Tales of a Texas-Sized Jamboree

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So far there have been ten JJUSA events hosted at the Inks Ranch. You might still be wondering why we pay so much money to attend this event, year after year. It’s difficult to put a finger on one component, but in my not so humble opinion it’s the fact that you get to work with a lot of people who genuinely care about the paying adventure seeking customer.

It all starts with Mark A. Smith, the founder of Jeep Jamboree USA and it works its way down through the JJUSA staff, as well as at the local level with a hand-picked Trail Guide staff. Then there is the Inks Family, who allows Jamboree attendees to visit their magnificent ranch home each year. Roy Inks thinks we are all “just a little crazy,” he says. There is a fine line between passion and insanity, and most of us straddle that line a bit too closely.

The center stage of this magnificent production is the Inks Ranch itself. As you drive through the Texas Hill Country on your way to the wheeling and camping areas, you will be amazed by views of Texas Wild Flowers. They explode into a vibrant color pallet, ranging from a waving carpet of deep purple patches set off by the Texas Bluebonnet, and contrasted by hints of bright orange from Indian Paintbrush and lightly punctuated with the soft pink of the blossoming hill country Mountain Laurel.

The Ranch has a dozen or so huge granite domes that protrude from the ground like ancient sentinels protecting the center of the ranch. On clear, cool nights (such as what we had during the Fall Texas Spur) the lack of ambient light and clean crisp air revealed a majestic light from millions of stars, and a falling meteorite show that would rival any firework display. The recent torrential rains made our fall outing as green and lush as the area was in the spring, providing plenty of nourishment to the grass for the cattle that wander the ranch freely and always maintain the right of way.

The domes are grouped together in two large masses divided by a riverbed, which winds through the ranch. The riverbed is unusual because it is comprised of billions of pea-sized pink granite gravel that are all offspring of the towering domes on the ranch. As you walk or drive across the riverbed, it’s as if you were at the bottom of a giant aquarium with the crunching sound caused by the course stone surface, and a little water to lubricate the finish. On my first outing to the ranch three years ago, I sank my previous vehicle, a 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, to the axles in the river in seconds while trying to attempt a river crossing. The water was waist deep and when I had to recover the tow strap from the add-a-trunk at the rear of the Jeep, I found out just how cold river water can be in February. Aside from the domes, the ranch is covered with several species of native Oak and plenty good old-fashion Mesquite bushes, brought to Texas as a gift from herds of Spanish Goats as they migrated from Mexico in the 1920’s.

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