All of our contributors are freelance authors and photographers. If you have any question about their relationship with Overland Journal, please contact our managing editor, Sarah Ramm.
Graeme Bell is a full-time overlander and author. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but considers Cape Town home when not traveling the planet with his wife, Luisa, and two children, Keelan and Jessica, in a Land Rover Defender 130 (affectionately known as Mafuta). To date, the Bell family and Mafuta have over a period of 7 years toured Southern and East Africa, circumnavigated South America, and driven from Argentina to Alaska before touring the U.S. from coast to coast. In December 2016 Graeme personally transformed their Defender from a standard double cab into a camper with through access, a pop-top, and sleeping for four in anticipation of their current adventure, driving from the United Kingdom to Asia.
Although he regularly hangs his hat in his Salt Lake City, Utah, home, Aaron travels extensively, camera in hand, documenting his many outdoor adventures. There are few photographers in the world with the ability to capture speed the way Aaron Brimhall does. Whether it’s dangling out the back of a van or surfing his bike through the middle of the freeway, Brimhall will do just about anything to get the shot. His gritty sweat-stained images have become legend, and his dynamic approach to adventure and photography have created a seriously powerful body of work. Always on the move and deep in the middle of the action, there’s no telling what hell-raising journey he’ll be headed out on next.
Sam is a freelance writer based in Empire, Michigan. He went to Montana State University to play outside and happened to walk away with an English degree. His time out West laid the groundwork for a life bound by adventure with his wife, dog, and his 1970 IH Scout named Scout. A self-proclaimed professional dabbler, his interests encourage a life led by an insatiable curiosity. Not an expert in anything but semi-competent in various hobbies, he’s always learning and occasionally failing. Writing and photography are Sam’s vehicles to remind people of the value of wild places and public land and why they deserve protection.
Shirli Jade Carswell
Born in South Africa, Shirli’s career and passion revolve around the African continent and its wildlife and cultures. She cut her teeth on advertising after art school and eventually moved into photography. She periodically packs her 2004 Defender, known affectionately as Tintin, and heads out to some wild destination to capture a library of images for her fine art portfolio. Recognized for her wildlife and landscape photography, Shirli is a passionate conservationist and steward of Africa. She co-authored the book Africa’s Ultimate Safaris, an extraordinary photo journey through the continent showcasing some of the most beautiful and wild destinations. She is currently working on a series of books which will take her into Africa once again, as well as destinations in Europe and the United States.
Forrest and Samantha Cooper
Forrest and Samantha first met when they were just children. For the next 13 years they each explored the world in their own ways. She traveled through dance and her own ambition. He became an Army Ranger and toured the Near and Middle East, one deployment after another. After 13 years they met again, were married, and set out to do that one thing they loved, together. Now, the two study philosophy, and are in search of both adventure, and what it is that makes it so desirable. Adventure came first, then came motorcycles, and for the Coopers, this is just the beginning.
Derek Crowe is a Yukon-based photographer who has chronicled adventure across the circumpolar north since 2000. His images have been featured in publications such as Outside, Canadian Geographic, the Globe and Mail, Boston Herald, and London Times. In 2007, Derek won the prestigious Northern Lights Award in Travel Photography for his coverage of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, a 1,600-kilometer endurance event. In 2010, he was awarded a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest Arctic unsupported snowkiting expedition. He traveled for 67 days, using the wind to ski from Greenland’s southern Atlantic coast to the Arctic coast, then back across to the Thule region. A lifelong cyclist, Derek founded Singletrack to Success, a mentoring organization for aboriginal youth in the Yukon.
Steven is a Utah native who, aside from riding motorbikes, runs a small business and raises a family just north of Salt Lake City. After living in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, and Colorado, he returned to Utah to put down roots. Both his fiction and nonfiction have been published in magazines as well as online, and he is currently finishing an adventure/crime novel. When asked about his magnetic sense of humor he only replied, “I want to become the eccentric billionaire without all the money.” Currently, Steven rides a 2017 BMW R1200GS Rallye and spends most of his time exploring the West, including Baja California, Mexico.
