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We met online when I was in college, about 12 years ago. At the time I was looking for a partner to join me on winter snowboard trips. Someone who was intrepid and would enjoy crazy adventures every weekend.  Someone who wouldn't mind long road trips with lots of friends, late night partying, early morning hangovers, and... waking up on the beach.

You fit the bill perfectly.

know I may sometimes have neglected our relationship. Nonetheless, you were After reading an ad that your parents very patient with me and always willing to had posted mentioning that they go for a trip, spending hours driving from were getting too old to take care of downtown Montreal to the remote you, I went over to meet up and right corners of Quebec - and beyond. away I had a good feeling. I took you back home the following week to A lot of people said you may have had a your new family. bit too much character and would not be the most trustworthy friend. Some would Back then I was still a starving even go as far as saying that you were student with not much money so I slow.


Little did they know about you! You never let me down, from the freezing -35C of Quebec's winter to the scorching heat of Death Valley in July. Sure, sometimes you protested a bit and some other times you were a bit slow to hit the road, but in the end you always took me back home when I needed you to. Everybody loved your quirkiness and you always welcomed everyone with open arms, sharing a cold drink from the fridge or a hot meal from the stove - even putting them to bed when needed. Later, when I moved to San Francisco for work, you took me twice across the continent! The first time you were in pretty good shape and you made the drive back and forth from Montreal without complaining too much. But over the many years you started to get a bit out of shape. You were getting rusty from a lack of exercise... my friend Ben even nicknamed you the Titanic. So I sent you to his specialized hospital in  Montreal to get your first heart transplant.  He did an amazing job and you came out stronger than ever! Many years of adventures together later, you again started to suffer when things slowed down. With your constitution you needed to be on a good diet and have constant care to be on top of your game. However, since you had been resting in a barn in Quebec for awhile, you were pretty beat up when you finally arrived in San Francisco a couple years ago for the second time. Remember you were a bit shy at first to go into the house... my friend Matt had to do a bit of convincing.


It was time again for some reconstructive surgery and this time we covered your entire body. You came out in amazing shape after a few months of rehabilitation. So much so that I took you on another cross country trip! Over the years you managed to become the family's favorite. When my sister's kids became old enough you also became their mentor, sharing with them so many camping tricks you had learned over the years. I am so glad that you took my sister and her family on amazing adventures over the last 2 years. They will always have fond memories of that time spent together. I am sorry that I never got to take you on that trip to South America. We talked about it often, but I know you were not a big fan of climbing high mountains and I was afraid your heart may not survive - the last thing I wanted was to have to leave you down there.

But I always assumed that we would grow old together and you'd be there for my last overland journey. I never imagined that you would leave me first. I guess we will never really know why you decided to end your life that fateful day last week. Perhaps you sensed that something was going to change or that we were going to spend less and less time together. Perhaps you just decided it was time to retire and you were not willing to move into a nursing home. Our last trip together last fall will live forever in my memory. I am sure we will meet again and do more exploring together in a new world. Adios amigo.

click here to check out christian’s syncro thread at expeditionportal.com


FIRST DRIVE-  I am finishing this article less than two hours after driving the Forward Control concept vehicle from the Jeep design team. We will add more images and detail in the coming days, but I wanted to give those interested an initial drive review. The F-C is another important project for the Jeep design team as it continues to push and reinforce the brand emphasis on utility and brand heritage. While other US brands have bloated and softened their product lines at nearly the same rate as American waistlines, Jeep has actually become more capable and more purposeful (no, I will not use the word authenticity, which now has as much meaning as synergy or excellence. . . puke). The point here is that Jeep's design team gets it - and not just at the level of enthusiasts, but even beyond that by making concepts that even the enthusiasts get all giddy about. This is an important distinction. Mark Allen and his team do not have focus groups or customer 'needs' pow wows, they are thinking of extremely cool vehicles that even the most die-hard Jeep enthusiast hasn't dreamed up. Now understandably, vehicles like the NuKaiser and the F-C will never go into production, but real, breathing and desirable vehicles will be constructed from the DNA of these lustful objects.  There is also another critical result from these concept vehicles - they actually work. They are not just some clay, plastic and chicken wire rendition that needs to be viewed from 30 feet, these Jeeps actually run, drive and 'wheel' like a fourwheeler's best daydream. It is shocking to me, but Jeep unleashes the

media on these trucks, and based on what we can see, only 1 out of 10 of these people know a locker switch from a seat heater switch. Within a few minutes of arriving at our play area, I had jumped in several new concepts, but saved the F-C for last, most importantly so I could have a little more time. Ever patient, one of the Jeep design team members hopped into the seat next to me and said "I know you Scott - lets have some fun with it"; and off we went, trundling down the trail barely able to see because I was laughing and smiling so much. 30 seconds in and I had declared the F-C to be Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, a fanciful combination of 'Tonka truck fantasy' and 'I cannot believe they are letting me drive this'.


