Brian McVickers on Saying Yes to a Life of Adventure
Show notes for podcast 167:
Brian McVickers on Saying Yes to a Life of Adventure
Scott: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. I am your host, Scott Brady, and for this week's guest, we have my good friend, Brian McVickers. Brian and I have known each other coming on 20 years now, and we've been working together for over 15 years. Brian is the Overland International Chief Business Development Officer, but he is also an extremely well traveled individual.
Brian has cast off the bow lines and he's sailed for years with his wife, Amy. Brian and I crossed the Pacific together on the Kailani Expedition. Brian's been along with me during Expedition 7, on our trip also up to Tuktoyaktuk with AEV. Crossing the Altar Desert. A bunch of different adventures. Brian has a really interesting life story, and one of the things that's most encouraging about his story is how his relationship with his wife has been such a cornerstone of his adventures.
Amy is an [00:01:00] incredible adventure traveler in her own right, and it has been such a joy for me to see them. Travel together so successfully, including when they first met and decided to buy a sailboat kind of sight unseen, moved down to Florida live on the boat in a marina for two years, but they also talk about why there was a certain point in time that they know they needed to stop.
Trying to prepare the boat and cast off those bow lines and leave the marina for the Caribbean islands and for the Atlantic ocean. So enjoy my wide ranging conversation with Brian McVickers about overlanding sailing and about a life filled with casting off those bow lines. This content is brought to you by Overland Journal, our premium quality print publication.
The magazine was founded in 2006 with the goal of providing independent equipment and vehicle reviews along with the most stunning adventures and photography. We care deeply about the countries and [00:02:00] cultures we visit. And share our experiences freely with our readers. We also have zero advertorial policy and do not accept any advertiser compensation for our reviews.
By subscribing to Overland Journal, you're helping to support our employee owned and veteran owned publication. Your support also provides resources and funding for content like you are watching or listening to right now. You can subscribe directly on our website at overlandjournal. com. Well, Brian, man, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
We have known each other a very long time and you're not only a dear friend, your business partner and you're so well traveled in your own right and you've got so many interesting stories to share with the audience today. So man, it's just such a joy to have you on the podcast.
Brian McVickers: Well, I appreciate the opportunity.
It was neat to get the call to be on the podcast. And then once I got here [00:03:00] to find out, you guys just wanted to talk about me. It was kind of strange, but I guess I'll roll with it. Yeah, it's answer the question.
Scott: It's very, it's very difficult. I resisted having myself on the podcast for as long as I possibly could until.
Matt and Ashley finally said, I didn't have a choice any longer, so, so, but you've been on the podcast before as a subject matter expert. We've talked about vehicles. We've talked about our trip across the Pacific ocean in a sailboat together that we did several years ago with a group of friends.
Yeah, it was just two years ago. Yeah, that's right. Exactly. The Kailani expedition. A big thanks to Rusty for making that happen for us. Still, there's more to come. Yeah, that's right. Exactly. Can't wait for where that, where that leads, but you have not only a long history in travel, including remote sailing with your wife, Amy, also you have been involved with the overland industry in the United States since.
It's beginnings. So we'll talk a little bit about both of those things, but let's start off with where, where [00:04:00] did Brian McVickers begin in the world? I mean, do you don't have to go back too far, but like,
Brian McVickers: so when I was growing up, there was a picture of a surplus army tent on the wall. And I was like, why do we have this picture of this tent?
And I, one day I asked my mom, I was like, what's up with this tent? What is it? And they were like, Oh, well, that's where you came from. I was like, that's all I wanted to know. We can take that picture down.
Scott: So now we know where Brian came from. Brian came from a surplus. I started out camping. You did exactly from the very beginning and camping and the outdoors have been a big part of your life. So you grew up in the Chicago area. And let's talk a bit about the outdoor experiences that you had, because you, it's been a lifetime passion of yours.
Brian McVickers: you know, I think, so I grew up in Chicago in the suburbs of Chicago and in a place called the Grange, you know, about 30 minutes outside of the city from the lakefront. And, you know, as a kid, I was, I was a boy scout for a while, always [00:05:00] enjoyed the outdoors. I was also did a lot of team sports.
And then I think towards high school, I started to get a little bit more involved in travel. I was very, In hindsight, I was extremely fortunate that my, my stepfather was an, a United Airlines pilot. Oh wow, that I didn't know. And so he was a United Airlines pilot for a long time and when I was in high school, we had this book of tickets that was basically like a checkbook with a carbon copy in it.
And so we could go to the airport and look and see what flights were open and we could write our own ticket. to go wherever we wanted to, as long as there was a flight and a seat, and a seat. Right. And so we'd go travel on the weekends, we'd go, you know, sometimes we'd go on a little bit more exotic trips.
I remember one weekend, we just flew to Paris, for a three day trip to go to the Paris boat show and then turned around and came home. And so that was a lot of stuff that. I think, you know, now as a, as a parent and an [00:06:00] adult, I'm like, wow, how do you, how do you do that without that little magic book of tickets?
Right. It's a lot harder. For sure. It is. So we got to, we got to do a lot of neat little trips like that. And so I feel fortunate. And I think that the best part about that is it opened my eyes to not just travel, but international travel. Sure. Along that same period, when I was in high school, I was racing sailboats a lot.
And that required a lot of travel as well, because we, we raced at a very competitive level, which made you travel around the country and you got to see a lot more than just your, your hometown.
Scott: Well, and, and I remember, I mean, and it's interesting how sailing has remained woven throughout your life. But one of the things that I do remember was that you felt like you learned a lot about working with a team.
You learned a lot about how to prepare in this case, a sailboat or a vehicle, but talk a little bit about what were some of those core lessons that you brought away as a young man, as a teammate, and as the beginnings of, of, of being a [00:07:00] part of travel from that sailing experience.
Brian McVickers: Yeah, I think the biggest takeaway, I think that relates to travel and adventure.
Is to have flexibility, there's a lot of planning that goes in into it and there's a lot of skill development, but at the end of the day, if you're not flexible with the conditions that you're presented with, then you're not going to succeed. Ah, interesting. And I find that. And sailing is so dynamic. It's constantly a changing environment.
