EarthRoamer: Tell us the story of how you bought your EarthRoamer?
Jonathan: I bought my EarthRoamer – ER #15 (known as the “around-the-world” Roamer http://dicksmithadventure.com.au) – via consignment while I was deployed in Mosul, Iraq. While coordinating the very first details of the purchase during a call to EarthRoamer, I had to ask for some patience if we were interrupted — the rooftop from which I made the call was often fired upon! When I finally came to take delivery of ER #15, Bill Swails picked me up from the Denver airport. I had been out-of-the-country and had missed the whole economic crisis of that timeframe. During the drive from the airport, Bill really opened my eyes to what had been going on in the U.S. while I was “playing in the sand.” I’m now retired from US Army active duty status, so my desert travel is almost exclusively with the ER crew — in domestic sand — among much preferred company of course.
EarthRoamer: Tell us a little about yourself!
Jonathan: I was a combat engineer for more than 20 years and spent over 7 years overseas on austere, hardship, and combat assignments. Before I retired I was fortunate to use my EarthRoamer during training I provided to other US Army engineers at Fort Leonard Wood, MO and Fort Campbell, KY among other notable military installations. The soldiers always thought the ER was the next mobile assault command post and that I was showcasing or testing its imminent fielding! Of course, we never had such luxurious accommodations in the field although Major General Russel L. Honore’ — my Division Commander in Korea — had an older “deuce and a half” M35 truck with a modified container on the back to use as a field bedroom. It had a full-size porcelain toilet — plumbed into a disconnected fuel tank — but no shower, heat, or AC, let alone solar power, satellite TV, or a kitchen. My company in the EarthRoamer provided him the communications and dining, along with “hotel” capabilities — cots in tents — for the rest of the Division Headquarters.
EarthRoamer: How has owning your EarthRoamer impacted your family?
I’ve brought my wife Irina — originally from Russia Far East (Komsomolsk) — and our daughter Naomi (born in Korea) to a few EarthRoamer Rallies where we’ve made great friends over the years, both among the ER team and with other ER owners. Did I mention I was born in Japan? And, just before I retired, our son Matthew (born in Mississippi) joined the family. You could say we are an All-American International family! Irina’s mother also lives with us and she too has accompanied the family in the ER on adventures, including a memorable vacation to the Gulf Coast just after the BP oil spill — we had beaches, camps, and restaurants all to ourselves!
EarthRoamer: Tell us about one of your most memorable EarthRoamer adventures!
Jonathan: I am notorious for getting stuck – the best stories always involve recovery operations and overcoming adversity. I’ve employed the winch on a number of occasions, usually in sand of all things despite my –ahem – “familiarity” with places that are renowned for the sandy conditions. One of my more memorable stories happened during the EarthRoamer Rally on Grand Mesa in 2011. My engine spectacularly ate a fuel injector resulting in a very special event for me personally with “rescue” provided by many ER owners. Fellow owners and friends, Keith and Sandy Luke, graciously allowed me to stay at their home in Fruita while ER #15 had a new piston and head installed at a conveniently nearby and reputable repair facility — Diesel Services, Inc. — in Grand Junction. I’m definitely forever indebted to the whole EarthRoamer family as a result of that experience and I endeavor to pass-it-forward whenever I can, especially at EarthRoamer gatherings.