There are a few names in the Overlander notebook, and while most are "Steve" you may have seen another name sticking to some obscure, overly technical story. That person is me.
I’m Pat Rich and I have a confession; I am very hesitant to call myself an overlander. I’ve spent plenty of time exploring my home state of Utah and I usually put about 2000 miles a year on dirt, but I am not a globe trotter like some. My full-time job, my wife and kids, and pursuing a masters degree are the bulk of my life right now. I think I'm a regular person with a passion for the recharging power of the wilds and the joys that this hobby brings.
I like to think of what I do as "touring", or to put it another way... backpacking with a fridge.
There are many things I love about being out in nature, be it skiing, hiking, canyoneering, or touring. I love the feeling of freedom, a sense of scale, and the recharge that can only come through unplugging. Still, I can say without hesitation that one of things that I adore about this hobby are the people I’ve met along the way and I have friends in every corner of the world because of it.
I will never get tired of sharing a new place with great people.
I love technical research and I love learning about new things, especially automotive. I've written technical articles about AWD and towing for Jalopnik as well as for Autoanything and of course here at Overlander. I've started really enjoying automotive electrical work and amateur radio as well.
Taking a page from Steve, I will steal his lightning round questions.
What is your current adventure vehicle and how is it equipped?
I bought my 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser 80 series sight unseen two states away about 10 years ago with 220,000 miles on it. My wife thought I was crazy, maybe I am I have added another 115,000 miles to it in that time and it’s my daily driver. I’ve tried to keep in close to stock or able to return to stock relatively easy except for re-gearing to 4.56, a result of a need to pull a camp trailer that is now pulled by my wife’s GX470 instead.
I’ve done mostly electrical mods, adding in a completely custom sub panel to support radios, fridges, lights and the usual. I like knowing how things work at a granular level so that I can fix it if I have to. It's lifted 2 inches on TJM progressive springs and ICON vehicle dynamic shocks with the correct drop brackets to correct for geometry. Some rock sliders and other basic protection keeps my oily bits safe from the rocks.
What piece of gear would you never leave home without?
Tool bag. That probably goes without saying in a 23-year-old truck that’s already on its way back from the moon. I’ve found that I don’t do a lot of trail repairs on the Land Cruiser, but I’ve needed everything in my toolkit at least once for mine or others vehicles. I love my Atlas 46 tool roll, and my doctors bag tool kit which includes special hub nuts, long wrenches, a cordless impact, an electrical repair kit as well as spare wire, connectors, fused and relays.
What are your top two overland destinations? One place you’ve been to and one place you hope to go.
My favorite overland destination is the one I’m on at any given time, which sounds trite but it’s true. I love looking back but I love filling in spots on my map even more. That being said, I’m a desert rat at heart and Canyonlands is at the heart of my overland life.
My overland dreams are less about big destinations and more about big possibilities in local terrain in the desert. There is so much to see, and so much to know that I don’t know if I will ever be satisfied with my home state alone.
What do you like to cook on the road? What’s your beverage of choice for relaxing around the campfire in the evening?
When I travel with I tend to travel with the same 2 guys and we have settled into a nice routine of one super quick meal, like something out of a bag or pre-cooked stew, something grilled over the fire and street tacos. One of the things I made recently was homemade biscuits and gravy. Mmmm, satisfying. We tend to go in the off-season when it’s a little colder so quick, warm and filling meals are the order of the day. I won't ever say no to one of my friend's griddle bacon cheeseburgers either.
I don’t drink, so a good cold soda is gold for me. I really like orange soda on trips for some reason. No idea why.
Well us about a particularly challenging or meaningful experience you had on an overland journey.
Adventure happens when plans go off-course and no trip encapsulates that better than my first trip into the Maze District of Canyonlands. We came in through the side route that had been washed away in several spots from recent heavy rain, turning a 2-hour route into a 10 hour one complete with trail building and bypasses and even a little snow, as we did it in November.
The next day my Land Cruiser shorted out on a hill. I replaced the offending fusible link with a spare, it happened again and we were forced to diagnose it right. A previous repair, not in my care, had an injector wire poorly spliced and shorting on the block when it rocked back on steep hills. We had to take the hood off and repair it with wire we stole from my trailer wiring harness on the hardest trail in the area, in the most remote place in the maze, the most remote place in the lower 48, and it was the off-season and we didn’t see any other travelers that whole trip.
It was easily the most exhausting and memorable trip I’ve ever taken.
Any advice for adventurers new to overlanding?
We stand on the shoulders of giants. Expertise, gear, trails and the care of the natural beauties we treasure were gifts from those that came before us and those after us are counting on us. Work to develop a respect for the places you travel and the rules and care that keep places worth coming back to. Develop skills and knowledge and then you can work on your gear collection.
Anything else we should know about you?
I’ve been struck by lightning and I’ve lived below a murder scene. I’m an incurable car nerd, writing technical articles is my jam. I can’t wait to share anything that I’ve learned.
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We don’t like to get too hung up on labels here at Overlander, but, well… it’s in our name so we thought we’d take some time to think about what overland travel means to us and for you.