There are very few things in life I actively loathe.
Mushrooms. That’s the biggest one. I have a visceral and physical reaction to those demonic “food” items. They are horrifying. I’ve met maybe four other people in my entire life that hate them as much as I do.
But if you know me at all, you know that road trips are the only other thing I make a point of avoiding, if at all possible. When it comes to travel, I’m very much about the destination, not the journey. Screw the journey. Just get me to where I’m intending to be. And get me there as quickly as possible. What I wouldn’t give for the Concorde to still be a thing.
I’ve spent the majority of my adult life with other people trying to convice me that road trips are amazeballs. I just don’t enjoy them. The only reason I choose to endure road trips anymore is that my husband and I now have to pay for our two children to travel and it’s just cheaper to drive anywhere than to fly.
Toward the end of our time in Japan, my husband began researching overlanding in earnest. It was pretty much the only thing he spent his free time thinking about. His YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook is almost entirely about overlanding. He bought a Jeep back in 2012 and really drank the Kool-Aid…the Jeep wave, Jeep clothing and merch, whatever paraphenalia he could find… he wanted it all (and almost always purchased).
So we started getting really excited about the prospect of retrofitting his/our Jeep to do some backcountry camping when we moved back to the States. We spent an insane amout of time researching rooftop tents and lift kits and air pumps and tires and other misc. gear we’d need to safely and comfortably do this kind of camping. He bought apps and maps and by the time we’d finally made our way back to Colorado (and then Washington), the Jeep had been modified and test driven on fire service roads and other such nonsense.
I’m not going to lie: I was nervous about doing this. Because of the whole “I hate road trips” thing. Overlanding requires a ton of time in the Jeep…we have to drive off the island we currently live on, then make our way via interstates and highways before finally getting to a fire service road. Then we slowly (and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y) make our way up or down the road, often times getting stopped by downed trees, snow, or unmarked dead ends which we have to precariously back out of. By the time we actually find a campsite we like, we’ve very likely been in the Jeep for five or six hours…and we’re hungry. And crabby. And we still have to set up camp (which doesn’t take long, but it does feel like an eternity when two little girls are whining and bitching about literally everything). By then, it’s almost time for dinner and bed. Then we’ll wake up the next morning, eat breakfast (which I notortiously screw up because I don’t like breakfast so I don’t make much of an effort to learn how to make it), then clean and pack up all our stuff and make our way either home or to the next site.
AND SO DAMN MUCH FUN!
We have seen things that you cannot get to or see without a pretty capable vehicle.
I used to be absolutely terrified of driving the Jeep off-road. The dips and divots in the (inconsistenly maintained) roads are deep and can make it feel like the Jeep is about to roll over. But my husband forced me to do a few things to get over it. First, he had me watch hours and hours and hours of people (a lot of them women like me) driving these bonkers trails. Then…he made me actually do it. And I did it. We all survived. The Jeep and all our gear remain entact.
AND I LOVED IT!
So much so that when we decided to make our way to the Bethel Ridge Road (where we scored the most cherry site ever), I actually requested to drive the Jeep through the hardest patch of trail we’ve ever experienced. Part of it was because I really wanted to drive it; the other part was that I needed my husband to scout and guide me through it. He’s much better at it than I am (except when we’re trying to make it around steel gates…but that’s another story).
We spent close to two hours navigating about a mile or so of road (“road”) before making it out the other side. There were a few other people on the trail that day, but not many, which made it fun and also a lot less stressful for me. We discovered that I’m really good at driving the Jeep, my husband is excellent at navigating, our daughters barely even noticed how insane the trail was, and that we all make a damn good team!
Overlanding is about the only form of road trip I’ll request to take. The things we’ve seen and the adventures we’ve had have made the time, money, and effort 100% worth it. We learn new things about our gear, our setup, our strategies, and ourselves every single time we hit the road.
Overlanding really is 50% the journey and 50% the destination. Sometimes it favors one over the other, but they are inextricably linked. There’s no doubt about that.
Summer 2022 will be our final summer in the PNW and there is so much we still want to explore, specifically in the Olympics. We’re planning a long weekend to Mt. St. Helens (it’s going to be a sentimental trip for me) and husband is already scouting trails and sites for us to explore! The Kaijū have new hiking poles to add to their collection of gear and we finally put a new stereo and navigation system in the Jeep.
We are so ready for this.
And I still hate mushrooms.