The Importance of a Positive Mindset for Adventure
Regena and I just got back from a 7-day adventure through Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. It was an amazing journey, even if it didn’t go exactly as planned.
This journey turned out to be a good reminder about the importance of being flexible and having a great attitude because shortly after beginning our trip, Plan A quickly gave way to Plan B.
Our original plan was to travel across the remote Magruder Corridor trail in Idaho, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
But, as any experienced overlander knows, conditions in the mountains can change quickly, making a trail impassable. I knew in the back of my mind that this could happen. And it did.
While I was disappointed that we didn’t get to do the Magruder Corridor, Plan B can often be just as good, if not better than, Plan A…with the right mindset.
Having spent 26 years in the military, I’m familiar with logistics and strictly following the plan. But, to paraphrase a saying, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.” This means I’m also experienced in modifying plans on the fly when situational conditions change. Over the years, these skills have served me and Regena (also prior military) well, especially during this adventure.
It’s easy to follow a scripted plan, but it can be just as easy to let yourself get frustrated when that plan encounters challenges and requires a detour. We could have been frustrated that we had to reroute, but we chose to embrace the change and had one of our best adventures to date. The two of us had such a great time that we almost didn’t want to come back home.
Even though things didn’t go according to plan on this trip, I’m thankful they didn’t. In working as a team to figure out Plan B, Regena and I had an amazing adventure and made some incredible new memories. Together we had to overcome the change in plans. We had to decide on new routes, venture down unfamiliar trails, and figure out if the first or the fifth campsite we found was going to be “the one.”
I share all this with you because I believe—and I say it all the time—attitude is everything.
Allowing yourself to get frustrated, angry, or discouraged could prevent you from having one of the best adventures of your life. A positive adventure mindset means being flexible and open to change. It means instead of seeing a trail closure or bad weather as negative, you see them as opportunities for new, exciting, and unexpected adventures.
Head for the Hills to Beat the Summer Heat
I went to high school in Arizona, lived on a tropical island in the Pacific, and spent many years living in Southern California. You might be inclined to think I love hot climates. But I don’t.
In fact, I love the feel of cool air in the morning as I sip a hot cup of coffee. I enjoy a nice warm sleeping bag as I drift off at night. And there’s nothing more comfortable than a flannel shirt when hanging out around camp.
As much as I love the desert and all the places to explore in the Southwest, it can get downright miserable during the summer when temperatures soar above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and hit triple digits. In that kind of weather, tents turn into saunas and there’s no such thing as a good night’s sleep.
That’s why, when things heat up, we head for the hills because a rise in elevation usually means a decrease in temperature.
As Regena and I were heading home through Utah a few weeks ago, temperatures along the highway averaged 98 degrees Fahrenheit. I knew we would not be happy campers sleeping in that kind of weather. So, we decided to head for campsites at higher elevations and, with any luck, milder temperatures.
There was just one small problem—it was a summer weekend, prime time for family camping trips, and I was a little worried about finding a good campsite…or any campsite.
But we were determined to get out of the heat so we explored a trail just a few miles off the highway near St. George. The plan was to look for campsites I’d marked on my navigation app in the hope that one would be available. As we made our way uphill, temperatures dropped and we crossed our fingers that we’d find a spot to spend the night.
By the time we arrived at the end of the trail, we were at an elevation of 5,500 feet and the temperature was 78 degrees. And the best part? We had our pick of about a dozen great campsites sheltered beneath tall pine trees because no one else was there. The moral of the story is this: don’t let the summer heat discourage you from getting out and having a great time, no matter what day of the week. If you head for the hills and are willing to do a little exploring, you just might find a great place to camp while escaping the summer heat.
I know where we are staying next time we’re passing through Utah in the summer!
Propane vs. Wood Campfires
When you picture yourself on a camping trip, do you conjure up a nostalgic vision of sitting around a roaring fire with friends and family, roasting marshmallows and swapping stories? I know I do.
But, with fire restrictions becoming the rule rather than the exception, does this mean campfires are a thing of the past? Not necessarily.
About two years ago, I discovered the benefits of propane fire pits that let you comply with all the fire restriction while still enjoying a campfire. Truthfully, I’ve come to enjoy propane fires more than an actual campfire.
Yes, there is something special about the sound of a crackling fire and the smell of fresh wood smoke. But, if I’m being honest, I’ve never loved the smoke being in my face and for some reason, that’s always where it ends up no matter where I sit. I’ve also never been a fan of the smell of smoke that lingers in your clothes and hair. With a propane fire, smoke is not a problem anymore.
A woodburning campfire also requires constant attention, and several bundles of wood, to make it through the evening. Wood that you have to find room for in your rig, which can take up quite a bit of space, depending on how long you’ll be camping and whether you can replenish it along the way.
And then, when it’s time for bed, the process of properly extinguishing the fire can be cumbersome. You’ve got to pile on several shovels of dirt and pour a bunch of water over it to ensure there are no embers left to flare up in the middle of the night before you can sleep in peace.
A propane firepit, like the Ignite Outdoors FireCan Portable Fire Pit that I use, has made camplife simpler for me. It is effortless to start—just hook it up to the propane tank, turn it on, and light it up. And you can easily regulate how much (or little) flame and heat you have with the turn of a knob. A propane campfire also takes up less room and weighs less than carrying multiple bundles of wood. You also get more peace of mind when it’s time for bed because all you have to do is turn it off. There’s no more worrying about whether it’s completely out. Oh, and the best part is there is never any smoke blowing in your face!
Like I said, I love a woodburning campfire, but these days with so many fire restrictions, carrying a propane fire pit just makes sense. I don’t have to worry about being able to keep warm on a cold night because all I brought was wood and there’s a fire ban. In fact, even with all the restrictions these days, I have yet to camp somewhere that hasn’t allowed a propane fire. (It could happen, but it hasn’t so far.)
If you haven’t tried a propane fire pit, I recommend giving one a chance because it just might change your perspective.
Here’s a link to my recent video that goes over the pros and cons of propane fire pits, “No More Wood Campfires! It's Time to Switch to Propane Firepits”: https://youtu.be/W2eLFPbdPN8
If you happen to be at the following events, I'll be there too at the BF Goodrich booth. If you're there, stop by and say hello--it would be great to meet you!
- Aug. 26-28: Overland Expo Mountain West | The Ranch, Loveland, Colorado
- Oct. 7-9: Overland Expo East | Oak Ridge Estates, Arrington, Virginia
Brad -- I'll see you at Overland Expo East! I hope you're able to spend some time in the area -- fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains is amazing. I'll be coming over from Fredericksburg -- if you've never been there, it's an amazing little town on the Rappahannock River. S/F, Dave
Hi Brad, Great Blog! It’s a great reminder of staying flexible and making the most of a not ideal situation. I’m currently on a 6 month assignment for work in Arizona (2800 miles from home in MA!). My wife came out to visit me here for 3 weeks and I planned an over landing trip for a week traveling to Sedona, Flagstaaf and to the Grand Canyon. 2 of our planned overnight stops needed to change due to road closures from fire activity and traffic jam we never made through Before we ended up turning around. Staying flexible was the key to still enjoying ourselves. We ended up changing gears and staying at a KOA as a work around and had a good night’s sleep and took advantage of a great local restaurant and the KOA showers! Stay positive, that is the key! I’m in Tucson by myself until Christmas. If you have any events in the general area, I would love to stop in and say hello. I’ll keep checking the Blog for upcoming events! Thanks for the great videos and positive messaging. I wish you, Regina and your boys the very best. Chris