One of my bucket list items, the Alvord Desert has always intrigued me. The desolation. The harsh environment. The wide open spaces. The hot springs. So this year, we finally went to explore it ourselves.
After loading up the Land Cruiser, we hit the road for the 7 hour journey ahead.
Today I joined my offroading friends for a day of wheeling in our “back yard” trails. It was a big day for me and my rig, as it marked the first time I was meeting up driving a Toyota. This group of friends had grown and bonded over our common JKs – build parties installing coil overs, and offroad/camping trips in Moab, the Rubicon, and elsewhere.
So it was a moment of truth for me – was selling my JK and buying a 25 year old Land Cruiser a good choice?
After the initial ribbing and airing down was over, we hit Archer’s Firebreak. This was an awesome trail choice – Archer’s was my favorite trail in the JK, and one I led every year for the Jeep Jamboree. So I had a lot of history with it and knew it well. However, I had never wheeled it in anything other than the JK. Now I was in a Toyota. And an automatic.
The biggest difference for me this time, was that I would bypass the burly stuff. I was without rock rails, skids, and confidence in the new rig.
Oregon has a lot of hidden gems when it comes to campsites. I recently found a canyon on Google maps, where the road closely followed the Deschutes river, and dead-ended. Being an early season shakedown run this seemed like a great option.
So I called my buddy Jesse and his overland-ready Dodge Ram, and we hit the road.
We drove from Mt. Hood through the town of Maupin and made our way to the BLM access road that would wind along the river, going deeper and deeper into the canyon.
The road is dotted with many little campsites. We slowed at each to see which one would lend the best experience. We wanted something off the road yet close to the water. We were surprised as we rounded a bend, to have a herd of cattle in the road.
Growing up in Vermont, most places I considered “vegan” were stereotypical hippie joints – local co-ops bathed in patchouli oil, incense, and Birkenstock footprints. And, while many places in the Green Mountain State still resemble those icons, the vegan scene in Vermont is changing.
On a recent trip home, we pulled our car into a non-descript parking lot in Essex. The property is shared with a nursery/greenhouse. A small sign over a beautiful deck read “Sweet Alchemy Bakery and Cafe.”
From the outside on this chilly Winter day, so far the experience was quintessential Vermont – from the rolling frozen hills in the distance, to the barn-esque design of Sweet Alchemy. Once inside, the warm, sweet smells of a talented baker completed the experience.
So last year I purchased a 1993 Land Cruiser FZJ80 in Bend. The vehicle was in really good shape, but as a dedicated family overlanding rig, I was concerned for reliability for a 25 year old vehicle with over 260,000 miles.
Last January I decided to pull the motor out and do a complete rebuild.
I pulled the engine out in my shop at home with countless tools, about 300 ziploc bags, and the help of dear friends.
After the first night, I had the front clip and hood off with some engine components.
For organization, I used the aforementioned baggies and also a ton of blue masking tape with letters written on them. The other end of the hose/item would have the corresponding letter so I knew where everything connected later.
Spending a week in Philly has been an awesome chance to get out and check the vegan scene. So far it has been an awesome experience.
Shortly after landing at PHL, I hit the road and had dinner at Hip City Veg on South 40th.
The spot was super nice, and had seats in the huge front window for epic people watching. I arrived later in the day, even after dinner, so the place was pretty empty.
The next challenge was to choose something from the menu. It isn’t a super expansive menu, but there was a decent variety of things. After hearing rave reviews of the Disco Chickin Sandwich, I ordered one up. I added a side of sweet potato fries, and the mysterious black bean dip.
I have taken a little breather from writing new content for the blog.
A large part of that is due, in part to….wait for it….selling my Jeep! That’s right, I sold my Wrangler.
A lot of people asked me why. Basically it was a combination of things. Primarily, I was just a little bored with it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wranglers. And I will have another one. But for now, I wanted something different.
Second, I was bored with rocks. I have done the Rubicon 3 times, Moab 3 times, and countless trips in Oregon and Washington. I want to try overlanding and exploring with the family, not just bouncing off rocks.
And last, I want to learn something new. I have worked on my Jeeps for many years, and want to learn something new. In addition to overlanding, I want to try a new vehicle, a new platform, and even a new brand.
Well, here we are yet again. Staring down the harsh reality of yet another madman killing many people for no reason. The videos I have seen, show it was in fact a massacre.
And, yet again, the media and the majority have shifted focus away from the madman himself, and put the responsibility of the event on the weapon – and the millions of Americans that own the same exact rifle. Myself included.
Even on NPR this morning, people were barking the familiar rhetoric of gun control, and passing “tougher” laws to prevent these shootings from happening.
Want the reality? You will never be able to pass ANY law that will prohibit these events. They will continue to happen. There are two primary reasons for this.
Just a week ago, I was in new York City, staring across the table at 3 beautiful, vegan, Impossible Burgers. I had waited years to try this meal, and it was finally in front of me. For me, a milestone, but for the two carnivores, I feel it was just something new to try.
However we all left stunned. I, with a renewed sense of excitement for the future of veganism, and my friends with an interest in vegan products they never thought they would have.
So I was a bit disheartened this week to see some media outlets raising ethical concerns with the Impossible Burger.