Western Adventures 4X4 Driving School

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Tuesday, 10 October 2006 16:42
Western Adventures Logo small I will give you a little information and background on Western Adventures and myself, Frenchie La Chance, Owner of Western Adventures, age 59, San Diego, CA. area native.

My travels started as a baby going with my parents to Tijuana, Mexico, as my dad bet on Hai Jai. I first started camping on my own with my motorcycles in the early 60's. Exploring all of the South-West deserts and Mexico, this continued until I left for Vietnam in 1967. After returning, I lived in Northern California for a couple of years. This was where I bought my first 1960, CJ-5 Jeep, with a "F" Head four cylinder, and 5.38 gears.

All of the Mining Camps, Towns and Logging roads made for great adventures in the Sierras. This just wet my taste buds for the freedom of the outdoors during my teen years, with wind blowing in my hair. The times were tough going to college, working and trying to enjoy my recreation.

My major in college was Outdoor Recreation, which fit my needs. While at College I found a 4X4 flyer on my windshield at school one afternoon. It talked about a 4X4 trip and a pancake breakfast being hosted by a Club "The Los Batidories". This was a small club of fifteen families, and was my introduction to the 4X4 Clubs. I did not know at this time that they were some true hard core 4-wheelers. They were super in bringing me along, putting up with me and my novice driving and they never left me - teaching me all they new. That was some of the best 4-wheeling years as we were able to go so many places, and we did not have the limits we now face.

This was only to last for four years. The "Gas Crunch" of the 70's and the many people moving or getting transferred with their jobs all at once put an end to the club.

A friend and myself, being the last two "Los Batidories", started going to another club, "Tierra Del Sol". After a year of waffling we both joined. This was a club that was very active and got me to be far more active in protecting and keeping our lands open to all. I owe it to the late James B. Willis, a great man who saw well into the future, at least 20 years ahead of the rest of us. This also gave me an opportunity to be involved in the premier Off-road event in the southwest, the "Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari".

During this time, I got together with other Off-road users (motorcyclist, dune buggies, ATV's) and we formed the "San Diego Off Road Coalition" - with myself as the "4X4 representative" for the San Diego area clubs. This was a rewarding experience for me and opened even more doors. With the Off-Road (Off-Highway) events that I was able to participate in, the opportunity arose for me to be the chairperson of a state event.

In 1985 the California Association of 4-wheel Drive Clubs needed a "Hi Desert Round-up" leader to put on the event. This was a snap since this was one of the few events that I had never attended so I was able to take the best of what I liked from all of the other events I had attended over the years and roll them into one.

Do not get me wrong: I did get some very wonderful helpers which I could not do without and they made this a turning point for this event. The reputation that it had was turned around, and it has since grown and become a better event.

During this time of Hi Desert I met Marc La Fontaine, with whom I formed the "San Diego Outback's 4X4 Club" - a thriving and wonderful group of 4-wheelers. This lead to Marc being the chairperson of the "Hi Desert Round-up" in 1986 and myself assisting him with our new clubs help. This lead to a much larger and better event then before, and has continued to improve ever since.

From the early 80's on I have been able to 4X4 travel and participate in many exciting events throughout the west. This lead to me joining the Red Rock 4-wheelers out of Moab, UT. After being a helper with the "Easter Jeep Safari" for a number of years I was able to be a Big Saturday Trip Leader. This was what I really enjoyed more than anything.

With the large number of people I kept running into who wanted to learn the proper, safe way to go 4-wheeling and the popularity of the Sport Utility vehicles, one thing lead to another... The need for a driving School was evident - and for me it was a natural next step to dedicate my energy into the development of our 4X4 Driving School. After about 10 years of doing the training and trips on a part time basis, I was now able to do this full time. This is a great place for me to tell all people that said Outdoor Recreation in College is a waste of time, it has come in very handy now.

With my outgoing personality and experience with the outdoors - and as a leader - the logical next step was to share my life's experience in 4X4's with the rest of the 4-wheelers. Over the years I discovered unique places to go 4-wheeling so by exploring, reading or hearing about other places I have put together some magnificent adventures. Such as putting together the trips to Mexico and the many other locations throughout the Western U.S. and to help more people enjoy and share in the experiences. I currently offer the largest selection of Mexico adventures I have ever offered. To quote from Jean Akens (a co-leader from Moab) "With Frenchie you will participate and have fun". It all just came together: the next step would be to start a business doing what I enjoy.

