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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

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Discussion Starter #2
Brian: Tell us a bit about yourself?

James: I’m a 38 year old software developer originally from Greenwell Springs, Louisiana. I have a degree in Computer Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. If you’ve seen “The Waterboy” that’s where I went to school, we even had a small swamp in front of the student union with alligators in it. Since graduating I’ve moved a few times for work: Tulsa, Dallas, and now Denver. My non-FJ hobbies are things like hunting/shooting, video games (PC more than console) and working on my other vehicles -- a Honda Big Ruckus (the 250cc one) scooter and a Honda S2000. I’m not a fabricator or a big mechanic type guy, I mostly just tinker with bolt-on modifications.

I’m probably most forums-famous for my GPS+Photo tracking thread here: http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/colorado/143402-pics-trail-maps-my-first-year-wheeling-colorado.html

From my first offroading trip in Colorado I’ve been GPS tracking and taking photos of where I go, just to keep a record of everything. The people who offroad with me regularly will hear me yell “STOP! Let me take a picture!”, which can be annoying when your FJ is pretty close to rolling over:



But I hope that everybody appreciates the pictures once they’re done. I had 4-5 pictures in this year’s Summit program, which was great (Shane asked for 5, I think I sent him 20).

Fun fact that most people who only know me by the forum don’t know: every single picture I’ve posted was taken with a 5-megapixel smartphone.


Brian: Is the FJ Cruiser your first offroad vehicle? If so what led you to owning an FJC? If not what was you’re the first vehicle you took wheeling?

James: I’ve always been a “car guy”, my dad owned trucks and riding that high up felt disconnected. But in the summer of 2006 I bought a jet ski (single guys: great way to meet girls!) and I needed a tow vehicle, and my Scion tC wasn’t going to cut it. I bought a ’94 Toyota Pickup as a tow vehicle, it was a little beat up but it ran great! It saw very light offroading duty, just some dirt trails near my house in Dallas. Two years later I bought a ’99 Jeep Wrangler Sport (no lockers) to replace the pickup. I wouldn’t call it an “upgrade”  because over the course of the next 2 years I fixed a lot of problems on that Jeep that a 60K mile vehicle shouldn’t have: transmission mount, cracked exhaust header, clogged up catalytic convertor, failing water pump, oil pressure sending unit. My Toyota pickup had 213,000 miles on it with none of these problems.

A work trip brought me to Denver in the summer of 2009, but I accidentally flew into Colorado Springs so I had a bit of a drive to get to our work location. On the day of my return trip I had 4 hours until my flight left, and decided to go as far into the mountains as I could get in 90 minutes and then turn around. Seeing the sign for Pike’s Peak I headed up, taking pictures the whole way. I was at the top for 4 minutes before having to race down to make my plane.

In May 2010 I came back in my Jeep for 3 days, and did Metberry Gulch and Mt. Antero. We got stuck around 12,100 feet on Mt. Antero in snow, it was probably a little too early to be that high. Everywhere else I’ve ever lived, May is a hot month, but here’s a hint to all you explorers out there: when asking yourself if you think you can make it, look for tracks in the snow or in the mud or whatever, and if the locals haven’t tried it yet, and you’re alone and haven’t passed anybody for hours  you probably shouldn’t try it. While returning from Mt. Antero my Jeep broke down (tensioner pulley came off, then the belt) and at that point I knew two things: that I had to move to Colorado to do this on the weekends, and that I needed to get rid of my Jeep.

When I got home I asked my boss to transfer me to our Denver office or I’d be looking for other employment. He didn’t take me seriously, and then about 5 months later an old work friend from a previous company sent me a Facebook message asking if I wanted to come work for him in Denver. The interview/hiring process took about ~3 months, which gave me plenty of time to research Tacoma’s and FJ’s. At some point I discovered the color/paint scheme on the 2011 TT and was hooked. Once I had confirmation on the job, I put a deposit down on the FJ and joined the FJ Cruiser Forums (join date: 2/26/2011). Over the next two weeks I found out that all the early ’11 TT’s were NSSE’s (No So Special Edition’s), and I was on the fence about waiting for a TT over an NSSE. A few days later on Friday, March 11th Japan was hit by the earthquake/tsunami. I was scheduled to move to Colorado in 3 weeks, so I found the closest 2011 NSSE and jumped on it. I moved to Denver on April 1st, 2011 and took this picture on my first drive into the mountains, just north of Golden on Highway 72:



I was so bone stock back then haha:

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Brian: What modifications have you done to your FJ Cruiser to date?

James: 3-inch OME lift, upgraded rear LCA’s, Gobi Stealth roof rack, BudBuilt armor, Rocktek rear link armor, Boztec diff skid, Fab Four’s winch bumper with a Superwinch 9K, Rigid Dually D2 lights on the bumper, Expedition One rear bumper w/ tire carrier. I’m on my second set of tires, the first were Nitto Trail Grappler’s and the current ones are Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac’s. And I’ve got a sweet “Ragin’ Cajun” fairlead from FJoel:




Brian: What upgrade is your least favorite? Or what modification would you do differently if you had to do it over again?

