Jerry Dickson grins as he shows me the historical marker with the story of a tall tale spinning amputee who always came out of the mountains with a bit of gold. “See, we aren’t the first Disabled Explorers to travel this desert” he says as we enjoy the moment.[Not a valid template]
Jerry has brought me out to see his favorite parts of Anza Borrego State Park and spend a weekend of wheeling, camping, and comparing how each of us gets around as amputees. We are nearly the same age, and we lost our legs around the same time and both love to get out to the backside of beyond with our four-wheel drive vehicles. I drive a Toyota and Jerry has his faithful Jeep, and as we prepare for the trip, he comments by saying, “You BK’s can climb all over everything,” referring to my below the knee prosthetic versus his almost at the hip. In the end it is our desire to see the remote areas and enjoy the peace of wild places that draw us together. Being handicapped is more along the lines of being from the same hometown, interesting but not the end of the story.
As we were heading out of town and into the hills, Jerry and I enjoyed plenty of radio chatter about future trips, different ways to setup rigs, and off-road trailers versus bigger trucks and more. Nothing passes the time like the beauty of southern California’s mountains and good friends to talk to.
One aspect that holds true regardless of disabled versus able-bodied adventurers is how you drive and how you behave in the dirt. As soon as we hit dirt, Jerry stopped so we could air down our tires and engage 4wd. Many wheelers come from the old school of not changing anything till they need it. However, we both believe in having the right tool for the job and in this case, lower tire pressure and proper use of “4-Low” meant less trail damage and less risk of getting into a pinch.
Jerry is an old hand at trekking around Anza Borrego and he navigates his trusted 2007 Wrangler X on trails he knows well. This isn’t the first Jeep or the first time showing off the area he loves. Jerry bought his first Jeep years before after crashing his quad in the desert and breaking his hip, the short leg hip no less. That accident led him to his love for being in remote areas and a Jeep was a safer way for him than blasting around on an ATV. Plus, he could carry the gear, friends, or family to allow multi-day adventures.