The Land Rover Writer

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maine Winter Romp 2014

Sometime in the mid 1990's Bruce Fowler, a Land Rover enthusiast in Unity, ME, decided that other Land Rover enthusiasts should enjoy the trails on his land, and that of his friendly neighbors, in central Maine. So he put the call out that if anyone wanted to spend a President's Day [and Valentine's Day] weekend in the woods, on their own, he'd be happy to provide the opportunity.

You pay nothing - let me repeat, you pay nothing - for the privilege of having Bruce spend some weekends opening up trails, tamping down deep snow, and calming down neighbors, about having "a few" Land Rovers on the fields, hills and marshes for the weekend. You cover your own expenses; you can even camp in the woods if that's what you prefer. 

Initially Bruce left you to your own devices in terms of housing and dining. However, it only took a few years of ever-larger groups descending on one restaurant and emptying its larder for him to select and alert places in advance. We now have a "Romp hotel" [a Best Western in this year's guise] that offers special rates and two restaurants [Cancun and You Know Who's Pub] that stock up on beer and food in advance. Both restauranteurs let me know that they love having the Romp crowd each year.

This year Rompers came from ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, DC, Canada and the UK - 65 vehicles representing all models, from the latest Range Rover Sport [courtesy of Land Rover Scarborough] to a Series I. 

The trails were particularly challenging this year as the deep snow pack had dried out leaving "corn snow," dessicated snow with little traction, underneath. That meant that when your Land Rover broke through the thin crust it sank close to its frame and then tried to gain traction on powdery snow. So there was plenty of slow going, yanking and winching. There was also a lot of waiting in lines as stuck vehicles were hooked up and moved forward - slowly. This year's savior was the kinetic rope. No matter how slow you're going the elastic power in a kinetic rope will give you a pull that will move your Rover forward or backwards.

Yes, the organization could have been tighter as the waits felt L-O-N-G, but then, the organizer had to deal with frozen plumbing at his house for the entire weekend - so no complaints, here. For many enthusiasts who live in suburbs or cities this is the only opportunity to get into the woods and enjoy the winter capabilities of their Land Rovers. This year's event saw many newcomers to winter offroading and they clearly had a ball learning about what their Land Rovers - and they - could accomplish in challenging conditions. 

The most fun was clearly had by those who attend every years, from the Series Land Rovers of the "Buxton Foreside" clans to the Discovery II's that seemed to be everywhere on the trails. You could make night runs and/or find the most difficult hills and gullies; no matter what you were going to have a great time!

A perennial favorite run is the "Power Line Hill," whether up or down. It's winding ascent, bumpy terraced incline and icy approaches make it a real challenge. This Discovery of Rovers North's Zack Griswold featured front and rear lockers and chained tires.

This year even saw the return of interest from Maine's only Land Rover dealer. Land Rover Scarborough found an old Defender door, decorated it up and asked attendees to sign the door - which they promised will be on display at the dealership! The Cameroon family from the UK did just that.

Even Sebago Brewery, which just launched its Black Bump ale featuring a Land Rover on its packaging, got into the act by sending a banner and a case of beer to share with enthusiasts (I've had one and enjoyed it very much!). 

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