OK, if you haven’t heard the name Crazy Suzy, you haven’t been keeping up. Along with Debbie Miller-Marschke, she handles the inner workings of our Desert Explorers website, particularly the under-the-hood mechanics that make it work. After some cajoling and some inquiries on how she got her name, she sent this note and a couple of photos to Deb as her introduction to the Desert Explorers. We present: Crazy Suzy!
Hello DE Members,
I finally had a moment to send you more info about my husband Terry and I.
For me, four-wheeling and a love of the outdoors started with our first trip to the dunes at Pismo when I was five. My grandfather owned a Jeep dealership in Santa Barbara, so naturally we had a string of Jeeps during my entire childhood. We traveled to the desert, the dunes, and visited the snow in the Sierras. We went four-wheeling at least once a month, most of the time with the Santa Barbara 4WD Club. Both of my parents were on the board of Cal4Wheel at one time or another, so in 1993-ish I put in a bid to become the editor of the In Gear magazine, a position that I have held ever since.
Growing up in upstate New York, Terry had never been off-road before, unless you count driving in the winter time. We met in the Air Force where we both served (in Texas no less), and moved back to California after our enlistments were over. The first thing we did was buy something with 4WD so that we could continue the family tradition with our own children.
We currently have a modified Jeep Rubicon and spend most of the winter months in Yuma. The rest of the year we travel to various states in our RV, four-wheeling where we can. We both love geocaching, hiking, kayaking, and finding out where dirt roads go.
My moniker started out with a crazy yellow car that I owned. I drove it like a maniac. But then I decided to help with a Camp Jeep event that was being hosted in Buellton. I thought that I could drive my Ford Expedition that I owned at the time to help out at the event. Not so. I HAD to have a JEEP. So I promptly went down to the local Jeep dealership and traded in my crazy yellow car for a crazy yellow Jeep. I’ve been Crazy Suzy ever since.
We are really looking forward to meeting all of you.
By Neal Johns
It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that you might go on a 4-wheel wheel drive backcountry trip with me, so here are some survival hints. Stories abound about my strange personal habits and idiosyncratic, curmudgeonliness behavior. Ignore me, so here are some survival hints. Stories abound about my strange personal habits and idiosyncratic, curmudgeonliness behavior. Ignore them as they have softened with time. The truth is much worse.
Rule # 1
There should be no music played loud enough for me to hear. Music, either classical, rock or rap, softens the soul and is not the proper ambiance for a Real Man. The natural sounds of animals tearing each other apart, thunderstorms or earthquakes is the proper ear food for a Real Man’s soul.
Rule # 2
The Leader gets his choice of any females in the group. This rule, which served me well for many years, has been retired for a couple of decades or so, but who knows, Marian is getting up in years so it
may be reinstated someday. On second thought, I’m getting up there too, so forget Rule # 2
Rule # 3
10% loss is allowed, people or vehicles. A word to the wise: Don’t get on my bad side. (Examples: disagreeing with me, pointing out an obviously untrue statement, giving me funny looks, etc.).
Rule # 4
No mention of any kind, in any context, of the word hair‚ is allowed. The reason for this rule is obvious upon inspection of said Leader.
Rule # 5
In the event of observing the Leader talking to any new, strange female on the trip, no one shall interrupt with a mention of Marian, my current wife. (Example: How’s Marian? Oh, my maiden sister is just fine, thank you.)
Rule # 6
Never suggest, in public, that you suspect your Leader is lost. If certain of your ground, (pun!) you may mention discretely and privately, that you suspect he is Geography Challenged.
See Rule 3.
Neal Speak: Understanding the Neal Johns Dialect
By Jay Lawrence
Everybody meets Neal Johns sooner than later in this organization, and things usually start out innocently enough.
First, Neal proposes something mildly outrageous and expands on it enough to draw you in. He then follows it up with the quip “trust me…” This can be a trail run or a bank robbery.
Next, he looks up at you with a cute little catfish smile and big puppy dog eyes, all calculated to let you know that he knows that you are now ‘on your guard’. You have put your radar up, surveyed the situation and are about commit that fatal error; now your are going to let your guard down and decide you really can trust Neal…
What’s really just happened here is that you’ve take your fist step on a slippery slope, and you are about to be roped into much bigger and more precarious endeavors.
Here are a few special ‘Neal’ phrases, along with their hidden meanings that will help you with your short-term planning and long-term survival:
Neal Johns Trip Descriptions
An exploratory trip: I have only a faint idea of where we’re going.
Explore some places we haven’t been before: NOBODY has been there before – not Neal, not John Muir, not even Neill Armstrong.
Your truck has a winch on it, doesn’t it?: Alert your next of kin.
Neal Johns Units of Measure
Just up the trail a few clicks: A fluctuating cosmic measurement based on planetary alignment, the sunspot cycle and wind direction.
Neal Johns Trail Phrases
The bailout is just up ahead: Brace yourself, your wheels may leave the ground and all hell could break loose.
A bailout or get out: An invisible, often mythical alternate route to the ‘trail’ you’re on
A workaround: The trail is non-existent, I’m gonna fake it here, as if I really do have a plan. Trust me.
Some minor roadbuilding: You did bring food for a couple of extra days, didn’t you? The rocks will be larger than your tires, and pointy. We may need to sacrifice a vehicle or two.
A few whoops: Almost always involves high speeds. Kidney belts will be required, lash down the cooler and hang onto the ‘oh shit’ handles.
Camping with Neal
Dry camping: Not just ‘no water available’. Actually means we won’t ever get near water. No ocean, beach, lake, creek or stream. Only dry washes, burro wallows, sand and rock.
We don’t need a fire: I’m going to bed when the sun sets,; we only eat unheated food out of cans.
You rarely see snakes around here: The next camp area will have more rattlesnakes than the viper house at the San Diego Zoo, and I’m going to see if I can get them riled up, just for fun, then you can have your campfire.
Hiking with Neal
The trail has about 600 feet of elevation gain: But we will cover those same 600 feet eighteen times on our three hour ‘day hike’ that will last from 10 a.m. until an hour after sunset.
A six mile hike (bring a lunch): A hunch measurement, measured as the crow files. Often followed up at the end of the day with “I didn’t really put a string on the topo track, but it looked like about six miles’. Figure on a multiple of at least 1.5 – 3 when planning food and gear. Wear good boots.
Armed with this information, you have a good chance of making it back home in one piece. Bear in mind that this is never a sure thing when you travel with Neal, but it will always be memorable and it will always be an adventure. After years of this king of foolishness, all of us who have been on trips with Neal wouldn’t have it any other way