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!