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Lessons from the Road: Five Months Across the West with Oboz

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Oboz Ambassador Aaron Hussmann pauses to enjoy a beautifully forested South Dakota trail. All images: Aaron Hussmann

As I write this, our stuffed to the brim car cruises across the parched Chihuahuan Desert. My girlfriend, myself, and everything we’ve lived with for the past five months are en route from Guadalupe Mountains National Park in the far west corner of Texas to the more centrally located city of Austin.

Zipping past countless stalks of yucca, cholla, and mesquite, I can’t help but marvel at the incredible resourcefulness of these intrepid desert-dwellers, miles from the nearest visible surface water. Not a drop is wasted in this desert, and the root structure tapping into the underwater aquifers can only be imagined as vast and complex. In these well-adapted and resilient plant communities I begin to see lessons that parallel our life on the road.

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Oboz Ambassador Aaron Hussmann taking the “on the road” mentality just a bit too literal.

Adaptability

Our five months on the road have been characterized by incessant rain (I’m looking at you Colorado), relentless bugs, and heat that us mountain folk are certainly not adapted to. Our first 14 days on the road were met with twelve days of rain. We’ve endured hundreds of bug bites, met despicable insects known as chiggers that burrow into the skin by droves, and dealt with tent invasions of earwigs and ant colonies. Rather than becoming an overriding theme that ruins our life on the road, we tend to see these as laughable moments that make good stories in the end.

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Bugs on the road are unavoidable. Oboz Sawtooth Mids keep our feet safe at least.

Being able to adapt to these situations, and any curveball road life decides to throw, is a key factor in maintaining a happy and successful mobile life. If we fail to accept what lies outside our tent door each morning, we end up resenting road life instead of appreciating the grand adventure that it is. Adapting to voracious bugs might mean wearing long sleeves, pants, and boots when it’s 90 degrees out. But, at the end of the day our cooled sweat feels infinitely better than dozens of emerging itchy welts, and we live to enjoy another day of adventure.  

Branch Out

Desert plants are often required to branch out both above ground and below. This maximizes their surface area to draw in precious moisture in the air and water in the ground. Similarly, our road life requires us to branch out and expand our comfort zone so that we might catch more of the ever-nourishing sense of fulfillment and adventure.

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Tackling challenges like the Ice Lakes Basin Trail in Silverton, CO are part of embracing everyday new experiences.

Donielle has taken up learning to hurl herself down mountains on a bicycle with me. She also loves water, while I remain unconvinced of its pleasurable benefits and tend to avoid it (kayaking on and around Lake Tahoe remains the only exception). And yet, just recently we floated the Comal River in New Braunfels, Texas, basking under the shade of massive oak trees.

Each day on the road offers a brand new experience, and our souls tend to feel nourished when we embrace them.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when it involves accepting help and generosity from the people we meet during our travels. Donielle and I both tend to shy away from any remote possibility that we might burden or inconvenience someone, especially when they open their homes to us. During the early stages of our life on the road we found ourselves turning down these invitations, confident that we were hardy road warriors who didn’t need a bed. Over time we’ve begun to realize that rejecting these offers also rejects the opportunity to make human connections. From camping in the backyard trailer of a passionate environmental educator in San Antonio to the dedicated wilderness volunteers who offered warm showers and cold beer in Silverton, CO, we’ve been able to meet incredible folks that bolster our faith in humanity and allow us feel kinship with this vast network of deeply caring individuals.

It’s not hard to treat yourself when you’re wearing a pair of Oboz Teewinots.

Treat Yourself

Okay, maybe the cacti in the Chihuahuan Desert don’t exactly treat themselves, but it’s an important lesson regardless. Our life on the road demands that we occasionally spend hours in a darkened, air conditioned theater watching a movie we’re not particularly excited about. It also occasionally demands that we book a hotel room to do nothing but veg out and watch a five-hour marathon of Animal Cops Houston. From purchasing more-expensive-than-usual whiskey to paying seemingly unlawful prices for a drop in yoga class, treating our mental and physical health is perhaps the key ingredient in maintaining a successful road life.

Aaron Hussmann is the author of 500 Miles of South Lake Tahoe Trails and is currently on a year-long road trip promoting responsible outdoor ethics.

At the heart of everything we do are the folks who make the magic happen. A group of likeminded footwear-industry vets who left our big-brand jobs back in 2007 intent on doing business a better way. 

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