Category: Community

Team 4 Corners Announces New Truck and Navigator

Sedona Arizona: As the October 8 start date of the Rebelle Rally rapidly approaches, Nena Barlow and Ram Truck announce the 2020 team navigator role and reveal the truck with which the rally team will compete this year.

Tana White competed in both the 2016 and 2019 Rebelle Rallies.

Team 4 Corners, the Rebelle Rally team partnership between Nena Barlow and Ram Truck, is proud to announce that Tana White will jump into the role of navigator. The planned navigator, Chris Mayne of Paris, France, must step out for the 2020 Rebelle Rally due to current travel restrictions to and from France. Fortunately for the team, Tana is a seasoned Rebelle Rally navigator, willing and available to step in at this late stage of rally preparation.

Tana comes to the team with two previous Rebelle Rallies under her belt, including the inaugural 2016 rally. Tana hails from Cashmere, Washington, where she lives with her husband, Brad, and their twin boys, and has been active outdoors her whole life with four-wheeling, camping and hiking. She works as an occupational therapist and clinical manager and is a repeated Ram Truck owner. She defines her motto as “Life is too short to be controlled by ‘what if’ and ‘if only’.”

Team 4 Corners is also announcing plans to pilot a Hydro Blue 2020 Power Wagon from Ram Truck. The Power Wagon is the heavy-duty off-road model based on the Ram 2500, weighing in at 7,300 pounds, with 410 hp, 429 lb-ft of torque, and total length of 239 inches, which will likely make it the largest thing on the course this year

“I am always excited to drive any of the extremely capable and comfortable offroad Ram Trucks in the Rebelle Rally. Each has its advantages, and it’s fun to show what any of these full-size trucks can do, exactly how they are available from the dealer lot” says Barlow.

The 2020 Ram Power Wagon is built for heavy-duty use in any terrain.

Barlow and White are taking aim at the Bone Stock Award, a special award that goes to the highest scoring team driving a vehicle in completely stock factory condition. In previous years of the rally, Barlow drove a 2016 Ram Rebel, 2017 Ram Power Wagon, and 2019 Ram Rebel, bringing home the Bone Stock Award in two of those three years.

The Rebelle Rally will take place next month from Lake Tahoe, California, to Glamis, California. It is an off-road navigation-based competition, travelling about 2,000 km in seven days, using only map and compass, no GPS. More than 40 teams, all women, drive production vehicles seeking checkpoints across the deserts of Nevada and California.

More Information

For more information on the Rebelle Rally, visit www.RebelleRally.com
Follow the rally live from October 8-17 on:
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkB_ewwStrvi4BimVrYhpyw
Live tracking on the rally website: https://www.rebellerally.com/live-tracking/

To follow Team 4 Corners, rally team #129:
Facebook: @4CornersRallyTeam

Instagram: @4CornersRallyTeam

Tana, with her husband, Brad, their twin sons, and their 2017 Ram 3500.

Ram Trucks Partners with Nena Barlow for 2020 Rebelle Rally

Ram Truck announced today a renewed partnership with Nena Barlow to compete in the 2020 Rebelle Rally. This will be the fourth time for Barlow in the Rebelle Rally with Ram Trucks, having brought home the Bone Stock Award and other trophies for podium finishes in previous years.

Barlow’s rally team “Team 4 Corners” plans to once again engage veteran navigator Chris Mayne from France. Barlow and Mayne competed together successfully in the 2017 and 2018 rallies. Although the team did not complete in the 2019 rally, Barlow did make an appearance on the rally’s media team on the final day, co-driving with skiing legend Wendy Fisher. Barlow also continues to provide 4wd instruction for many participants in the rally, while Mayne competes in and provides navigation instruction for many overseas rallies.

In their daily lives, Barlow operates a 4wd training, guiding and rental business, Barlow Adventures, and Mayne works in PR for an automotive manufacturer in Europe.

