Interview with Maggie McDermut, Land Cruiser owner and adventurer
Show Notes for Podcast Episode #46
Interview with Maggie McDermut, Land Cruiser owner and adventurer
Scott Brady interviews Maggie McDermut about her thoughts on outdoor stewardship, the importance of overland training, and the value of solo travel. Maggie also shares numerous insights on traveling in Alaska, vehicle preparation for her BJ70 Land Cruiser, and lessons learned as a 7P International 4wd Instructor.
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Maggie has always been a roadtripper with an affinity for national parks, but really entered the overlanding world with the purchase of her first vehicle in 2014, a 1986 Toyota Land Cruiser BJ70 affectionately named Beastie, from Japan. She has a can do attitude and a tenacity to continually grow her off-road skills and knowledge. Maggie is primarily a solo traveler covering miles with just her pup, BombaDog, usually in Beastie, but occasionally in her 1999 Toyota 4Runner manual. She and Bomba have crisscrossed the US including Alaska and covered four Canadian provinces, but is especially fond of the US Southwest. Outside of overlanding, she is an avid skier, hiker, horseback rider, occasional trail runner and all around outdoorswoman, finding happiness from time spent outside.
Instagram- @maggiemcdermut @bombadog_theadventurepup
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Matthew is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most remote places by 4WD and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. He is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore
[00:00:00] Scott Brady: Maggie thank you so much for being on the podcast today. We are in an undisclosed location, according to Mr. Xavier. So we've been out with a great group of folks traveling in the back country, testing some product and grabbing some content along the way. And I also thought this would be a great opportunity for us to sit down and have a podcast because you've lived a very interesting life and you have some very cool vehicles and you're well-traveled and you've also worked a lot with 7P international. So I think that there's a lot of great lessons that we can talk about that you've learned in your [00:01:00] own journeys on this podcast. So thanks for being with us.
Maggie Mcdermut: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
Scott Brady: Well, I think it would be fun to talk maybe first about your first Overland vehicle that you purchased. And if it's different from the one that I know of, then you should tell the whole story.
Maggie Mcdermut: So I have a 1986 BJ70 land cruiser. That's imported from Japan and it's not just my first Overland vehicle. That's the first vehicle I ever purchased. So I kind of fell into land cruisers honestly by... I saw a Craigslist ad for an FJ40 probably six years before I bought my car. And I w I just became obsessed and I had to have a land cruiser so I started researching them and the rabbit hole just kept getting deeper and deeper and deeper. And that's when I saw the import market. And. Ended up deciding to buy one from Land Cruisers Directs, and it's just been [00:02:00] such an incredible ride since.
Scott Brady: What were some of the things about the BJ70 that really drew you to that vehicle?
Maggie Mcdermut: Specifically I wanted a diesel, and that's what brought me into the import market for Toyota's cause they never sold one in the US. They sold diesel. In the Canadian market for two years, but the JDM or Japanese domestic market imports have a tendency to be a little bit cleaner and lower mileage. So that's kinda how I fell upon land cruisers direct and it wasn't like I was seeking out a 70 series. I just wanted it a diesel
Scott Brady: You wanted a diesel land cruiser.
Maggie Mcdermut: The land cruiser was like... I was getting a land cruiser.
Scott Brady: And what was it about the land cruiser for you? What was the draw to buy a land cruiser for your first car?
Maggie Mcdermut: So I grew up horseback riding. I still horseback ride. I'm a big avid hiker. So I've always been kind of out [00:03:00] and about in the back country and I wanted to have a vehicle that. Kind of aligned with that, which is why I started looking up and researching four by fours and then I saw land cruisers and like, well, that's intriguing vehicle. And as I started researching them more, the longevity of them as well was a really, really big draw because... so I think I called Steve on my 22nd birthday to commit to buying my vehicle. So I being 21, I was like, well, I want a car that's going to last a really long time. So I bought a vehicle that had an engine that's kind of known colloquially as the million mile engine. That's why I have Beastie the BJ 70.
Scott Brady: And it seems like you've named several of your vehicles. So you have another vehicle that's actually out with us today?
[00:04:00] Maggie Mcdermut: I do. So I moved to Colorado. Oh, gosh, three years after I bought Beastie and the hard cold morning starts, I just felt bad.
Scott Brady: Maybe the salt on the roads.
