Current president of Terra Del Sol Jeep club, Bill Kassler, on episode 84. TDS hosts the annual Desert Safari on state parks lands near Ocotillo Wells. They are gearing up for their 60th anniversary, Bill shares what their plans are. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a good one.
3:17 – the beginning of On Any Sunday was any day in SoCal
6:21 – motorcycles kept us out of trouble
13:17 – I did some trails and I was terrified
23:37 – the history of the club
40:34 – yeah, we draw a crowd!
43:54 – you have to have a casual attitude towards body damage
1:00:43 – here’s a story that stands out about Bo
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[00:01:20.670] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations With Big Rich. We have Bill Kassler. Bill and I have known each other for quite a few years. We'll get into that. But he is also the reigning President of the Terra del Sol Jeep Club, which of course, does their big event called Desert Safari every beginning of March or so.
[00:01:43.110] - Big Rich Klein
But we'll talk all about that and his history. So thank you for coming on, Bill, and hope you enjoy this process.
[00:01:52.470] - Bill Kassler
Well, thanks for having me big. I appreciate that.
[00:01:55.470] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, no worries. So let's just jump right in and find out some history about yourself before we get into the club. And so where were you born and raised?
[00:02:10.050] - Bill Kassler
Well, I was born in San Diego, California. And except for maybe two or three years, I've always been here in Southern California, in the San Diego area. My dad was ex-military Navy, and so I'm a Navy brat. And so that's where I've been. And it's been wonderful.
[00:02:35.850] - Big Rich Klein
So he was stationed down there in Coronado then?
[00:02:40.290] - Bill Kassler
Well, he retired just before I was born. Okay. So he got a job with civil service up in Bremerton, Washington, and he hated the rain. And my mom said when she could see through my skin, it was time to go. So we moved back to Southern California, where my dad got another job with civil service and worked all over 32nd street here and Point Loma and all of the bases in San Diego.
[00:03:10.350] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, great. And so what was your early childhood like down in the San Diego area?
[00:03:17.970] - Bill Kassler
Well, typical. We spent most of our time outside riding bikes. We were on the cusp of BMX stuff, so we had ramps out in the street and on the driveway that we built to do jumps. And the biggest trick on a motorcycle or a bike at that time was a cross up. So we would do that and played outside anything we could do. Games, riding bikes, you name it. In fact, the beginning of on any Sunday. That was any day around Southern California with us and our friends on our bicycles.
[00:03:59.650] - Bill Kassler
[00:04:01.330] - Big Rich Klein
That's a great movie. I had a friend that I went through Boy Scouts with, and he left and moved down to Southern California somewhere at the time. We were just in getting ready to go into high school or first year in high school, and he got into BMX writing down there, and it was relatively new and fresh at that time. I'm a little bit older than you, I believe. And we were riding bikes, but nobody had what you would call a BMX bike. I mean, the coolest bikes that came out were the Schwinn, like Apple crate, Orange crates.
[00:04:42.430] - Big Rich Klein
Those bikes. But that had that big wheel in the back and the little wheel up front. So not quite the same.
[00:04:49.030] - Bill Kassler
Yeah, we were fortunate enough to get one of the very first BMX bikes around. It was a heavy steel frame and everything, but we made the best of them and learned how to Bunny hop and had a lot of fun on them. And I did have a few friends that got into the racing. We kind of never really did. I was never aggressive enough to race, but I sure liked watching it, and I liked playing like I was racing, but I didn't like being so close to the other riders.
[00:05:23.050] - Bill Kassler
[00:05:23.950] - Big Rich Klein
[00:05:25.030] - Bill Kassler
[00:05:27.670] - Big Rich Klein
When you were going to school in San Diego, were you studious? Were you athletic or kind of did your own thing?
[00:05:35.890] - Bill Kassler
I was probably a C average student. School for me was kind of a social event. I learned enough to get me to move on to the next grade. I don't know if it was just the way I learned things, but I would like to play with things, to work with my hands and build stuff. But I did do well enough to graduate. I wasn't an honor student. I wasn't a Jock. I did run track, and I played football one year, and I was too small for that and learned that very quickly.
[00:06:21.350] - Bill Kassler
I was too small to play football. But what we did was probably when I was maybe 13,12 or 13. We talked our parents into getting me and my brother motorcycles, and that's what we did. That was our big hobby was riding motorcycles, and those things kept us out of trouble. My mom would piss my dad off by keeping the truck home, and my dad would have to drive the station wagon to work so that we could load the motorcycles up right after school, and we would go ride until the sun went down and my mom would be there to meet us.
[00:07:08.550] - Bill Kassler
Don't forget, this was all before cell phones, and we just had to be here when the sun goes down. Yeah.
[00:07:16.710] - Big Rich Klein
I remember those days. It was when the lights went down or the sun went down and they turned on the street lights.
[00:07:24.390] - Bill Kassler
Yes. So we were fortunate enough for about 4 miles from our house, we had a huge area that everyone rode motorcycles, and that area was a big influence to me, just having that opportunity. Of course. This was back in the 70s when it wasn't so litigious right now.
[00:07:50.550] - Big Rich Klein
Everybody was responsible for themselves.
[00:07:53.550] - Bill Kassler
[00:07:56.250] - Big Rich Klein
And you said we and I'm assuming that's your brother.
