This month we're kicking off a new column. It's one that you may not be expecting-but a subject that we're sure you aren't surprised to see here in Four Wheeler. The subject is living the backcountry life.
If you are a long-time reader, you know this genre is not new to Four Wheeler. Gary and Monika Wescott's tales of the Turtle Expedition have graced these pages for decades. Some of you may remember the three-part series, "Solo on the Kalahari" (Jan.-May '10), which detailed my two-month, 12,000-kilometer solo trek through southern Africa; and more recently, our four-part 3,000-mile "Border to Border" series, which concluded last month. This is the stuff we dream of, and Four Wheeler has a long history of covering overland travel and the wild side of the planet.
Though Notes will cover topics near and dear to us, it will hail from different latitudes than legendary Willie Worthy's Workbench or Techline (I don't know nearly enough about the techie stuff). I won't be detailing locking differentials, 35-spline axles, high-articulation suspensions, or the interchangeability of GM and Ford solenoids. Notes is about the other stuff: adventure, overland treks in the backcountry, and pitching our tent under constellations foreign to us.
What I will cover is a wide range of topics from border crossings, passports, visas, and bribes, to travel security, researching your next trek, and picking your traveling mates. We'll also dig into navigation basics, how to bring home amazing images, becoming keen to local customs before you go, why the rest of world uses the metric system, why you need a water filter or purifier, and Montezuma's Revenge (i.e., travel meds). From our gear locker, we'll occasionally test new travel-related products and bring you the latest and greatest swag for your mess kit, roof rack, and rucksack. I may even rant about getting shanghaied by the Zambian immigration police and recommend precautions when traveling in less-than-First-world countries.
Though the international stuff is cool, you don't need to get a passport, hop on a plane, or pawn your firstborn to pursue an overland adventure. It begins at the end of your driveway-when you make the decision, turn the key, and point your wheels towards a waypoint on the map. Whether you have a three-week vacation, three-day weekend, or just an afternoon, the important thing is picking that waypoint, turning the key, and doing it.
Let us know what you're thinking-Notes will be an interactive forum that will field your adventure-related questions, foreign or domestic, simple or complex. If you're a manufacturer with the latest gizmo for the overland traveler, you can shoot us an email. We love the grassroots products that sprout from real-world need.
The Turtle Expedition, Camel Trophy, and tales from Granville King were always an inspiration to me. We hope Notes From the Road inspires you to head for the two-track less traveled, venture into locations unfamiliar, and above all, live vicariously through . . . yourself!
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About Chris Collard
A southern California native, photojournalist Chris Collard has been wheeling in the dirt since age five (dirt bike). A certified SCUBA instructor who also holds a private pilot's license, he has trekked across more than 40 countries on five continents, and his work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Car & Driver, Cigar Aficionado and numerous other publications. When not hacking his way through equatorial rain forests, he makes his home near Sacramento, California.