Off-Road Driving Explained, and Why It's Fun for The Family
- Category: Dad's Dirt Roads: A Blog
- on Thu Dec 5, 2013
- by Mark Stephens on Thu Dec 5, 2013 - (1) Comments
I'm not so naïve to think that others out there will agree with me that driving dirt roads is a lot of fun. Plenty of people find it meritless, no doubt, and I understand the criticisms. With the freedom of getting out there and away from the eye of authority, there's an absurd few who take advantage of the situation when "no one is looking." They'll abandon their unwanted furniture, shoot road signs, leave trash, drive over plantlife, consuming finite fossil fuels and pumping out carbon monoxide along the way.
Off-roading has a dismal reputation. Let's start with that term "off-roading." Ugh. It's awful in my opinion, but it's what we have to work with now that it's been around long enough. The activity, when practiced responsibly, ironically takes place on roads. They're just not paved. They may not even be maintained, and that's part of the appeal for some of us.
I got my start into a life of poverty by writing for off-roading publications, spent a good number of formative years on some rough dirt roads behind the wheel of a manual transmission Jeep, and bought said Jeep strictly because there were some backcountry rock climbing routes I wanted to sample — but the roads that led to the trailheads required high clearance and 4WD. It was on such dirt roads that I learned about finding sweet campsites, killer views, and, if I shut the engine off, the wonderful sounds of desert solitude. Off-roading has some upsides, and not everybody goes to dirt roads to destroy things. Some of us go there to rejuvenate, take a breather, and otherwise renew the something that gets worn off by living in a city. We don't want to see shotgun shells and beer cans left on the ground.
A few weeks ago my friend Wil Kuhns, owner of the retail off-road shop Sierra Expeditions, hit me up with the opportunity to go with him and a small local news crew to share the joys of driving dirt roads in Arizona. My wife and kids came along, several of our friends came along, and so we took Pat McReynolds from the CBS 5 Morning News out to some local trails. The video above is the resulting story that hit the airwaves last week. It's largely about Wil and his perspective, but Pat also interviewed my wife Brooke. And if I say so myself, she clobbered one out of the park with the way she explains what makes responsible off-roading fun for the whole family.
Click play, y'all.
One of the finest dirt roads in the U.S. is the White Rim Trail in Utah