Episode 65 – #TBT Teaching Your Spouse to Drive Offroad re-post

Team 4x4 Podcast

Team 4×4 Podcast

On this episode of the podcast I bring on my wife, Stefanie to talk about an article from Tom Severin over at 4x4training.com. We’re not doing an hangout this time but you can always check out The 4×4 Podcast on G+ or any other social networks using the links below. Also, you can support us by using any of the affiliate links found in the affiliates section.

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Links from the show:

Teaching Your Spouse to Drive Offroad

Order HD Motorsports HERO Camera @ GoPro.com

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Episode 64 – Interivew with Doug from the Forbidden Jeeps Forum

On episode 64, I respond to some feedback from you guys in the audience, talk a bit more about picking a new adventure setup and talk with Doug “ForbiddenOne” from the ForbiddenJeeps.com Forum.


Message from Colton

Hi so im looking into offroading. not extreme rock crawling or anything like that but trails and a bit of mudding. My question is, since im a poor college student and on a limited budget, what are some relatively “cheap” upgrades i could do to my 1995 Toyota pickup 3.0 V6 that could make it more reliable? Heck even some advice for newbie would be appreciated.   Thank you again for the advice I greatly appreciate it and thank you again for recording an awesome podcast it helps the slow hours of work pass by.
Thank you for the time

 Colton's Toyota Tacoma

Message from Kieth

Hi, found your show & listened to #59, had some thoughts on the truck purchase…

I’ve always had a truck. Due to my height, cars & small SUVs are pretty much a no go (not enough head room). The F series has been pretty good to my family. Dad switched from Chevy back in the 80s & never looked back. My current truck is a 13′ F150 FX4 crew, 6.5′ box, EcoBoost. It replaced a 10′ F150 STX supercab, 4×4, 4.6L V8. The main reason was getting a true 4 door vs. the half sized suicide doors. My daughter (6 at the time) got to the point she wanted to let herself in while I was buckling up her younger brother & wasn’t handling the doors very well. there’s also more leg room & bigger seat in the crew. The supercab wasn’t terrible, there was a decent amount of room, but the crews are a lot easier to get in & out of. Plus, with the rear seat flipped up, all kinds of room to put stuff in the cab.

I saw the new GM twins at the auto show over the weekend. The interiors are nice, more so than mine (I got the luxury pkg. The seats are still comfortable tho). But they killed their back seat legroom. Their supercab with the small rear door is hard to get in & out of & don’t have as much room as the previous model. The full crewcab isn’t nearly as big either. Was a huge disappointment. The rep was trying to tell me “go online look at the numbers, we’re better than Ford.” I told him no way, I just sat in your truck & my knees are up against the seats. Their rear step in the bumper is pretty high on the 4×4 models & is cheap plastic. His main selling point was the ride was better than Ford. Probably true, the bowties usually had a better ride than the rest (at the expense of payload & towing capacity). both my F150s, ride wise, not much complaint. not a bad choice at all for a road trip.

Personally, I’m glad Ford didn’t go coil spring. The Ram coil rear pickups aren’t very stable with a load & can’t haul as much. That’s why they brought back the power wagon with leaf spring, for the guys actually buying a truck to use as a truck… if Ford offered coil rear I wouldn’t buy it.
The EcoBoost has great power. the 5.0 is a solid choice too. curious to see the 2.7, but from what was posted (& promptly taken down ;) it will equal or better the power output of my old 4.6 (290hp, 330tq, 8k towing). I wasn’t unhappy with that engine at all, nice solid runner, would have bought it again if it was an option (the 3.5 EB & 5.0 easily outperform it tho). the mpgs haven’t been very good in the cold & the max tow pkg (big mirrors & 3.73 rearend). I’m getting 14s mixed driving. I was getting 17 hwy before the bitter cold set in. Hope that gets better with the warm weather! (I’ve had this truck less than a year & the folks on the forum see better mpg when they get over 8-9k miles on the truck, guess it takes that long to break the motor in. the bitter cold).
Anyway, that’s enough of my rambling. Keep the Jeep if you can, you’ll regret it the minute you sell it!
The Forbidden Jeeps forum is really so much more.  They frequently have meetups with fellow members.  What makes it a special kind of group is that they do a great job of self-policing.  Many people have had a bad experience because the internet trolls lurk and come out when they think someone has posted something stupid – not at Forbidden Jeeps.  The group encourages learning and different ideas.  If you’re a Jeep fan (any type) I recommend that you check out the page and join in on the conversation.
Photo from Forbidden Jeeps on Facebook.