[00:08:00.870] - Bill Kassler
My brother and some of my friends, a small group of friends that we'd go ride with. And coincidentally, during that pretty much the same time, my aunt, who lived in Washington, married a guy that he was into Jeeps. So when we would travel to Washington, we'd get to ride in Jeeps. And we thought that was just a blast. My first trip ride in a Jeep was bouncing around. We were bouncing around so much I couldn't stop laughing.
[00:08:32.730] - Big Rich Klein
And that was about the same time period. Or younger or older?
[00:08:36.330] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. About the same time. Cool.
[00:08:40.110] - Big Rich Klein
So then are you the oldest brother or are you the youngest?
[00:08:47.010] - Bill Kassler
I am the oldest. I have a brother who's two years younger than me at the time, he was the Daredevil. He was no fear. And it was fun to watch him. But somehow we survived all that. Yeah.
[00:09:02.950] - Big Rich Klein
I don't know what it is with brothers. It's typically that way where the youngest or the second is always more of the Daredevil. I don't know if it's because they're trying to keep up with the older kid, so they have to push themselves harder at a younger age. I don't know what it is, but it seems to go that way.
[00:09:23.950] - Bill Kassler
Yeah, it sure is funny.
[00:09:25.630] - Big Rich Klein
So he was the one that had more hospital visits.
[00:09:30.370] - Bill Kassler
No, I think we did both pretty well. I couldn't believe what he would get away with physically. It was pretty wild. Cool.
[00:09:44.530] - Big Rich Klein
So from motorcycles at that 13 year old age or so, when did you graduate into four wheel vehicles?
[00:09:56.950] - Bill Kassler
Well, I think I was probably 18,19 years old, and I wanted to buy a four wheel drive pickup. And so I did. My very first four wheel drive was 72 Chevy Cheyenne four wheel drive, half time pickup. I didn't know a whole lot about what I was doing. I did go out and have some fun with it. I remember being at Fiesta Island, which is a little dirt island in the middle of Mission Bay, San Diego, where we were out one night doing things that teenagers and young 20 year old kids do.
[00:10:46.570] - Bill Kassler
And I drove up over a little mound, and my friend was very impressed because I caught air and I caught air and he goes, yeah, that was great. I said, Well, watch this. We went a little faster after that, and we were flying my pickup truck that night, and that was some good fun. Nice.
[00:11:10.150] - Big Rich Klein
Almost like what was that? Lee Major's one where he was driving the fall guy.
[00:11:15.370] - Bill Kassler
The fall guy? Yeah. Definitely not as dramatic. Not as like far, but maybe a little, maybe twelve inches of air and hit the ground. Yeah.
[00:11:26.590] - Big Rich Klein
No, that way. You're not repairing it every time it lands.
[00:11:30.370] - Bill Kassler
Well, I can't believe that I didn't need an alignment after that. But needless to say, it was just a lot of good fun back then.
[00:11:38.590] - Big Rich Klein
[00:11:39.550] - Bill Kassler
[00:11:42.190] - Big Rich Klein
What did you do to support your habit from high school? Did you go into College or did you start working?
[00:11:49.510] - Bill Kassler
I started College. I started out. I wanted to be an electrical engineer. That lasted about six months until I got a job and found out what money was and what money could do. So I bounced around a little bit until I was about 25, and then I became an apprentice electrician. And from there, I've stayed in pretty much the electrical and low voltage trades. Even till now, I'm in electronic security. So that has what has supported me. If you want me to continue following down the line of how I've come to where I'm at now with my vehicles.
[00:12:42.090] - Bill Kassler
After my Chevy pickup, I bought a Ford Ranger. I bought it brand new, and I thought that was just a super cool little truck. It was four wheel drive. That's when I started playing around a little bit more offroad. I had a little bit more money. I could afford to do more things to it. So I had it lifted. My very, very first desert Safari was in 1995, and I had a brand new newborn son. And about three weeks later, I left to go to Safari.
[00:13:17.970] - Bill Kassler
My now ex wife didn't really think that was cool, but I thought it was fine. Her parents were around, and I did some trails, and I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. They have signs on the trail that said, don't touch your brakes. If you touch your brakes, you're going to go over kind of things. They were all funny. But to me, they were terrifying. But we did what they said, and I had the best time. It was so much fun. It was the greatest thing.
[00:13:55.570] - Bill Kassler
And then from there for a while, I didn't have a vehicle, a four wheel drive. And it wasn't until I began dating my current wife. And we bought a motorhome together. And we started looking at things to tow so it would make our trips a little bit more enjoyable. And I decided, Well, why don't we buy a Jeep? Because number one, you can flat tow it. You can customize it to your liking, and it's utilitarian. It was completely fit. Whatever we had, we had three young boys.
[00:14:41.390] - Bill Kassler
How do you put three young boys in? It has no room in it.
[00:14:45.590] - Big Rich Klein
Duct tape and ratchet straps.
[00:14:48.290] - Bill Kassler
We did all of that so we made it work, and it was a great tow vehicle. But from there, we started meeting friends that had Jeeps, and that really opened up our world of offroading. We started going to events and we started getting involved. And that silly Jeep. Now we have hundreds of friends that have four wheel drive vehicles. I met you because of Offroading. Right. So.
[00:15:26.190] - Big Rich Klein
When was it that you got that Jeep to tow behind.
