Four by Fourers…it’s a Lifestyle! Page 2 – Photos & Letters

“Sometimes we just travel long, lonely trails for a change.”   — Andy and Robin Branson

Photos by Andy

“My wife and I have been married for 29 years. We have two grown children and have decided to spend more time together away from home and the office. We have owned our Sportsmobile for just over a year now and just love it. We have toured briefly all the Western states. We are most comfortable camping away from everything as opposed to camping in organized campgrounds. When returning from almost any outing, long or short, we keep asking ourselves ‘Can’t we just keep going?‘”

“After having used a variety of Class A Motor Homes and after having owned several off-road vehicles (Jeeps, D-90, Range Rovers, Hummers, FJ Cruiser, etc.), we wanted a self-contained adventure vehicle that we could use to explore this great country. We looked at various concepts but mutually decided on the Sportsmobile 4×4 Ford van.”

Lifestyle — Laura & Geoff’s Oregon Honeymoon Trip

Laura and Geoff took delivery of their new Sportsmobile 4×4 at Sportsmobile West in the Spring of ’05. They then left on their Oregon Coast honeymoon trip. Some of their many good photos are shown below. Click here to see more.

This is Laura and Geoff’s second adventure, after their honeymoon trip to Mexico. Again lots of good photographs and commentary. Click here to go south of the border.

Calamajué Road campsite in Baja, Mexico

Punta las Pilatas in Baja, Mexico

A page showing Laura and Geoff’s ongoing passion for Sportsmobile adventures also is here.

Lifestyle — Ian & Julie Richards’ First 12,000 Miles

Now that it is approaching the first anniversary of our ownership of a Sportsmobile van conversion, I thought I would drop you a quick note to let you know how much we are enjoying the vehicle. We have put over 12,000 miles on to the van in the past year, all of it in connection with camping trips (since we do not use it for everyday driving). Our first trip was to Death Valley, last March, where we spent a few days and nights trying out all of the various amenities in the van, as well as sleeping both “upstairs” and down. We were very happy with our initial exposure to the layout that we designed with your help, and found it to be very roomy for two people — a fact that has been borne out in all of our subsequent trips. We also took the opportunity to go off-road and test out the four-wheel drive (both high range and low!), and so we gave the vehicle a good workout from that perspective as well (again with very satisfactory results!).

Aside from a number of other weekend trips, our major trip of the year was a six-week jaunt to Alaska and the Yukon. We left home on June 21st and returned on August 1st, having driven about 9,000 miles in the van, as well as spending time on the Alaska ferry between Prince Rupert, Juneau, and Haines with the van traveling on the car deck below. As you can imagine, we covered some very varied terrain on the trip, ranging from high-speed freeway up to the Canadian border, to four-wheeling along an old railroad track out to the Kennecott copper mine in the Wrangell-St Elias National Park. As a matter of interest, we got an average of 13.1 mpg for the trip — not bad for a V10! The van performed excellently throughout the trip, both from the mechanical perspective and from the viewpoint of being our “home on wheels” for the entire trip.

Other than the time on the ferries, and a three night cruise out of Juneau, we slept in the van every night. We also cooked our meals in and around the vehicle about half of the time. The fact that it never entered our heads to spend any night in a hotel during the whole six weeks is a clear indication of how comfortable we found the whole experience of living in in our Sportsmobile. The interior layout certainly lived up to all our expectations, and we can honestly say that there is nothing of significance that we would change in the organization of the interior. That is really something when your consider that we were carrying all of our living gear and hiking equipment for a six-week trip, as well as food, souvenirs, etc. We particularly like the pop-top roof, and the extra headroom it gives us. We usually sleep “upstairs,” leaving the main van area for living space. Our Sportsmobile was a major contributor to our enjoyment of the experience. Of course, the beautiful scenery, the wilderness and the wildlife contributed as well!

We are really enjoying the trips that we take with the van, and it is living up to our expectations in every way. As previous owners of both a fifth-wheel trailer and a class C motorhome, and as long-time tent campers, we feel very qualified to compare these various kinds of camping with our Sportsmobile. There is no doubt in our minds that for the kind of camping we like to do, and the wilderness areas we like to visit, the Sportsmobile (particularly with four-wheel drive) is our preferred way to go. We can take it just about anywhere, and it gives us a great combination of ample carrying capacity and good maneuverability! We have no difficulty in keeping up with other traffic on the highways, and find that we can pass large or slow vehicles with ease, even on two lane roads. (This was particularly beneficial in Alaska, where the roads were pretty crowded with motorhomes and campers.) It was also nice to be able to go off-road with confidence, and have camped in some fairly remote places in the last year

Once again, thanks for all of your help with our purchase.

  —Ian & Julie Richard

Lifestyle — The Wilderness Quests of Bill Calder

“This is my new goal…to find cool places where you are, for all intents and purposes, in a wilderness area.”

One of the things I love about my Sportsmobile is being able to drive into federally-designated wilderness areas . . . or at least, along the very edge of the boundary itself. This is my new goal . . . to find cool places where you are, for all intents and purposes, in a Wilderness area. Here’s a find from this weekend — Elk Lake. It sits at 5,000 feet above sea level, right on the southern border of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness in the Mt Hood National Forest. Pretty rough road in, then mandatory 4×4 down to the edge of the Lake to one of about 3-4 primitive campsites.