Photo from Forbidden Jeeps on Facebook.

Photo from Forbidden Jeeps on Facebook.

Photo from Forbidden Jeeps on Facebook.

Photo from Forbidden Jeeps on Facebook.

Photo from Forbidden Jeeps on Facebook.

Photo from Forbidden Jeeps on Facebook.

Photo from Forbidden Jeeps on Facebook.

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Episode 63 – Inspiring Adventure Books

On a previous show I asked for some feedback on what books you recommend for inspiring someone to adventure.  I’ve had to put my offroading adventures on hold for a bit, but I’m frequently thinking about all kinds of excitement around the world.  I’ve recently finished Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck, started Drive Nacho Drive by Brad and Sheena Van Orden, another and have Jaguars Ripped My Flesh by Tim Cahill about 50% done (but I save it for special occasions when I can’t use my Kindle App).  I think that most of you guys in The 4×4 Podcast audience area lot like me so I figured I’d get some info from you guys because I’m positive that there’s always someone in our little tribe that is smarter than me about any given topic.  David Croyle of the Backroads Navigator Blog fame sent in some great feedback proving that he is the most well read individual in the area of adventure stories.  In case you think David missed something, please let me know so in the comments section.

book-cover-expedition-3rdeditionIn related news, I’ve caught word that the extremely popular book that is known in some circles as the overlanding bible if finally coming back into print.  Tom Sheppar’s book titled Vehicle-Dependent Expedition Guide is available on Amazon for $200 USED!  A new copy will set you back over $500!  Back to the good news.  You can get your own copy straight from Desert Winds Publishing 36 British Pounds plus 16 British Pounds which comes out to way less than $200.  I haven’t actually got my hands on a copy before but from all reports and from the exerpts that I’ve seen, the Vehicle-Dependent Expedition Guide is totally worth the roughly $86 if you’re considering a long range trip involving some offroad travel.  Tom Sheppard describes the book as “The definitive planning reference covering virtually every aspect of preparation for vehicle-based projects. Originally commissioned by Land Rover, endorsed by the Royal Geographical Society, lauded for its attention to detail. A 502-page distillation of over 40 years’ experience and recent research, now in its fifth iteration. Past editions commanding outrageous prices, Edn 3 is available only through Desert Winds direct.”


I’ve been subscribed to the newsletter from Johnathan and Roseanne Hanson for quite a while and I’ve learned lots of great little bits of great information.  The most recent letter included an article about one of my personal favorite pieces of gear, a Pelican Case.  I’ve been trusting my sensitive electronics to the protection of the Pelican Cases for the last eight years.  I’ve actually built up a good collection of the cases now for all my gear.  Eventually I’ll get around to posting a review of my latest piece of Pelican gear but till then, head over to Johnathan and Roseanne’s page and check it out for all kinds of great info.

formula offroad jeep

I’m sure that you’ve heard of Formula Offroad.  You know, those insanely built Jeep buggies with wide paddle tires that race up vertical sand hills burning nitro fuel all the way to the top before flying into the air in spectacular fashion?  Well I was sent a press release to an event taking place on 2-3 May in Sweden.  Now if you’re like me, you might not be able to make it to the event in person.  Lucky for use, the event will be streamed live at smkplay.se and will have an commentator that is from the USA.