[00:15:31.530] - Bill Kassler
About what year that was 2002. Okay. So we bought it was a Jeep sport, and it was completely open with differentials. And I honestly feel that that was probably the best way to learn how to wheel.
[00:15:53.490] - Big Rich Klein
[00:15:55.770] - Bill Kassler
You have to pick the right lines to keep moving forward. And then the Rubicons came out, and we had a friend that bought one, and we were all in awe of those things. And we were out one day and we watched how those lockers worked. And that was it. We had to have one of those. So in 2004, we traded in our 2002 to get a Rubicon, and we still have that Jeep today. Awesome. Okay.
[00:16:28.450] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about when we met, I'm going to say it was either when I attended my first TDs Desert Safari, or was it the Boulevard event that we put on down there in Southern California?
[00:16:50.410] - Bill Kassler
I think it's probably a Safari. I think you had a little RC track that you set up. Is that correct? No.
[00:16:58.750] - Big Rich Klein
The first time I went to Safari, we came down in one of the Rhino off road vehicles, the tube to buggies with the Honda Motors.
[00:17:11.110] - Bill Kassler
[00:17:11.950] - Big Rich Klein
That would have been my first trip down there.
[00:17:15.550] - Bill Kassler
Well, I probably so was that when we were still over at North Marina.
[00:17:21.670] - Big Rich Klein
It was the original site.
[00:17:24.850] - Bill Kassler
Okay. So that was North Marina. Yeah. So I started really getting involved with Safari in about 2003, and I was a volunteer for Safari and was hanging around the club from 2003 to 2006. In 2006, we became members. Okay. Yeah.
[00:17:45.910] - Big Rich Klein
I think it was 2006 or seven, maybe five. When I had that Rhino offroad RTB, they called it and Little Rich and I went down there to Safari and kind of displayed the vehicle, you might say for Howard Pearl, who owned the company at the time.
[00:18:13.430] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. That sounds about right.
[00:18:16.130] - Big Rich Klein
That was pretty fun.
[00:18:17.330] - Bill Kassler
[00:18:19.610] - Big Rich Klein
When you got involved, you said that then you became a member. You were around the club for three years. Was that just going out on some of their runs, or was it just out to Desert Safari or how involved were you?
[00:18:39.810] - Bill Kassler
Well, it started out just Safari, probably after the second Safari in 2004, we started probably going to meetings. Funny story. One of the friends of ours that is still a member. I knew him when I was 18 years old and we were running around San Diego. We never went to school together. We met each other at a Church. And one day we were out at Coyote Canyon, and we were climbing up the rocks going up the Hill. And I saw a guy who was spotting for a guy who was going in front of us.
[00:19:20.790] - Bill Kassler
And I got up to him and we looked at each other and said, I know you. And he said, I know you. So he was a member. He joined right before us. And we had several friends that were pointing us in the direction of Terra del Sol. So finally, we're starting to go to meetings. And so we probably got into it around 2004, when we were doing meetings, club runs and Safari.
[00:19:51.450] - Big Rich Klein
And the club is pretty large, is it not? I mean, membership wise.
[00:19:58.050] - Bill Kassler
We cap our membership at 50 memberships. Yeah. We're a small club. Okay.
[00:20:05.250] - Big Rich Klein
Some reason it's always seem bigger. I guess it's just because of all the people that show up for desert Safari.
[00:20:11.070] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. We're pretty lucky when we get a lot of help. We have other clubs that help us. San Diego four wheelers, the Hemet Jeep Club, San Diegol Offroad Coalition Corps of People help us out. We do get a lot of help, but we have a lot of the family members of our club members that come out and really help us as well. Okay.
[00:20:36.930] - Big Rich Klein
So how many years is I know that you said 2004 2nd year, but that's your second year. How long has the club been doing desert Safari?
[00:20:50.010] - Bill Kassler
60 years. Our first year was that was the year before I was born. Now I've really dated myself. I have heard lots of stories about the very beginnings of Safari, and they would raffle off bicycles, washing machines. They did tires back then still, but they would get obscure items to wrap off. It wasn't just off road parts.
[00:21:24.710] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that's interesting. And it's always been out there in the same area.
[00:21:31.550] - Bill Kassler
The location has moved, like three or four times, but for the bulk of the time, it was at North Marina, and it was kind of down in that little wash that we had it in. And it stayed there for probably 40 years there.
[00:21:54.590] - Big Rich Klein
That'S called Truck Haven.
[00:21:56.630] - Bill Kassler
[00:21:57.950] - Big Rich Klein
And is that part of the state park down there?
[00:22:01.850] - Bill Kassler
It is now. Yes, it is now. Okay. Yes.
[00:22:06.650] - Big Rich Klein
And the state parks have moved you from that location.
[00:22:10.250] - Bill Kassler
Yes. All the regulations, they don't allow organized events up there. You can't have a trail up there. You just can't have big organized events. So there are certain areas in the park where you're allowed to do that. We've moved a few times due to regulations and cost and all of the above. But really, state parks and Truck Haven and Octo Wells is our home. Okay.
[00:22:44.270] - Big Rich Klein
And that's the Inland Empire. Is that considered Inland Empire?
[00:22:50.630] - Bill Kassler
No, that's Imperial Valley.
[00:22:52.730] - Big Rich Klein
[00:22:53.690] - Bill Kassler
[00:22:53.930] - Big Rich Klein
[00:22:55.910] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. Right. Okay.
