route is currently being logged, and the trails are now plowed into unchallenging roads, I had arranged with Trevor and his Suzuki to guide the group; I know nothing of the trails at Shawnigan. If you go to and look on the Message Board under "Island Wheelin' Image Gallery" and the heading "Land Rover Run" there are some good photos. Unfortunately I couldn't make it on this drive due to a need to attend my son's Annual Air Cadet Review.

When I returned home from my event, I found the last of the campers packing up and showing off the body panel wounds received on the Sunday run. I haven't heard from all 8 of the Sunday trip crowd but the ones I have talked to said they had a great time despite the odd dent. Many thanks are offered to Trevor for taking them on the drive.

So far I have been able to get by without charging an attendance fee. This year it was suggested that I put a donation can at the entrance. Thank you to all who contributed. It will offset some of the costs incurred. Thank you also to everyone who donated or solicited awards and give-aways. Although this is held at my place, I can't possibly pull it off without lots of help. I am grateful for the generous offers of help from everyone, and please don't be offended if your name got left off my helpers list; I know many did, including my family.

For myself, the event's highlights were the attendance of the Maple Bay Volunteer Fire Department's 80" Fire Tender ('49?), the attendance of and photo opportunity presented by all three of the "Classic" licensed Land Rovers in British Columbia and the cleanliness of the field after everyone went home. Does anyone know if, other than MBVFD, there are any other "Antique" licensed Land Rovers in BC?

Thanks for the good time everyone. I'm looking forward to next year. I will be calling the event by a new name next year, thanks to Kerry Russell. It will be known as a Laager instead of a Rally or Get-together. Laager, as in, a camp protected by circled wagons. Laager is a word of South African origin.

Winners of awards this year are: (And some of them don't know it yet! Awards are yet to be mailed.)

Farthest Traveled: Dave Looy, Campbell River (nobody from Alberta or Washington this year)
Newest Truck: Eric & Donna Campbell-Smith (03 Discovery)
Oldest Truck in Attendance: Maple Bay VFD ('49? or 51 or 53)
Most Stuck: Dave Harmer ('58 S2 88" V8)
Dirtiest Truck: Dave & Pam Blair ('66 S2a 88")
Cleanest Truck: Victor Gerwin ('62 Dormobile)
Most Embarrassing Repair: Kerry Russell ('59 S2 88")
Best Sport: Steve Rogers ('56 S1 86")
First Time Off-Road: Daniel Sterzeubach ('66 S2a 88")
Most Expensive Broken Part (Repair): Ian Dodds (write-off, no year/model known at this time)
Latest Arrival: Graham & daughter Clare Bessant ('96 Discovery)
Welley toss 1st Place: Dan Sterzeubach
Welley toss 2nd Place: Kerry Broome
Welley toss 3rd Place: Sean Broome

Your host,
Greg Sutfin

2004 Land Rover Rally in the Valley

The 2004 Vancouver Island Land Rover Network "Rally in the Valley" was a huge success. An even bigger gathering of Land Rovers than last year descended on the Sutfin residence in Duncan (Cowichan Valley).

Greg Sutfin and Victor Gerwin set up the event with assistance from some of the other Vancouver Island Land Rover owners. There were Land Rovers from all over in attendance. Trucks arrived from Edmonton, Vernon, Washington, several from the Lower Mainland, Courtney, Victoria, Nanaimo, Parksville and Duncan. The Roverlanders of B.C. scheduled the Rally in the Valley as their June outing.

A large area of Greg's field was cut with the lawn mower several times in the weeks leading up to the event. We set up a large tarp for rain or sun protection (turns out it was sun protection). Power and water was run from the nearest barn. Tables and benches were borrowed and set up. Garbage cans were procured and a firewater tub and bucket were on hand with a fire pump-can at the ready, and an outhouse was constructed.

The first attendee arrived Friday night, the rest on Saturday. We visited and examined each other's vehicles, had a potluck BBQ, and a Wellington toss with prizes. A challenging mud run was dug-in at the base of Greg's irrigation pond.

Saturday afternoon ended with a light 32k backroads drive, climaxing with a short walk to a spectacular view from the top of Mount Prevost.

As the sun set back at the farm, old Land Rover videos were played onto a movie screen, while 25 satisfied Land Rover owners swatted away mosquitoes and huddled around a campfire. We managed to get in about 2 of the 12 hours of videos before calling it quits around midnight.

Sunday, most of those that stayed overnight convoyed to "The Dog House" restaurant for breakfast (there were 28 of us!) Afterward a few hardy souls in seven Land Rovers went on a drive to the Mount Sicker mines. This was more challenging than Saturday's event, but all trucks got through without winching or pulling (or breaking).

At the completion of this drive, everyone started for home. Victor and the rest of the clean-up crew did a bang up job.

This year's meet was organized enough that we had very nice T-shirts, specially printed for the event (thanks to SI owner Steve Rogers). We estimate that attendance was around 60 people and 25 Land Rovers. There were about a dozen units that camped overnight. The oldest vehicle was 1955, and the newest was 2004. We had Land Rovers of almost every description from 86" and 107", to the newer Discovery and Range Rovers. Nathan Enge from Nanaimo in his two month old 2004 Freelander received the "Best Sport" award for fearlessly attacking the dreaded Sutfin Mud Pit.

Gary Spicer from Crescent Beach received the award for "First Time Off-Road" with his 1957(?) 107" Station Wagon.

Greg won a neat Land Rover clock; unfortunately the award was for "The Stupidest Moment During a Repair". Greg figures that it must have been how his son David told the repair story (with much enthusiasm and volume!).

Steve Rogers won an award for being the most entertaining in the mud pit.

Awards and prizes were supplied by "The Rover Works", "Wise Owl Innovations", Rick Mellenger of the Roverlanders, Derek Norman, and Greg Sutfin. Thanks to all for their time and donations of prizes! And a special thanks to Greg and Victor for doing so much of the hard work that made the 2004 VanIsle Land Rover Network "Rally in the Valley" a resounding success!