And the last bit of news is something that you might want to use for the rest of this crazy winter or maybe for the next one.  How about the truck that set the world record for the fastest sprint to the south pole?  Its hard to believe that this beautiful beast sold for only $70k!  Of course it was painted a more subdued  color than it wore while making the record run but I think thats all for the best anyways.  Check out all the details over at the eBay Motors Blog.record truck


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Episode 62 – Jeep Gladiator coming to market for 2015


Back in 2012, Jeep announced the J-12 concept truck.  The concept added 18 inches to the length of the JK-8 conversion that already exists.  The big announcement for today is that Jeep is actually going to make the concept but release it as the J-20 Jeep Gladiator for 2015.  Unlike the recent revivals of past name plates, the Gladiator is actually going to be an instant hit because of a few key factors.  For one, it appeals to those of us that have been begging for a Jeep pickup.  The 2015 Gladiator will come with a six food bed standard making room for the spare tire underneath the bed.  Another reason that I’m looking forward to the Gladiator is the V6 EcoDiesel that is also found in the new Ram Trucks.  And if you think its just a pretty face, then you’re wrong.  Its loaded with the parts needed to be a great offroader.  The ARB lockers turn the D-44 front axle and the D-60 rear axle while sitting on 35″ BFG KM2 tires.  I just love the classic style and hardcore parts and a base price of $35,850, I think its also a really good price.

Happy April Fools Day 2014

Happy April Fools Day 2014

Head over to DrivingExperiences.com and check out some of the most epic roads on the planet.  Here’s a few of my favorite ones that I would love to check out.

  • Troll Ladder Road in Norway – Trollstigen or ‘The Troll Ladder’ is a mountain road in Rauma, Norway, part of Norwegian National Road 63 connecting Åndalsnes in Rauma and Valldal in Norddal.  A popular tourist attraction due to its steep inclines and eleven hairpin bends up the steep mountain side, the road up is very narrow with many sharp bends, and although it has been widened in recent years, long vehicles are still prohibited from driving the road. To try and minimise the accidents and fatalities that the road causes, The Norwegian government now opts to close this steepen street in the winter and normally re-opens again in late May or early June.

  • Road of Death – The North Yungas Road in Bolivia, also known as the ‘Road of Death’, is said to be the most dangerous road in the world. With its narrow and uneven tracks which are sometimes only 3 meters wide and very steep mountains and sheer drops of up to 1000m, you can see why! Every year, hundreds of deaths are caused by vehicles plunging off the road while trying risky overtaking maneuvers. The Road links La Paz with Coroico, with the first 40km stretch deemed as the most hazardous as anybody driving down it is met in an extremely unstable road, and waterfalls cascading down the side of the mountain and over the road.  The dense cloud cover in the area can also make visibility poor at best. After years of construction, a new bypass which tunnels through the mountain was opened in 2006 which skirts around the most dangerous section of the road

  • The Pan-American Highway is a series of routes that passes through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama in North America, and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile in South America. It is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest motorable road in the world. While it doesn’t officially have a route through the U.S. and Canada, some people start in Alaska and drive/bike to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost tip of South America. It is necessary to bypass the Darién Gap between Panama and Colombia by ferry, however. The Pan-America Highway which runs for 30,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina is also known as the ‘longest motorable road’ in the world. The landscape really tests motorist’s skills, as the road runs through mountains, jungles, deserts and glaciers.

  • The Skippers Canyon Road, located in New Zealand, is as unbelievably scary as it is beautiful. The extremely narrow path, cut in the middle of a sheer cliff face, makes it hugely difficult to manoeuvre any vehicle. While fatality numbers are relatively low, this mountain road with its huge drop into the ravine below is so dangerous it requires a huge amount of concentration, patience and even a special permit to even try and tackle it. This narrow road, commonly used by cars and small vehicles as well as large tourist buses means that if two vehicles have to pass each other, one vehicle might have to reverse for anything up to 3 kilometres of winding narrow road to get to a place wide enough for both vehicles. The road was constructed by 4 contractors who completed their work in stages over a period of seven years, using gold miners to hand carve large sections of the road out of the cliff face. Many sections of the road remain today very much as they were in 1890.

Chevy is looking to fight the Ford Raptor with the introduction of the Reaper.  And unlike the first story about the Jeep Gladiator, the Reaper is real.  Its been tuned by Lingenfelter and Southern Comfort Automotive.  It comes with a special front end design, 33″tires, Rigid Industries lights, Fox shocks, and of course a supercharger.  This is going to be a kit sold through Chevy but its hard to say exactly how it will perform.  Previous experience from Ram has shown that beating the Raptor at its own game is going to be a tough job.  What do you think of the Reaper?