[00:22:57.890] - Big Rich Klein
And anybody looking at your maps? Southern California, lower Desert Brawley is just above Baja yes.
[00:23:07.010] - Bill Kassler
And we're right next to the Salton Sea, just west of the Sultan Sea, correct. Yeah.
[00:23:13.310] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about those early days, as you know, it history wise and of kind. Some of the things that carried over like you were talking about the raffle that you had not just automotive parts but anything that you guys could get to attract people to come to the event.
[00:23:37.010] - Bill Kassler
Correct. Yes. We still have pictures here and there of what Flyers used to look at. So the history of the club is basically this in the late 40s and the early 50s, after World War II, they had search and rescue teams. And because of the military background of most of these people, they were familiar with Jeeps. So they became to love them. So they would use them in the search and rescue. And a lot of these people got to know the backcountry of San Diego very well.
[00:24:22.010] - Bill Kassler
Some of those people broke off of the search and rescue and focused on the recreation of just four wheeling or Jeeping more socially. Yes. And just having fun going out and seeing what these vehicles would do. And two of those people were some of our founding members. And one of the names was Bossy Willis. And he drew all of the artwork on our raffle tickets, our Flyers, our program. He was our artist. He came up with our club logo and our club plaque that we still run today.
[00:25:12.290] - Bill Kassler
Nice super entrenched in history in the area, we have a deep, deep rooted history in the deserts of San Diego and Imperial County, right.
[00:25:29.070] - Big Rich Klein
With those early days, do you know what the number of attendance that you had said that the club had in those early days?
[00:25:38.010] - Bill Kassler
Probably under 100 the first few. And it grew and it grew over time. It wasn't until probably the late ninetys early 2000s, when we really started growing the event and getting bigger numbers. But I remember stories about we didn't rent Porta Potties out there. We had wooden outhouses that we would put together and they would dig pits out there for our toilets. So it was much smaller. And I don't want to say more manageable. It was just easier to cater to our guests back then. We still do a good job at it.
[00:26:37.370] - Bill Kassler
It's just that it was pretty intimate, right.
[00:26:42.230] - Big Rich Klein
And anytime that you grow, attendees or spectators or whatever you want to call them, it always makes things a little more stressful where you need to have more volunteers to help. Well, yeah.
[00:27:00.230] - Bill Kassler
You want to give our guests the experience that we hope that they would have. But I got to tell you, it's a little different than going out with seven or eight of your buddies and going out and cruising along and having fun and you get 600 people on a trail. It's just a little bit different, right.
[00:27:25.410] - Big Rich Klein
600 people on a trail I can't even imagine. And I know you guys do that like a loop trail ride.
[00:27:34.410] - Bill Kassler
[00:27:36.810] - Big Rich Klein
That'S a huge number of people that show up. Do you offer multiple trails, like, in different locations, or is it just that one big loop trail?
[00:27:48.150] - Bill Kassler
So the way we've always run it is that we have basically one big loop trail. Like you said, we call that the green run. We marked that trail with green arrows. We've had it to the point where we've had two different startings so we could get everybody off the main road and get them out on the trail, and then it would funnel down into the normal trail off of the main trail. We've historically had red arrows, which would be a little bit more difficult. It would take a little more skill and a little bit more fun.
[00:28:29.110] - Bill Kassler
That would offer a little bit of loops that went off of the main trail. And then we'd have blue arrows, which were just completely nuts. You have to be a little bit off to drive on those which a lot of us are right on.
[00:28:47.110] - Big Rich Klein
Typical trail rides, like in. Well, like an Easter Jeep or some of those you have, like, a trail leader, a mid trail Gunner, and then somebody that brings up the rear there tail Gunner. Is that how you guys do this, or is it just like, okay, everybody take off and follow the arrows.
[00:29:07.570] - Bill Kassler
Well, it's kind of a little bit of both. The trail is a follow the leader trail. We do have a trail boss that he Ram rods the whole trail, and we do have a tail in. Charlie, we do have check points out on the trail. We have trail control points where if we see a part of the trail is being congested, we might reroute some people to keep things flowing. So it's a big work to do it out there. But for the most part, if you wanted to just go out there, you can follow the arrows on the trail and do the whole thing by yourself with no leader.
[00:29:51.850] - Bill Kassler
But normally, we got a lot of people out there just following the person in front of them. Okay. And we've heard people say there's a traffic jam out there. We're sitting in there. Well, that's fine and everything. If you want to have that attitude, it's always been my attitude that if I'm in a traffic jam and I can get out and have a soda, maybe a little snack and get to know the people that are around me, I'll take that any day over Southern California traffic, right?
[00:30:21.250] - Big Rich Klein
I was going to say so when you guys set up the trail, who is it that works for Department of Transportation, that figures out where all those other locations are at. Like you were saying.
[00:30:36.130] - Bill Kassler
Yeah, we have one person who's our trail boss, which is the ramrod. Well, he's not the ramrod. He's the trail boss, and he is our designated person to go out and find the trail. Of course, that's the way it used to be. Nowadays we have to stay on pre planned routes and such that are all approved by the state parks, but we still can go out and pick and choose where we want that trail to go. And so we still have the trail boss that goes out and plans the trail, and he'll choose where we start.
[00:31:19.570] - Bill Kassler
At the end of the day, we'll find out how long the trail is and we try to keep it somewhere around 15 to 20 miles so that everyone can be back for raffle. Okay.
