• Download the August/September 2015 In Gear
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  • December 2014/January 2015 In Gear. Click to download your copy.
  • October/November 2014 In Gear cover

Geocaching: Something new to try

Geocaching is a great way to get off the beaten path

If you'd like to add some variety and adventure to your next 4x4 run, consider Geocaching along the trail. Geocaches are placed along trails to encourage others to visit the area, and often direct the searcher to something of interest that they might not have otherwise known about.

For those unfamiliar with Geocaching, it's an activity that uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches," anywhere in the world. A smartphone can also be used as a search tool, and there are Geocaching apps available for both iOS and Android devices.

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Clean up, clear out for new year

This is a good time to review the gear and equipment in your rig.January is a time for resolutions: lose weight, eliminate bad habits, be a better person. Perhaps you made a list for this year (and are already finding it difficult to follow). This is also a good time to review the gear and equipment used in off road driving. Does any need replacing or repair? Are any pieces missing? Perhaps you need to brush up on some skills.

A favorite author, since childhood, is Horace Kephart. He was a writer for Field & Stream magazine from 1904 to 1906. In 1917 he published Camping and Woodcraft. I have a MacMillian Company 1968 reprint. It would be difficult to purchase this book today (more outdoor books). Kephart was a master wordsmith and could capture the heart of the outdoors mentality perfectly. Here is a quote from Chapter II - Outfitting that sums up the theme of this article.

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Been "out yonder" looking for our "whereabouts"

The “guide” made only one promise, which was “we will get lost several times.” Although, there was a hint of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not real gold that started the “gold rush,” but the lure of adventure, exploration, four wheeling, historical relics and the like. It was very apparent from the beginning that the guide was handicapped (his license plate). His vision is poor and he needed a six-inch magnifying glass to read a map. His hearing is bad and his first response is “What” no matter how loud you talk. But, he is a walking encyclopedia about emigrant trails and the Pony Express. He is also good at “multi-tasking” up to a point. At times he had difficulty driving while also eating, talking on the CB, listening to the ham radio and country western music, while also simultaneously reading a map and looking for the proper road. Ah, but you might also wonder about the people that would follow such a guide!

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Cal4Wheel: The land of opportunity

The sand drags at Maidenform Flats in Pismo in the early 1980sMy earliest memories usually involve some form of dirt: digging holes, shoveling sand, or riding in the back of the Jeep, happily getting dust in every pore.

As I got older, even though I still enjoyed getting completely covered in dirt on the trail, catching marshmallows on fire around the campfire was pretty good too.

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How to survive in your vehicle stuck in snow

Stuck - photo by SnoopyWinter has arrived in many parts of the country, and that means a hazardous situation awaits you nearly every time you get behind the wheel. You may know how to drive in snow, but do you know what to do if you were stuck in snow?

Recently, drivers on I-90 near Buffalo, N.Y., were trapped for up to 12 hours when a massive blizzard hit the area. Some cars were literally buried in snow. If you were caught in a situation like that, would you know how to handle yourself?

You don’t have to be out in the country to encounter a hazardous situation. You can get socked in while driving home from work one day. If you’re stuck, you can bet that hundreds of other motorists are, as well. Help could be hours away.

Every situation is unique, but the following guidelines apply in all situations, and could save your life. I highly recommend you copy this article to your laptop or other device. You’re likely to have that with you, but you may not have access to the Internet. A PDF copy is available here.

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Know how to read a map, and you may stay alive

Map and compassIt’s easy nowadays to rely entirely on a GPS receiver to direct you during a trip. Just program in your destination, and let the friendly voice and digital map guide you along the way. But like any electronic gadget, a GPS unit has its limitations, and you can end up in trouble if you’re not careful. Plus, they can lose power or break, leaving you stranded if you don’t have a back up.
 
GPS units are of limited use when you’re driving off road. The maps and other data they provide tell you how to get from Point A to Point B, but they say nothing about the quality of the roads. This became painfully clear to a group that was traveling in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in early August. Instead of a leisurely ride, these folks found themselves being led down the wrong roads, many of which were barely passable, and way off course. They ended up at the edge of a cliff, where they spent the night before being rescued.
 
The GPS system offered what appeared to be the most obvious route, which normally is the most direct, but it could not account for the quality of the roads. Their vehicles got stuck in sand, and in their attempt to backtrack they ran low on gas. But they were lucky: they got out alive.
 

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