25 September 2016

C U R I O S I T Y ... Explaining This Lifestyle Choice

"Overlanding is about exploration, rather than conquering obstacles. While the roads and trails we travel might be rough or technically challenging, they are the means to an end, not the goal itself. The goal is to see and learn about our world, whether on a weekend trip 100 miles from home or a 10,000-mile expedition across another continent. The vehicle and equipment can be simple or extravagant - they, too, are simply means to an end. History, wildlife, culture, scenery, self-sufficiency - these are the rewards of overlanding."
Overland Journal


Overlanding, implies vehicle supported adventure travel.  
At the moment, our style of road travel falls somewhere in-between "that weekend trip of 100 miles and the 10,000 mile expedition across another continent". But our reasons as travellers are still much the same; we are both inherently curious and are energized by exploring and learning. We travel a combination of urban highways and rough, seldom travelled roads. We drive those roads to get us to hiking trailheads, paddling put-ins, fishing glory-holes, cycling routes or cultural locations.

Our current rig is not suitable for container (too large) or RORO (roll on, roll off) marine transport to other continents but it would be appropriate for venturing further into Mexico and possibly even, some parts of Central America. We're history, cultural and geography buffs, we like to think of ourselves as amateur naturalists, we have a background in several outdoor pursuits and we're also a little adventureous. Overlanding; is just another way to describe road tripping and ... 'it's simply a good fit for us'.

Over the past few decades, I've kept logs, records and 'way too many statistics', of just about every kind of vacation, trip or adventure we've embarked on. By my best estimation, since our first road trip in 1988, we have logged around 145,000 kms, in 3 countries (Canada, USA and Costa Rica). We've done that, with 6 different vehicles; some were rented and some were owned. 

Just a few more days and we'll be home in Ontario. This latest driving adventure (Trip 140) lasted 16 weeks, 1 day and we logged another 21,378 kms to add to that total. Slightly more than half our days were spent driving and the remainder, staying and exploring in a number of places.

Travelling becomes the lifestyle. There is a moment during any trip when 'travelling becomes the lifestyle'. For us, it seems to happen after just a few weeks. It's that moment when you begin to think of your rig more as your home than as a vehicle to move you between camping places. This rig we call LOAF, is that mobile home. That next camping spot, whether boondock, dry or a formal campground is just our next place to relocate. Our time is often focused on ensuring our truck and cabin are well-maintained and properly serviced; just like any home. We complete severe usage service on the truck at regular intervals, inspect tires and all fluid levels frequently and are constantly monitoring for changes in drive-ability and ways to improve livability. Just like any conventional home; the cabin portion is kept clean and well-organized, all the mechanical equipment and appliances are inspected and serviced when necessary, needed repairs are completed when possible. I'm not sure we've ever had a trip where something didn't break, wear out or needed to be replaced. This trip, we installed a new truck windshield, replaced a brake caliper and repaired a leaking HW tank.

A daily rhythm unfolds. We're certainly not active every day. We usually travel short distances and stop somewhere for a few days or longer. On poor weather days, we often recharge by staying in the camper and reading, researching for future trips, editing photography folders or writing for this personal website that we publish. Cultural pursuits interest us as much as remote backcountry trips do; so spending time in an urban museum, cathedral or concert hall is as enjoyable as a backpacking excursion across southern Baffin Island or a wilderness canoe trip in Yukon 

Why on Earth, would we travel this way ... just  sometimes ?

"Expand your bubble, sample all that you can, be open to new experiences, comfort breeds complacency, step outside your comfort zone, adventure before dementia ...". Great catch-phrases, aren't they?  

C U R I O S I T Y 
Well-trodden travellers have already learned from these lessons. They know what it means to taste and savour exotic foods or drink, feel weather extremes in different countries or landscapes, see unusual creatures or sights, visit with unique cultures or listen to the sounds of ethnic music or exotic animals. Travellers appreciate that 'high'... they know what it 'feels like' to have tangible experiences ... rather than virtual or artificial ones; from the couch or between the covers of a book.   

To quote Steve McQueen ... "I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere, than any city on Earth."  The "middle of nowhere", could be a tent or a truck camper.

Europeans and others that are dedicated to multi-year, multi-country travel will often ship expedition vehicles to North America. It's not uncommon to see truck badges for Unimog, MAN, Pinzgaur and Unicat driving the rough roads in the Canadian Territories or Alaska. These vehicles may be appropriate for the African and Asian continents, South America and Russia. However, they really aren't necessary for overlanding through North America, Central America and possibly even further to South America.

Why on Earth, would we travel this way ... in this vehicle ?

We chose a truck camper as our support vehicle, because of it's versatility. Of all the RV configurations out there, it's the one that best suits our active lifestyle. TC owners load their rigs with the gear to support a wide variety of sport. They tow utility, motorcycle and boat trailers, carry canoes, kayaks, zodiacs and SUP's on the roof, hang bicycles off racks and fishing gear off front receiver hitches. They do more with the 100+ square footprint of living space the TC makes available, than any Class A, Fiver or Toybox trailer could ever provide. And, because of the short wheelbase, good ground clearance, 4x4 capability, 4 season readiness and solar-powered boondocking capabilities ... truck camper owners get to camp in all those out-of-the-way spots those big, long RV's can't get to. 

Our current truck camper suits us just fine. We will continue to maintain it and modify or upgrade it's capabilities as required, but I don't believe it will be our last.  If we were ever to purchase a new TC, one with enhanced expedition level characteristics, we would seriously consider something like this ... a custom built vehicle from Overland Explorer, based in Redeer, Alberta.

For now, renting vehicles for driving trips in other countries seems to make the most sense. We'll be in New Zealand sometime in early 2017 and possibly Iceland later in that year. Both trips will be vehicle supported; in each country, we'll be renting either a camper van or truck camper. Watch for our posted tales along some of New Zealands Driving Routes and Icelands Ring Road. 

Crusty ... Why On EARTH !!

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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty