Monthly Archives: July 2013

Scale Model Expeditions


Two Axial SCX-10 JK Wranglers working down the trail. This is not racing or crawling, this is oveland exploration using scale vehicles.


Amazing the details you find in terrain when moving over it with detailed vehicles.

Sunday morning working our way down a hiking trail with scale models of Jeep JK Wranglers. Watching our footing as the electric motors quietly propels each along, both with loads of 1/10 scale expedition gear. Climbing rocks, selecting lines, and working with the other rigs to get un-stuck or select a better path.

Radio Control Expeditions. This is our newest passion. In an effort to get back into shape, we have dedicated ourselves to scale model overlanding. Borrowing from other disciplines, trail hiking, real sized Jeeping and Overlanding, as well as RC rally racing (as done in Europe and Asia) and scale crawling events, we have built a few 1:10 scale (and highly realistic) models to explore local hiking trails.


Melissa working her JK through a bolder section on the trail. Scale Overlanding provides new or additional opportunities to PLAY outside and get a nice hiking and boldering workout

A few years ago we jumped into rc racing and “bashing”. Using several different Traxxas vehicles in various scales, we built up both a collection of cars as well as destinations we had taken them to. I normally travel on business with a 1/16 truck and We even built a rally course in our backyard.

While I did race, working the short course races never really appealed to me, I however loved the rc rally format done in Europe, where instead of a closed course that you repeated, you had to go from stage to stage. In the 4×4 truck world (rc) you also have the Axial G6 which is a competition with several stages like the rally racing.

I like the idea of the G6, but we are more about the adventure and exploration side of life rather than competition. So we have started doing “scale trail runs” with our Wranglers.

We know we are not the first ones to do this, in fact there are a few Youtube videos out there of guys getting together to do fun runs on weekend mornings, but we are one of the few and as far as we know, the only ones in our area doing trail runs and not just taking crawlers out to a spot to see if they can conquer the obstacle. For us, its driving the rig down a trail to a new destination.


Touching the rig to reposition or recover it not allowed. Here Rob’s red JK cannot get enough traction to get over an obstacle, so Melissa’s silver JK is helping out with a tow strap

Full Value Norms
First, I hate rules that look like “elitism”, but we are going for a look and feel with this experience. We implement a few rules to make it more interesting, a bit more realistic, and promote good driving skills and line selecting. Here is a quick run down of how we set up our rigs, handle getting stuck, and putting a bit of realism into our scale adventuring.

Vehicles are 1:10 scale 4×4. Must have a realistic drive train including “pumpkins”.
Tires and rims must be realistic to the model.
Vehicles must carry a tow strap and have recovery points in front and back of the vehicle. Recovery points must be realistic and comply with manufacturer or fabricator specifications. The tow strap must represent current manufactured straps available in the 1:1 world.
Vehicle bodies should represent street legal models, since overlanding in the 1:1 world is done on dirt roads, forest service roads, byways, as well as Jeep trails. This includes minimum one mirror, simulated lights, etc.

1.when a vehicle becomes stuck or turns over, it must be righted or unstuck in one of the following ways:
Winching by self
Winching by another vehicle
Yank strap by another vehicle
Yank strap by “judge” or hand (with a judge pull- it is a single strait line pull by fellow driver)
Anchor point (tow strap in anchored in place by fellow driver’s foot

2. Use of lifting and traction aides

If a hi-lift jack is on the vehicle, the driver can lift the vehicle by hand 3/4 the height of the jack
Objects may be placed under the tires as long as size and weight are proportional and realistic to what a driver could lift and place.
Use of sand ladders, pull pals, winches, shovels, etc is highly encouraged.

Use of the “hand of God” or “foot of God” is forbidden- except when vehicle is in peril of falling or in imminent danger of damage.

While it seems legalistic to have so many rules, we do it to preserve the culture we are trying to build with this and keep it enjoyable for us.

1. Most obvious is the 4×4 scale rig. As above, it should represent a manufactured, street legal, off highway vehicle. We chose to use the Axial SCX 10 for its scale realism and on trail performance.

