Growing up in the 70’s I learned and spent a lot of time camping, hiking, being outdoors and active.  Every spring summer and fall, my parents and I would load up the truck, and later the trailer and head out.  Typically preparations would start the week before departure, and the loading process would start on Thursday afternoon with my brother and I hauling all the gear into the yard, while my mom packed the vehicles.  Friday could not come soon enough and when it did, my dad would come home from work, change is clothes, wrangle up two kids, maybe a dog, adjust the mirrors, and exclaim “We’re off” as we drove out of the driveway.  For the most part, for my family nothing much has changed much from my dad.  It is however the details that matter.

In 1972, I was one year old and to celebrate my dad bought a new truck.  Details of the vehicle back then are scare.  From my point of view, my dad previously owned a 1964 International Scout.  He drive this car for years all over the desert south west in the late 1960s.  When my dad married my mom, my mom made him sell the Scout because the breaks were horrible, and at least three times they failed completely.  It was a wise decision considering the stakes for the family at the time, but the loss of his beloved Scout was difficult and for decades despite its faults the Scout cast a long shadow in our family.

Returning to 1972, my dad decided to purchase his truck.  He chose a Sea Foam Green 1972 Ford F-100 pickup sporting a 302 inch V-8 sporting with a 3.2:1 gear ratio, two fuel tanks, and a four speed manual transmission which included a “Granny Gear”.  The extra costs of a four wheel drive were not an option for my dad at that time.  So, the truck became the “ultimate compromise”.  He opted for 2 wheel drive, but to offer improved traction he chose a four speed with granny gear.  The differential was geared up to offer improve gas mileage, but the little 200 HP V-8 could not pull a grade at any sort of highway speeds.  A camper shell, home built bed, pass-through rear window and the “green gopher” was complete for the initial incarnation.

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IMG_3239Over the last weekend, my wife and I decided to take a camping trip into the back country of Death Valley National Park.  We were inspired to return to Racetrack Valley, and over night at the Homestake Dry campground.  Upon our return, we were greeted with the grim news that another hiker had died in Zion National Park.  Zion is a personal favorite location and I know it well, and every time someone has an accident in the area I can’t help of think of the small little details that allow these tragedy’s to occur.  I would later recall that an actor died in Death Valley National Park this year.  There is, in fact, a book series written by Michael P. Ghiglieri that emphasizes death in various National Parks and the locations of each, are places which I frequent.

To be sure, although stories like these grab attention and headlines I am sure that they are overblown in their publicity and for the most park the National Parks are safe.  The drama in each example is that we all visit there locations and with rare exception we all return with photo graphs and memories to last a life.  Many of this accidents are preventable, with the understanding the hindsight is always clear, I still can’t help but wonder what would happen should I ever find myself in a one of these situation?

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I own and operate a website called Destination4x4.com.  I started the website about two years ago with the primary goal of keeping my website skill set at a cutting edge of website development.  My past projects include a lot of LAMP based database driven content and custom built shopping carts.  During my time doing web development it became easy to fall upon past skills, knowledge bases and technology, however the results continued to be profitable.  Several years ago, my career path was changed rather dramatically.

I lost a job of 15 years which I loved, and found myself looking for work for the fist time in over a decade.  Fortunately, my job search did not last long and I found myself working in the Gaming Industry here in Nevada.  As new opportunities presented themselves, I was quick to prove my worth and began to flourish in my new job.  However, I could tell that my old skill sets were being diminished as time went on.  As much as I love my new job, it is not a creative endeavor.

To address my own personal needs I decided to start Destination4x4.com.  The site combines several personal points of interest: off road and back country driving, 4x4s, camping, hiking, photography, exploration, history  and website technology.  The primary purpose to personal continuing education, but as an additional side effect, the problem solving and research that I already conduct for my own trips, now has an outlet and can be branded to a property that I own.

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The Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine, CA.

Located near Lone Pine, CA the Alabama Hills are an awesome spot to visit and explore.  Large boulder formations erupt from the ground and create a maze of canyons, trails and roads.  This feature in itself, is more than enough fun to justify a trip to this area, however add to the equation that the Alabama Hills has appeared in more Hollywood movies than one person can name and you have the perfect combination of terrain and nostalgic history.  The Alabama Hills are featured in many “Western” movies and is the birth place of the Lone Ranger and Iron Man.

A final punctuation mark is the Alabama hills are located in the foothills of Mount Whitney (14,505 ft), the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

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Ryan and Rooger.

Best friends, Ryan and Rooger passed out after a long day in the Jeep.

Last year, Heather and I decided that it was time to get our son Ryan, a dog.  He had been asking for a dog for a while now.  Sadly, it seems that a little orange cat is not enough fun for a rambunctious three-year old.  Before I met Heather, I used to have a black Labrador, Schnaaps.  Schnaaps was a great dog and the first animal I owned that was properly trained and a really good friend and companion.  As a result, all other dogs that I own will be compared to Schnaaps.

When Ryan was born, for a variety of reasons I will not go into, Heather and I knew that he would most likely be an only child.  We knew that at some point he would probably end up getting a dog for Ryan to play with and keep him physically safe.  Periodically, we discussed different dogs and breeds and we continually returned to the Labrador Retriever.

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