Maggie Mcdermut: And yeah, I just wanted to keep some of those harder miles and harder starts off of just my old car. And I ended up finding a it wasn't really looking for a car, but I saw this. Kind of like the unicorn of forerunners. I bought a 1999 Toyota forerunner. So staying in the Toyota family, but it's called the Highlander edition. There's not a lot out there about it, but it has the stock rear locker. It's a manual and it has a sunroof and that has become more or less my winter car, my quick weekend trip car cause it goes above 55 miles an hour. And his name is Frank, the forerunner. So I stuck with the alliteration on that one. But it's definitely a fun car to... [00:05:00] I think Frank has heled my confidence off-road cause I'm not worried about hurting it as much because parts are easier to find. So that's also helps kind of like That's helps my learning and driving ability off road cause I'm not so cautious all the time.
Scott Brady: That's a very rare vehicle to have. It's the last year of the manual transmission, forerunner and it still has the 3.4 liter, which is a great engine, a lot of longevity in it and then to have the rear locker all in conjunction and it looks like you've only modified it lightly.
Maggie Mcdermut: Yeah, I, so I threw an ARB front bumper on it, and that was, that only happened because poor Frank was hit by a bus when he was parked one day. So I used the insurance money and putting the ARB on it. I do have a little build out in the back, which you know, obviously I wanted, cause I want to be able to camp out of both my vehicles and then a roof rack to throw my skis up there and occasionally a bike [00:06:00] and maybe some extra fuel, if I'm really feeling like I'm going to be out for a long weekend, but I haven't really done anything major to either of my vehicles.
Scott Brady: And it looks like you have the forerunner mostly configured for you to be able to sleep in the back of it?
Maggie Mcdermut: Correct.
Scott Brady: And why do you go for that decision?
Maggie Mcdermut: Part of its safety? I do travel by myself pretty much all the time. And as a solo female traveler, just the safety aspect is a big part of it. I want to be able to lock my doors. I don't leave anything outside at a campsite most times. So if I need to, I can just hop in that front seat and get out of a situation. If I feel uncomfortable, if I feel like, you know, somebody is invading my area. And I do that with both my vehicles. Well, so...
Scott Brady: You sleep in the 70 series as well?
Maggie Mcdermut: Steves a little small, but I fit and I fit diagonally. I've made it work.
Scott Brady: It's also such a great way to camp. We had the land cruisers set up that way and to be able to not have to set anything up. [00:07:00] There was no roof tent to deploy. There's no ground tend to mess with the poles or have the thin nylon rip or whatever you just, yeah. You have all the sound deadening and the quietness of a vehicle and they are more secure for sure. I think at the times that I've slept in gas station parking lots in developing countries. It's kind of nice to know that you're locked in a little bit, so yeah, that's definitely an upside for sure. Now, as I remember, you took your 70 series and you did a pretty big trip with that. What was that?
Maggie Mcdermut: So back in, gosh, it feels like a long time ago now. In 2018 in the summer, I did a three-month trip with Beastie and drove to Alaska, Northwest Canada and did that by myself with my dog. So I did have some company, although she's not much for conversation. But that definitely, I just was very fortunate and I was actually [00:08:00] awarded the Change Your World fund grant one of the recipients that year, which helps fund the trip and was a big factor to be able to take three months off and explore. I pretty much drove all the drivable roads in Alaska. So I did the Dalton highway just beautiful scenery, seeing the Tundra and actually getting to the Arctic ocean and then the Kenai peninsula and Homer, I just, I love Alaska.
Scott Brady: It's incredible. Right?
Maggie Mcdermut: I'm maybe even more obsessed with the Yukon. I spent a lot of time driving around the Yukon as well, and also drove the dumpster highway the first year that it was. Fully open from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. So that last section that they just added. Yeah. So I drove that as well. Again, just an incredible experience to have. But the Yukon took my heart. I spent a lot of time, as I said, in the Yukon and did the North Canol road which is fairly remote. You need a lot of brains [00:09:00] for it and I again did that by myself.
Scott Brady: Did you make it to the Twitya river or that's like usually the big water crossing. Like it usually is where people turn around.
Maggie Mcdermut: From the Ross river?
Scott Brady: No, when you're going up at the Canol, if you keep going and going and going you eventually hit a river that requires either very deep forwarding or a boat, or...
Maggie Mcdermut: I did not hit the river more because I was by myself and it was a really remote road. So as I kept a really good eye on my range and I had extra fuel with me, but I needed to remember I had about 200 miles to drive back. So that was part of the consideration of the turnaround point. Made it pass the crossover into the Northwest territories, but couldn't go as far as that.