Ram Truck has yet to announce details about the vehicle that Barlow will be piloting for this year’s rally, but one of the premises of the Rebelle Rally is limited vehicle modifications, including stipulations such as a maximum allowed tire height of 35-inches. A special award, the Bone Stock Award, goes to the highest scoring team driving a vehicle in completely stock condition, just as it came from the factory. In previous years of the rally, Barlow drove a 2016 Ram Rebel, 2017 Ram Power Wagon, and 2019 Ram Rebel, all just as they came from the factory.

The Rebelle Rally is an off-road navigation-based competition, travelling 1200-1400 miles in 7 days across the deserts of the western United States, using only map and compass. No GPS or outside help is allowed, and the course is a closely guarded secret. Over 40 teams, all women, drive production vehicles in either 4x4 or Crossover class, seeking checkpoints with varying degrees of navigation and driving challenge.

This year, the Rebelle Rally takes place October 8 to 17, 2020, from Lake Tahoe, in Northern California, across the Nevada desert, ending in the famous Imperial Sand Dunes, better known as Glamis, in Southern California.

For more information on the Rebelle Rally, visit www.RebelleRally.com

To follow Team 4 Corners:

Facebook: @4CornersRallyTeam

Instagram: @4CornersRallyTeam

Baja Relief Trip

Baja California Sur, Mexico
Hurricane Odile Relief Trip
by Nena Barlow

My trip to Baja was my small way to contribute to the efforts of rebuilding from the damages of Hurricane Odile. We launched the Friends of Harald group to raise funds to go directly and entirely to help those who need a boost to recover in Harald’s neighborhood, like Pedro, who lost his entire house. I chose to contribute by using my resources of time and money to actually deliver some goods and be there to assist physically and with whatever reassurances I could offer. I took my 17-year-old son, PJ, with me for experience for him and just some extra muscle for the rebuild projects. We both saw a lot, learned a lot, and it was a gratifying trip.

We left from Arizona with our 4x4 pickup truck and drove Mexico 5 through San Felipe and Coco’s Corner on our way to Highway 1, the famous Transpeninsular Highway, to Guererro Negro at the border of Baja California Sur. Then we drove the 1, all the way to La Paz. Everyone will tell you to be careful driving in Mexico. But after driving in Phoenix and Los Angeles, I find that driving the Transpeninsular Highway is a refreshingly friendly experience. Yes, the lanes are very narrow much of the way, but the pavement (even after the Hurricane) is much smoother than, say, Sacramento or Santa Monica. The traffic is light, polite and very cooperative about passing and making way for oncoming traffic.

As we passed through coastal areas of Baja California, you see some roofs missing, sand piled against some structures, and a few downed trees, but you are not sure if this is just neglect or hurricane damage. But once you reach Baja California Sur, as you drive through San Ignacio, then Santa Rosalia and Loreto and Mulege, you suddenly realize how violent and recent this all actually was. Water lines on trees and walls above the roofs of homes, trucks and cars half-buried in sand alongside a recently rebuild bridge, wind-whipped trees leaning with just a few scraggly leaves clinging to the branches, and tarps where roofs of homes and businesses used to be.

I have to admire the people’s response to the hurricane. Instead of sitting down in the middle of the devastation, lamenting their losses, and waiting for someone to come help, they take the attitude of “well, that sucked—let’s start sweeping up and do what we need to do to get working again.” The Transpeninsular Highway, the main artery of all of Baja, washed out in many places. Bridges or low water crossings were just gone, and in many places where the highway had been built up to be level, the fill was washed or blown away and the road edges were collapsed. By the first day the water had stopped flowing, locals were clearing go-arounds and bypasses so the trucks could get through. The federal government sent over ferries full of CFE (the power company) trucks to reestablish electricity as soon as possible. Within a week or two after the hurricane knocked down nearly every power pole in the La Paz area, CFE workers had them upright and functioning again. And on an individual level, I like to point to Pedro and his family-- Pedro’s entire house collapsed. They salvaged what they could and put up a tarp for some shelter. He showed up to work the following Monday. Life goes on.

