Sunday, November 24, 2019

My First Overland Adventure in My Jeep: Camping in the Cold

Unveiling the Genesis of My Transformation

At this moment, I had no idea what changes my life had in store. 

Embarking on my inaugural overland adventure marked the genesis of a profound transformation within me. It wasn't merely a journey through rugged terrains and scenic landscapes; it was a profound shift in my perspective. 

Lessons Beyond the Horizon

Along the dusty trails and amidst the breathtaking vistas, I encountered lessons that went beyond navigation and survival. I learned to adapt to unforeseen obstacles, turning challenges into opportunities and transforming setbacks into stepping stones. The essence of gratitude permeated my days as I discovered the beauty of finding silver linings even in the most unexpected places. 

Ignoring the Red Flags

However, the most arduous lesson, one that lingered undiscovered for years, was recognizing the red flags in people and situations, realizing that not everyone is authentic in their intentions despite their outward appearance. This was a hard life lesson that has taken me years to understand and come to terms with. 

The Journey Begins

Day 1:  Saturday, October 12 - Learning to Adapt

Excited & Scared

The day I had been waiting for finally arrived. I loaded up my Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, gave a heart wrenching, tear-filled goodbye to my two boys, and then headed out for my Adams Extreme Off Road Adventure for 30 days. The original plan was to head to Virginia for the Overland Expo East but my travel partner broke down so I need to pick him up in Missouri. It was the beginning of my learning to let the adventure lead me and my lesson's in adapting. Fourteen hours later I arrived in Missouri. 

Day 2: Pack it all into One Jeep

Repack to one Jeep

Sunday morning we unloaded all my gear and downsized to fit a my passenger, his dog and his gear into my Jeep. Instead of car camping we are tent camping for the first part of the adventure. 

Always looking for a silver lining, we decided to hit some sites not originally on the agenda. We stopped by the St. Louis Arch, camped in Illinois, then hit the road for Ohio.

My Jeep at the Arch: The Gateway to the West

First Camp Meal: Sausage, Fresh Green Beans & Rice

Day 3: Cold Weather Camping

Tent site for the night

We spent the day driving back to our starting point in Virginia. We made it to Ohio for the night, Salt Fork State Park. We had the whole park to ourselves and did some primitive camping. We set the tent up in the dark and the next morning woke up to very cold temperatures. I was in my happy place though, camping in a tent like when I was a kid. I have so many great memories camping with my family as a little girl in Minnesota. 

Must Have Camp Tool: L.T. Wright Knives Machete

L.T. Wright Handcrafted Knives - Machete

The camping experience was made easier with our machete from L.T. Wright Handcrafted Knives It made for making tinder and kindling for the fire so much easier. Our next stop. 

Day 4: Let the Adventure Lead You

Kennedy Stone House

We took in some sites at the park, Kennedy Stone House which was built in the 1800's by Benjamin Kennedy and Hosack's Cave Falls a 60 foot high sandstone cliff with a rocky overhang and a roomy rock shelter. 

Handcrafted Knife Shop Tour

My Jeep outside L.T. Wright Knives

I was very surprised at how big the knife shop was. It was way more than I ever imagined. L.T. Wright also had several craftsmen working for him. They make excellent handcrafted state of the art knives. I still use them to this day. 

L.T. Wright Handcrafted Knives Tour 👉 Watch Here

Molle Bag

During the tour L.T. share with us about the company who designed the bag for the camp kitchen knives, Blue Ridge Overland Gear and hooked us up for a tour of their facility in Virginia the next day. 

I began to understand the meaning of let the adventure lead you. Not only was this second tour not on the original agenda, I was getting the opportunity with the person who inspired this adventure, Dan Grec. 

Day 5: Meeting My Inspiration

Blue Ridge Overland was on our way to the Trans America Trail, the destination we were taking. We toured their small town shop (Day 6). Matt, the owner of the company, invited us to a dinner with some overlanders that evening. To my surprise Dan Grec, The Road Chose Me, was attending. I was thrilled to finally meet Dan. 

Dan Grec and Myself

The dinner was amazing, I'm afraid I hogged all the time with Dan. I followed his journey across Africa. He inspired me to do my own adventure and to be able to hear about his adventure first hand was amazing.

His stories are inspiring. You can catch his first adventure in North America in his book The Road Chose Me.  

During dinner that night, we were invited to attend the Roof Top Tent Rally happening at St. James State Park in Virginia that weekend. Another great surprise! 