Scott Brady: Yeah. That's an elusive goal for many people. It's one of the last remaining Overland prizes in North America [00:10:00] is to complete the Canole.
Maggie Mcdermut: I've talked to a lot of people about it and wanting to do it and that's going to be the hard one.
Scott Brady: It is. There's a lot of logistics to it. Yeah, but it's fun to think. It's good that those kinds of problems still exist that people can aspire to and learn and research.
Maggie Mcdermut: I want that problem to always exist.
Scott Brady: Now, what were some of the things that you learned about either your kit or your vehicle set up or even you on that journey? Usually you come away with some pretty noticeable takeaways.
Maggie Mcdermut: Honestly, I didn't really come away feeling like I wanted to change my set up that much, but that also has a lot to do with the fact that I spent years in my car, camping, traveling doing month long trips, that sort of stuff with just boxes of gear. So I could move my stuff around. And I really [00:11:00] got to know how I wanted to utilize the space within the vehicle. So I didn't jump in to my vehicle ownership and just, you know, build it out right away. I don't even think I would have built it out if I didn't do the Alaska trip. But I definitely needed some more organization for such a long trip. Personally. I really felt like a kind of... this is going to sound odd, but a creative wakening. I feel like I had. Sat down with my camera. I have a background in photography and I feel like I just got tired of always seeing life through a camera in a lot of ways, but obviously with a trip like that, you're going through such amazing landscapes and I gave myself the time that I felt like I wasn't going to be in a rush. So I took the time to really kind of get in touch with my camera again. And that hasn't really stopped. I've continued to photograph the landscapes that I go through. I [00:12:00] started writing a lot more, more. I have a tendency to kind of hang out by myself a lot. So it wasn't necessarily like, it gave me the time to be by myself. It more gave me kind of the separation from home life, family, friends, whatever. So I could just. Be with myself and my own thoughts and write them down. And I feel like that was kind of the most important and I on like an even more personal level, like was kind of going through a really hard breakup and that trip like made me get over that break up. Which I have always, I always retreat into the back country, or I spend a lot of time in Utah. Whenever I feel like uneasy about something or I feel like I need to work through something and it's not necessarily the active, like thinking and always on the forefront of my [00:13:00] mind processing, but just kind of the space and the distance to just be, and that was a lot of, kind of that personal growth for the alaska trip was just being myself again.
Scott Brady: It's amazing how much we grow when we are alone with our own thoughts, that those moments of stillness and for some people it's meditation for other people, it's a hike alone in the outdoors. Maybe a long drive in a car, a three month drive in a car. Yeah. Helps you sort a lot of things out. Yeah, definitely had some pretty significant life changes alone in a helmet, on a motorcycle. Yeah, for sure. Now, what were some of the things that you liked most about your setup? Like what worked great for you? The things that you would recommend to others to consider for their own Alaskan journey?
Maggie Mcdermut: Honestly the biggest upgrade is just having a fridge. It seems simple and straightforward, but I didn't get one until that [00:14:00] trip and it was like, wow, I don't have to get ice all the time. This is amazing. And that you really don't have to do much to have a capable vehicle, like four wheel drive, replace them with non-stock tires.
Scott Brady: What kind of, what kind of tires did you put on your toyota?
Maggie Mcdermut: I have the Toyo Open Countrie's on Beastie. I'm very satisfied with those fires.
Scott Brady: And they survived the whole trip? No flats and everything?
Maggie Mcdermut: Everybody says that you're going to get a flat on the Dalton or the Dumpster. I got none.
Scott Brady: That's great. Yeah. It's interesting. You're right. With even a stock land cruiser with some good tires, then you just go pretty much anywhere in the world. And that is something we talk about regularly on the podcast. Unfortunately, there is this regular messaging that we get on Instagram or whatever thatthe person that's doing all this traveling has this highly modified [00:15:00] vehicle. And the reality is that you just don't need them to be modified much at all. And that's another great example of you went and did everything you wanted to do, and probably remote camped a lot, and a lot of unknown roads and it did everything you asked for it to do.
Maggie Mcdermut: My family is not into off-roading or four-wheel driving me road trips and we hiked and we did get outside, but I kind of jumped into this completely headfirst and for probably like two years, I didn't even replace the tires on Beastie and the stuff that I got my car through. I'm still astounded. Like slick, Utah mud. Like that little car just made it straight through completely stock. I hadn't done anything to it. Maybe change the oil once or twice. And as I started to use it a lot more, it needed some more maintenance, but it really doesn't [00:16:00] take much.
