LAND ROVER EXPEDITION AMERICA: UPDATE 2
Sam Correro, a Mississippi pharmacist with a passion for off-road motorcycles, began mapping a route across the U.S. using only dirt roads.
Three decades later, his legacy to the world of adventure is the 5,000-mile Trans America Trail, a network of trails across America.
“I just kept heading west, finding outback roads that linked to other outback roads. I arrived into Oklahoma and then Colorado from my home in Mississippi. At that point, I figured maybe I had a shot at reaching the Pacific,” noted Correro, perched by the side of a mountain road near Oark in Arkansas.
This week, Correro has been the honorary leader of Land Rover Expedition America (LREA), an attempt to make the drive on dirt from North Carolina to Oregon on the trail. On his trusty off-road motorcycle, he has guided the convoy of Land Rover LR4 vehicles on his favorite section of the trail east of the Rockies – from Mississippi to the Oklahoma border.
Expedition leader and legendary 4x4 driver Tom Collins welcomed Correro to the team as it passed Sam’s hometown of Corinth, Missouri. “Land Rover Expedition America could not have happened without Sam and his thirty years of research. It is an honor to have him join us for a few days,” said Collins.
With Correro leading the Expedition, the group bisected Mississippi, on picturesque farm tracks, on route to the Mississippi delta town of Clarksdale, a historically significant site in the development of blues music.
Clarksdale’s Ground Zero Blues Bar is part owned by actor Morgan Freeman, who met some of the Land Rover Expedition America team as they passed by.
They also met blues musician James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson. He makes his own guitars from gasoline cans just like the ones being used by the LREA team. “If you give me one, I’ll make you a guitar in time for the end of the trip,” he offered.
Driving behind Correro, the expedition team crossed the mighty Mississippi River in 100-degree heat and oppressive humidity into Arkansas at Helena. This was the most southern point on the journey, just hours north of the Gulf of Mexico.
Within a day, the expedition had climbed on precipitous tight switchbacks up into the 3000 ft Ozark Mountains. As with the Smoky Mountains, where the event started, the challenging mountain roads were the development grounds for some of America’s early racing drivers. Their skills were often honed while out-running the authorities during the Prohibition era.
Every day is an early start to keep the expedition on track for a 30-day crossing of America. The only other creatures awake so early are the local wildlife. Deer, coyotes and turtles have been spotted so far. Free range Bison have also been seen along the trail.
The last few miles of Sam Correro’s time with the LREA team was spent negotiating treacherous washouts leading into Alma Arkansas. He balanced like a tightrope walker riding down the gullies. Behind, using the LR4 vehicle’s Terrain Response system, the four wheelers edged from hole to rock and under fallen trees.
“That was a taste of what is to come,” Correro said with a smile as he waved us goodbye. “Just wait and see…”