A man in uniform, Del Albright has worn them all. Join us for an insightful look into Del’s life and career on Episode 86. We’re talking band, military, firefighting, and land use in just a quick minute.
3:32 – Leave it to Beaver incarnate
7:15 – we’d stop when we got to the Colorado River
16:38 – I needed some padding in the back of this 58 station wagon – to transport my musical instruments …
23:09 – I did everything combat the United States Army had to offer
28:46 – I’ve been in uniform forever
31:52 – I started getting into Jeeps and have been broke ever since
36:12 – they train me to be a coyote
41:06 – I met this astronaut from Apollo 13
45:05 – my master’s degree is prescribed burning for wildlife habitat
49:21 – I’m selective on how I pick on the changes the wackos have made
55:03 – it’s a desert wash, it changes every year
1:08:28 – my mission was to get people enough knowledge and tools to deal with the bureaucracy
1:17:49 – the 4 E’s of Enlightenment
1:24:10 – it’s a full-time job to keep people motivated
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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[00:00:01.020] - Speaker 1
Welcome to The Big Rich Show. This podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the four wheel drive industry. Many of the people that I will be interviewing you may know the name. You may know some of the history, but let's get in depth with these people and find out what truly makes them a four wheel drive enthusiast. So now is the time to sit back. Grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation.
[00:00:29.370] - Speaker 2
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[00:00:55.990] - Speaker 3
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[00:01:16.550] - Big Rich Klein
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[00:01:20.350] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich. We have none other than the infamous or famous Del Albright. Del has worked tirelessly for, especially the Rubicon, but also land use in general as an ambassador for Blue Ribbon Coalition. And he started the Friends of the RubiCon. Or was one of the founders of the Friends of the Rubicon. But we'll get into all that with Del. Del, Thank you for coming on board and agreeing to have a conversation with us today.
[00:01:56.290] - Del Albright
You bet, Rich, it's nice to be in touch again.
[00:01:59.740] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it is.
[00:02:00.970] - Del Albright
I'm happy to be here.
[00:02:03.250] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So I'm going to start with the question I start with everybody is, where were you born and raised?
[00:02:12.550] - Del Albright
Well, I was born in Oregon, but my dad only stayed there a couple of years because he found a job in LA. So we moved to Southern California when I was just a young kid, almost a baby still. But mostly Southern California is my what I call home. We spent several years in LA. Dad was a Machinist, and in those days, which is a long time ago.
[00:02:45.550] - Big Rich Klein
Was it stone and chisels?
[00:02:48.910] - Del Albright
Yeah, he was making square wheels, so he had no trouble finding work and he was quite talented. So we had a lot of job offers. We lasted six or seven years there in LA, and then we moved to San Diego. So most of my childhood best memories were the San Diego area place called El Cajon, went to school there all my best buddies. And that was my upbringing. And as you know, Southern California is full of great four wheeling and desert places to go exploring. So that's a lot of what we did.
[00:03:32.170] - Del Albright
My dad pretty much two to three weekends a month would grab me. And later my little brother and sister and take us out to the desert, to the ocean, to the mountains. And we fished a lot. We had boats, and that was my upbringing was being outdoors with my dad and mom, I was really fortunate. My current wife, Stacey, says I'm like, leave it to Beaver. If you remember that TV show, The Perfect Family, a good Life. A good upbringing, didn't have alcoholic parents, didn't have a lot of money, but made the best of every nickel and spent our time outdoors.
[00:04:24.880] - Del Albright
And that's really what set my goal in life was to be that kind of an outdoors person and enjoy that freedom that was driven into me. Maybe not on purpose as much as I think now, but my parents would emphasize how lucky we were that we lived someplace where we could go play in the desert and go fishing in the ocean, not be hampered by some other different country kind of rules. We had freedom, right? And that stuck in me like you can't imagine. But you do know I live for it every day.
[00:05:13.830] - Del Albright
[00:05:14.450] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. So in those early years, being outdoors with your parents, the hunting, the fishing, the exploring, driving around. What were the mode of transportation? What kind of vehicles did you guys run around in?
[00:05:34.750] - Del Albright
When you asked me to do this podcast, I mentioned that old news is good news. And, you know, I'm kind of an old guy, right?
[00:05:42.580] - Big Rich Klein
[00:05:44.050] - Del Albright
My dad and I, he built it. I held the light and tried to find the right tool, but we built a buggy, a brush buggy. Okay. Out of a 52 Studebaker.
[00:05:58.270] - Big Rich Klein
[00:05:59.830] - Del Albright
In those days, the Armstrong True track was kind of the tire that people had in desert rigs, but in the back, dad found some hay baler, tires, implement tires. And they're nice and wide. Kind of a balloon looking thing. But to get him to fit on this, Studebaker frame, he had to Weld two rims together commercially. You just couldn't buy a wide enough rim. So he welded two rims together to make a wide tire for this balloon that was on the back.
[00:06:38.230] - Del Albright
And it's pushed by the Gold V eight water pumper. He put a four speed tranny in it, put a piece of plywood behind the driver's passenger seat on the floor. That's where I stood and held onto the roll bar, doing 50 miles an hour across Glamis and Imperial sand dunes and Ocotillo Wells. Places like that. The heck of it is, Rich in those days. And I'm talking 60s, 60s, 60, 62, 63, 64. Mid 60s.
[00:07:15.490] - Del Albright
We could unload the buggy. He flat towed it. We could unhook not sure where we were, just someplace like Ocotillo or out there in the middle of nowhere and pointed east or south. Whatever. And we would stop when we got to the Colorado River. There was no wilderness areas, there were no fences, there were no boundaries like we have today. I mean, I grew up exploring that desert without restrictions and limitations. Yeah. It's all changed now.
[00:07:56.660] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. You mentioned the Imperial sand dunes, that area. It was amazing how immense it was. And now it's all shut down, except for the little bit of Glamis area. And it really is a shame.
[00:08:14.750] - Del Albright
Yeah. And see that sort of. I mean, my dad wasn't, like, politically oriented. Well, he had opinions. He read the newspaper, the breakfast table every morning and quack and holler about some politician doing this or that. And by God, if it was in the newspaper, it had to be true.
[00:08:36.950] - Big Rich Klein
Well, back then, it was more likely to be true.
[00:08:40.370] - Del Albright
More likely. Yeah. But we get out of the desert and all that would, of course, go away. Just like today. You kind of forget your troubles. Get on that 52 Studebaker. We call it the lobster because it's the way it had two big headlights sitting outside each side of the radiator. And it looked like some kind of a land loving lobster. That's what we called it. I kept it for years, but we would forget all the politics, all this stuff and just drive and Glamis. My dad took me there for the first time.
[00:09:18.420] - Del Albright
I want to say 62 or three. And there was some sign stuck on a piece of, like, lath, like a stake that said, Competition Hill this way. And I said, What's that dad. And he said, We're not going to go there. There'll be 50, maybe 100 people there. It's just too busy. It's 15,000. You know what I mean?
[00:09:45.080] - Del Albright
We did all those areas, hunted out there in the desert. So that upbringing and my mom was the other side of the equation. She was a people person. Mom was like the family matriarch. She was the Queen. We'd have family picnics, 300 people. Wow. And my mother was one of the central focus points for wisdom and help. And how do I do this? Whos who in the family Zoo? She knew everything. So she was the people person. And she basically gave me what I consider my people skills and leadership.
[00:10:34.030] - Del Albright
Be nice, be firm, talk to people you would want to be spoken to and be nice. But don't let your opinion slide. Let people know what you need and want what you think and speak up. So between the outdoor upbringing and my mom teaching me how to be facilitative and work with people, I think that launched my whole life.
[00:11:04.210] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. When you were in school, did you play sports at all, or were you spent more time outdoors?
[00:11:16.070] - Del Albright
I was mostly outdoors, but all my uncles, my mom had six brothers.
[00:11:22.100] - Big Rich Klein
[00:11:23.210] - Del Albright
World War two kind of Navy veterans and construction workers. And I grew up loving my uncles and learning from them. They were all crippled up. They were wounded, and it was from football in school. And I said to myself.
[00:11:43.250] - Del Albright
Self. I'm a musician, too. So I kind of like my fingers and like to be able to play the guitar, piano or whatever. And I looked at my uncles and they were just beat up. So I decided not to do sports. In high school. I tried wrestling because I studied Kung Fu and some of jujitsu and things like that. So I tried wrestling, and my hair was not long at all, but it was down to my neck or something. Anyway, the coach said, if you're going to wrestle, you got to cut your hair.
