Sunday, November 23, 2014

The importance of good gear...

Good gear is important.  It lasts, it performs, it inspires.  It facilitates adventure & experience.  In most cases, it's worth every penny you spend on it.  One of the greatest pieces of gear I've purchased in the last ten years is a base model Subaru Legacy wagon.  I know, not everyone would consider a vehicle to be a piece of gear, but it is.  I rely on it.  It needs to function.  It needs to be efficient.  It needs to work in all conditions, it needs to carry gear inside and it needs to carry many boats and boards on the roof.  It needs to be durable and it needs to be big enough to sleep in.  This particular vehicle has far exceeded my expectations and has done so with less than adequate maintenance on my part.  It's taken me all around the Western US, Canada and Mexico.  Being a good piece of gear that I trust and rely on, I didn't think twice about taking it on a long drive this week.

Heading back East.

I'd been making plans to spend December & January in Maine.  California has been down on me lately and some change would be nice, especially if it involved spending time with loved ones.  I purchased a seasons pass to Sugarloaf and I was able to take all of my work with me.  I still had plenty of cold weather gear in storage and even though at first I was not excited to ski the East, the idea grew on me.  I remembered the last good season I had in Vermont, skiing was pretty damn good before I tasted Utah powder.  I could re-adapt.  The only problem was that I needed wheels in Maine.  Public transit there is a little different than the San Fran Bay Area and that prompted the idea to drive out there.

With 191k, an oil change & a new set of tires I set off from Berkeley on a Tuesday evening with ski gear and paddling gear.  I ignored the check engine light and disregarded the advice to have a mechanic look at it.  I was faithful that the Subaru would not let me down.  Poor planning - yes.  Did that poor planning add to the adventure - yes.  Did it work out - hell yes.  In paddling, we preach proper planning to avoid amiss adventures.  It's smart and it makes sense and in most cases it's necessary, especially when leading others, but I'm still a firm believer in learning from mistakes.  So once in awhile I like to take on adventures with poor planning, secretly hoping that something happens along the way and will have to be dealt with in the field.  To paraphrase Yvon Chouinard, "when everything goes wrong, that's when the adventure starts."

Sadly, I have no adventures to report.  I steered the car East upon leaving Berkeley and exactly 96 hours later I arrived in coastal Maine, feeling fresh.  I spent four nights sleeping in the backseat, completely warm in my nest waking to single digits and frozen waterbottles each morning.  I rocked out to top 40, I drank large amounts of coffee, I drove conservatively.  My weather window was absolutely perfect, the price of gasoline was at a 5-year low and I even arrived on a Saturday morning without traffic.  The old Subaru kicked ass the whole way getting the best mpg's of its life as it clicked a few more K's on the odometer.  3,257 miles of America.

When I return to California in February, I will have to replace this fantastic piece of gear.  But for now I'm happy she'll be able to live out the rest of her useful life in beautiful rural New England breathing in the cold salty air, racing up mountains and plowing through snowbanks, with skis and a bed in the backseat and paddleboards on the roof.

outside Bonneville Salt Flats, Western Utah.

 Another morning, another sunrise to drive into. 

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