Melissa’s rig is an out of the box ready to run rig, while mine is a kit. With that said, we swapped motors in Melissa’s from a 27 turn motor to 55 turn motor. I can explain turns in another post, but for now understand this, less turns= faster, more turns=torque. We wanted her to have the ability to go slower and have power to climb.

My rig was a kit. It comes with everything but the electronics. Troy Dewey of Team Dewey’s built the rig for me as a favor and learning experience. I have built kits in the past and I struggle, Troy is probably the top expert on rc rigs in the state, so getting him to do the build was awesome. Most kits we have both done are a matter of hours from start to finish. It took us 2.5 days working together. Mainly due to the way the parts are listed and laid out. The kit comes with a clear body, so naturally I selected a finish to match our new adventure rig. I will do a full review of the rigs in another blog.

2. Next you need a backpack with hydration bladder. This is a trail hike taking you far from camp or your 1:1 rig. This will give a place to store a few parts, batteries, snacks, and a first-aid kit.

We recommend at least three extra Lipo batteries for your rig and an extra pack of AAA batteries for your radio controller. The Lipos tend to last about 2 hours. That two hours is going to go fast.

A small first-aid kit is a must since you may be climbing rocks, going through brush, etc. Along with the kit, should be bug repellent.

Trail Etiquette
You are doing something out of the norm on trails where there are other users. While on a common trail, look out for mountain bikers and hikers and get out of the way. We practice Tread Lightly principles just as if it was a real rig so we don’t endanger our access rights. Stay close to rig as if it was a pup on a leash.

We think we have found a way to get outside and play more. Combining hiking and boldering with the rc hobby has us back outside. Trail climbs don’t phase us as much even though we are both out of shape, funny how the car pulls you up the trail. We are already selecting destinations to explore trails with our scale expo rigs.


Mission to Atlanta


MOre than a home–its a gateway to the Sawtooths


Mission Accomplished! Brad and his very sweet mother standing in Atlanta! I know I do trips with just me and my pup- but I really enjoyed having them along.

Atlanta was the first Idaho ghost town we went to shortly after moving to the gem state in early 2005. I have hunted the area with friends, taken several trips in the winter and early spring “trying” to get to the town, and have flown in there with a fellow pilot a few times. This last weekend I had a chance to take a good buddy and his mother out with me. She has lived in Idaho her entire life and has never seen it…so this mission had a purpose.

Placed on the head waters of the Boise River, Atlanta was founded by John Stanley’s prospecting party when they discovered gold in the area somewhere between 1863 and 1864.  The Stanley team had come through Bear Valley and the Stanley Basin before striking over to the head of the middle fork of the Boise. Though Idaho was not directly involved in the Civil War, Confederate sympathizers named the load “The Atlanta” after the Civil War battle of its namesake.  In 1865, the streets of Atlanta City were laid out and by 1867 it had a Post Office. Still working today is the Hydro-electric dam, though the aerial tramline used during a period of re-growth from 1904-1912 is no longer there.

IMG_0640From its beginning, the highly remote location of the Atlanta lode made difficult to develop the district and to bring in the necessary equipment. However, the extremely high-grade ore available in quantity in made it easy in 1868 to interest a large number of British investors in the area. Through this investment, technical equipment and expensive machinery was brought in, increasing attention to the Atlanta lode.

Before major operations ended in 1953, Atlanta produced some 18 million dollars ranking it as Idaho’s major hard-rock gold producer. Periodically through the years, several investors have looked at mining the area, even using chemically dependent strip mining.

IMG_0615Atlanta is about 100 miles from our base camp in Meridian and 60 of that is on the barley improved Middle Fork Road built to solve the transportation problems of the mine. The road includes loose gravel and sand, shale rock and miles of washboard that will rattle any fillings you have in your teeth. This is the only access in the winter and the road becomes treacherous with ice and snow.