Scott Brady: What a great reminder, right?
Maggie Mcdermut: It's less stuff to worry about breaking down the road.
Scott Brady: Now, what was the organization that you went up there for, or with, I guess in conjunction with?
Maggie Mcdermut: So the grant was the Change Your World fund grant, which is by concerventures, who was founded by Jonathan Roseanne Hanson, who also founded Overland expo. And it was kind of their way to give back and the whole fund was in honor, honor of a young man Allister who volunteered was actually from Australia and he passed away in 2014 from a traffic accident on his, around the world motorcycle trip. So the Hanson's joined with Alistair's parents and created this fund and you have to be a millennial or under 30 to be able to apply. Cause the whole idea was get the younger generation, young adults out there exploring seeing our environment, interacting with our environment [00:17:00] and being kind of that next generation of stewards. So that's how I got involved with that and still very thankful for that opportunity.
Scott Brady: Yeah. What an amazing opportunity and how did the interaction with the Hanson's, with that organization, how did that help you plan for the trip? Were they able to provide additional assistance around logistics and things like that as well?
Maggie Mcdermut: So there was three of us that were awarded the grant that year, and we all had access to quite a few instructors and teachers that we could call up and be like, Hey, I have this question about this travel plan or whatever our concern was. And then Jonathan Roseanne, themselves were so available to us for questions and help and they also... part of the program as well is you go to Overland Expo. And you have to take certain classes to kind of get a better understanding about navigation and, you know, general medical care [00:18:00] and logistics. So that was part of it too, was getting to go to Overland Expo and having our way paid there as well and get that instruction from, you know, the various teachers that are at Expo.
Scott Brady: So many people have benefited so greatly from all those courses and classes, if anything, it just gives that beginning of confidence that those instructors provide, because they're so skilled in doing that. For sure.
Maggie Mcdermut: Yeah. Expo actually, well besides the grant, definitely helped my learning as well. Like I just kind of putz around on my own food almost two years and then I had heard about Overland Expo and I was like, I should probably go to that and I did, and I kept going back and kept going back. I learned so much information and I went to... I did the driving instruction classes and it kinda got to the point that the director of training Graham Jackson reached out and he was like, do [00:19:00] you want to teach some classes? We would love to have some more female instructors and I was like, yes, I want to share this. Like, I'm so passionate about getting out and getting people in their environment cause it's been kind of one of my pieces of therapy. So I love being able to teach and get other people inspired to get out and connect with our environment, get out of the concrete jungles that a lot of us live in. So it's been so rewarding in that sense as well. There's so much information to learn and there's so much information that we can all share and I really like that sharing aspect, because most over liners, have a tendency to hang out by ourselves so I really appreciate that event and all the Overland events. There's so many now to be able to share with the community and interact with the community.
Scott Brady: And is that how you started to work with 7P? Was through that?
Maggie Mcdermut: Yeah. Some of the classes that Graham brought me in on were under the 7P [00:20:00] name and it's kind of, again, I just kept going down the rabbit hole to the point that now I'm part of the driver training team with 7P at Overland Expo, but then also 7P does training outside of Overland expo and I help with that. I do a lot of marketing for them as well. Just, they're an amazing group of guys that kind of brought me under their wing in a lot of ways and the amount of knowledge in that group alone is...
Scott Brady: It's impressive, and it's one of the reasons why we have regularly recommended 7P on this podcast is because, well, it makes a lot of sense to Matt and me because you're talking about a group of many instructors. I think it is not going to be as advantageous for a student to go to a four-wheel drive training course with a single instructor or just that sole proprietor that does the training. It doesn't mean that that's bad for basic four wheel drive stuff. I think [00:21:00] it's fine. But if your goal is to travel around the world or your goal is to gain a deeper understanding where you go from the one oh one course to the two oh one or the three oh one or the four oh one is that you have to engage with a much larger group of trainers, because if you look at seven P for example, You have Nick, who's got a lot of experience in the North of Africa. You have Graham who's crossed all of Africa and he's much more technical minded and he's got those great skill sets, and you've got all of these different instructors that have time in different environments around the world and it's that accumulation of knowledge that is like a multiplier. I think of the skills that they can teach in their courses. Whereas it's a challenging thing for a solo instructor to actually be able to impart much recent and relevant knowledge, because they probably have to work all the time. They're probably not out traveling that much and so, [00:22:00] as a result, you get a very narrow window into the profession. So I do like the fact... and another one that's good too, is Overland experts there in the, in the Northeast and again, a large pool of instructors that help to each other grow and learn. So I do think that 7P is such a great organization, so.