[00:31:32.050] - Big Rich Klein
And when you do, you pick your routes now. Ocotilla. Wells in the area that you use.
[00:31:41.650] - Bill Kassler
[00:31:41.890] - Big Rich Klein
Haven I guess that's part of Ocotilla. Is that open area or is that designated trails only?
[00:31:52.270] - Bill Kassler
No, it's all pretty much open. They would like to see you stay on established trails. But due to just normal nature out there, there's a lot of trails that get washed away or blown away by nature. So a lot of people know where the trails were and have been. But if you can get a Jeep up through a wash, someone's probably already been up there. It's designated as an open riding area. Okay.
[00:32:31.890] - Big Rich Klein
And so for your event, though, you have to plan the routes and have them marked because. Well, that's the requirements of the state parks who manages the land.
[00:32:45.510] - Bill Kassler
Okay. Right. Correct.
[00:32:47.910] - Big Rich Klein
And more about the event itself. If somebody was wanting to come and participate, I said it's typically that first weekend in March. Is that still the case?
[00:33:05.250] - Bill Kassler
Typically, sometimes it's the very last of February. It's just either the last of February or early March. Yes. Okay. Yeah.
[00:33:16.410] - Big Rich Klein
That's where we've always conflicted with our dates of our opener with We Rock is that we're kind of stuck with the two weeks after when Wickenburg has their frontier days or whatever. I can't remember what they exactly call it gold Rush days, and that always seems to fall on the same weekend that you guys do TDs. So we've always had a conflict there. But since ours is a competitive event, most of the Southern California Jeepers and people from around, even Arizona that are trail riders go there instead of the competition.
[00:33:55.710] - Big Rich Klein
So I don't think it's hurt either one of us spectator or attendance wise.
[00:34:01.650] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. It can be a bit frustrating, but I think that it just proves to the fact that our sport is popular. So I feel that it's probably a good problem to have. Yeah, I agree. Absolutely.
[00:34:20.530] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about if somebody wants to be involved as an attendee, do they go to your website and sign up, or is there a sign up period? What's the typical protocol?
[00:34:35.830] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. Typically we open up our registration somewhere around late November, early December. They just go to our website. It's TDs, fourbyfour. Com. And they can get all the information we have merchandise there and that's where they would typically go. Okay.
[00:35:01.310] - Big Rich Klein
And how long is the event? When does it start and finish?
[00:35:05.930] - Bill Kassler
We call it a weekend event, but normally we're open Thursday. All of our big happenings are on Saturday. For the most part, our T shirt booths are always open, and our registration booths are always open. Probably no later than noon or somewhere around that on Thursday afternoon. Okay.
[00:35:34.490] - Big Rich Klein
So people can show up Thursday afternoon, get signed in, even though they're preregistered, they got to physically sign in, go through a tech. Is that correct?
[00:35:43.730] - Bill Kassler
We don't do safety inspection anymore, but, yeah, they do have to come and pick up their raffle ticket and finish their registration. Okay.
[00:36:00.090] - Big Rich Klein
What other services come with signing up Besides the raffle and the trail ride? What else is involved?
[00:36:12.030] - Bill Kassler
Well, we typically have a vendor show as well, and I don't know, we have about twelve acres or something that we fence off, and we have a vendor show. We have food vendors that come there. We have Porta potties and hand wash stations. We have a stage that we normally have if nothing's going on, we'll have at least some music playing. Lots of lots of people to talk to about anything you want to talk to you off road. Cool.
[00:36:49.110] - Big Rich Klein
Are you near the man made play area?
[00:36:54.630] - Bill Kassler
Yes. So I'm glad you asked about that. That's one that you and Little Rich helped us with between state parks and the expertise of Big and Little Rich, we did build that training area, and our preferred location is right in front of that training area. Right.
[00:37:20.610] - Big Rich Klein
I could imagine that, because that gives people things to do Besides just riding on their own out in the middle of nowhere where everybody can kind of hang out and see what everybody else is doing.
[00:37:33.990] - Bill Kassler
Yes. And it's also a place that if you don't, you don't have to have a Jeep. You can walk in there on the big weekends. There's normally something going on and something crazy going on. So it's kind of a big spectator thing. People get to show off while they're scraping their rigs through some of our obstacles or seeing if they can climb certain things and just do a YouTube search of PDF training area or Octo Wells training area. You'll see some of the crowds and some of the craziness goes on over there.
[00:38:13.410] - Bill Kassler
[00:38:15.510] - Big Rich Klein
I can remember How's all that stuff holding up. I haven't been down there in years.
[00:38:21.390] - Bill Kassler
It's pretty good. I mean, the biggest issue is the wind and it blows dirt into some of the obstacles. And with COVID, really, we haven't been out to do a whole lot of work on it, but we need to get out there and see if we can do some maintenance on it. Right.
[00:38:40.410] - Big Rich Klein
Pull the side out of those because we built that little sluice area that had the twists and turns in it and the steep walls.
[00:38:50.310] - Bill Kassler
That is a fan favorite.
[00:38:54.090] - Big Rich Klein
I can imagine you can get messed up in there.
[00:38:57.570] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. And it holds up pretty well. I mean, that one kind of keeps itself clean and it works great. Good.
[00:39:07.350] - Big Rich Klein
Glad to hear that.