Blue Ridge Overland Tour 👉 Watch Here

Dispersed camping in Virginia

With winds howling and temperatures dropping Matt with Blue Ridge Overland found us a really awesome campsite in the Blue Ridge Mountains away from civilization. The only thing we needed to worry about was the local bear and several cows. 

Day 6: Blue Ridge Overland Tour

Blue Ridge Overland Gear

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. They specialize in Molle and canvas bags all hand sewn by local townsfolk. 

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. 👉 Read More   

Next Stop

Next it was on to the Roof Top Tent Rally where I found a camping spot and got out my L.T. Wright Handcrafted knives Camp Kitchen set. They worked amazing as I chopped up vegies and chicken for dinner.  

Camp Cooking vegis

Chicken Quesadillas

Day 7: Roof Top Tent Rally

That afternoon I was able to see Dan Grec's Wrangler up close. This is the Jeep he lived in for three years overlanding around the continent of Africa. 

The Road Chose Me, Dan's Book 👉 The Road Chose Me

Inside Dan's Jeep Wrangler

Day 8: Meeting New Friends

My new friends in Virginia

It was time to head to the  starting point on the Trans America Trail. Henry is a YouTube Fan of mine. A super supportive fan for years. He invited me to kick off the trip at his home. I was excited to meet him as we had been online friends for a while. Henry & Lisa's home in Virginia. Their home-away-from-home was just off the Trans America Trail. 

Henry's hunting lodge is in the mountains of Virginia and has a lot of logging roads on his land. He and his wife Lisa gave us a walking tour of their property which was nice because I needed some exercise after being cooped up in the Jeep driving for the past week.

Day 9: Finally hitting the Trail

Trans American Trail Virginia

The original goal of the trip was to wheel the Tans America TrailThe 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. The intent of the trail was to see the back roads of America on motorcycle. Now folks venture the trail in their vehicles.

I had the paper maps as well as the roll charts. The estimated time to run the whole trail was three weeks. We quickly found out that isn't true in a Jeep. We eventually deviated from the original plan. 

Waterfall in Virginia

There were some beautiful sights along the way in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. I took many stops just to take it all in. The first night we camped in the Cherokee National Forest. By the time we reached our location it was dark so I set up the in a pull off just off the road. Once all tucked in for the night and I began to doze off, when I heard loud screeching noise. It scared the heck out of me as I didn't recognize the noise. 

Day 11: Meeting the Founder of the Trans America Trail

Tent site on Tennessee River

I chatted with Sam for a bit that evening then it was off to camping along the Tennessee River. The next morning Sam would take us through Mississippi along the trail. 

Day 12 Mississippi Adventure

Sam with TAT and myself

woke up to the sounds of the Tennessee River. It was so refreshing to be able to breath in all the peace and serenity in the mornings. It was so good for my soul. After breakfast with Sam he offered to lead part of the TAT that morning. First he shared some tips on the maps. Then we were off. 

We explored some of the Mississippi dirt roads. The terrain was not hat I was expecting. I was looking to be driving through swamp lands not pine tree forests. 

Meeting Fans I Inspire

Trish and Myself - a new friend

Later that afternoon we were able to meet up with another one of my YouTube Fans, Trish. She had been following me on YouTube for quite awhile and was thrilled to meet me. It's always surreal when people are excited to meet me. I was her inspiration to work on her Jeep and do her own mods. When I hear that I inspire others it motivates me to keep pushing forward. There have been times during my whole Jeep adventure I feel like giving it all up. It's been hard not to have someone to share it with. But those times when my fans reach out to me it gives me the courage to push through. 

Day 17: In the Rockies

Selfie in the San Juans

Days 13 to 17 was spent in the San Luis Valley of Colorado trying to get Maggie May, my adventure partners Jeep running but to no avail. I made the decision to forge ahead. During that time in Colorado I was able to wheel in the San Juan Mountains. Those mountains called to my soul. 

Jeep Selfie in Colorado

The decision was made to veer from the original plan of the TAT and we were heading south due to an Artic Blast coming across the US. The Grand Canyon was the next stop and wheeling in Arizona. But first my first ever experience driving over a mountain pass, Wolf Creek Pass in the snow. 

Snowy Colorado Mountains

Artic Blast

That night was probably the coldest night of camping in Mesa Verde National Park. I was looking forward to warmer temps in the Southwest. 

Day 18: Amazing Views

Four Corners 

It was an a spectacular view during our drive through the park on our way to the Grand Canyon.  The first stop was 4 Corners Monument where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah come to a point. The monument was nice but the "park" was not what I expected. It still looked like it did in the 1970's when I first visited. I was expecting some upgrades. 