Maggie Mcdermut: I can't sing their praises enough. I've also having attended a lot of different classes from different instructors at expo. One of the thing that I also really appreciate about seven P is I've never felt like I don't fit in. I feel like sometimes being a woman in a very male dominated community and industry, it's hard sometimes. You don't always get the same instruction. You don't always get the same respect in a lot of ways. Which is why I've also so appreciated the fact that they really want female instructors because [00:23:00] it's not just guys out there and it shouldn't just be guys out there. So that's something like, I've never felt like they have talked to me differently or have instructed me differently because I'm a woman I've never had that experience with them. Which is so important to me and that's why I want to say it, because that's really made a difference.
Scott Brady: It's a show of respect for sure. And if we want to continue to diversify the industry, which I believe is one of our greatest challenges right now is making sure that we do that. We want young families and we want females and we want minorities properly represented in the space because otherwise it gets pretty boring. If it's the same kind of person doing all of the things we need to make sure we have that uniqueness and that diversity, I believe within our ranks. I think that that's really important. So that's great to hear that 7P has done that properly. [00:24:00] How else, if you were to give a couple pieces of advice for someone who is wanting to get driver training and maybe a couple of those little hacks or skills that you teach in your courses that you could share on this podcast?
Maggie Mcdermut: It's okay to turn around. I feel like when I first got into it, one of the biggest things I had to remind myself of was. It is okay to turn around. And just always knowing that, you know, what, if I can make a thousand point turn, I can get myself out of a situation. If I need to, like that helped me get onto some of these roads. I was like, well, I'm not really sure where that goes, but I really want to see where that goes. So it got me out there. It got me on dirt. It got me exploring and just knowing that, you know, what if something just isn't in my skillset, that's fine. I can always turn around. And then the more time you spend getting out there, you know, [00:25:00] be prepared, have all your safety equipment, have a med kit. I first got max tracks cause I usually travel by myself. So I wanted recovery equipment that I can use by myself. So I have that with me just in case, but the more time I spent on dirt, the more I understood how my vehicle moved over trails or moved over obstacles. And then kind of the next step for me was actually just going to Overland expo because the ticket price can be a little expensive. It definitely was for me at the time I was a student and , I didn't have a full-time job, but I made it happen because I knew that that was going to be such a great resource for me. So I spent a lot of time driving dirt roads, but when I was able to, I did go and I wanted to get instruction. And I've learned so much and you can learn so much just from those one, two hour classes. But a lot of it's just trial and error and a lot of ways. And over [00:26:00] preparedness. I think I'm not sure if I exactly answered your question.
Scott Brady: You totally did. And [00:27:00] then again, on the training, what are some things that you have learned from that group? What are some of those aha moments that you had with nick or Graham or any of those other instructors that you just really took away as being powerful?
Maggie Mcdermut: There's so many . So [00:28:00] having a really short, wheel base vehicle that's fairly tall. It feels really tippy and I have always... I hate off-camber driving and that was always a really hard thing for me to kind of push through, and it was Graham kind of like early on when I wasn't like teaching with them yet. But it was at an Expo that I was there early helping set up and then I helped break down. And there was a obstacle, it was an off-camber obstacle. in the driving course, and Graham knew I had this like extreme fear of just like flopping my car. So he actually got Tim Huber. You know Tim and Kelsey,
Scott Brady: He actually used to work for us.
Maggie Mcdermut: I just remembered. So Tim hopped in and Graham guided him into this position so I could see how tilted Beastie you could get and have it still be okay. And that was one of those, like I wouldn't have gotten myself [00:29:00] into a position that was that off camber to then learn oh, that's okay. Obviously each vehicle is going to be different when it comes to that, but that was kind of a big thing for me, just to be like, you know what? Some pucker in your seat is okay, you will survive. But that was definitely like kind of a learning curve because then I felt better getting on harder trails, getting on harder obstacles. That has obviously improved my driving because I understand my vehicle more. And also it's gotten me... or it's opened up more possibilities for the trails that I can do, or I feel like I can do. I still know that there's a line and I don't want to step over it. Cause I like my car, but that was definitely a big one. And there's just always every time we're out, there's all these nuggets that the guys will just kind of spew out and you're like, well, never thought about it that way. Duncan Barber, if you know, [00:30:00] Dunk incredible person. Just so hilarious, but so smart. He loves this hack of bringing unfilled, sandbags along and using them as a traction device. If you're stuck in sand or you're stuck in. You know, a river bed with small pebbles or something, you can fill sandbags and then line that up in front of your vehicle or, you know, behind if you're trying to reverse out and that can be common traction device, and then you just empty them out and they roll up to like that big so that's a really great one. I always have sandbags in my car now. It's all that little stuff and I'm like, there's so much to think about. I can't remember it all because I have it written down. It comes out when I'm using it, but...
