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4xForward - Off-Roaders Take Unique Vacations

Posted in Features on September 16, 2016
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Ah, the smartphone. In a mere decade it has reinvented the world in which we live. I’m not talking about making dash-mounted GPS units, desktop PCs, and corded wall phones instantly obsolete. I’m talking about having the ability to immediately share the most trivial thought with anybody in your rolodex via a text message. In the same way email was once viewed as an easier, more impersonal version of a posted letter, so too has text messaging become a hollow reverberation of an email. Texting has even begun to erode the very fabric of our language, devolving the written word into a series of guttural abbreviations. But it’s no BFD if you 404 text lingo BC ICYMI all the abbreviations are online in any number of webopedias.

However, for all its culturing dumbing down, texting can be good as well. Like the one I got yesterday from 4WOR’s freelancer extraordinaire, Harry Wagner, who suggested I delve into the topic of vacations. Specifically, how to most people a vacation means a beach with umbrella drinks but to off-roaders it is something totally different. I’ve never taken an editorial suggestion from anybody before, but as we bathe in the afterglow of UA2016, Harry’s seems particularly salient.

I imagine that to an outsider our hobby is hard to understand. Like if we went to a travel agent and were told, “We can book that cruise for you. First, you’ll have to build your own boat. Then drag it halfway across the country at your own expense and put it in the water. Find an unpaid friend or two to help crew it with you. Provision it with your own supplies, fuel, tools, and gear. Then sail it down to the islands yourself, and as soon as you get there turn right around and reverse the process until you’re home. Oh, you’re almost certain to hit a storm and suffer damages or mechanical breakdowns along the way, which you’ll have to fix in the middle of nowhere. And as soon as you’re home you’ll have to pay to fix and upgrade your boat so something different can break on your next cruise.”

Whether it’s hitting a local trail on the weekend, saddling up and taking the whole family to Moab, or especially (in the case of our sponsors, readers, and cronies) going on 4WOR’s Ultimate Adventure, that scenario pretty much sums up our world. Wheeling is work. It’s damn enjoyable work, but it’s physically and mentally demanding, not to mention financially draining. But damn if it ain’t fun!

Because it’s not exactly easy, to me there’s something inherently American in what we do—especially if you’re the type who builds and wrenches on your own vehicle. Where some see only a clapped-out 4x4 or a little goat path, we see manifest destiny. Potential to be built, conquered, and enjoyed. And at the end of your vacation week what’s more rewarding? Looking at that booze bill from the tiki bar at the resort or thumbing through photos and memories of heroic obstacles, great field fixes, and surviving and thriving against impossible odds? Yeah, I thought so. A cruise may be nice and a weekend hotel getaway may be relaxing, but for epic memories make my vacation one that begins with locking the hubs.

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