The Road to Recovery with BeastieTheBJ70--The original proposal

Acting as a voice for those suffering from mental health issues.

A Project by Maggie McDermut

The Why:

Simply put to give back and make an impact.  This trip is not just about me fulfilling my dream of traveling to Alaska and experiencing a new adventure.  I plan on raising a dollar for every mile I travel.  This money will then be split and donated to Team Overland and Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. both non-profits making a difference and positive impact within the mental health realm.

“Team Overland is a nonprofit organization based in Southern Oregon that guide outdoor adventures as an outlet for Veterans to overcome challenges associated with service related physical and mental health disabilities, and to facilitate Veteran reintegration back into civilian society….On the trail, we work as a team to overcome the obstacles encountered on the way to our destinations. Around camp we have a saying, ‘the fire facilitates’ meaning we don’t provide therapy or plan any set questions for guests. We light the fire and it facilitates conversation and forms connections. From the point, we meet-up until the time we return home guests have everything they need provided for them including all meals catered and any camping gear needed.”

While Team Overland specifically works with veterans, I hope through my travels and speaking about my own struggles on social media platforms that I can maybe reach others who have been struggling through depression and the impact it has on ones life.  

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation "is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research."  Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awards grants to research projects ranging from depression, PTSD, to autism and obsessive compulsive disorders.  

With my concept of a raising a dollar per mile, the further I go, the greater the goal. I will set up a crowdfunding site so anyone has access to donating and it will be a collective effort to reach the monetary gaol, this gives anyone the opportunity of helping, wether its a dollar or hundreds of dollars from an individual donor.  I will also update this site with travel and mileage updates.  

While my destination of Alaska is not specific to mental health issues, it’s more about the trip itself being healing to me and benefiting others who need to heal as well, by supporting Team Overland which does similar trips to my own with those suffering from various mental health issues.  

Why mental health issues?  I myself have suffered and struggled with depression since I was 19 (I’m 25 now).  That may not seem like a terribly long time, but to struggle in finding glimpses of happiness for 6 years, it feels like forever.  I have always felt better, more in tune with myself, and had a stronger sense of being when on the road.  

Through travel I have really been able to work through a lot in regards to my depression, my sense of place in this world, interpersonal relationships, and I have really understood the benefits of learning to be introspective and reflective.  I have found incredible support within the overlanding community and wish to return that support and be a positive impact in someone else’s life.  A sort of voice for those fearful of reaching out in regards to their own struggle, just as I was for a long time.  Even today, I still find it difficult to talk about my own struggle. 

The Trip: 

I have always wanted to venture to and beyond the Arctic Circle with my beloved Land Cruiser, Beastie, and being a candidate for the Change Your World Fund propelled the planning for a possible Alaska trip forward.  Leaving for Alaska from Overland Expo West, seemed quite fitting, and the trip will span about 11 weeks, starting mid May and returning to Colorado around August 7. 

In honor of Alistair Farland, who said about his own trip, “I generally don't know where I will be sleeping tonight, or tomorrow night for that matter. But then that's all part of the fun,” I have left the trip details as a blank slate, besides a check list of three things, allowing for fluidity in the trip and for travel plans to grow naturally. 

The three “to do” items include driving the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay, the newly opened to the public, Dempster Highway to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada, and trying to visit any national park or monument when possible. Outside of this checklist, I hope to spend time in communities throughout Alaska and Canada, and connecting with fellow travelers on their own journeys. 

The general route will go north from Flagstaff, AZ, over to Oregon and Washington then up through British Columbia and into Alaska.  After I’m sure what will end up being a few circles in Alaska, I’ll head up the Dalton, and then double back after reaching Prudhoe Bay and connect to the Yukon Territory via the Top of the World Highway which will then connect me to the Dempster.  After reaching Tuktoyaktuk I’ll slowly make my way south through the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Wyoming and then finally home to Colorado. 

The Who:

My name is Maggie McDermut and my travel partners are my 2.5 year old pup, BombaDog, and Beastie, my 1986 Toyota Land Cruiser BJ70.  

I am originally from Santa Barbara, CA but now hail from Boulder, CO, having moved here August 2016 to finish school. Currently I am a student of Geography and Political Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, hoping to finish my degree soon. I am an avid overland traveler,  having driven through most of the United States except the Eastern seaboard and northern midwest.  I am an avid outdoors-woman, hiking when the snow isn't to deep, climbing outside when possible but training in a gym when necessary, and I have been horseback riding since I was 6.  I also has a diverse background in photography, non-profit work, climbing gym management, graphic design, writing, and many other fields.

Bomba is my 2.5 year old Belgian Malinois mix, who I adopted from Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, UT.  Bomba has covered thousands upon thousands of miles already in her short life and is the best travel companion I could ever imagine.  To me she's the ultimate adventure dog, and buddy.

I acquired my dream vehicle, a BJ70, in September 2014 and quickly landed on the moniker Beastie.  I have covered over 100,000km since Beastie entered my life, and I couldn’t imagine a future without my therapist office on wheels. Not just because of the amazing landscapes Beastie has brought me to, but because of the incredible communities I have been ushered into because of having Beastie.