It all started back when I was growing up. Two sets of grandparents - one on a farm and one with a cabin. Every weekend was spent on a quad, go-kart or dirt bike on trails with rocks, mud, and everything in between.
Camping started when my parents got a pop-up camper. We only used it a couple of times, but it was enough to pique my interest and I wanted to try out hiking, hunting, and fishing.
Once I turned 16, it was all downhill from there. My mothers 4-door Chevy Tracker was absolutely perfect for getting muddy. We would take that up to the "Top of the World" in Johnstown, Pa on the weekends. After a long day driving around the woods we would sit around the campfire and just take in the stars.
Early mornings at the car wash, to hide the evidence, secured me more weekends in the woods - or so I thought. My parents took the Tracker in for maintenance and it was the mechanic that busted me on my shenanigans! Lesson learned. If I can teach you newbies out there anything - clean under the hood too guys!
After the initial anger wore off - my stepfather said, "If you want to keep doing that - you need to do it in your own vehicle.” At that time, I was working part-time at McDonald’s and cutting grass but managed to save up for my 1st Jeep, a 1990 Jeep Cherokee.
Fast forward to moving to Pittsburgh to attend Rosedale Tech. I added a 3 inch lift on 31s. I thought at the time it was a BEAST. But it was still missing something and I couldn’t put my finger on it. This is about the time that I became great friends with Felix. At the time, like-minded guys with XJs, what could go wrong?
A couple of years go by and I end up in a 1999 Jeep Wrangler. This one had a 4 inch lift on 35s. That one got me some attention and I ended up tagging along with quite a few Jeep Clubs.
But still - something was missing. I continued to meet others, and their clubs, so I could meet new people and find new areas to explore.
All of those adventures with new people lead to me meeting my wife, Dom. She very quickly jumped into the chaos that is my life and well, she hasn't left. Yet. We got married and had some kids but, you guessed it, something was still missing.
Fast forward a few more years, and a few (ok a lot) more Jeeps, and I lay my eyes upon a 1994 2-door Forest Green Jeep Cherokee and IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT! The kids loved it immediately too and we named him Hector.
Got the family. Got the Jeep. I decide to take the oldest, Brennen, out to show him the same awesomeness I grew up around. I posted on Facebook where we were going and camping and Aaron joined us. He’s been a member of my family and the DAO family since that day. Just like Felix, we are like minded guys.
So many trips, and so many miles have happened since then and THAT is exactly what was missing. A bunch of friends, that are like family, exploring the less traveled.
A bunch of trips happened with Felix, Lori, Aaron, Derek and Adam
and it just went from there.
Tyler joined up on a trip to Hillsville Pa when he was just getting out of the military. He was in love with the 4.0 hitting the rev limiter! Still is. He left that day and picked up BAM BAM and immediately headed down the long road of empty pockets. His first trip was to Vermont, with Aaron and myself and the 3 of us fit together like peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
What does the future of DAO look like?
ONE HELL OF AN EPIC ADVENTURE!
Why do I do this? This is all for my kids. I hope that when I'm old,
and can't explore as much, that they have the same adventure inside of them
and do the same with their kids.