Barlow Pass / Mt. Hood Snow Run / 1.27.2018
As the shop grows, it demands more and more attention. Every van we sell brings another traveler under our wing. I feel honored to have the respect of the JDM van community, and it drives me to continue to strive for excellence. During the journey of building the shop, I’ve found myself unable to step away at times, losing sight of how this all started for me- a love for exploration of the natural world. Through times of exhaustion and deep personal reflection, I decided the vigor and discipline by which we resurrect these eclectic vans must also be applied to recreation and adventure outside of the shop.
The weekends now belong to me, and the as-yet explored natural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.
Off-road adventures have been a part of my life since I can remember- camping and trailblazing with my dad in his ‘74 Chevy Stepside 4x4, and tackling the Rubicon trail in the ‘69 CJ-5 Jeep we built into a rock crawler. It’s difficult to articulate the allure of traversing a trail less trod. Perhaps it’s a natural reaction to the regiments of modern life, amplifying the call to expand your maps to include roads know only to those brave enough to confront them. Or perhaps it’s simply fun. Either way, I return home refreshed in body and mind, ready to wrangle the challenges of owning a business.
Setting down the path building the shop, I was often faced with feelings of uncertainty for the direction I was headed. No road maps or coordinates to guide my way. But waypoints of good vibes provided by fellow van adventurers persisted to show me I was on the right path. This past Sunday reaffirmed my trajectory, both with the shop, and in life. In an effort to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level with fellow adventurers and vanlifers, I’ve begun hosting runs through the expansive trail systems of the Pacific Northwest. These runs provide challenges for both new and experienced drivers, allowing van owners to better understand what their rig is capable of accomplishing off-road.
Impromptu as it was, we managed to assemble a convoy of seven rigs- 2 Toyota Hiace vans, 1 Mitsubishi Delica, 1 domestic Toyota Spacevan, 2 FJ Cruisers, and an ‘84 Toyota Tercel 4wd. From our shop, we headed east up Highway 26, ascending the southern slope of Mt. Hood. From there, we entered Barlow Pass, an unplowed stretch of road connecting Highway 35 to Highway 26. The snow reached nearly two feet in stretches, and felt slick and icy at times.
The run finished at a campsite I stumbled upon in the middle of the night a few days prior. Mt. Hood looms largely overhead, with Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier visible to the north. As the sun set behind the stratovolcano, we spun donuts in the ice, enjoying a late lunch, and the last bits of a weekend well-spent.