We’ve all seen those National Geographic photos that are too good. It’s hard to believe we’re living on that same planet.
But the sparkling waters running through a gorge, or a field of wildflowers in a clearing surrounded by dense woods with a stag grazing at the edge — you can’t see them from the comfort of your air-conditioned car. These soothing balms from nature can only be experienced if you go out and immerse yourself.
Granted, unlike wildlife and nature photographers, we don’t have the luxury of time to camp out and wait for the environment to unfold as it gets used to our presence. The best we can do is to get off the paved roads, still aboard some vehicle that can help us cover as large an area as possible in a short time.
Even then, we will most likely be going through well-worn paths that had already been carved by people like us who only have three or maybe five days off from work. But if we want something novel, worthy of our sacrificed monetary incentives at work, getting off the beaten path is possible, but extra preparations are necessary.
Exploring from a fully enclosed vehicle
The most preferred vehicle body style by Americans is the sedan. But while they’re convenient in urban jungles, they’re not meant for exploring adventures. Sure, the most reliable model can get you through all the states, but none can conveniently get you through unpaved roads. Unless you’re willing to risk scraping your sedan’s underside on rocks and flying gravel, you need a high vehicle. Rough country road trips can also see some overflowing creeks, so the height of your vehicle will make sure your engine doesn’t drown.
For these roads, the jeep wrangler is the most appropriate vehicle. While still sporting its tough features as a trusty military car in World War II, its interiors have evolved into something that can compete with luxury cars. If you want to plow through mud and slide over boulders while sipping a glass of champagne, the jeep wrangler is your best bet. You can rent one if you don’t plan to make a life exploring the wild.
Sporty adventuring with Mountain Bikes and ATVs
If you wish to explore the scenery with your vision unencumbered, you can get on a mountain bike, the kind they use for those bicycle races. But for this, you need strength and stamina. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy the surrounding nature, focusing instead on pedaling and making sure you have enough breath to get from point-to-point.
Not all have the aptitude for biking. Thus, the best alternative is the all-terrain vehicle, more popularly known as ATVs or a quad bike. Although it won’t be as flexible as the mountain bike, it will be less tiresome to navigate. You have to make sure your vehicle fits and you’re not driving into a bog.
Time-traveling on a horse’s back
Another way of exploring au naturel is on horseback. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, you don’t need to be an equestrienne to ride a horse. As long as you’re not taking an extreme route that will require your horse to jump over ravines or skip over some boulders, you should be fine with a guide. A horse ride will be nice for a calm trip up and down beautiful mountains that will otherwise be too tiring to bike through.
Exploring rugged terrains on a horse will give you the feel of how it had been back when the steam engine had not been discovered, and people relied on these magnificent species for communication and food rations. The only thing you should prepare is your leg muscles that will be straddling the wide backs of these beasts.
It’s unsatisfying to admire stunning photos and read adventures from the boredom of our work desks. But admit it or not, we seldom take action on these cravings for adventure. Once we finally have the courage to go on a vacation, we spend it obsessing if our hotel accommodation is worth our money or not, checking if the mattresses are as comfortable as our beds at home.
We waste time quarreling with a waiter who took too long to serve us our meal. We can’t fully enjoy the vibe of the place we visit, anxious that someone will pick our wallets or hold us at gunpoint.
We can only truly explore the beauty of our world if we overcome our fears and petty concerns, including giving up our Service Incentive Leave. Otherwise, we have to be contented in seeing them through the limited lens of others braver than us.