Thursday, December 5, 2019

Jack Daniel's Tour

Day 10

The cool thing about Neil is he doesn't stay angry. The night before we had a disagreement. Setting up the campsite was tense, you could feel the tension in the air. However, the next morning all was good.

The disagreement was about where we going to camp. It was about midnight when we were ready to put up the tent as we were trying to get as far into Tennessee as we could. 

I wanted to hit the local campground, but Neil was suggesting the National Forest. Neil's way was free, mine we would have woken up the campground folks. I was being my stubborn self but Neil won out in the end, and of course he was right. I just wasn't understanding the whole dispersed camping. After that night I did. 

We got up at the crack of dawn because we had a lot of miles to cover. We were aiming to get to Sam Corerro's place for the night. Sam is the originator of the Trans American Trail. The trail we were on. 



Just like our trip had been going we made a little detour. Along our route was the Jack Daniels distillery and they gave public tours. I certainly couldn't pass that up.





They also had a taste testing. Their black label whiskey was so smooth. They also have three flavored whiskey's that were tasty too. 





Both Neil and I found the tour very interesting and enjoyed it immensely. We were highly pleased with the tour, definitely worth the money. I highly recommend this tour if you are ever in the area. 



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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Weird Noise in the Woods

Day 9

We left Henry and Lisa's that morning to head for the Trans America Trail. 

The Trans America Trail was created by Sam Correro back in the early 80's. He spent years mapping out public back roads and forest roads. Back then all the roads were gravel. Since some have become paved roads.


Neil and I were excited to finally be on the trail. Our TAT portion of the adventure had begun. We had the paper maps as well as the roll charts. The TAT was originally for off road motorcycle enthusiasts, but had since added other vehicles. 


The estimated time to run the whole TAT was about three weeks, however as Neil and I started on the trail we realized it could take us way more than three weeks. We decided to do small parts of the trail in each state as we were both eager to get west of the Mississippi.








There were some beautiful sights along the way in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. We took many stops just to take it all in.






 Neil felt I needed to work on my navigation skills. I think I would have to agree.




We decided to air down our Nexen Tires and were able to leave them at that same PSI even while on the paved roads. Those tires are amazing. Nexen tire review coming soon.




The first night we camped in the Cherokee National Forest. By the time we reached our location it was dark so we just set up our tent in a pull off just off the road. When we were all tucked in for the night and I was just dozing off, there was a loud screeching noise. It scared the heck out of me as I didn't recognize the noise. 


I whispered to Neil asking what it was. He said, "An owl". As I thought to myself about the sound I knew it wasn't an owl. Then there was a light shining on the tent. Again I whispered to Neil "what was that?". He said a car. I didn't hear a car. I spent the next hour or so just quietly listening before I finally fell asleep.

The next morning I figured the sound must have been big foot with a flashlight. There seemed to be no other solution. And we were off again on the Trans America Trail.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Jersey

Celebrating the Jeep Life with Jersey 



Life in the small concrete enclosure with the sounds of barking all night sure beat the years of carrying puppies in my belly, and being the dog in the yard to get chewed on daily. I lost count at ten litters.


I was so thankful for the day I was rescued from the repeated abuse from the other vicious horrible dogs in the yard, and taken to that small concrete enclosure. I felt safe in that concrete box, but I knew there had to be more. 


I knew I wasn't meant for that kind of life. I knew deep down in my gut my nose needed more - my soul needed more.  I was sad and horribly afraid of the dogs in the shelter, and skeptical of the shelter workers.  


Then that fateful day at the shelter happened. I overheard the shelter workers talking of a grumpy old man going to adopt one of the dogs. I wasn't sure what grumpy meant, but it couldn't be bad if this man was going to adopt one of the dogs.  

Later that day Taylor, the nice lady from the shelter, took me out of my concrete enclosure and we went for a ride. We ended up at a garage where this man was fixing Jeeps. His name was Neil, that's when I remembered those shelter workers called the grumpy old man Neil. 


I had this sense about Neil - the grumpy old man - a good feeling. It's like a special power I have. I've had it my whole life. I know deep in my gut if a person is a good person. I know if a person will treat my kind good. It's my superpower.  Instantly, Neil and I became buddies. He rubbed my ears and then he rubbed my belly. My favorite thing in the whole wide world.   


