Monthly Archives: July 2012

Just Joined Outdoor Blogger Network

As we try to get the word out about our mission and who we support– we decided to sign up on OUTDOOR BLOGGER NETWORK for a little more specific culture in the areas we try to reach…so let’s see how this goes for us– Pretty excited about this opportunity and feel this is another venue to gain new followers as well as help our own audience find other outdoor news.

A few quick updates– We are in the process of getting an agreement with NBRAN to support them as we travel and spread the word about the plight of pups who need good homes– stay tuned! We also took in a new foster pup, Champ, who is a sparky little pup.  Would do great in a family (or single guy/gal) who loves adventure.

We are headed for Indian Meadows this week to explore a part of the Owyhees (Idaho and Oregon) that does not get a great deal of attention….or traffic! We are getting access to private land that has quite a bit of history.

Just finished a keynote speech on Geo-Missions, specifically the ones we did in Korea and China. Had a terrific audience and I think my buddy Brad even took a few pics.

Will be doing more survival seminars next week- but to be honest- as much as I enjoy these, I really need to find a new venue for a keynote I am doing on Vehicle- Based Expedition. If you know of any venue that needs a speaker- let me know. As I pilot this one out- I will be doing it at no charge.

Working on the rest of the blogs from the Idaho Overland Expedition…but real work is in the way…

Had a great weekend of exploring Petroglyph sites in the desert…man it was hot…

Which leads to….posted a video on YouTube about a special piece of gear to keep yourself cool…. 

Idaho Overland Expedition (Part 1)

Driggs to Jackson to St Anthony Sand Dunes

Quick set-up: Living Overland will be doing a full trip report. Until then I will refrain from many of the specific references to roads, GPS coordinates, trail names, etc. This trip was planned and organized by Beau and Christa and its up to them on the specific route they wish to share…

750 miles, over 600 on dirt. Three guys and a pre-teen girl would travel across every type of terrain that Idaho has to offer. A trip that would begin in Jackson, Wyoming and end in Jordan Valley, Oregon that would include tents, flyfishing gear, and great views along the way.

How do you describe the expedition of a lifetime? How do you explain the beauty seen from the cab of your rig as you blaze down both common and many not-so-common paths in the back country of Idaho? How do you tell others about the comrade built between total strangers as they traveled together through mountains and deserts? What words describe the feeling as a team jumps in to solve a problem like broken parts on a rig, a flat tire, or setting up a camp? You ramble in several segments like I am about to do…

Our trip began when we met up with the team in Driggs, Idaho. Team member Chad had set up a crash pad for us. For $20, my daughter Abby and I had a room to our selves, access to showers, and even a Jacuzzi. When we arrived we had a chance to meet Chad and his wife and their beautiful little girl. We made small talk while Chad repacked his Toyota FJ. Chad and I both share military backgrounds, a love for the outdoors, and an interest in expeditions. Chad is also a great photographer.

It wasn’t long before Lance showed up. A financial analyst and fellow adventurer we quickly took a liking to each other. The immediate commonality was his XTERRA. I love the Nissan XTERRA as an expedition platform and often lament that my 2003 was not 4WD. We also shared the brotherhood of diving. Both of us trained in the military and civilian life. Plus, he is just a great guy. His experience in running for state senate would pay off, as he used his charisma to quickly break the ice and get great conversation going.

Not long afterwards our team leader Beau showed up. Beau has been planning this trip for over a year and I think we all wanted to do what we could to support it, while being very careful about stepping on any toes. I teach leadership development for a living, and in moments I could not help falling into the evaluation role. I was immediately impressed with Beau from the beginning. After small talk about vehicles in the driveway, we soon over a great Italian meal in downtown Driggs, Lance, Beau, and myself with Abby in tow, discussed expedition financing, previous expeditions, goals and strategies for our own expedition companies, etc. Chad couldn’t join us and was out shooting great photos of an amazing moonrise. Getting to know each other of dinner was a great idea and we sat inside probing each other for new nuggets of advice.

The next morning after hitting the sack late, we departed on time from Driggs to Jackson Hole. Chad made the tough decision to drop since this would be his daughter’s first expedition at 7-months old. After topping off our fuel tanks in Jackson we picked up Andy and Claudia who were joining the expedition for only a day. They both work in the local area and could show us some great places on our way to St. Anthony.

