JOSHUA “JT” TAYLOR: @STORM.RUNNER
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 7/31/17
For the forty first installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas we are very excited to be speaking with Joshua “JT” Taylor. You may know from his fantastic 4Runner inspired Instagram gallery by the name of @storm.runner.
If you are at all interested in overlanding, Toyota off-road vehicles, 4×4 adventure travel, and you use Instagram, it’s likely that you have seen one of the @storm.runner photo’s.
JT has built an amazing gallery, which you can view here. I highly recommend giving him a follow. It’s basically glamour shots of his fantastic 4Runner build as it does what it was built to do, traverse beautiful terrain around America’s West.
While JT is not a full time overlander, I still think his story is worth sharing. First, he has a great eye. Not just as a photographer but also as a vehicle designer. His 4Runner build is as aesthetically pleasing as they come. Secondly, he is currently creating an adventure series that highlights his visits to National Parks, which I find to be one of the best things happening on Instagram right now.
JT is a great reminder that the effort you put into your passion is never wasted.
Check out our interview below.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
I am an electrical and automation technician for a Natural Gas Pipeline company. I take care of six compressor stations with 11 turbines and 24 reciprocating engines that compress the gas and keep it moving.
Tell me about your vehicle. What do you call it?
2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition. I named the truck StormRunner.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
I have had many different trucks and SUV’s in the past but right previous to the 4Runner was a Jeep TJ. I loved the off-road capability of the TJ but it was a pain on the highway and the interior space for hauling gear was severely limited. The 4Runner was able to off-road most all of the places my TJ could, but is 1000x more comfortable for travel and can fit a lot more gear. After two years of ownership, I like the truck even more now than when I got it. It has fit my adventure lifestyle perfectly.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
Lots. Toytec Ultimate 3” Lift, Light Racing Upper Control Arms, Goodyear Duratracs 285/70R17, SpiderTrax 1.25″ Wheel Spacers, Eezi-Awn K9 2.2M Roof Rack, StormRunner Designs Custom Rock Sliders, Powder-Coated Trail Edition Wheels, RCI Aluminum Skid Plates, TRD Pro Grill, TREDPro Traction Boards, Ellis Precision Shift Knobs, StormRunner Designs Custom Storage System, Shapeways TRAIL Badges, Odyssey Group 31 Battery, PelfreyBilt Battery Cage, Blue Sea 12-Circuit Auxiliary Fuse Block, PelfreyBilt Fuse Panel, ARB 50Q Fridge, Painted Bumper Valences, Grand General 77650 Grill Lights, Interior LED Light Conversion, Differential Breather Re-Locate, Fog Light Independent Control, Sharkfin Antenna Delete, and Dipped Fender Flares.
You can view the entire build thread here.
What is your favorite part about it living/working out of your vehicle?
I actually don’t do either. I have a company provided truck for work and we have a home but I do love that the 4Runner can easily fit all the gear and provisions I need to camp and adventure for weeks at a time. My wife and I also very much prefer to primitive camp in remote locations away from others and I like that we can access area’s that most other vehicles cannot, so it’s usually very easy to find isolated spots.
What is your least favorite part about it?
The only thing I would love to change about it is the power. 270 horsepower is great when stock but when you add big heavy tires and lots of gear, I find the power lacking slightly. Unfortunately there are not any aftermarket engine upgrades that significantly affect horsepower available for 5th Generation 4Runners.
How many miles have you put on your vehicle?
28,000 miles in two years
What is the best place you have taken it?
As far as off-roading, I have the privilege of living just 25 miles from Sedona, AZ which offers some amazing trails like Broken Arrow. As far as trips, I think the most fun was a road trip last year my wife and I took up to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks which are all amazing places to visit and have locations where you can easily camp from your vehicle in privacy.
Is there just one?
Those would be my favorite but I have been able to go to some incredible places in my 4Runner. Road trips to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons, Moab, Capitol Reef/Bryce Canyon, Wolf Creek, Angel Fire, Taos, etc.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
I would probably say Capitol Gorge road and South Draw road in Capitol Reef National Park. The drive through the gorge is breathtaking and then the South Draw road is challenging enough to keep you interested while also providing some awesome views and also some very remote spots for camping.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living from a vehicle, what would you tell them?
The one thing I always suggest to people is to get outside and use the vehicle and decide on what is important to your lifestyle and needs. Don’t make upgrades or do modifications because it’s what everyone does or it looks cool. Put your money towards things that really make a difference and make travel more enjoyable.
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those people?
Yes! It was when I started to get into photography. When I first got married I didn’t care to travel because when it was over, I had “nothing” to show for it, so I preferred to buy things that I could use for a long time. When I started to get into photography I started to really enjoy travel more as I could look back at photos of past travels and relive those experiences. Once we started down that path we realized it was a million times better for us so now we try to live simply and search out as many experiences as possible.
You have found a strong place in the community of travelers. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
A determination to do things myself. My father knew nothing about cars and working on them but I was raised by a family with incredible work ethic, so when I decided I wanted to get into restoring vehicles and working on them, I sought out every avenue to teach myself. Now I am able to install any and all modifications to my vehicle myself and I am also confident when on the trail or in extremely remote area’s that if something breaks or goes wrong, I can fix it. Being extremely familiar with your vehicle gives you confidence to attempt things and go places you may not otherwise. It has also saved me a LOT of money over the years which allows us to travel more.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourselves as people who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
Since we do not live out of our vehicle I don’t think we necessarily have an unconventional way of life but we have just prioritized experiences and travel over having things. We do not own a home and we do not have the latest and greatest gadgets, but we have been to some truly incredible places and we have a lot more destinations in the planning stages. It has left us feeling much more fulfilled than when we were younger and had a different viewpoint.
Where do you want to go next?
I absolutely love my job and hope to be in this field until I retire and for now, we are very happy living in Flagstaff. It is a remarkable location that is centrally located to some of the most amazing places in the United States. We can easily take a weekend trip to Zion, Lake Powell, Moab, Sedona, Big Bear, Angel Fire and more. As far as travel, I am hoping to very soon take a road trip up to the Badlands and Teddy Roosevelt parks.