You can be. As well prepared and well trained and skilled as you want to be. And at the end of the day, it's not necessarily your call and the outcome, you know, the weather plays such a big part of it. Just come, you know, mechanical failures and fatigue. And if everything's right, you can have great, you can have a lot of great success.
You can have amazing adventures. You can have really significant, you know, wins. Yeah. You take that into travel and, you know, think about all the travel you've done and some of the travel that we've done together is, you can do everything to the point that you find it to be the right way to do it. Mm. And at the end of the day, you [00:08:00] might not get allowed to cross that border sign.
Yeah, sure. You know, for whatever reason. You might, you know, have a mechanical with a vehicle and there's so many variables that I think flexibility really plays a lot into it. It absolutely
Scott: does. And then you, you built on top of that foundation of a lot of skill. You know, one of the stories that, you know, I wanted to share on the podcast was it was not that long ago that, that Amy and you came to the lake and we were, we were sailing my little sailboat and and it's a Catalina 250 for those that are interested, but.
That's, you know, you can sleep on it and go a little galley, a little bathroom and everything. But the fastest that I had ever gotten that boat was 5. 7 knots. And that's me taking everything that I had learned crossing the Pacific and listen to you and, and listen to. To Rusty and listen to Kevin and these guys, these incredibly experienced sailors, everything that I could do to get that boat to 5.
7 knots and you came out and I remember just how [00:09:00] nuanced your inputs were to the sail and also like the position of the boat into the wind. And the next thing I know I think we hit 6. 2 knots, as I remember, or at least 6. the sixes. Yeah. What was really interesting to me is like, well, theoretical, I mean, the theoretical hull speed of that boat is a little bit less than that.
So, so the only thing I could figure is because it has a wing keel, there's gotta be some factors that allowed that boat to actually sail that fast or, or maybe it was just for a moment in time. Before the hydraulics and physics start to take over again, but that's right. But it was, it was just really fun for me to see.
And that reminder of that, it is so important to work on the fundamentals of these activities, be skilled in the operation of a winch be skilled in communicating with your partner on spotting and all of that other stuff. Because when, when I was watching Amy and you sail my boat, you guys hadn't been on a sailboat together in a really long time.
[00:10:00] Yeah, it's been a while. Yeah. So, and it certainly had been, not been a long time since you were trying to optimize a boat for speed, for
Brian McVickers: fun, second nature
Scott: to us. And it was you guys, it was the, all of that muscle memory. Yeah, that was very cool. And I can see how the opportunity of working with a team. In sailing would be so dynamic and challenging and probably you're learning how to communicate in really frustrating environments.
Brian McVickers: I would say so. And I think a big part of that is trust. Yeah. You, you know, even some of these larger expeditions that we've done. Whether it's vehicle based or, or sailboat based. Mm-hmm. , you and I have both been a part of that process of vetting the team. Yeah. Right. So who's gonna come along? What are their strengths?
What are the weaknesses? Are the strengths a viable option for the, for, for the trip that we're gonna go do? Sure. And then are the weaknesses are, are they two weak? Those are. Yeah. You know, are they kind of, they're going to get opted out because of the weaknesses or can you manage it? And that's where you kind of find this really [00:11:00] great team.
Scott: not being afraid to put in boundaries with in place with people that you maybe you wanted to have come along, but they're not going to work out. You're way better expectations. You're way better off just saying, you know what, it's not a good fit for you to come on the trip. I mean, and, and that sometimes that's like a family member or sometimes that's a long time friend that just hasn't proven to be reliable or a positive member of the, of the experience.
Brian McVickers: I think that that trust factor in whether you're doing a, an expedition or a large trip by, by boat or by vehicle, if you trust the team and each member within their strengths and weaknesses, that makes all the difference. So, you know, I, I remember, you know, when Amy and I first got married. 2000.
You know, the first thing we did is just sell everything. We bought a sailboat, we lived on it for a couple of years, and then we kind of disappeared and traveled on it for two years. And we had set that boat up to be single handable by each of us. So one person sleeping [00:12:00] and the other person sailing, and this could be usually for big overnights.
And multi multi day where you've got multiple overnights to wake up at two 30 in the morning on your ear, right? So you're the boat's heeled over and you're in a storm and you wake up and you're completely calm about it because you trust That the other person is completely competent and trustworthy and and you you have no question about what's going on Yeah, and then to be able to fall back asleep That says a lot about the people that you're traveling with.
So we started out our marriage that way, which I think carries over to today. Oh, I see
Scott: it. And, and you know, I think a carry over to the overlanding thing is if you're traveling with someone and you cannot feel comfortable closing your eyes while they're driving, it's probably a good idea to adjust, either adjust expectations or they need some additional training or you need a different.
Yeah. Because it's so interesting how people drive to their own desires, not to [00:13:00] the fact that they have a car filled with people or at least one other person. Sure. When we're driving overland vehicles, particularly internationally or during longer trips, expeditions. I mean, I think about when I was crossing Antarctica, you know, like.
If I didn't get sleep, I wouldn't be able to drive for that next 12, 14 hour stint. Right. How mindful that person was, was really critical. I mean, could I, can you sleep in the passenger seat with a person that's driving? Maybe ask yourself that question. So, yeah. Well, I
Brian McVickers: remember when we were driving across Europe and that, yeah.
And everything was great. And then I, I had to leave early, so I, I left, you had a couple, all their drivers with you. And I remember talking with you the next week and it's, it's a different experience.
Scott: It was terrifying. Yeah. Yeah. No, it makes, it makes a really big difference. And so being able to get that rest.
So let's back up a little bit because this, this story about Amy and you is, is so interesting. And it's also, it's also re I think it does carry over a lot to people that are traveling by vehicle as a couple, but it's a little bit of a fun [00:14:00] story. So you were her teacher, weren't you?
Brian McVickers: I was their sailing instructor.
Scott: exactly. So she, so she shows up for the, for a
Brian McVickers: sailing class. Yeah. Her and her ex boyfriend.
Scott: Soon to be ex boyfriend. I like this. Okay. All right. So I think
Brian McVickers: it was on its way out.
Scott: So they show up, they show up at the, at the class. Now, did you, did you feel a connection with her that, that soon in the process?
Brian McVickers: I think so. Yeah. We, we kind of hit it off, you know, in the first, as soon as we met. Yeah. Sure. To
Scott: some degree. Well, and she's, and Amy just has the most like beautiful spirit about her. Yeah. Like she has this infectious smile and this joy for life and, and this optimism, this enthusiasm that really it comes across.