[00:12:22.430] - Del Albright
Well, no, not cutting my hair. So anyway, I got in a marching band. I grew up high school. I was in the dance band. The marching band. Jazz band. Music became my life. Music and girls leave it to Beaver. I didn't smoke cigarettes. I didn't drink a beer. I didn't sneak into the bathroom. I didn't do any of that stuff. I was lame.
[00:12:51.830] - Big Rich Klein
So talking about being in the bands, what was your favorite instrument, or did you play a number or just one?
[00:13:07.910] - Del Albright
Well, when I was seven years old, a lot of my family members played musical instruments, harmonica, whatever piano. My mom always had a piano in our houses, wherever we live. But I wanted something I could take with me. So anyway, she got me on the accordion. That's how I started.
[00:13:37.190] - Big Rich Klein
[00:13:37.830] - Del Albright
I took accordion lessons. I fell in love with my accordion teacher about nine or ten years old. Her name is Mrs. Peggy Parks. I remember to this day, fallen crush, head over heels. So I practiced. I wanted to look good for her. I learned the accordion. And the right hand on the accordion is the same as the right hand on the piano. So my mom started teaching me a little bit of piano, and that was my main instrument for 40 years.
[00:14:10.970] - Big Rich Klein
[00:14:12.050] - Del Albright
I've played in honky Tonks. I've played in restaurants, bars, belly dancing studio. I've done a lot of bar room piano work, but then I started more Jeeping and going out in a world of offroad. I couldn't take a piano when the accordion was kind of out of date. The beer barrel polka is probably not going to go over well at a KOH campfire, probably.
[00:14:44.730] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I don't know. Late enough. It might, right?
[00:14:50.080] - Del Albright
Yeah. Good point. So then I start playing the guitar, and I'm a campfire guitarist. So I take it on a lot of trips. Overlanding adventures, Death Valley trips. I'll take the guitar and break it out and start playing a few songs and getting people singing. And so that is now my favorite is the guitar.
[00:15:12.570] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. As a kid in San Diego. And I'm assuming that's where you went to high school because you said you were in dance band and marching band. That kind of thing. You weren't playing the squeeze box or the accordion in band, were you?
[00:15:38.230] - Del Albright
No. I was a drummer.
[00:15:39.980] - Big Rich Klein
[00:15:40.370] - Del Albright
Okay. Yeah. I did snare drum in the marching band. Kind of led the drum team. And then in the dance band, I picked up an electric before electric piano. It was actually kind of an organ, but it's in a wooden framework. Kind of like a small piano anyways. Same ideas. Electric piano. So I picked one of those up to play in my little rock band dance band. They were called The Barons. Nice and really modern tunes like Louis Louis and stuff from the 60s.
[00:16:24.080] - Big Rich Klein
Which was modern then.
[00:16:26.110] - Del Albright
Yeah, the heck of it is. By the time I turned 16, I needed a car to transport my musical instruments to the band practice. And the school. Whatever. Right.
[00:16:37.830] - Big Rich Klein
[00:16:38.620] - Del Albright
So my mom and dad had this 58 Ranch wagon, Ford station wagon, Teen Bird engine, and they were going to get traded in on something else. And I'd saved up, I don't know, to say, $300. And so I offered my dad $300 for this car. He said, all right, you can have it. Just don't get in trouble and blah, blah, blah. So to transport my musical instruments, I needed some padding in the back of this 58 station wagon, right?
[00:17:10.680] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that's what it was for.
[00:17:12.910] - Del Albright
Yeah. I got this mattress that fit in the back of the wagon for transporting my musical instruments.
[00:17:23.150] - Big Rich Klein
How convenient. Did you tint the windows, too?
[00:17:27.950] - Del Albright
No, I actually had some Velcro curtains for a while, but my mom didn't buy that musical instrument routine. She kept a pretty close eye on me. Music was everything to me in those days. In fact, when I graduated out of high school in El Cajon, I started to go into what do you call community College.
[00:17:53.360] - Big Rich Klein
[00:17:54.100] - Del Albright
I still haven't found my way. So I signed up for it. I was taking music and boxing in community College. And pretty soon I realized I was spinning in circles, wasting my time. What the heck am I doing? And the one thing I was, I know I've listened to your podcast. You talk about giving back. I actually was teaching kids part time young kids. Seven, 8, 9, 10, accordion on the side. I drive around town, go to the house, give them a 30 minutes lesson and make a few Bucks.
[00:18:31.860] - Del Albright
And so I was passing on music to younger kids. So that was the one good thing I was doing the rest of the time. I was either boxing, chasing girls, or making music. And anyway, I had a threshold. And all my uncles been in the war, served in the military, and my dad was in World War Two. So I joined the army. I gave up all that College stuff and said, you know what? It's time to join the army and go do something with myself. I've been a Boy Scout, Cub Scout, all that stuff.
[00:19:14.040] - Del Albright
So come to think of it, Stacey reminded me that I've been in uniform most of my life, one form or another.
[00:19:23.990] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. How far did you get in scouting?
[00:19:29.670] - Del Albright
I was with one, right under Eagle Life. I made it to life. Wow.
[00:19:35.440] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:36.810] - Del Albright
I know. I made Order of the Arrow. I did all that stuff. In fact, I still have my uniform, Rich. I still have my merit badges.
[00:19:45.130] - Big Rich Klein
I think my parents have mine. I hope they do.
[00:19:48.210] - Del Albright
My mom kept everything.
[00:19:50.490] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:51.930] - Del Albright
I won't say it fits. Yeah. The Order of the Arrow. I've got all that stuff in a box. So it's pretty cool, but. Yeah. So the army called and I joined.
[00:20:08.650] - Big Rich Klein
And that was in the height of Vietnam.
[00:20:12.730] - Del Albright
Yes, sir. I got in and I basically volunteered to go to Vietnam. I volunteered. I joined the army and volunteered for Vietnam. I was ready to do my part. And I believed in those days, the longer you get away from a war like that, the more you realize maybe you didn't make the best decision. But for me, it was. And I wanted to go. But the funny thing is, you're like this. My uncle on my dad's side was like a PG and E Pacific power line telephone line man repair man.
[00:20:49.970] - Del Albright
He climbed those telephone poles and fix stuff up there before they had good cherry pickers and stuff, right. And I admired that. And he told me stories of Korea when he was up in the telephone pole, doing something with a couple of bodyguards down below getting shot at by some bad guy. And I'm thinking, wow, hanging up there on a telephone pole, maybe with a pistol and some guy shooting at you. That's TV stuff. I want some of that. So I told the army when I joined, I said, I want to be a telephone line man repairman.
[00:21:25.990] - Del Albright
Yes, sir. No problem. Yeah. You've got a high school diploma, got a little College, boxing and music. We'll get you fixed up. You know how this story goes, right? Yeah.
[00:21:38.240] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:40.790] - Del Albright
Yeah. Once they got my signature, I never saw a telephone pole. The rest of my career, they immediately decided I'd make a good infantryman.
[00:21:52.430] - Big Rich Klein
There you go.
[00:21:54.590] - Del Albright
Yeah. You know, what they did pick up on was those people skills. I told you that my mom helped me kind of get a feel for and get a handle on the army. They know when they see somebody that has some kind of leadership potential. So that's the first thing they did was start testing me for leadership positions and went from there.
[00:22:21.830] - Big Rich Klein
And where did you end up rank wise? And how many years did you serve?
[00:22:27.430] - Del Albright
I did six years of active duty and then eight years in the National Guard. And in the six years of active duty, like I say, they immediately sent me to grunt school infantry. Then they sent me to a leadership school. And of course, I kicked ass. I was in good shape. I was fairly smart for a kid. 18,19, I guess. And they ended up sending me to an officer candidate school. OCS, Six months of learning to be an officer. So I graduated second Lieutenant, volunteered to go to Vietnam.
[00:23:09.640] - Del Albright
They said, not yet. We want to train you some more. And I kept taking these tests and these batteries of exams. And they kept finding more things to do with me. In those days, they were looking for hot shots. They wanted heroes. They wanted officers who could lead in pretty much any circumstance. They ended up I was a parachutist, airborne. I ended up going to Ranger school. I was a Ranger. I ended up Green Beret school. I became a frogman. I did everything combat that the United States Army had to offer.
