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.

Published in Fall 2016

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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.

200 Series Land Cruiser in Moab
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.

200 Series Top of the World
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.

Group photo of 17 200 Series Cruisers at Black Bear Pass Summit
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.

Rainbow on the Last Dollar Road between Telluride and Ouray
Photo by Matt Frederick

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    The more time we spend with our four-legged travel partners in the outdoors, the more we exposure them to injury. Even a minor pet injury can ruin an adventure and there is nothing worse than seeing your pet limp in pain. I have had to deal with burrs, impaled object, large lacerations, and both heat exposure and borderline hypothermia in my dogs. Even though there are plenty of kits you can buy on-line, I believe in putting your own kit together, simply then you know what is in it. I also think when conditions allow, keep the kit on your dog. This way the kit is within reach of the pup at all times. Second, if for any reason you and your dog are separated, there is a kit handy for the person on hand working with your pup’s injuries.


    K9 First Aid Kits

    We have a main kit for the house, one in the rig, and then a small field kit that goes a doggie daypack with smaller quantities that are re-packed and well labeled. I will only list out only the items that goes in our kit that the pups pack with them. We have larger pups, so if your adventure pup is a small breed, well you get to hike with the kit. In other words, no K9 EMT kits on your Mini-Rat Terrier. I will cover what to carry for your pup in your rig later. Something to keep in mind, if out adventuring in hooter temps, then your pup is going to overheat, even if hanging out in your rig.

    We highly recommend that you seek out classes that are specific to first-aid for dogs. Get a good solid field manual to keep with the kit. Finally, dogs are different from us two-legged- human medicine unless noted is not for puppy consumption.

    BIG DISCLAIMER— THIS IS MY LIST YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CONSULTING YOUR OWN VET. WE DO NOT ACCEPT ANY RESPONSIBLITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS OR ACTIONS TAKEN ON BEHALF OF THIS LIST

    •K9 EMT Gel- This stuff interacts with the wound and maintains much-needed moisture that helps a wound in healing. In addition, it acts as a tissue adhesive to help prevent bacterial infection. It also reduces bleeding and pain. Keep it current though, it will expire.

    •Tweezers- When your pup is hurt and you are trying to remove a sliver, they don’t always hold still. One poke with sharp or pointed objects and your pal will not likely lay still for you again. I use flat slant tipped tweezers.

    •Scissors- I carry both small dull-ended snips and EMT shears. The small snips are excellent for trimming out goat heads in the fur areas in the paws or burrs on the belly. EMT shears are good for cutting medical tape.

    •Tick Removal Tool. These are designed to remove nasty ticks, which, if left in, can lead to infection or worse, diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme’s.

    •Cotton balls

    •4×4 Gauze Pads and 4” Rolled Gauze. •Hibitane Disinfectant- Learn to use BEFORE you use it

    •Saline solution. We live in a sandy area and this is great to get dust and sand out of the eyes. Can also be used to clean wounds. DO NOT USE Contact solution.

    •Flush Syringe

    •Benadryl- Trigger bit a wasp one day- and I was pretty worried that he was going to swell up and not breathe. A fellow vet-tech of Melissa’s gave him a Benadryl. It reduced the swelling, keeping his airway open...and put him to sleep. Antihistamines can be used to calm itchiness, swelling, and hives caused by insects, but, as with any medication, please with your vet for dosage.

    •Antibacterial Wipes or skin soap.

    •Bag Balm/Skin & Paw Cream – When feet get torn up. Keep it in a labeled zip-tight bag.

    •Rectal Thermometer. A dog’s average is around 101°F.

    •Petroleum Jelly. For use with the thermometer...and be sure to scratch your pup’s ears after the intrusion....

    •Emergency numbers- I keep three sets of numbers in my kit. My regular vet, the 24-hour vet, ad then when traveling, numbers of vets at each destination.

    •Latex gloves

    •Emergency contact numbers. The digits for your vet, the closest animal emergency hospital, and the poison control hotline.

    •Triangle Bandage to use as a muzzle

    •Corn- starch- To stop bleeding of nails (not wounds) that have been broken or cut to the quick.