And so, and so do you, but you know, I can see why. It would, she would be easy, a quick, quick person to fall for. Yeah, we,
Brian McVickers: we connected early on and, and we were buddies for a good year and a half. We'd go on dates with other people and then tell each other how horrible [00:15:00] dating was. Yeah, sure. You know, we were hanging out, go shoot pool and drinking buddies for a good year and a half before.
We ever kind of realized that we should just, it was right. Yeah. It was right in front of us whole time, so. Sure.
Scott: Well, sometimes we're, I mean, at least guys are slow learners, so . Yeah. Very. A little slow. Oh, well that's, and it's just such a neat, it's a neat story and I've been able to, since I've known you guys for, we were, think we were talking about it this morning.
It's about 18 years. Yeah. Right around that I've, that I've known
Brian McVickers: you. 2006, 2005, maybe. I think even
Scott: the expedition, it was even earlier than that because it was even before I started expedition portal because we were both part of the same Land Rover. It was like the Arizona
Brian McVickers: Land Rover club. That's
We were both part. And that was before I even started expedition portal. I
Brian McVickers: put out. And they had a chat board or email or something. And, and I had, I've always had a very competitive nature, whether it's be with kind of team sports or ball sports or, or sailing or, or whatever it was. And I [00:16:00] remember having this Land Rover as a discovery to 2001, you know, we'd go out and explore, but I was kind of getting bored with that part of it.
Sure. And I remember putting out this, plus you go on the, the groups are great, but you go on these trail runs and everybody's going two miles an hour, looking at every rock before you crawl over it. And I mean, it was just very. It was a, it was a long day and I was looking for something else. And so I actually put out to everybody like, Hey, we have these incredibly capable trucks.
Are there any, is there anything competitive that we can do with that? And you had responded that, Hey, by the way, I'm, I'm putting together this, it was the expedition trophy. Right. And it was the very first one. And you would drop a coordinate out in the middle of the B l M land. That was the
Scott: best part of it.
And the number of people who never made it because they like, they could never find
Brian McVickers: their way. And I remember get the, I think it was that first one, it was on Wicken Bird out on the wash somewhere. Sure. And there was this huge cliff that had to be three or 400 feet tall. . Yeah. That dropped down to the river and I.
I followed the coordinates and I [00:17:00] wound up at the top of the cliff looking down at the camp. I would do
Scott: that intentionally just to mess with people.
Brian McVickers: And then I had to do it was like another three hours to figure out how to get down, down to where you guys were. So yeah, I loved those events. And that's, I think that's the first place we really started hanging out.
That's right. For
Scott: sure. We had met briefly when you bought my grandpa's welder before that. The Lincoln red box. That's right. Exactly. So Amy and you, you get together. And how did that conversation go? I mean, there's got to be so many people listening that would love to like wildly change their life. How do you go from both having basically corporate jobs to we're going to sell everything or move, we're going to move onto a sailboat.
Yeah, I mean like how did that all go down?
Brian McVickers: So I think the easiest way to do it is, is kind of be in your early to mid twenties . Yeah, sure.
Scott: Or you gotta be much
Brian McVickers: older. Yeah. Or you got, or you gotta be a little bit older and well sorted out. I mean, I think about, 'cause we're looking at doing that the next, it's like Sure.
What do we do? Yeah. Once the kids are, are kind [00:18:00] of through college and Yes. Things like that. And, you know, absolutely. That's not that far away. Not that far. And, and so we're scratching our heads and it's like, so what's the next chapter? But back then we kind of looked at everything and we didn't know how long it was gonna take.
The, the original intent was to circumnavigate, you know, we got married and we said, well, what are we going to do? Do you want to move out to the suburbs and buy a house and have kids and, you know, or do you want to stay in the city and buy a brownstone, which you couldn't even afford, but you know, the idea is like, what are you going to do next?
Right? We came, came up with this harebrained idea of let's sell everything that we own. And we bought a sailboat in Florida and we lived on it for two years saving money. And then we took off for two years. And
Scott: probably kind of preparing the boat in a way. Yeah. A lot of,
Brian McVickers: a lot of preparation and that type of thing and just getting ready for it.
And so we were planning on doing a circumnavigation and that's still, to this day, it's one of my kind of, Lifelong dreams is to circumnavigate for sure. That's what the, the intent was. And we were, we were trying to get there. I think financially we were trying to save up enough [00:19:00] and we were trying to prepare the boat Yeah.
For that type of an endeavor.
Scott: And what was the
Brian McVickers: type of boat again? It was a 1978 Allied Princess. It was a stay sail catch. So it, so it had two mass, two mass, three quarter keel. Yeah. So it was a, kind of a, a very well known blue water boat. Sure. You know, made in the seventies, the hull was three inches thick.
Sure. You know, I mean, it was just backs off, bounce off of icebergs. Yeah. It's back when they didn't really understand fiberglass. So they just like overbuilt everything. Sure. The intent was to circumnavigate. And after being in that environment of preparation we were living in a Marina. Where we saw, like, it was like the place that dreams went to die.
Every first step, but yeah, they're there and they were, everybody had their story of what they were going to do and nobody was doing. And so one day we just kind of woke up and we said, we're out of here. We didn't, we didn't care how much money we had. We didn't care what project there we thought we still needed to do on the boat.
We basically just, you know, I think we woke up, we called [00:20:00] our family and our jobs and said, you got a week and we're out of here. And then we just left. And I would say a lot of that probably correlates to a sailing adventure, any adventure, a backpacking adventure, a bicycling adventure, you know, really an overlanding adventure, anything that you're going to go do where you're going to completely step away from your day to day for a long period of time.
You have to get to a certain point where you have some comfort in what you're doing, but you're never going to be fully prepared. Yeah, that's the problem. And so if you can find a. Point where you can admit to yourself that like, okay, we're probably going to be okay if we were just going to leave, but we want to do these five other projects.
Don't worry about the projects and just go. We wound up, I find we do it with overland adventures as well. We took too much stuff with us. We did projects to the vehicle or the boat that were. In the long run, probably unnecessary, but when you're sitting in Marina, they make you feel safe. They make you feel like, Oh, if I do this one thing, I'm going to be able to be safer [00:21:00] when I'm out there.
