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Summer 2017

Summer 2017 (11)

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What do you do when you’ve explored every FJ Summit trail in the Ouray-Silverton-Telluride area multiple times? Find something new.

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The goal was to escape the August Texas heat and land me in an ideal spot for the solar eclipse. My plan was to start in Colorado by hitting sections of the Enchanted Rockies Trail, stop off at Canyonlands National Park for an early morning sunrise photo at Mesa Arch (bucket list item), head north into Glacier National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, then finish the trip by meeting a group of fellow Toyota off-roaders in central Wyoming for the solar eclipse.

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We have had an on-again, off-again relationship with Cooper Tires ever since we purchased our 1998 4Runner in 2006. We initially ran a set of their Adventurer A/T and a set of their Discoverer S/T tires before embarking on a five-year, 82,000 mile fling with remolded tires. That fling ended tragically last July with a sidewall failure and blowout as we were traveling through Montana. It was then that I reachedout to our readership to ask which tire you would want us to review. Much to my surprise, you overwhelmingly asked for us to review the Cooper Tire Discoverer S/T MAXX. So, we reached out to Cooper Tire, and three weeks later I had five brand new 285/75R16 tires sitting at my house.

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"You know you’d love another project, you need one."

—Angie Williams 

More true words have never been spoken.

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Outdoor Retailer turned a new page this past July as we saw its last show in Salt Lake City. It was a bittersweet trip for me as I drove over to Utah from Wyoming. Krista and I have been covering both OR’s Summer and Winter Markets since 2010. I know this pales in comparison to the 21 years Outdoor Retailer has graced the halls of the Salt Palace Convention Center but one cannot help but be a little nostalgic about the whole thing. We “grew up” in this outdoor editorial field while attending the shows in Salt Lake so part of me feels like we will be leaving home when the shows move to Denver, starting in January 2018.

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A few years ago, sitting at my desk job playing on the internet; I stumbled upon the blog of a couple traveling south on the Pan-American highway in a first generation 4Runner. The more I read, the more excited I became at the possibility of such a trip.  I went home and shared the dream with my girlfriend (now fiancée) Leah. That evening we became lost in the magic of an adventure of this magnitude, and our minds began to whirl as our future goals changed. Over the next couple of months, as the enormity of the trip sunk in, we realized that we would need a lot of time to plan and save to pull off such an endeavor. Leah was just about to start a two-year MBA program, and I was nearing a career change. We forecasted our budget, crunched the numbers, and realized that we could be debt free and have our required funds ready by the end of her MBA program. After a few months of intensive research and the beginning stages of saving; we were well on our way to our Pan-American Highway adventure that would take us from Denver to Ushuaia.

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With sunlight fading, we pushed the accelerator closer to the floor. Our perfect campsite was still several miles away on the shores of Lake Powell. We needed to get there before dark.  The narrow, overgrown trail allowed for good speed but hid rocks and ruts that could cause serious damage at speeds.

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As I surveyed the dirt roads of the BLM land surrounding the Castle Gardens Petroglyph site, I took note of the variety of numerous camping rigs sprinkled across the land. It was as if Overland Expo was sharing space with a Retro Glamping event, and first-time-ever campers. The total eclipse of 2017 attracted an unprecedented amount of attention. The plentiful public lands in Wyoming made it an ideal target for eclipse chasers. With a population of just over 585,000 people, some news sources speculated that the population number doubled on the day of the eclipse.

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I'm sitting in a shop outside Bozeman, MT with a long-time friend and a source of inspiration within the overland industry.  We chat about the first time we met and how so much has changed, and things that haven't

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After years, why keep coming back? Why come the first time? Will you come again?

Its no secret that the crew at TCT Magazine loves the FJ Summit. We keep coming back. Shane & Angie were at the first FJ Summit in the original Williams FJ and have attended ever since. Director Jonathan Harris also became a TCT editor.  Associate Editor Daniel Markofsky leads trails here in his 80 series Land Cruiser. 

Why? 

People, Scenery, Tech, Trails, History, Education, Vacation, Food, Relaxing, Hot Springs, Excitement, Community, Camaraderie, Family.