For me, it was the summer of ’83
in small-town Wisconsin. While a
buddy and I were working our high
school jobs, we talked about what
would be a cool fi rst car. We both
agreed that a Jeep would be killer
transportation. The following week
we decided to take a road trip to
search for Jeeps. We got on Honda
Nighthawks and hit the road. We
came across a few prospects, but
neither of us could touch the asking
prices. We didn’t come home with
any Jeeps that day, but we got the bug.
By the time school started in the
fall, we both had Jeeps. We tinkered
with our CJs and explored local logging
roads that senior year. Snow
wheeling at night was probably the
most fun we had. I sold my ole’ ’56
when I left for college, but since then
I’ve owned three more CJ-5s, an ’86
Toyota P/U, a ’93 Toyota rockcrawler
(which I took on the Petersen’s
Ultimate Adventure in ’05), and now I
own a Toyota-based rock buggy.
I think we love off-roading
because of the total package. The rigs,
the trails, the off-road community,
the exploring, the obstacles, and even
sometimes the carnage all make it
appealing. I don’t think you decide to
become an off-roader. It just happens.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO
Was it the exploration aspect of it?
Yep. Truck camping is the best.
Trips like snow wheeling near Caliente,
Nevada, for a bachelor party/
camping trip, or doing the Mojave
Trail with my wife and a couple buddies—
fi nding our own little camping
spot near Las Vegas—have been some
of the best times of my life.
Was it the mechanical side of
things and the way you can modify
Yep. I have a degree in mechanical
engineering. My brother, buddies,
and I have all modifi ed our trucks for
Maybe your dad was into it?
Kinda. My dad was into muscle
cars, street rods, and Harleys. He recently
bought a Jeep Rubicon to wheel
with us—someone’s gotta bring up
the rear! My uncle has been into dune
buggies for about 30 years. Learning
to handle a dune buggy with a
manual transmission long before
turning 16 years old was awesome!
The rest of the story . . .
I got a ’65 Mustang Fastback GT
(Shelby look-a-like) when I was 15
years old. My brother got a ’69 Camaro
at 16. We both still have our cars, but
I actually walk past the Mustang to
work on my truck most weekends.
Pavement simply cannot compete. My
new son has also been off-road and
even tent camped at 8 months old!
Tread lightly, keep it rubber side
down, pack out more than you pack
in, and keep our public lands open!
As a 23-year-old Arizona transplant
via Colorado farm-raising, I am
completely immersed in off-roading.
Everything from dirtbikes, ATVs, rockcrawlers,
and even R/C wheeling.
I wheel a typically-built ’79 ’Yota,
and I’m building an ’88 XJ that won’t
be quite the normal XJ. I’ve got a
garage full of bikes and quads and all
the tools necessary to build and fi x
pretty much everything I want.
I never really grew up around
off-roading or building cool cars or
any of that. My parents worked a
lot and I spent a lot of time growing
up around my grandparents’ farm. I
really look up to my granddad. Us kids
started out driving when we were
real young, on Grandma’s old snapper
lawn tractor. I always enjoyed riding
with Granddad in the tractors, and it
always seemed like we would have to
go through a ditch to get to a fi eld at
least once. When you’re young, that’s
When we started getting a little
bigger we got some dirtbikes and
ripped up the dirt roads, ditches, and
fields every day. Not to mention the
mud we’d get into in the pickups
when irrigating time came along.
My first truck was a big lifted
GMC 4x4 that I took everywhere (even
though I was supposed to “keep it
out of the river” and “not be screwin’
around”). From then on I was pretty
much hooked. I’m not sure there is
any one particular reason I love offroading.
It feels more like it’s just in
my blood. I want it and crave it and do
anything I can to get it. From the thrill
of building something with my hands
and seeing it come to fruition, to the
challenge of pushing the limits of my
creation, I enjoy it all.
Thank you for bringing up a lot of
great memories in writing this.
IN THE DIRT
Growing up in neighborhoods
with houses being built left plenty of
varied terrain to ride and learn. As I
went to college, I would even take my
’78 Oldsmobile 88 off-road, but usually
in winter when I had the lugger-style
snow tires on.
My first 4x4 was an ’84 Bronco,
with an inline-six—plenty of grunt
in low range, and decent mileage on
the highway. Next I bought a ’96 Ram
on 33-inch Swampers. I even became
president of a small 4x4 club. Yellow
Creek and Wellsville, Ohio, was my
favorite place. I loved seeing people’s
faces when I drove that big Dodge up
hills and through places they never
thought it would go. Long live Jinxy!
My current ride is an ’07 suburban,
but it has been on some cool logging
roads and dirt roads in Maine, New
Hampshire, and Vermont—and with
the family this time!
Thanks for a great magazine!