While up here, we performed our first rescue mission with our Sportsmobile. Wouldn’t you know the only other person was a guy from Kansas in a beat up old Blazer with totally bald tires. He was hung up and stuck on one of the steep roads coming up off the Lake. I had to back the Sportsmobile down part-way, being mindful not to get myself stuck in the process. I had two front wheels up on the gravel road, two rear ones down in a hole with some tree roots, etc. Attached my tow strap, put her in 4 low and she just crawled up out of there, pulling the Blazer to safety. The guy was immensely relieved and pretty impressed. It saved him probably $500 he would have had to spend to get someone back up there.

  —Bill Calder

Lifestyle — Marc & Tiffany in Death Valley

Hi there Sportsmobile,

I have a Sportsmobile EB50 4×4 PSD. It’s a rockin’ van with all the goodies.

We just got back from a 1,000 mile road trip to Death Valley where the wildflowers were blooming, the usually dry Amargosa River was fully flowing and Badwater was a two-mile long lake.

We boondocked the whole trip, popping the top in beautiful secluded spots. The van certainly earned it’s keep by easily navigating to some great back-country camp spots and then treating us with all the creature comforts.

We even used our winch to retrieve a pick-up truck that got stuck in the typically dry Amargosa River which was, at the time, running three-feet deep!

Attached are a few Sportsmobile photos from the trip. I’m sure you’ve seen many great Sportsmobile shots, so here are a few more to add to your collection.

Marc & Tiffany

One nice thing about a Sportsmobile 4×4 is that it will also get you back out!

Lifestyle — Jeff & Kay’s Canyon Off-Roading

Dear Sportsmobile Gang,

We were minding our own business driving down Soledad Canyon Road from Acton to Santa Clarita when Jeff decided to pull into a parking lot that had a restroom (for the wife). While the wife was using the facilities, Jeff went over and struck up a conversation with a couple of off-road motorcycle riders who were racing their little motorcycles up and down in the parking lot. He asked them if they had been on the fire road that was behind them and led up a hill. And they said, “Oh yeah, it’s a nice easy road that goes back a few miles. You pass over a few stream crossings, and then you come to asphalt, and you’re on your way home.” Famous last words.

Shoot, the wife and I had a few hours to kill, so agreed we might as well try it. The road has lots of switchbacks and kept climbing and climbing and climbing. There are no real turnouts, so once you’re committed, there’s no place to turn around for a long, long time. Sometimes the setting sun blinded us on the corners, and we had to go on just a wing and a prayer. We’re glad that we didn’t meet anyone coming the other way. Did we mention the spot where half the road was washed out beside a sheer drop?

“Had it not been for the Moab Rally, we probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to do this road. The nice thing about this was that it was in our own backyard, and we didn’t have to drive 1,000 miles to go four-wheeling.”

After we had been driving about two hours we encountered a dry waterfall which we thought was a dead end. We were wondering how we could turn around on such a narrow road. But as we got on top of it we saw that the road veered sharply to the right and climbed upward. And let’s talk about the rocks — there were big ones and bigger ones and some you just had to avoid.

The road wound through several life zones — chaparral, desert, wooded and pine forest. In the forest just below the ridge, Jeff spotted a bobcat going over the embankment in a flash. We don’t think that it was expecting anyone to come along. We also saw lots of cottontail rabbits and some squirrels. We saw yuccas on the mountain tops so huge that we mistook them for cell towers.

In addition, as we climbed there were some fabulous views of range after range of mountains and the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys. In some places we could see clear over to the Grapevine. All in all, the trek took us about 2.5 hours to get to the pavement, located on a ridge which ran along the top of a mountain. It took another hour to get to Sand Canyon Road along a narrow and poorly maintained road.

In closing, it was a lot of fun but a hairy drive. Off-road books would probably class this as a one to two on a scale of one to five. For those who are familiar with Moab, it resembles Chicken Corner. Had it not been for the Moab Rally, we probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to do this road. The nice thing about this was that it was in our own backyard, and we didn’t have to drive 1,000 miles to go four-wheeling. We’re planning on going back this weekend to boondock on one of the few turnouts — it has a magnificent view of the Gorman/Frazier Park area.

—Jeff and Kay Annette

Lifestyle — Gary & Monica Wescott’s Expeditions

For the past 30 years, these two intrepid adventurers globe-trotted from the arid deserts of Afghanistan to the deepest jungles of the Amazon, and across the frozen Steppes of Siberia, with sometimes no more than a camera and a backpack. Gary and Monika’s travel/adventure stories have been published in 15 countries and nine languages around the world.

Discover the treasures of Mexico. Gary and Monika have led many expeditions teaching safe travel south of the border.

Drive to the bottom of one of the world’s deepest canyons and visit the reclusive Tarahumara Indians.

Marvel at the magic of the surreal Baja landscape.

Feast on fresh fish, lobster, clams and oysters.

Explore ancient Paquime cave dwellings and experience rural Mexico off the tourist route.

Sportsmobile Custom Camper Vans