Posted August 1, 2020 in Adventure Journals by Jim Markel
Ever since Karen can remember, her parents loaded Karen and her brother into a little red Jeep for a family adventure. Most of the trips they took were some back country road somewhere in Montana, or some old dirt logging road climbing up a mountainside. These memories prompted her to continue the family tradition with her first born. A new 4×4 SUV and it was time to hit the proverbial dirt road. Here’s Karen with her Summer Adventure Journal.
I remember being so excited that I wouldn’t get any sleep the night before, and be up at 4 a.m. getting ready to head out. I haven’t understood until the past year, what it entailed for my parents to get two kids ready and packed to go. It hit me recently while I was packing for my daughter for a "family adventure". All the memories just came flooding to me.
My eyes would crack open, the darkness and silence told me it was early morning. I could hear my parents starting to get up and around, getting ready for the day. I’d bounce out of bed and hurriedly get dressed for the day ahead. By this time, I could smell breakfast cooking and dashed out to the kitchen. My brother and I would help set the table and whip-up some sandwiches for the day.
After a speedy breakfast, we would grab whatever we had packed, and load it into the Jeep and head out to wherever the road took us. My Parents helped create the wanderlust to explore and breathe the mountain air. I have always had the need to "get out there" as often as I can. Even more so now that I have a family of my own.
There’s something special about how you can pack your rig and just go somewhere that isn’t swarming with others trying to do the exact same thing. Have a wonderful and relaxing time, and then go home and get ready for work the next day.
Our most recent adventure started with the purchase of a 2019 TRD off-road Toyota 4 Runner. The burning need to get out of town had been intensified by the unreliability of my previous four wheel drive. When my father mentioned a family outing, I don’t think he had finished the sentence before I was grabbing my favorite Red Oxx bags to pack!
I choose the M.U.T.T. (Maximum Utility Travel Tote) for one of the baby bags for the day. The zippered top is helpful for keeping the dust out, as well as little hands that like to help me unpack everything! Within the M.U.T.T., I pack the following Red Oxx Packing Cubes:
Even with the two packing cubes, there’s plenty of room left over for a small can of baby formula, bottle, sunscreen, bug spray, and extra bag of wipes. I always pack a second baby bag to put next to my daughter’s seat, so she can reach in and grab something to entertain herself. A Mezzo Tote is the right height for her to reach into while I drive. And, it actually holds quite a bit!
My daughter has reached the "throwing things stage". So there’s nothing quite like getting beaned in the head by a shoe, book, or toy while driving down the road!
A Market Tote makes for quick and easy work for loading snacks. We had no problem packing snacks that could last for 2-3 days. I’m always awed by how much you can actually stuff into a Market Tote!
A Lil Roy holds my two radios, handheld Garmin GPS, and spare batteries. And before I forget, I use a Gator to carry my camera, lenses, camera batteries, and filters.
#1. Big Bull Roll-up: Holds my mechanics tools, towing strap, jumper cables, a couple of shackles, collapsible shovel, road flares, emergency blanket, fire-starter, and collapsible water bucket.
#2. Trifold: This is probably one of the first Red Oxx bags I ever got. It’s been my permanent First Aid kit that I keep under my seat.
After I made our lunch, we all piled in and hit the road. My Parents in their Jeep, my husband, daughter and I in our 4 Runner. On the way, we stopped in Laurel, Montana so my cousins and Aunt could join in their Jeep.
It was a day full of picking wild strawberries, lunch on top of a mountain, and of course, an unbeatable view! We even managed to find time to drive up to an old mine. Benbow Mine is an old de-commissioned mine, surrounded by rough mining roads. But the exceptional views from the top are worth the jostling to get there.
Adventure doesn’t always have to involve thousands of miles. Or a big map with way-points all marked out. Sometimes the best trips start by just seeing where a dirt roads goes. PRO TIP: And knowing when to turn around before you run out of gas.
When I look in the rear view mirror at my sleeping daughter’s face, and the little red Jeep bouncing around in front of us, I’m taken back to my own childhood. I just hope I can give her a fraction or more of what my parents gave my brother and I.
~Cheers from a little dirt road, somewhere in the mountains of Montana…