Someone once said to me, “Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one”. And while this sentiment is true to a larger or smaller extent the same can also be said when talking to people about camping or overlanding gear. I’ve witnessed some of the largest flame wars on forums when one person has stated their preferred piece of gear or brand of vehicle, which just so happened to be one that somebody else either didn’t like or approve of. No matter what the flamer’s motives were, you really shouldn’t belittle a fellow adventurer for their own lifestyle choices. Hell, even going up the road can be an adventure in itself sometimes.
For many, me included, travel is a very personal experience, it’s as much about the journey or the getting there as it is about the destination, truth be told often times the destination feels like an anti-climax and many a trip I’ve gotten more from the getting there than the destination ever could impart. Recently I completed a trip driving across Australia, we travelled from Perth to Byron Bay (west to east). The trip itself was amazing, if not slightly rushed – I hope to do it again someday but a much more relaxed pace – so I can get to know the country better and also spend more time talking to the people we meet along the way. One of the really cool aspects of the trip was that we followed a series of storms across the country and were often one of the first vehicles through some sections once the roads had re-opened although great care had to be taken at this point still to ensure we avoided doing any further damage to the tracks.
On completion of the trip although there was a great sense of achievement, I also had a slightly hollow feeling in amongst the excitement of being able to see my family again. Yes we had explored and travelled over an entire continent (mostly on dirt roads) but something was missing. It felt strange being surrounded by the tourist masses at our final destination. But it also felt like a hollow achievement, perhaps it was just because we’d rushed a lot of the trip, perhaps I’m being selfish – we all have time constraints. Or perhaps it was just the adventurer in me wanting more.
Sometimes (usually at the end of a big adventure) I wonder why this might be and other times I just accept that this is just how I’m wired, I just like to explore and travel, I detest sitting in one place for too long, always have and probably always will. I’ve always felt this urge to look around the next corner. Sometimes I’ve even gotten lost, but most of the time I’ve discovered something worthwhile of the tourist trail. Some of the best experiences have come from taking a shortcut and finding something totally unexpected.
I remember one time taking a ‘shortcut’ in San Francisco (it was the early nineties, not long after the infamous LA riots). I’ll just say now, as far as cities go San Francisco is one of my favorites (maybe I look back on it through rose tinted glasses as I spent my eighteenth birth there, or maybe it was just the anything goes attitude of the place, but it’s stuck in the memory even to this day. Anyway, back to the ‘shortcut’, well let’s just say we turned left instead of right and ended up well and truly off the tourist trail, but you know what, was I scared (I probably should have been), but my sense of adventure kicked in and we kept going on, getting directions from some locals, we eventually made our way back to where we were staying, no harm done, but I felt a damn site richer for the experience.
Despite the looks of the area and some of the people, this experience re-inforced one of my core travel beliefs: People are just people, going about their normal lives trying to get by and make a living. Most people you meet will be good people just like you and I. There will always be exceptions, that’s a given. But, for the most part people will help where they can. I strongly believe if you can accept this then you will be fine. Yes there will be market traders or shopkeepers who will always try to make an extra buck or ten from an unsuspecting tourist. And you know what that’s fine, it’s all part of the adventure of travel.
In his issue you will notice (hopefully) a story where we covered on the Off the Grid Rally for the Queensland branch of Overland Bound. Some of you who may have actually read the article, will recall that I spoke more about the community aspect rather than what actually happened on the event itself. This wasn’t due to my memory fading after a being comatosed throughout the weekend, it was more as a result of feeling that the happenings at the event really played a second fiddle to the people there, whom without their hard work the OTGR wouldn’t exist. So from me personally, a big thanks for making James and I feel incredibly welcome throughout the weekend and I really look forward to catching up with you all again later this year.
See you out there,