[00:23:53.360] - Del Albright
In those days. Somebody told me the Department of Defense. It was like the top 2% of anybody that served in the military in my day and age. As far as training. Airborne Ranger Green Beret Frogman, Paratrooper jump. I think you jump out of airplanes with scuba tanks on nothing like having an anchor. I've been shot at in three countries. I served a year and a half in South America, Central America, a year in Vietnam. I've lived in 16 States, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Usually, like I say, the combat side of me, it became my life.
[00:24:44.390] - Del Albright
I don't want to sound bloodthirsty or anything like that. I'm not stupid. I didn't have a death wish, but I had a really strong family. Everybody was kind of religious in my family. Pentecostal Baptist. I had just about everything you can think of. And they set up a prayer circle. When I was overseas, everybody praying for me. I just kind of knew that I wasn't going to get wasted over in some stupid jungle, either in South America or Vietnam. I just had a feeling that I was going to come home.
[00:25:22.670] - Del Albright
And so I did all kinds of stuff that not everybody would do ended up with a chest full of medals and no really serious wounds and made it home. So it was for me. It was like, I say, those six years I speak three languages courtesy of Uncle Sam. I can order a beer and talk to a girl in about five languages. But yeah. So I ended up a major. When I left the National Guard. I was a major. I don't regret any of my army stuff.
[00:26:00.900] - Del Albright
That's one of the things that the Rubicon people when I started their friends at Rubicon, this is too military, and I'm thinking it probably is.
[00:26:08.880] - Big Rich Klein
I can't help it well. And there's a certain degree of that. You started early with the early uniforms and scouting. There's a hierarchy in Scouts that unless you've been through it, you really don't understand. But you start off like that like a private and you work your way up.
[00:26:37.350] - Del Albright
Yeah, I did. Cub Scout uniform, Boy Scout uniform, marching band uniform. And then, of course, the army. Even when I started doing my land use career, when I was in the National Guard, I was also working for the fire Department.
[00:27:00.260] - Big Rich Klein
[00:27:00.800] - Del Albright
Here in California, Cal. Fire. They call it CDF back in the day when I came home from Vietnam, 19. 71. Anyway, I went to school. And the reason I decided to go back to College in Vietnam, I'm sitting on this rice paddy dike with my buddy who was breaking me in because he was going home to the job I had there in the combat operations. And we're sitting on this rice paddy dike mud. We have a poncho wrap between the two of us. And the way you would sleep sometimes is you just sit side by side, have your cigarette, whatever, a cup of coffee, and then just lay down away from each other.
[00:27:47.800] - Del Albright
But with one poncho covering you up while you grabbed a few hours of sleep to keep the rain off. So we're having one of those conversations. What are you going to do when you get home? His name is Dave. I said, I'm going to go to College. I may get into forestry and become a logger. I said, well, that sounds cool. All right. I like that idea. Anyway. Short of the story is he went home, started school up in Humboldt, Eureka, Northern California. A year later, I did the same thing.
[00:28:21.960] - Del Albright
I got out of the army and met him up there in Humboldt, got a place to live. And I started studying forestry. So we both went to College together after being in Vietnam together. And we both ended up in logging, which led me to the Forestry and fire Department because it was combined. It was California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
[00:28:45.170] - Big Rich Klein
[00:28:46.100] - Del Albright
So I went to work for them in the logging side of it. And a few years of that, I went to the fireside, moved over and started fighting fire. Anyway, I've been in uniform forever. I don't know what it's like not to be in uniform. You've seen me in my starch shirt to this day. It's ingrained.
[00:29:09.890] - Big Rich Klein
So at what point did you decide to I know that growing up with the Studebaker, the modified Studebaker, the lobster. At what point did you go? Okay. I'm going to start wheeling. I mean, was it during the Forest Service time.
[00:29:31.070] - Del Albright
I took the lobster with me when I came home from Vietnam, I went and got it at my dad's house in San Diego. Took it up to Eureka. And that's a town on the coast of California, right? So I was living where you could drive on the beach in those days. So we jump in the lobster and drag it down to the beach. South spit was one of the big long spits of ocean sand, and it's kind of wet sand, and it's just great driving sand. And I crank that baby at V eight up and do 50, 60 miles an hour down the beach, which doesn't sound like a big deal, except in those days, the beach was loaded with driftwood borough big stumps root wads.
[00:30:29.270] - Del Albright
So I was actually weaving in and out of an obstacle course. And this buggy cruising up and down the beach, and I fell in love. I knew I wanted to be off pavement. I didn't care where I started out. I got a couple of motorcycles. I had street bikes. I had dirt bikes, three or five Scrambler in those days, no suspension. So I just started anything that will get me off the pavement I started doing. I didn't get my first Jeep. I had three four wheel drive trucks because we did a lot of hunting.
[00:31:11.770] - Del Albright
So we had four wheel drive trucks, short beds and step sides. And pretty much the only thing I do is lift them a little, put some good tires on and a winch and go hunting and go four wheeling. Well, then, when I was doing my Cal fire career, they moved me from around, kind of go around the state. If you want to move, if you want to promote, you have to move, basically. So I was hoping around. And I ran into guys that were Jeeping and four wheel and these Toyotas and nice off road rigs that are pretty common today.
[00:31:52.160] - Del Albright
But they were just starting to blossom in those days. And I had to have one. So I started getting into Jeeps and been broke ever since.
[00:32:05.230] - Big Rich Klein
Just empty every pocket.
[00:32:07.210] - Del Albright
Yeah, but, yeah, I tell you what, though. That whole lifestyle, especially then the Camaraderie, it's still there. It's always going to be there. Campfire camaraderie, whatever you're doing, if you're outdoors around a campfire, it's always good. But those first folks that I met in those days, they were so helpful, so willing to share. This is before the pirate days, when you post up a silly question and you get beat up or you post up a reasonable question and you get stupid answers, you know, pirate.
[00:32:49.830] - Big Rich Klein
[00:32:52.030] - Del Albright
But these guys were so helpful. Cal four wheel. The people were just amazing. And it hooked me getting into clubs and things like that. I think I've had five Jeeps now, and the wife still has four, and I only have one. The army led me to that fire service. I just blended right in with the chain of command. I was like, What's the big deal? Wear a uniform? Yeah. No problem.
[00:33:24.170] - Big Rich Klein
You don't have to choose in the morning, then.
[00:33:26.750] - Del Albright
That's right. It made it simple. And I got to tell you, simple is good.
[00:33:33.170] - Big Rich Klein
[00:33:35.210] - Del Albright
Well, yeah. I had a lot of opportunities in those days when California picked me up CDF at the time. Again, the tests and the interviews. So they decided I had some potential. And they put me through this two year intern program where I rotated around, like, six different government agencies at the state's expense, learning how the Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Energy fishing game. Yadda, yadda. I got to spend, like, six months with each of these departments with the big wigs sitting in the office of the main man in charge, learning how they run their organization and what it's all about.
[00:34:27.230] - Del Albright
Because if I wanted to turn me into a big chief someday, and at the same time, they paid for my master's degree.
[00:34:36.290] - Big Rich Klein
[00:34:37.210] - Del Albright
So I got a master's degree doing this rotation and the cool thing, if we have time, I'll tell you this story. Absolutely.
[00:34:46.170] - Big Rich Klein
We have plenty of time.
[00:34:47.710] - Del Albright
Okay, well, I got the fishing game. They have a team of people that are just like doctors and wildlife. One of my friends veterinarians.
[00:34:58.140] - Big Rich Klein
[00:34:58.660] - Del Albright
And their job is to monitor wildlife, their health check on the deer herds, whatever. Well, California has a twoLY elk problem. These Indigenous elk, they're smaller than, like the Roosevelt and the big Rocky Mountain guys. But they're in California, and they live in the Owens Valley, 395 kind of high desert. Anyway, they destroy crops like you wouldn't they'll come in and just eat a farmer's livelihood overnight. So fishing game is going to move some of these elk. And I heard about it. I said, what are you talking about?
[00:35:35.320] - Del Albright
Moving elk. Oh, yeah. Come on along. We'll set you up. We all pack up in these suburban and head for this town called Bishop. Anyway, they teach me how to be a what's called a coyote, where you stand out the brush and the Sage brush and hide until the elk are charging you and you stand up and wave this thing and try to scare them and turn them towards a funnel trap. We built these funnel traps, so they'd come in a short neck and have room when they got inside these tall walls and we could capture them.
