fj cruiser dash pod console

Day 2 The Long Straight Road

boy asleep in the passenger seatDay 2 Stats

  • Start: Wilsonville, OR
  • Finish: Twin Falls, ID
  • Miles: 572

The crack of dawn departure came around 8:00 am as we left Club Killelea and jumped on the freeway out of town. The map took us right by Taylor Made Graphics so we stop in and said hello to Mike and Turner. Of course Mike had to tell Boy a few road trip horror stories from our child hood. Something about me punching his head, him crying and Nana yelling at him to quit fussing… Not exactly how I remember it but he sold it to Boy with conviction. Boy especially liked Mike’s best Nana imitation. Mike even through a little shirt swag our way so we would not have to do laundry for one more day.

Driving East on 84 you go by a number of incredible sights, Roster Rock State Park, Multnomah Falls, Bonneville Dam, and The Dalles.

back side boneless skateboardingBut did we get out, see the sights, hike to the top, look over the edge, or even slow down to 35 mph…

NO… Boy was asleep like a rock through most of the first 150 miles. When he did wake, “Whats for lunch?” were his first words… Is that drool on his shirt?

  There are not a lot of twists, turns or road changes that you need to worry about when you drive to Idaho. In fact there were none. We started on 84 East and we are still on 84 East. The road is long, straight and hot. In the shade, at the rest stop, Hula Betty was starting to melt in the 93 degree weather. On the high side we saw 97. Thank god I have air conditioning. That was for my wife. Boy and I both look at each other when at 9:00 pm the temp read 85 and we thought how tail slide skateboardingnice it was that it had finally cooled off.

Everyone knows Boy skates. In fact he starts to vibrate like a tuning folk if he is not riding his board at least once a day. Luckily, Boise has a skate park under the highway ramp. It was still hot but nothing was going to stop Boy from shredding the park. A couple of mini-ramps, a fun box and several rails set up for skaters, it was a little brick sitting ledge that he focused on to through down a back side boneless and tail slide.

skateboard tailslideDid I mention, even in Boise, ID you can find diversity in the people who live, work and play their. These women caught my eye as they walked by the skate park. Although I did not get a chance to talk with them, the waitresses at Denny’s were very chatty and wanted to know all about the tattoo.

Once Boy got that out of his system and at 90 some degrees it did not take long, we were back on the road. Loosing an hour to mountain time, our quest for a room in Twin Falls ended today’s drive just after 10:00 pm. Boy was making some speech about how he was going to swim in the pool all night… right after he rested for just a little bit. Is that drool on his shirt?two muslim women

Joyce: we know you have the big love and we would never waste it on room and board. We simply put you as the kids guardian in the will. You should start praying we live forever.

John: Club Killelea is worth every penny. BTW: I’ll be sure to report that $110 to the IRS on my expense report.

dept of skateboarding fj cruiser

Day 1 Freinds and Family

Day 1 stats:

  • Start: Poulsbo, WA.
  • Finish: Willsonville, OR.
  • Miles:  208

You find out how blessed you are with friends and family when you can arrive in Portland with no real notice, give a shot out and immediately have invites for dinner and a place to stay and everyone asking how we are.

It started when the skateboard deck that boy ordered showed up one day before the big trip (yesterday) and turned out to be the wrong size. His old deck had seen better days and he’s been riding hand-me-down decks from friends for a number of week. This was the board he planed to ride on the Ouray road trip adventure and he was now SOL with no deck to ride. What this meant was we had to find an 8.5 deck along the way, a tasks that we were not sure was even possible. We were prepared to stop at every skate shop along the way and that is a truck load of skate shops.

Turns out the first shop we dropped in on, The Department of Skateboarding, had a number of 8.5s and Boy found a $lave deck he liked. You know for everything else there really is master card.

Which bring us to how great our friends are. While Boy worked on gripping his deck and transferring hardware, I gave a shot out to Brad. The next thing I know the whole Day clan is rolling up at the Department to see how we are and hoping to watch Boy try out the new deck. Now to get here the Day clan piled in the car on a 90+ degree day and drove 30 minutes through the snow, up hill both ways fighting off the bears with their spiral notebooks, just for this meet up. They even followed us into North Portland, another 20 minutes to watch Boy shred it at Pier Park.

