The Girl Scout
I’m Lindsey and I’m a food blogger and photographer, while my husband, Doug, is a creative director, writer and a photographer as well. We live in San Diego, California, but whenever we get the chance we’re off exploring.
My journey in the automotive world began when I was a little girl. Back then, I’ve always loved the Scout and the Bronco and both were my “dream cars.” I saved up all my babysitting money so I could buy one of them when I was old enough to drive. Unfortunately, my dad decided that neither were safe for a sixteen year old girl to drive. So, I ended up with a hand-me-down Ford Explorer.
Finding Love in the Outdoors
The origins of my start in the off-road scene is sort of a funny story. I was kind of this nomadic adventure junkie who bounced all over the place – Alaska, Colorado, etc. When I met Doug, he was sort of doing the same thing in his Jeep. Our second date was a week-long trip through Moab, Utah. I fell in love with four wheeling instantly. And with Doug…probably on day four. He drove, I photographed. Now, I mostly drive and he mostly takes the pictures.
Fast forward a few years. We were on the way to a hike when we saw this Smurf blue Scout for sale on a roadside farm. I’d wanted a Scout (or a Ford Bronco, honestly) even before I was old enough to drive. I knew I had to have it. Doug knew it would need a 1-ton axle and an LS swap.
I call my build “The.Girl.Scout” for obvious reasons. I’m a girl and my rig is an International Harvester Scout. I also feel like the name just kind of speaks to the lifestyle we live – constantly exploring and learning. It’s my first build, and I’m learning a lot along the way. Doug and I have been slowly putting together the Scout for about three years. Will we ever finish? Probably not. Although several different shops have done a good amount of work on the rig, Doug and I do a lot of the basics on the Scout and do plenty of tinkering.
These days I strongly believe in “doing it right the first time”. It’s a philosophy that’s been forged by bad experiences with cheaper parts, putting band-aids on things and having them fail, and generally paying more in the long run. The build still has a ways to go, but we will not be cutting any corners.
A lot of the vehicle is custom, because there aren’t really any bolt-on parts for Scouts that support how I like to drive. Take the current front axle, for example. It’s actually a Dana 61 with Dana 60 inners. A lot of work went into making that happen. And then there’s everything else – custom driveshafts, bumpers, gas tank, control arms, cage, everything going on under the hood – we even moved the rear wheel wells. The list goes on…
Some of my favorite mods on the Scout are things that make the rig more enjoyable to drive and easier to take out to the backcountry because of their functionality. Of course they’re cool mods, too! The LS swap makes the Scout drive like a modern vehicle. It was a major upgrade from the rebuilt engine we had in it before. The Ram Assist Steering makes it easy to turn those 40s, aired down, and on rocks. It’s amazing. I could think of so many bad lines I’ve taken in the past before we had the Ram Assist because I couldn’t execute a full turn. I love having an iPad in the Scout. I know this is a weird one, but hear me out. During the day it is our navigation system. At night, we snuggle up in the back and watch movies. We even have plans for surround sound, and a roll cage mount – like a cozy little camp theatre. We have inverters to power our electronics. We have several two prong outlets under the seats and several cable outlets in the dash. Not the most exciting thing to talk about, but they make life so much easier, especially on long trips, away from civilization. Lastly, we have 1-ton axles and lockers. I guess they speak for themselves. We’ve added a set of Toyo Open Country MTs back in March and they’re awesome tires. We don’t even carry a spare, which is kind of crazy considering how “out there” we get. They take a beating for sure.
Like I said previously, Doug and I will probably never finish building the Scout. Upfitting this rig is a never-ending process. We’re planning on getting custom aluminum armor made. We’re envisioning a few panels that would look almost seamless and tied into the cage. The goal is to not change the body too much, and to have it withstand hits without denting. We’d like to have a complete overhaul of our suspension with coilovers and bypasses. Another axle swap with bigger gears and selectable lockers. Plus an Atlas transfer case. A complete overhaul of the interior would be great. We’re actually working with a company on a custom drawer with a sleep platform system. A complete rewire. A full or partial chassis that we’re still trying to figure out. There is still so much to do.
I consider my rig as a combination of a crawler and an overland vehicle. Really, we just love to wheel – easy trails, harder trails, doesn’t matter as long as we’re outdoors. We are passionate about exploring, history, photography, and spending time under the stars. And obviously, we love to drive.
