Keywords: Journey West, overlanding, overlanding manifesto, American West
I recently sat down and started writing out some notes about why I started Journey West. I had a rough idea about why I was doing what I was doing, but I'd never really put it into words before. I wanted to get more focused, and that meant digging into the real purpose behind it all.
All the ideas in my head came gushing out, and I wrote and wrote and wrote. I had lists. I had essays. At one point there was even a manifesto. But they were all too...complicated.
What I'm trying to do with Journey West is actually really simple, and the more I chopped away at the ideas, the clearer it became.
In the end, it all boiled down to three simple beliefs:
- Adventure and exploration are fundamental to human nature.
- The American West is one of the world's most impressive regions
- Overlanding is the best way to experience all the West has to offer.
Those beliefs drive everything we're doing here at Journey West.
Adventure and exploration are fundamental to human nature
I like the way Sam Seaborn put it in West Wing, during a conversation about why taxpayer money should be used to fund a mission to Mars:
Mallory: Do we really have to go to Mars?
Sam: Because it's next. Because we came out of the cave and we looked over the hill and we saw fire and we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the West and we took to the sky. The history of man is a timeline of exploration and this is what's next.
The urge to explore is innate to all of us. It comes out naturally in some more than others, but each of us is our more natural and better self when we follow that urge to explore. It's basic to our humanity.
This is about wondering what's on the other side of that mountain you see in the distance on your daily commute, and this is about being the kind of person who actually goes to see for yourself.
The American West is one of the most impressive natural regions in the world
When you live in a place, it's easy to take it for granted. I've lived in Arizona most of my life, but I doubt if I've even seen 5% of the state. I'd let myself become content with what I could easily see while driving down the freeway. I saw the same things everyone else saw.
It wasn't until I started leaving pavement behind that I began to realize just how much there is to experience even within just an hour's drive from the city. It made me realize I hadn't even scratched the surface, and I felt embarassed to have lived in a place for so long without ever really bothering to peek around the corners.
And that's just Arizona. When you add in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and the rest of the American West, you've got more mind-blowing natural experiences than anyone can really fit into a lifetime. We're incredibly spoiled to have these wonders within our reach.
Anyone who lives in the West owes it to themselves to get off the beaten path and explore the spectacles of nature that surround them. And anyone who doesn't live in the West should definitely visit to see what they're missing out on.
Overlanding is the best way to experience all the West has to offer.
Overlanding (self-reliant, vehicle-dependent adventure travel) is the ideal way to experience the West because it provides the ability to explore significant distances in a relatively efficient way while getting off the beaten path and remaining close to the land.
Overlanders love to drool over gear porn (like tricked out trucks with roof-top tents and elaborate drawer systems) or massive lifestyle changes (selling your house and spending years roaming continents), but those are extremes. You could also just throw a sleeping bag, some water, and a couple of granola bars into your old pickup truck and go see what's down that old dirt road.
Overlanding isn't for someone else. It's for you. And you can probably do it right now with what you already have. It might not be perfect, but it's a start—and that's enough to go on an adventure.
If something about all this makes sense to you, we'd love to connect. Here's how you can take a next step:
When you do, you'll be joining a community of other individuals passionate about exploration and adventure in the American West. We hope to see you there.