From Boise, we take Highway 21 to the Lucky Peak turn-off, which becomes the Middle Fork Road. You skirt along both Lucky Peak and Arrow Rock reservoirs, the Middle Fork of the Boise River, and see dramatic scenery from high desert plains to Ponderosa Pines. You can catch glimpse of Elk, Deer, Antelope, and Moose. Be sure to use caution of the road due to oncoming traffic, loose rocks and soil, and on occasion, deadfall on the roads.IMG_0621

The other route is to drive past Idaho City and over Moore’s Creek Summit. Here you can take the Edna Creek Road. Take a solid set of maps, use an app such as Topo Maps for the iPad, and check where you are often. Roads and tails change names and while going straight on one road, it can change names with a slight curve. An example is how coming out of Atlanta, turning on Swan Hold, becoming the Owl Creek Road, and then eventually after a few other detours you are on Edna Creek. Granted, all different roads, just be aware that a single road does not take you on a single shot to your intended destination.

IMG_0644Take plenty of water with you, shovel, hi-lift jack, repair equipment and tools, and your survival pack. I have been stuck overnight in this area and if you are far enough back in, help is not going to be driving by. A licensed HAM operator with long-range gear can hit Schaffer Butte for comm. Since cell phone service can be up to a 60 mile walk if you break down. These roads on summer weekends are populated with all kinds of recreationist, on Sunday evening in early May, you won’t find help passing by. As for fuel, Going Lucky Peak/ Middle Fork Road, your last chance for gas is on I-84 and Highway 21. If going Edna Creek, top off in Idaho City. HIGHLY recommend at least an extra two-gallons of go-juice. On another note, be aware that there are active mining claims on this road. Please do not mess with the equipment, and don’t start turning rocks or soil looking for “stuff”. Last, don’t look like a typical yuppy tourist. These are hard-working folks that live up in the area. Don’t be a geek, you ruin it for the rest of us.


Hard to see, but those are prospectors down there working their claim.

We enjoy taking our time to stop for pictures of wildlife, historical relics, and scenery. A good hearty picnic lunch and even dinner can make it a great trip.

3 Horse Ranch



Smoked trout made this a great experience!


With a tasting room that is open and friendly- you feel right at home to ask questions about the great wines they offer


Continuing our dirt road love fest

So let me start of by saying I am not a wine expert. Except for very special occasions I really don’t drink alcohol. I enjoy brewing beer- but about 99% of that goes to friends who say I do a pretty good job at it. So to understand the world of wine is a stretch.
Combining our quest of finding dirt road destinations and my desire to do something “fancy” for my bride, the 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards was an automatic choice. I wanted to let Melissa feel like a princess for the day. I wanted her to have the option of coming out of hiking boots and shorts, put on same make-up, discard her baseball hat, and feel pretty. With me in my Mountain Khakis and a t-shirt, we decided on a tour of the west valley wineries. 3 Horse was selected for three reasons…open on Sunday, had a food menu, and of course it was on a dirt road.
IMG_0596I had never been to a tasting room, and upon learning this, we were given a great education on how tastings work and what to expect. I immediately liked the fact that we were not belittled since we both were new to this experience. The tasting room isn’t stuffy either, it’s like hanging out in a friends well done kitchen while they prepare a meal and entertain.
The tasting included a small snack of smoked trout and cheese with a baguette. We sampled several wines and were encouraged if there was not something we like, to pour it out. Each wine was explained in very non-technical terms. For fun, we were taught the how and why to swirl the wine in our glass.
The winery is located just outside of Eagle, Idaho where they take full advantage of the growing conditions and incredible soil content. They are even certified as organic. Very friendly and proud of their product- you can quickly learn about how it is made and the best ways to serve. This is a must-do for you and a date.
For more information checkout the website at and of course we will do a podcast- and perhaps we can get them for an interview.


Organic vineyards cover the dusty landscape on the way to the tasting room

Jeepers Bucket List

Sitting at dinner last night, one of the waitresses in a local restaurant we love, asked about stuff to do in her Jeep. My first reaction was “Everything!” There are probably a hundred “bucket list” out there for Jeepers in magazines, blogs, and forums. I look at a lot of these and they seem to alienate some Jeep owners and make the list for “elitist” in some aspects. Other list were pretty profane and not family centric.

