Why on earth do we even bother? Why do we brave the elements? The burning sun, the pouring rain. The mud and snow( jk if you know us you know the motto is if either of those are on the ground we turn around) But still, conditions are rarely as good as our home ac, heater or pool. You might think those conditions alone would keep people, specifically us, away from offroading. Yet we cant seem to get out there enough.
This is something I have pondered for quite some time. Nearly every time I prepare for a trip. As I write this I have just finished some mild offroading into the desert with my son for an over night trip so he can ride his dirt bike. Dinner is done, the fire is going and my son is fast asleep. So now I am sitting in front of the fire, with a full belly and enough beers to ponder life and why I am out here in the first place.
By my recollection, my first offroad experience came when I was around 10. My big brother Cody took me in his Jeep CJ7 to Big Bear for some snow wheeling. And then a few trips to the Glamis and back to the mountains. Back then, I don’t think I cared much for offroading. I just cared we were going on a trip and I was not going to be home for homework or chores. I spent a few years through my teens with very little offroading. In high school, a few of us would go on weekend trips to the desert, as we all started driving and acquiring trucks, jeeps, dirt bikes and other toys. We started hitting the desert on a regular basis. But why. I didn’t care why. All I knew was I was young, dumb, had disposable income, and could hang out with my friends doing dumb stuff around the campfire. The temperature didn’t matter, the location barely mattered. We just wanted to be out there.
Flash forward 100 years (at least it feels like 100 years) and I am still offroading. I've been asking myself the question of why with many things, perhaps that is a sign of getting old. But seeing how offroading is my main “hobby”, I ask why? What is the appeal? Why do I long to be out there more than anywhere else?
Why do we go outside when its 120 degrees? Why do we like to do donuts in parking lots when its 15 degrees and snowing.? Why do we put our tires on dirt when we know there is mud and we’re going to have to clean it up? Why do we put ourselves and our rigs at risk? I think if you ask 100 people you would get 50 different answers. Notice the math there. I think a lot of us go for the same reasons. I also think a lot of us never think of the why. We just love it, so we go.
Some people are born into it. Some people start going because a friend invited them. And others because a significant other brought them along. Then there is the ever growing group of people that go buy a rig and start doing it on their own. No matter how you got into this, there is a why. Its just a matter of asking yourself, and actually taking the time to think about it. I know nearly everyone will have a different, same answer, but for me it goes like this.
If I had to say it in one word I would say “adventure”. Not every trip has the same level of “adventure”. But there is always potential. I love vehicles. I work on them, and I am astounded at what man has been able to make vehicles do. I often drive with no radio or anything because I like listening to the vehicle. Most people drive and know when they push the accelerator the car goes faster. I think about the piston cycle. Each valve and and injector. The transmission. Every little component sending and receiving information to the computer to achieve an optimal driving experience. The automobile is an amazing machine. I am in awe of what is actually happening as I drive my vehicle. And offroading is no different, only the vehicle is working harder. I love thinking about what the car is doing while I put it through its paces. The suspension flexing and absorbing bumps, traction control systems and t-cases. I really enjoy the thought of how a vehicle performs and handles different terrain.
Back to the adventure side of things. This is something that can be different for everybody, especially at different times. Over the last 2 years, a trip to the grocery store can be an adventure. But in times like these adventure is more important than ever. For me, adventure is getting away from every day life. And for me a vehicle is one of, if not the best tool for adventure. Getting away from the TV and most other electronics. I say most other because we all use GPS or our phones and what not for pics and videos. Its the escape from every day ruts (a Simpsons episode comes to mind “ knife goes in, guts come out, knife goes in, guts come out”...maybe that comes off as dark). But that is the mentality we get stuck in. get up, go to work, come home, watch tv, eat dinner, go to bed. Honestly, I hate that. I never want to do that. But its life right. Most of get stuck in routines like that every day.
Sometimes offroading isn't even the why. Camping is the why, you just have to offroad to get to the camping. It could be 1000 miles of dirt roads. I don’t care. I don’t have to crawl over the biggest boulders or go the fastest through the desert (i will always try to be the fastest through the desert). I am not concerned with being the coolest truck, or having the best gizmos. I am a nature child as my mom always told me. I just want to be outside with family and friends doing dumb stuff by the fire. For me, sometimes the adventure is a trail I've already done. I've done multiple trails over and over again. Each time is just as good as the time before. Its not about the trail itself, its who you are with, what you take away from the experience and the value you put on time spent outside.
I've always loved being out side. And taking a vehicle to places most others haven't, just adds that little extra bit of adventure. Some people spend their whole lives and never go off pavement. I would die. Most weeks are a grind to get me to the weekend where I can hit the dirt, camp, explore or just have a few moments of peace with nature. And if that can happen with some good friends and family its even better. Its the camaraderie. Its watching some one do something crazy and live. We have all had the experience when you expect to be off the trail in time for dinner but before you know it you are hoping to make it for breakfast. Those are the best times. The times that suck so much in the middle but looking back were the most memorable. I love conquering new terrain and seeing friends do the same. Cheering each other on, poking fun when they don’t make it, or getting someone unstuck. Its going out and finding out what your rig can do, then evaluating, and making it better then trying again. Thinking your rig and set up is perfect, then finding a flaw and “having to upgrade”. As much as we hate it, we all love to find those areas we need improvement. Because the excitement opens up a world of products. And once you have those products you get to try it again. But when you go out and your rig or some other set up works exactly as it is supposed to… OMG…. That is one of the best feelings.
I go for those freezing nights, blistering hot days, to fall into some snow or get covered in mud. I go for the potential of great things happening, the unknown. I go for the “whats around the next bend” feeling. To spend time with family and friends. To teach, and show my son new things. I go to challenge myself, and to see my friends do the same. I go for bonfires, the smell of the outdoors and star gazing. On one of the last trips we saw an alien star fleet if you were there you know what I'm talking about. Its for the trials and tribulations, the fun, laughs, heartaches, views, successes and everything in between. I go for adventure. I go because I love it.
If you know what the why is for you, then granola bars for you. If you don’t, then I hope this post gets your wheels turning. I will continue asking why and chasing adventure. If you ask why and cant find the answer, get out more, spend more time outside and around the campfire. It will come to you. Or maybe we can discuss it on the next trip. See you on the trail!!!