    •Vet Wrap

    •Small Space-Blanket (Compact Size)

    First Aid Manual for Dogs (small pocket-sized)

    K9 First Aid Kits

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    Published in Fall 2016

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    The larger-than-life 7-inch HD screen of the TRX7 GPS Navigator may seem burdensome, especially compared with rival units that typically hover in the 5-inch realm of screen size. The overall dimensions of the device are 8.5” x 5.25”. This takes up a serious amount of real estate space when attached to the windshield. Start driving on a trail while the new TRX7 is displaying the route, and the seemingly inconvenient size is soon replaced by the easy-to-see screen. The included heavy duty RAM mount securely holds the TRX7 as the vehicle bounces down the trail.


    Magellan TRX7

    I had the opportunity to use the device on two separate off-road trips. For an overland trip across NM and AZ en route to Overland Expo, I accessed the Magellan eXplorist TRX website for route planning, and stored the routes on the device. For the Big Bend National Park trip, I recorded trail routes.

    Functionality and features:

    -Wifi
    -BlueTooth
    -Web browser with tabs
    -Email -Contacts storage
    -File Manager
    -Music player and storage, complete with organizer
    -Calendar -Sound recorder
    -Ability to toggle open screens
    -Rugged design
    -Searchable OHV trails database
    -Social media connectivity for sharing travels
    -Off trail warnings and return-to-start safety features
    -Preloaded with 44,000 designated OHV trails from forest and public lands
    -High-res 3D terrain view and 2D topo view with contour lines display U.S./CAN land features


    From a visual usability perspective, the map contrast and color schemes surpass other navigation systems and apps. The helpful geography texture really stands out. The layout of the map and route details in a split screen mode is quite useful.

    Magellan TRX7

    Magellan TRX7

    For planning routes, using the Magellan eXplorist website, mytrxjournal.com, was easy to figure out. Upon completion of route planning, syncing the device over wifi loads the maps onto the device. Already have a GPS file you want to load? Just upload the GPX or KML file to the mytrxjournal.com website, then sync the device.

    Magellan TRX7

    Crowdsourced route submissions will expand the trail database over time. The data set is still young, but with the recent release of the tablet/smartphone app, the database should grow exponentially as app adoption increases.

    Magellan TRX7

    Several options are available for making updates to routes: mark observations using audio, photos, or waypoints; record track conditions and difficulty ratings. Achievements can be earned for recording off-road miles, visiting locations, and hitting certain OHV trails.

    Magellan TRX7

    I usually navigate with a Garmin Nuvi 50LM mounted to the windshield and a full-sized iPad held by a floor-mounted RAM mount, placing the iPad just above the shifter. The tablet-like functionality of the TRX7 certainly separates it from the Nuvi. The question is, does the TRX7 replace the iPad? The TRX7 large screen and ease of touchscreen usage are what I deemed most helpful. However, with a limited storage of 13GB, this device is barely a tablet. Now that the Magellan TRX app, complete with access to the Magellan database, is available for tablets, the TRX7 may not fill a void for the off-roader who prefers a device with more functionality, map app options, and LTE data connectivity.

    For the off-roader who is content with wifi-only and requires a serious navigation system with limited tablet-like functionality, rugged construction, and the ability to plan and record routes, the TRX7 will suffice. With the ability to notate route details and difficulty ratings, incorporate GPS files, and enjoy a large screen, the TRX7 rates higher than the other dedicated navigation systems available. No other device on the market today is OHV oriented like the TRX7.

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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."

    Land Cruiser Overland Overhaul

    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.

    Land Cruiser Overland Overhaul

    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.

    Land Cruiser Overland Overhaul
    Land Cruiser Overland Overhaul

    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.

    Land Cruiser Overland Overhaul

    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!

    Land Cruiser Overland Overhaul

    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.

    Land Cruiser Overland Overhaul

    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

    Cruiser Outfitters
    801-563-1277
    cruiseroutfitters.com
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    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
    970-590-5748
    bumpitoffroad.com
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Located in Colorado. Mike specializes in custom steel fabrication. Bumpers, sliders, etc. Got an idea, give him a shout!

    Slee Offroad
    888 4X4-Slee (US Only)
    888 494-7533 303 278-8287
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    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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    Published in Summer 2016

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    We are in a golden age of outdoor and camp cooking, with each year seeing new companies starting to produce quality cookware at great prices. The problem is, with all of these new companies pining for us to buy their products, buying a new set of camp cookware can be confusing. Let’s cut through the hype and dig deep into the material science behind many of these cookware designs. Doing so will allow us to see the pros and cons of each material and help ensure you choose the cookset with the right material for your cooking needs. I am going to apologize now for, as you will soon read, my geeking out about this topic. I will freely admit that I am a nerd and, if you have attended one of our cooking classes, tend to get overly excited about the science that is going on behind the scene.