[00:36:12.890] - Del Albright
So I got to be a coyote. Just heard of elk charging at me, and I thought the army paid me to get shot at. I'm doing this. This is stupid. Turns out they knew the elk would turn. And once you turn them and you regain your composure and throw your underwear away, whatever, it became a pretty good job. Right? So we get them into this funnel trap. Remember? I'm a fireman young kid. My eyeballs are big. I'm up on the wall looking down, and one of the vets jumps in the herd.
[00:36:55.730] - Del Albright
They've kind of settled down. They're just kind of pacing around in this enclosure. He jumps down there because there's an elk down. A big old Bull, like, he's dead. Right. And I'm watching this thinking, You've got to be kidding me. If that elk wakes up or whatever, he's going to tear you a new one. Well, the elk was dying. I don't remember a seizure, heart attack. Something happened and he quit breathing down. He went. So this guy jumps in and he's got this, like a little CPR kind of thing you put over the mouth.
[00:37:36.530] - Del Albright
He's trying to give this help some oxygen. He lifts up and he said, Get your butt down here. All right. I'm thinking. Yeah, right. Well, I buckled up Buttercup. I jumped in. He said, Get a hold of his Hind leg and you pump it opposite of when I give him there, just like CPR push on the chest, breathing the mouth. I'm pumping this Bull Elk's leg in and out as hard as I could on signal, and he's shooting oxygen into this thing. All of a sudden I see the chest of this Bull starting to work on its own.
[00:38:18.600] - Del Albright
And I looked up at We Rock. That was doing it. I said, Is this the time to get out? He says, as fast as you can. We jumped up, though, for the walls are crawling up and that elk got up and started whipping ass. He was mad in shock, but he was alive. I brought a bow back from death.
[00:38:44.350] - Big Rich Klein
I wish there's times that I'm so glad that we didn't grow up with social media or video cameras, phones like they do now where everything in life is recorded because there are things I wouldn't have wanted to get out there, but, boy, I sure would have loved to have seen that.
[00:39:07.750] - Del Albright
Yeah, well, we had a helicopter guy contract pilot for fishing game. Really nice guy. Unfortunately, about ten years after this one trip, he crashed into a wall and died doing the same thing. But when I was with him, he'd take me up and they wouldn't let me shoot something about liability, I guess. But they had a dark gun and they would fly the helicopter. Let's say a Bull got rogue and didn't get into funnel trap, and they still wanted to get him. They'd fly the helicopter with a shooter sticking out of the door, strapped in like you see in the movies these days with this Dart rifle, shoot a Bull on the run while flying, puts them down.
[00:40:02.070] - Del Albright
Usually it's not instantaneous, so it's not like they just fall over and hurt themselves. They go a little bit, slow down, stop and just sort of lay down, right. Very human. Then we all jump out, put him in a net on a long line and pick him up with a helicopter and move him over and put him someplace else. I tell you what. Like I say, I've been all over the world and had all kinds of experiences seeing that was pretty impressive. So that's the kind of stuff I learned in my early days of Cal fire.
[00:40:41.690] - Big Rich Klein
So it's reminding me of the story is reminding me of mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and having that guy, Jim, the guy who used to run around out there in the Bush with barefooted chasing the animals.
[00:40:58.380] - Del Albright
[00:41:04.290] - Big Rich Klein
You had boots on.
[00:41:06.090] - Del Albright
Oh, yeah. I thought I was in hog heaven. Rich. I thought I was just going to be a fireman and go out there and pull hose, chase fire, get dirty, thirsty and hungry. And they had me doing things like that. I actually, when I went to the Energy Commission in California, one of the commissioners, his name was Rusty Schweikert, and he was an astronaut. Apollo, 13. I think one of them. Anyway, the significance of this story is that's who I got assigned to. And I looked at Mr.
[00:41:53.370] - Del Albright
Sweicher, and I said, I know you. He said, Well, I'm the astronaut. I said, no, I know you're more than that. It was my Green Beret 18 in Panama that was assigned, and we were trained to recover his capsule if it landed in the jungles instead of the ocean. We were the standby team. We learned to smoke job, land in trees, repel, clear, jungle, kill bad guy, whatever it took to make sure that our astronauts and the important components got home. So I was his team leader.
[00:42:39.200] - Del Albright
If he landed in the jungle. And I'm sitting there looking at him. And it was one of those moments when it's like he stopped breathing. He just couldn't imagine that he was meeting me because we never really met in person. Everything was paperwork, pictures. It was pretty amazing. I sat there and talked to him a lot about being an astronaut. And he talked to me a lot about using a machete in the jungle and chasing bad guys. So it's pretty cool.
[00:43:12.830] - Big Rich Klein
So you're working for Cal Fire or CDF, and you're going through the training. Where did that lead you next?
[00:43:28.130] - Del Albright
Well, it's one of those things, like work expands to fill the space available. The more you train. If you're good at what you do and try hard, put your heart and soul in it. The next thing you know, they got you doing something more. Anyway, I became this intern. I moved around the state, seeing how worked different places. Dispatching structure fires, Abale fires, car fires, wildland fires. And I knew I was leaning more towards the wildland fire side rather than structure fires and hay bales stuff like that.
[00:44:15.290] - Del Albright
Right. So I kept finding jobs that would take me closer to being a wildland firefighter. And that's where I ended up. I went to 19 and 81. I went to Sacramento for an assignment. That's where headquarters is. And they were starting to prescribe burning program Chaparral management, which was on track to save California from the mega wildfires we see today. Oh, guess what environmentalists stopped that. We used to do a lot of control Burns and prescribed Burns and the wackos. Excuse me, my friend, but the wackos, the radical environmental idiots that push the politicians to shut down.
[00:45:05.700] - Del Albright
Things like prescribed burning have ruined the state of California. But I started that program. I was part of the startup team who prescribed burning. In the 80s. We burned with these helicopters that dropped flame out of a torch hanging from the line. It's called a helicorch. We did wildlife Burns to get rid of the brush and make more grass. It was really a fantastic time. But eventually, when they saw how well I was doing with it prescribed. I made a movie. Even it was part of my master's degree prescribed burning for wildlife habitat.
[00:45:52.110] - Del Albright
And that got me a door open to go to my final resting place, which is Calivarous County, where I live now to be in this former Calaveras Ranger unit and be the prescribed burn dude. So I did that for years. Then I promoted to more fire stuff and more fire stuff operations. And eventually they made me the chief. I spent my last eight years as the chief of the Ranger unit. Main guy in charge. My biggest fire had 4000 people working for me, 400 bulldozers. I forget how many fire engines, but let's just say a few thousand, right?
[00:46:47.870] - Del Albright
Just on one fire. So I spent, like I said, most of my career fighting wild land fires. As a cheap officer, I had friends that did the structure of fireside, and they didn't last long after they retired. You breathe so much crap. And even in a wildland fire, if you're not messed up, because usually you're not in a wild Ant fire, you're just breathing stuff that you don't know what's in that smoke Besides poison Oak. But a lot of these fires in rural California in my day, the meth labs and the pot and whatever, even furniture and some old trailer house out in the middle of the forest, the furniture puts out poisons and toxins like you can't believe.
[00:47:46.820] - Del Albright
So they breathe a lot of that stuff. I think the average I read one time was eight to ten years after retirement. Most firemen die some kind of nationally on the structure side.
[00:48:02.400] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. From environmental exposures.
[00:48:05.160] - Del Albright
[00:48:07.610] - Big Rich Klein
That's how my grandparents, my two granddads went that way, but theirs was one worked in the naval shipyard, Bethlehem Steel, there in San Francisco. And then the other was worked with shop, towel and chemicals. And that kind of stuff at the beginning of that trade. So they died late. I mean, they weren't young men. That was due to the environmental exposure.
[00:48:39.710] - Del Albright
Yeah. And me, I fight the radical environmentalists a lot. But there were some things they did that were good for us and had your granddaughter. People in your family had little more protection. Who knows exactly. Same with the firefighting side used to run into burning buildings and just grab somebody and bring them out. Well, now you better have your safety gear. You better have your tracker and your gloves, and you better have a mask and breathing apparatus. But by God, firefighters last longer now and they're safer.
[00:49:21.530] - Del Albright
I'm selective on how I pick on some of the changes the environmentalist have made and the wackos. And I'm selective. Does that sound fair?
