When I was young I dreamt of being a cameraman for the Discovery Channel. Its adventurous travel shows captivated me. I imagined myself shouldering a camera across dank forests and high tundra in dreary conditions, waiting days for that single, perfect shot. I romanticized the struggle the cameramen endured. Getting paid for it would be a bonus.
Being the fourth generation in a film and video production-oriented family I was familiar with the toll the traveling cameraman lifestyle takes on home life. I couldn’t bear to leave my family for weeks or months at a time, missing precious memories and milestones as my kids grew. So, after getting a BFA from Academy of Art University in San Francisco in Visual Effects and Compositing I accepted a docile career in internet marketing. It afforded me stability and, more importantly, family time. I have two curious children from a loving wife and I don’t regret that decision. But I yearned.
On my 15th birthday I got a brawny ’94 full-size Chevy Blazer, shiny and chrome. It was teal-green with glass packs and a 350 V8 on 31” M/T tires (and a $400 monthly payment). I loved that Blazer. It became my identity. I taught myself automotive wiring by installing a sound system and neon lights in it. I learned the importance of fuses when a neon light shorted out inside the cab and filled the truck with smoke. Poof.
During an ice storm the first winter I had it my dad drove me to the bottom of a hill. He purposely got it stuck, then turned to me and said, “ok, Brandon, get it out.” And that’s how I learned to wheel with open diffs.
In October, 2006 I bought a 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited X. It had a soft top and tow package with 4.10 gears and 245/75 r16” Goodyear SRA tires. The 3.8l paired with the 4-speed transmission was a pig on the highway. But it was perfect. And it rolled my life upside down.
In July 2010 I took my Jeep to Kansas Rocks Recreation Park to see what it (and I) truly were capable of. Until then I had never taken it off-road. I loaded it with camping gear and went down for the weekend to test my mettle behind the wheel. Instinctively, I brought my camera. Another Jeeper took me under his wing and showed me around the park. The miniscule tires and stock suspension meant the Jeep had to be coerced (dragged) down almost every trail. But holy cow was it fun! Doorless and toppless, spinning tires, and engine revving, off-camber action showed me a level of Jeeping I didn’t know existed. I needed more! Unfortunately, I learned another lesson- Jeeps are expensive to wheel. I left KRRP without reverse and spent $2,500 at a dealership having my reverse clutch replaced. That experience is documented in my first YouTube wheeling video.
That day in 2010 changed my internal declination and altered my life’s heading. I’m a better man from it. Since then I’ve cut my teeth crawling muddy trails, started a family, and transitioned to adventure travel.
So here I am almost a decade later, a cameraman for my own discovery channel. I invite you to enjoy the journey with me.