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Why We Wander

Just north of the Texas border, somewhere deep in dusty Oklahoma, our black minivan suddenly lurched on the southbound lane of I-44.  The seat belt crunched into my chest and the vehicle begin to strain.  

“That’s odd,” I thought, before applying pressure on the gas. Power output was minimal from the laboring V6.  I slowly looked to the right. 

My wife’s nervous gaze told the story entirely.   Next, our faithful, family, daily-driver began to shimmy and shake.  “Definitely not good,” I said, my words audible this time.

The seat belt crunched into my chest and the vehicle begin to strain.

A quick glance towards the dash showcased a bright display of multi-colored warning lights flashing around a speedometer approaching zero.  We pulled onto the shoulder just as the car shut off completely.  I turned the key. Nothing.  We were stuck.

A day that started with a wholesome, family hiking trip to the mountains ended in hours of unwelcome interruption.  We hassled with insurance and waited hours for a wrecker but made the most of it in the end.  Memories made that day will be treasured by our family forever.  I couldn’t tell you what trail we hiked earlier that morning but I’ll never forget shooting bow and arrows with my boys in the pasture, teaching my youngest how to pee out the van door, or getting the baseball mitts out for a game of catch to pass the time.

In the unexpected interruption, I realized my affinity for impatience, the beauty of unforeseen obstacles, and how it always pays to carry extra toys in the trunk.  Our rescue ride eventually showed up and the tow-truck was soon to follow.  The mini now sports a new alternator and we’ve been on countless family adventures since.

Training up the next generation of adventure seekers

Payoffs of Consistent Adventure 

Our 2019 breakdown in the Wichita Mountains serves as a constant reminder of three reasons why it’s truly worth it to take family trips, break down on occasion, and wander like we do.

    1. ADVENTURING BRINGS HEALTHY PERSPECTIVE – In 2020, Overland Journal defined overlanding as ”travel with an emphasis on the journey itself and those who join you, rather than merely reaching your desired destination.” Whether you prefer walking or hiking, camping or kayaking, birdwatching or going off-grid, time outside always comes with a plot twist.  While unwelcome interruptions often derail my “best laid plans,” they help me to better appreciate the beauty of the journey…in it’s entirety.  Sudden surprises also slow me down enough to fully enjoy the moment (both calm and chaotic) with the precious people right beside me in the midst of it.
    2. ADVENTURING BREEDS COMMUNITY  – Beautiful sunrises, vista views, and good fishing stories are always better when shared with another.  Catching redfish with my granddad on the Texas Coast, hiking Yosemite with my wife, and yes, breaking down in Oklahoma with five kids are among a growing catalog of great outdoor memories.  The common thread throughout is not the magnitude of the event or accomplishment, but the beauty of shared experience.  Togetherness is quite possibly the greatest building block for healthy families and friendships in the modern era and it is frequently fostered best by spending time outside with another person.
    3. ADVENTURING BUILDS RESOLVE IN THE NEXT GENERATION –  Our family chooses to rent camping gear to other families and groups of friends not because it makes camping simple and easy, but because we believe in the healthy growth outdoor adventure produces in ourselves and in our kids.  Every time I put myself in a position to attempt something difficult, I struggle, make mistakes, but get better in the end. Through the ups and down of trying, I get to model lifelong learning for my kids. As a family, we get to celebrate success and practice what it looks like to work through failure and disappointment.

The person I was in the beginning of the journey is distinctly different than the man I find myself becoming by the end.

Each time I wander, I watch myself grow as a husband and father.   Every time, I am pleasantly surprised that the person I was in the beginning of the journey is distinctly different than the man I find myself becoming by the end.  This is what I want for myself, for our five kids, and for the families of our local community.  

I’m here to tell you, the wandering is worth the risk.  So keep at it!  

Photo Credit: Ryan Hamilton & Drew Benac

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