    Camping Cookware 

    Resistance to heat transfer also means they are prone to hot spots. This is due to the material’s inability to conduct heat through itself and away from the heat-source. Cookware manufactures can combat hot spots by increasing the material thickness. The increased thicknesses essentially dissipating the heat over a larger area. This is a double-edged sword, however, as the greater the thickens the more energy is needed to heat the cooking surface.

    Now that we understand how heat transfer from the flame-side to the cooking side of a pot or pan we must think about how that heat is retained in the material. A pot or pan’s heat capacity is a function of the its material density and the specific heat. The material’s specific heat can be thought of as the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of the material. When multiplied by the density we get a variable that helps us differentiate between the different materials.

    Camping Cookware

    Now that we understand how a material’s thermal properties can affect cooking performance we must turn our attention to an often overlook aspect, a material’s reactivity. Highly acidic ingredients or alkaline ingredients, tomatoes and onions (respectively), can create a chemical reaction with cookware material. This can cause the material to degrade and impart metallic flavors into the meal. Although the amount of metal that reacts with food and can be ingested is very small, there are some health concerns from prolonged exposure.

    One way camping cookware manufacturers work around reactivity concerns is through the use of coatings like TeflonTM or enamel. These coatings generally serve two purposes when applied to the cooking surfaces. Firstly, they create a barrier between the reactive material and the food, preventing a chemical reaction from taking place. Secondly, they create a non-stick surface which allows food to brown without sticking.

    Although widely used, coatings do have their limitations and are only as good as their adhesion to the base material. Excessive localized or prolonged exposure to heat can degrade this adhesion.

    Camping Cookware

    Additionally, coatings can be degraded by repeated abrasion. Once a coating is compromised, foods can begin to react with the base material, essentially eating underneath the coating. Eventually enough of the coating is detached from the base metal that if flakes off into the food. As with death and taxes, coatings are guaranteed to fail.

    Conversely, nonferrous metals like aluminum and titanium can undergo a process called anodizing. Unlike coatings, which require adhesion to stick to the base material, the anodizing process converts the base material’s surface into an anodic oxide layer. Because the anodizing process chemically alters the base metal’s surface, it is less susceptible to mechanical and thermal degradation. This molecular alteration of the base material reduces the metal’s reactivity and improves the nonstick properties. Although the anodic oxide layer can eventually be compromised, anodizing is a great alternative to simply coating reactive materials with enamel or TeflonTM.

    Now that we understand the science behind each of the material options let’s take a look at how the four most popular camp cookware materials measure up against each other.

    Camping cookware material comparison

    The vast majority of our camp cooking is done using GSI’s Pinnacle line of cookware. It’s anodized aluminum body distributes heat uniformly across the cooking surface, even when cooking over the small burners found in modern cook stoves. The Pinnacle line also utilizes new Teflon coating technology on the cooking surface to produce a great nonstick surface. The aluminum’s exceptional thermal conductivity more than makes up for its relatively low heat capacity.

    Camping Cookware

    Although the majority of our camp cooking is done with the anodized aluminum cookware, there is still a special place in my heart for cast iron cookware. It is the style of cookware I grew up camping with and the material of choice for generations before me. Although it takes longer to heat up, and is prone to hot spots if heated too quickly, cast iron’s heft and heat capacity still makes it my go-to cookware material when I want to perfectly brown meat or saute vegetables.

    Camping Cookware

    So I guess, in a sense, there really isn’t one material that is the be all and end all for camp cookware. It would be easy to say, based on material properties, you should go and buy cookware made from a certain material but it isn’t that easy. Each one is really suited to different cooking needs. By selecting a material that best suits your cooking needs you can guarantee years of enjoyable camp cooking.

    I would like to send a special thank you to Lodge Manufacturing Company and GSI Outdoors for answering all of my questions related to this article. We own, and continue to enjoy cooking with, equipment from both of these companies.

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    COMEUP Winch Toyota Cruisers Trucks Magazine

    Published in Summer 2016

    This year during the FJ Summit, Toyota invited journalists from around the country (including our Editor in Chief Beau Johnston) to join them on a multi-day Toyota Overland adventure. The route was planned, guided, and filmed by our friends at Expedition Overland.

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