Marnie Devereux is an English writer who emigrated to America in 2015. She lives in the wild, Wild West of northern Arizona where cowboys outnumber tourists, culture comes in the form of rodeo, and being a Brit is akin to landing from the planet Zarg. Unusually for someone who lives in the desert, she enjoys swimming in the wilderness, and travels as often as she can with her husband, astrophysicist Dr. Nick Devereux. Marnie is the author of two books of poetry. In 2014 she won an award from Sustrans, the U.K.’s sustainable transport charity, for her essay “A trip on the canal.” Her writing has been published in magazines and journals in the U.K. and U.S.
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jack Dykinga blends fine art photography with documentary photojournalism. He is a regular contributor to Arizona Highways and National Geographic, and an instructor for Visionary Wild photo workshops. In 2010, Jack’s Stone Canyon image was selected as one of the 40 best nature photographs of all time by the International League of Conservation Photographers. He has donated his talents to various conservation projects, joining teams of celebrated photographers in highlighting potential environmental degradation. In 2017, he received the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) Lifetime Achievement Award. Jack has authored, co-authored, and provided images for a considerable number of books. His latest, A Photographer’s Life, was released in 2016. He and his wife, Margaret, live in Tucson, Arizona.
Colin Evans is an unemployed software executive who writes a travel journal to entertain and annoy his friends who are still working. He grew up in England, lived in France, and ended up in Oregon, a motorcycling wonderland. Most of his career was with Intel Corporation but now he is an investor and advisor to software startups. He came late to motorbikes but has fallen hard, with a collection of iconic sportbikes and a worn-out R1200GS to show for it. He has ridden and written about his adventure rides on four continents and the Isle of Man. The two ladies in his life, wife, Rosine, and daughter, Claire, are far better writers than he is.
Peter Fischer was just 24 years old when he took to the open road: he left Hamburg on a freighter headed for Buenos Aires and embarked upon a 5-month tour through South America. He continued to travel South America for several years, became a tour guide for a number of bike travel companies, and established a travelers’ workshop on the route to Tierra del Fuego in Chile for motorcycles and 4WDs. Peter is a certified BMW off-road instructor, GS Trophy Marshal, instructor for the Chilean police force, and still as passionate about motorcycling as ever. Italy is currently where Peter calls home, and he enjoys taking to the secluded trails in the Alps either on his own or with a few like-minded riders.
Dan Grec is an adventurer, snowboarder, and photographer who now hails from Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Growing up in Australia, family camping trips gave Dan a passion for wilderness exploration in remote destinations. After studying and working as a software engineer, Dan went in search of a more vibrant life. Eventually driving 40,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina, he became inspired by the characters he met along the way and is now dedicated to helping others realize their own overland dreams. To this end, Dan created and maintains WikiOverland—the community encyclopedia of overland travel. After years of planning and preparation, he is currently circumnavigating the entire African continent in his Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
Fresh Off the Grid
Founded by Megan McDuffie and Michael van Vliet, Fresh Off the Grid is an online culinary resource for the outdoor community that offers recipes, how-to guides, and camp cooking gear reviews. The couple launched the website in August 2015 after deciding to quit their desk jobs and go on an indefinite road trip. They have since settled down in Bend, Oregon, where they continue to run Fresh Off the Grid full time.
Greg is an outdoor adventurer, writer, and special-interest speaker on topics that apply wilderness experiences to management and leadership challenges in everyday life. After holding senior executive positions with Hallmark Cards and Bi-Mart, he founded a successful consulting practice where he guides companies and clients through the dynamic world of consumer products. His passions for building and rowing wooden boats and fly-fishing in the Pacific Northwest motivated him to launch WoodenBoat Adventures, offering high-end fishing trips on the Mc- Kenzie River. In 2014, 50 years after Martin Litton’s historic dory run of the Colorado River, Greg helped recreate Litton’s boats to run the mightiest of rivers. When he isn’t on the water, he can be found exploring the Western backroads in his FJ40 Land Cruiser.