James: One of the benefits of going to FJ Summit (I call it “FJ Christmas”) is that you get to see what everybody else has done before deciding what you want to do to your own truck. Not knowing much about serious offroading I bought the OEM side steps when I bought the truck, thinking that they would help shorter people get into the FJ. I was then promptly told by more experienced offroaders that I needed to get rock rails instead (the step bars are mounted to the body instead of the frame and won’t hold the weight of the truck). Now when people post on the forums that they are looking into getting the step bars I make sure to ask them if they plan on offroading it, and if so I explain the problem of them being mounted to the body instead of the frame.

I’ve since found that the AllPro / PureFJCruiser kick-out sliders make a pretty decent step for helping shorter people get up into the FJ.


Brian: What future modifications do you have planned for your FJC?

James: Ha! At this point, I honestly can’t think of anything else to do to it. A supercharger would be nice for the power loss at elevation, but Toyota would have to actually release it first haha, and then I’d have to win one at Summit.​
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Brian: Being located in Colorado, you’ve likely had the opportunity to wheel with quite a few folks from the forum. Who all have you been out with?

James: I’ve seen that we have roughly two groups of FJ enthusiasts in Colorado: the original 2007/2008 one-owner crowd that have lived here all their lives and probably grew up around FJ 40’s, and then the newer generation buying 2010+ or used trucks who got the FJ because they just like offroading or hiking or whatever. I’ve met and wheeled with a few of the early FJ crowd, but most of my regular group is the newer crowd. I typically lead 2-3 trails a year, one of them is an annual offroading/camping run on Metberry Gulch that always attracts 10+ trucks with plenty of new people, which I really enjoy. I led 3 trails this year at FJ Summit (which was a lot of work haha), and it was really great to meet new people and show them what the FJ can do:

Poughkeepsie (Thursday 9AM) - 2013 FJ Summit - Poughkeepsie Gulch - Driving trip | EveryTrail
Black Bear (Friday 9AM) - 2013 FJ Summit - Black Bear Pass - Driving trip | EveryTrail
Imogene (Saturday 9AM) - 2013 FJ Summit - Imogene Pass - Driving trip | EveryTrail

For wheeling buddies one person stands out above the rest: FJess / Jessica. All of the locals know her well, she is fearless unlike any other FJ driver in Colorado. During my first year here, she was probably one of the only people who did more offroading than I did. Following Jessica on the trails makes for some great offroading photos:



She has a much higher tolerance for body damage than I do so while I’m focused on exploring scenery and happy to try any trail once (like Chinaman Gulch or Wheeler Lake) she tends to focus more on the hard trails and pushing the technical capabilities of her truck.

Other regular wheeling buddies: VailTRD (RIP WALL-E), Beach Cruiser, CaptinMo, PowTron, akosfj, Vandy58 (come back to Colorado you dork), shane4x4 whose FJ is always in a perpetual state of I’m-testing-something-for-the-magazine, ocr14a, talltodd, wegotg, army_cruiser, shack, Lady in Red


Brian: What are the usual trails you hit in Colorado?

James: My favorite trail is obviously Metberry Gulch:



For me, Metberry is the perfect Colorado trail: difficult enough that you really see what the FJ can do, but not so hard/rocky that there’s much risk of serious damage, with a great scenic spot at the bottom of the trail:



Lefthand Canyon is close to Boulder and a great winter offroading trail since the snow melts quickly, it has a good range of difficulty levels but during the summer it gets very crowded. I-70 / Guanella Pass (Georgetown, CO) over to Highway 285 and then back over Red Cone Pass to Montezuma / Keystone is a great loop to show visitors what offroading is like here.


Brian: Where all have you been with your FJC? What trail/park/location is your favorite?

James: My GPS+Photo thread contains all the runs I’ve done up to Spring 2013:

http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/colorado/143402-pics-trail-maps-my-first-year-wheeling-colorado.html

For my photo book from the first year offroading in Colorado, I marked each page’s picture spot on a map of the state that gives an idea of where I’ve been:



I’ve got two favorite areas: the area around Buena Vista – Tincup Pass, Mt. Antero – and the area around Marble, CO and the Crystal River Mill / Lead King Basin:



“Top Gear USA” on the History Channel did a race between a kayaker and an offroad racing buggy on the road from Lead King Basin to Crystal in one of their episodes, when that episode aired I had been in the area the weekend before and recognized the scenery:

US Top Gear TV on Schofield Pass | SchofieldPass.com

At this point I’m mostly looking for parts of the state where I haven’t done much exploring (north of I-70 west of the tunnel, Adams Lake etc) with more of a focus on scenery and less focus on technical offroading.


Brian: What park/location that you have not been to yet would you like take your FJ too?

James: Top of the World in Moab:



I haven’t been to Moab yet (whenever I admit that, people look at me funny) but I’m planning on going once next year. I’m not ashamed to admit that I mostly just want to take that ^^^ photo with my truck​
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Brian: What has the FJCruiserForums done for you and what can the forum learn from you?