Sure. You're probably never going to take it out of the box.
Scott: Well, and it's, and it's like, I've, I've watched, that's the only thing I watch on YouTube. Is sailing stuff. One of the ones that I watched was this French guy and he, he, it's this crazy minimalist boat. It's maybe 24 feet long and it does not have an engine.
He has a sculling or that was made for him on some island. You know, like near Tahiti, like they made him this or like he probably had one. It probably broke or whatever. And they made him one is this beautiful or, and he has this, this attachment on the back that, that he uses to skull the boat into the slip or into the sounds like
Brian McVickers: fun, but that's.
Too hardcore for me.
Scott: But it just shows it totally proves your point. And we say that a lot about with overlanding, just go like whatever you've got, just start moving and then figure out what you really need. And maybe you'd make some adjustments or whatever. In that
Brian McVickers: regard is I think the preparation is how you're going to enjoy.
Your time [00:22:00] when you're out doing it. And one of the most frustrating things that I find, especially with overland vehicles, now we test a lot of stuff. We play around with a lot of gear. So we, we wind up bringing a lot more than we would normally bring on our own. And you and I have both experienced that.
We'll go do it, a little adventure just for ourselves. Sure. And we're like, you know, you don't even maybe bring a pair of socks. A bed roll and I
Scott: sleep in the back of the Defender. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Brian McVickers: You barely bring anything with you. But, but I've had, you know, those experiences where you bring all the stuff and then you, you realize how much time you are spending managing this.
Yeah. Instead of enjoying the environment that you went to go see to begin with. So in that regard, I think I'm a bit of a minimalist, but I'm also a bit of a gadget guy. I love. All the gear. I love the innovation. I love to see kind of how it in an ideal situation, like how does that piece of gear enhance the experience?
Totally. And a lot of times you do. Yeah. It helps to be prepared, like read the instructions and install it before
Scott: you get to camp. Well, but like what an important lesson that you [00:23:00] two learned so early in life is like, don't, don't let the dream die in the Marina. Like you chose, you chose, like you had the awareness to say, like, If we aren't careful, we're going to get more and more comfortable with the idea of not leaving and probably going to get promoted and either you're going to, or you're going to think like, Oh, maybe we should buy a newer boat or a bigger boat or a more comfortable boat.
You you're right. You never actually get to go. Yeah.
Brian McVickers: And Amy was a big driver in that. I think she actually, I think she actually said we need to go. We got to go do something else. Yeah, sure. Cause the marinas are great and it depends on why you're there, but it's easy to stagnate. So that was, she was a really good catalyst.
Scott: floating condo and that's it.
Brian McVickers: Yeah, very much so. And then your, your boat gets so overwhelmed with everything else that you never even go use it as a boat.
Scott: Right. Exactly. Or it's like, Oh my gosh, I got to disconnect that and everything else. Yeah. No, that's so funny. Cause the last time that I went to the sailboat, I literally just said, I'm not even going to plug anything in.
I am going to get to the boat. I'm going to throw the things on there and I'm going to cast off the bow line. [00:24:00] So like. Otherwise, if you get plugged in and you get the AC going and you know, you make a cocktail and then you're, then you, then you can't go sailing. So it just, I just got on the boat and went.
But so you guys, you guys decide you're going to leave in a week. And then now the two of you, how long is you, had you guys been together at this point, a couple of years?
Brian McVickers: Probably, I'd say like Four years, close to four years. Cause we, it'd be a little bit longer than that. You know, we were buddies for about a year and a half and we dated for about a year and then, and then we got married in 2000 and then like our honeymoon was driving from Chicago to Florida to move on to the boat, you know, year and a half, two years after that is when we, we took off and we just went again, that, that whole idea of circumnavigating turned into just going.
Yeah. So we went South. We went into the Caribbean. I remember being, so Marathon Key is a very common hop off point to cross the Gulf Stream. And we were sitting in the bar and there was this family. That was going [00:25:00] over the map and they knew detailed day by day, every place we're going to go and everything they were going to do when they were there.
Sure. And they looked at us and they said, where are you guys going to go? And we said, South, I guess. I mean, we had no idea. You
Scott: knew how to sail and that was enough. Yeah.
Brian McVickers: And it was actually very. For a hot second, we felt unprepared, but in the long run, I think it was very liberating because we didn't feel like we had this list of things to, that we had to do, or we missed a couple of things in hindsight, but we, it was a spectacular time to just kind of go wander.
And so then about, about two years down there, and then we kind of, it was time for the next chapter. So we wanted to start a family and that's what brought us back to the States. And how long did you
Scott: Did you two sail in the Caribbean right around two years? Amazing. One of the things that I remember Amy and you talking about that stuck with me was that there were, and correct me if I get the numbers wrong, cause I've probably inflated the coolness of [00:26:00] this situation, but it was very cool.
So you guys were being super frugal and There were, there was a series of months in a row that you two spent less than 120 a month total in expenses other than, I think you had some insurance on the boat or there was something else on that. Yeah.
Brian McVickers: We had a couple of, I'd call them like background expenses, storage units or whatever.
Yeah. Insurance. And I think we were still carrying a car insurance and we had boat insurance, things like that. Things that you just kind of. It's really hard to get rid of them. And then, and the boat insurance was required for what we were doing. And so aside from that, I think as far as just like operational costs, which might be, you know, fuel and food and whatever luxuries we decided to partake in.
A couple of beers. Yeah. Yeah. I think the, the least expensive one was The least expensive month was right around 150. I
Scott: mean, and that's incredible. And I remember you would, you, the story went on and you'd wake up in the morning and you'd say, Hey Amy, what do you want to have for dinner? And she'd be like, I want [00:27:00] lobster.
And you'd go, you would just go, you go dive into the ocean. Like this, this bounty of nature, you guys would catch your protein and you had rice and beans on board. It was an island life, a hundred percent. And it just didn't matter. It just didn't matter. But you think about the people who they toil their entire life, 70 years to have this pool of money that like they could have stopped 20 years earlier.
Like, and I'm not suggesting that that's right for everyone and people have families and it's not at all a criticism. It's just, it is a choice. Like we're not really stuck oftentimes. I
Brian McVickers: think it's a change in lifestyle. Yeah. Right. So we're all very used to a, a certain lifestyle, whether it's, whether it's a luxurious lifestyle or whether it's just the expense of the, of kind of the requirements, right?
