Mapping Crew - New Mexico
My first vehicle was a 1987 Isuzu Trooper, as a sixteen year old that meant mudding behind the local lake. After cracking the transfer case in half I almost traded it for a 1970 El Camino, boy would my life had turned out differently! Instead I went down the rabbit hole of classic Chevrolet Blazers, until one night in Hot Springs, Arkansas I was introduced to rock crawling with Jeeps. As I sat there completely vertical, staring straight up the hood of an old CJ7 at the stars above, I knew I had to have a Jeep. So in the summer of 2001 I found "Goldie" sitting brand new on the local lot, no one wanted her because she was a four cylinder and therefore sat on the lot for a year. She took me all over Arkansas during college, and slowly grew as did my driving skills. When you are working with two (to four) cylinders less than the rest of the guys, it takes a little more gas pedal and finesse. I became a believer in driving my rig, wheeling it hard, which sometimes meant a trail side repair, but then driving it home. That little gold Jeep is still sitting in my garage, and still with a four cylinder engine, it has driven me all over the United States and created excitement for me and spectators for over 16 years now. There have been a few more Jeeps added to the roster, because sometimes you need a spare, but I am a firm believer that knowing your rig and your own skills will take you farther than most people believe.
In the summer of 2007 I moved to Telluride, Colorado. My friend needed a caretaker for his cabin for a month while he was working in Alaska, so it seemed like a great opportunity to experience the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, his soon to be ex-girlfriend decided she was going to move back into the cabin with her new boyfriend. I was left homeless with all my friends worldly possessions. Lucky for me he was a mountain guide with lots of cool camping gear. My new boss told me it was fairly common in mountain towns to have experiences like that and suggested that I just camp for a week until I could find a new place to live. Well that week turned into five months, as I went to work during the day and returned to my tent at night. I was the first one to make it into the ghost town of Alta that year, winching myself through the snow and pitching my tent next to the building that Nikola Tesla used for his first commercial use of electricity. It was a great summer, just me and my pet wolf experiencing Mother Nature at its finest. "Overlanding" wasn't a common term in the USA at that point, and my gear wasn't very fancy so I guess I was still officially camping, but it did instill a passion that grew into Overland Expedition Specialists LLC.
Maybe some day there will be a new phrase to describe it, but I think we can be both Rock Crawlers and Overlanders. If you are out there exploring, call yourself anything you want, just remember to always Tread Lightly!