This brings us to the creation "Western Adventures" the 4X4 Driving School and the "Explorer's Club" guide service full time since June of 1995. I would like for everyone to get the pleasure, excitement, and fun which I have gotten out of the sport. "Oh to share, the places which I have gone, the sights I have seen and those wonderful experiences we all got to share together ".

In 2003 myself and other 4X4 trainers from around the world got together to set standards for the training. This was with the consumer safety in mind. We want a standard that will insure people get the correct training. We brought in experts from around the world to formulate the standards and develop testing. The result is a self regulating community setting standards to insure the members are qualified to teach the public. The result of all this is International 4-Wheel Drive Trainer Association (I4WDTA).  I4WDTA has set the bar high for trainers so you will get the best training experience. Not every person who calls themselves a trainer can meet our standards.

Over the years I have been on the cover of Four Wheeler Magazine (25th anniversary edition), and 4X4 Action (4-wheel Sport Utility) and inside of many others. My picture and name is still showing up in many other magazines, such as the man’s magazine “Cargo”, “Backpacker”, “Canadian “Can 4WD”“, Off-Road Business”, “Woman’s Sport and Fitness” and “Off Road Adventures”. I have been featured on TV’s “Road Rage” and ESPN’s “Truck Stop”.

This is a quick overview of the history and background of Western Adventures and myself. As you can see by the adventures listed, I have a diverse and unique set of adventures that I have put together. They are easy, moderate, and some a little difficult adventures from the day trip to an Expedition of 21 days. These are all trips that I have put together in a way to meet my criteria; fun, scenic trips, that require the use of 4-wheel drive, and that are designed to be affordable. Most all of the adventures do require camping, to keep the cost down. On some you can stay in lodging at your own expense. On the longer trips we do stay in accommodations where we can take showers and give the group a rest every 2 to 4 days.

Because of the stress that some people develop on longer vacations, I have developed a way to prevent people from being confined in the same vehicle day after day... We take a free day every 5 to 7 days and we recommend that the passengers switch to another vehicle with others. (Not only do you make new friends but you do not feel like strangling your companion who we know you really love). You can still communicate with your traveling companions since they are only a CB microphone away. This is only voluntary, but we see it work over and over.

The Basic Driving School is here to introduce the novice to the world of Off-Highway Driving (Off-Road). The lecture covers the How, When, and Where, to 4X4-ing as well as many related subjects like map reading, survival, safety, camping, responsibility and much more. Then we put to practice all we talked about, behind the wheel driving. When you finish the class you can safely go 4X4-ing with the tools and knowledge to have a safe and great time. Out skills have been enhanced by the work we have been doing to get the I4WDTA (International 4-wheel Driver Training Association) off of the drawing board and working. We set standards and include the latest and best training methods for our members to insure you will get the highest possible learning experience available.

Rocks and Sand
We offer a additional day for those who want to enhance and more practice. We get more detail in this class.

Rocks and Recovery
This class is for those who want more practice in these techniques. Learning the properly way to get unstuck and out safely.

Our skills have been enhanced by the work we have been doing with the I4WDTA (International 4-wheel Driver Trainer Association). We set standards and include the latest and best training methods for our members to insure you will get the highest possible learning experience available.

Federal Government:

BLM - I regularly train the BLM  as a 4x4 driver training instructor for our Bureau of Land Management.

State agencies - For California and Nevada:

Military - We are continuing the training the elite United States Military on advanced off road driver training.

Utilities Companies - Sempra Energy, Motorola etc.

Mining Companies - Kenocott Explorations, Anglo-Americian, Hudson Bay Explorations (Canada) Exp.LTD.

Environmental Companies - Geo-Marine. Inc. Natural Sciences and Permitting etc.

Automobile Companies - Jeep

Among other endeavors;

San Diego Off Road Exposition - We have Designed, built and run Off Road driving course.

Adventure Rally - Designed and Run Safety clinics.

MDA Off-road for Hope - developed trail runs for the event for 3 years.

Paralyzed Veterans Association - “Operation Desert Fun” Safety classes and many other events.

As always, we want to Tread Lightly and have a safe trip.

Thank You,
Frenchie La Chance

 

 

Last Updated ( Saturday, 02 January 2010 09:08 )
 
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