Sunday, June 20, 2021

Travel Research

As idiosyncratic as I am you might not be surprised to learn I am not getting on the YouTube bandwagon. There are technical reasons inasmuch as video editing is complex and demands huge amounts of time and bandwidth so were I to make videos The idea of spending ten or more hours creating a twelve minute video with voice over and clean edits is more than I can bear. Obviously the need for strong internet connections becomes paramount for video makers and once on the road I have no intention of spending that much time hunting down secure reliable Wi-Fi and camping outside stores libraries or other publicly accessible facilities to spend hours uploading minutes of video.
The other point to bear in mind is that I have been doing unfashionable written word blog posts since 2007 so whipping out pictures and words is second nature for me. I can create a post in less than an hour, sometimes much less if the pictures and the words line up in my mind. In anticipation of a road trip with uncertain Internet access I have figured out a way to write blog posts off line and then upload them to my Blogger account when I do have a Web connection. Blogger allows me to line up posts for publication at a later date specified by me so I can set up delayed publication one by one even when I am nowhere near the Internet. Pretty handy.
All of which is excellent but it doesn't alter the fact that I have to find a way to express what I see on the road.  Flora put the quandary quite nicely on a previous post pointing out that I know a lot about Key West because I have been here quite a while. On the road I will be just another new face appearing for a short while and then I shall move on. Sounds delightful actually.
Perhaps I have read too many first class travel books over the years, and if you have too you will understand my frustration. Even on my own pages I try to insert some history, some stories, some background and some of my own opinions. In this day and age it's not easy to be first at anything, and when beating a well trodden path the only thing one can do is record one's own impressions of time and place. I am unable to find a  van traveler who chooses to do more than record pretty places and the simple great good fortune of simply being there, on the road. I follow in the steps of great writers, observers and fearless explorers. That requires more of me than a video of how I make breakfast or do my laundry on the road. I want to have a reminder of my emotions on the road, not just the sights. I want to see how history has evolved in a  place, to see how life is and has been.
I am reading even now about the places I want to visit and when I am there I shall share with you in abbreviated form some of what I have learned. My friend Webb who holds several genuine firsts in the world of exploration suggests I should learn about the things that motivate local people to join in conversation with the visiting stranger but I baulk at the thought of studying the football pools. He has a point, most people don't care a jot about their own history. 

If on the subject of road trips you think I am wildly eccentric or unique, you have no idea how many people from all countries are busy driving roads all over the place and in cultures that might make you shudder. If you want to explore YouTube you will see all sorts of youngsters traveling wide eyed and bushy tailed and hopelessly uninformed about any of the cultural facets of countries that interest me. They are doing fine and they don't appear to have a guide book or a history book between them. Here are some examples to ponder.

These German youngsters drove the road that is my highest ambition to drive in Central Asia and they did it in an underpowered diesel Fiat Ducato, the same van I drive except mine is built to North Americans specs. (Use subtitles unless you speak German).
Tell them it can't be done, they've already done it, went on to China India Pakistan and got to Thailand before COVID sent them, and the van, home.

These are my favorites in a  crowded field starting with One Advanture to whom I give five bucks a month (via Patreon) I like their spirit that much. They stick to the US but go off road in their Promaster and they find free camping everywhere.

Dan Grec of The Road Chose Me franchise has written books which are pleasant travel stories,  but his videos are different, being informative and very authoritative. He makes no bones about giving useful information for travelers and his simple direct style is appealing. These videos aren't pretty travelogues, they are "how tos" and I like them. He has turned his travel whims into a business but you can enjoy his videos and learn what is real about traveling the Third World.  I am a Patreon on his page:

I am very fond of this couple from Alaska who drive a 4X4 Winnebago Revel and love their home state summer and winter. Horrific snow doesn't stop them and they really need 4x4 unlike most travelers. They are plain folk but Cynthia is courageous to a degree expressing her feelings in ways I can only admire (but I can't emulate). Their dog Ember is so energetic I expect to be exhausted if  Rusty ever meets her.

Outliers Overland is another video I started watching when Alaska was new to my thought processes. They are businesspeople and can sell you whatever you like from their ample store. They moved from California to Alaska and now drive a 4x4  traditional Overland type truck in California waiting for Covid to loosen its grip to allow them to "go around the world." Useful information from Ben on mechanics but Rebecca talks about history and shamefacedly admits she likes guidebooks. I admire her for speaking up about being interested in the places she visits.

I am on the fence about this next couple but they are heading south in the time of Covid so I am interested in their experiences. They aren't young and by their own admission they need medical help from time to time so they are closer to Layne and I than one might like...However they tend to post videos full of click bait titles - Disaster! The End! Break down!- which annoys me but so far I am hanging in. Their videos are well edited but not profound. Interesting experiences are transmuted into perilous seat of your pants disasters which I find silly. 

The Vandersons I like because they are in a  Promaster, they travel with a cat and a dog and they are an adventurous young couple bound for Argentina. I love seeing Promasters in the dirt. They are young and my hat is off to them for their back road journeys and the limits they push. If they can do it I have no excuse. 

Mathers On The Map are more young people living large in Central America and going south with a dog ( that's helpful for the latest on dog border crossing rules!):

Also rans: Search "Trent and Allie" who made the journey and "The Matneys" who also drove South America but are both back home.

I always hit the like button when I start watching a  video and occasionally I comment to help boost their numbers. If you don't like my choices you can find tons of people overlanding. I will fade into the background when you realize I am only talking about it and others are doing it even in these difficult times of Covid precautions. And they are enjoying it, the ultimate criterion.