Sunday, May 27, 2018

Got to spend the day in our local mountains photographing a friends wedding with @haleyfromchurch and @lovin_my_fam_ who officiated. It was a great day for wedding. #photography

via Instagram

Friday, May 25, 2018

How was your drive home? #pioneeringaz is something you might find interesting.

from Twitter

May 25, 2018 at 12:21AM

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sunday Funday at the Overland Expo West

From Sunday at the Expo. It was a great time, met a lot of awesome people, and saw a lot of cool rigs and gear to dream about!

Ugh, why isn't Blogger playing nicely with IFTTT

I tried posting a few things over this past weekend, and for some reason it isn't working. So sorry for the absence. I'll get caught back up.

Until then enjoy this sweet ride seen at the Overland Expo West

Saturday, April 21, 2018

More Overlanding talk?

Overlanding/Car camping/Whatever

Let’s define overlanding

First thing first, what is this Overlanding people are talking about?
“Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal.” Simple enough. It can also be used interchangeably with Car Camping or simply just camping. While for most people it conjures up visions of kitted out off-road vehicles, it could also be backpackers, bike-packers, or in the rare occasions those on horseback.

In the Beginning...

I'm not one to harp, but the whole idea of overlanding is in itself a strange concept to me. I'm still old school, I call it overlanding but in my mind it is still just car camping and four-wheeling. In the early 90's we did plenty of that. In Baja Bugs, on the backs of enduro-bikes, and in a very fancy CJ7 Jeep that had a little too much chrome. We went out into the deserts and mountains of Southern California, enjoyed our weekends, and sometime week long adventures, we took photos and told stories around fires at night in camp. Later we would show coworkers an actual photo of the fun we had. That was our social media. We had a physical picture and we showed it to actual humans face to face.

We enjoyed building and designing vehicles to hold our stuff, and get is back home in relative safety and comfort. Some of us had photography as a hobby, to enjoy our adventures later; we homed skills and learned to use new equipment and technics. Other hobbies enjoyed by those in our group were enjoying good vodka while telling ever-elaborate stories. It was the activity of getting out into the wilderness that brought us together; we didn't harp on the meaning of terminologies, or discuss the finer points of navigation technics. No we were camping, and enjoying our different hobbies while in the outdoors with others.

 Millennial’s are out to ruin everything

As I checked my newsfeed the other day this article showed up:


It’s like an infectious disease. A black cloud, swallowing up millennials from all walks of life, with promises of fame, notoriety and fortune. It projects relentlessly into your newsfeed, a glossy facade of happy, adventurous, hip, young people living the sort of life you’ve always wanted. But beware…they are not like us. They are a different breed of people adventuring off-road, and they have the audacity to call themselves “overlanders.”

No, these are not the overlanders you’ve always known. They aren’t the quiet, resourceful, lightly-treading, self-sufficient, experienced off-roaders that we have tons of respect for. This is a newly-formed, vain culture, who use Instagram filters to simulate depth of field when showing off that new microbrew IPA they found at Whole Foods. They were born in the deepest depths of the internet and are the latest embarrassment to the off-road way of life.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not your typical 28-year-old, modern off-road enthusiast. My truck is as old as I am, I work on it myself and the bank doesn’t own it. I’ve wheeled in six different states, owned over a dozen different trucks in the last six years, and I spend more of my money and time on this hobby than any single other thing in my life.

While I try to use the best parts available to me, I don’t have all the latest gear on the market, and truthfully, most of the parts and accessories I’ve acquired over the years were obtained from Craigslist and the like. Most of my wheeling buddies are the same way. We've honed our skills over years of learning on the trail. We've helped each recover from some dire situations, miles from the nearest cell-phone signal and we give help more often than receive it.

You might call us “old school,” or maybe even obsolete. But the fact is that I belong to a core group of off-road enthusiasts who are absolutely obsessed with escaping our day-to-day lives and finding adventure in the great wide-open.

"Overlanding" Has Changed

With that being said, over the years I’ve noticed a trend developing within our community. The advent of social media, while proven to be crucial to the growth of the off-road industry, has not arrived without its drawbacks. One of them being the birth of a new kind of off-road enthusiast that I find it difficult to hold a conversation with, much less assimilate into.