One of the coolest things about owning a Scout is that you don’t see a lot of them on the trails. Plus, the history of the brand is so rich and interesting and so is the culture around Scouts. I feel like I’m part of something bigger. There are two things I absolutely love about my rig. First, that it drives like a modern vehicle. I can use it all weekend on the trails, and all week as a daily. It took a lot of work to get it there and I’m super proud of it. I’m the only one rolling on 40s in the yoga parking lot. Second, is that we can sleep in it so comfortably. It’s like a camper van that we can crawl.
I joined an adventure club when I was in high school and caught the bug. Since then I’ve lived and traveled all over the world. Ironically, my husband was a dedicated Boy Scout and an all around adventure nut. We’re both naturally curious people – always digging in to places, and craving experiences. Photography is how we attempt to capture and share all of it. We’re constantly amazed by the places we go. And attempting to capture the “bigness” of an experience, or the uniqueness of a place, is kind of a way of making it permanent for us. Of course, sometimes we just shoot the Scout. That’s fun too.
There are so many awesome memorable trips with the Scout that it’s hard to name just one! My vote would probably be beach camping in Northern California. Doug and I had a tough time getting there – we had to sleep on the side of the road a few nights, flat tires, wheels flying off of our trailer, forest fires, and so on. One night Doug almost got in a fight with a group of tweakers in a trailer park. After all that mess, I have to say that we felt like we’d earned an amazing camping experience. And we got one. We spent three days on a black sand beach – swimming, cooking, and having bonfires. Sleeping in the Scout, listening to the ocean all night…it was heaven.
We do have some favorite local California spots that we love to go to, but they change with the seasons. Currently, we’re loving all things Big Bear/Arrowhead. There are so many trails up there for overlanders and crawlers. Plus, incredible campsites if you know where to look. Then there’s desert season. We’re big fans of Anza Borrego and the surrounding areas. Each year it seems like we discover an entirely new section of the place. As much as we drive to other states, we really do feel lucky to call these places our “backyard”.
Well, I smashed up both quarter panels pretty good in the San Bernardino Mountains last year. Scratches? I don’t care about them. But smashing up a vintage truck hurts every time. Recently there was a Toyo Tire shoot at Sand Hollow in Utah where I broke my drag link twice in one day on the exact same obstacle. I think we were on Double Sammy? Well, when you go off-roading you’ll break something. It comes with the territory.
Planning…Just a Little Bit
We’re all about spontaneity. We usually just hop in the Scout with a rough destination in mind, and camp/explore along the way. I’ve pinned thousands of locations in Google maps with campsites we’ve been to, places we love, and things we want to see, which usually does a lot of the planning for us. We also own a lot of out-of-print trail books.
We’re also all about meeting locals and finding the “secret” spots. One time, we were in Durango, Colorado having a steak dinner after camping for 2 weeks straight. We got to talking with our server, and he actually drew us a map of all his favorite camping, hiking, and exploring areas of Utah! We ended up extending our trip an extra week to scope out all the spots he recommended, using the little map he drew on the receipt. While there, we met a team of archeologists. They pointed us in the direction of some completely pristine cliff dwellings. There were still bits of corn in the food mills, and elaborate pottery everywhere. I would say that was another one of our favorite trips.
So, to summarize, we drop pins and research thoroughly, but we stay flexible. We’re never really on a schedule. We just kind of go where the wind takes us. I think it’s more fun that way.
Systems and Gear Check
We check the fluids and bolts. And pack a lot of tools and recovery gear. Thinking back on some of the failures we’ve experienced on the trail these past few years – a dead alternator in Death Valley with a snowstorm blowing in, a melted shifter cable on a shelf road in the Sierras, etc. – there are just some things that can’t be avoided. Sometimes you’ve got the tools you need to fix it. Sometimes you climb a mountain until you find cell service. And sometimes you run into Good Samaritans.
We pack enough food, water, first aid supplies and warm clothes when we travel to make sure we’ll be ok. We do wheel alone much, much more than we should though. I’ll be the first to admit that that is kind of reckless. We do take precautions and have contingencies in place just in case “sh*t hits the fan.”
If you enjoy travelling, love the outdoors, and would like to do what we do, here are some tips that you might find helpful. I guess they’re all common sense.
Pack correctly. Be ready to hike for a few days if you need to, and plan for the elements. Tell people where you’re going before you head out, and try to have a plan for cell reception or some kind of way to contact help.
Make sure your vehicle can handle the terrain you’re taking it on. If the trail seems hard, research it. Watch people on YouTube on how they navigate the obstacles on the trail you’ll be travelling on.
Learn basic recovery skills.
Learn to drive in different types of terrain and weather conditions.
I also think it’s a great idea to go with friends! If one vehicle has a problem, then you can get back safely in theirs.
And lastly, nature is not your friend. And some people aren’t either. Have a plan for both.