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I came into this offroading activity later than many around these forums. I was 37 when I first ventured off the pavement and became enthralled by the possibilities here. I was always an outdoorsy type; hiking, biking, canoeing, climbing, camping, etc. But the worlds opened up to me by having a capable 4x4 really opened my eyes wide.

And I have become accustomed to a certain level of comfort with my offroad adventures. Comfort in the sure-footedness of my chosen machine. Comfort in the amenities I choose to bring along with me. Comfort in the kindness and friendship of the people I have surrounded myself with on the trail. And comfort in the level of difficulty of the trail I decide to place myself on.

Now I should mention that my entire adult life has been spent, for the most part, in two places well known for their utter LACK of physical dimension outside of length and breadth, Delaware and Florida. The latter of which has been my home for the last 16 years (encompassing my entire foray into the world of 4x4 offroading) in which my primary interest has been to see, with my own two eyes, the natural wonders big and small of this great land we live in.

To say that there is not much to see on your average trek into the wild here would be a massive understatement. Oh sure, there are many beautiful areas of Florida, especially for those not accustomed to our neck of the woods, but nothing of any grand scale. What I mean is, if you are standing on terra firma it is quite likely that you can walk to the very limit of your field of view in less than 5 minutes. So when I'm out and about I get to see a little bit here, and in a few minutes a little bit there, and so on.

Add to this the relatively dense population of the entire Eastern seaboard of the US and the reality of our offroading opportunities on the East coast can begin to come into focus. Heck, the other state I mentioned, Delaware, does not have a SINGLE legal offroading area at all. Of course this general lack of viable venues to indulge my new found love has also led to my belief, and firm support, in organizations such as Tread Lightly!. Another side effect has been that I travel a bit with my FJ Cruiser.

These wanderings have led me to many remarkable places. The Gulches in SC, Tellico NC, Eglin Res. FL, Skyline AL, Ouray CO, and Moab UT, to name a few. All this to indulge a growing habit, scratch an itch. I have met some remarkable people along the way, too many to recount here, and I can only hope they are as fond of the times spent with me as I am with them, however brief. The impact that these places and people have had on my life is profound and without measure.

This leads me to the purpose of this post, finally.

My wife and I skipped out on the 2010 Summit (I'd been to the previous two) and instead decided to concentrate our summer vacation time in the Southeast Utah region around Moab, Canyonlands, and the Manti La Sal mountains. We had our fair share of troubles along the way, mechanical and weather related. Spending nearly nine straight days offroad with stops for repairs, fuel, and fiendish weather, we completed an amazing array of trails throughout the region as a solo vehicle, self supported. Along the way we encountered wildlife, flash flooding close aboard, washed out mountain roads with NO traction, and stagering landscapes. It was what we would agree to describe as an intimate, adventurous, and yet fleeting, communion with the best and worst of Southeast Utah's wilderness.

And it was along a smooth stretch of road, in the middle of nowhere Canyonlands, that offered yet another "grand" view I had been missing at home in Florida, that we both fell silent for a bit, just looking. The FJ rolled slowly to a stop and we winced as the dust from our passage blew past our open windows and settled to the ground in front of us. I turned to Maryellen and asked if she had read any Robert Frost during her time in school, and she told me she had.

"Are you familiar with 'The Road Not Taken'?"
"Sure", she replied, "but I don't remember any of it."
So I reminded her.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


 

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Great post!!!

I almost always travel alone and take the road less traveled. I'm going to have the last 3 lines of the final stanza of that poem engraved on my tombstone or urn.

Many thanks!!!! :cheers:
 

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Nicely put. :cheers:

Here's hoping you have only a few years to go to retire and then you can have the road be your home. Take the road not taken.

The wife and I are soooo waiting for 2 years 8 months to fly bye and then hopefully we can take both roads. There is so much to see in the US that is grand and beautiful. And yes, we want to see the eastern seaboard, we want to see the areas where early US history occured. See the NE in the fall - all the touristy stuff. But our hearts reside in the west.

If you ever get as far as Death Valley - CA/NV, it would be great to meet up and travel with you.

Gary
 

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Great post and great poem . . . one of my favorites. You can probably thank some mischievous calves for making those roads. :lol:

The Calf-Path

by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed that zigzag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.
 

