Midlife and Overland

I started wondering what a midlife crisis would look like in our world a couple of years ago. I was pretty sure it did not involve surgical interventions, second homes, or fast cars, but there were murmurings and random admissions we could use an ATV to gain access to more terrain in the mountains. As much as I might like the idea of more easily passing vehicles on our narrow forest roads in route to a remote fishing spot, I cannot quite get my head wrapped around owning such a vehicle. Yet I needed to concede somewhere lest another crazy notion pop up.

At the same time, our midlife bodies started to creak a little more rolling out of a tent on a cold morning. There was a growing sense that we just might like to get off the ground and make camping life easier. Enter the midlife crisis debate of trailer versus camper. We went through the permutations and were drawn down a path towards a four-season truck camper. The previously mentioned narrow and remote roads are not conducive to trailering (except trailers that carry ATVs are somehow okay). We set our ambitions on the truck path and plotted when we would get a new truck to start the transition.

Then we took a switchback—enter the rooftop tent diversion. We have a perfectly fine truck, I am rather attached to it. Realization–what we needed was a penthouse for the vehicle we have. And lightning fast the research was done, the order placed, and by headlamp in the driveway one evening not long ago, we turned our old reliable ground tent transporting truck into an overlanding treehouse mobile.

That is how we get back to my concession and ATV avoidance plan. Now we have a very comfortable and always ready for adventure set-up that can go a lot of places off the grid. That has been my hang up. I do not always like the going when the roads get narrow, steep, muddy, sandy, rocky, or combinations thereof. I am learning to trust the truck, driver, and good sportsmanship of others on the roads.

We drove over Stony Pass in September. If I had known what the road would be like as we left Pole Creek and headed toward the Rio Grande Reservoir I might have begged to turn around for Silverton. Instead I was driving and grinding my teeth on the narrow, twisty route through the woods on the hills of the Rio Grande Valley. It was an educational experience for me in hind sight, but the anxiety in the truck was intense, and there were no hesitations to stop our forward progress as soon as we found a campsite next to a beautiful bend of the Rio Grande. As I fished my way up the river surrounded by early fall colors dotting gorgeous cliffs, I found myself forgetting the terrors of the road and only remembering the scenes and paradise we had found by taking that route. I had been hooked on the new lifestyle. We can punt the ATV down the road for later life crisis.

Some may say our marital midlife crisis was the sudden onset ski addiction first emerging in our 40s. I say our midlife obsession is our insatiable need to be out there in our overlanding rig, whether we bring the fishing gear, ice axes, or quiver of skis. We crave pretty places all for us. The real crisis is figuring out where we want to head next.

For those that want to know: we choose the Tepui Kukenam Sky 3-person roof top tent and added an awning. The quality is excellent, and it sets up/takes down very quickly. We have plenty of space to sit in the tent with our crazy creek chairs to watch movies and ride out mountain thunderstorms. Our only issue is with the way it affixes to our rack—not particularly removable. Because we use it almost every weekend that is less important. We’re looking forward to adding the annex for extending our camping season. Oh—and my personal tip is to spend the bucks on the custom Tepui sleeping bag. It’s dreamy.

Motoring beside the Rio Grande Headwaters just below Stony Pass, San Juan Mountains, CO

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