[00:49:30.300] - Big Rich Klein
No, it does. It does. When I was in Scouts is when I joined the Sierra Club, and I believed in our natural resource conservation. But I never was an exclusionist. And I think that that's where things have gone is everybody the exclusionists. Think that because we like motorized recreation, and we like to get outdoors with a vehicle that we're evil. So they want to exclude everybody except for those that leave footprints, right? They don't even really want horses or mountain bikes or any kind of transportation except for your own.
[00:50:18.490] - Big Rich Klein
2ft. And they call themselves environmentalists. But what they truly are is exclusionists.
[00:50:27.630] - Del Albright
Absolutely. And some of them people who believe in something strong enough to die for it. Okay, I get it. I'll die from my country, my parents and my wife. I've been in meetings. Rich, how long has it been? 1000? 1994, October, Halloween. The Desert Protection Act of Southern California locked up like, 8 million acres. One fell swoop of a bill. Just done. Wilderness, right? Locked it up. Nothing set in a meeting with a little old lady. Just the sweetest little old lady you could ever imagine. And they were talking about chainsaws and helicopters in the wilderness.
[00:51:13.560] - Del Albright
What if we have an emergency? We need to chain saw some trees down and land a helicopter and get somebody out. And this little old lady, you can't do that. No mechanized, no motorized, no chainsaws, no helicopters. She stood up and said she would rather die out in the wilderness than have some helicopter come and get her. And I thought, wow, how do I fight that kind of an attitude? Yeah.
[00:51:43.150] - Big Rich Klein
And everybody says that until they're in that situation.
[00:51:51.190] - Del Albright
Nobody wants to die. I assure you, I've been around plenty.
[00:51:55.650] - Big Rich Klein
[00:51:55.970] - Del Albright
And that last minute, I don't care who you are, what you've been doing, you want momma to come home and hold you, and you want to make it back. Nobody wants to die. But she said that in a public meeting, and I thought, oh, I was really heavy into trying to work with the environmentalist, negotiate compromise, find solutions, mutual benefit. But you can't fight that kind. I'd rather die. Blew me away. But that 8 million acres. That desert Protection Act. What I was going to tell you about trails, right?
[00:52:37.120] - Del Albright
For me. You've heard Ricky and other people talk about my Death Valley stuff. I mean, that's my heart and soul, my favorite place to go. And I've lost 50%. One half of the trails I used to do. One half are gone. That'd be like cutting a Rubicon and half saying, you can't do the rest of it. It's like what? Yeah, mostly wilderness. That's the big stopper right there.
[00:53:09.190] - Del Albright
And I was in Pennsylvania at a conference, and I was giving a talk on land use. I stood up and had a good audience, interested people. They wanted to know more about the west. And I said, Well, we lost 8 million acres in this one congressional act, and I look around in my audience and I'm cracking away. You see me? I just start talking. I don't stop. Everybody's glazed over. They're like sitting there like zombies, mouth open. So I stopped. I said, I pointed to one guy.
[00:53:51.200] - Del Albright
I said, What's the matter? What he said, Dale, how big is 8 million acres? Oh, I guess it's the size of New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, all put together or some sort of thing like that. They couldn't conceive. Their wheeling was 160 acres. That's what they had private land. And they looked at me like I was what it really gave me some perspective on. You've been all over, you know, the East Coast, West Coast situation. They just don't have the public land, and they couldn't imagine a piece of land so big like that that we actually were wheeling on.
[00:54:36.730] - Del Albright
I've had my parents in Death Valley places that now. And they were in the backseat of my CJ seven within, let's say 100 yards of some great thing to see. And now I have to hike in three or 4 miles just to see the same thing. I used to see 100 yards away.
[00:54:56.800] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. And you were actually on probably a mining road then it wasn't like you were out open wheeling.
[00:55:03.430] - Del Albright
No. And it is a desert wash. It changes every year. It's silly. There's no damage there being done in a wash. I mean, for goodness sake, it's just I have to remind myself not to be sour when I take somebody to Death Valley these days because I point up on this mountain and say, Well, we used to go up there and see that. Or we used to go over there and see that people don't want to know what they can't see. Right. So I'm careful about that.
[00:55:40.700] - Del Albright
But there's still plenty to see, so I will never stop going. I think 38th year, I believe at least a week. So yeah, love that place.
[00:55:53.210] - Big Rich Klein
I've done a bit in Death Valley not near as much as I would like to. Shelley and I went down one winter over Christmas, and I realized right then that our national parks are visited, I believe, more by non residents, by Americans themselves.
[00:56:24.750] - Del Albright
[00:56:25.340] - Big Rich Klein
And I think that is really sad.
[00:56:30.210] - Del Albright
That that's the case. Yeah. In most national parks, you can't wheel. Death Valley is one of the exceptions, but the rest of them can't wheel, you can't Hunt, you can't put out a fire, just let Yellowstone burn. It's just stupid. But Death Valley does have wheel in. It's still there. It's kind of cool, too, because California Four Wheel Drive Association is now holding an annual event in Death Valley itself. They do one in Panamint Valley, which is the next Valley over.
[00:57:05.710] - Big Rich Klein
[00:57:06.270] - Del Albright
But they started one in Death Valley, so they're going to be a couple of weeks before Moab. If there's any chance you could make it. It's a fun way to do it with a group like that, because you got people along that know the trails and kind of know what's going on and where to go.
[00:57:24.230] - Big Rich Klein
Interesting. I've had the opportunity over the last couple of years working on the Rebelle rally with Emily Miller that her and Jimmy Lewis have set up and gotten permission to run the rally through parts of Death Valley and through the National Park, which to me, was absolutely incredible, just being able to get the land agencies to agree to permit an event like that, all the different agencies she has to go through in jurisdictions, of counties and everything else. It's just incredible. But there was stuff out there that I didn't realize that there were so many roads there that were still available.
[00:58:13.850] - Del Albright
Yeah. And to get her permit like that, I work with modern Jeeper Adventures now. Madison Metal, quote, a guide for them in Death Valley. You know, Corey, he's a great guy, but he puts up with the paperwork chase to get a permit. It's a commercial operation. You get ten Jeeps, whatever. You're going to go through the park and camp out in the desert. It takes six to eight months to get that permit through the system, the restrictions, the caveats, especially now during this Covid BS. It's almost so daunting that it discourages you from even trying.
[00:59:05.890] - Del Albright
Corey does it? We have to get permits. And Death Valley is still doable. And then they'll still work with you. But you got to kind of be firm and strong exactly.
[00:59:19.450] - Big Rich Klein
And bulldoged about it. It's why, when I was running VORRA, why I stopped, I mean, with the desert racing, there was so much you can't do it on a small footprint. And even though the permits were long going because Ed Robinson had had them for so many years, they just started making it more and more difficult to carry those on. And when I opened up moon rocks for rock crawling, for doing events, the hurdles and the amount of time it took to jump through those. And that's when I realized that I couldn't deal with those government agencies like that.
[01:00:10.620] - Big Rich Klein
And we did in Farmington in 2009, I did an event down there choke Cherry Canyon, one of the first places that we ever had rock crawling events. And the office down there just with cost recovery just annihilated me. I won't put it the way I normally put it, but Shelley is shaking her head. No, don't say it. Don't say it, but it really upset me. I got the local clubs behind it and told them I'm never coming back. I'm going to talk crap on it. Everything.
[01:00:52.980] - Big Rich Klein
And everybody in the office changed. And then I got a call as I was leaving Koh one day and heading to Arizona or someplace. And the new recreational planner down in Farmington called me up and said, hey, we want to invite you back, and I went, oh, really? So I pull over on the side of the road, and I was already at that point I was done with BLM. So I said in no uncertain terms, that the only way I would do that is under these conditions.
[01:01:28.750] - Big Rich Klein
And I named the conditions. And I was really blunt. I didn't know who this guy was. I didn't care. I just knew that everywhere that I had tried to work with, it got harder and harder and harder to the point where I just said, you know what? I'm not going to do it like you said, they just made it so that it wasn't worth it and not only emotionally and the work wise, but financially with cost recovery, they treated a small event promoter like you were an oil industry, drilling for natural gas or oil or big mining operation.
[01:02:07.420] - Big Rich Klein
You got treated the same way and charged the same dollars. And it's like we're talking an event that makes, you know, if you make a couple of grand at the end of the weekend, that's awesome. But if you're asking ten or 20 grand for us to do the event, how can that work?
