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  • If you visit California,

  • you might be inclined to go to Disneyland,

  • or jump in your convertible

  • and take Highway 1 up the coast,

  • or maybe make a pilgrimage to Yosemite.

  • All very fine choices.

  • But if you're the kind of person

  • who ravels in our planet's extremes,

  • then it's Route 395 that you're after.

  • This one glorious road

  • will carry you from Death Valley's desert floor

  • to sky high views of Mount Whitney.

  • You can see the 5,000-year-old bristle cone pines,

  • the oldest living organisms.

  • Or the bizarre tufa towers of Mono Lake.

  • And true to California's boom and bust spirit,

  • you can saunter around the ghost town of Bodie.

  • What a novel experience to find an empty American city,

  • where all the businesses are shut down.

  • To do 395 up right,

  • it helps to have a guide.

  • And mine is a man named Jan and his crew.

  • The pass back here.

  • Haryn.

  • Let's step. Tidy up

  • And Lemmy,

  • the hardest partying dog of all time.

  • Jan agreed to show me some of what 395 has to offer,

  • but only if we agreed not to disclose any locations.

  • My name is Jan Zwierstra.

  • I'm an industrial designer out of LA,

  • and I spend a lot of time camping

  • and a lot of time in the Eastern Sierra.

  • It's a place I love.

  • And sometimes I'm known as 395 North

  • because this, yep!

  • My Instagram account.

  • And I don't like to be known as that,

  • but I'm trying to use it to set a good example

  • and do more with it than just social media.

  • Where did we end up camping?

  • We got here late last night.

  • I wasn't sure where we are.

  • This is BLM land

  • right on the outskirts of the national forest.

  • And it's one of my favorite places in the world.

  • Basically everything outdoors

  • wrapped into one.

  • Yeah.

  • Good thing about California, man.

  • Oh man,

  • we have so much national forest and public land

  • that you can literally just cruise out

  • and find a place to camp.

  • It's ours.

  • What I wish it was mine is Jan's sweet truck.

  • It's a 2019 Ford ranger,

  • has about 200 Watts of solar in it

  • and a fridge and has everything that an RV has

  • except for a toilet,

  • but just on a smaller, simple scale.

  • You drive us around day-to-day in LA

  • and then just roll out when you want.

  • Yeah. It's my daily driver.

  • Handles great, and then when I'm done with work,

  • I can just bail and go camping and out.

  • So the camper basically has only what I need.

  • Think of it as backpacking with a car.

  • Yeah.

  • The fridge has a couple of compartments.

  • This is just the kitchen box,

  • stove, utensils, and a bunch of stuff.

  • This one has just dry food.

  • Then when you get inside, there's a bed.

  • The bed flips up. So you've got tons of room in here.

  • This awning

  • is phenomenal.

  • If you want to pull that over.

  • That is cool.

  • Let me just pop that up.

  • Sort of.

  • So home on wheels.

  • Yeah. This is my vacation house.

  • Let's do this. So nice man.

  • Even with his nomad lifestyle,

  • Jan faces the same big question as the rest of us.

  • Do the internet and smartphones have to ruin everything

  • when you find the super special,

  • beautiful spots is that you busted out a map

  • and like, look at where might be cool to go,

  • or is it word of mouth

  • and just getting to know people, the locals and.

  • If I see a dirt road, I just want to go down.

  • So a lot of this is just aimless rambling.

  • It's a desire to just see something,

  • check that out.

  • For some reason,

  • it's more fulfilling than getting a recommendation

  • from somebody or there's tons of apps and websites now,

  • road trip apps,

  • camping apps,

  • they proliferate it.

  • The knowledge is accessible on the internet, right?

  • I used to fight the geo tags,

  • and I would get really pissed off

  • and be like, why are you posting this place?

  • It's going to blow up.

  • It's going to get trashed.

  • Now I've realized that you, you can't fight it.

  • The internet has just shrunk the world.

  • So we're not going to stop it.

  • We're not going to stop people from going there.

  • So I'm a lot more focused in conversation now

  • with trying to set a good example.

  • When you go, pick up your trash.

  • When you're pooping out in the wilderness,

  • don't leave your toilet paper on the top, you know.

  • Make sure you follow good steps for leaving no trace.

  • As a thank you for this quick guide

  • to pooping etiquette,

  • we made Jan, Haryn and Lemmy some tacos

  • and we all took in the night sky

  • and knocked back a couple of drinks.

  • Take that apocalypse.

  • The thing about good times and serenity in 2020

  • is that they're fleeting at best.

  • After we split up from Jan and continued on our way,

  • smoke started to envelop us.

  • The plus side was that our RV no longer smelled like feet.