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Picking an Adventure Rig – Another Rig

Picking an Adventure Rig – Another Rig

There have been many occasions where Craig, Derek and I have recommended that you travel in a group while in the back country.  Ideally, that would mean more than one vehicle, not just more than one person.  I enjoy offroading with clubs and groups but I am a big supporter of offroad adventures as a family activity.  Some clubs can become like family, but the reality is that large group dynamics frequently result in tension among the members.  I’m also not a fan of traffic jams on the trails.

One way to achieve the overall goal of getting more seating and cargo space is by adding another vehicle.  All the previous options that we’ve looked at in this blog series have focused on expanding the capacity by using a larger vehicle.  Simply adding another vehicle would accomplish the goal as well as provide a number of other benefits.  Anyone who has served in the military may be familiar with the phrase, “two is one and one is none.”  This adage is also a common among race teams because it is a great way to accomplish the redundancy necessary to make it home safely.

While I’m not really looking to explore the merits of what a second adventure rig would be, I am going to jump into the various advantages and disadvantages.


  • Provides necessary seating and cargo space
  • Supports safe vehicle recovery from event more situations than with a single vehicle
  • Truly involves my wife as a critical member of the team because she’ll be the other drive…at least for the next 8-9 years till my oldest daughter can legally drive
  • Adds another option to daily driver pool
  • Provides redundancy of systems and spare parts
  • Another vehicle to modify


  • Another vehicle to move during PCS (Permanent Change of Station in military terms) season
  • Another vehicle to maintain/modify
  • Roughly doubles the fuel cost for each adventure
  • Two vehicles always requires two drivers

As I mentioned in previous posts, the reason I have a flat bed trailer to tow my XJ is so that my various cross-country moves can be accomplished by a single driver.  The Suburban does take a bit of a hit to the MPGs when towing but there is still an overall savings over driving two vehicles.  If I add a third vehicle to my personal fleet, them I’m back to driving two vehicles every time I move.  This moving idea may seem like it shouldn’t be that big of a deal because, how often does someone actually move?

Here’s a sneak peek into military life.  In mid-2004, my family moved from Idaho to Maryland.  At the end of 2004, we moved to Texas.  Two years later, we moved to California.  By the end of 2007, we were back in Texas.  Mid 2008, we moved to Virginia and then overseas to Korea for a few years.  The Army only paid for the storage of one vehicle which meant that I had to come up with a three year vehicle and trailer storage plan.  After finally moving back to the United States, I drove across half the country just to pick up my stuff and move it to upstate New York.  And of course, I’m actually just a few months away from another move from New York to Kansas.  That makes seven moves in ten years.  So yea, moving vehicles and trailers is something that needs to be considered.


I’m sure you know what is required to keep your offroad vehicle running; now imagine doubling your maintenance efforts.  Ideally, the second vehicle would share components so that fewer trail spares would need to be carried, but if that isn’t the case then that really blows out the maintenance requirements.

When planning adventures, cost is always a factor to consider since I don’t have a money tree growing in the backyard.  Fuel costs are one of the biggest expenses because these offroad vehicles are generally thirsty vehicles.  Please excuse me while I lead you through some math.  If you plan for a 500 mile trip in a vehicle that gets 14 MPG, that trip will require 36 gallons.  36 gallons at $3.85 per gallons will cost a total of $142.45.  Operating that one vehicle for this trip (not including maintenance expenses) will work out to $0.29 per mile.

If you are driving two vehicles that get 14 MPG then that same 500 mile trip will require 72 gallons.  Everything doubles and your cost per mile goes to $0.60 and the whole trip will cost $285!  Add in the cost to maintain these vehicles and this “another vehicle” course of action becomes rather costly, very quickly.


