The deserts of the American Southwest are filled with a lot of nothing, but as host Arthur St. Antoine finds out on this episode of Epic Drives, "nothing" can be so much more when you're piloting a proper off-road rig. St. Antoine takes on the vast desert in a 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition, and makes stops at some of the region's most historic landmarks.
The journey begins at California's Imperial Sand Dunes, where St. Antoine slides the Toyota FJ Cruiser in the sand. After the host gets familiar with the off-roader, he presses onward to the southwest corner of Arizona, where he has the freedom to take many off-pavement detours. Next on the list is the Pima Air and Space Museum. There, he gets up close and personal with historic aircraft like the Flying Boat, B-52 bomber, and Super Guppy. From there, St. Antoine treks to the White Sands missile range in southern New Mexico to see where the U.S. space program was born. The site was also the birthplace of the atomic bomb, and St. Antoine gets a rare opportunity to step foot on ground zero for Trinity, the world's first nuclear weapon test.
After reflecting on the devastating power that was unleashed on the desert almost 70 years ago, St. Antoine heads northwest to visit a monument of a more peaceful nature, the Very Large Array (VLA). The host chats with VLA project scientist Dr. Richard Perley to learn more about the giant radio telescope facility. At the end of the trip, St. Antoine shares his thoughts on the FJ Cruiser and the American Southwest. Check out the full episode below to hear what he has to say.