What is an Expedition Anyways?

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Through nostalgia, we might be tempted to believe that embarking on an expedition is to be totally self-sufficient in a remote land for weeks, months, or years on end. Yet, I see a conflict: we’re talking about doing so in a vehicle that can travel quickly, and on roads that actually go somewhere for a purpose. Eventually, you’ll run into a ranch, a town, a paved road, or another group of adventurers. If not, you’ll run out of fuel anyway. Today’s expedition drive is something different, perhaps. Could it be something that incorporates these things into a trip?

As I’ve learned in Mexico and in several remote slices of Arizona, getting assistance from the local folk tends to be a highlight in any trip, so the notion of being alone and isolated is not my gauge of what an expedition is. In Mexico, we’ve been invited to eat meals with families and we’ve been given gifts. A rancher on the Blue River once sheltered my wife and me because we’d broken down and spent two days walking for help – in the rain and hail, of course. And as odd as this may sound, in the southwest you can spend a day or two on a barren road and come upon an operating saloon in the middle of nowhere.

Is this is today’s vehicle-based expedition? Encounters with the culture and the land? It seems there is often a road that connects unique and remote parts of our country and culture – we try to find and travel these roads…because it’s fun. Lockers or no lockers.

Regarding the definition of the term expedition, an overlander said, “One thing I am becoming more aware of though, is the INTENT of the trip. Am I giving anything back to the country I am exploring? Have I helped improve the place or the quality of life of its residents? What is the purpose of the trip? What has been explored? What makes your effort unique?”

The dictionary’s definition lines right up with this question, what is the intent of your trip? “Let’s see if we can get through The Hammers today on one set of axle shafts.” There’s an intent. “An expedition to cross the Darien Gap.” Yet another definite objective.

Then again, why bother with such a loaded word? Expedition? Yikes. Sometimes the intent doesn’t need to be so weighed down by doing something dangerous, going somewhere remote, or conducting a trip along a road that’s rarely driven. We can just go travel some good roads, see some neat sights, and camp in some cool places. You in? I don’t really want to enclose the wild idea of expedition into a wall of words. What do you think it ought to be?

Related – Ready Your Wrangler for Multi-Day Adventure

– Published by JPFreek Jeep Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.

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