We’ve made interesting memories in ours including pulling our 87 XJ up-alongside classic cars in a parking lot and letting kiddos crawl all over it to driving our 94 YJ to some of the most remote areas of the Owyhee Desert. We thought we would add our own thoughts on a “must-do” list with your rig that is more of a “fun list” of things to do as well as add to life experiences with it. So after an evening of brainstorming, fleshing out ideas, and going through several bowls of chips, we narrowed it down to a semi-practical list with just enough challenges to provide you with great stories with your rig. Take lots of pictures along the way.

Accessorize It

025Put a hundred random Jeeps in a parking lot and you won’t find any two alike. With so many options out there for aftermarket products, you make it your own when you begin to add your own thought and creativity to it. Bumpers, lift kits, and lights are just the beginning. Doesn’t matter if it’s an old CJ, a Liberty, or even one of the newer Wranglers, any Jeep with aftermarket goods looks and performs better.

Camp With It

Jeeps are made for the back country. There are few things better than a slumber party with your Jeep. It’s great to look back at family photos years later (be sure to print and place in an album for later years) and see “the old Jeep” in the background of camp fires and tents. Bonus points for week-long vagabond trips in the woods.

Drive Across Your State on Dirt

We have a dirt road addiction. Forest roads, desert roads, dirt, gravel, “improved surfaces…its all part of the fetish. Here in the west this is much easier than those who are out east. If not on dirt, do it on two-lane byways and farm to market roads. You will see more of your home state than you thought existed. Last year we did Idaho from Jackson, Wyoming to Jordan Valley Oregon on the paths less traveled. 102For 5 days we saw every aspect our wonderful state has to offer. I have attempted this type of “pilgrimage” in every state I have lived in for the past 25 years. If you live in Texas you get bonus points and probably have to use more farm-to-market roads. If you are in those tiny states out east, come on…. Put a couple of them together for it to count.

Rack Time

Drive to the woods, park with the rear tire about 12’ or so from a tree, and hang a hammock up for the afternoon. When traveling on back roads, I use this as a rest stop for quick power naps.

Coffee with Your Dog

Dogs love Jeeps. Make a routine of taking your pup for a Saturday morning Java run.IMG_5632 Hit a drive through that offers treats for your pup and then head to a dog park or some place you can overlook all the land God touches while you and your dog get some bonding time over a hot cup of coffee. Sunrises are perfect with a dog and a Jeep.

Sections of Route 66

I thought long and hard about this one. It’s not off-road. We are not even requiring you do the full length. But there is something magical about doing Route 66 that requires it to go on our list. Maybe it has to do with that nostalgic area of the automobile- and especially more rugged rigs that appeals to us. Let your conscience decide if you get to check this one-off.

Attend Overland Expo, Easter Jeep Safari, Jeep Jamboree, or other Life Style Event

Think of these things as “church camp” for the believers. Going to an event allows you to connect to others of the faith. At major gatherings like Overland Expo, you have opportunities to attend classes and workshops, drive your vehicle under the guidance of an instructor on a terrain course, as well as find new accessories for your rig. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to others who have made modifications and show off your own rig as well. Bonus points if your rig gets photographed and posted in a newsletter, blog, or even Twitter/Facebook post.

Take it on a Date

Chicks dig Jeeps while guys dig chicks that have Jeeps. While not a Jeep, my Suzuki Samurai was a chick magnet for a few solid relationships. Jeepers have an advantage though…much like Harley Davidson guys do over Honda guys. There is something in the brand that has no substitute. Bonus points if you attend submarine races. Super-Duper bonus points if it’s an older rig you built or modified. The Liberty, Commander, and the new Grand Cherokee have a way of attracting a higher income species, so take full advantage of that as well. We find drive-ins to be the ultimate cool for a Jeeper. Bonus points here if you score a sugar mama/daddy in the deal.507

Rattle Can-It

My 94 YJ gets tons of compliments on the color. Jaws drop when they find out its Krylon. It’s not so much what you paint it with, it’s the prep work and how well you do the job. Some Jeeps are made for painting, while others would not fair well. The more self-modified the rig it is, then the more “rattle-can ready” it becomes. Bonus points if fix back-country pin striping on the spot with a can you carry.

