A few months ago a new Overland Web series launched: Bold Overland
This team of 7 is dedicated to using their Toyota vehicles to explore and find amazing adventures all around the United States.
We think they're doing a really great job =)
It nearly 50 years ago in January 1967 when the first official SEMA show debuted under the grandstands of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. At the time, the show featured 98 booths and approximately 3,000 attendees. It was not until 1977 when SEMA moved to Las Vegas where it’s been growing rapidly ever since. Today, the four-day event attracts more than 140,000 attendees and over 2,400 exhibitors from all over the world.
Late Summer, 2016. 0600 MDT. Williams Family + Hema Map Patrol Expedition. Day 0.
With over 22 years of military experience, I tend to ... over think things. Add a project that's been 2+ years in the making to my amazing (and very understanding) family and we have the beginning of one amazing adventure.
They came from all parts of the country; each sharing a common love affair with adventure, family, and camaraderie that many believe only a Toyota 4x4 can evoke.
From Coast-to-Coast, Texas, to the Northern Border they came. It had never been done in all of the Americas. What started as an informal gathering of a few likeminded Land Cruiser owners in 2015, evolved this year to an unprecedented gathering of over twenty 200 Series Land Cruiser owners in the famous western playgrounds of Moab, Utah and Ouray, Colorado.
Twenty does not sound like a large number, but sightings of late model Land Cruisers are about as rare as seeing a news Rolls-Royce. (Rolls-Royce and Toyota Land Cruiser sales in the US were roughly the same last year). Could it be the stories, the pictures, or perhaps the banter from 2015 that led to this historic gathering? Or was it the fast growing wanderlust seed planted when many purchase their first Land Cruiser, or when watching an episode of an Overland series on YouTube? What drove a gathering of nearly 2 million dollars’ worth of metal to congregate at one place?
Cody Golliher, who resides with his family in Fort Collins, CO, is the organizer of the 200 Series gathering. “I attended FJ Summit several times in the very beginning and it was so much fun to see so many people who shared my same interest and passion,” said Golliher. “It ended up growing so big that it filled up quickly and I was unable to attend. I really wanted to keep going to Ouray with other enthusiasts so I decided to see if there was any interest in other 200 Series Land Cruiser owners who would like to go, and the rest is history.”
Travis Wilcox proposed a great idea to the group: “It’s only 3 hours from Ouray- Let’s also do Moab as a Pre-Run.” And so it was on! The early adventurers arrived in Moab a few days ahead of the larger gathering that would soon convene all arrive in Ouray. This group of six set their sights on the legendary slick rock and rugged trails near Moab. Hells Revenge, Fins & Things, and Top of the World trails gave little resistance to the fully equipped 200 Series Land Cruisers while offering amazing views and memories over tightly gripped steering wheels and taunt seatbelts. It was a textbook demonstration of the rugged and refined capabilities and features of the latest version of Toyota’s flagship vehicle.
Photo by Ken Reiten
The gods of Moab sought to disrupt the plans to make it to the summit of the Top of the World Trail -throwing lightning bolts, rain, and obstacles that had some questioning the destination. Were the imaginary gods on the side of those who believed the 200 Series Land Cruiser was an $85,000+ mall mobile? The people on this adventure knew better. With only a ½ mile and 500 feet elevation to reach the infamous ledge rock at the summit, the group put safety first and spread out until there was a break in the lightning storm.
Once all was safe and we traversed the rest of the way, the rewards at the summit were majestic views that only the combination of the wet landscape, fog, and the sunlight that illuminated them could have provided. Greg Weik’s Phantom 4 drone was launched, and epic pictures and videos ensued. The next morning, the group set out on a three-hour drive that would put this group in Ouray just as others began arriving from all parts of the country in anticipation of the historic gathering.
Photo by Greg Weik
It was the afternoon of August 4th in a small park near a picturesque Gazebo in Ouray when history was made. Twenty-one 200 Series Land Cruisers, ranging in years from 2008 to 2016, had gathered in the small town known to be a basecamp for large 4x4 events such as FJ Summit. More than 60 souls convenedmet to get to know each other, share food and drink, share our rig upgrades, and watch our kids blow bubbles and play. “I envisioned a gathering that was intimate where friends were made and families could play. We all have a love for Land Cruisers but I wanted more than just wheeling and a corporate style event,” said Golliher. The gathering was exactly that.