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Matt, nice post. I have that poem on a magnet stuck on my FJ's door right next to the side mirror. Every time I pull through a drive-through place, the kids read it. I think it's a great introduction to life for them. :)
I've loved Frost for 30 years now. That poem is just one of many that are insightful. Thanks for sharing.

M
 

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Thanks for taking the time to write a great post Matt.

That particular poem is one of my favorites.

I've lived most of my life in a similar way. I surely plan to continue as I don't much care for the other way.
 

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Great post Matt. I identify completely with your desire to drive the FJ Cruiser in a solo adventure.

A year ago (January 2010) I did a 16 day road trip alone through New Mexico, Arizona, California (eastern Sierra side and Death Valley), Utah and Colorado. It was pilgrimage of sorts to visit the sites of the old west (Lincoln County and Mogollon Mountains of New Mexico, Tombstone and the Grand Canyon of Arizona, Death Valley and Lone Pine - site of many old westerns - of California, and Monument Valley, Henry Mountains, and Arches Park, Utah). Although the weather wasn't the best, the benefit of solitude was unbeatable. I could take pictures and see vistas without worry of another person or vehicle appearing in the picture. I truly took the road less traveled.

1. Going south from Fort Sumner, New Mexico on State Route 20 is 47 miles to the junction with US 285. I passed 4 vehicles go the other way. That's it. I felt the highway belonged to me.
2. Going south from I-10 west of Lordsburg on route 80 to Douglas Arizona is remote unspoiled desert that follows the old Southern Pacific railroad ROW for a good portion of the trip. The Geronimo Surrender Monument is located just on the Arizona side of this route.
3. Tombstone is touristy, but not bad in January. For any true lover of western movies, it is a must see.
4. Going southwest from Prescott on Route 89 is wonderfully scenic in a road freshly covered with 4" of snow.
5. Toprock, Arizona to Bullhead City is not the place to be in a rainstorm. This is the definition of flash floods. The decision to drive on this day was unwise, but I was lucky and the FJ cross several swollen muddy streams without incident.
6. Searchlight, Nevada to I-15 in California takes you through a Joshua Tree Forest. It was eye candy, and I felt much like a first time explorer in my FJ.
7. I saw Death Valley the day after it had rained 2.02 inches and it had rain over 3.5 inches in the prior 3 day period. The lowest point in the United States was inaccessible due to flooding. I'll bet I didn't encounter 20 other vehicles while in the Park. Oh yeah; there are 4x4 trails that approved by the Rangers within Death Valley.
8. The enhanced definition of the Alabama Hills (east of Mount Whitney) covered in snow just highlights this movie iconic rock formation. I could almost see Randolph Scott riding through the gap.
9. Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman Arizona is a page from the past, complete with Burma Shave signs. US 66 no longer is the official designation. It is just called Historic Route 66. The state of Arizona would go broke replacing all the road signs thieving tourist would steal. Wikid would probably have a couple signs too.
10. The Grand Canyon had just been plowed and reopened, due to snow. Snow rarely (if ever) reaches the canyon floor, but there was snow from the rim to within 1500 feet of the Colorado River the day I observed the Canyon.
11. If you ever drive north of Kayenta, Arizona, do not just view Monument Valley from US 163. Get off the road and drive through “Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.” There is so much of this wind-sculpted formation that you cannot see from the highway. It was John Ford's favorite place to film westerns.
12. Driving north from Mexican Hat, Utah is Route 261, a shortcut to Utah 95. This appears as a paved road in road atlas. It is, in fact, a well marked standard two lane highway (55 mph), except for a 3 mile section that climbs up a 1000 foot cliff face. This section is a narrow dirt path with several switchbacks. Do not go this way if you are pulling a fifth wheel or boat (Lake Powell is ahead). It just seemed odd that this perfect paved highway was interrupted with a trail in the middle.
13. Arches National Park is a gem of red sandstone windows and arches. This place can be uncomfortably hot in the summer, but there was snow everywhere on the January day I visited. I was too unsure of my footing on iced crusted snow to hiked into Landscape Arch, one of my favorite.
14. I recommend taking Utah 128 from Moab to Cisco, then Grand Junction. This route follows the Colorado River and is very scenic. The old bridge crossing the Colorado burned down a few years ago, but a new one has been installed. I have crossed the old one 3 or 4 times in the past. It was a cable suspension bridge built in the 1920's.

