Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Six months ago I had an idea about starting Natural State Overland. I will admit, I am fairly new to this phenomenon known loosely as overlanding! I purchased my first jeep, a brand new 2008 model, at the end of 2007. With the introduction of the four door Wrangler better known as JKU, I justified my first jeep purchase as an SUV for my family. I had no intention to take it off road any more than I did for any of the many other SUV's I had owned, including three first gen Troopers, an old Scout, a Dodge Raider, and lastly a Pontiac Aztec, please don't hold that one against me but you can see I'm not one to follow the crowd just because.
The JKU would prove different however. After about three months of ownership I wanted to get it "off road" and see how capable it might be. I searched for a local club and found the Christian Crawlers 4x4 Club that was glad to let me tag along on their next run. This is a picture of my first obstacle! And as they say the rest is history, like so many I started building up my jeep to be even more capable and got more involved with the club. I served as president for six years and attended just about every off-road trip they did.
In 2011, I was introduced to overland style travel by Wes Craiglow who had recently started Central Overland. I enjoyed everything about that first three day trip and when I returned I decided to build more of a backcountry exploration rig rather than a rock crawler. By that time I had swapped out the stock JKU axles for rubicon axles with the e-lockers, 5:13 gears, winch bumper, and rock sliders.
To that I added a rear storage system and sleeping platform, an auxiliary battery, a 12v fridge, and some lighting. From there I bought an M416 trailer, had a top and jerry can mounts built for it, then added a RTT. After running the trailer for a few years I ran across the J30 top made by Ursa Minor. I was fortunate to be able to work in a visit to Ursa Minor while I was in San Diego for a professional conference in 2013. After talking to John and looking at the J30 top I was convinced that I wanted one. Fast forward a year and John contacted me to see if I might have an interest in the demo model he had installed on his jeep and used for trade shows. I decided that after selling my trailer and RTT and my hardtop the J30 was in my budget so I worked out a deal to have it shipped to Adventure Trailers in Prescott Arizona and I drove out with my soft top, which I would not recommend to anyone, and the guys at AT installed it for me the weekend before Overland Expo 2014. Here I am picking up my jeep at Adventure Trailers.
I then attended Overland Expo before returning home to Arkansas with my J30. Here's a picture at AT.
Fast forward to the fall of 2016 when I got the bug for a newer jeep. I really liked the interior and engine in the newer models so I decided to look around. This time around I wanted to try to find a Rubicon, and if I could find one already built that would be a plus. I also wanted to find one in the commando green color, little did I know that color was only offered in 2013 so the search was on. Within days I found one in Charlotte, NC with 18,000 miles and the AEV J350 package as well as a few other upgrades. I negotiated a one way plane ticket in the deal and flew out and picked it up in September of 2016! So this is my new ride complete with pinstripes courtesy of the Ozark National Forest!