These self-proclaimed “overlanders” largely do not come from enthusiast beginnings. They have no desire to do any major wrenching of their own nor do they truly try to learn the ins-and-outs of recovery and 'wheeling. Instead, they’ve found a way to buy-in to the community, with hopes of impressing the masses on social media with their fully-built overlanding rigs made for the purpose of fame and notoriety.

In case there's any ambiguity of what I'm describing, let me give you two extreme hypothetical examples to provide some distinction:

The Enthusiast

Bill grew up with a love for cars and trucks. Since the day he got his first old truck, he’s enjoyed spending his weekends tinkering and wrenching on it, improving its off-road performance all the time. Bill now has years of trail experience with several vehicles he’s owned and modified, spending most of his free time in the outdoors with his buddies, breaking things, fixing them, breaking them again, then figuring out how to make it stronger, all by method of trial and error.

Bill learns from experiences and researching solutions from other enthusiasts like him. He takes photos and videos of his outings as keepsakes, and also posts them on his social media channels for his off-road buddies to see. Bill has no care for follower counts, likes, views or any of his content going viral. As long as he’s out enjoying his hobby, life is good.

The Social Media Kid

Mark was never interested in cars as a kid. He had other hobbies growing up, such as baseball, video games and traveling to tropical vacation destinations with his parents. In his 20s, Mark still has little automotive knowledge, perhaps enough to change a flat tire or check his oil. He's always liked the idea of being outdoorsy, following various camping and adventure pages on social media, all the while idolizing individuals who get lots of online attention from their outings.

He notices many of them have off-road vehicles, ready to take on all kinds of terrain, allowing them to get to remote destinations and take these amazing photos and videos of their adventures. He envies their fame and free-spirited way of living.

Mark starts following more overland pages, to the point of deciding it’s time to trade in his frugal and trusty Prius for a brand new (and financed) Toyota 4Runner. He pays a shop to install all the latest and greatest parts on his new rig, and before long, he has a fully-built overland vehicle, complete with a roof-top tent, snorkel, limb risers, traction pads, commemorative patches and California compliant plastic fuel cans. He joins communities of other overlanders and receives a special badge with a member number on it.

It's Not All Bad

While there's nothing inherently wrong with either of these beginnings, where I draw the line between a real enthusiast and somebody who merely wants to portray one takes place after the rig is built and the tires are back on the ground. It doesn't matter how much money you did or didn't spend on your rig, whether you built it yourself or supported a local shop to do the build for you. What matters is how you conduct yourself once you're out on the trails as one of the people of the overlanding community.

Back in 2005, Scott Brady, CEO of Overland International, started an online forum called Expedition Portal. It has since become the largest community of overland off-roaders, and has been the source of countless achievements and improvements in the off-road industry.

His goal was to create a space for like-minded folks who enjoy adventure traveling to share experiences, inventions, solutions, reviews and other resources between each other, no matter how simple or advanced their vehicles and level of experience may be. I am a member of Expedition Portal, and have found it quite useful on my trips for years.

The members of this community were the pioneers of overlanding, and they operate on a set of core values that are both important to off-roading as a hobby, and to the conservation of our wildlife and public lands. Our industry simply would not be where it is without them.

Overlanding Means Something Different

However, this recent influx of young people on Instagram posting photos and videos in the name of overlanding could not be further from the above. Frankly, many of them are posers in my book, who take their fully capable vehicles to a nearby patch of dirt, only to take 200 photos with their roof-top tents and gear laid out, then pack it up the next day and go home. Those photos show up on their social media accounts, attached to numerous hashtags cleverly designed to promote their page and get them what they crave most… more followers and likes.

It's not exactly “overlanding” in the sense of how it was once seen. It’s rare to see these individuals embark on a journey that challenges their capabilities and the capabilities of their vehicles. Staying within their “comfort-zone” and coming up with inspirational taglines to impress people online seems much easier than risking their $60,000 brand new rig for the passions and thrills of adventure.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, "Matt…I think you’re getting a bit too worked up over this stuff.” You’re probably right, but I’m not the only one who’s starting to get annoyed by these snorkel-touting wannabes. The grassroots members of the off-road community are starting to notice a difference between those who are really passionate about this hobby, and those who simply want to reap the rewards without putting in the work or taking on any of the risk. Are they as upset about it as I am? Again, probably not, but I’ve been around long enough to have a good gauge on what advances this industry and what brings it down.