[00:39:09.450] - Bill Kassler
And really thank you for helping out with that. I personally and Bo Neece were out there for a lot of that construction. We all kind of had a hand in designing some of that, but you and Little were the biggest guys that helped us with designing those things and making them world class.
[00:39:36.550] - Big Rich Klein
Well, thank you. We enjoy that building that stuff. The event there at the training area, typically the preferred location Thursday. You can sign up Friday, Thursday and Friday. You can go out freewheeling play in the training area, and then Saturday is the big run, and then you get back into camp after the run and do the raffle. Is that correct?
[00:40:09.410] - Bill Kassler
[00:40:10.490] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And what are your attendance numbers? Do you have a limit on them or what have they been running?
[00:40:17.150] - Bill Kassler
We don't have a limit, but they're anywhere between 1500 and 1700, usually registered vehicles. Wow.
[00:40:27.590] - Big Rich Klein
And you figure there's got to be typically an average of at least two people per vehicle, right?
[00:40:34.370] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. We draw a crowd. We're like smoking a band and we do what we do best. And that show off. Awesome.
[00:40:44.570] - Big Rich Klein
And do they still allow the fireworks show?
[00:40:48.710] - Bill Kassler
Well, okay. So here's where we kind of get a little melancholy. Our club has decided that we're going to defer our 60th annual Safari one year, and the reason that is because of the effects of COVID. So 2021, we had a virtual Safari. We did have a small booth out in the area that we sold our merchandise. We had a very small raffle. We were very appreciative to the people who still supported us through that. However, we're still feeling the effects of COVID. Most of our vendors, they can't get product and the product that they have is flying off their shelves.
[00:41:39.230] - Bill Kassler
So we felt that it would be a disservice to our vendors and to our participants to try to put on a full blown 60th. So we're postponing our 60th for one year. When we do come back for the 60th full, and we're hoping to have fireworks at the 60th, we're hoping to have a record dollar amount on a raffle, and we're hoping to have a great trail for everyone.
[00:42:18.570] - Big Rich Klein
Sounds awesome. So then in 2022, it'll be a virtual like it was in 21.
[00:42:26.130] - Bill Kassler
Yes. I'm sure that a lot of the restrictions will be lifted. We're still working through some of the details, but we will have a foothold down there with our T shirt booth and we're looking at different ways of having a raffle. It will be smaller, so everything will be smaller. But the desert is open. We encourage everybody to come out and use their desert and enjoy it. We'll be out there to greet everyone and say Hello and say thanks for coming and supporting us. Awesome.
[00:43:08.810] - Big Rich Klein
Sounds good. And so what other activities does the Terra Del Sol Four wheel Drive Club do? Is it just the one big event, or do you guys have monthly trail rides or other things?
[00:43:23.810] - Bill Kassler
Yes, we do have monthly trail rides. All of our monthly runs are always open to guests. We have some pretty unique trails that we run. We run Devils Canyon, which parallels Interstate Eight down from the mountain to the desert floor.
[00:43:53.150] - Big Rich Klein
[00:43:54.530] - Bill Kassler
Yes. Devils Canyon was really the old highway. And the way people used to cross the mountain, it is a gnarly trail. Bo Neece put it the best. If you come on that trail ride, you have to have a casual attitude towards body damage.
[00:44:17.190] - Big Rich Klein
I would imagine. So does it stay in that wash mostly, or is it does it cross underneath?
[00:44:24.450] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. You'll go by bridges and you'll see freeways and we do cleanups out there, because if you're next to a freeway, you're going to get trash. We go do that. It's 2 miles, 3 miles long, I can't remember, but it's a six mile round trip and it takes all day, so you can tell what kind of obstacles are in your way. You guys with your we rock stuff. You guys have fun on that trail? Yeah.
[00:44:54.510] - Big Rich Klein
I've always loved that set of boulders out there. Just trying to figure that whole area has just got some just fantastic granite boulders. Old granite.
[00:45:05.790] - Bill Kassler
Oh, yeah. It's a lot of fun. There's many waterfalls there's tight squeezes with lots and lots of rocks. A lot of fun. I've personally not taken my Jeep on it because I'm just too little chicken.
[00:45:22.830] - Big Rich Klein
Is that casual?
[00:45:24.510] - Bill Kassler
No, I don't have that. Actually, that is my wife. If I came back with Dash in the side, I'd hear it from her. But with the right rig, it's a great day. If you have the right rig, you can get out of there without body damage. But if a guy is inexperienced, he's either going to break something or smash something. Okay.
[00:45:54.150] - Big Rich Klein
What other trails do you guys do in that Southern California area?
[00:45:58.830] - Bill Kassler
Well, let's see. We do a lot of stuff in Corral Canyon. That's a national, not National Park. It's a Cleveland National Forest. Okay, so there's lots of trails out there. We have some adopted trails in there. We've cut new trails out there for more enjoyment. We do a lot of mild trail rides. We do some Overland trips, mostly all of the desert southwest and our mountain areas where we do trail rides. Basically, if we can get our tires in the dirt, we're having a good weekend. Awesome.
[00:46:49.930] - Bill Kassler
The summer time comes, and normally, then we're trying to stay in the altitude of the mountains. Or we'll go as far as doing a street ride along the coast to take the tops off and stay cool and have a little bit of beach fund. We can't get on the sand, of course, in Southern California. But come to Texas. What's that?