The next three days provided breathtaking trails across the San Juan Mountains including Engineer Pass, Poughkeepsie Gulch, Imogene Pass, and the formidable and feared Black Bear Pass-in the rain. For some, it would be the first true test of their stock or modified Land Cruiser. Yes, these are also cushy rides with heated leather seats, 18-speaker sound system and a built-in refrigerated cooler in the console. Don’t let that fool you. The observed smiles said it all—the kind of smile you see when your daughter kicks her first soccer goal or you son puts a ball through the hoop for the first time. in his first basket. These Toyotas really are Legendary. They really do defy logic and physics to overcome the obstacles ahead with unsurpassed reliability and safety.
Photo by Greg Weik
In the lower valley in Ouray, a highlight of the event was the Slee Off-road Road-sponsored group gathering for drinks and dinner. Friendships were forged and social media connections were made. The kids spoke of the Pokémon they caught and, with equal excitement, the elk they saw earlier in the day.
Golliher has pondered the future for the group. “I really like the idea of destination places each year. I love Ouray but there are so many other great places to visit,” he said. “It's not just off-roading but seeing new places with your friends and family. It will get more challenging as we grow but we'll adjust as it happens. I do not envision this ever becoming a big sponsored event, but one that stays true to people and enjoying great company.”
On the last day, the skies sky’s cleared to reveal the true beauty of this area. The blue sky, clean mountain air, the small stream crossings, and the majestic mountain views clearly demonstrated why this area is called the “Switzerland of the U.S.A.”. That evening, the group all gathered once more to break bread, enjoy a home grown brew, and share stories of the day. Goodbyes, handshakes, and hugs were abundant, - but so was the talk at every table….of next year.
If you have a 200 series Land Cruiser (2008-2017) and would like to join the adventure, be on the lookout for postings for the next adventure slated for 2017 on the 200 series IH8MUD forum. Special thanks to photographers for their submissions. See more of Ken Reiten’s work at reiten.smugmug.com and Matt Frederick’s work at themirrorpool.smugmug.com.
Photo by Matt Frederick
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Feeding off the success of the previous year, the annual Lone Star Toyota Jamboree hit another homerun with over 500 people in attendance. A total of 320 Toyota Trucks and 46 sponsors made for a spectacular event at Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area OHV Park, including “a raffle surpassing $50,000 in value” according to organizer Chris Gray.
1)Blind Man’s Bluff where driver is blindfolded and completely dependent on the passenger serving as the co-pilot.
2)Rock Garden Crawl where distance accomplished determines the winner for each tire size classification.
3)The return of the Timed Obstacle Course where going airborne can be to the driver’s advantage.
It was a very emotional time for longtime Jamboree organizers after learning a long time Toyota Trail Riders club member and Jambo attendee, Angie R., was having a rough time in her fight with cancer. The Jambo staff had already chosen breast cancer combatant organization called Women Rock, Inc. as the recipient of charity contributions, and had raised $7888 for their efforts. Upon hearing an update during the raffle from friend, Butch Baker, of Angie's fight, the Toyota crowd came together and raised an additional $3000, including a $1000 donation straight from Jamboree itself, togo directly to the Rushing family! Several raffle winners even donated their items back to be auctioned off for money to be donated. It was heart moving and emotional time to see this outpouring of support. In total, Women Rock raised $10,958 at the 11th Annual Lone Star Toyota Jamboree!
The dates for Jamboree next year are May 4-7, 2017. If you have not yet visited the giant BMRA off-road park in the eastern Piney Woods of Texas, shoot for next year by attending Lone Star Toyota jabmoree. You don’t want to miss this great event.
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Five years ago, the Tacomas and Company group started “a Moab adventure created by wheelers for wheelers” later to be called Rock Therapy. The gathering is based on their love for Moab and wanting to pull together other likeminded Toyota enthusiasts to help strengthen the off-road community. With the help of hard working volunteers, loyal attendees and generous sponsors who have shown a common goal to help build relations around the off-road community, Rock Therapy 2016 was again a huge success and will continue to be a must-attend gathering for the ever growing Rock Therapy Family.
In an effort to provide a memorable experience for the attendees, Rock Therapy’s platinum sponsors stepped up to host two nights of dinners for those who could make it back to camp at Area BFE. Toytec Lifts, Bay Area Metal Fabrication, Pelfreybilt Off-Road, All-Pro Off Road, Low Range Off Road, CBI Off Road Fab, InSain Fabrication, and Cascadia Vehicle Tents each pitched in to make sure the hungry wheelers did not go to bed with an empty stomach with backyard style BBQs both Friday and Saturday night.
