I'm back! After freelancing and being the editor of another title, I've finally returned to 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility. The only fly in the ointment is that Kevin McNulty transferred to 4-Wheel & Off-Road, and I would very much liked to have worked with him here.
Kevin Blumer also joins the staff of 4WD&SU this month as assistant editor. Kevin owns a well-used '82 Toyota pickup that he's going to be getting in shape for the trail. He also owns a Ford Ranger that he will continue to build and feature in Off-Road magazine. He speaks Dutch after having lived in the Netherlands for two years, is an avid mountain biker and a certified welder, and is excited to now be involved in the exploring/adventure side of off-roading.
Christian Lee continues as technical editor for 4WD&SU. Besides his excellent work here, he's working on a new book about building JK Wranglers. His TJ book was well received, as I'm sure the new book will be when it's finally finished.
We'll be covering family/club/backcountry off-roading, which not only means events and trips into the backcountry, but also the vehicles we use to get there and back. Jeeps, of course, will continue to be prominent, as well as Toyota Land Cruisers, FJ Cruisers, and pickups. Not to mention early Broncos, Scouts, Suzuki Samurais and Sidekicks, Nissans, and pretty much anything else if it is used to trail ride and explore. If you own one of these niche vehicles, rest assured you've found a home at 4WD&SU.
A word about the terminology you're going to be seeing here. "Four-wheeling," the word we used to use to describe what we did way back when, has pretty much changed to mean ATV four-wheeling. So, we'll shorten it to "wheeling" like our friends at the other titles do. Although we advocate treading lightly and staying on established roads and trails (and always will), we refuse to bow down to the politically correct crowd and pussyfoot around talking about what we do. When we go into the dirt, rocks, snow, sand, and mud, we're off the road, pavement, or highway. So, you'll sometimes see us describe what we're doing as "off-roading" or going "off-road." Once again, that means going off-pavement, not "off-trail."
Political correctness has never been my strong suit, so you may read some editorial tirades about land misuse fiascos just as you used to in the old days. It's interesting to read magazines that are almost 20 years old and see that the land-use battles we were fighting then are the same as we're fighting now, only there are a lot more people in our sport/hobby/industry who are willing to give up public land in the interest of appeasement, accommodation, or meeting the opposition halfway. Our position here is to never meet those who close our lands "halfway" or try to "appease" them. They'll never give up until all land is closed, and we'll never give up opposing them. We have allies in this today that we didn't have decades ago. Besides our other Source Interlink Media titles, there are online forums such as Pirate 4x4, magazines like Crawl, and many others getting the word out about closures. One of the biggest battles we're fighting now is to stop the USDA Forest Service and BLM from allowing travel only on "designated" roads and trails. This is much worse than "existing" roads and trails because the agencies close almost everything by default. We'll be putting together a feature on how to fight closures very soon.
I'm excited to be back home at 4WD&SU magazine. I have many friends from the old days and hope to meet and make many new friends like you. I look forward to seeing you in the backcountry!