[01:02:24.380] - Del Albright
It doesn't work. I know. I watched Dave with the Koh. The cost he has to put up with. And we started going in station. I started going in eight. I think that was the second one or something. But anyway, it's gone from a reasonable number of dollars to have a few cops to it's just inordinate. I mean, it's crazy how much he's putting out to cost recovery. And by the way, you reminded me before we started our conversation. This is our 20th anniversary of knowing each other rich.
[01:02:59.950] - Big Rich Klein
[01:03:01.450] - Del Albright
It's November of one. You said when we did the put up or shut up shoot out. It was Lake Amador, wasn't it? Yes.
[01:03:10.120] - Big Rich Klein
Lake Amador? Yes.
[01:03:11.790] - Del Albright
Yeah. I was media back then. Photography. So you let me on the court. I got to take pictures. And one of your first rock crawls with cowrocks back then, it was the very 1st 120 years ago. Yeah. Well, when you talk about the permit process and my preachings and writings, I'm trying to keep clubs from turning into outlaws because they or turning the outlaws into legit. Just forget the permit. It's too much work. We're going to go anyway. Then they learned we don't post it on the social network because they'll see you and they'll come out and get you.
[01:03:52.190] - Del Albright
So then they started hiding their link ups and just going anyway. And not a lot of clubs, but enough that it was visible. And I was working hard to help them. Hey, I'll help you with the paperwork. We'll find somebody to help you. We'll get through this permit process and it's daunting discouraging and shut you down. And another example is our friend Jeff Jeff know he tried to do that rally venture, did two of them. I was at both of them lost both times. Paperwork and Bill M just shut him down.
[01:04:34.920] - Del Albright
He just enough. It just wasn't worth it.
[01:04:39.030] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. And I have to give credit where credit is due with Ultra Four King of the Hammers, especially that event to keep it going and growing like Dave has done is absolutely phenomenal. The amount of work that goes into that permit every year, and now that it's no longer out of the Barstow office, but it's out of the state office is.
[01:05:16.230] - Del Albright
[01:05:16.820] - Big Rich Klein
I got to give them credit for that. If for nothing else, for just bearing that burden, getting through the permit process.
[01:05:26.490] - Del Albright
The persistence and it's more than a full time job. And it's persistent. And I've done permits for modern Jeeper adventures up in Oregon State Forestry. You wouldn't think that would be a big deal. It's not a political hot spot. Six months is a minimum minimum. Get that first piece of paper and even earlier is better. I'm thinking it's a $50 permit and about 2 hours of paperwork. How on Earth would it take? Six months?
[01:06:05.410] - Big Rich Klein
We're back in Rangeley, Colorado. We did an event there. We had done, I think it was two or three years in a row. We had used an area there at least two years, and it was like five years, six years prior to this last year. And we decided, hey, let's go back in there because with COVID, we couldn't go into certain spots. So we had to find new locations to keep the schedule. And they went through and had to do even though we're using the exact same area that we had used five or six years ago.
[01:06:42.080] - Big Rich Klein
Now they're going through the whole process again, because nobody in that office in the hierarchy of the office was there during the other permit processes. So everything had to be done again. And my conversation with him up front was, I don't even want to get started with this. If it's going to involve cost recovery, can you do this without cost recovery? And they were like, oh, yeah, we could do that. Well, I held them to it. They ended up putting a lot more hours into it.
[01:07:16.960] - Big Rich Klein
But it was all stuff that had already been done. The nephew studies and the archeological studies. It's an open OHV area. And it's called the rock Crawling course.
[01:07:31.250] - Del Albright
[01:07:33.350] - Big Rich Klein
And then they didn't let us use the good rocks.
[01:07:36.290] - Del Albright
It was ridiculous. Well, I put on a lot of training courses, recreational leadership training course, and a volunteer leader and stewardship course. I think I have 300 students now that I put through, including some of your interviewees, like Kurt Schneider and Kevin Carey. Yes. And a lot of people came out of that course, changed human beings, not just because of my good looks and charm. It was interaction in the class, right. That first class up at Ice House by the Rubicon. It had people that every name in that class is now somebody.
[01:08:28.390] - Del Albright
My mission was to get people enough knowledge and tools that they could deal with this bureaucracy, keep our trail open, set the example, lead by example, and have some knowledge just enough to not let some flip flop wearing cargo pants greenie for a federal employee. Tell them no, we can't do that. I gave these people tools to get past that first obstacle, shall we say? Right. That was my life when we started the Friends Rubicon in 2001, the same time you and I got hooked up and it went strong for about 50.
[01:09:16.950] - Del Albright
I was a trailblazer for about ten years and another five years. We had other people leading it. And basically, we took the key to that trail away from the county. And this is our trail. We'll keep it open. We faced all kinds of closure, threats and fines, lawsuits. And that was during the time when the DUI law was changed, where there used to be a payment. But then if you're off road and you're driving, it's still a DUI, right? You can't have an open carry yada yada or open can.
[01:09:56.650] - Del Albright
And of course, there's always a few beer cans on the trail. I always stop and pick them up like a lot of people keep our trail clean, right? The greenies would hide in the bushes, like by Little slews or by Ellis Creek. They'd hide. And I don't know if they planted the beer cans or not, but they would try to get a picture of me picking up a beer can and putting it in Red, my Jeep, which is absolutely just finished drinking. Yes, the picture would obviously make it look like I just finished it and put it in my Jeep.
[01:10:36.430] - Del Albright
So, of course, then California Corva, a lot of the groups started coming up Spider Webs. They started coming up with these bags on the back, and that was legal. I could put the trash in that bag and not near the passenger compartment of my Jeep, but it got so bad that I basically would pick it up with my picker uppers or my gloves and put it in somebody else's trash bag. It never got near red. They were trying to discredit me and the friends of the Rubicon.
[01:11:11.670] - Big Rich Klein
That sounds like one of those Karen moves.
[01:11:14.710] - Del Albright
Yeah, definitely. You hit it on the head right there.
[01:11:18.870] - Big Rich Klein
And I find that so interesting now that they use that as a and I know it's not based off of her, but that whole meme thing. Oh, look at Karen, the one yelling and screaming in the window because you're running your truck or they don't like what you're doing. And it was so fitting.
[01:11:45.810] - Del Albright
And it shocked me at the extremes that they would go to to try to discredit a volunteer cause that was trying to do good, clean up the trail and pick up the poop. You remember the days we were poop picker uppers?
[01:12:02.650] - Big Rich Klein
[01:12:05.010] - Del Albright
I had boards of supervisors, Jack Sweeney in the day. We were all out there picking up poop around Spider that one time frame 2003 or four somewhere in there and quarter time military trailers full of it, full of it. Several, one of our first clean ups, trying to make sure the poop didn't get in the Lake, went through all that and made the group strong.
[01:12:33.330] - Big Rich Klein
When all that first started, I looked at Disco and I said, hey, you need to get up there because he was working for I don't know if it was Eid or SMUD, but he was water quality testing. And I said, hey, you need to go test all the waters up here right now so that we have that database. So if they come in with their own testers that we have something, and he was like, great idea. They still had some testing on a lot of those waters from way back as well.
[01:13:14.320] - Big Rich Klein
So we had those numbers to tell them that they were more full of shit than the trail was.
[01:13:23.790] - Del Albright
Wasn't that when you were helping me with the what do we call it?
[01:13:29.330] - Big Rich Klein
Trail Patrol? Yeah.
[01:13:31.120] - Del Albright
[01:13:32.020] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you asked me to bring that over to Friends of the Rubicon, but that's not how that started. It started more of a vigilante group, you might say, trying to correct some of the behaviors or educate people on the behaviors that were happening. And I remember that one weekend I was up there and you were there, and there was some firefighters out of the Bay Area that were in Jeeps, and they were not where they needed to be. And we had been told that. So you went over and I said, Well, I'll take care of it and you go, no, I can talk these guys language, and you went over there and you took care of it.
[01:14:17.830] - Big Rich Klein
And that was much appreciated. But that education had to happen back then at that point, because there was so much exposure on the Rubicon at that point. And with them closing the private property owner at Basse, closing that the falls down or the accident to the falls, it forced everybody that used to be the party spot. And so it was a small area. It was easy to clean up, and people kind of kept it. There were groups that went in there and cleaned it up. But then when it got up on those same people started going up onto the Rubicon, thinking that they could treat it like they did Bassey.
