The 2009 Maine Winter Romp brought 75 Land Rovers [and a few Jeeps and Toyotas] to Unity, ME, for a weekend of entertaining off roading.
Here's the story from the November/December 2009 issue of The Rovers North News.
Putting on chains before tackling the trails
Jim and Ann Rolston's Series II-A 109 Marshall Ambulance camper conversion came up from Deep River, CT
The Power Line Hill - Land Rover go uphill
"Dora" drove up from New Jersey with her owner, Ben Smith
Lining up after lunch to head back on the trails
Jason Wachtel's Series III 109" with a 200 tdi diesel drove up from Salem, MA
Tom Lynch led a contingent from the Southern New Hampshire Land Rover Club
Andy Rigo and Carine Duval drove up from Boston for the rally
Carine Duval conquers the Power Line Hill with coaching from Andy Rigo, Scott Preston, and Jeff Aronson
Romancing the Snow [Courtesy The Rovers North News, November 2009] By Jeffrey Aronson
Cupid, draw back your bow And let your arrows flow Straight to my lover’s heart, for me Nobody but me… Ah, love, as crooned by Sam Cooke decades ago. Where does one find amour today? Why, in the woods of Maine on Valentines Day weekend. February 14, 2009, positively oozed romance. From a crisp morning temperature of 14 degrees F, the warmth in Unity, ME, rose to a balmy 27 degrees. The sun shone brightly, the winds died to gentle zephyrs, and the hum of heater blowers bathed the men and women present in the glow of Valentine’s Day. Bruce Fowler, Unity, ME, a long-time Land Rover owner/enthusiast, once again organized this three day event. Avid winter campers could “enjoy” the outdoors on land surrounding his house; other less-intrepid adventurers succumbed to charms of the “official host hotel,” the Holiday Inn in nearby Waterville. The wilds of Waterville include Colby College and thus many eating and drinking establishments. Love takes strange forms but it proved its everlasting power; neither snow, nor cold, nor dark of night, nor recession could keep lovers of off roading from their rounds that weekend as over 75 Land Rovers [and a few canine rovers] enjoyed the sunshine and snow. They came from all over New England, New York, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Scott Preston, an expatriate New Englander, even flew up from Nashville just to attend again this year. Over 200 enthusiasts flooded the fields, forests, bogs, motels and bars in this rural region of central Maine. Most Land Rover owners experience feelings of loneliness; I mean, how many other Land Rovers do you see every day unless you work at a dealership? Events like these prove you are not alone; most of the cars at the event were Defenders, Discoverys and Range Rovers, with a minority of Series Land Rovers. They ranged from the utterly stock, like my 1966 Series II-A, to fully equipped Rovers with locking differentials, jacked up suspensions and 12,000 lb. winches. My own drive to the event typified my careful planning. Just before departing for the ferry I packed a tow strap, extra shackles, my High-Lift jack and base, and extra socks in case I had to jump into a stream again. Of course, it was also possible – but unlikely - that I might actually pull someone else out of a bog, ditch or snowbank. Precision scheduling also meant that I had a 2.5 hour drive in the wrong direction, followed by a 3 hour drive in the opposite direction to Waterville. The saving grace of the 5.5 wasted hours was a long slog on Maine’s only interstate highway, which assures sightings of other Land Rovers. Sure enough, while traveling south I saw three kitted-out Rovers heading north towards Waterville. On my northbound leg, near Portland, I found myself passed by Kevin Murphy, Ridgefield, CT, in his Range Rover Classic. Oddly, I would not see another Land Rover until I reached Waterville two hours later. Checking in at the hotel I spotted a familiar sight, a Series Land Rover with its hood up. Mark Libby, Buxton, ME, had just completed substantial work on his Series II-A 88” before driving north to Waterville. He was attempting to tune up the car with the help of his friend, Lars Sjulander. Dropping my bags I did what any Series owner would do – I joined in the effort. Grabbing my hand crank and feeler gauge, I turned the engine until the points arm rested on the edge of the cam lobe, gapped the points and then tightened them in place. Mark then timed the