Tag Archives: history

To “Go and See”

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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

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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.

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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.

Re-Post: Scepter

Our first write up has vaporized…Had intended to simply re-post but since we have still continued to test we thought we would just add to the content. There is already tons of info, pictures,  and tips posted on our podcast, throughout this blog, our facebook page, and our videos.

Beginning of the Idaho Overland Expedition

You better carry your own fuel and water boys and girls…and have in something that won’t fail…

Fuel and water are two of the most precious commodities for any adventure. I have had water canisters fail on me (see the write up on the Big Bend bike expedition in 2003) and the desert areas we explore require additional fuel to make it from one spot to the next.

We have tried both metal and plastic fuel and water canisters and have had mixed results. Earlier this year I came across the consumer grade canisters carried by Bass Pro Shops and ordered three for the Jeep. Highly impressed, we reached out to Scepter to provide us with the military grade cans for the Idaho Overland Expedition and our other adventures.

Scepter is based in Canada and it is great having a North American company provide gear instead of products coming out of China. This stuff is highly durable and if you have reservations about plastic versus metal, I can assure you- the plastic is light years ahead of the metal competitor.

When you buy the metal can, it comes pre-packaged with issues. Metal rust, the seems on the metal cans split under pressure or impact, and if you are buying new- you are buying China. Sure you can find one in a surplus store that either is on its way to a rusting issue, or for no charge you can get it with rust already installed.

Testing

Not only did we use the Scepters on the 5 day expedition across Idaho, where we traveled over 650 miles of dirt in all kinds of conditions, we continued to test the usability and durability including explorations into the Brunea Desert (5 days), our Idaho Mine tours, and the Owyhee County Historical Society trips…each of these either we were required to refuel using the Scepters or had someone else hat ran out of fuel.

Drop Test

Just as it sounds. We wanted to know if these came off the back of a rig, would they survive. We tested with them full, half full, and quarter full. We were not only looking for seam breakage, but wanted to know if the cap would blow. Standing on the bumper of the Jeep we hefted the first canister up and let it go. I was actually worried we would break something but the canisters held up great. In addition they have been pulled on and off the Jeep dozens of times, bounced in the back of pick-up trucks, and jostled around with no issues.

Usability

At first I was going to rate the ease of use as low, but then realized it was operator error. New laws require that the spouts be designed so they don’t leak fuel or vapors. It took some time, but I got the knack of refueling. Something to keep in mind is that if the refueling point on your vehicle is difficult to get to with a spout, you need to take a long funnel with you. An easy way to test this prior to going out is to fill only the bottom third of your fuel can and then try to pour it in your tank while you are at home. If its difficult, then take the fuel. Something else to consider (and THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED BY ADVENTURE IQ OR THE MANUFACTURER) is the filler nozzle on the consumer grade water can fits the fuel can. Honestly, we just use the long funnel and the nozzle already in place.

Heat Stress

Our trips into the Brunea Desert literally takes us to places that are 50-75 miles from the nearest pavement…not the nearest gas station…those are even further away. On those hot trips where we need extra water, we would strap four of the H2O containers behind the drivers seat and all of our fuel was placed on the racks on the swing gate. Because the cans are non-vented- they will balloon up. We had days where temps were well above 100 degrees and not once did we suffer a seam rip or have a cap leak.

Cold Test

Gas cans were not so much the issue- more to test the water canisters. In the past few weeks we have ventured up into the cold and the water in the cans is freezing. I have had plastic cans that will begin to lose shape and begin to split. The Scepters have retained their shape as well integrity. Keeping the cans inside the rig does prevent them from freezing and we recommend that you transfer water from the canisters to your hysration pack (as recommended in an earlier podcast)

Mount-ability

This is not an issue- but more awareness. If you have both fuel and water cans, they are not inter-changable in the racks. Because the new fuel cans have to be tip resistant, that do not fit into a standard NATO rack/holster. We had to modify our rack to hold the fuel cans. So there are a couple of ways to solve this.