[01:15:01.150] - Big Rich Klein
There needed to be an education. And so that's why I started that.
[01:15:07.030] - Del Albright
Yes. Made a difference. And we were kind of our own worst enemy in a lot of ways. And in some cases, pirate. As much as I love Lance and Lance started pirate. And it gave so many people that keyboard warrior tanneva, hey, look at me. Here's a video of me drinking my beer driving through little slews one handed with my five year old kids sitting next to me. Aren't I cool? And that would end up on that pirate or the socials. And I'm thinking, don't do this.
[01:15:46.840] - Del Albright
It took a few years to kind of get that to go away, right?
[01:15:52.730] - Big Rich Klein
People to realize that that was not. Yeah, we didn't need to be showing that kind of behavior.
[01:15:59.810] - Del Albright
Well, I'd end up in a meeting like my motorcycle man. You said, Buddy, Don Amador, Kevin Kurt and all these guys that were helping. We'd end up in some congressional testimony or a big meeting and all of a sudden, here's this video, one of our own people doing something stupid, driving up a tree, winching up to the top limb. I mean, just crazy, illegal and making videos of it. And it would end up in that meeting where I'm trying to convince politicians how great we are because we're volunteers.
[01:16:38.990] - Del Albright
We're going to save the trail, right? Yeah. I sat in meetings where back east, the ATV crowd was really getting strong, right? This is before the side by side crowd, ATV crowd. And all of a sudden we're fighting with each other over grant money because the ATV people wanted it, the dirt bike, people wanted it and the Jeep, and people wanted it, and they couldn't agree. And they didn't like each other. So they fought in public meetings with a grant board ready to dish out a million Bucks.
[01:17:15.630] - Del Albright
Well, we're not going to dish out any today until you guys can all get your stuff together. But arguing with each other and fighting. And there's still some of that today because there's ATV people when they hit the Rubicon, not all of them followed the rules and stayed in the line. And much as we all hate Haines, it was just too easy to get out of the online and buzz around through the brush and the bushes and off trail and take a shortcut. It was killing us for a while.
[01:17:49.110] - Del Albright
The education process and one of my articles, most read, probably of all I've written, is called the Four ‘s Education, Engineering, Engaging and Enforcement, the Four E’s of Enlightenment. I had to remember what it was called, but education is probably the biggest good signage and things like that. Engineering is how the trail is laid out and how the obstacles are laid out bypasses so people don't get stuck. And it's a good trail system. Engaging or enlisting is getting volunteers to adopt it and use it and take care of it, be a part of it.
[01:18:30.680] - Del Albright
And then last year was enforcement. When all else fails, you got to have cops out there. That's all there is to it, right. I took a lot of heat when I brought trail patrol and cops to the Rubicon. I got grant money to get cops out there, but there's just a point in time where education and common sense just not working. I got several people hooked up and sent to federal court in Lake Tahoe. Doesn't sound like a terrible thing, but it's usually two or three days off work back and forth, back and forth.
[01:19:10.810] - Del Albright
$400. Fine. Yada, yada. It's pain in the butt, but most of them learn their lesson after one bust.
[01:19:22.570] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I remember we were doing the law enforcement tour or government agency tour. And you called out for volunteers to take people in and out. And we were all standing there at the gatekeeper at Loon Lake side of the trail. And that vehicle. I'm not going to throw the guy under the bus with the name or what the vehicle exactly looked like. But it was a homemade vehicle that had a unique body. And he came down from the dam area, down the hillside, through the brush, like showing off that he could do this in front of.
[01:20:07.050] - Big Rich Klein
Well, there was a federal judge there. There was all sorts of law enforcement from every agency, whether it was highway patrol, anybody that had any jurisdiction up in the mountains and Forest Service. And there was 2030 of us standing there. And that guy drove in, and the joke was, well, we have the judge, we have prosecutors, we have defense attorneys, and we have enough people to put together a jury. What's the verdict exactly? The guy thought he was so cool until he realized who he drove up on bad timing.
[01:20:55.290] - Del Albright
There was so much learning curve back then, folks, you and me and several of the leaders I had in the Friends of the Rubicon. We took our share of heat because the good old boys didn't want cops on the trail and they didn't want to change. And they didn't want more people showing up. But had we not done those things, that trail would be closed tighter than a tick right now, other than the landowners having access to it's. One of the sacrifices I make. I wheel all around the country and I go places where, man, this is nice.
[01:21:37.200] - Del Albright
I'm not going to tell anybody and keep this quiet. It's like a good fishing hole, right?
[01:21:43.740] - Del Albright
It didn't take me long to figure out if I didn't have an army behind me that had been there and done that and seen it. It's hard to get them to step up and help you save it.
[01:21:56.390] - Del Albright
So I give up my good places and my secrets in Death Valley and the Sweetwater Mountains on 395, I show people and take them there and say, now, when the time comes, I have your name and number. You're going to help me save this someday. Oh, yeah. No problem, Dale. I'm going to hold you to it. So. Yeah, like the first guys that knew about moon rocks try to keep it quiet for a long time, but when he gets you in trouble, you need an army.
[01:22:30.090] - Big Rich Klein
[01:22:31.120] - Del Albright
[01:22:31.850] - Big Rich Klein
So what's the hot topic right now?
[01:22:36.870] - Del Albright
Well, we've been through several in California. It's still places like some of the riding areas for the dirt bikers. That's as best as Clear Creek and development around some of the state recreation areas. That's always going to be an issue that the greenies will keep bringing up. Honestly, it seems like most of the interest in land use, the stuff that I do. And Kurt, it has fizzled. Literally. When President Trump took over, it looked like everything was going to get fixed, whether we wanted it to or not.
[01:23:22.030] - Del Albright
It was going good. And some of the idiot rules were being erased. And then Kobe hit and the land used side of the world has just kind of gone quiet, so the issues don't seem to surface like they were. Wilderness areas are still out there. People are more focused from what I've seen on things like kids rights in school and masks shots and totally distracted from keeping our trails open. True, it's not even an issue. It's an issue, but they're not interested. Right? So it's a full time job trying to keep people motivated to stay in the game.
[01:24:10.890] - Del Albright
Over landing has taken over people that have great big rock crawling buggies are ending up buying these less than a rock crawler with a rooftop tent and some gas can on the back. And it used to be called car camping. They're going over landing.
[01:24:28.470] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, we went from extreme wheeling rock crawling to extreme camping.
[01:24:37.030] - Del Albright
And I can spend as much money on extreme camping as I can setting up a buggy.
[01:24:42.970] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, yeah. And then you get to show it off when you go to the Koh campground on the way you set up your Scottle. Nothing against these products but your rooftop tent with four annex rooms and 270 degree shade.
[01:25:05.270] - Del Albright
$350 $500 stove instead of the old two burner. Coleman, you got to have this white gas pump.
[01:25:12.790] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Now everything's solar operated. I'm surprised we haven't seen solar operated, like microwaves or something.
[01:25:24.530] - Del Albright
It's getting crazy. And Ford just came out this year with that F 150 with a built in generator in it, for goodness sake.
[01:25:32.000] - Big Rich Klein
[01:25:33.230] - Del Albright
Seven kw if you want. If you want the big one, you could run the whole compound. I was with a guy in Death Valley. This is one of the modern Jeeper trips. He and his wife beautiful JK, just a beautiful Jeep. And literally, when you open the back, tailgate, pop that window and look in the back, he had a command center console, all these big inverters converters generated buttons and plugins and the USB. I mean, I was impressed, and I guess he did most of the work himself, and it took weeks to wire rig and set up this command console in the back of his over landing Jeep.
[01:26:24.920] - Del Albright
It was amazing.
[01:26:26.870] - Big Rich Klein
I saw that kind of stuff at SEMA this year. Some of the companies out there, we're getting more and more solar. It's getting more and more efficient. And it's amazing what people are doing. Little microac units. You don't even have to have a generator to run them just inverters and solar panels. And you have the AC for your tent. You might as well just stay at home and watch TV instead of going out in the Woods and watching TV. I don't get it.
[01:27:07.530] - Del Albright
I enjoy it. The Overlanding, even though you're setting up camp every night, taking it down every morning, putting it down, up and down, up and down. It's still fun for about a week. And then last year, I spent 19 days in Death Valley doing that 19 days in a row. And by the time I got home, my butt was tired and I didn't want to set up anything. I just wanted to sit in my easy chair and wash the tube.