Sure. You've got kids, if you've got kids in college, if you've got, you know, whatever. Payments that are just kind of part of whatever you've gotten yourself into. Right. Sure. And, and so it's, and then you get used to it. Right. So then it's hard to completely, [00:28:00] completely minimize unless it's something that you truly want to be doing.
We didn't have that much money when we left, maybe like 10 grand, you know, and for something like that, it's, that's nothing, you know, we, we just kind of figured it out along the way. Sure. And it's, it's, in hindsight, it's totally different than now. I mean, we didn't have, we had a pocket mail. Pocket mail is like how you would do email, right?
And it was this little tiny, it was like a big BlackBerry with a fold out thing that went up against the payphone. And you know, that sound that the fax machine makes, that's what would happen. That's how you sent
Scott: an email. Oh my gosh. So you'd have a payphone and. Yeah. We spent
Brian McVickers: more money on phone cards than anything else.
I mean, it was, this, this thing had, it would flip open. It had a. Thumb keyboard on it, you'd write an email, you'd close it, you'd pop out the little phone connector and you'd hold them up to each other and they would do the fax machine garbles back and forth. And then that's how you send an email. And so now looking at it with something like Starlink, we'd probably still [00:29:00] be out there because you could have worked, you could have worked from the road, you can work from wherever you're at.
You know, I think that going back to like how you would just go and do it. It's kind of find that reduction in needs and then, but you're doing it for the, for the right reasons you're doing, cause you want to be doing it. So you find that reduction in needs and then you kind of shift the perspective and then you, and you go do it.
And if that's not what you want, it might not work. Was
Scott: that one of the happiest times of your
Brian McVickers: life? Yeah, probably. It probably, 20 years and I still talk about it for 30 years.
Scott: And I, yeah. And I think cause cause Matt, Scott talks about a similar thing when Laura and him drove around Australia and it was like they had the least amount of money they've ever had in their life and he had never been happier.
So it's just, it's just such a tough lesson to
Brian McVickers: learn. It is, you know, but I mean, and you guys know that now and we do, and we'll figure out how to get back to it, you know,
Scott: but right now, but that's another thing that I, I so respect about you, Brian, is that when Amy and you [00:30:00] decided to have children and like very soon after.
You had both kids. I mean, you guys were a regular part of my life. So I've seen your kids grow up and I've seen the quality of parents that Amy and you are. I have never once seen you guys make a decision that wasn't fully vested in the success of your children and the happiness and the safety and the care of your kids.
And that is a huge sacrifice. Like you've literally said This is now the most important thing in my life and the idea of going sailing or living on 120 bucks a month that doesn't, it doesn't fit with what is now the most important thing in your
Brian McVickers: life. Yeah. Well, they're, and they're great kids and we have, they're amazing kids.
Very fortunate that we have a, I think we have an amazing family, you know, and that helps. Yeah. You know, there's a lot that is the new priority. You know, and things are going great. Both kids are successful and they're amazing. My daughter just went into college and my son's a junior in high school and they're both, you know, four, six,
Scott: six [00:31:00] foot four, 220 pounds senior junior.
I don't even
Brian McVickers: know. A little bit different. Yeah. He's, he's a junior. He's so he's 16 years old. He's what? He's about six foot four. Yeah. I think he's right at six foot four and he's about 180 pounds. That's crazy. And so he's, you know, he's succeeding at everything he does, you know, 4. 0 kid and
Scott: mountain biking and everything else.
Brian McVickers: Yeah. He's wicked fast on a mountain bike. You know, our daughter, Charlie, she just went into her freshman year of college. She got a partial scholarship. She's 4. 0. I mean, everything is just kind of going really well. But that's because
Scott: Amy and you made that a priority. Well, they
Brian McVickers: do a lot of hard work on their own.
Yeah. We kind of, we've always kind of said, well, let's, let's. Do whatever we can to facilitate the opportunity, make the opportunity available. Sure. And, and if they want to take it and run with it, they can. Yeah. And that's what they've chosen to do. Yeah. They're both
Scott: super driven. Yeah. Let's, let's move on a little bit now.
So there was [00:32:00] this. And I think it was sometime in 2006 and I call you up and I said, Hey Brian, you want to, you want to go meet for lunch and in Phoenix, I want to talk to you about an idea.
Brian McVickers: We went to the sushi broker.
Scott: We did. Yeah. That's right. In North Scottsdale, I think something like that. And we met up for lunch and we talked about this crazy idea called Overland Journal.
Brian McVickers: remember that. Yeah, it was you and and Chris
Scott: Marzoni. That's right. We were trying to figure out who we were going to bring on in the business development role because I knew that was so important. I mean, it was something that I learned really early on in business is to, is to never underestimate the importance of really talented business development people and then to pay them the most that you can possibly afford because they're such a critical piece of.
an organization. So I knew that that role was going to be the most critical role that we had with a new fledgling business. And you were employee number one. Yeah. So you're still number one, Brian, in my mind. So [00:33:00] yeah, we started off with his sushi restaurant and you were like, you were in it from like the first second.
You're like, yeah man, let's go. And
Brian McVickers: I was right, I think at the time I was ready to do like my own thing and what a great opportunity with kind of a very, again, with a vetted team of people and everybody brought their own strengths to the idea. Sure. You know, I know we had you guys, we had Jonathan Hanson, who was like the editor in chief.
Yeah. One of the world class editor. Yeah. Really well known on the journalism side. And yeah, I think we just brought everybody together and it took a couple of years.
Scott: It did. It was mostly terrifying in the beginning, but we, we kept working our way through it and you were still working full time. For the first couple years, but, but then you, at some point in time you decided it was time to come to Prescott and I think, what year did you guys move up here?
2011, maybe? We moved up here
Brian McVickers: in 2011. Yeah, but I think I went, I probably went full time all in on around 2009. Yeah. So we had [00:34:00] started, I think that original conversation was 2006. Yep. Published the first issue, spring 2007. In 2007, 2008, I was working for a, for a full service marketing firm. Ad agency down in Phoenix and every definition of the term I was moonlighting Overland Journal.
