Whenever I go on a 4x4 road trip, it seems that I have a mission to get there, to get it done, and to get back so I can finish up whatever I’m working on. While I love it all, the sense of urgency tends to detract from the trip itself, whether it’s on the road or on the trail. Getting from point A to point B in the quickest and most efficient manner possible is important in one sense, as none of us want to waste time or fritter our energy away, but when the mechanics of the trip overshadow the trip itself, it’s time to slow down and enjoy the ride.
For example, this month I’m taking a road/off-road trip from Phoenix to the Rubicon trail and through, then cross-country to Nova Scotia. Oh, and then I drive back to California. Right now I’m halfway through, and that sense of urgency has evaporated. That’s partially because I can’t drive faster than 55 mph. The other part is that I made it to the Rubicon trail Jeepers Jamboree on time and the Bantam Heritage Jeep Festival on time. The rest of the trip is on my own time; no need to rush or fret about when or if I get anywhere, other than the goal of Nova Scotia. Fortunately, I can do almost all of my magazine work from the field, so it’s not like I need to be in the office. The readers of the magazine are out in the field too. I can’t meet and wheel with them if I’m not doing a trail.
It’s been relaxing and refreshing to fly down the road at 40-50 mph, since the vehicle in question is a bone-stock ’43 jeep. Complete with stars and bars and NDT tires, this little workhorse took me from Phoenix to Fairbanks and back 12 years ago, as well as to a previous Rubicon trip. While not the fastest or most comfortable ride on the planet, driving a flattie cross-country at speeds that would warp most people’s minds is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. The reality of wind in the face and rain splatter in the ears from an open-top road trip, or a mud bath from a sloppy trail or the crunch of an errant rock, removes that sense of urgency of the world. It’s one of those deals where you are one with the world and your ride, and I couldn’t have it any other way.
Try it yourself someday. It’s invigorating, refreshing, and something all wheelers should do at least once in their life. Freedom is addictive. Try it sometime, and let me know what you think.