Our convoy moved through Jackson, to Teton National Park and then Yellowstone. On the way to our dirt road launching site we had close encounters with a couple of Moose that Andy calls “Lucky”, since they have yet to be hit by a car in spite of lingering in roadways in the local area.

Taking a break near a ranch area Beau and Andy were familiar with, we were within viewing range of a Buffalo heard as well as a half-dozen Antelope following along. Getting through the ranch area was already providing us with the cool stuff you often think of in expeditions—including water crossings, dusty roads, and great views. Andy gave us a special treat of a river walk in the area that doesn’t get much traffic and though there were people along the route, the side trail tour he gave us was void of anyone else.

After lunch we proceeded on to St Anthony Sand Dunes to camp for the night. The plan was to watch fireworks from the dunes. With the threat of wildfires in the area, the town of Ashton had cancelled the show. Instead we stayed up for awhile and talked more about gear. Lance brought out a Kurig coffee machine and successfully blew out both mine and Beau’s inverters. An inverter is a device used to convert AC powered appliances (like those in your house) to DC current (like your car battery). No coffee for us. But amazing sunsets…

St Anthony is a “dry camp” area meaning no facilities including water. This was the first place our Scepter water cans paid off.

Scepter was cool enough to provide us with water and fuel cans for the trip. The water cans hold a little more than 5 gallons and are virtually indestructible. We knew we would be passing through hot desert areas later in our trip and the only water we would have would be what we carried. With canisters strapped both inside the Jeep as well as the rear rack, we were well prepared. I prefer the heavy duty plastic that Scepter uses compared to metal cans. Metal cans are not forgiving, can rust, and more likely to have a leak in the seam. In addition, the NATO style can by Scepter uses a far superior plastic than other companies. I have had water canisters fail on me- I was not going to have that happen. In addition, the fuel canisters they provided have more flex than metal. As you drive down bumpy roads and have the variance in temperatures, fuel cans expand and contract. Too often I have seen metal cans from discount hardware stores fail under these circumstances. Our trip would take us in to several extremes of temperatures.

The St Anthony Sand Dunes is a 10,000 acre area of clear white quartz sand that is constantly shifting. Driving into it from Ashton was a great experience. We found the loose sand laden roads not only a blast to drive, but also the views had a unique beauty. I really wish I would have packed our kites due to the winds in the area. Geologically speaking, the Prevailing winds carried the sand from the Snake and Teton Rivers to once active volcanic vents pouring, thus creating the dunes. You can still see signs of the vents that poured great depths of lava over the area.

Abby and I quick set up our tent and her privy. We used a privacy shelter and a Luggable Loo mounted to a 5-gallon bucket. The bucket was double lined with heavy duty plastic bags.

The area provides great sunsets and as Abby and I settled down with our backpacking meals, we watched Lance and Beau create some amazing concoctions for dinner. Lance showed how he could easily create an Indian based dish using microwavable rice, and Beau displayed how pre-cooking items and then freezing is a much better alternative- and less messy than preparing everything fresh.

We chose to use backpacking meals at the last moment. As I was trying to get our part of the trip organized I found that adding a small table, cast iron pans, cleaning supplies, cooking utensils, etc was taking up more space than I had planned. In addition, I was trying to treat our packing plan as if we were a backpacking trip on 4-wheels. This resulted in us having a really big cooler that held 4 blocks of ice, a dozen sodas, a block of cheese and a few packs of meat and tortillas…while all our dinner and breakfast meals were stowed in a backpack. While testing some of the new meals from Mountain House and Camp Chef were on the list this summer, we would have been much better off preparing fresh meals. I admit one of my concerns were bears once we got into the Challis, Sawtooth, and Boise NF areas, still I think we would have saved space by packing fresh meals.