He didn't even yell at me or tug me around on the rope tied to my neck. At first I thought he was giving me nasty stuff to eat like the others, but he gave me a yummy treat. I didn't have to go back to that concrete enclosure that day. Instead the nice shelter lady, Taylor, took me to her house. I missed Neil and wanted to see him again. The next day we went for another ride to the doctor. 

I had to have my belly cut open and things taken out. I remember the lady in the white coat say "cancer". I didn't know what cancer was and my belly hurt really bad. I felt woozy and was scared. I wanted to be with Neil. He made me feel safe. I spent a week healing at Taylor's. My favorite part was when Neil would come to visit me. Even though it hurt, I wagged my tail to let him know how happy I was to see him. 


Neil kept telling me I had to hurry and heal because there was a big adventure in our future together. I wasn't sure what an adventure was, but I worked really hard to heal because he sounded really excited about it. After a week at Taylor's it was time for me to go home. That made me sad as I didn't want to go back to that concrete box. Just then Neil came by. He told me I was never ever going back to that concrete box because he was adopting me. Neil became my dad! That grumpy old man adopted me to take care of me and be his best friend for life. That was one of the best days of my life. Or so I thought. There were so many more to come. 



Later he took me for a ride in this thing he called a Jeep. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. 
I felt the sun shine on my back and the smells, oh so many smells I was overwhelmed. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. I was with Neil and I was free to be a dog. 



We shared many warm days out in his Jeep on the Colorado trails. Now it's our Jeep. We would take long nature walks on those trails. We would chase each other around and have lots of play time. He would never let me out of his sight. I love Colorado there are so many cool smells, and the places I can pee are immense. 




Every day was amazing! 
Every day kept getting better and better. The smells were overwhelming as I didn't have enough time to smell them all. Then one day we took a long, a really long Jeep ride, but we weren't in the Jeep. We were going on our adventure, and we were meeting a Jeep mom.




I didn't know what a Jeep mom was, and I was scared. She came in our room one night, and I didn't feel afraid at all. She was really, really nice, and let me smell her hand. She didn't even hit me. 




That's when I found out what an adventure was. She made a special soft safe bed for me in the back of her really cool Jeep. I even think it it's cooler then Neil's Jeep, but don't tell him that. Sometimes though the ride was really bumpy, but we were all together having fun, laughing and smiling. Plus, I would get tons of ear rubs, and even people food.   


We drove in that Jeep all day long with lots and lots of stops, so I could go smell the new smells. I couldn't believe they were taking me to all these cool places so I could smell the smells. 





No one had ever done that for me. I didn't know there were so many trees and bushes and rocks in the world. There just wasn't enough time to smell them all. I didn't realize how big the world really was. Now my favorite thing to do is explore and smell. 




They even rolled down my special window, and I got to put my head out to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my ears. And the smells oh the smells. The best part of the trip.











At night we would all get together in the tent to sleep. My favorite part was the special blankets Jeep Mom covered me up in. They smelled so good. Then I got to snuggle up to my people. They kept me safe from all the other animals. 

When we got back from our adventure, the lady in the white coat found more cancer in my belly. I am working really hard at healing again because I want to go on another adventure.  My dad said we need to say lots of prayers so I can get better. I'm not afraid this time because he takes special care of me and he loves me. I know this because he takes me on lots of nature walks, and we go everywhere together. He lets me smell as much as I want. Plus, a dog knows when a person loves them because they talk to you like your a baby.  He is the best dad ever, and I love him so much.  


I had the most amazing adventure with Neil, My Grumpy Old Man, and Jeep Mom. They say we will do it again soon. I hope so because I really really miss Jeep Mom. I am a lot like her because I hear her telling people her Jeep saved her life. Well I think the Jeep saved my soul.    

Monday, December 2, 2019

To the TAT

DAY 8


Neil and I were getting good at working as a team, setting up and tearing down our camp. It had only been a week, but we were like a well oiled machine. 




It was time for us to head to our starting point on the Trans America Trail. Henry & Lisa's home in Virginia. Their home-away-from-home was just off the Trans America Trail. 


Henry is a YouTube Fan of mine. A super supportive fan for years. He invited Neil, Jersey and myself to kick off the trip at his home. I was excited to meet him as we had been online friends for a while.