So, our trip was not to bring immediate relief of emergency supplies, but rather to help with the ongoing rebuild of secondary needs (if you consider things like a house secondary, after water, food and electricity are restored…) La Paz has a population of almost one-hundred thousand people. Like many American cities of that size, has a Home Depot and a Walmart, which seems so odd after driving the last 1000 miles through rural Mexican countryside. Having those stores meant that there were many supplies we needed for our projects that did not have to be carried by us from the states. Our load of supplies consisted of odd things that cannot be found in La Paz stores: a cement vibrator, synthetic motor oil, solar panels, and Viva paper towels. Any of you who have traveled with Harald understand the significance of Viva paper towels.

 

This also made for interesting conversations at the military checkpoints. The primary goal of the military checkpoints is to stop guns and drugs, but they found my camping air mattresses, Viva paper towels, and my ARB weather-proof duffels to be the items of most interest. When one thorough soldier insisted on me showing the contents of my duffel, I pulled out the pair of pink panties on top and waved them at him. He quickly decided that we could move on. I might not recommend that as a technique for everyone.

We spent five whirlwind days at Hacienda Las Puertas (Harald’s house), righting leaning trees, cutting up trees that couldn’t be saved, rebuilding hurricane-ravaged roofs, and working on wall and house designs that would be better this time around. We did take evenings off to enjoy local cuisine, cruise El Malecon (the Esplanade), or hang out at the beach. I lived on seafood and tortillas—yum! We held a small party on Saturday afternoon for the Friends of Harald, and presented Pedro with a gift certificate for a house. He was surprised and very happy! On Monday, Harald, Karl, PJ and I visited Pedro’s family. Pedro showed us his property, and gave us radishes from his garden. His mother and father, who also live on the property, showed me where their kitchen had collapsed. Karl came up with a plan to improve the electrical wiring for the whole property as well as hook up the rebuilt house to the sewer for the first time.

We talked a lot about what to do next with Friends of Harald, now that the plan for Pedro’s house is set and work is starting. The challenge is that there are so many that still need basic things, like a roof over their head, that it is hard to choose who gets what little help we can offer. We made some wonderful friends and saw some amazing things. I hope that we made some difference, and through Friends of Harald, can continue to do so. We go on, and we do what we can with what we have. Hasta mañana!

Life of a Sedona Jeep Tour Guide

I've been getting a lot of requests for this one lately--an article I wrote over 10 years ago that was meant to screen potential guides for my then position as a tour company manager. I resisted the urge to edit and update it. The content really applies to almost any position in the 4-wheeling/outdoor industry. Enjoy! -NB

Arguably, Sedona, Arizona is the Jeep tour capital of the world. With the great weather, gorgeous scenery, and easy access to a myriad of trails, no wonder there are so many tour companies. Many people think that being a Sedona Jeep tour guide would be their dream job. If you are one of those, read this first!

Do you think you want to be a Jeep tour guide? Many people think it sounds like fun, and it is, for a while. But, for most people, the romance wears off quickly. The average career lifespan of Jeep tour guide in Sedona is less than two years, but there are those who have been guiding for five, ten, even twenty years.

I have been in the Jeep tour business since 1996, which makes me about ninety-six in Jeep years. I have eaten enough red dust to be convicted of smuggling federal property. I have ushered thousands of visitors into the backcountry. I have grown tired of the sound of my own voice. I have watched Jeeps go from the showroom floor to tour status to beyond reasonable maintenance, relegated to the Jeep retirement lot, with 150,000 trail miles on them. I have hosed off various types of excrement from Jeeps. And I have seen guides train, passed by them on the trail for a while, then saw them eventually move on to a "real" job. Let me give you insight to the whole world of professional Jeep tour guiding, from start to finish.

It takes a certain type of person to really be a guide as an ongoing career. Most "career" guides are very serious nature and history lovers. They drive Jeeps all week, then spend their days off hiking, biking, or even Jeeping. They love to read. They have heated debates with their associates about the current scientific name of the javelina, the best way to eat agave, or the latest tour joke. They are clever, independent, resourceful, animated, and loud. They are very much people-people. They love to entertain and be the center of attention. And they can deal with a great deal of ups and downs, not just on the trail, but also in their schedules and bank accounts.