  • The downside was breathing.

  • My man David here suggested

  • that we try and outflank the smoke

  • by cutting through Yosemite.

  • Without a reservation,

  • we had to talk our way in.

  • Yes. No stopping, no getting out.

  • Don't go to the valley.

  • Yeah, no problem.

  • We just, yeah, we just wanted to get through.

  • It was a beautiful choice.

  • Glad we got out of that smoke.

  • Whoa.

  • But not quite as effective as we had hoped.

  • Fast forward four hours or so,

  • and we had managed to trade the smoky majesty of Yosemite

  • for the smoky, um,

  • Look at it.

  • Strip malls of the Central Valley.

  • We have made it sort of out of the smoke

  • all the way across Yosemite National Park

  • and here to the gorgeous Central Valley of California.

  • We're off to see a kind of surprising tech startup

  • that is making some pretty strange machines

  • to serve all the growers out in this region.

  • And where was the, where here and this near Fresno.

  • This is California farm country, right?

  • We're just South of Fresno

  • town called Kingsburg.

  • So we're right in the Central Valley of California,

  • very, very large farming Valley here.

  • It's kind of considered the bread basket of the world.

  • The central Valley stretches out

  • over about 20,000 square miles.

  • And the farmers here produce about one fourth

  • of the food that Americans eat,

  • including a whole lot of fruits and nuts.

  • Tell me a little bit of the background of guys.

  • I know some of this is like a family business

  • that the roots of this go back ways.

  • Tell me kind of like how we got,

  • so it was essentially like a startup, I guess.

  • Yeah, definitely.

  • So the founder of our company is Dave Crinklaw

  • and he started the business back in 1982.

  • He started with his basically,

  • with his dad was commercial spraying of trees and vineyards.

  • Got to the point where our biggest challenge was labor.

  • Just the shortage of it really.

  • He was forced into innovating

  • and he had had this idea for quite some time

  • about doing a driverless sprayer.

  • And it finally got to the point where he said,

  • "You know what?

  • I either got to get out of this business

  • or I'm going to innovate."

  • Organic or not,

  • crops need to be sprayed.

  • And this process has to take place a few times a year.

  • This means hiring a lot of people to work long hours

  • under serious pressure.

  • And so just like the tech bros to the North,

  • GUSS decided to solve all of its problems with robots.

  • On this like labor points,

  • you guys have set this up

  • where you can have somebody you know, track

  • and that one person can monitor,

  • I think like eight of these.

  • In order to operate GUSS,

  • you have one guy or girl that sits in a pickup

  • and they monitor from a laptop computer.

  • So that person is basically just watching all the vehicles

  • on the screen.

  • They can monitor up to eight of them at a time

  • while they're out there, spraying in the orchard.

  • And so that user interface

  • really provides them with all the information they need

  • to make sure that the machines are safe

  • and that they're doing the correct job.

  • So it tells them what speed they're driving,

  • the engine RPM,

  • the amount of gallonage per acre

  • that they're applying at any given time.

  • So if any one of the machines has an issue,

  • it's going to send an alert to that laptop.

  • Much like a self-driving car,

  • these beasts use GPS, LiDAR and cameras

  • to see and navigate the world around them.

  • They also rely on pre-built maps of the orchards

  • for extra guidance.

  • GUSS builds the machines right here

  • and then takes them out for robot training

  • on this orchard next door.

  • It's here that the company learns

  • if the machines will behave

  • and do as their software and human masters command.

  • So this is kind of like the,

  • this is the test orchard

  • where you guys put it through the paces

  • and work on their technology?

  • Yeah. So this is our test orchard right here.

  • It's right by our building

  • as you can see in the background.

  • So every new machine,

  • as it comes off the assembly line,

  • it's put through a commissioning test right here.

  • We test all the sensors on the machine,

  • autonomous computer,

  • all the safety systems make sure it's doing what it's doing

  • prior to when it's delivered to a customer.

  • So what's it doing now?

  • So right now he's doing a test spray.

  • So he's just turning the water on

  • to make sure that the system comes up to pressure,

  • spraying water out of the nozzles,

  • just to make sure it's all functioning properly.

  • Okay.

  • It's got like a crazy turbine at the back or?

  • Yeah. So it's basically just a big fan

  • and that fan's driven off of the Cummins diesel motor.

  • And it just basically creates a big airflow.

  • GUSS is already selling these vehicles

  • to brave modern farmers.

  • And people of the world over

  • have taken notice of its machines.

  • And have you just sold them in the central Valley

  • or like throughout the US

  • or even overseas,

  • or where like where are they going?

  • Yeah so,

  • right now the majority of our machines

  • are here in California in the Central Valley.