[01:27:41.550] - Big Rich Klein
Makes sense. I get it. We do a lot after the rock crawling season is over. And then right away, we do the Rebel rally, and we go move into our adventure trailer that we pull with our pickup truck. And we do that. The adventure trailer has a rooftop tent on it. I like to be able to unhitch and then go explore, come back and sleep. Not have to tear down and set up every day. But if you have to, it's easy enough because it's on a trailer right behind you.
[01:28:12.780] - Big Rich Klein
But we stay in that until we get until we after SEMA and we're ready to now head to the Gulf Coast right on. We probably do close a couple of years. We've done 30, 40 days like last year we did after the Rebel and SEMA. Then we went from Apache Junction outside of Phoenix all the way to. Well, just about I'd say Las Cruces, all off road with maybe 20 miles of pavement.
[01:28:58.370] - Del Albright
[01:28:59.450] - Big Rich Klein
And it was awesome.
[01:29:02.450] - Del Albright
I dig it. That's like when Chris Collar and I went from Mexico to Canada, all dirt roads. That was ten years ago. Jeez. Yeah, Overlanding. It is fun. I admit it extreme car camping.
[01:29:16.460] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, there's nothing wrong with it. Overlanders. Don't get upset. I'm not bagging on you. You're not all off. It's okay.
[01:29:27.350] - Del Albright
You know my Jeep. You know Red pretty well. You're not going to get mad at me if I put the snorkel back on. Get an angry grill and a bigger light bar.
[01:29:36.330] - Big Rich Klein
No, it's your Jeep. You can do anything you want on it. I don't have to say anything. Everybody else will.
[01:29:44.690] - Del Albright
Red started out with a snorkel. I had a snorkel on him back 20 some odd years ago on Fort Ice.
[01:29:52.280] - Big Rich Klein
You know, the river crossings. That's a good idea. That's the only place I can think of it.
[01:29:58.790] - Del Albright
But I put it on. The folks convinced me on Pirate that it would help with air injection. Turn the snorkel so it's facing the wind and push the wind in and increase your fuel and give you a little more power.
[01:30:11.030] - Big Rich Klein
I believed it like you needed more power in that thing.
[01:30:16.670] - Del Albright
Well, yeah, but poor Ridge. He's 180,000 miles now. It's on. The second engine still going strong.
[01:30:26.650] - Big Rich Klein
Though, so the only time it laid on its side was that was when Stacy was driving.
[01:30:32.990] - Del Albright
Yes, sir. That's a fact I was there. Uncle Dell has never rolled or flipped a vehicle.
[01:30:41.600] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I can't say that I've done that a number of times.
[01:30:45.470] - Del Albright
Well, I don't crawl professionally either. That would be a different story. But from trail riding. Yeah, we were at pirate camp and Pirates of the Rubicon. Well, there might have been a little party going on the night before, but she wanted to drive out. They made us honorary Pirates. So there must have been a lot of partying going on, but she wanted to drive out, got to walk or Hill coming out. And that one used to be pretty rudded out. It was really rudder. That year. We were coming out and she started getting too far on that uphill bank.
[01:31:29.800] - Del Albright
Oh, Red was coming up on her side. Coming up, coming up, I said, and I'm passengered up because I think I had a small headache. So I'm passengered up. We're all seat belted in pretty soon. I said, Honey, you better get over. We weren't married then we're just dating. She says I'm coming over. And sure enough, here comes a Jeep on my side. Bang landed on my door. Now, here's the funny part. You know the story, but I could smell gas. I could smell it. When we hit, there was a whiff of gas and I heard gas pouring out.
[01:32:13.500] - Del Albright
I could hear this liquid pouring out on the ground. I heard this sound. I Shelley the gas and I said, the stage. I said, Get out. It's going to blow. Well, Stacey and I carry one handed knives where you can pull it out of your pocket. Flip it open with your thumb. Right. So you can get out of a seatbelt. In a bad situation. I've never had to do it. But guess what? Her seat belt cut loose. Mine wouldn't. So she's standing on the window of the driver's door, pulling on me, trying to get me out of the Jeep.
[01:32:53.570] - Del Albright
While we think this thing is going to blow up, she's pulling on me. Of course. I made the seat belt worse. Right. Anyway, I pull out my one handed knife, thinking, thank God. Get ready to cut the seatbelt. Let go. So she helps me out. We get over to the side. We're holding each other. We're looking at the Jeep and I'm thinking, Wait a minute. It's on the passenger side. The gas tank is on the driver's side uphill. It can't be porn out. Well, short of the story is maybe I got a whiff of gas.
[01:33:28.820] - Del Albright
Maybe. I don't know, but the water pouring out was the water coming out of the ice chest. Big sigh of relief and people came back and helped us upright it and we drove it home. But that was 2004.
[01:33:48.290] - Big Rich Klein
That was it back then.
[01:33:49.810] - Del Albright
Wow. Wait a minute. Let's see. Yeah. Oh, thank you, dear. And that's what I was going to say. Even though she's trying to save me, she wouldn't leave me. I married that woman. Yeah, that's a fact. Anyway, I love that Jeep of mine. In fact, it's in the shop right now. I got to admit, Rich, let's just say I'm a little older than you. And like, 19 days in Death Valley, I get in and out of the Jeep 100 times a day, showing people rocks, showing people plants, talking about something in and out and Red six inches up.
[01:34:42.500] - Del Albright
I mean, he's lifted, he got parts and pieces. I still can do it. But after 100 times. Yeah, I'm kind of like, where is my nap? Where's my caught anyway, I'm trying to get some, like those rock slide engineering slider steps, right where the power step comes down when you open the door.
[01:35:07.730] - Big Rich Klein
[01:35:08.780] - Del Albright
Yes, it's time.
[01:35:11.290] - Big Rich Klein
[01:35:11.680] - Del Albright
I still want to use Red, but I don't need to be jumping in and out like that all day. When I was a paratrooper, I kind of banged up my back, jumping out of planes with scuba tanks and guns and equipment. I banged up my back pretty good. So a little assist step is going to be nice.
[01:35:30.890] - Big Rich Klein
Sounds like it'll be very nice.
[01:35:33.110] - Del Albright
Yes, I can't wait.
[01:35:36.470] - Big Rich Klein
So anything new and exciting for the two of you?
[01:35:43.550] - Del Albright
We are going to be so happy when this world gets back to some semblance of what it used to be. We're going to start out 2022 right off the bat. I'll be doing an overlanding thing in Arizona, and of course, we'll do a little convention stuff with California Four Wheel Drive Association. I'll do some more modern Jeeper and spring with Death Valley, and then we'll go to Moab and see people we haven't seen in two years.
[01:36:14.310] - Big Rich Klein
[01:36:15.930] - Del Albright
Get back on the Rubicon in the summer. I always convince people to try to just wait till that snow and mud are gone. Enjoy the trail in the summertime. Right. So I'll be doing some of that. Yeah, I'm hoping it's a normal, busy spring because I'm tired of this crap we've been putting up with. And I hope you're okay with me saying crap.
[01:36:39.870] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, yeah. There's no vocabulary. That is not okay on my podcast. Got you listen to my sons, my Lord, he's got a dirty mouth. Anyway.
[01:36:59.710] - Del Albright
I hear you. So anyway, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me, Rich. I haven't shared my story, like, right in depth. I don't think ever.
[01:37:12.200] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that's good. That's what I try to get out of people. Everybody goes. Some people say I don't have a story to tell. We know Dell has a story to tell. It's almost as long as the Bible, right? It goes from the beginning of time.
[01:37:29.750] - Del Albright
Considering I'm as old as Death Valley. Smarty pants.
[01:37:34.920] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that's me. Anyway, Dell, thank you so much for coming on board and sharing your history. And Stacey, thank you for being back there, holding up the notes for him.
[01:37:49.470] - Del Albright
She's giving me some coffee, but thank you rich. I thoroughly enjoyed our partner.
[01:37:53.710] - Big Rich Klein
All right. And you take care and we'll talk again here shortly.
[01:37:58.470] - Del Albright
Right on, brother. Okay.
[01:38:00.280] - Big Rich Klein
[01:38:02.370] - Speaker 3
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.
[01:38:14.950] - Big Rich Klein
Hope you enjoyed it.
[01:38:15.900] - Speaker 3
We'll catch you next week with Conversations with Big Ridge.
[01:38:19.080] - Big Rich Klein
Thank you very much.