Rensina van den Heuvel
Born and raised in Australia to Dutch immigrant parents, Rensina van den Heuvel lives on a large property in the remote mountain area of Carmila West, Queensland. She has traveled extensively through Europe, Asia, and parts of the Middle East and Africa, sharing her experiences through photography and writing. She has led tours in Mongolia and Morocco and lived in China. Rensina enjoys connecting with people and experiencing firsthand the rich diversity of cultures in our world, bridging the cultural gap through slow travel and giving. A “cando” woman, Rensina’s greatest passion is to collaborate with people, especially women, to ignite empowerment through projects of sustainability. Rensina is the author of Russian Documents, Mongolian Dust.
David Braden Horn
David was that kid staring out the window of the classroom, daydreaming about exploring outdoors. He grew up as a military nomad, developing an insatiable curiosity and sense of wonder that continues to this day. After bouncing between jobs as varied as construction work in Alaska to firefighting in Arizona, he began a 2-decade career in the express shipping industry. David then returned to an early passion for vintage overland vehicles by sourcing and importing them, documenting the search for these iconic trucks in words and images. Still fighting off the occasional urge to pull up stakes and move again, he currently makes his home in Texas. A traveler, photographer, writer, equestrian, aviator, and cook, David recently added fatherhood to his list of life’s adventures.
Equal parts entrepreneur, writer, and digital media guru, Amy Jurries boasts more than 10 years of digital content marketing experience. She’s the founder of The GearCaster, a leading outdoor gear website that tracks the trends in the industry, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications including Outside Magazine, Backpacker, The Red Bulletin, TNT Magazine, and Pilot Guides. Amy has lived and worked in many countries across the world including Belgium, Canada, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, though currently resides in sunny California. When not on her bike or hanging off frozen waterfalls, she’s usually traveling to explore some far-off destination.
In the spring of 2014, Heather Lea thought her boyfriend’s suggestion to ride around the world together on motorcycles was a fantastic idea. Little did she know she was agreeing to nefarious activities such as blowing up her underwear and letting a dead toe touch her lips. Or the blood, sweat, and tears of breaking a bone, riding in sand, and mechanically trashing her G650GS so badly, she’d need to use most of her trip money to replace it with another bike more up to the task. Heather’s goal in life has always been to travel through 50 countries by age 50. She is currently in Mongolia, her 51st country, and is nowhere near 50 years old, though closer than she’d like to admit.
For 8 years, Brandon cut his teeth building and maintaining high-end Porsche race cars for Autometrics Motorsports, provided track support for NASA, PCA, American Le Mans and Grand-Am events, and competed at PCA-sanctioned autocrosses. During this time, he worked as a mechanic and tire changer at prestigious races such as the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, and helped AMS achieve third place overall in the NASCAR-owned, Grand-Am racing series—the highest of any independent team at that time. For the past 9 years, the skills acquired from his racing background have been directed toward planning and modifying vehicles for overland tours and organizing trips. When he isn’t traveling, Brandon can be found seeking zen in his workshop or planning his next outdoor adventure.
Chris Van Loan
Chris is the founder of Van Loan Photo and Bay Area Expeditions with over a decade of experience training, outfitting, and guiding explorers in the American West. Guiding led to experience in outdoor photography, remote location guiding, and logistics for production teams as a contributor to publications featuring the outdoors. Chris is also a member of a scientific expeditionary team working with the Mexican government on conservation in remote areas of Baja California and is a sponsored athlete with Kifaru, Prometheus Design Werx, and Goal Zero.
Stefano is an Italian by random chance, architect by generous luck, photographer by passionate love, and dharma bum by stubborn dedication. Based mostly between Vilnius, Madrid, and Milan, he combines architectural creative design with on-field photo reportages around the world. His best clients are International NGO’s, a few awesome travel publications, and himself, too. During the last year, he’s spent some time reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East including the plundered city of Qaraqosh in Northern Iraq, connecting with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and Palestinian refugees in Jordan. On his life journey, Stefano has made the happy discovery that unlike money, the more time one spends traveling, the richer one gets.