This was a 4500 mile excursion. My sister and her husband live in Tucson, so I spent 3 days visiting. We toured Kartchner Caverns (near Benson), the Puma Air & Space Museum, and Saguaro National Park. I also spent a day at the Barrett Jackson Auction in Phoenix.

A reminder to any forum member who is 62 years old or older. Go to any National Park or Monument headquarters and buy a Lifetime “Senior Pass” for 10 dollars. This entitles you and up to 3 other people in your vehicle to enter any National Park, Monument, Battlefield, and other Federal Park free. It covers entry only (no concessions), so it might not work for the Smithsonian. You will need two forms of ID.

I didn’t mean to highjack this thread, but the experience of Apexbasher was inspirational.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm going to have the last 3 lines of the final stanza of that poem engraved on my tombstone or urn.
I agree. Those three lines sum it up so well.

If you ever get as far as Death Valley - CA/NV, it would be great to meet up and travel with you.
I'd like that very much. DV is a place I'd like to see in the next few years.

This was a very great & inspiring post.
thanks for the good read!
You are more than welcome.

Very nice post; although I must admit that, on occasion, I've taken the road less traveled and gotten myself into a considerable amount of trouble. :)
Jim
We did as well, especially on this particular trip. There were three times when things got a bit out of hand, all related to weather, that had my wife and I having to react immediately for our safety. She was NOT pleased. But the highpoints outweighed the bad ones ten fold.

Great post and great poem . . . one of my favorites. You can probably thank some mischievous calves for making those roads. :lol:
Good one! Thanks for sharing that.

Matt, nice post. I have that poem on a magnet stuck on my FJ's door right next to the side mirror. Every time I pull through a drive-through place, the kids read it. I think it's a great introduction to life for them. :)
I've loved Frost for 30 years now. That poem is just one of many that are insightful. Thanks for sharing.
M
It is very insightful, and I believe Frost maybe a kindred soul to many of us who enjoy the opportunities these vehicles open up to so many. The same could be said for Emerson.

I've lived most of my life in a similar way. I surely plan to continue as I don't much care for the other way.
Well put, Sir!

I didn’t mean to highjack this thread, but the experience of Apexbasher was inspirational.
Not a hijack at all, friend. Looks like a great intinerary.
 

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Come to think of it, maybe this would be a good time (thread) for you good folks out there to share with the class that moment when you just knew you had made the right choice to start offroading. You know, that moment when you were looking out the window of your trusty steed, all the pieces just clicked together, and you knew this was where you had wanted to be when you started down the path of driving off the pavement.

So, tell us all about it.
 

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


That would be nice to have on the back window of the FJ.

when I am out driving just to drive I always try to take the less-traveled road...or the one that looks like it leads away from civilization/home. One of my most favorite things is being on a road I have never been on before.

I haven't been able to get into any serious offroading yet, but the few times I have been able to get out and find some nice trails the grin on my face grows the less trodden the path gets

great post :bigthumb:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
:bump: for more stories
 

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Living and working near D.C., I met my future wife. I was working for IBM and she for a multi-national corp. near Dulles. We started to take drives on the weekend to escape the congestion of our M-F lives. Soon we had an old ford pickup we used to take on dirt roads and rutted trails in the Virginia and W. VA countryside. We'd often end up in an isolated spot on a river and go floating... alone.
 

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We'd often end up in an isolated spot on a river and go floating... alone.
Dow-chinka-dow-now. That's what I'M talkin' 'bout.

Really, though, courting your future wife on the trail? That'll make fine memories. Thanks for sharing.:bigthumb:
 

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Aw shucks, Billy. You're too kind. The same could be said for yourself and how far out of your way you have gone to spend time on the trail with us. So what was YOUR 'Ah-ha' moment for off-roading?
 

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You have a beautiful way with words. Hope you can get to see many more such roads less travelled…
Thankyou, sir. I will soon get to see more. But until then I enjoy the memories of previous adventures, and daydreaming of future endeavers. I hope you are doing the same!
 

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Shameless :bump: for more stories of YOUR 'ah-ha' moments...
 
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