The last point to discuss is the requirement for two drivers.  Right now, my kids are far too young to drive.  That means that my wife and I would always be behind the wheel.  I have found that it is very helpful to have someone in the passenger seat to assist with grabbing snacks and drinks while cruising around.  It is also extremely helpful to have that spotter available and ready to hop out and check things out.  My wife has spent a bit of time driving offroad because, as we’ve discussed previously (check out episode 20), but I know she prefers to be the co-driver/navigator.

So that’s a lot to think about and consider.  What are your thoughts on adding an additional adventure rig to the fleet?  What vehicle would you choose and why?


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Episode 61 – David Boyd of Nissan Xterra Nation

On today’s podcast, I bring you an interview with David Boyd, who is the founder of the Nissan Xterra Nation Forum.  We chat about the event held at Winrock offroading park as well as all things Nissan offroading related.  I actually got the chance to meet David in person at his home and we shared some dutch oven chili.  I think we all prefer hanging out in person and swapping stories more than sitting around a digital campfire.

For news, I give you some more information about the recent birth of my son, CarterJames (aka CJ) and how this is impacting my family adventure plans.  The biggest impact is on the ability to fit all the people and the gear.  I’m sharing my thought experiment with you in a series of blog posts.  You can easily get to all the articles (here) and see what decisions I’m going to end up making.

And speaking of offroading and kids, friend of the show, Skot Green has written some great offroading 101 articles over at Jeep With Kids.  His most recent one (as of this writing) covers some essential vehicle recovery kit items.  He took my recommendation when mentioning straps/ropes.  In the audio of this show, I talk a bit more about the difference between a tow strap and a kinetic recovery rope.

I also share some discussion that’s been taking place on Facebook.

David MacGregor, needs your help!

“Hi guys, a bit a strange question for the Jeep / Hummer guys.. My other
half has an early Discovery and hates the lack of a decent clock in it.. Having
driven an H2 with the temp and clock in the rear view I was wondering if any
jeeps have the same system… and is the it just a 12v supply to the rear view
or is it ecu controlled… i.e.. could I just source a relevant rear view and
retro fit to the Disco…”

Since I’ve had quite a bit of time lately (from traveling back and forth from Afghanistan to the US which is at least a 48 hour trip) and I was wondering what you guys recommend for an adventurous reader.  I got lots of great ideas and to make things easier, you can check them all out right here.  This list was put together largely by listener David Croyle.  He sent in a voice message with all the recommendations too but I’m going to save that for the next show.


Last but not least, Rick Pewe from Peterson’s Four Wheel and Offroad Magazine shares his thoughts on the new Jeep Renegade.

Photos from Jeep and FourWheeler.com

Photos from Jeep and FourWheeler.com

Photos from Jeep and FourWheeler.com

Photos from Jeep and FourWheeler.com

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Picking an Adventure Rig – The Full Size 4×4 Van

I haven’t had much personal experience with vans so I’ll be looking for some great input from you, if you have some insight. There was an occasion where I rented a minivan for a Hawaiian vacation and my kids loved it – it may have been their favorite thing about Hawaii, sadly. I wanted to rent a Jeep but there’s just no way the four of us and luggage would fit into a JK. I wilted a little every time I put the key into the ignition of that minivan. What we’re talking about now is not a minivan – not even close. I’m talking about a full-size 4×4 van!


Photo courtesy of exploringelements.com

After following the adventures of Bryon Dorr with Exploring Elements, I have learned a great deal about the pros and cons of van life. Bryon’s adventures have shown that it’s easy to live comfortably with the space in a full size van. The ability to run the creature comforts on shore power or a combination of solar and battery power makes living the middle of nowhere a comfortable endeavor. I have also seen photoraphic evidence of the “results of a large van digging itself a van sized grave” in the sand along the Mojave Road. So while the comforts and space of a full size 4×4 van are appealing, I feel as though a lot of concessions must be made in the capability department.


Photo courtesy of exploringelements.com



Photo courtesy of http://www.ujointoffroad.com/

Let’s go ahead and run down the pros and con’s of a full size van.