The first thing that hopefuls need to know is that fewer than fifty-percent of applicants will even get an interview, due to the sheer volume of applications. When I was a Jeep tour trail boss, my interview technique consisted primarily of trying to talk the applicant out of the job. I would tell them all of the disadvantages of the job, like bouncing around all day long, eating dust in the heat, or getting drenched in the freezing rain, all the while being charming and entertaining, and answering the same questions you have heard a thousand times. Some applicants are dismayed by the fact that there are no fixed paid hours. Guides are paid by the hour only for driving tours, on a rotating schedule, at the whim of the weather and tourism flow. Some applicants are even distressed to learn that they have to wash their own Jeeps. If none of that seems to phase them, we move on with the interview.

Jeep tour companies are looking for personality first. They want someone who is responsible, yet entertaining; informative, yet interesting; and safety-conscious, but fun. Many of these traits may seem contradictory, but it is exactly what makes a good guide. And, contradictory to popular belief, guides are not hired for their four-wheeling prowess, in fact, personality, not off-road experience, is the single most important factor in guide selection. There are some really great four-wheelers who will never make the cut as a guide. Likewise, there are many great guides who were hired without any previous four-wheeling experience. The priorities of most tour companies fall in this order: first, safety; second, entertainment; third, education.

What happens to the applicants who do make the cut? Training, training, training, which may take anywhere from two to twelve weeks, depending on the traineeís previous experience. Trainees must learn about local history, geology, ecology, environmental etiquette, company policies and procedures, and, yes, how to drive a Jeep. No matter how many years of 4x4 experience a trainee has, there are many things that must be learned to manage the responsibility of driving a heavy Jeep with paying guests as a full time job. Most companies don't pay for training time, either. That alone tests the resolve of the trainee.

Training involves lots of studying. Jeep tour companies each compile their own guide training manuals, which include company policies and area information. A trainee should also spend a lot of time at the library, the historical society, and area parks. Most companies will expect you to know more about the area than you will ever be able to share in one two-hour tour, but you need that depth of knowledge from which to draw. Veteran guides have forgotten more than most people will ever know about Sedona, and rookies will still be expected to be able to discuss at length the virtues of the agave, or the patterns of geological erosion, or the effect of the World Series on the socio-economic structure of Sedona.

The key to ongoing success as a tour guide is to read a lot. Not only does it freshen your material for both you and your guests, but also it keeps your information congruent with current events and ongoing changes. Scientific names of animal species change, working geological theories evolve, and new archaeological discoveries emerge. Nothing is static - keep reading and exploring! The biggest mistake guides make is thinking that once they have been cleared to do tours, they know everything they need to know and are done training.

My favorite step in Jeep tour guide training involves the infamous "ride-along's", where the trainee rides with veteran guides to observe their touring technique, presentations, and interaction between guide and guests. It is my favorite, because, invariably, a guide trainee will come to me and say "Joe said this about this, but Jane said that about this." Presentation details vary from guide to guide, and it is important to do your own reading. Presentation, interpretation, and perception vary widely, so always check your facts. Otherwise, it can become like the telephone game: by the time a story filters through a handful of guides, it doesn't even remotely resemble actual fact!

Interwoven with these ride-alongs will be hands-on four-wheel-drive training in a tour Jeep with the trainees and a trainer. Tour Jeeps handle much differently than a stock Jeep, and it takes some adjustment to become proficient at driving them, even if the trainee has Jeeping experience. As a trainee, remember that you are there to absorb as much as possible from the trainer, who is usually a very tour-experienced person. Set your ego aside, please. Have the self-confidence to ask questions. Don't act like the driving is part of the interview. You have already been hired, now the company wants to train you to a certain point in your ability to manage a tour Jeep. The only people who are dismissed during driver training, are the ones who do not listen to the instructor. A tour company is putting a lot on the line by letting you drive one of their pieces of equipment on the company insurance policy with paying guests.

Each company has their own method of clearing a new guide for tours. Some companies have you do a tour with managers and senior guides on board (the worst possible passengers you could ever have), or some slowly wean you by having a veteran ride along with you for your first few tours. But, basically, you will be cleared to do tours when your driving and navigating is transparent, you project confidence and clarity in your information presentation, and you exhibit an easy going control of your tour.