We all, we all were, I think at the time. The agency that I worked for was really pigeonholed into high end real estate development and that's what we were doing. So 2008 came along. Oh yeah, that was a bad time. Bad time for real estate. And, but we were kind of at the high end of the spectrum, right? So we were doing these big private real estate developments from like from scratch.
So it took about a year. For all that to catch up to the development side by 2009, all of a sudden that world went downhill pretty quick. And so that became an opportunity for me to say, okay, am I going to go to another company, get, you know, another desk in a corner office type deal or am I going to kind of [00:35:00] do this overland thing full time?
Get out of the marina. A hundred percent. Right. Yeah. And again, the catalyst in my life, Amy, was like, just do it. So that's when, you know, I went full time into the Overland Journal and Expedition Portal and just pushed as hard as I could on that. And then the next, kind of the next evolution was in 2011, Amy was graduating from her master's degree.
As part of her master's degree, she had, she had to stop working and do this like three or six month internship. So she did that and then after she was done with the internship and it was really this as part of her master's degree, it was a, you know, an experiential practice of an internship. And after that, she had this opportunity of, you know, does she go back to the job that she had before, or she kind of had a clean slate.
So that's when we decided we were living in, in Phoenix, which neither one of us really enjoyed Phoenix. Sure. So that's when we moved up to Prescott. [00:36:00] And then I, I think that I was really good for all of us. I think that was kind of another shot in the arm because we were all in the office every day or, or immediately
No, the business really grew at that point. Cause then we had, we had the whole kind of dream team all firing on all cylinders. Yeah. So then you've done some really interesting trips since, since you started working with us. So, I mean, I think back on one of the first. Real big ones that we did together was driving up to Tuktoyaktuk.
Brian McVickers: that's right. With with the guys
Scott: from AEV. That's right. And before that you had helped me with Expedition 7. We moved some trucks throughout Europe and that was really cool too. But you know, it was definitely a mission. It was a delivery. Yeah. It was like a delivery vehicle delivery
Brian McVickers: mission. Nine countries in five days.
Scott: That's right. We drove from, from Prague.
Brian McVickers: Yeah. And then we went all the way up to Estonia. Yes.
Scott: So then we had to drive them. Did you drive them to, with, to, [00:37:00] to Estonia? Yeah. All the way to the border. That's right. Yeah. That's right. Exactly. You helped me get them all the way up to Estonia because we were
Brian McVickers: about to cross Russia. That's right. Like the next day that we met that Russian fixer.
That's right. And Andre. Yeah. Andre. Yeah. And then that's where we kind of did the handoff. That's right. Andre flew in. I handed the keys to him and then I flew out. That's
Scott: right. And then the rest of the team came in. Yeah, that was, I mean, imagine like today that'd be impossible. Like you can't, you wouldn't even think about trying to cross Russia right now.
Like, it's amazing how these windows of opportunity open and then close. So like the people in a lifetime, totally. Yeah. I mean, I hope, hopefully it changes. Yeah. That you can be rational optimist. Yeah, it does. It always ends up coming around. So, so we did that and then we did this big trip up to, to talk and that was your first experience in the, the high latitudes overlanding.
And what, what did you take away from that experience? Being in such cold. environments. But also in a very different kind of vehicle than you'd [00:38:00] ever traveled in. Yeah. That trip,
Brian McVickers: I think that was a very secure trip. I thought in the sense that one, nothing went wrong. Yeah. Vehicles were flawless. I never felt like anything was going to go wrong.
I mean, we were driving through whiteouts. We had that one stretch of the road. It was the, the Dempster highway, Dempster highway. So there was that one stretch of the Dempster where we had just made it through before they closed the gate. Yeah. And then when we showed up on the other end, they thought that the road was clear and they didn't expect anybody to be out there.
That's right. It was a total
Scott: whiteout. Yeah. Total whiteout.
Brian McVickers: And I think that whole time we were getting out of the cars, we were taking photos in the whiteout. I mean, like I never felt and maybe it's just height. Those type of extreme environments, I'm very comfortable
Scott: with them. And also they're, they're one of those things like you can't really think about what might go wrong because the problem is, is like everything is fine until it's really not fine.
Brian McVickers: It's gotta go really wrong. I mean, you've got, we had four, you know, completely built out [00:39:00] AEV trucks. We were fully supplied. We had, I think there were six of us and we had a snow machine. We did. I mean, we had all the things that the worst thing that could happen is maybe you're You sit there overnight because everything broke, right?
It just wasn't, you
Scott: know, there was only two times that I felt for my life was, was or I was concerned about people's safety was, you know, Dave decided to just start like driving out on the Arctic ocean. Remember?
Brian McVickers: Out on the frozen sea. Yeah.
Scott: He just like, we were already on the frozen sea ice, but this was sea ice that had at least been like, Yeah.
And then he just like drives over this mound of snow and just starts driving out onto the ocean. I was frozen ocean 3, 500 flatbed in that flatbed white AV truck and I'm just, and it was, these were amazing photographs. I mean, don't get me wrong, the thing, the whole thing was so cool, but it's like he's getting further and further away.
He was way out there. Yeah. And there's, there are polar bear and there are absolute, you could see like the oil drilling rigs and stuff. Like [00:40:00] he was. Yeah. Driving out into the ocean. That wasn't planned.
Brian McVickers: That was the only thing that was like,
Scott: he's kind of doing his own thing. Which was, and so I got some of the most memorable photographs from that moment.
And then the other one was there was this grizzly bear and it's just, I don't know what I was thinking, but I wanted to get like, it's like the reason why people get punted by, by bison and Yosemite, but like, I'm like. Look at this beautiful bear. So I, I just, I stepped out of the vehicle. I don't know what I was thinking.
And I'm taking photos of this bear. And I realized like the bears actually, it looks like he's looking forward, but he's not, he's looking right at me. And I was like, Oh, I'm better get back in the truck, get back in the truck. Yeah. But that, that was a really fun trip though. I mean, it was beautiful. Yeah. It was just gorgeous environments.
And that was a fun one. And then a few years later. We had the chance to do the Altar Desert with
Brian McVickers: A. D. V. again. Two polar extremes, right? Yeah, that's right. You've got the Arctic and then, you know, the desert, 120 degree desert. Yeah,
Scott: it was very hot. In all of your overland travels, [00:41:00] which you've done so much with your family too, what do you think is the, is the top two, three, four takeaways, the things that you've really learned in your now decades of overland travel?
