Jason and I arrived at Technique Vehicle Outfitters around 1:00. Here we were to meet up with the folks from Rouge Element Productions for the first time. This seemed like a good place to stage as the guys at Technique were interested in possibly being a dealer for us and had yet to really look over the Skinny Guy product. This was a great opportunity for the team to get hands-on with the camper. After we finished our showing, I took advantage of Technique’s generosity and shop space to make a quick caster adjustment on the Ram.
The team from Rouge Element had yet to arrive as they needed to run back to Redmond to grab some additional camera equipment; therefore, they were running a bit behind. In the meantime, Eric Evans from On X Off-road and his wife had arrived. We introduced ourselves, and it was immediately apparent that Eric was a genuinely good guy. We looked forward to getting to know them a bit more.
In the interest of making up some lost time, Jeff Coxen from the production team reached out and suggested we meet at Free Spirit Recreation as they need to stop there.
There Eric, Jason, and I met the film crew for the first time and made our introductions. After they got what they needed at FSR, we followed Jeff and the others over to Thuren Fabrication for one last errand before we hit the grocery store for final provisions.
It was nearing dusk before the convoy left Bend. Jason and I had no real idea where we were headed and were perfectly content to follow along for the ride. We followed Jeff out town to the southeast. Not long after leaving Bend, the route turned to gravel. We rolled along for 30-40 minutes before Evan Pollock from Pollock Pictures and Dakota Huntly from Huntly motion began rolling cameras. While stopped to get set up, the rest of us took advantage of the remaining light to gather firewood for camp.
It didn’t take long to realize that this part of the world was REALLY DUSTY, and this powdery filth would likely be our constant companion for the rest of our trip. We rolled on well into the dark and eventually arrived at the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes. It took 10 minutes for the crew to settle on our camp spot for the first night.
Jason and I were first to be all set up, so we moved on to dinner. I dug out a small pit in the sand and made a fire, which served as a familiar reprieve from the desert chill and a chance to get to know the rest of the folks. The group gathered around the fire to chat. It became clear that it was going to be a cold one. Upon returning to the camper, I set the thermostat on the Trauma at 63 degrees, then quickly checked out.
The topic of discussion in the morning camp was the night’s low temperature of 14 degrees. Evan and Dakota stayed in a ground tent, and it seemed they weren’t quite prepared for such dramatic temperature drops in the high desert. Jason and I felt spoiled, having had great heat all night. After breakfast, we put away the campers and waited for the others to get packed up for the day. Although I was not sure what was on the agenda for the morning, I had a pretty good idea of what was to come and felt a general excitement.
Evan adhered a Go Pro to the roof of my Ram as the group staged near the entrance of the dunes riding area. The drones buzzed around, and a voice on the radio said, “let’s go; keep it tight.” The group of us entered the dunes and began meandering around on the cold sand. The sand’s consistency was nice and firm, giving us the confidence to penetrate deeper into the expansive landscape. Several other commands streamed over the radio as the crew worked to get the shots they wanted. However, it didn’t take long for our inner children to break free and cause some shenanigans. We all broke with the convoy to explore the landscape and our rigs’ limits. The filming and Frolicaking continued for the next hour or so. The group staged perched on a rolling dune to strategize the next leg. Going into this, Jason and I did not know what to expect. It became much more apparent what we were in for and liked. Jeff and the Crew seemed to have the next few days worked out, and I welcomed the chance to follow blindly.
The convoy left the Dunes, heading towards the Christmas Valley Community. This was our last stop for fuel for the next few days, so we all topped off fuel, grabbed some lunch items, and used the bathrooms. Jeff led us east from here, went 20 miles or so on the blacktop, then back onto a dusty trail. We would become very familiar with the dust from here on out.