Getting cleared to do tours does not mean that initiation is over. There is some hazing involved. In a small town, all the other Jeep tour guides know who the new guy is immediately, and the posturing can be downright juvenile. At times, I have compared the Jeep tour guide crowd to a pack of wolves - they establish a pecking order, and they can smell fear. But, for the most part, the tour guides from all of the companies are fun to work with, behave professionally on the trail, and are just good working people. One of the fun games guides play is coming up with new and clever banter to exchange when passing another tour Jeep on the trail.

What can tour guides expect to make once they are trained? Most companies are paying anywhere from $11 per hour for rookies, up to $20 per hour for veterans. But a really good guide will nearly match his or her hourly wages in tips. The downside is that guides only get paid for hours driving, and those hours can vary seasonally. This is not a job for people who need a steady income. The tour business has its peaks and valleys, which directly correlate to the weather and seasons. It takes self-discipline to save and adequately manage your finances. Among veteran guides, the saying "Winter is coming" has a special meaning and foreboding.

Most new guides begin in the spring, the busiest season of the year, where you spend as much as ten hours a day in the Jeep, you barely get a chance to scarf down cold pizza or a power bar for lunch in between tours, then drive until dark, go home, fall asleep on the couch, then get up in the morning and do it all again, for about ten days straight, before you finally take a day off, then ten more days straight, all until May, when we get a little breather. Summer days are really long and boring. You get one or two tours in the morning, then lay around for hours in the heat of the day, then everyone goes out for sunset tours, so you are driving until eight o'clock at night, then you come home, fall asleep on the couch, and do it all again tomorrow.

We endure the grueling days, because winter is always ahead. I advise new guys to sock away twenty dollars a day during the spring and summer, in order to build enough of a winter supplement to survive. Most guides get through winter on peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles. Over the course of a year, a full time guide averages twenty-five to thirty hours per week, with the spring and summer kicking at forty hours per week, and winter piddling in at as little as ten hours per week, depending on weather.

In spite of the eratic hours and unstable finances, there are some amazing benefits, which cannot be measured by your bank account.

You get to spend most of your days outside. When you are on the trail, you are captain of the ship. You work with an amazingly sharp and entertaining group of people, upon which I am a sure a sitcom will be based someday! You meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life. I have toured people from Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Ecuador, and New Jersey. I have toured with blind people, so we spent the tour talking about the sounds and smells of the forest. I have toured with deaf people, so I scribbled out rock formations, history, and jokes on a note pad for them. I toured with a family from Turkey who sent me a beautiful leather wallet as a thank you for the toy cap gun key chain I gave to their son, as a memento of the "wild" west. I toured with a family from Manhattan whose 12-year-old little girl had never picked up a rock before. I have toured with numerous people who burst into tears at the sheer beauty of the scenery. I have watched elk spar, coyotes hunt, mountain lions stalk, hawks mate, bears scratch, and tour guides eat. I have answered questions like "why do they allow the animals to just run loose out here?" (The questions themselves are worthy of an entire book--coming soon!) If you love the outdoors, nothing can compare.

So what happens to most Jeep tour guides? For some, it is something they are proud to say they have done, but are glad to have moved on to more sane and steady work. For others, it becomes a way of life. "The worst day Jeep tour guiding is better than the best day in an office!"

Happy Trails

Trail Clean-up: What are YOU doing next Saturday?

I'll keep this short and sweet...well, at least short. If you love the outdoors--four-wheeling, hiking, fishing, whatever--you need to give back. Disrespectful, lazy, worthless scum leave trash on our trails every day. No, it's not our trash, but it is our land and our responsibility to take care of it. Participating in a trail clean-up is a great way to get started on responsible land use, a great way to meet other like-minded recreationists, and the most fun trash pickin' you will ever have.

Four Peaks is a beautiful area northeast of Phoenix that is abused by slobs. There is an annual clean-up there, and we are making headway--every year gets a little better. This year's event is NEXT SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010. Join me and a bunch of other people here, or watch for a clean-up near you through your local club, association, or land management agency.
http://www.fourpeakspickup.blogspot.com/

Happy Trails!