Here we had modified the right canister holster…we have since modded the left so both can hold fuel and water cans are strapped in the backseat area

  • Use a Scepter Fuel can and a Scepter Consumer Grade can
  • Have a separate rack for each on the back (as we discussed in footage of the Idaho Overland Expedition)
  • Place Scepter Fuel can(s) on external rack and strap Scepter (NATO) canisters inside (as we are doing now)

For us- the trade-offs are a no-brainer to have high quality canisters holding our stuff.

Something to point out- you definitely want locks on your Scepters- they apparently are high demand. We were teaching some classes over in Oregon and decided to do some exploration. We had decided to use the diesel canisters since at that point they had been immune to our testing We were using them to carry a fire starting concoction we had been experimenting with for the survival courses. Apparently, bright yellow is a popular cover and our cans were lifted from the Jeep. Perhaps karma will shine down on the poor souls when they poor our highly flammable-yet controllable substance into their tank.

UV Resistance

Impressed. We have had Scepters on our rigs since we received them this summer and there has been absolutely no perceived fading. I have even done side by side comparisons.

The “what just fell” drop test.

Now this is one that was not planned…

Cruising down Mud Flat Road at 45 mph and the rear rack for the water can fails. I look out the window and see one of test cans about 3/4 full bouncing and skidding behind me trying to keep up. Scratched…yes. Minor dent….yes. Still in use with zero defects…yes.

So if you can’t tell, I love these canisters and we will continue to use them.

To see our other postings where we show off the Scepters

Water Bladder Cool

Idaho Overland Expedition

Why We Hate Metal Cans

We have also put tons of info on our podcast, our facebook page, and in our blog.

You can also order Scepter Fuel canisters from:

Tech Supply & Services

Leesville, LA.
Bottom Line Military Sales, LLC
Easley, SC

Howe was a planned gas stop on the expedition….Howe did not have gas…but we had 10 gallons in our Scepters!

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!

Road Trip Tunes

Today's youth don't understand the relationship of the two...So how many of you did this at a point in life- had that special tape that you played endlessly on a road trip…okay, allow me to modernize…a cd….wait…a set of tunes on your mp3?  I admit to the mp3, but there is something really special about sifting through a box of old crap and find that special tape that you played so much you know EXACTLY the point it is going to drag or skip.

I love music. Road trip songs were an important part of my youth and a tradition I carry on today. When my family moved from Arizona to Texas in 1979 I listened to Bobby Vee the whole way. It was my Mom’s favorite…… 8-track. Yes, I even know where the songs break in between tracks 3 and 4. For my Dad it was Roger Whitiker, Neil Diamond, and Alabama. Dad and I are allot alike in that we have a variety of taste.

In 1994, I uprooted from Abilene, Texas and transferred as an instructor to the Air Base Ground Defense School at Ft Dix, New Jersey. Before Mapquest, Google Maps, and GPS it was just me and the Gin Blossoms finding our way both topographically and emotionally. I had just come out of an “interesting” four years that had been soured with a broken marriage, a breaking relationship, and a need to begin being the person I was meant to be and not what others expected me to be. 1500 plus miles of “New Miserable Experience” not only spoke to the present but reached back into my past. (Gin Blossoms also hail from Tempe.)

Poison’s “Flesh and Blood” or Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feel Good” would pump me up while flying nap of the earth during operations in Southwest Asia. I would blast it through my headphones as we skirted the sand in CH-53’s.

Rush always has and always will speak to me in different phases of life. Practically everything from the “Roll the Bones” reflects my life post Desert Storm and the humanitarian missions I would be involved in during both my military and post military career. When I was working through many of the distant thoughts I would carry with me, I would lay down some distance on the road with both Albums on CD.  I guess I should add the Counting Crow’s “August and Everything After” when I was deployed to Korea- right after Melissa and I met. Each word spoke volumes to me and I would fall asleep eachnight thinking of her and listening to that tape.

Currently I am threading a compilation of tunes from Creed, Tonic, Roger Clyne, The Refreshments, Foo Fighters, and Goo-Goo Dolls fill my ears. All these are on my iPod. Somehow it’s not the same as the old cassette tapes. Nothing gets stretched, worn, and it never skips. Only so much can be said for audio perfection…

Finding those old tapes and CDs brings back so many memories. Lost love, forgotten friends, goals I have strived for that mean nothing now. Words that touched my life then, and bring back the smiles and the scars of a man I used to be and who I have grown into today.