Updated: Dec 28, 2020
By Devyn Kowitz
It might be a surprise to some that a love for everything lifted, muddy, and smelling like gasoline doesn’t exactly run in every member of the TrailRecon family.
For the longest time, I never really understood how people could be so fascinated by coil-over suspensions, ridiculously large tires, and driving for hours on end over boulders and trees, going to sleep in the middle of nowhere, and then waking up and doing it all over again.
For me personally, I love reading, basketball, and videogames – driving a vehicle off-roads never seemed like my cup of tea. And if you’re anything like me, and you find yourself thrust into the world of overlanding, you may not be sure what to think of it. It can be a lot to take in for the average person.
The reason I put the term “overlander” in quotes is because I believe the term encompasses far more than one might think. Let me explain. Like I stated previously, I viewed being an “overlander” as being half gearhead, half outdoors enthusiast. It took me a lot of time and some first-hand experience to learn that those aspects were only minor details of the whole picture.
My first real overlanding experience was when I joined my dad and some pals of his on a 10-day excursion throughout Moab, Utah, and a few different areas in Colorado. If you know anything at all about my dad, it’s that when he gets excited, he becomes almost like a little kid – his enthusiasm goes through the roof. When he proposed this trip to me, and I saw how elated he was to bring me along, I caught a little of his excitement too. Like father like son.
Even if I wasn’t necessarily excited about the off-roading aspect of it, I saw it as an opportunity to spend quality time with my old man, as well as a chance to take a break from the world and just set out into nature. We were going to be setting off with a large group of people, most of whom I had never met before, and go through some of the craziest and most intense trails these two states had to offer. The road ahead was uncharted territory for me.
It started off with a thirteen-hour car ride to Moab. While it may seem like a terribly long (it was) and boring (it wasn’t) drive, it gave me some real quality time with my dad, which was nice as he was busy with his job and TrailRecon and I had my own job as well as school. It was actually really great, even though I definitely took a few naps here and there on the way.
Once we got to Moab, however, I was immediately captivated. It was like something out of an old Western movie – I could just see the lone riders and caravans of covered wagons traveling through the dusty roads.
This was also when I started to get to know the people around me. The only person that I knew at the time was Marco, but I quickly got to know all of the other people who had joined us as well, and once I did everything became a lot more comfortable. I was able to ask questions about things I didn’t understand (and trust me, that’s a lot of questions), talk about all the amazing scenery and nature that surrounded us nearly all the time, and find common ground with people I didn’t exactly expect to find any with. I was entering into my dad’s own world, but it was quickly becoming mine as well. These conversations and relationships only grew deeper with each passing day.
The real exciting stuff (and most surprising) was all of the driving that I got (had) to do. My dad is his own film crew, which meant that for most of the trails, minus the real hard stuff, I was the one who did the driving so he could get it all on video. This is honestly where I probably caught the bug, because I had way more fun than I could’ve expected. The awesome slick-rock obstacles in Moab, combined with the beautiful red scenery and open deserts and dried out canyons, made for some of the most entertaining driving and sight-seeing I had ever experienced.
Colorado was far less technical, but it had unparalleled beauty, from the lush green forests, to the abandoned mines and quaint little towns, to the smell in the air which was reminiscent of freedom. This was the wild, and this was where I wanted to be.
The hot nights in Moab and the freezing ones in Colorado were completely worth it, because regardless if I was shivering or sweating, I was happy. I was with my dad in some of the most amazing places these United States has to offer, I met so many interesting people that I never would’ve believed possible, and I got to do something that I had not done in far too long – adventure.
I drove the terrifying heights of Black Bear Pass, climbed to the fourth story of an abandoned mining building and discovered a very curious little American marten, and ate some of the best food I’ve ever had while camping (thank you Marco).
So back to the reason I left the word “overlander” in quotations. Being an overlander isn’t some predefined term that encompasses only a select group of people; it’s what you make of it, it’s what it means to you.
I didn’t know nearly anything about any of the vehicles we were driving, the people we were with, or the places we were going, but sometimes going on an adventure requires you to go down a road you’ve never been before, to do things you never thought you were capable of, and to spend quality time with quality people.
I may not do exactly what my dad does, or what Marco does, or what any of the other people who went with us do, but I can tell you one thing: I am an overlander. I can drive off-road, and I can camp overnight, and I can do things that only I can do, just as you can do things that only you can do. It is this collection of different people with different talents that not only makes overlanding so enjoyable, but a new and unique adventure every time you step off the beaten path.