My friend Mark from Metaltech 4×4 made me an offer I couldn’t refuse… fly to Oregon, and drive the Metaltech Lexus 470 down to FJ Summit XI in Ouray Colorado… My bags were packed before I hung up the phone with him!
Upon our arrival in Portland Oregon, my 5 year old daughter and copilot Sydney and I were picked up from the airport by Mark, and brought to Metaltech’s headquarters in Newberg, Oregon.
There we were handed the keys to the lifted black GX470, equipped with Metaltech’s winch bumper and rear swingout. We drove to our hotel, and met back at the shop for an 0800 departure. Mark, driving the Metaltech Lexus GX460 and his sons had prepared a whole supply of snacks for the road, and after hooking up the trailer to the 460 we left Newberg.
The drive took us through breathtaking sceneries of Oregon, the plains of Idaho, mountains and deserts of Utah and finally into the stunningly beautiful mountains of Colorado. In Ouray, home of the FJ Summit for the last 10 years, we met Ryan Grau and his wife and checked into the house Metaltech rented, across the street from Summit’s headquarters and event center. Ryan drives a gorgeous white Lexus GX470, Snowhyt470 and aside from being a nice guy, also knew a lot about the 470s.
The next day was spent setting up the Metaltech 4×4 booth in the vendor area, and organizing the cocktails Mark had concocted up for the event in some of the local bars, and providing the bars with Metaltech glasses. That night the Summit XI was kicked off with the vendor area open and dinner provided by Summit.
On Thursday morning team Metaltech 4×4 split up, Mark took his GX460 and led a group, while Ryan and I drove our GX470s up Poughkeepsie Gulch, and staged up at the infamous wall. Our job was to spot the FJ Summit groups up the wall, with help provided by Rod and the ComeUp Winch FJ Cruiser where needed. A great day ensued, and we were able to spot most trucks up the wall, though a few were winched up. With the exception of a punctured tire sidewall, all trucks made it up unscathed that day.
That night was another vendor night and dinner at Summit HQ. I was able to meet a lot of nice folks from across the US, some of whom I knew from prior events, forums or Facebook, and a lot of new faces.
The next day was a day Ryan and I took he Lexus trucks on the trails, starting with Engineers pass, and then checking out the ghost towns in the area. Again, gorgeous scenery, and lots of cool people along the way.
Saturday was somewhat of a special day, Metaltech 4×4 had offered the three Lexus trucks up to provide the FJ Summit organization vehicles for the Veteran’s run.
I had the honor of having disabled Gulf War veteran Ray with me in the 470, and the whole Summit group with veterans on board tackled the infamous Black Bear pass in the pouring rain. The trail wasn’t difficult, but it required the upmost driver attention, and a few spotters on the tightest of switchbacks. The rain of course made it more interesting as the stairs on top of Black Bear were very slippery.
The ride ended at Telluride, a popular mountain town with some great restaurants and shops. Lunch was offered by FJ Summit, and a great time was had by all the veterans, volunteers and staff.
That night was vendor night followed by the Raffle, and the next morning, Sunday, was time to head back to Oregon again. An amazing event had come to an end already.
One way or another, I will be at FJ Summit XII next year, it truly is an event not to be missed.
On the way back, the Metaltech 4×4 team stopped at the very site Baker from BakesFJ rolled his FJ earlier this year. We took some time and constructed a proper memorial, and had a little road side ceremony for the official inauguration. Make sure you visit the site if you’re in the area.
A big thanks goes out to Mark Hawley and Metaltech 4×4, Ryan Grau and his wife Christina, and all the volunteers and organization of FJ Summit XI. And of course all those who attended, and everyone I met!