Brian McVickers: You know, preparation is, is key. I think But not over preparing to the point that you've kind of neutered it. Or that you never leave the marina. Yeah. Well, and not, not just that, but it's so easy to do, to be so prepared that you take the adventure out of the adventure. Right. I mean, if you think about it, we can get on Google earth and we can follow every dirt road and see everything that we would likely encounter.
Right. I actually got to the point with, with navigation planning that I'll have a general idea. Of where I'm going and I'll have maybe some, if there's key roads and key tracks that like I have to get in order to do to get where I'm going. Like those are critical elements. Like that's the only way to get there.
Sure. I'll make note of that. Otherwise, I tend to just go in the general direction [00:42:00] because I, I really get a lot out of. Well, that road looks like it'll go to where we want, let's try it, you know, and if you, I think if you over plan that too much degree, you actually take a lot of that experience away.
Serendipity. Yeah. The other thing would probably be less is more, which is a tough one because again, all these amazing products and gadgets out on the market that it really. Some of them do enhance the experience. And so it's hard to pick and choose. Maybe being
Scott: selective. You know, I, I. Well, you were forced into that.
You did a lot of your travels for years, as I remember in a two door TJ. Yeah, we did. You had, you were forced to be minimalist. You had four people, like two grown adults. So
Brian McVickers: we did a trip from Arizona to the Canadian border, as much dirt as we could get. And, and we tried to hit as many national parks as we could at the same time.
Right. And this was like the family summer trip. Totally. [00:43:00] It was a 30 day trip.
Scott: It was the McVicker's vacation.
Brian McVickers: And and I remember, I don't know why. I probably do know why, but I remember asking like you and a couple other people as which of the three vehicles should we take? And everybody like pointed towards the most practical one and I took the most impractical one.
I took the two, the two door TJ because I knew it was going to add that much more to the adventure. Yeah, sure. Right. And we overloaded the heck out of that thing. I remember pulling into Jackson Hole, Wyoming, getting to camp and looking, I did a walk around in the truck and all of a sudden I find, I think I sheared off.
Three wheel studs on a, on a rear, on a rear wheel, rear passenger wheel. I lost three wheel studs because we were so overloaded. I don't know how we didn't die or, or crash or what. But, and then I went, I went back into town. I left the family at camp and I went back into town. I found a hardware store. I found the appropriate like grade eight bolts cause they weren't the press in.
They were, it was like [00:44:00] Yukon. Oh, sure. It's a Yukon axle. Sure. Hub assembly. So they were actually threaded bolts. They weren't just like pressed in wheel studs. Interesting. And.
Scott: It might've been why they broke. It could've been. Cause they're like big. Yeah, wheel studs are very specific metallurgy to them.
Brian McVickers: So I, I, I got these grade eight bolts from some hardware store and I sat under a shady tree and I changed those wheel studs out myself on the side of the road. Amazing. It took forever, but I figured it out. And I think that that's. That trip added a lot to the planning and preparation where that, I think where that fine line of, of over, over preparing or being underprepared or being overloaded and still having an adventure, you know, I remember somewhere in, I think it's Southern Utah, there are these three mountains.
There's like crystal mountain. And then there's like the moon mountain and the sun mountain. There's a, it sounds like
Brian McVickers: Vortex. Yeah, it's way out there. Literally there's this, there's a national park. I [00:45:00] don't remember any of the names right now, but there's a national park. And then just North of that, you take this, this dirt track that I remember Amy and I looking at each other and then looking in the backseat at the kids and then kind of questioning whether or not this was a good idea.
And we just still went and did it. We were incredibly remote. Yeah. And this vehicle, this little TJ, family of four. So
Scott: the other thing that I, I really wanted to talk about and ask you about on this podcast because it's, again, it's just been such a joy to watch Amy and you travel together and remain so close and it's, I'm not implying at all that you guys don't ever have challenges, but it's, it's, it's a beautiful relationship to see and it's so rare to see people.
Stay together and to, to still be as in love with each other as you guys are. I mean, I just like when you guys get to giggling and it's just really awesome. It's awesome. Like it's, it's literally like two school kids, you know, like sometimes when you guys get, get going, but it's like, that is so rare. to find.
And [00:46:00] I know that there are people that are listening that wish they could be closer with their spouse or that they could travel better with their spouse or they would like to travel with their spouse or within a new relationship. What advice would you give around relationships and traveling in remote areas around the world?
With your spouse,
Brian McVickers: Jesus, that's like the million dollar question, right? Yeah. That's why I asked it. I don't know. I mean, for us, it comes pretty naturally. I don't know if I've ever analyzed it. I probably think about it more when we travel with other people who, for whatever reason, it's just not working for.
Right, right. You know, for us, I don't know if it's communication. I think it's more of an, one, there's trusting, like I said earlier, you've got trust in your travel partner. Sure. And so, I mean, she can do a, she can sail a boat by herself. She can do a, you know, a vehicle winch recovery by herself. She can do all that stuff, right?
So that's one less thing for the, for us to worry about the other person about, right. Or how to have a conflict. Yeah. Yeah. [00:47:00] She's got a lot of training and she's got a lot of competency and, and so you've got that. Yeah. That nice understanding there. And then it's, it's also, you kind of figure out like, you know, what's important to each other.
You just kind of know when you're traveling, what that other person is going to want to experience. Sure. And, and if you don't, then you ask, like, I mean, we've had plenty of, you're talking about all the great things, but we've had plenty of. Long days on the road where, you know, you both get a little quippy and it's, everybody's ready.
And so we've actually learned, like, like, we'll look at each other and be like, Hey, I think it's time for a cup of coffee and something to eat, you know? And so over time that just gets better because you learn the other person and she'll know the things. You know, like as relaxed and flexible as I can be, like, I will get to a point where I get really like particular about how the back of the truck is loaded and how things are lashed down and, you know, and so she'll know she'd be like, Hey, [00:48:00] You know, we brought all this stuff out to the car and we're going to let you put it in.
Okay. That makes sense. Yeah. You
Scott: guys have, you guys have learned each other and it's also, I think it, it probably also helps that it seems like that the harder it gets and the more adventurous it gets, the more Amy is happy that it's happening. Yeah. Like she just loves to be in it. We
Brian McVickers: both thrive off of those situations that we know a lot of other people would be uncomfortable.
