Calico MogFest Day One

Good times with good friends in the warm Mojave Desert

Trip Report:  20061020

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The Trip

The 2006 edition of MogFest was held in beautiful Calico, CA. Calico is an old mining town turned ghost town turned tourist trap and campground. We have held several of our previous events there and the accommodations were more than reasonable given the remoteness of the area. Calico is about 20 miles past Barstow, about 1/2 way between LA and Las Vegas. To most folks, this is the "middle of nowhere". For us, it would be home for 3 days and nights. The photos below are what we saw.

Kathleen and I frequently joke about me not having "man-co" tires (tires that are manly) on my 1300L. I usually run the 425/75 R20 Michelin XM-47 tires which are big and heavy. But, as this photo shows, I still have a way to go. These are earthmover tires that we scoped at a fuel stop on our way to Calico.

Kathleen suggested the casual GQ pose would nicely compliment my truck. As you can see, I do have wimpy tires.

For those of you not familiar with the Mojave desert, it is referred to as "high desert" in that the area is above 4,000 feet in altitude. Due to the lack of rain, the terrain is barren and rugged. Here are some roadside hills next to the Mojave river. Note the nearly complete lack of vegetation.

One of the mog guys showed up with his super clean model 421. Due to a story circulating on the news group, he decided to use the 3 point agriculture hitch to mount a set of "anti-rollover" wheels on the back of the vehicle to prevent any chance of the rig doing an endo backwards onto the cab. A very novel idea.

We had a group dinner the first night and Kathleen wore these trick skeleton ear rings to rave reviews of the other campers.

Kai admires John Wessell's new rig.

Mark Mitchell's Altar-proven 1300L.

A very nice 1300L with custom camper owned by Kurt, the same fellow that owns the MAN 8x8. The camper on the 1300 is very deluxe and it should be since Kurt manufactures custom campers.

MAN-OH-MAN. This rig blew me away. The truck weighs 50,000 pounds and was a cruise missile launcher tow vehicle. Kurt bought this rig on eBay and got it for only $28K. But, he had to do a ton of actions to get it in the configuration you see here.

The mounted tire/rims are so big that there is a special lift device to raise them for stowage. These tires are 16.00R20 which are very tall.

An inside view of the 8x8 camper.

A detail view of the sink area of the 8x8 camper.

Wessell's new tow vehicle and his off-road VW Synchro. The VW took some pretty big hits on the second day.

This rig was so unusual it merited another photo.

This is a Halflinger. It sports 12" tires, which are not "man-co".

A good condition ex-military 1300L. The red wheels have got to go as it disrupts the "mystique".


A standard Pinzgauer model 710 if I am not mistaken. These are very capable and ride good. Plus, they can travel at full highway speed.

Kai Serrano's Altar-proven 416 doka.

Caid's Altar proven, winching proven 1300L.

Oh the shame of not having the baddest truck at the place. That MAN was indescribably huge. Note Kurt next to his truck on the left.

The MAN negotiates a hill.

Kai doing his trail boss act on his son's quad.

Getting the group together.

The barren hills of the Calico mountains. While there was gold found here many years ago, there is not much else going on here now.

Note the bedding and colors in the hills.

The MAN negotiates a steep down grade. This was before his trailing arm linkage broke took out the air system.

Interesting weathering patterns in the local rocks.

Attempting to repair the MAN's air system. The trailing arm linkage seized due to the vehicle sitting in the military storage depot for so long. When the link broke, it allowed the axle to come forward, hitting the compressed air tanks and breaking the air lines.

Interior label on the MAN.

Later that night, we got our custom MogFest tee shirts.

No camping trip is complete without gallons of "mogaritas". Here, one of the crew squeezes fresh limes with liquor visible in the background.

Mog central had power and we were playing mog videos. The camera caught the display in mid-refresh causing 1/2 to look blank. But, looking at the screen, you can see a truck at a steep roll angle.

Cooking for a large group of 150 in a camp area is no small feat. Kai & Tina Serrano did an outstanding job and served the group bbq bratwurst with all the fixings. And for desert, Tina made fresh apple cobber made from a crate of fresh apples. Here, the cobbler cooks in charcoal fired dutch ovens until done. The deserts fed the whole group, with some to spare.


Most of the first day on the trail was very easy. There were very few tough spots and with the exception of the MAN's failure, everybody got back to camp in one piece. The MAN's issues stemmed from the truck being stored for 8 full years without any maintenance. Now that Kurt has had 2 failures of the same part within a few days of one another, he will now lube the balky parts.

Next Day's Adventure .

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