Henry's hunting lodge is in the mountains of Virginia and has a lot of logging roads on his land. I plan on getting back up there to wheel with him this spring.



He and his wife Lisa gave us a walking tour of their property which was nice because Neil & I needed some exercise after being cooped up in the Jeep driving for the past week.





After the walk through their property and the story of the Big Foot spotting on their land, we sat down to a good old BBQ of hamburgers and hot dogs. 



That evening was so cool to just sit and chat like in the good old days sharing Jeep stories and getting to know each other. By the end of the night it felt like we were hanging out with long time friends. 



Neil and I got to sleep early as tomorrow was going to be a long day of navigation on the TAT.         

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Roof Top Tent Rally

DAY 7

I woke up this morning excited for a day of relaxing at the campsite and hanging out at the Roof Top Tent Rally. Even though Neil and I picked a campsite way off in the back corner it filled up quickly. 

There were lots of other dogs arriving and it was a chore to keep Jersey calm. She is a rescue dog. Neil freed her from the shelter and her four foot by four foot home of two years. And her life before that was abusive. She has a lot of issues around other animals, a defensive instinct for her. Eventually, as the day grew on she got better with the other animals around.



Later that afternoon, Neil and I were able to sneak off to go visit my inspiration Dan Grec, The Road Chose Me. WOW! Seeing his Wrangler close up was the coolest thing ever. This is the Jeep he lived in for three years overlanding around the continent of Africa. 



Again Neil and I were able to pick his brain for all the great overlanding tips he learned while in Africa. You could spend a whole week talking with Dan and continually learn new things. He has so much knowledge about overlanding and what works and what doesn't. He also has such a positive outlook about it all it inspires me to do more!   





I was even able to hang out inside his Jeep to get an up close and personal look at where he lived for three years. It was surreal to be actually sitting in his Jeep. He is the expert on living simply which is a goal of mine. 





Living simple has been a goal of mine for around five years now. Seeing and hearing how Dan did it inspired me to simplify even more. I am realizing life is about the experiences and not the stuff.  




Neil and I also purchased his book The Road Chose Me which you can buy on Amazon. He should be coming out with his book about Africa soon.  



We spent the rest of the day walking around meeting other overlanders. Then in the evening we warmed up by a huge bonfire and listened to Dan tell the crowd stories about Africa. It was an amazing day and tomorrow it was back on the road to the Trans American Trail. 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Another Vendor Tour

If you look closely you can see the cows
DAY 6 Neil and I woke up to the sounds of mooing this morning. It was sure better than the sounds of bears. We had spent the night in a cow pasture. And it was also in the path of a local bear.




We packed up camp and headed into town to Blue Ridge Overland Gear. Or should I say Neil packed up camp while I took care of Jersey to make sure she stayed clear of the cows. 





The shop is located in Bedford a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. They provide several jobs in this community to help support small town USA. 




I found this company years ago and have been using their products in my Jeep. I have several molle bags as well as their seat back panel. Check it out here in this blog post.   



Blue Ridge Overland Gear specializes in Molle and canvas bags which are all hand sewn right in the shop by local townsfolk. 





Neil and I got a tour of the small town "factory" and will be sharing the video shortly. Stay tuned to my YouTube Channel! After the tour and great conversation with Matt, the owner of the company, we headed to James River Park for the Roof Top Tent Rally.



Neil and I found a spot way off in the corner and began setting up our campsite. 







Then we got to work on dinner. Neil grilled up the chicken. Jersey was close by to give Neil chicken cooking tips. Neil uses a Magmus grill which is amazing. I should say used to use.  Later in the trip there was a slight accident with the grill.


Using the fork to flip the chicken just wasn't working so Neil started using his new L.T. Wright Knife. During our adventure he taught me a knife can have so many uses while you are overlanding. 





As the chicken was getting juicy on the grill, I made quick work of the peppers and onions with our new camp kitchen knifes from L.T. Wright Handcrafted Knives. Then started frying them up. 




There will be a knife review video up on my YouTube Channel soon. 



It was nice to have the time to spend making a yummy dinner. And... of course Neil had to have his hand in ever pot! 






We made Chicken Quesadilla's for diner that night. I used the left over chicken to have chicken salad sandwiches the next day for lunch. Both Neil and I were looking forward to a relaxing night by the campfire. Then checking out the Roof Top Tent Rally the next morning.