An overlander since birth, first inside the plush world of vanning with his parents, then eventually into the spendy world of rock crawling during the dot-com boom, he’s now found his happy place on two wheels with both camera and passport in hand. An independent creative with more passions than time, he’s constantly on the move, making new friends and new art. Having just completed his first book, Journey to the End of the World, with Octane Press—a coffee-table travelogue documenting a 2-month ride from the top to the bottom of South America with Expedition 65—he’s already working on the next one. On Borrowed Tyres will be a look into his 15 years as a journalist riding around the world on other people’s motorcycles.
Lois Pryce is a British travel writer and author of three books about her solo motorcycle journeys from Alaska to Argentina, London to Cape Town, and most recently around Iran. Her latest book, Revolutionary Ride was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Telegraph, New York Times, and CNN. She was named by the Telegraph as one of the World’s 10 Great Female Travelers. With her husband, adventure filmmaker Austin Vince, she is also co-founder/director of the Adventure Travel Film Festival which occurs annually in the UK and Australia.
Jake is a New Mexico native who became familiar with backcountry travel during childhood. Some of his earliest memories include riding shotgun in his dad’s Ford Bronco while crisscrossing the Great Divide, and sleeping under the stars in Denali National Park. As the founder and owner of New Mexico Backroads, he provides professional guiding, scouting, skills training, and photography services to a host of individuals, companies, and government agencies. Each year, Jake logs over 15,000 miles traversing the most remote and rugged regions of the Southwest. His field work ranges from wildfire photojournalism to multimillion-dollar treasure hunts. His passion for untamed territory and raw experiences, depicted in his photography and writing, evokes the human desire to explore.
Growing up on a used car lot in Prescott, Arizona, Chris Ramm developed a passion for automobiles at a very early age. While most children had treehouses, he played in a 1960 Ford Sunliner convertible which quickly became his first project car. As soon as he received his driver’s license, Chris frequently found himself driving across state lines for something as small as an ice cream cone or slice of pizza. When he bought his first 4WD vehicle, a 1998 Jeep Cherokee, he started exploring the numerous trails in the Southwest and hasn’t stopped yet. When you can’t reach Chris by phone, it is safe to assume he is out in the forest finding new trees to hang a hammock between.
Kyra Sacdalan is an author, photographer, and cultural bloodhound in search of the next amazing moment. As the co-creator of WEST x1000, a multimedia company which creates unique content for the motorcycle, travel, and outdoor communities, she scours the world with an open mind and a fresh notepad. To her, motorcycles are a tool—a catalyst for adventure. And she’s been lucky enough to share her journeys with many like-minded individuals out there. Recently, she has realigned her trajectory toward the stars, so to speak, with a video series and other film projects in the works which highlight the many incredible people, places, and experiences she has had the good fortune of encountering.
Tom’s overlanding experience spans over 50 years and 110,000 miles, including three UK–Gulf journeys (one through pre-tarmac Saudi Arabia), off-tracks exploration in Northern Africa, and the first-ever lateral crossing and continuous gravity survey of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, for which he gained the Royal Geographical Society’s Ness Award. Tom is, as he puts it, “CEO, MD, author, photographer, designer, and postal clerk” at Desert Winds Publishing in the UK, from which have emerged the Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide, Four- -by-four Driving, The Nobility of Wilderness, and Quiet for a Tuesday—the story of his 16th foray into the remotest regions of the Algerian Sahara.
Lisa Morris and Jason Spafford
British born, self-confessed thrill-seekers, Jason and Lisa’s motivating force is adventure travel, enabling their passion as media professionals. Previously, they co-ran scuba diving trips around the watery globe as instructor guides. Having hung up the fins, they jumped in the saddle and motorcycled their way from the bottom of the planet to the top. Over the last 3.5 years, they’ve clocked over 50,000 miles from Antarctica to the Arctic. Spirited advocates for nomadic living, Jason is a professional photographer, filmmaker, and drone pilot. With the visuals taken care of, Lisa scribes roadside musings and freelances for various travel and overland publications, reviews products, and consults with manufacturers of apparel and gear.