  • Easy pass through from sleeping area to seating area
  • Plenty of room for creature comforts
  • Has the possibility for lots of seating
  • May be able to tow my XJ on a trailer
  • Could serve as a daily driver if needed
  • Kids would love it


  • Low break over angle
  • Poor visibility
  • The layout of the drive train in the engine bay makes them more difficult to work on
  • Most likely would not have enough interior sleeping space for whole family without adding a RTT or pop up section on top
  • Did I mention that it’s a van?  My wife hates vans. I’m not particularly fond of the van silhouette either.



Photo courtesy of http://www.ujointoffroad.com/


I’ve already received a few messages that have been encouraging me to look closely at the benefits of a van travel.  What are your thoughts on using a van as the basis for adventure travel?

Some options for full size 4×4 vans come from:  Sportsmobile, UJoint Offroad, Agile Offroad, and Quigley.


van comment

Categories: decisions | 3 Comments

The Dutch Oven Breakfast Bomb

With my wife having just given birth, I am attempting to be a good husband and try out some new dishes at the same time.  A while back I discovered a recipe on Expedition Portal called The Breakfast Bomb (http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=101129) and I’ve been itching to try it out.  So I planned things out and picked up all the ingredients for a Sunday brunch.  While the house was still asleep, I headed down to the kitchen for coffee and solo dutch oven experimentation.  The ingredients are simple and durable enough to travel well which makes it a good choice for a back country meal.


Feeds 8 hungry adventurers.  Prep time:  1 hour.  Approximate cost:  $7.


  • 10 eggs
  • Ready made pie crust
  • 1 lb sausage
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • Green onions
  • Cilantro
  • Cheese
  • Spices


Cook the sausage in a skillet and set aside in a bowl once cooked.  While the sausage is cooking, chop the potatoes.  Once the sausage is set aside, toss the potatoes into the skillet.  Add chopped onion to the potatoes and cover with the dutch oven lid to soften the veggies.  Feel free to add whatever veggies to this recipe you like, but know that they will probably not fully cook while the bomb is cooking together; it’s a good idea to cook them before adding to the mix.  Spread one pie crust in the bottom of the dutch oven, pour eggs in, spread potatoes and veggies in the eggs, add cheese and then the top pie crust.

Cook at 350°for 30 minutes or until the eggs are cooked.  I cooked this at home this time but in the field that would look more like 6-8 coals on the bottom and 12-15 on top.





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Welcome CarterJames to The 4×4 Podcast Family

If you’ll indulge me for a bit, I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of my family – CarterJames, or CJ.  CJ was born on 4 March at 8:31am.  He weighs 8lbs, 7oz and is 20 inches long.  Mama and CJ are both doing very well today and we should be heading home tomorrow.

I must point out that I think it’s funny that on the day that Jeep announces its own baby Jeep, the Renegade, I also get to announce my own “go anywhere, do anything” CJ.  There’s been lots of comments about the cutesy Renegade but I think CJ, but I think you’ll agree that CarterJames is much cuter!  Over the next few podcast episodes, I’ll probably bring you a few updates but in an effort to keep things offroading focused I’ll probably mention other topics surrounding adventuring with kids.



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Episode 60 – Ozark Overland Rally


A few months ago, I had the pleasure of following a couple of the guys participating in the Vermont Overland Trophy.  If you’ve been paying attention to the offroading or overlanding world at all, you’ve heard many tales of adventure from the event.  The one thing I was wished for was that the event could be held across the country so that more people could experience the adventure.  I’m pleased to let you know that these ultimate adventure-type events actually are spreading across the US in different forms.

The latest one to catch my eye is the Ozark Overland Rally.  Jayston has put together a challenge that takes you through the Ozarks across some beatiful scenery and a taste of honest to goodness Americana.    In this episode of the podcast, I recorded the interview from Afghanistan and of course there was some technical difficulties.  Hopefully you’ll be able to listen past the poor audio quality and catch all the great plans that are in store for the Ozark Overland Rally.

For more info be sure to check out the following info outlets for the event:

Ozark Overland Rally on Facebook

Overland Guild thread for details

Expedition Portal thread for the details


Photo by Scott Brown



Photo by Scott Brown


Photo from Scott Brown


Photo by Scott Brown


Photo by Scott Brown


Photo by Scott Brown

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