Unlike years past, the carnage during Rock Therapy 2016 was on a much lower scale. Less carnage meant more time spent on the trails for all attendees, sponsors and volunteers. Many of the sponsors and volunteer trail leaders took out attendees on the trails to show off the variety of trails that Moab has to offer. Rock Therapy has encouraged attendees over the years to mingle with other attendees to form their own groups to roll with each day which has helped to strengthen the Rock Therapy Family and build relationships that last for years to come.
A concept that Rock Therapy has pushed over the years is to get the sponsors out and enjoy themselves alongside their many loyal customers. Gold sponsors, SDHQ Off Road, and Trail Toys were both in attendance this year showing off their incredible Tacoma builds. Cliff brought his 2008 Tacoma that is built to handle high speed desert passes as well as crawling through the rocks with the best of them. Cliff was able to show off the truck’s true potential during the annual Dunes run on Friday night.
Nathan had his 2011 flatbed Tacoma out to his the trails in fashion with his newly installed crawlbox and always impressive travel gained from a Chevy 63 swap in the rear. Trail Toys also brought another game changer to this year’s Rock Therapy with the addition of a limited run of Rock Therapy 2016 glow in the dark patches.
Also in attendance this year as sponsors was Trails Offroad spreading the word on their new web-based nation-wide trail knowledgebase, Hefty Fabworks showing off their new line of aluminum bumpers on their Toyota fleet, Brute Force Fab dominating the trails in Billy’s solid axle beast of a Tacoma on 42s, Adventure Offroad Fabrications displaying his solid axled 2nd gen overlanding Tacoma and Front Range Off-Road Fab with their 1996 4Runner with an 8” 30 spline IFS swap rolling on 37s.
Saturday night came too soon this year as attendees did not want memorable times to come to an end. However, the sponsors were able to pull together some amazing items again this year to giveaway and help raise some money to support two amazing organizations that have done so much to promote the off-road community over the years. Stay the Trail Colorado over the many years has encouraged the responsible use of the roads and trails that are open to motorized recreation in Colorado. Although their focus is primarily in Colorado, their message is one that should be spread all over to help us keep trail access open. Area BFE helped to rethink what an off-road park should be with their 320 acre recreational park. Open to a variety of outdoor activities including many iconic off-road trails and camping with unmatched views of the La Sal Mountains, Area BFE is open to the public 365 days at no cost to the public.
On behalf of all those in attendance, thank you to all those who helped to put this amazing gathering together and to the generous sponsors mentioned above as well as Addicted Offroad, RCI Offroad, Rokmen Offroad, Anti-Dark, Toywerx, Rorck Apparel and IH8MUD. Without your efforts, Rock Therapy would not be what it is today. See everyone next year!
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If you are like me, you don’t have $50-$80k to spend on a new vehicle to take into the backcountry. I don’t have that kind of money for a vehicle—period. For many of us, we have a certain aging truck or SUV (preferably Toyota) that we use to explore the wilds for a day, weekend, or an extended period of time. We buy this or that modification to improve the vehicle and the overlanding experience. However, the key is to not go broke doing so. There are SO many things you can purchase for your vehicle in today’s market that if you’re not careful, you’ll spend excess money and possibly have unnecessary modifications. So, what to buy? What to avoid?
I love to explore the deserts of Utah and Arizona. During the summer months, I travel to mountainous states like Wyoming, Colorado, and Idaho; usually with my wife and daughter. Our trips consist of many weekend jaunts and a few multi-week trips each year. We roughly spend 50-60 nights camping and exploring. The roads we take are generally dirt/gravel with limited slow, rock crawling type of driving. My vehicle of choice is a 1999 Toyota Land Cruiser. I purchased it with 130k miles, and it recently just passed 180k miles. So, what does my vehicle need? What would help us enjoy overlanding even more and want to continue to do it?
I placed a call to my friend and owner of Cruiser Outfitters, Kurt Williams. Kurt is very knowledgeable on overlanding and was willing to share his thoughts and advice on what my truck might need and how to get it installed. I asked Kurt, What are two things every overlander should buy? Without much of a pause, Kurt replied, First, suspension upgrade...the vehicle will be carrying more weight. Second, a refrigerator... to keep food fresh and ready. He has traveled on five continents through different environments and has first-hand knowledge of what works on vehicles and what doesn’t. His exploits have been seen as part of the Expeditions 7 (expeditions7.com), and he is the reality star in the Youtube series, Expedition Overland (xoverland.com). Kurt states: The biggest mistake I have seen is owners not taking trips or adventures because their vehicle doesn’t have all of the latest modifications. The other mistake is that people modify their vehicles with substandard parts. The whole goal of an overland vehicle is to take people to remote places and adventures and to bring them back! Make the vehicle the most reliable it can be."
