“This guy” is Herrmann, and he’d really be more accurately described as a legend. We found him hitchhiking up AZ-209 and gave him a lift back to his camp; a Geo Metro loaded with living gear and a little kitchen that’d he’s been wandering around America in for a very long time.
I was ploughing up the highway in a 2015 Ram Rebel looking for off-road trails or Mexican food with my new friends Zach Bowman from Road & Track and Scott Evans from Motor Trend when we rolled up on him.
Only five hundred meters or so from the Overland Expo, possibly the biggest gathering of wealthy vagabonds on Earth, I saw Hermann sauntering north getting nothing but a facefull of wind from one lifted Land Cruiser after another. Frankly I figured he was an off-roader who’d been dumb enough to bring an International Scout or something and needed a ride to a mechanic.
Having been saved by the mercy of randos myself on several occasions, I reckoned we ought to render him assistance and the boys agreed. “This ol’ boy looks legit, let’s see if he needs a lift to Flagstaff.”
With a quick rearranging of our cargo the dude hopped in the Rebel’s spacious rear seating area.
“Hey thanks guys! I really appreciate you stopping... my car’s stuck in the mud a few miles up the road...”
I could hardly believe our luck! The chance to rescue a citizen in distress? This would make for some quality truck blogging.
“...and you need us to tow you out!?” I finished for him, a little too excitedly.
“Haha, no, no. I’m camped... it’s just too muddy for my car to leave the campsite now. Gotta wait ‘til she dries.”
“What exactly... are you driving?” somebody asked.
“Just my Metro. Got snow tires on ‘er so I usually get through everything no problem. Little too wet today though. Just gotta wait it out.”
Oh yeah, this dude had our full attention.
“So what do you guys do and where’d you get this fancy truck?” he asked earnestly.
When we told him we were journalists, he was surprisingly impressed. Which felt a lot better than the normal reaction of “and uh, you actually make a living off that?” We had to give him our business cards to prove it. So I just scribbled my name on a napkin (maybe that’s why nobody believes I have a job...)
We learned Herrmann had a blog too, which you can check out right here. You collect some pretty interesting stories putting 150,000 miles on a Metro while living in it, and it looks like a few of them are recorded right there. Some cool pictures too.
Approaching the campsite he told us; “You can just drop me off at the road here... wouldn’t want you guys to get this nice truck all dirty.”
Everyone in the truck laughed, I dropped it into 4WD and sent us bounding into the mud bog. Immediately realizing, holy crap, this stuff is super sticky... but determined to look like I knew what I was doing I just kept the throttle pinned ‘til we shored up with his car, which was completely mired in two tracks of mud.
“Are you sure you don’t need an extraction here dude? We don’t have a tow strap but, I’m sure we could find somebody with something,” we said, surveying his car’s situation.
“Nah, I was gonna stay camped here for a bit anyway. I’m in no hurry.”
Taking a look around his rig, the setup was minimalist but complete. Driver’s area intact, couple large tanks of water, tarp awning, and a propane cylinder for fueling his stove. And cooler stuffed to the gills with beer, which he was gracious enough to share.
Apparently he’d picked up the Metro with about 50,000 miles on it... the odometer now reads about 200,000.
It sure was an interesting outfit to look at... in stark comparison to the million-dollar machines parked just down the road at Overland Expo. I couldn’t help but feel Herrmann here was a a bit more badass, doing it lean-like, which is why I’m writing this here tribute in case you hadn’t figured that out yet.
Overbuilt camping rigs are cool, and your new Tacoma is too. But you don’t need expensive gear to go overlanding. Just a car, a good set of tires, patience, curiosity... and a cooler full of brewskis doesn’t hurt either. May Herrmann inspire you to do the same.
To all the wanderers like Herrmann, following the wind on wheels on the cheap– Cheers.