This is a Sunday, when they could be relaxing by a pool, watching a movie or playing ball, but instead they spent it with us, watching Boy skate, chatting and slugging down Burger Ville milkshakes just because we came into town. These are the friends Jimmy Buffet songs are written about and I’m lucky enough to have several… Of course we’ll find out if they can follow through on a promise. I asked for a family photo that could be posted. Regardless, I’m very lucky to have them in my life.

If that were not enough, I even have family, that when we called with a request for a place to stay, simply asked how we wanted our burger cooked and told us to meet them at the pool, where they had cold drinks waiting for us. When we rolled up… Mary, John, Gracie and Rosie welcomed us like the prodigal son, gave us a big howdy and told us to make ourselves at home. We did… you should see the mess Boy made.

It is easy to get caught up in the destination, the rig, the hoopla of the adventure and the buzz of the press… but it is important to remember the friends and family just out side the spot light who make us feel welcome with a bed for us to rest our head on and a warm smile to make us feel everything is all right.

man inspecting truck suspension in sand

It Practically Does the Work For You

Getting ready for our next off-road adventure (aka making a big mess in the garage) gives me something to do that feels adventure oriented. So that everyone can feel the burn too, Hula Betty videoed the magic, we call loading up the rig. It is only one minute and 14 seconds and you’re not doing anything at work anyway. Turn the monitor so your boss who is way too uptight and does not appreciated your need for internet social interaction, cannot see and enjoy sometime that is rightfully yours at work.

BTW: If you work for me… get back to work before you’re fired! Just Kidding!

hula betty dash board bobble doll

Paradise By The Dashboard Lights

Sunday, Boy and I head out on this years Last Great Road Trip. We’re heading to Ouray, Colorado for FJ Summit to meet up with 200 other FJ Cruiser owners and run the trails near Telluride. Joining us on this father son adventure… you guested it Hula Betty!

Hula Betty hitched a ride up to the Arctic Ocean with Dad and me but mysteriously disappeared from the rig on the way back. Although accusations were made, no charges were ever filed and no suicide note or body found. Now just like the mangy flea covered, tick infested pet who tracks down its owners after being abandoned in a cross country move, Hula Betty is back. And she looks better than ever.

Hula Betty is not just another pretty bobble doll, she is away of life that embraces adventure and promotes tolerance. Tell us about your Hula Betty… or at least send a picture. Look for Hula Betty in the up coming pictures and videos. There are even discussions about a full length movie featuring Hula Betty… but those are just rumors.

quad 4x4 water crossing

Scuba Steve Drives an FJ

…the water was exceptionally wet with the rain, heavy snow melt and oceans rising from the global warming. As the water in the rivers crested and levies broke, flood waters rushed over everything west of the Pacos. The only hope for saving the orphans was Scuba Steve riding high in his FJ Cruiser. Crossing the high water in his Voodoo Blue wet suit, Scuba Steve saved the children and Sister Mary Knuckle Buster, driving them to higher and dryer ground… it could happen!

But before it did, we would want to relocate the rear differential and E-Locker’s breather to a higher and hopefully drying location. You can read the horror stories on the forums about rigs who got water sucked in through the breather and the dollars it took to pull the fish out of their rear end. You can also read how simple it is to relocate you breather, with the list of parts and instructions.

After running a number of wet off-road adventures this winter and pushing my H2O luck with some crossings, I finally took the plunge and performed the famous Scuba Mod on the Last Great Road Trip’s Rig. As the video shows, it was a simple process of pulling a length of hose down from the gas fill area to the rear frame, zip tie it here and there, pull the stock breathers, hook it all together with a handy little T-connector and put the original breather on the hose end back in the gas fill where is all began. Waalaa Scuba Mod.

While we may not be called in, like Scuba Steve, to save a house full of orphans or the Hooters bikini car wash girls, we can feel confident in navigating some water crossings that previously had us a bit nervous.

hooters girls fj cruiser

Sex and Cars Still Sell

off road adventure info graphics“Why would anyone want to sponsor you… What makes you guys so special?”

Really??!!  Thx!

When I get this question usually I just smile and let them think about it. However, if you really want to know than lets talk.

Something to consider about having sponsors…  it’s work!  Work to get them. Work to keep them and work to keep your promises to them.  You may be better off financing your off road adventure through other means including friends and family who won’t expect much in return.

First and foremost if you want a sponsor for any activity you need to ask yourself “what is in it for them”. Companies are looking for advertising with high returns that will translate into sales. It is that simple, with the key being high returns. Individuals on the other hand have any number of reasons including the desire to help a worthy cause.

