Next up in our Owner Stories series is a profile of Craig and Keri Duvall, new EarthCruiser owners who have already put impressive mileage on their super-eye-catching vehicle. They are an inspiring couple with a love of exploration, be it air, sea, or land. Read on to learn how they found their way to EarthCruiser, some of their trips to date, and where else they want to.
Tell us about yourself.
We’ve been based in Lahaina, Maui for the past 36 years but we’re both from Oregon and have always been involved in Bend market. Kari grew up in Grants Pass and Craig in Newberg. Growing up, we both came to Bend for recreation, such as hiking, rafting, skiing, biking, and horses.
Kari’s whole life has been about rafting, horses, hunting, fishing, skiing and always being outside. Craig As I grew up and started making my own decisions and pushed a little more. Before you had money backpacking and hiking. Craig did a lot of adventure backpacking and outdoor sports and even considered choosing a subsistence lifestyle but becoming a partner in a successful construction company ultimately ended up winning out.
Even though we were both born in Oregon and overlapped so many places and events, we met in Hawaii through a common friend. Kari originally came to the islands to build a physical therapist career but ended up joining the construction company 25 years ago and now is a partner and co-owner.
We’ve built just about every type of business over the years in Hawaii, including resorts, facilities like water and sewage treatment, small shopping centers, and entry level homes.
What was your path to an expedition vehicle?
Craig, even as a young kid, has been drawn to adventuresome vehicles. His father owned a camper but he never did. Instead opting for watercraft to start. He adventured in small boats but when we got together we got into yachts. For twenty years we’d spend April thru September out between Seattle and Alaska and adventure with boats, going places no one can easily get to, and catching food from our boat. We stopped doing that as our parents started getting older and it wasn’t as easy to manage.
Then we switched gears and got rid of the boat and got a helicopter and a pilot’s license. and before his pilot license went and bought a helicopter and hired a pilot to train him for a year. We have flown everywhere. From mountain peaks to the most northeast airport in our nation. We have been to all the contiguous states except two on the mainland.
We did that for 6-7 years and then it got to the point where that travel became tenuous for parents so we started looking for our next adventure vehicle. We started with sea, then air, next land and that’s why we started looking.,
How did you find out about EarthCruisers?
We’re not RV people so we started looking at off-road vehicles in 2010. We’re very patient and take our time with decisions. We saw EarthCruiser on YouTube but had started zoning in on Mercedes Rebel due to the nice design and thought it would get us where we needed to go, four-wheel drive wise.
Last September we were with family in Bend sharing about our search and a friend pointed out that EarthCruiser is in Bend. We scheduled a test drive that day and once that happened, we were hooked. It was the perfect fit. The house of the earth cruiser is built like a boat and the systems are so comparable to the boating world so it was second nature to us.
After we paid the down payment for the EarthCruiser we had rented an RV because we needed to travel and have a bed. It felt like a boat as it went down the road.
What are some of your favorite features?
EarthCruiser has done such a good job keeping this thing the right size. Nothing sticks out beyond the cab on the passenger or drivers sides, there’s nothing hanging down to hinder ground clearance and the solar panels are flush. We’ve gone down a trail and seen competitive vehicles and the house makes it unfunctional to traverse trails. EarthCruiser has kept everything under control to be the same width as a Jeep where other vehicle manufacturers do not.
It’s also a super easy everyday vehicle. It parks easily, the visibility is great, and the cab-over seating is an amazing position to be in with the view over all four wheels. It’s the only vehicle we have on the mainland. If we’re going down to the Lemon tree for breakfast or grocery shopping, that’s what we take and park it without a problem. We show up somewhere and it surprises people where it can park.
Does your EarthCruiser make you popular in parking lots?
Yes, from the time you’re up and then go to bed there are 2-5 people standing in line to talk to you about your rig. We did emblazon the EarthCruiser name in bright orange but we take our ambassadorship very seriously because we’re so enthusiastic and want to inspire people.
Where have you gone since picking it up?
After we picked it up at the end of May we lived in it 100% of the time for the first 5 ½ weeks. We just brought it in for a 5,000 mile check-up.
We went to the Rogue National Forest and Willamette National Forest. Then when we had the heatwave we went to the coast and explored the coastal mountain range. We took Oregon discovery routes 2 and 3 and various OOHVA roads and spur off next to a spot with water every night.
What’s it like to set up camp?
I’ve said this many times, adventuring in an EarthCruiser is the easiest adventuring I’ve ever done. You get to a remote spot and you’ve got light, water, ability to cook and get a fire going. You’re set. It’s a different experience than any other type of adventuring. You do need to plan and have your act together, but it’s a pretty easy way to adventure.
What piece of advice do you have for someone evaluating an expedition vehicle lifestyle?
I believe the first thing is, believe in yourself and get out there and do it. I’ve been around people in the boating world and people have this fear of getting out and giving it a try. They buy a boat and it stays on the dock. Get out and adventure, have fun, and live life.
In life you have to push yourself in a calculated way out of your comfort zone so it becomes your comfort zone. If you don’t find your discomfort you won’t find your new found comfort. You need to do that in life, otherwise you won’t truly experience what life is supposed to be.
What advice do you have for someone evaluating an EarthCruiser?
A quote our family has lived on from Richard Bach: “Set your limitations and sure enough they’re yours”. You just can’t limit yourself, otherwise you’ll be sitting in your room. The EarthCruiser doesn’t limit your adventure so you shouldn’t either. It goes everywhere.
We are going to cruise the earth. We want to go everywhere with it.
One thing we really liked about EarthCruiser EXP compared to anything out there is that we can put it in a shipping container. We also want to ship it to Africa, South America, Central America, Australia. We can ship it to every continent. We want to go all the way up to Alaska on the Pan-American Highway.
As soon as we get through getting it all geared up and spend more time with family, we’ll start going, possibly Hawaii first and camp the shorelines and travel the islands.
We’re planning a first trip to Baja to EarthCruiser on the beach. We just got killer stand up paddleboards and an inflatable kayak, and we’re set up for fly fishing and being able to fish out in the ocean.
Any parting words?
Ultimately, what sold us was the group of people. From the minute we stepped on the lot to look, to now, has been incredible and amazing. We’ve made new friends, hung out and camped; it’s been an amazing world we’ve come into.