Planning was a huge part of my life during the 26 years I spent in the military. Whether I was planning for an upcoming deployment or the next phase of my career, I always had everything mapped out.
Even though I’m retired from the Navy now, that habit of planning has carried on. Every New Year since I started TrailRecon, I would always set some pretty lofty goals for the coming year’s adventures. But not this year.
Maybe my motto for 2023 should be “less is more” because I’ve decided to pull back a little and not have a jam-packed calendar. I plan to give myself a little more time to relax and enjoy each journey. It’s my hope that by giving myself this space and freedom, things will unfold naturally.
That being said, there are 5 things I want to focus on this year, and I think they’re all pretty achievable.
1. Spend More Time on Family Adventures
This is a “no brainer” because we all need more of this in our lives. And science has proven that good relationships are important for a healthy, happy, and long life. I’m thankful that Regena and my three sons share my passion for hitting the trails, exploring nature, and camping. As my boys have gotten older and started lives of their own, it’s been challenging to get everyone together for family adventures. But we started 2023 with everyone close to home...for the time being at least. I’m going to take advantage of that and I’m looking forward to several family adventures throughout the year.
2. Have Some “Classic” Adventures
Many of you may already be following “Project Prickly Pear,” the very fitting name I’ve given to the renovation of my 1974 Jeep Cherokee. Over the last two months, along with a few more gray hairs, I’ve really put some work into this classic rig. My goal is to be confident that I can take this old Jeep out on long trips and hit the trail for some fun adventures.
I’ve been working on the Cherokee just about every day, knocking out projects little by little. So far, I’ve rebuilt the engine, upgraded the headlights, fixed several electrical issues, and added a new carburetor, alternator, starter, lift kit, and seats. But there’s still a ton to get done and I’m looking forward to spending time in the garage giving the Cherokee plenty of TLC.
3. Revisit and Re-Explore Some Epic Places
I’ve been fortunate to have explored some incredible places on my overland adventures—trails along California’s U.S. Route 395 (or just “the 395), in New Mexico, Nevada, and Idaho. But looking back, I realize there were several places where I rushed through and didn’t really slow down to enjoy the journey as much as I should have. There have been too many times that I passed by an offshoot trail and said, “next time I’ll check it out.” Well, “next time” is here.
Starting this year, I plan to revisit some of the amazing places I’ve already been and this time around I’ll do a deeper dive. I want to take my time soaking it all in. I want to go exploring some of those trails I drove on by in the past just to see where they go.
Because it’s only when we get off the beaten path that we truly invite adventure into our lives. Even when we’re off-roading and off the grid, there are still some less traveled trails that offer opportunities for new experiences and challenges.
I’m excited to go back to places I’ve been before and discover new trails and remote campsites that I haven’t visited. I’m looking forward to finding some hidden gems off those well-traveled trails. I know this is going to take some effort—I may not always find what I’m looking for or hit a dead end from time to time. But if you don’t take chances, you’ll never reap the rewards.
4. Teach Myself to Weld
This is more of a personal goal but it’s one that will definitely come in handy on the trail and in the garage. I have done a little welding in the past (if you can even call it that) but it’s been very basic, and I’ve wanted to learn how to weld for a long time. But I kept putting it off and putting it off. Not anymore…2023 is going to be the year I finally learn how to weld.
There have been countless times I’ve tried to install or fix something, and I haven’t been able to because I couldn’t weld—I didn’t have the means to fabricate a bracket or repair a suspension component. I know this is a skill you can teach yourself, but to really master it is going to time and hands-on experience. That’s why I’m going to get a welder, carve out some time to become more knowledgeable and proficient at welding, and just get after it.
5. Fewer Events, More Trails and Videos
Ever since I started doing TrailRecon full-time, my schedule has become increasingly busy. When I look back at the past two years, it feels like I was spending more and more time rushing from one big event to the next. And while I really enjoy going to off-road and overland events and getting the chance to meet so many of you, I’ve realized that driving all over the country to attend events has impacted my ability to create more videos for the YouTube channel and do all the things listed above.
Two events that I definitely plan on being at this year are Easter Jeep Safari in Moab and Overland Expo West in Flagstaff. I’ve been attending both of these for years and these two events are among my favorites. I will most likely be at Overland Expo PNW in Redmond Oregon as well as a few smaller events closer to home.
And, of course, I am excited about the 2nd Annual TrailRecon Summit at Merus Adventure Park in Texas, Oct. 4-8, 2023. The inaugural Summit far exceeded my hopes—Regena and I had a blast meeting so many wonderful people and exploring Palo Duro Canyon. We know this year’s event is going to be even more amazing and we’re looking forward to doing it again.