Day one ended with good conversation and a visit to Abby’s privy set up…

The next morning I woke before everyone and started getting our stuff packed. I never factored in how much of an anti-morning person my 11-year old is and struggled throughout the trip finding a balance of motivation, compassion, and @$$ kicking. She often acts like an adult so much, I forget that she is not even a teenager yet. This is also where I had the first wrestling match with the privy shelter we set up. Will have to post a video on how this thing is supposed to “easily” pack away…

The trip out of the sand dunes brought us through more beauty and dust. Dust was our main dilemma throughout the trip. To keep is cooled off I opted to travel with the ½ top on the Jeep and a cargo net across the back. Because I had one of the two ham radios it made sense for me to be in the rear of the convoy. We found that we needed to back off a few hundred yards in the morning, while in the evening we would drop back in some cases to more than a mile while the dust settled. We also found the Ghotra, the scarf often seen in Arab countries, was great at keeping the dust out of lungs. I admit though, Abby and I both had black boogers at times. The Ghotra or Shemag can be wet with water to help filter as well as placed on the back of the neck to cool. I even placed it on my head during the afternoon to protect against the heat of the sun.

With the trip begining, there is so much to learn about each other, our skills, our quirks, and how to deal with sdversity. The next day Abby and I would have another encounter with Moose and other wildlife!

From Don’t Tread On Me… to Tread Lightly

Very Cool– we have just become an OFFICIAL PARTNER of  Tread Lightly!
These are principles I grew up on before leaving only foot (or tire) prints was the cool thing– and my family was much more involved in preserving the outdoors long before granola types and tree fornicators came along. My Grandpa Turner was a huge protector of the environment and would throttle anyone who threw down a candy wrapper or beer bottle. He also used the woods for camping, fishing, and hunting. He hiked trails, chased game, and drove his pick-up…and he fought to protect the woods and deserts of Arizona from both types of extremist…goons and granolas.
So it is with pride we not only announce our new status as a PARTNER with Tread Lighly- but publish in our blog the official ethics of the outdoors here…


  • Stay on routes designated for four wheeling. 
  • Cross streams only at designated fording points, or where the road crosses the stream.
  • Cross large rocks and other obstacles slowly, at an angle, one wheel at a time.
  • Avoid muddy trails.  Leave them for another day when they’re dry.  If you do come across mud on the trail, go easy on the gas to avoid wheel spin, which can cause rutting.  Don’t leave the trail to avoid muddy spots, this can widen the trail and damage trailside plant-life.
  • Straddle ruts, gullies and washouts even if they are wider than your vehicle.
  • Don’t turn around on narrow roads, steep terrain, or unstable ground. Backup until you find a safe place to turn around.
  • Travel straight up or down hills. Don’t traverse the face of a hill; you may slip sideways or roll your vehicle.
  • Stop frequently and reconnoiter ahead on foot.
  • Ride in the middle of trails to minimize widening them. Avoid side-slipping and wheel spin, which can lead to erosion.
  • To help with traction, balance your load and lower tire pressure to where you see a bulge (typically not less the than 20 pounds).
  • Know where the differential or lowest point on the vehicle is.
  • Choose the appropriate winch for your vehicle size.
  • Attach towing cable, tree strap or chain as low as possible to the object being winched. Let the winch do the work; never drive the winch.
  • Protect the soundscape by avoiding unnecessary noise created by your vehicle. 
  • Leave gates as you find them. Respect private land.
  • Yield the right-of-way to those passing you or traveling uphill. Yield to mountain bikers, hikers, and horses.
  • Avoid “spooking” livestock and wildlife.
  • Always avoid sensitive habitats: wetlands, meadows, and tundra.
  • Following a ride, wash your vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
  • Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated “Wilderness.”
  • Pack out what you pack in.  Carry a trash bag in your vehicle and pick up litter left by others.


  • Whenever possible, use existing campsites. Camp on durable surfaces and place tents on a non-vegetated area. Do not dig trenches around tents.
  • Camp a least 200 feet from water, trails and other campsites.
  • Minimize use of fire.  For cooking, try using a camp stove.

Soon you will find more tips and tricks to reducing impact and keeping access for all of us. There is also more tips are available at


  • Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements. If you cross private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).
  • Get a map.
  • Make a realistic plan and stick to it.  Always tell someone where you are going and your expected return time.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Make sure your vehicle is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies and spares for trailside repairs.
  • Travel with a group of two or more vehicles, as riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown. Designate meeting areas in case of separation.