[00:47:16.030] - Big Rich Klein
Come to Texas? We got, like, 90 miles down here where we're at on the Gulf Coast. You can do 60 miles in the National Park, seashore and the Padre Island National Sea shore. Easy for me to say. And then there's another 30 miles or so from that north, along the coastline and down here in the coastal bend area outside of Corpus Christi. And it's great wheeling. It's fun.
[00:47:51.310] - Bill Kassler
Wow. That sounds like a lot of fun. That friend that I told you about that I met on Coyote Canyon that I've been friends with since I was 18. He and a group of friends did an overlanding trip, and they outlined the border of Texas on a trip. Okay. Yeah. He's got some stuff on YouTube. Maybe if I think about it, I can shoot you the link to his series. But yeah, they did the whole border of Texas. It was pretty neat. Yeah.
[00:48:29.950] - Big Rich Klein
I'd love to see that. Send me some of that information. Just trying to get as much information for people that might be interested in joining your club runs and stuff you guys on your website, which you said was TDs four by four. Is that correct?
[00:48:50.750] - Bill Kassler
Yes. Okay. That's correct. Do you have a schedule? Yeah. We have schedules on there. We're on Facebook. If you just search Terra Del Sol Four Wheel Drive Club in San Diego, we're on Facebook, and it seems like social media is where everything's at these days. Yeah.
[00:49:14.270] - Big Rich Klein
Too much of everything you might say.
[00:49:16.850] - Bill Kassler
[00:49:18.470] - Big Rich Klein
So then people can join and come in your trail rides and stuff. How many active members of that 50 capped are you at 50?
[00:49:30.710] - Bill Kassler
No, we're not quite there. Have we? Some folks that are emeritus, which means they've been in the club for more than 25 years. We do have a few inactive members, but there's always room for new members. This is the way we're going to keep going for another 60 years is bringing in new members. We accept people of all ages.
[00:49:58.530] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So anybody that's listening if you're in the Southern California area or you're visiting there and especially San Diego area, check out TDs four by four dot com or the Terra Del Sol site on Facebook. Social media there and find out. Go out wheeling with these guys and have some fun. They're all a great group of guys and women. I want to throw that in there. I don't want to think that how about a great group of dudes, since dudes doesn't have any kind of connotation anymore about being male or female?
[00:50:44.890] - Bill Kassler
Listen, I also want to throw out that if someone's in the area and they want to go wheel in and they don't see anything on our calendar, please reach out to us. We always are doing pop up runs. We're just, hey, it sounds fun. Let's go do this this weekend or something. And if we can't get anybody. We have the network of all the other clubs in the area and lots of different friends that may want to go. So don't let the schedule rain on your parade.
[00:51:17.390] - Bill Kassler
If you want to go wheel and just reach out, we'll find something to do.
[00:51:22.310] - Big Rich Klein
That's always good news. That's good to hear.
[00:51:26.330] - Bill Kassler
Well, that's what we are, right. We're a community within our community. We're all just a bunch of great people that just want to enjoy the outdoors with our rigs.
[00:51:38.150] - Big Rich Klein
And that is what community is what drives this whole sport. And even on the competitive side, the social side and the business side is the community. It's kind of crazy.
[00:51:54.230] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. And it's always good to go to these events wherever they're at. We run into people we haven't seen in years. And it's like a big family reunion. I'm always super glad to see you and Shelley out and everybody from the industry and in the community, we just love hanging around each other. Exactly.
[00:52:19.970] - Big Rich Klein
So we'd like to visiting. Another part of that is we'd really like to reach out to you guys. And I'll do it right here right now and say that as you guys do your trail rides, think about putting something together for the magazine for Low. We'd love to share what you guys do in print and electronically. We're always looking for stuff like that. So think about that.
[00:52:54.410] - Bill Kassler
I will definitely.
[00:52:56.210] - Big Rich Klein
Everybody takes pictures nowadays.
[00:52:58.730] - Bill Kassler
Yes. All right.
[00:53:01.130] - Big Rich Klein
So what's coming up? First of all, for Bill and family?
[00:53:09.870] - Bill Kassler
Well, in my family, I'm working from a home now, which is what is allowing me to talk to you. I have zero room in my house for an office. So I'm building an office. So that's kind of taking up a bit of my time. But we're watching our family grow. We've had babies being born, and we're getting more and more of our family into offroading. So it's a bug you catch and you can't get rid of it. So that's what we're doing for us. As far as the club we're looking at Safari, we've got a few runs on the books, planning some club runs for Thanksgiving, and we're just going to get together and have some fun for the next couple of months before Safari hits.
[00:54:17.230] - Bill Kassler
This is usually our busy time of the year. So we do some trail rides, but a lot of our focus during the week is on Safari. Yeah.
[00:54:27.190] - Big Rich Klein
That pre planning.
[00:54:29.170] - Bill Kassler
[00:54:29.890] - Big Rich Klein
And even though you guys are a year out from your 60th, because this'll be 60.1, and then you guys will do a 60.2 in 2023, having a little break like that can really help get the next full event just so that it's totally awesome. Not that your events aren't awesome. They are. But just think about how much all that extra time to plan can help.
[00:55:07.590] - Bill Kassler
Yeah. You think after 59 years, we'd know how to do this every year, we get better and we try new things and we figure out what works and what doesn't work. So we continue to try to innovate that stuff, and we want that experience to be great for everyone.