James: We’re lucky in Colorado that the regional Colorado sub-forum is so active, which makes the forum a great place to plan trail runs or sell things locally to other forum members. We also have a “Was That You?” thread for spotting other members, which makes having an FJ in Denver / Colorado Springs a fun game to recognize other people’s trucks and then post up about it. I saw a really nice brick FJ yesterday at the Denver zoo, ARB front bumper and upgraded wheels…

Besides the regional fun, the forums are such an amazing resource for information about our trucks. Of course there are forums for every type of car out there, but with the extra offroading capabilities of the FJ (and all the related parts/preparation) this place is so much more than a regular car forum.

As for learning from me, the only thing I’ll say is this: if you own an FJ, bring it to Colorado at least once. I can’t overstate this enough, because after coming here just once I knew I had to live here. There are few places in the country that provide as dense of a technical proving grounds for your FJ as Colorado, and the scenery is just breathtaking. FJ Summit is a great opportunity to do this (more scenic / less technical trails), but if you can’t make Summit then plan a trip and post in the Colorado forum about when you will be here. The locals will give advice about which trails to run based on your build and some of us will even offer to tag along.


Brian: Has anyone on the forum inspired your build or been a go to resource for you?

James: My core build is pretty standard, a budget 3-inch lift on 33’s so I haven’t had as much of a need for significant technical research or customization as some. I can respect the capabilities of a good 6-inch / 35’s setup (FJess is 3-inch Toytec / 35’s and I see her climb stuff that I hit or scrape over), but for anything more than that – solid axle swap? – I’m so left-brained that I’d want to see the rock wall that I can’t climb with IFS that a solid-axle FJC can climb to justify the effort/cost.


Brian: What has been the most memorable experience with your FJ Cruiser?

James: I live for those moments of discovery while you’re exploring a new place, like the first time you crest the top at Black Bear and look down on Telluride, or the first time you get to the top of Red Cone:



I often tell people “I moved to Colorado for offroading”, and these moments are the reason why. Taking the pictures were originally meant as a way to share my experience with my family/friends via Facebook, but I’ve been very happy to see the response from other offroaders here on the forum.


Brian: What advice do you have for someone new to the FJC or the forum?

James: You would be amazed at what these vehicles are capable of, straight from the factory. Trust that Toyota did most of the heavy lifting, and all you need to do is tweak it a bit. Define what you want your FJ to do, research the modifications you need to do that and then go straight towards that goal. The forums are a great resource for helping you do this.

Bring a photographer. If you’re a photo junkie like me, it’s hard to take action shots of your own truck while you’re driving it . My favorite photo of my FJ (below) was taken by somebody else, and I had no idea that it existed until they posted it on Facebook a week later.

 

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congrats J-B ... sweet looking truck and excellent pics ...
:cheers:
 

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My wife and I (and Murphy the wonder dog) were honored in having James lead our Imogene 2013 run at the Summit. 2013 FJ Summit - Imogene Pass - Driving trip | EveryTrail.
We sat and talked in Telluride at lunch time. He and his wife are truly nice people.
Congratulations on this honor. Maybe you can lead a trail or two for us in 2014 at the Summit.:cheers:
Jax':wave:
 

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My wife and I (and Murphy the wonder dog) were honored in having James lead our Imogene 2013 run at the Summit. 2013 FJ Summit - Imogene Pass - Driving trip | EveryTrail.
We sat and talked in Telluride at lunch time. He and his wife are truly nice people.
Congratulations on this honor. Maybe you can lead a trail or two for us in 2014 at the Summit.:cheers:
Jax':wave:
Hey Jax! It was great to meet you and your wife on Imogene. That was an interesting lunch place huh? A block off main street, no waitresses but all I kept hearing from Erin was "beer! beer!" :rofl: and I can just imagine what my dad would have said (he was an usher at LSU games when I was a kid): "Oh you're from Arkansas? You're not a Razorbacks fan are you?"

Imogene is probably my favorite trail because of that picture:



For my first year at Summit we only pulled one truck out onto that rock to take a photo, and then we left. So I wanted to make sure this year that everybody got a chance to take that photo with their truck.

Next year keep an eye out for the 9AM runs, I'm usually hitting refresh on the registration page to catch it right as it opens. My first year there I signed up late and only got 7-7:30AM runs, and it's hard to wake up early when you're on vacation :rocker:
 

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Congrats on your selection! It is well deserved!

Great story and your trail maps and photos are outstanding. I love reading your travel logs.

Keep up the good work!

cheers,

dale
 

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Congrats Jimmy-B :cheers:
 

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Jimmy: is it a coincidence that you won this just before our run this Saturday? I don't think so! :lol: I think I'm bringing you good luck! :rocker: Or maybe you won because you deserve it? :blueblob: Nah, that can't be it! :simmadown:

Congratulations. You really do deserve it and all the above before this sentence is just my bad humor! So I can say I'm gonna be led by an award winning driver! Guess Jess can't say that! :rofl:
 

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So I can say I'm gonna be led by an award winning driver! Guess Jess can't say that! :rofl:
You're a noob, so I'll forgive you for missing it:



Does James have a trophy? No! Nice try though. :rofl::rofl:
 
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