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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Bodie Gas Station

Bodie Gas Station

In June, 2012 my family took a family vacation to the Eastern Sierra area.  This was the site of many past family vacations throughout my life and I am fortunate enough to travel in this area with my entire family again.  For this trip, I am thrilled to bring my wife and son.  Although Heather visited this area a few times before, she and I had never been here together and I was really looking forward to sharing my memories of the area with her and Ryan.

After a quick drive from Las Vegas to Lone Pine via Death Valley, we met my folks and brother and sister-in-law in Lone Pine, California.  We took a few side trips including a drive up to Whitney Portal and the Alabama Hills.  The next day of the trip north on the 395 highway found us in Lee Vining, CA and prepared ourselves for Bodie, CA.

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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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