Scott Brady: But they all come together even the stuff that we've worked with over the last couple of days, like some of the better deflation devices, the super siphon [00:31:00] and all of these little hacks and tools that we use to make our trips a little bit better. And it's great to hear you talk about these experiences, because I think that our confidence is an accumulation of those experiences. So if we can just put more and more of those things together in a row, or over a few years, then surprisingly our confidence changes because we now have all of maybe it's like those sandbags we've lined all of those experiences up underneath to make the traveling easier.
Maggie Mcdermut: Oh, absolutely. Something, you know, said it a million times already, I travel by myself and that can be a hindrance in a lot of ways for expanding your knowledge. So that's something else that I've so appreciated is being on trainings or being on trips with the team and knowing like, I trust those guys. I know their skill sets. I [00:32:00] understand their strengths and just having them spot me on something. I know they're not going to get me into a situation I don't want to be in, so I can really trust them and getting that ability to get around harder obstacles and just having the confidence that they're there and they're spotting me and they know my vehicles limitation, and they know my limitations. And that's really important too, because I feel like sometimes that's hard where it's like, well, My vehicle doesn't drive quite like a modern vehicle or whatever it is and all these guys like they have, they have old defenders, there's old land cruisers in the group. There's just all these old vehicles and they've been doing it forever. So they understand some of that as well, which has been really, really helpful.
Scott Brady: Yeah, no doubt. And there's something that's not only so charming about those old vehicles, but I think very confidence inspiring because it feels like I'm driving an app in [00:33:00] most of these new cars. There's so many electronic distractions and the car is so heavily relies on electronic aids to accomplish its task. That when you get into something so analog, like an old defender. I mean, the defender that I drive as no lockers and manual transmission, and it's just a... it does have a center differential lock, but no axle lockers and it is very analog, but I don't have to worry about like the LCD screen going out or the actually control failing. And I think that's actually a really pleasant way to travel. I think about even our conversation we had with Sinwei this morning about the phones. And he was, he was looking at how do I get a phone that only makes phone calls and receives texts. So that we have like less distraction in our day and maybe that's the case so often with vehicles, but there's, it's just going to get worse because now they're going to be [00:34:00] electric and they're going to be even more of an app.
Maggie Mcdermut: I'm just going to stick with my 40 year old car for as long as possible.
Scott Brady: It should last another 40 years. Right?
Maggie Mcdermut: I hope so.
Scott Brady: For sure. Now I noticed that your recovery and camping kit and all of your support equipment is very refined. I can see that you spend a lot of time with it. It all looks well used. Very well organized too, but not like pedantic or didn't seem OCD. It seemed just like very accessible. Well used. What are some of the things that in that kit that you have that you wouldn't live without, like that you have in both of your vehicles, it's part of your permanent kit that you really have come to appreciate.
Maggie Mcdermut: Tool roll, definitely tools. You know, if you don't have the tools and something goes wrong, you're out of luck. And that's one of those, I don't want to [00:35:00] need it a lot, but when I have needed it and, you know, it can be as small as, Ugh, my back door stopped opening because it's full of dust and the mechanism is jammed or whatever and I've had to undo my whole back door opening mechanism. But if I didn't have a screwdriver to do that, I couldn't have fixed that. What're some of the things I've done. Oh, Toolkit and ratchet straps that have saved my butt. I lost the tie rod end 40 miles down I guess it's the forest service road equivalent in Canada. I don't remember what they call them. Outside of Pemberton and I lost a tie rod end. It just completely failed. The ball joint failed. So I had no steering and no service and I was by myself and I fixed it with like Well, it was the Front Runner stratchit. So it was stretchy and like the ratchet mechanism wasn't big enough that it couldn't get tight enough. So it was perfect. Just random thing that I had [00:36:00] and that got me out.
Scott Brady: Probably very slowly, right? Like kind of crawled along.