Immediately, I was taken by two things: 1. You are WAY up in the air 2. This things drives WAY better than it should. My test loop started with a cambered sand track that forced several of the other concepts to drift down slope and require a bit of throttle and counter-steer to correct. The long wheelbase and wide track of the F-C held the line and even at about 20 degrees of side slope, it felt stable. Sitting just above the front tires, I expected the truck to bounce uncontrollably, but it didn't, so long as you didn't push the speed to much. Given that the F-C is a one-off concept, the spring rate and shock valving was 95% there.  I would rate the ride as comfortable, mostly a contribution of the soft front spring rate and nearly perfect

compression valving. I just ambled along, climbing long slickrock fins and over various ledges and cross-axle obstacles. None felt odd or even difficult - we never turned on a locker. Descending a 35% slope felt a little  unusual, and not because the rear got light, but because all you see is the bottom, and all you can think about is that your face would be the crumple zone in any endo. Climbing was effortless. However, given all the F-C's capability, all I could think of was how fun it would be to drive in the deserts of Africa, the bed loaded with a few drums of fuel, a live goat or two for dinner and some Tuareg, holding on to the roof and pointing east. Concept or not - this is one fun truck!


Fortunate for the Expeditions 7 team, Toyota had already completed the hard work before the vehicles left the factory in Japan. Years of  cumulative engineering and refinements have produced one of the most out-of-the-box capable, global-class overland vehicles on the planet: the VDJ78. In comparison to the more standard (yet still capable and respected) Rest of the World  or 'RTW' vehicles - the New Zealand specification vehicles have several improvements, such as dual airbags and side impact protection and the venerable 4.5L V8 turbocharged engine. In addition, we specified that the vehicles were fitted straight from the factory with front and rear cross-axle locking differentials, auxiliary fuel tanks, an air intake snorkel, and even a high idle button for demanding situations. For vehicles that will be spending two years circumnavigating the globe in environments ranging from Antartica to Africa, what other modifications can be made?


This Page: Picked up straight from the factory, one 70 Series LC rolls off the line. Opposite Page Top to Bottom: 1:One Cruiser arrives at Adventure Trailers with goodies. 2: One of the first things installed was the ARB awning. 3: The auxillary cooling unit for the Espar Hydronic 5 heater. 4: The heater uniot tucked inside the engine bay.


We'll be covering the modifications that were chosen in a two-part series; the first of which took place at Adventure Trailers, the second at Proffitts Cruisers.  Without a doubt Mario and Martyn of Adventure Trailers create and design some of the most well thought-out, purpose built overland products in the industry. The goal with these vehicles was not to outfit them with the 'standard' roof top tent but to create something more - a living habitat within the confines of the Troop Carrier. This greatly improves security, extreme weather comfort, and handling. One vehicle would be designated for navigation and carrying photography gear– the other for recovery and service, but both vehicles needed to be able to provide the comfort needed to be on the road for two years.

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The entire Adventure Trailers team worked double time on these vehicles from the minute they arrived 'fresh off the boat' in San Francisco; it was impressive to watch the skill of the entire crew come together. A Note From Scott Brady, E7 Expedition Leader: Unfortunately, any modification we do to a vehicle results in a compromise. Sometimes that compromise is only departing with hard-earned cash, and the performance result is worth the investment, without risking reliability. In stock form, the VDJ78 can absolutely be driven around the world, but not in every environment we intend to operate. We also face the requirement of living and sleeping in and out of the vehicles for two years, so some compromise must be considered for comfort and organization. Several of our routes in Iceland and Russia require improvements in 4wd performance, as do routes in Australia, Lesotho, and the Skeleton Coast in Namibia. We are purposefully seeking out more technical routes that necessitate additional ground clearance and larger tires with more specialty tread design. We are also making concessions towards body and system protection by installing robust bumpers and side rails - these items provide the side benefit of a little more respect in large cities (traffic). For the interior, I wanted the team to be able to sleep inside, which provides significant benefit to safety and efficiency. Park anywhere, crawl in the back, and go to sleep. These vehicle modifications are comprehensive, but in many ways more simple than typical. We will feature all of the details related to the modifications here on ExPo and we look forward to your questions and comments.

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1: Aluminum Aircraft tracking is mounted along the top of the roofline to allow for additional storage and tie-down points. 2: These fans provide air circulation inside the vehicle to prevent things from getting a bit too stagnant when you're asleep. 3: The badge of quality craftmanship. 4: The rear door houses a nice cook table – an essential. 5: The roof rack mounts the ARB Awning - an interesting feature is that the LED lights will illuminate the underside of the awning, which will be perfect at night in camp. 6: The National Luna fridge is mounted in the back of the vehicle for easy access.  7:Mario designed the interior storage and sleep systems for both vehicles – here he is putting the finishing touches on the composite structure of the interior. 8:Argus provided constant security - ensuring no-one could walk near the vehicles; without giving him a little bit of attention. 9:The 'control panel' is located directly next to the driver, and within reach when sleeping. The Espar unit even has a thermostat.  10: Mr. Chazz Layne used his experience with Amateur Radio to help outfit the vehicles for proper communication - proper wiring isn't easy.

Visit the e7 site to learn more: Expeditions7.com


Overland Expo 2012 is around the corner! It's hard to believe but it is already the 4th installment of this great event. Most of you are already familiar with the largest overlanders gathering in North America but just in case you are still hesitante, consider this:

...and probably the best reason to come - meet up with the Overland Journal and Expedition Portal team!!

click here to visit the overland expo website


Waypoint Issue 1  

Issue #1 of Expedition Portal's new newsletter, Waypoint.

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