What does it take to make an adventure? We all spend the majority of our lives doing pretty mundane stuff, so it seems like it should be pretty easy to find an adventure if we set our minds to it.
The interstate highways in Utah are something else. Nobody really speeds. There really isn't a need to speed, the speed limit is 80. And everybody goes right about 80. There's not a lot of passing, and very little drama. Not like Portland where I'm from, where the speed limit is 55 in all but rural areas and everybody varies in how much speeding they do. You're constantly having to slow for traffic, and also getting passed by others speeding more than you. 80 is nice, but an 80 mph limit isn't exciting, or even adventurous. If you ever want anything of interest to happen on a road trip you have to get off the interstate.
Driving down highway 196 you're going to come to a sign that says "highway ends" right near where the pavement ends in the very small town of Dugway. You could hang a hard left and head farther east on pavement on another highway, or follow that dotted grey line on the atlas that heads farther south in the direction you want to go. On the atlas there is only one dotted grey line representing an unpaved road, in the real world there are a lot of unpaved roads and not a lot of signs telling you where they go. The only sign that was of any usefulness was the one that said "Caution, road may be impassable due to snow or mud." Well, that one is our road.
And suddenly you're on an adventure. It isn't the unpaved road that makes an adventure, it's the uncertainty. Setting off into the unknown, route finding, making wrong turns, trying to figure out how to get past the 10 dogs who took a break from herding sheep to try to herd my truck. People say border collies are smart dogs, but I disagree; trying to herd my truck by running in front of it so close that I can't see you over the hood is a really good way to get ran over, stupid! And then you get to go past them again, because I think we missed our turn. But it's the unknown that makes you feel alive. It's finding out that the mountain pass that you're driving over really is muddy, and even muddier on the way down, and steeper. As you crank the wheel from side to side dancing on the throttle so the 4 wheel drive can keep the truck aimed towards the center of the road you really do feel like you're on an adventure. The fact is you are. Once you have a hard time managing keeping control it may be time for 4 low. Of course, you have to stop to shift into 4 low, so you step on the brakes and start sliding. Yay for ABS, but it wasn't that graceful coming to rest against the uphill (thanks baby Jesus) side of the mountain. Before you shift into 4 low, take a second to feel alive, and realize if 4 low doesn't help controlling the descent it will be miles and miles of walking in the mud before finding anyone to ask for help. If you're in a state of panic, looking over and seeing my maniacal ear to ear "I LOVE THIS SHIT!" grin may not be comforting to you.
Well, we made it over the mountain. It was so far a highlight of the trip. We're wearing the mud on the side of the truck like a badge of honor. It really helps the truck look like the hero of our journey when it's photographed.
Speaking of photography, I can't stop shooting the sky right now. I'm a portrait and editorial photographer, not a landscape artist, but that doesn't stop me from loving to shoot a good landscape. I don't know if I've actually shot a "good" landscape yet, but be sure that if I shoot a landscape today I'll be thinking about the sky when I do it.