What is an Expedition Anyways?

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ex-pe-di-tion (ĕk’spĭ-dĭsh’On) n.

A journey undertaken by a group of people with a definite objective: an expedition against the enemy stronghold; a scientific expedition to the South Pole. The group undertaking such a journey.

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A definition is the enclosing a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.

–          Samuel Butler

A while ago, and after an excursion into a desert area of volcanic rock spires and rough roads, I stopped for gas. At the station, a man in a pick-up truck approached me.

“Hey man,” he started, “what kinda axle you go in that thing?”

“The original Dana 35. Why do you ask?”

“Aw, you look all rockin’ and I thought you gotta have something better in it that that. Dana 35? Hell man, I broke like three of ‘em in my day. So you got a locker in it, then?”

“No, no lockers. Limited slip, though.”

“Damn! No lockers! You must not go too many places then.”

Not too many places? He got me thinking about Jeeps, and why I do this stuff. I’ve heard the old saying, “If you didn’t break something then you didn’t try hard enough.” Well, I always thought that was crap. Then someone once used the word “expedition” to describe a trip we made into the desert. Expedition? These days, we’re certainly not talking about navigating the Northwest Passage for the first time, making the first footprints at the South Pole, or trekking to the Pacific Ocean with Lewis and Clark. And I really don’t think an expedition is determined by the kind of axle you have or whether or not you have a locking differential. I do think, though, that it’s highly dependent on your intentions.

So many of us who take off for a few days, or weeks, are often just looking for a great campsite with a nice view. A place to the let kids and the dogs run around. See an historical haunt perhaps. Cast in a remote fly-fishing site. Camp, cook, and laugh with some friends. These are all excellent reasons for a trip; and also “definite objectives.” Sorely needed ones, too, on some intangible personal level. Lockers or no lockers.

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