engine by ear and the Rover ran well all weekend. A Mexican restaurant in Waterville [yes, I know, go figure] had a large room filled with noisy Rover enthusiasts, many crowing about their new or revamped Land Rovers. Dave Bobeck, Washington, DC, and his girlfriend Sonoe, drove up in his 1984 Land Rover 90 just imported from the UK. This predecessor to the NAS Defender has the ubiquitous 2.25 petrol engine but an LT77 5-speed gearbox. Dave quickly swapped out the 8-spoke wheels for NAS Defender 110 rims and new Dunlop Radial Mud Rovers, and then tried the car out. Displeased with the 6 mpg the car achieved in city driving, Dave performed an ignition tune up, adjusted the carburetor, changed the oil, and then drove the car to Maine. The 15 mpg on the highway trip was a welcome improvement. Equally unique was the 1968 109” Marshall battlefield ambulance brought by Jim and Ann Rolston, Deep River, CT. The LHD vehicle once served as part of the British Army on the Rhine [BOAR], part of Britain’s NATO forces. “We bought it from Rovers North when they imported them several years ago. Most had the ambulance bodies removed but we retained ours and turned in into our camper. We ordered an attached tent from Caranex, and a built a sleeping platform in the back. It has a marine heater in the back that kept the cab at about 85 degreed F during the trip!” The Rolstons have put about 45,000 miles on the ambulance, including a few trips to Cape Breton, NS. While they adore the camper, Ann Rolston noted that the romance of this weekend meant “we get to stay in a hotel.” In the woods or in the bars, Rover romantics commented on the snow covered trails, quilted-covered motels, and “two lovers,” their S.O and the Land Rover. Michelle McGuire and Jeff Berg, Medford, MA, traveled in their kitted out Discovery II; she called the weekend “a great way to spend Valentine’s Day, doing something you love with people you care about.” Channeling Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in “Four Christmases,” a couple who request anonymity said “our parents think we’re in Philadelphia.” The Southern New Hampshire Land Rover Club arrived en masse in a large convoy, with evident intent to find the sloppiest, wettest trails and determine whose Rover would get stuck the hardest. Jimmy and Brenda Salmon, Tom Lynch, Don Trudeau and LuAn Ferguson, and other club members hoisted their banner high at the event. On Sunday, they succeeded in burying a succession of mud holes that appeared mysteriously at the bottom of a hill, beneath the snow cover. The ultimate demonstration of romantic affection is, of course, permitting your BFF, GFF, or spouse to drive your Rover off road. The Maine Winter Romp has seduced many women and men to initiate themselves into off roading; veteran Rompers will not forget the couple several years ago, in an utterly stock, quite new Discovery II, tackle challenging ice and snow conditions. Whatever questions they had about each other were clearly answered when they, coached by supportive veterans, successfully navigated difficult trails. So as this year’s convoy approached the infamous “Power Line Hill,” many eyes focused on Andy Rigo and Carine Duval, Boston MA. Andy’s ’98 Discovery I LSE came with 117,000 miles and benefited from a Rimmer supercharger, a Borla exhaust, Old Man Emu shocks and BF Goodrich AT tires. For her initiation into offroading Carine came more equipped for Back Bay shopping than Maine trails, but she here got behind the wheel and faced the long and winding trail up the hill. Andy moved over to the passenger’s seat while Scott Preston offered additional tips. By late afternoon, the hill’s snow pack had become quite slippery; only the sides of the path offered any traction. Carine balanced the Discovery perfectly, enough wellie for bite but never loosing grip. At the top of the hill, her leap for joy and scream of delights echoed across the fields.
That’s what winter off-roading is all about. It’s a safe if chilly way to introduce yourself or others to off roading. You’ll go slow enough to avoid most body damage. Stay out of the mudholes beneath the snow and you’ll have few problems, if any, with brakes and suspension systems. Lovers rejoice! The 2010 Maine Winter Romp is scheduled for February 12 -15 (for more information, see www.winterromp.org )
"The Land Rover is not a vehicle, it's a way of life."