From the hills of Northern England, Sam Watson first traveled the Sahara Desert at age seven, and it stole his heart. Since then he has lived in various locations in Africa and the Middle East, and in the process mapped areas of the Sahara, Middle East, and Kenya. He has worked in desert search and rescue, as well as for various conservation projects including the Kenya Wildlife Service and Born Free Foundation. He is happiest when overlanding in one of his three battered Land Rovers: Elsa, Tusker, and Bumblebee. Based in Egypt and the UAE, he spends most of his time exploring the remote corners of the Sahara and Arabia. Sam is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Royal Institute of Navigation.
Logan Watts is the founding editor of bikepacking.com, an online publication dedicated to gear, routes, and stories about adventure by bike. When not photographing or writing for the website, he’s usually off bikepacking in the deep woods of western North Carolina or traveling abroad via two wheels. Other than the trip through Kyrgyzstan featured in this issue, his recent cycling adventures include a tour through East Africa, pioneering a dirt route across the island of Cuba, and an extensive exploration of bikepacking routes throughout the U.S.
Roy Rudnick and Michelle Weiss
Roy is a businessman and Michelle an architect, but when work inside four walls did not provide satisfaction anymore, they found courage and dropped normal life. They decided to search the world for their true passions and left for their first round-the-world expedition by car (2007-2009). Their experiences led the couple to find pleasure in writing and photography. Sharing was necessary, so they wrote a book, gave lectures, and made photographic exhibitions in their home country of Brazil. Infected with a real sense of freedom, in 2014 they hit the road again in their second round-the-world expedition: World by Land— 70º Latitude. The objective is to reach three points on the globe above the 70th parallel north by car, and return to Brazil in late 2017.
Gary and Monika Wescott
Gary and Monika Wescott have spent the last 45 years globetrotting around the world, from the arid desert of Turkmenistan, following the Silk Road, to the jungles of the Amazon, and across Siberia in the dead of winter. The couple’s travel adventures have been published in 10 countries and eight languages. Their in-depth knowledge of the problems and joys of overland travel in remote areas is incomparable. Gary and Monika’s meticulously prepared travel/research trucks, from their original Land Rover to the current Ford F-550, The Turtle V, have been an inspiration for many. Their experience and photography encompass what Overland Journal is all about. From the beginning, The Turtle Expedition’s motto has been, “Don’t take the trip. Let the trip take you.”
Clark was born in central Arizona and grew up hiking, camping, and traveling with his dad, a mineral exploration geologist. Spending summers in Latin America as a kid while his dad worked in the field gave him a strong sense of adventure and a desire to learn more of the world. After serving a stint in the U.S. Coast Guard, he has returned to a full-time job in an emergency department, but takes every chance to travel. The occasional shock of reality at work, mixed with the good fortune of being able to do things like photograph a traditional wedding in Kyrgyzstan, have given him a unique outlook on life and a deep love of meeting new people and experiencing different cultures.
Matt Williams is an adventurer, traveler and photographer, but is happiest when he gets to do them all at once. He loves nothing more than getting away from the bright city lights with his wife and two dogs and rolling out his swag. Born and bred in North Queensland, Matt grew up in Mackay and was always exploring the great outdoors while fishing and camping. Matt has worked as a freelance photographer since 2014, specializing in outdoor, adventure, and vehicle photography. However, he often returns to his love of landscape photography, patiently waiting for that perfect light at the crack of dawn.
Karin-Marijke Vis and Coen Wubbels
Freelance writer Karin-Marijke Vis, along with her partner, photographer Coen Wubbels, combine their love for adventure with work they enjoy. Sometimes described as being the “slowest overlanders in the world,” they believe in making connections and staying in a place long enough to do so. In 2003, the couple purchased a vintage Land Cruiser and began a 3-year trip from their home in the Netherlands to Asia. Terminally infected by the overland bug, they traveled in South America for 9 years. In 2016, they returned to Asia and are currently traveling in South Korea and Japan. They’ve been published in magazines around the world, and in 2013, Expedition Portal awarded the pair the coveted Overlander of the Year Award.