Like the Ricers

One reason I'm so concerned is it seems very similar to what happened with tuner cars in the early 2000s. When “The Fast and the Furious” franchise first came to theaters, it shined a bright light on a once small and grassroots community of auto enthusiasts who were serious about performance. That light quickly gave way to hordes of imposters who simply wanted to look the part, but had little performance work done to their cars and no racing skill either. This group became infamously known as “ricers” within the car enthusiast community. Unfortunately, these so-called “overlanders” are headed in that same direction.

So is there anything we can do to mitigate or stop this trend from becoming synonymous with off-roading in the public eye? In the near-future, I do not believe so. The community of real, passionate off-roaders will continue to do what they’ve always done alongside this new breed of mall-crawlers until enough ridicule and judgement is passed to make a clear and defined distinction between the two… just like what happened to the ricers. As a traditional off-roader, whose biggest passion in life is to travel to unseen, remote destinations on this beautiful planet, all the while risking life, limb and mechanical failure, I can only hope that this fad of internet off-roading follows suit. And soon.

My take on doing it for the Gram- Overlanding

Now personally it reads like someone who is in reality just jealous of others. Who thinks his way is the only way, and anyone who does anything different than him is automatically wrong. I can make all kinds of assumptions about this person’s outlook on life, but in the end it wouldn’t matter.

Social Media is spotlighting the very best and worst of our society everyday. Frankly I’m growing tired of those who always are blaming something else or someone else for their unhappiness; which gave me pause, I did a little research on the phrase, "Instagram ruined" it's an eye opener. I found articles written as far back as 2013 where authors have made the case that IG has ruined everything from relationships, to vacations, and everything in between. Here are a few of my top picks...

Instagram Crowds May Be Ruining Nature : NPR

Nov 12, 2017 - You scroll through your friend's Instagram feed and see the most beautiful setting, and think: "I want to go there." And so you do. According to travel photographer Brent Knepper, you are part of the problem. In The Outline's article "Instagram is Loving Nature to Death," Knepper says that thanks to the photo .

Instagram is ruining your life and hashtags aren't helping - CNET

Dec 15, 2017 - Commentary: You can now follow hashtags on Instagram like they were people. But don't do it, I implore you. (You'll thank me later.)

Trying to Gain Followers on Instagram Can Ruin a Destination

7 days ago - Instagrammers, social media influencers, and those trying to gain followers turn to beautiful landscapes and backgrounds to photograph. But are they ruining these destinations in the name of growing their following?

Instagram Ruined Travelling - Refinery29

Jan 8, 2018 - When I visited Marrakech last month, there was one place I knew I would visit. I had spotted the azure walls and towering cacti of the Majorelle Gardens on Instagram, and it shot to the top of my to-see list. On arrival it certainly lived up to expectations but instead of soaking up the beauty and tranquility, ...

How Instagram Ruined Outdoor Photography - Discussing Cliche ...

Oct 18, 2017 - Andrew Kearns, @youdidnotsleepthere discuss cliche photography in outdoors at Outpost Trade Show.

Instagrammers are sucking the life and soul out of travel | Rhiannon ...

Jan 17, 2018 - The eternal quest for social approval, which the platform was accused of taking advantage of this week by “withholding” likes from certain users to encourage them to log in more frequently – a charge Instagram denies – continues apace. I joined Instagram relatively recently, mainly to look at travel photos of ...

Is Instagram Ruining Art? Social Media's Impact On Artists « CBS New ...

Jan 11, 2018 - NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Social media is taking over the art world. That's the message various New York City artists told CBS2's Elle McLogan. On The Dig, several artists invited McLogan into their studios, where they revealed the unprecedented ways that the internet is influencing their work.

Instagram Is Ruining Vacation | WIRED

Apr 13, 2016 - Was Instagram ruining travel? The phenomenon of photography annoying tourists is far from new. My parents wielded disposal cameras and Polaroids with the best of them, occasionally begging for at least one decent photo of my brother and me at the state fair, in front of the Golden Gate bridge, or smiling ...

Is it really? 