Maggie Mcdermut: I probably like did 20 miles an hour.
Scott Brady: So that I can visualize this. So where the tie rod end goes into the knuckle of the tire or was it the drag link that comes from the steering box?
Maggie Mcdermut: Drag links that come. So it was on the opposite side and that one before it goes like the other tire rod, it failed at that point. So like the tie rod itself is pretty much like that and it just went, boom. And the mechanism that you can... you can tighten the tie rod, at least you can on mine, but it was so rusted and corroded that I couldn't tighten it back over the ball joint. So that's why I had to like, just wrap a ratchet strap around it to keep it together, save the day. That was a little that's my proudest trail fix.
Scott Brady: That's totally legit.
[00:37:00] Maggie Mcdermut: Tools and I have a lot of... now I have a lot of straps with me and ratchets and I probably always carry more water than I need. Cause that's always another really important one.
Scott Brady: You've got to have it and with you doing as much back country hiking and tracking that you do, you probably need it for that to support those activities as well.
Maggie Mcdermut: Medical kits more important for that, which I have in my car. But I didn't know how much stuff you kind of needed in the beginning. And I did all right, but I've definitely learned it's nice to have a lot of those things that you may not necessarily pull out all the time, but you definitely want them.
Scott Brady: Those essential pieces of kit, like having good communications. Having a good way to navigate. Which may just be a map and a compass.
Maggie Mcdermut: Paper maps. One more thing on the tool roll. Cause I think it's just an important. Tools don't do anything [00:38:00] unless you have the knowledge in terms of what to look for, if something's going wrong. So that's something that I've also really been very fortunate about. There's an amazing mechanic in... I live in Boulder, Colorado. There's amazing mechanic that lives in the Boulder area. That's kind of like one of the most sought after land cruiser mechanics. And he kind of took me under his wing.
Scott Brady: What's his name?
Maggie Mcdermut: Robbie Atinson. People know him by his mud handle, which is Powder Pig, but his company is Adventure Off Road. Doesn't have much of a web presence though. But he hasn't been incredible. I always would, if I needed something fixed, I call him up and I would plan that I would leave the shop. Cause I didn't want to like invade his space or his time, but every time he was like, no, no, no, like I want to show you this. So he would do the repair or whatever it was like we did my water pump, a valve adjustment, done knuckles with Robbie. He was always... He wanted to teach me because he wanted to make sure that if I got into a sticky [00:39:00] situation, I had some idea like mechanically, what was going on. So now I can do a lot of stuff even in my carport doing my own basic maintenance or I rebuilt my manual clutch master last year. And I did that by myself with some nervous calls to my friends that were like, am I doing this right? But that's been really important too. And then that's also helped me understand what tools I need in my toolkit, because if you have a land cruiser? You need 10 10 millimeters. Cause they're all going to go. But what my car needs isn't necessarily what somebody else's car needs. So knowing the tools that you need for your vehicle, I think is really important too. So that was a good lesson for me.
Scott Brady: When we were talking earlier today, you brought up several guidebooks that you love. And one of the things that we like to ask on the podcast is. Your favorite books. Now this can be fiction or nonfiction and it can be about adventure or not about adventure, but maybe the books in your life that have [00:40:00] been the most... having the greatest impression on you, or maybe the books that you've gifted most often to other people. What are some that come to mind for you?
Maggie Mcdermut: Desert Solitaire?
Scott Brady: That one has come up a lot.
Maggie Mcdermut: So Edward Abbey honestly, his... one of his lesser known books, black sun is my favorite book, one of them and it's an odd, you know, if somebody goes out and reads black sought after this, they're gonna be like, why is this her favorite book? That's just weird. But there's just something about the story. It was the two lead characters you can never quite figure out. And I really liked that air of mystery because it was never solved, I guess. At least that's how I felt about it. And then. I'm actually almost done with one right now that I'm like, this is been quite the story and it's a, non-fiction, it's a biography kind of... called The Stranger in the Woods. It's about a hermit [00:41:00] that lived in the main woods for 27 years and saw two people the entire time. So kind of A little bit of an odd ball, but very endearing and just his whole, like the life story of, of this man, Chris Knight was just fascinating to me.
Scott Brady: Is it an autobiography? Did he?
