March 8, 2006; Cold, dreary, been raining for days and is currently a torrential downpour. We had talked about off-roading now that I had my 2001 4x4 Dodge Dakota and my buddy had his 1998 AWD Ford Explorer (Eddie Bauer Edition...wooo hooo); today would be the perfect day! “Meet me at Home Depot so we can get a chain.” Yes, this is how inexperienced I was on my first trip, my buddy can attest to his experience as we drain his hydro-locked motor a few days later….”Good thing they put the motor in upside down.”, he says as we remove the spark plugs from under the truck and water immediately pours from the block.
This day I realized the need for the proper rig, equipment, and knowledge of how to use your vehicle and equipment without damage was paramount. Through forums we found groups of experienced people who were happy to help us along the way. Within a few years, I was driving a 94 YJ (Jeep Wrangler). This vehicle went from stock to beast over a period of about 5 years. Each time an upgrade went into place, it was thought out and functional. Spending my days in the woods of New Jersey had graduated to trips to Rausch Creek in Tremont, Pennsylvania. The principles of off-road driving, recovery, and passing the knowledge had sunk in, but the next level was still to come.
October 10-13 2013: Vermont Overland Rally (VOR2013). This event is what changed the game for me personally. There were actually classes for this stuff, recovery, off-roading 101, 201!!! I had no idea. Classes in the morning, trails in the afternoon, several routes, local points of interest. Drive down some blacktop, head up a hill to a dirt road, the most beautiful views you can see, make a right to a nasty little trail! Overlanding is a very different style. The people are knowledgeable, safe (who wants to break a rig 800 miles from home), and have stories of far-off places! My offroad roots will never die, but to drive vast distances is going to require 1 thing I don’t have.
October 31, 2013: Purchase 2014 JKU (Jeep Wrangler Unlimited). Since this point, I have attended too many classes and overland events to list and this will continue, but now I want to start to share it all with you. My highlights since VOR2013:
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