Most of these articles have one thing in common; they gather traffic for their sites, and readers for the authors. I wonder if there is any truth to the matter though? I know places like ‘Instagram famous’ Horseshoe bend here in Arizona outside of Page has seen a huge increase in visitation. So much so that the State made a lot of improvements to the area, with a dozen vault toilets, walking trail, and wall on the overlook to keep daredevil visitors from dangling off the edge.  I also hear talk of a fee booth going up to collect money form visitors. As someone who has been there a few times, I'm more convinced that the increase of visitation may have something to do with the dozen tour busses that stop there as well.

While horseshoe is a clear case of rising visitation, it should also be noted that it is literally on the side of the highway, and 89a running from the old mining town of Jerome to Lake Powell as well as by destinations like the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park, would be a natural place for many visitors to stop stretch their legs and yes, take a selfie. None of this is at the fault of IG, or those who utilize the platform to show off their artistic side. It’s just a cool view that tour bus companies and locals like to show off.

The new normal

Welcome to 2018, there are more ‘Photographers’ active today, then all those who picked up a camera from 1826 to 2000 combined.  As a matter of fact ‘In 2014, according to Mary Meeker's annual Internet Trends report, people uploaded an average of 1.8 billion digital images every single day. That's 657 billion photos per year. Another way to think about it: Every two minutes, humans take more photos than ever existed in total 150 years ago.’ Not only that 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day. In an average month, 8 out of 10 18-49 year-olds watch YouTube.

 Social Media is in our life to stay. It influences almost all of us. Is it narcissistic? You bet it is, but it is more than that. Content creators are not only making this new normal a way to reach out and share, but many are able to take their talent and passion and make a career out of it. That’s something we all wanted to do in the 90’s and it seemed impossible!

A little perspective

While many make the case on what a real overland vehicle is, I want to take a different approach and look at what an overland vehicle was. I came across this article the other day, which tells a story of what anyone would call an epic overland trip.

Death Valley (in 10) Days

20-mule teams, six happy campers, three Ford Model T’s

Nestled within the confines of an off-site archive of the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, a photo album of 76 images is accompanied by a diary; neither the photographer nor the diarist are identified. The cast of characters includes Mr. Abbott, Mr. Billyon, A.E. Dimock, Mrs. Perrelet, Miss Muth and one Mr. Puck.

The photos and captions chronicle a 10-day camping and sightseeing vacation, presumably round trip from Los Angeles to Death Valley, aboard a trio of early 1920s Ford Model Ts: two Touring Cars and a Runabout/Pickup. The photos are dated January 8-17, 1926.

The photo captions offer tantalizing but limited clues to an adventure we can only imagine; a risky mixture of moxie, foolishness and technology that only the first decades of the 20th century could meld.

DAY 1, 142 miles: The first night was spent at Black Hawk Mine near Randsburg, California; the mileage indicates that L.A. is one likely starting point.

DAY 2, 88 miles: Their trek east begins in earnest as they "start for the red hot pit, Death Valley." The first available water was in Atolia; then to Owl [Hole] Springs, "one of the water holes of the twenty mule-team borax days." They "arrive at Confidence Mills, a very aged mining venture" where one of the gents spies a most excellent but enormous souvenir: a three-foot-diameter cast-iron cog wheel which likely weighed several hundred pounds. "But when he came to pick it up decided for his flivver's sake to leave it."

DAY 3, 57 miles: The caravan left Confidence Mills, headed northbound to Ashford Mills, then through "dust so deep here that the flivver almost sank out of sight" and had to be pushed out by hand. The group posed by a survey marker at the lowest elevation in the U.S., then passed the site of the former Eagle Borax Works. Next up was the unworldly "Devil's Golf Course, a mixture of many minerals in which salt hard that a sledge hammer was needed to break off specimens. We passed through miles of country composed of nothing but lava, black and glistening in the sun," stopping to marvel at "the Mushroom rock or the Devil's Throne." They explored the area and camped at the mouth of Superstitious Canyon.

DAY 4, 32 miles: "We left camp at 11 a.m. and arrived at Furnace Creek Ranch where we had lunch and fixed Minn's flivver." No repair details were offered. As now, the ranch was then a posh resort in the heart of the desert. Our travelers snapped photos of the opulent grounds, Shoshone families and "one of the wagons used to haul Borax in the days of the 20-mule teams. This wagon weighed seven tons and was loaded with 20 tons of Borax. The tires on the wheels were 10 inches [wide]." After an unsuccessful search for Stovepipe Wells over "terrible roads...a gullie every three feet," they made camp for the night.