[00:55:30.470] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So is there anything that we haven't touched on that you can think of that you'd want to add?
[00:55:39.410] - Bill Kassler
No, I think we've covered a lot of stuff. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that we can start getting materials for our vendors, support our vendors. They are a big portion of this. It's easy to go out and spend money if you have it. We just need to have the stuff available for us. Land use is always a continued issue. If anybody listening, that is not involved with some sort of an organization, please get involved. If it's not with your time, please open your checkbook. There's tons of organizations out there that need help.
[00:56:24.650] - Bill Kassler
Without that, we're going to lose all of our lands. We've lost a ton of lands already, and we want to make sure that our children, grandchildren and their children can enjoy what we do. Right.
[00:56:37.850] - Big Rich Klein
And that's one of the things that the club does with this organized event, the big One Desert Safari, is that you guys make donations to land use through that.
[00:56:52.170] - Bill Kassler
That is correct. We typically try not to be political, but we donate to the organizations that fight those fights for us. That's not to say that we won't get involved if necessary. We have in the past, but we support a number of organizations and charities as well. We do. Let's see. California Blue Ribbon Coalition Corva, San Diego Off Road Coalition. And I know I'm forgetting a few, but we support a lot of them with the proceeds from our events.
[00:57:38.950] - Big Rich Klein
That's excellent. So anybody that's listening to this event that they do is not helping them build their personal rigs. It's not a business. It's a club event. And they make donations with the funds that come in from the event.
[00:57:55.990] - Bill Kassler
Yes. And if you don't believe me, you can take a look at my Jalappy.
[00:58:02.030] - Big Rich Klein
I get it.
[00:58:03.050] - Bill Kassler
All right. So let's see.
[00:58:06.950] - Big Rich Klein
Is there anything else?
[00:58:10.250] - Bill Kassler
[00:58:11.090] - Big Rich Klein
I guess we have touched on everything. Well, Bill, I would like to say thank you so much for coming on board and spending the time talking about yourself and, TDS, I know what we need to talk about. We need to talk about Bo Neece. Since I didn't talk him into being on here, we're just going to kind of push him to the curb a little bit. And if that bus happens to hit a puddle and splash on him, we won't throw him under the bus. What can you say about Bo Neece?
[00:58:42.110] - Bill Kassler
Well, the very first thing I can say is he works tirelessly at anything and everything off road. He works so much behind the scenes that nobody knows out of anybody that I personally know that's in our club, this guy, he needs to be in that offroad hall of Fame. He pushes and works so hard, he lives and eats and breathes all this stuff. He's a wonderful guy. Sometimes he's a little cranky, but that's because he has problem hearing. But all around him and his wife, Robin, are just wonderful people.
[00:59:30.790] - Bill Kassler
Yes, they've been in this offroading thing for a lot more years than I have.
[00:59:39.550] - Big Rich Klein
[00:59:40.990] - Bill Kassler
[00:59:41.590] - Big Rich Klein
I will say that my story with Beau is that I was out at King of the Hammers one of the early years, and the motorhome that I arranged to be able to rent out there fell through. And so I was sleeping the first night I slept in the back because I didn't even bring a tent because I was going to have this RV, right. And the whole rental thing fell through and was a debacle. But I ended up the first night in the back of the Maxis trailer with all the tires and the equipment, and it was really cold.
[01:00:20.230] - Big Rich Klein
And Bo heard about that and says, Well, Rich, why don't you come on over and stay in my motorhome? And Bo has a really nice motorhome. So he saved my butt on a cold King of the Hammers event. And when you listen to this, Bow, thank you so much for saving me that week.
[01:00:43.990] - Bill Kassler
Well, I can tell you that one story that stands out in mind. I mean, there's millions of them for me and Bow, but we were cochair for our 50th Safari and state parks was dragging their feet on approving our trail, and I think they finally approved it the Thursday before our event. And Jesus, Bow and I both are very passionate about Safari, and you can imagine a week in the desert with Bow and trying to get everything working right. By Thursday morning, Friday afternoon, we wanted to strangle each other and probably set it.
[01:01:30.910] - Bill Kassler
But the 50th, we had fireworks for the first time, and after that fireworks show both not a real touchy Feely huggy kind of guy. But let me tell you, after the fireworks, him and I were jumping up and hugging each other because it was such a huge success. It's probably because he's a huge Pyromaniac too. But nevertheless, we were hugging each other. And that's a pretty cool story.
[01:01:58.990] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. All right. But we didn't throw you under the bus. We just splashed you a little bit. So thank you for always being the friend that you've been to the four wheel drive industry, all the people that want a wheel in Southern California and myself personally. And, Bill, I got to say the same thing to you, too. Thank you.
[01:02:19.570] - Bill Kassler
You're welcome, man. I'm just happy to be a part of it. I think that most of the people in our community do the same thing if they have the time. Correct?
[01:02:30.670] - Big Rich Klein
I agree. All right, Bill, you take care and we'll talk to you later.
[01:02:36.250] - Bill Kassler
Thank you very much, Rich. I appreciate it. Okay. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye.
[01:02:41.950] - Big Rich Klein
If you enjoy these podcasts, please give us a rating. Share some feedback with us via Facebook or Instagram and share our link among your friends who might be like minded. Well, that brings this episode to an end. Hope you enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with Conversations with Big Ridge. Thank you very much.