What makes the overlanding community so unique and fun is that everyone’s ride has a rhyme or a reason. Why did I choose Toyota? What made me install rock sliders? What made me choose a ground tent versus a RTT? All of us have our reasons; and below I share mine. Agree? Disagree? No worries. My hope is to make you think and ponder future decisions before dropping some coin. Here is my rationale on purchases and some examples of those.
Functional:Add something to the vehicle that will help it function better. Three prime examples of this are the ARB Outback Drawers, the multifunctional electrical outlet, and the Slee rock sliders. My drawers serve to organize food, gear, and tools. I also added two USB ports and a 12v socket. Sure, this modification isn’t flashy or glamorous; but with today’s technology, I am always recharging something. I needed some rock sliders but wanted something that I could stand on as well to access my roof rack. Slee Offroad from Golden, CO, is a Land Cruiser outfitter; and the step rock sliders they make are perfect. The sliders do the job, in terms of protecting the body with solid functionality as a step to access my items on my roof rack.
Atheistic: Yep, I said it. It’s my vehicle. Does it look good and cool to me? I am the one driving it. It would be crazy for me not to be happy with my ride. I remembered that when I was shopping for a rear bumper and shopped the usual suspects such as Slee, ARB, etc. However, I really didn’t like the looks of them. Just a personal thing. I did like the looks of the rear bumper by Bump It Off Road. I called Mike Smith, the owner, to discuss some custom options I wanted. Within a month, it was shipped to Cruiser Outfitters. Kurt and I installed it, and I couldn’t be happier. It just looked better in my opinion. Personalize your vehicle, whatever your definition, and you will be happy with the end product.
Reliable: Things will get damaged and break, which might jeopardize an entire trip. When I get stuck in a tough spot and all I need is a simple winch extraction, it would be a bummer if my winch didn’t work. The money I would have saved buying the Chinese winch becomes meaningless. If something does break from one of the big companies, they are usually more than willing to warranty an item or make the situation right. Kurt mentioned, One advantage to the big companies is that they do a great deal of product testing before hitting the market. Granted, we all want to save some money, but do yourself a favor and buy products from reliable companies.
One product that comes to mind is an ARB air front locker. There are many lockers out there, but I needed one that I could count on without worry. It’s not something I use every day or even every trip. But, when I need it...it’s ready to go.
Practical: This refers to my vehicle’s needs for what I’m asking it to do. For example, I followed Kurt’s advice and had Cruiser Outfitters install an ARB Old Man Emu suspension to my Land Cruiser. ARB makes different spring weight rates, and I went with the heavy springs. I always think about what modifications I foresee in the future. The ARB suspension improved my vehicle’s ride greatly and handled the weight without issue. My vehicle needs certain things depending on what I’m asking it to do.
The other modification that falls into this category is the 12-volt refrigerator. Simple, practical modifications are just that—simple. But, they make such a difference overlanding. I had heard all the hype on these for a year or two before I took the plunge. Wow, how did I travel without one before? I purchased an ARB 50 Quart fridge from Cruiser Outfitters, and they installed it within an hour. The fridge is a game changer for me. I’m not concerned about buying ice at the next stop; and more importantly, I can carry tasty, healthy, fresh food. I think it should be your first or second purchase!
I recently got back from four weeks of traveling. Throughout my time, I got stopped many times by people asking questions about my vehicle and the modifications. There might be no right or wrong answers. However, here are a few cautions from Kurt. Don’t let waiting to modify your vehicle stop you from going on your next adventure. Also, always consider the weight you are adding to your vehicle because handling and braking will be affected.
My decisions and purchases span a four-year period. This gave me time to process decisions on expenses, listen to and read about other people’s experiences, and save the necessary money. Give the guys at Cruiser Outfitters a call. They would be happy to answer your questions and overhaul your ride for your next overland adventure. See you out there...
Contacts and Information
A Salt Lake City, Utah company since 1992. One of the largest ARB dealers in the US. Direct importer of parts from Japan and Australia. Specializing in the Toyota Land Cruiser platform. Over 3,000 parts in stock and shipped daily.
Bump It Off Road
Located in Colorado. Mike specializes in custom steel fabrication. Bumpers, sliders, etc. Got an idea, give him a shout!
888 4X4-Slee (US Only)
888 494-7533 303 278-8287
Located in Golden, Colorado. Slee Offroad specializes in all things Land Cruiser. They make some of their own custom parts for the 80, 100, and 200 series.
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