DAY 5, 25 miles: And now we understand the dwindling mileage figures: "We leave the camp near the horrible road at 10_20 a.m. Jan. 12 and are [northeast-]bound for Rhyolite, Nevada, the Goat city. The road was found to be all up, no down, in fact 15 miles was Ford low [gear] and a hundred degrees. A stop every mile to let the clutch pedal cool off; 200 feet below sea level to 4,000 feet above..." At Rhyolite, they toured the deserted town's empty buildings, spending the night at the Bottle House, its mortared walls constructed of thousands of discarded glass bottles, likely provided by the former mining town's "30 or more saloons."

DAY 6, 59 miles: Driving east from Rhyolite to nearby Beatty, Nevada, and then south to the Pacific Coast Borax Company in Death Valley Junction, California, "we camp by the Amagro[s] alkaline stream which goes down into Death Valley and flows underground until it stops under the Devil's Golf Course. The next morning it was so cold that it took us three hours to start the flivvers, the oil had frozen into chunks."

DAY 7, 75 miles: "We departed from the Amagro[s]a river camp. Down to Shoshone California for gas, water etc. and departed for Cave Springs. We pass once more the old cog wheel at Confidence Mill." After driving to Bennett Wells, "we reached Cave of the stopping places of the twenty-mule team Borax days, [which had a] corral with walls of stone to keep the stock in. An abundance of water is found in the caves in the banks. On the way we stopped at Saratoga Springs, a big bubbling pool of hot water in which little black fish lived."

DAY 8, [mileage undocumented; estimated at about 75 miles]: "Left Cave Springs at 9_40 headed [southwest] for Yermo, from which place went to the old town site of Calico, the home of the famous Silver King mine from which 75 million dollars of silver was taken 30 years ago. Here through the courtesy of the one resident and old miner who provided us with carbide lamps, we inspected the mine after which we drove in the Canyon below the town and made camp. Calico burned down three times so they made their buildings out of earth."

DAY 9, 114 miles: At Calico, they met "Mr. and Mrs. John Lane, the sole survivors of a population of over 3,000. Mr. Lane came in 1884, here he met the lady who became Mrs. Lane. They married and have been here ever since." Heading southwest, they stay in Glen Avon.

DAY 10, 55 miles: "Sunday Jan. 17, left at 11 a.m. [heading due west] and arrived at 3rd and Central Los Angeles 2_20 p.m."

That a trip of some 725 miles at that time and under those conditions should be recorded, tucked away and then forgotten by friends and family members is a shame, but perhaps our readers can provide clues to the mystery.

Check out all of the spectacular images at the Online Archive of California at; search for "Death Valley Automobile Trip, 1926" or BANC PIC 1978.027. Many thanks go to Susan Snyder at the Bancroft Library.

This article originally appeared in the April, 2012 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

Now that was a trip and outlines what overlanding really is. Makes that $40k jeep Rubicon look a little ridicules doesn’t it? While times have changed, our vehicles are more comfortable, reliable, and a lot safer. That does not change the fun we can have, getting out into the wilderness with our friends and enjoy stories around the campfire. We can have nostalgia for the older vehicles, romanticize the bygone era of open cabin, 20hp model T’s, and complain about social media; or we can go out, enjoy ourselves, take photos and share our adventures. So go out and enjoy the SUV, Truck, Jeep or whatever you can afford, have fun, and continue to share on social media.

What is important

Number one most important thing to do while overlanding is to remember to follow the seven principles of  Leave No Trace

·           Plan Ahead and Prepare

·           Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

·           Dispose of Waste Properly

·           Leave What You Find

·           Minimize Campfire Impacts

·           Respect Wildlife

·           Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Second is to Tread Lightly

Third is to buy or build the vehicle you want, equip it for what you want to do, learn its capabilities and drive it accordingly.  If you want to join a group of like-minded people by all means find one that is positive. I’m a little biased but I personally like Overlandbound.

Lastly, go out and enjoy.

Jason Smith