Part 1: A Tale of Three Cities - Los Angeles
Red Oxx CEO Jim Markel sets the tone of "A Tale of Three Cities" here in part 1 of the series on creating a flexible sense of travel. During this liesure trip to L.A. Jim catches up with some unusual and interesting customers of Red Oxx. There they share philosophies on manufacturing and useful ways to use Red Oxx Products, including the Monkey Fist Zip Knot as window zipper pulls for an intriguing off road 4x4.
CITY OF ANGELS ~ L.A. ADVENTURE CORPS
Weekender Carry-on Luggage Set ~ Leisure Travel
Developing flexibility in your travel style is a terrific way to make the most of each journey. Swooping into L.A. with my shades on I get a text from Chris Kostman of Adventure Corps.
He's circling the airport in a vintage Delorean. Stowing my three piece Weekender Luggage Set consisting of a Safari Beanos PR5 Carry-on Bag under the bonnet and then my Gator Personal Item behind the seat we're rolling out onto the Freeway in less than 30 seconds.
I had spoken with Chris many times through the years but this was our first meeting in person. Adventure Corps promotes some incredible events and was one of our first corporate clients. The Badwater Ultramarathon is recognized globally as "the world’s toughest foot race." This epic event starts in Death Valley and ends up in Mt. Whitney. 135 miles of non-strop racing in some the most extreme temperatures on the planet. In an effort to break with tradition, I opted not to rent a vehicle and instead make the connection with Chris. He graciously offered to run me over to another one of the Oxx's unique customers.
ICON - THE ULTIMATE 4 WHEEL DRIVE LAND CRUISER
I first noticed ICON TLC when I spotted some rather large orders for our Monkeys Fist Zip Knots flowing through the website. Curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to give them a call and see what they were doing with them. Seems the owner Jonathan Ward had taken a real shine to them and so they're now standard equipment on his handcrafted vehicles
Years ago I had a love hate relationship with an FJ40 Land Cruiser I'd stuffed a small block Chevy into. Till one day the hate overcame me and I sold it down the road. Still, I had some excellent adventures all over Montana. From a wild ride over the unpaved Sunlight Basin pass to the gumbo mud of the Missouri Breaks. The FJ chassis has proven itself for some serious off-road action through the years. It was discontinued by Toyota and recently reintroduced.
The version ICON builds is something between a rolling work of art and a highly functional tool. No detail too small is overlooked, including using a Monkeys Fist knot to open and close the zippered windows on the soft top. A wild blend of high and low tech rolled into an old school aesthetic that just reeks of rugged dependability.
Walking through his operation I can see the passion for these vehicles. Everywhere he points to developments and projects in process as the constant process for improvement is embedded in their culture. Standing there in the evening light, it occurred to me that it had been a long time since I was rolling "Cali style." The easy going free-thinking nature puts you at ease. Having spent some time in that part of the world, I could appreciate the moment as 3 entrepreneurs exchanged ideas and shared observations.
Winding up our tour, we gathered around the Delorean as Chris displayed his collection of Red Oxx safari luggage under the boot. No fewer than 8 different bags, all with the Adventure Corps logo. The colorful luggage was all packed with an assortment of items. The Metro Laptop Briefcase was front and center but it was all the other bags full of the essentials of life.
Chris had outfitted his car as much as one would outfit a Land Cruiser; loaded with all the necessary items for getting out L.A. in case of a major disaster. You can use a Gator on safari as a camera bag. The Tri-fold Shaving kit makes an awesome medical kit as well. I've been using mine that way as well as part of my road kit and it's always in my vehicle. Chris had picked up on some of my own ideas about being ready, plus added some of his own. These guys were full of surprises.
On our way out the TLC crew surprised me with an interesting book. Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, is a prospective glimpse into what may someday lead to intelligent design of global commerce. The concept is that very thing that drives what we do and could actually be an asset to the planet rather than its ultimate destruction.
VENICE BEACH BOARDWALK
My first visit to Venice Beach was in 1976 and my, how things have changed. Trying to look cool on my east coast skateboard, I tried to make it to the beach. My ride was not built to handle the mean streets of the canal district so I finally gave up and carried my board. The infamous boardwalk was at the tail end of the counterculture era and it was a riot of hair and color. Still it was pretty cool and the kids back in south Miami were going to flip when I told them about this place.
Today the new condos and million dollar beach homes speak to another time. The Vietnam vets and hippies have all gone on to become parents and upwardly mobile. Yet you can still smell the faint aroma of a Mexican brush fire on the wind.
The Venice Beach House Bed and Breakfast Inn has been there to see it all. Built in 1911, this historic home is now a wonderful oasis just meters away from all the action. Spending over a 100 nights a year or more in hotel rooms, you tend to get set in your ways. If you can develop your own travel style that suits you, it makes for a better experience.
One cool travel accessory I always find a little room for is our Travel Tray. These goofy little trays are downright useful when out traveling for extended periods. Having a defined place to keep your belongings for the night seems to provide a small luxury without putting yourself out.
Next, I find a suitable place to hang my Tri-fold Toiletry kit on an antique metal hook on the side of the wardrobe. Throwing my PR5 Safari Beano Bag on the chair I grab my Gator which is doing camera bag duty and head out to the Venice pier. Which just happens to have my new rental vehicle; a fairly well used 3 speed beach cruiser. 60 bucks later and I am rolling Cali style towards muscle beach.
Cheers, Jim Markel CEO
Look for the next edition of Developing Flexibility for your Travel Style Part 2 - Business Travel when Jim conducts some business with a trip to the heart of the South.