If you’d have asked me 5 years ago if I’d like to go camping, I’d tell you to go get bent. There was no way. I preferred hotels and comfort. I was also over 300 lbs, and the thought of being outdoors while that heavy was unpleasant, at best.
I used to love camping as a kid. I used to camp with my grandparents and my parents, and I enjoyed the entire process, from setting up to tear down. I loved eating camp food, I loved keeping the fire going, and most of all, I enjoyed the quiet evenings with my dad or grandfather sitting around a crackling fire. The sounds, the smells, the serenity of it all.
What stoked this desire to not only go camping, but overlanding? My renewed service in the National Guard. Not even three months after I enlisted in the National Guard, I found myself out in the field at Fort Hood, and for lack of a better word, we were camping. Overlanding, actually, since we were camping with vehicles.
The strangest thing happened: I enjoyed it. Sure, it was hot. Damned hot. I was sweaty. I was assigned the night shift, and I had to try to get sleep during the day which, when it was over 100 degrees fahrenheit, was not an easy thing to do (I failed at it most days). But even through all that, I loved it. I enjoyed being outdoors, setting up my little one-man tent (they call it a Lightfighter, named for the brand of the tent), and being in that little, temporary world. When it rained, I was rewarded with staying dry since I had setup everything properly. When it got really hot, I had a poncho setup over my camp area (nestled between some trees) so I could have shade and open the sides of my tent to capture any slight breeze coming through. It was, for lack of a better word, glorious.
I was fortunate over the next three years to be able to go to the field a few times a year. One of those times was actually quite miserable. It was cold and rainy, and with a drizzle being the driest it was all weekend. But again, there’s something special about being in a tent with the rain dripping on it. You get the most amazing sleep (as long as you are using your air mattress!). On the first night, I was too tired to get the air mattress setup. I didn’t make that mistake the following two nights.
As an occasional tobacco pipe smoker, I also enjoy smoking at a camp fire. I will cherish my memories of smoking a pipe in the field on Fort Hood with a few senior NCO’s and officers. I introduced quite a few Soldiers to the pipe as well, and many have stuck with it in favor of cigarettes (which is a good thing, since cigarettes are filled with so many cancer-causing chemicals).
So, back to the original question: Why overlanding? Because I enjoy the challenge. Because I enjoy the outdoors. Because I enjoy hiking, biking, and traveling. I enjoy photography, and I want to get outside more while I can.
I’m going to be using this blog to follow my journey from purchasing a brand new 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro through each adventure. I will discuss my thought process, and in so doing, I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes. I will try to learn from them, and hopefully, you will learn from them, too.
Welcome to PaleoMarine’s Overlanding Blog.