Maggie Mcdermut: He did not write it. It was kind of... odd character. He told this reporter that like, If anybody was going to write a biography on him, he could do it, but then he ended up completely cutting this reporter out of his life and so the partner's like, well, he said he wanted me to do his biography. So I'm going to write his story because I think it's really interesting story. But just general author. Well, I really, really enjoy having Marcus Raley's meditations around, cause you don't have [00:42:00] to actually... like it's not a story. It's just snippets and ideas and I really appreciate that you can open it to any page and something on that page is profound. But you don't have to get stuck in a whole story. So that's something to kind of think of.
Scott Brady: The emperor of Rome, right? I mean, he's a fascinating human being and what he sacrificed for his people and even as life in the end, you know, it's just amazing.
Maggie Mcdermut: So that's, that's another important one. I read a lot of political philosophy because I used to be a political science major and I really liked kind of the philosophy side of it and policy analysis side of it. But those are probably not very exciting.
Scott Brady: Those are great selections though, that you've shared. That's awesome. Now since you talked about your favorite guidebooks earlier, or some of your favorite ones, what are [00:43:00] some of the guidebooks that you like? Or maybe even the Overland training and concept books that you really like? What are some of your favorites?
Maggie Mcdermut: The one that you saw this morning, which is definitely my favorite guidebook it's Utah back country byways. Tony Hugel is the author and he doesn't just have a Utah guidebook. He's done , gosh I want to say he's done Colorado, Nevada desert, California. There's like six within his back country byway series and I have all of them and it's just a very easly understood, straightforward. I feel like the information isn't hidden, you know, it's like getting there. All right. I got to the beginning of the road, what to see on the road? Mile mark numbers and average times and difficulty, and obviously the difficulty changes, but I've really appreciated just how well laid out that book is or all of them, because it's all in the same style. . The Mark Kelly ones for Utah, but that's more like [00:44:00] technical, like mountaineering and stuff like that. But I have a climbing background too, so I have that interest. So I really appreciate those. I think those books are harder to understand because the information is not laid out well, but the information is there, it's just a matter of figuring what he's saying.
Scott Brady: Deciphering it? So, if you were to, now you've had all this experience and you've become a trainer and you've done this trip to Alaska, if you were able to sit down your 22 year old self that just bought this land cruiser and give her some advice what would be... and it doesn't have to be you any one that's new to overlanding. Now that you've had these experiences, what advice would you give them? What were some of your takeaways or lessons learned or you think was most important?
Maggie Mcdermut: Just do it. I don't know if I would [00:45:00] like... yeah, just do it, like get out there, get exploring. See your environment. Interact with your environment. Understand how to protect it as well. I've always kind of had that stewardship kind of in me. I used to be on the executive committee for Surfrider foundation in the Santa Barbara chapter and we did a lot of kind of pollution and we worked on a lot of pollution issues, land use issues. So protecting the areas that we all love has always been really important to me. But just getting out there and doing it and connecting with where we are, I think is just so important. I wouldn't necessarily tell younger me, like avoid doing this, or don't do this because that's been half the fun is just figuring out this life in this process and I've learned so much about myself that I... that's why I appreciate this kind of travel so much as well [00:46:00] is because I am who I am today because of those hardships because of learning on the road, because of seeing these other environments, it all comes together into who I am now and I still have a lot to learn and I hope to have many, many years to learn. But I think it's just so important to get out there and experience life and the lessons will come and they should come and be open to lessons. Maybe that's it. Do it. And be open to learning.
Scott Brady: That's great advice, Maggie, thank you so much for being on the podcast. Your story is an inspiration, and I think that you have done already so much good for the industry and I'm thankful that you're in it and I just, I look forward to seeing what you're going to accomplish over the decades to come and the journeys that you're going to take with your land cruisers around the world and Maybe we'll have you on the podcast after your next big journey.
Maggie Mcdermut: Thank you so much. I've so enjoyed this entire week and [00:47:00] being able to sit here and have this conversation with you. So thank you.
Scott Brady: Your welcome Maggie. Thank you again. And thanks everyone for listening.
Scott Brady: And if people wanted to learn more about 7P and if they wanted to learn more about you, where can they find that information?
Maggie Mcdermut: Easiest way for me is on Instagram @MaggieMcDermott you'll get a mix of there's going to be off-roading and overlanding, but there's also going to be my dog and some horses and a lot of hiking, but just generally outdoors. But if you guys have any questions, reach out to me there. If you want to learn more about 7P, their Instagram is 7P and it's just the number seven, the letter P as in Paul four by four. And that's a great way to learn about seven P and the website's up there as well.
Scott Brady: Perfect. Thank [00:48:00] you.