For my sponsor quest, the first thing I did was take inventory of what I had to offer that would translate into high value advertising and sales potential  for sponsors. Surprisingly my list was longer than I first imaged. That list included:

  • An easily recognizable and well positioned brand “Last Great Road Trip”
  • First page Google search results for several key word phases (adventure road trip, off road adventure, last great road trip, road trip blog and others)
  • High traffic web-site (
  • An engaged social network on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumbler and Pinterest
  • Published writer (did you see the cover of 4wd Toyota Owner April 08?) with articles showing off our sponsors in several magazines including Toyota Cruiser and Truck (TCT).
  • Highly noticeable Rig (its hotter than a Tijuana night on spring break)
  • Active membership on several Toyota and overland adventure forums
  • Videos on YouTube (over a million video views, 1000+ subscribers), Vimeo and other video distribution sites
  • Digital images on Flicker, Snapvillage, Nikon Picture Town

Once I had my inventory, I needed to decide what it was worth. To determine a value I reviewed my Google Analytics and discovered I have approximately 8,000 plus visitors a month. The majority of visitors are from the US followed by Europe, India and Australia. The demographics showed men are the primary audience (no surprise there). The site and videos show only 5% of viewers are women although most of the website’s comments come from women.

When it came to the vehicle I kept track of where the rig spent its time, miles per day commuted and check of the number of stares per day. The rig gets a lot of stares, 27 on average… I counted.

With all this data I decided on a sponsor package, wrote a cover letter describing the adverting opportunity along with a description of Last Great Road Trip. I made sure to included my site’s demographics and traffic (eyeball) counts. Finding the right corporate contact was more often the hardest part of the process. My top level sponsor package offer includes the following exposure:

  • Sponsor’s 200 pixel wide by 75 pixel high web site banner with a link to their web site.
  • Sponsor’s name included on press releases.
  • Sponsor’s name and product worked into multiple trip blog entries.
  • A web page will be created discussing the sponsor’s product with an installation how-to.
  • Posting on the forums “member buildup” with links back to how-to with digital images of the rig showing sponsor’s product installed.
  • Seven lines of descriptive text about the sponsor, their products and contact information displayed on the “Support our sponsors” Page.
  • Sponsor’s sticker displayed prominently on trip vehicle.
  • NEW
    • A You Tube video will be produced (campy but highly rated) discussing the rig and sponsor’s product.
    • On other future videos, the sponsor will appear in the credits. These videos will include wheeling, how-to and interview videos.
  • Although we can never promise, we also work with media publishers to run new articles. These articles include product installs and topics 101 ( such as explaining various components of lighting and what goes into selecting quality products).

What did I want for all this? I decided on cash, gear or discounts as long as I believed in the product or service. The key being “I believed in the product or service”. I’m promoting the sponsor’s product from the prospective of I use and believe in the products. Unlike magazines that simply provide space, I need to be comfortable when evangelizing the sponsor’s product with other wheelers. At the end of the day I feel good that I can say Baja Designs has partnered with us and their off road lighting systems work great on the trail because I chose the product first and than asked for sponsorship.

We sent letters to the big national guys but their advertising dollars were already spent on NASCAR, X Games and Survivor Timbuktu . The local shops, dealers, and small guys however were looking for affordable ways to increase their local and Internet exposure. While Toyo was not going to through any love our way, the local Discount Tire dealer gave us a great discount on tires. Metal Tech is always there for us when we need custom fabrication work, 4×4 tube bumper, advice or other high-end off road adventure accessories. Even our local Toyota dealer discounted services up to 40% in exchange for a little advertising exposure.

The opportunities for sponsors are endless. To take advantage of those opportunities prepare your package and cover letter so corporate and individual sponsors know you are serious and can easily see what is in it for them. Think and act as a business person when approaching potential sponsors, your selling your advertising space. Success is as much about luck, timing, a willingness to ask and having your pitch ready. Unless your NASCAR running a companies stick on you truck alone is not going to give them the exposure they are looking for.

You will find after a couple of sponsors initially sign up, your task of attracting others becomes easier. Our efforts really paid off after we had a couple of trips on the books, several videos, a published magazine article and a track record of success. As my dad always said “You’ll appreciate it more if you have to earn it”. Although I’m pretty sure I would be OK with everything given to me, we continue to work for our sponsors and to attract new supporters.