Scott: I think that's a big piece of it. You know, when you trust the person that you're with and you know that they're also like in it for the adventure, no matter what you're coming up against, that's, that's pretty empowering. I would think for a couple.
Brian McVickers: Yeah. And I think, you know, as far as you're, you asked.
Keys or advice or something like that and not that I'm in a position to like dictate anything, but I think the more you're able to understand whether it's with your spouse or another travel partner or with your buddy, whatever it is for everybody to understand what the, what the objective is. And that objective might just be like, [00:49:00] we're going to go drive and we don't care where we end up.
That objective might be like, there's a specific point on the map that we're trying to get to. The objective might be, Hey, we want to drive in the deep sand, you know, whatever it might be. Like if, if everybody kind of has an idea of what. It's important to the other people involved and then what their preferences are.
Sure. And then to some degree, like what makes them very uncomfortable and what makes them, you know, very joyous. And then you can avoid those discomforts, you know, throw them in on purposefully in an opportunity time. Yeah. You know, you can, you can kind of help manage the situation and that goes both ways.
Right? And that's for everybody involved is trying to help the others. kind of have the best experience that they can.
Scott: No, I've seen that. And you do that not only with Amy, but you do that with your kids and it seems like that they do that for you too. But like what a joy to have had decades of that kind of partnership with your wife and then now coming up on decades of [00:50:00] travel with your kids.
And to see that they're into it, that they enjoy the adventure of it. Well,
Brian McVickers: they do that. That's been an interesting path because there was a time none of the kids didn't want to get in the car. They didn't want to go. We joke with Max because something happened in his childhood and we don't know when and where, but something we did, I'm sure is if you say, Hey Max, do you want to go on a hike?
He's absolutely against it. He doesn't want to go on a hike. But so we've had to say, Hey, do you want to go on an adventure walk? And he's like, yeah, that sounds cool. So it was one of
Scott: those hiking PTSD. Yeah. Some
Brian McVickers: hike. He didn't get to be the group leader or something. I'm not sure. And then Amy really doesn't enjoy the cold.
I know if we're going to go do something in the cold, then we just make sure that she's got an extra layer and extra set of gloves. Yeah. Got all the good gear. All the good gear. She doesn't like the cold, but she loves to ski. Yeah. So, you know, you figure that you figure out how to do it. Yeah.
Scott: Thank goodness for modern, modern equipment.
Oh, that's awesome, Brian. Any [00:51:00] advice that you would give, you know, people coming new into overlanding or even a new, a new, a person who wants to start a new business in overlanding? What, what are some pieces of advice that you give from all of these years of experience that you have?
Brian McVickers: I'd say if you're, you know, getting into overlanding, use what you've got and just go do it.
There's no real right or wrong way to do overlanding. In overlanding is essentially it's vehicle supported adventure. Yeah. We can't tell you what that adventure part means. Yeah. Right. And if that means that you're going to go, you know, down the forest track and go bird watching. Well, that's, that's fair.
Yep. Right. And if that means, Hey, I'm going to drive to the most remote point on the earth that I can access. That's fair too. Sure. Right. And then you've got everything in between. I think it's really easy for people to get intimidated by either overlanding or any new sport or activity that they're going to get involved in.
Sure. Sure. And. If you can kind of lower those barriers of there's no absolute right or wrong way to do [00:52:00] it. Yeah. And the easiest way to do it is to use what you've got, use the vehicle you already have, use the, the equipment that you already have and, and go do it. Go do whatever your version of it is.
Yeah. And then from there, if you want to evolve into the activity, you can start to identify what was easy, what was hard, where do I think I need improvement, whether it's through your own training as a driver or as, you know, whatever it is, if you need more medical training, if you need more I mean, you can get trained on anything, right?
So. If you need more training or if you need a different type of equipment, you'll figure that out as you go. Yeah, you figure it out. I'm saying just go with what you've got, but if all you've got is a sweater and you go into a monsoon environment, well, you're going to figure that out, but don't prevent it from letting you go.
Scott: Yeah, for sure. Oh, that's great. That's great advice,
Brian McVickers: Brian. And then from the business standpoint, I think. You know, nowadays there's so many things out there in the marketplace and there's so many different versions of them. You know, my advice would be to, you know, do your [00:53:00] homework, study the environment a bit, the business environment and the, and kind of the consumer environment and try to find a hole that hasn't been addressed yet.
Find a need that hasn't been addressed yet. We've got plenty of the same thing with a different. Colorway or a different logo on it. It all comes in on the same container. It's all coming from the same place. I mean, we've got plenty of that, but if you can find a way to fill a need and provide a solution, your, your path to success is going to be much faster.
Scott: Yeah. And it's interesting, like, even like. Unique componentry modification to the Starlink. He's made himself a tidy little business providing a need that like it was a genuine need. Not a lot of customers. When people get, I mean, I'm a customer and I could not be more thrilled. He, he literally created something that didn't exist.
And now I've solved a problem that I had as an overland traveler and it's this perfect little business that he runs out of big bear, California. So it
Brian McVickers: probably feels a bit niche. [00:54:00] But I think that there's more people that could use that product then then know about it. No question. Right. So the more people that know about it, the more, the more that's going to take yeah.
Scott: he focused on making something great. And, and I love that quote. It's actually a Steve Martin quote, but it it's be so good. That they can't ignore you. There you go. So if you start off with making great products that re, like you said, really meets the needs of a customer, people will not be able to ignore you.
Yeah. They're gonna talk about you and and then there's lots of other ways to amplify that message. But Brian, man, it's been such a joy to have you in my life for these last multiple decades. It's mutual. You and Amy, you and Amy both, and your kids. It's been. Not only the adventure of seeing the world many times together, but it's also been the adventure of building a business that we are proud of.
And that serves our community. We're an employee owned business. You're one of our partners. You're one of the owners of the business. And I'm so grateful that we got to get to this point after that sushi lunch many, many years ago. [00:55:00] But we thank you all for listening and remember that it's so important to cast off those foul lines and to leave the marina and go out on your own adventure.
Thanks, Brian. You bet.
Brian McVickers: Take care. All right. Thank you.