Go to Moab

There are several destination spots you need to go to. Big Bend National Park is one, and others will scoff that we have not included the Rubicon Trail. While those are feature destinations, the true Mecca for Jeepers is Moab. Even if you don’t want to take your rig down a gnarly trail for fear of damage that can leave you waiting for parts in Utah, at least take your rig there and then rent a rig to do some of the more difficult trails.

Build Something for It

Even if it’s something small, make something for your Jeep. A dog hammock, a bumper, a mount for your CB all adds the pride of “I built this” to your rig. IMG_6831My first few wins were grab handles and door handles for the YJ as well as wood block stands for my hi-lift.  Take a basic welding class or learn to sew upholstery so you can do your own modifications. Soon you will be adding your own gas can racks and pull out kitchens. Bonus points for a full rebuild of a rig or better, build a Jeep trailer to pull all your gear behind it.

 Go Top Less

Keep your shirt on- here we are talking topless and for that matter door-less. Jeeps are made to be wide open. Cherokee and Liberty owners check out the options for tube doors available for your rigs. Commander and Grand Cherokee folks—we are happy when you roll down the windows.

Chuck Box

This is a Jeepers version of a picnic basket. Built from wood, it has everything you need to prep a meal in locations as wild as the Rubicon Trail or as tame as a local park. There are tons of instructions out there and lots of help videos. Make sure you finish it off with either a great clear gloss to bring out the wood finish or plaster all those Warn and Teraflex stickers you’ve been saving up. Bonus points for pulling it out at a tailgate party.

Flaunt Your Faith

It’s a Jeep thing…so much we have shirts and stickers that say so. Short of getting a tat on your arm of your best rig or “1941” as a tramp stamp, there are various ways to share your passion for your Jeep religion like an 8th grader who went to their first Stryper concert back in the day. I have t-shirts for everyday of the week, bottle openers, Matchbox cars, models, hats, and even a clock that displays my love of Jeep. On really long epic adventures, we even select an icon or “mojo” to travel with us to bring about “luck”. After the trip it get s a place on the mantle for “delivering us” back home safely.

Get it Stuck

038Perhaps it should be “get unstuck”. Truth is- unless you are getting it stuck, your Jeep is not out where it loves to be.

Help a Stranger

Winching them out, giving them a jump, changing a flat with your hi-lift jack. All count and spread the good news about Jeep guys and gals.256


There is no greater tail than taking your Jeep on a trip that in the end, you can’t believe you took your Jeep on in the first place. We thought our 700 plus miles across Idaho was pretty cool, then we took the same 94 YJ to Arizona for Overland Expo pulling a trailer and fully loaded. After 2500 Miles, with 2000 of it dirt and bck country byways, the slip-yoke died on it in the parking lot of an auto parts store. Still, great memories were made in our multi-week jaunt through the desert.IMG_7692


Probably other things we can add—but this should get you started on having a great life and many adventures to share about your rig.

Success Metric BS

Put in words such as “goals”, “success”, “happiness”, etc and you will find your internet search engine is over crowded with experts, books, formulas, programs, blogs, videos, and so on how to be successful.

I’m throwing the big red Bravo Sierra flag here and now. Just how much success do I need? More important, how do I want to define it? What am I willing to sacrifice to gain it?

What I have come to understand about myself is only a few things. First, I am a go-getter. With very few exceptions outside my control I have done what I want to do at the level I wanted to do it. When in control of my military career, I had opportunities that many in my “position” would not even have a sniff at. Now that I’m out, other goals interest me…and I live a pretty normal life of what I consider success. Sure, I would like to have more in the bank, be a few pounds lighter, and do this Adventure IQ thing full time. But it closely ties with the second…I am not willing to give up my current happiness for what is percieved as bliss.