Carl Saves an Expedition

What should have been a relaxing weekend of picking up last minute supplies and tying up loose ends for our Idaho Overland Expedition- became a race against several clocks to find parts, disassemble a transmission, and replace a clutch, pinion and throw-out bearings, as well as the slave cylinder on our expedition rig.

Idaho Overland Expedition- 700 miles of back country Jeep trails is no place to breakdown

With Melissa now working nights, Abby and I use the day to run errands so the house is nice and quiet for our slumbering Vet Tech. We started the morning with a Daddy-Daughter breakfast, picked up our backpacking meals for the trip, and made the mandatory Harbor Freight run. We also decided (together) to go ahead and change the oil at Jiffy Lube.

I have been using the same shop for several years now and they know my vehicles pretty well. The tech commented on how bad the throw-out bearing was sounding. The throw-out bearing is what allows parts of the transmission to engage and disengage from the motor/flywheel. Not going to go into detail- just understand its really important component.

Throw-out bearings are pre-lubricated and sealed at the factory. To replace it, Carl and I would need to remove the transmission. At this point, it is practical to replace the clutch too and pinion bearing since the overall labor is only minimally increased by renewing the entire system.

In a jam like this—I call Carl.

If you frequent the blog or podcast you have already met Carl. If not- I will give a quick intro.

I first met Carl 5-6 years ago when I interviewed him for the podcast. He was on the board for a local ATV club and an ardent access rights activist. Completely dedicated to the off-road world. He is an outstanding ride leader, knows every trail in Idaho, and is the best source of information for anything in the outdoors that has a trail. He is also a kick@$$ mechanic and a great teacher. He has also become a great friend this last year as he has taken me through several lessons on fixing cars. The guy should be an instructor somewhere.

So with an emergency call to Carl I get him talked into at least looking at the rig. Understanding this is late Saturday afternoon, this is a big project, part stores are closing soon, and he and I both work on Monday. I work hard to convince him we can do this. He (sort-of) agrees. I am highly confident in him. He probably thinks I’m naive at this point.

Carl decides after further inspection- it’s possibly several things. We decide to locate and pick-up replacement slave cylinder, clutch fork, pinion bearing, and throw-out bearing. The latter two come in a clutch kit- so while in there we decide to swap that as well. With the whiny voice of a 6 year- old in a toy store we decide (well Carl decides) to tackle the project.

So as we chase down parts, pick up my other rig, drop me off so I can take the vet-nurse to work, the Jeep is left to cool down. Carl and I meet back up around 6 pm. I come with tacos in hand. After a quick inhalation of a 12 pack from Taco Hell- we start on the project.

To my surprise (and Carl’s) the slave cylinder is quickly replaced. We then begin the process of pulling the tranny.

Taking it all apart

This begins with removal of the skid plate, unhooking all the electrical and vacuum lines, unbolting the exhaust system, unhooking the drive line, removing the starter, and THEN unbolting the tranny. This takes about 2 ½ hours and we are amazed at our progress. We even take a quick break to chase down a few tools to rent. Less than three hours into it and transmission sits on a floor jack ready to be repaired. We pull the clutch and it looks like it has 500-1000 miles of life left on it. It was so worn, the rivets holding the pad are ready to fall out.

With Carl as my Zen master the past few months, I have gained a confidence in working on my Jeep…and I am getting to where I can predict his next move pretty well. This helps with the speed of things and makes his role allot easier.

The next morning we meet at 9 am. For a pancake breakfast (Carl is also an incredible cook- I dread the day he finds that special someone- I will lose a great friend/mechanic/rc truck pal). After our bellies are satisfied we begin the process of exchanging parts.

The clutch is completely shot

The pinion as Carl predicted is shot. It won’t even spin. The throw-out bearing looks just as bad.

Clutch fork…new on the left…didn’t need to be replaced…but since we were in there….

While the clutch fork and ball looks pretty good, we decide since we are there and have the part, we will swap it out.

The new clutch

Another 2 ½ hours we have everything replaced, fire up the rig, and notice an instant difference!

Total cost for parts, tool rental, gas, and Tacos (and a small “thank you”) was around $500. The lesson I got was much more than that and I really did have a good time working with him on the rig. In fact would do another with him – even if it wasn’t mine.

Carl saved my expedition for that – I am truly grateful. I was confident we could do it.