Here's to Getting After Goals in 2023!
Well, those are my goals for the coming year and I’m looking forward to achieving them all. I hope you’ve set some goals for yourself for 2023 that are going to excite you, motivate you to make them happen, and contribute to you having some amazing adventures this year.
Happy New Year!
Jerry Hutchins aka "Photojeeper"
Yep, I agree. in 37 working days (who's counting ;-)) I will retire after 29 years in IT. Will be going back to my original profession photograher, I will be working on my Fine Art Photography. Yes, now I can spend the quality time in an area instead of just a weekend or a PTO time. I hope I see you at EJS, I should be with my YJ (1990). I plan on taking my time going home. Then come back to turn in my badge. Then off to Grand Canyon Parashant and Overland Expo then many other places.
Those 37 days will fly by! We'll be out at EJS for a few days, hope we are able to connect, would love to check out your YJ!
I think goal number 5 is a wise decision. More fun and less chaos. By the way, do you still own your 4Wheel Camper?
More fun on the way! We sold the camper a few months back, we loved it, but just were not using it like we thought we would.
Sue and Bud Goetzinger
Love your adventures and great goals for 2023! Our goal this year is to trek out to Anza Borrego from Florida. You have really inspired us to see that place. Do you still have the truck camper?
Right on! You will love Anza and lot's of other incredible places to see between here and Florida. The camper has moved on to another home.
I think this is a great list and I think I can speak for the entire TrailRecon community, we want more and more videos of your adventures. Your content is just terrific. It even got my wife interested in overlanding the 395 this year. Question for you, I saw Ozark post something about national parks starting to charge a pretty hefty fee to film in our national parks. What’s your take on that and will it present any challenges for you bringing new content our way? Perhaps a question for your next coffee one take? Have a wonderful 2023!
Thank you and great to hear your wife is joining you, so much better when you can share the memories together. I'm not happy about about the national park rule overturn, but we'll just adjust our filming route a bit. Thanks!
Those are great goals to have for the new year. As a long time off-roader and camper, I had the older vehicles so I love watching you bring PPP into the modern era. My current rig is a capable full sized ‘96 Ford Bronco. I will also enjoy seeing you revisit and re-explore some areas. I enjoy watching your experiences in camp equally as well as the wheeling. Seeing you, your family and friends interact, cook great meals or just sit back enjoying a cup of Joe next to a stream or an amazing vista is enjoyable. So slowing things down gets thumbs up from me!
Thank you! Project Prickly Pear is consuming many of my evening hours, but I admittedly really enjoy the quiet time in the garage getting things sorted... there are a lot of things that need to be sorted! Thank you for your comment and safe travels!
Last year I made it a goal to learn to weld. Took a night intro class to welding at Palomar College and am starting a TIG specific class on Friday. Good luck!!
I'm looking into finding a class that will fit my schedule, I'm sure I can hack at it a bit and figure some things out, but having a structured class to attend is the ultimate goal. Thanks!
Great to hear about your goals for 2023! Love the channel and hope to someday get out West to meet you at an event. Your videos and common sense approach/explanations to projects is something that definitely keeps me involved and interested! Hope to explore much more of the beautiful areas that you've shared soon and during my retirement days in 5 years! Starting to slowly rehab a 2008 JKU Rubicon. Cheers!
Thank you so much! There are lots of great places to wheel out here in the west and your retirement will be here before you know it. Congratulations in advanced! Brad
Good luck reaching your goals. My main goal is to get out more often. Before my wife & I got married we used to go camping and hiking way more. Of course life happens and then you get stuck in a routine. Thank you for reigniting my adventure fire. Anyway, March 31st we're headed to Anza Borrego for the weekend. I've rented a Tacoma with an Al-u-cab. I want to make sure it's what I want before I buy one for my Gladiator. You and Regina are always welcome, even if it's only for the day. We did meet before at your last "Canyons without the crowds" trip. If you're ever in Phoenix and need a place to crash don't hesitate to reach out. Caio
When and were will there be more information on the 2nd Annual TrailRecon Summit at Merus Adventure Park in Texas, Oct. 4-8, 2023. Thanks Kraig
Hi Brad Just like to thank you for doing what you do. I found your site some time ago following you on your trips. Lately you hit your sons involved cool do see them. I’m in San Diego also. For a few years I would drive past this house which had a bunch of jeeps trucks etc. at times I wanted to knock in the door and ask where they go. Well after your son updated his truck I finally found out where they go. Keep the adventures coming. I got a big bucket list now -doug