The Grand Canyon

Arrival at the Grand Canyon was perfect timing, just as the sun was setting! What a spectacular view. It was chilly and windy, but I had a good time stopping at all the different vistas.

Day 19: Grand Canyon Hidden Gem

Peach Springs, Arizona

The next day was spent driving down into the bottom of the canyon right up next to the Colorado River. First stop was to get a permit. Taking the back roads up to Peach Springs, Arizona gets you to the place where you can buy a permit to drive down to the Colorado River on Diamond Creek Road. There's a building, the Hualapai Tribal Forestry Department where you can buy a permit. This permit for $16.27 per person allows you to drive Diamond Creek Road down to the Colorado River on the Hualapai Reservation. 

Bottom of the Grand Canyon

It's about a three hour drive down and back with the most spectacular views. The ride was a rough one down to the Colorado River on the washboard gravel road definitely a time to air down. 

Colorado River, Grand Canyon

Day 20: Meeting More of My Fans

My new friend Angela

Once again the Adventure began to lead the way. During the ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon YouTube fan Angela reached out to me  She invited me to stay at her home. I took her up on the offer. It was a great night of conversation and camaraderie. The next morning we had breakfast at a cute small town breakfast spot, The Randall House, while we bonded as Jeepers. Then it was time to head to Sedona. 

Me driving

While on the way to Sedona another fellow Jeeper and my fan reached out and invited me to their town. I decided to cut our time in Sedona short to head to Prescott, Arizona for a Jeepers trunk or treat the next day.

Sedona, AZ

Originally, I was going to run two trails, a Jeep Badge of Honor Trail and Broken Arrow. I decided to pick Broken Arrow because it was a more difficult trail and it had the famous stair steps. Later I found out we missed part of the trail. Guess I need go back one day. 

Broken Arrow Trail 👉 Watch Here

Summit 4x4 Off-Road Club & Shop

Summit 4x4 Trunk or Treat

I once again let the adventure lead me and spent the night in Prescott, Arizona with Summit 4 x 4 group at a trunk or treat event. so had a nice warm fire going and with Carne Asada tacos. While I was sitting by the fire I heard a voice call out Jeep Momma. A fellow Jeeper and follower just happened to be walking by and saw me. How cool is that! 

Random fan on the street who knew me

That night I was thankful for the hospitality of Mike and his wife. I was able to enjoy a hot shower and my own bed! 

My new friend Mike

Arizona Adventure Day 21 - 23 

Route 66

One of the goals was to stay off of major roads as much as I could, so I took some back roads in Arizona from Prescott up to Kingman. I ended up discovering aliens. The actual sight of the alien crash in 1953 before the military scooped up the spacecraft and alien bodies! 

After the lackluster museum of aliens, it was time to head north to Kingman for another tour of a local Made In America small business, Route 66 Mods. 

Meeting another YouTuber

The next day was some wheeling with with AZwestside Wheelers on some technical Kingman trails. 

HomeCourt, Kingman, AZ

Finally my chance to wheel with the big boys on a very technical trail, Homecourt. The whole trail was one big long obstacle. I certainly upped my wheeling game and was doing pretty good. 

Jeep Momma wheels the Homecourt Trail 👉Watch here

I popped a Bead

During one of the obstacles I tore a valve stem and rolled a
bead. Joe with AZ West Side Wheelers came to the rescue with a Colby Valve and saved the day. Plus I finally got to use my Lift Mate from Hi-Lift Jack.   

New Friends

That evening we we all meet at a local brewery to reminisce of the days events. It was a great time meeting online Jeep friends in person. Then it was back to my tent. 

Kingman AZ tent site

I am part of the RAW Carnage Crew

It was a good day all in all as I wheeled some of my best wheeling and My Jeep had two new stickers. Homecourt for the trail and Raw Carnage Crew because I damaged my Jeep. 

New friend Rick

How to Stop BLM Trail Closures 👉 Watch Here

The next morning the sun shining on the tent and it was time to pack up to go meet Ric Swats back in Kingman to get the low down on how to stop BLM lands from getting closed.  

Mojave Road Adventure Day 23 to 27 👉 Read More

Pinyon Canyon Mtn Jeep Badge of Honor Day 28 - 30 👉 Read More

Gold Mountain Jeep Badge of Honor Day 31& 32 👉 Read More

Thanks to the following sponsors for making this trip possible: Adams Jeep of Maryland, Nexen Tires, Tom Woods Custom Driveshafts, Extreme Terrain, Quadratec and Mattress Firm



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