If they gave out awards for horse shoes and hand grenades I would be a world champion. I don’t have a fear of failure, I am terrified of success. For years I have struggled with this. Those who know me best are often frustrated when I turn down huge opportunities to grow.

What I now realize is that for the most part I’m happy. Sure I have bills I juggle, the budget is strained when we need paint on the house and a new fence, and nine days after payday we tighten our belts every now and then.

How would I even begin to set up metrics for success? By the things I want to buy and the places I want to go? I guarantee that one I buy something, I have a desire to modify, customize, make it my own….and places….only lead to desire to go to more places.

I have lived the life where money was readily available, I could drive myself to be anything I wanted to be or go anyplace I wanted to go….but I am not willing to make those around me suffer….I have made that mistake as well.

Looking back, I have been successful on my metrics….and if those goals or metrics have changed who cares? What I don’t need is someone pointing out the top 10 reasons I’m not a success…because looking at that list, two things are missing….I chose to work on relationships that matter, and holes in my soul today are not filled with driving towards goals in the future and forgoing the present.

I have an awesome family, a way of life that makes the 9-5 grind worth living, validation from my heavenly father, my Jeep, my dog, and every now and then a road trip to keep it in perspective. Would I like to be on a constant road trip where I could live by my blog and podcast? Not if it means giving up the other things that make me happy.


To “Go and See”


Sometimes “go and see” became a much bigger adventure. A trip to check out the spill way of a dam became an instant playground for Abby and the pups


An awesome “go and see” with our good buddy Carl, took us to some awesome mining areas in Idaho

I blame it on DNA in my family. Old family homesteads, final resting spots of famous explorers, a house somebody was born in, and other countless road side stops and detours. As a kid I remember traversing landscape in the middle seat of a 1969 Ford F-100 to see the stomping grounds of Zane Grey and keeping myself entertained as we hit other unique wonders in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California. In other years and other trips, the year and brands of transportation stayed the same, but always on four wheels. 1964 Comet, 1973 Chevelle, and 1979 Ford Bronco. Friday night often ended with the words, “in the morn’n, we’ll go ‘n see”… Could be where a sawmill used to be…or any other countless small tidbits of history.

This traversing to historic signs and ghost towns wasn’t limited to just my parents, it was passed down biologically from both sets of grandparents. I have postcards from the largest bowl of pea soup and a key chain from something called the “Muffler Man Museum” to prove this long lineage of exotic exploration.

Throughout my adult life I have found that I as well love exploring the unique. On my recent trip to Washington for the Overland Rally, I found I would stop or even re-route to visit some out of the way…way out of the way historical site.

My poor family has endured all-day long trips to visit the three remaining logs of where some poor soul breathed his last breath. We have seen Cadillacs buried in the ground, birth places of unknown individuals, and monuments made of copper pipe to some great thing in a historical microcosm we never even knew about. I have literally looked at a map and decided to drive hours of dirt because some unknown to us at the time person has a monument.

Speaking as an American, we love the road. It’s in our DNA to explore and seek new places. I point to evidence of our own westward expansion. Following our curiosity of the unknown. We were dumped here in small colonies to fend for ourselves and the hearty, the mobile, the curios have survived and spawned its children of the west.

I love this part of who I am and grateful that both my parents and grandparents provided this genetic trait for me, and nurtured it through all the crowded and cramped road trips we took when I was a kid. I still love the odd detours, the driving an extra 80 miles to see where my family once used as hunting grounds, or a bridge that was built by immigrant labor. I am fascinated by these parts of our history. I live in one of the most target rich areas for “go and see”. Old mines, dredges, plane crash sites, shoot-outs, and rocks with the paintings of ancient and pre-modern people abound. Much of my modern-day adventure is based only on the “go and see” desires I can’t control.

The weekend is coming soon and whether it is with family on board, or if it’s just me and my pup in the Jeep, I will drive out-of-the-way to find something new.


Aborting a weekend aviation trip to Oregon became a “go and see” in style…we rented the fastest thing in the lot and thankful they never checked the rear tires when we brought it back.