Big Rigs and Back Roads: Inside the World of Overlanding

I was on a bit of an overlanding quest myself, having driven from my home in New York City to the expo, largely on back roads, with plans to continue to L.A., where I would meet my sister’s newborn daughter. I’d done this trek countless times over the years; I was retracing past routes with updated intentions, an updated rig. Setting out from New York, I packed all kinds of provisions: a fold-out table, a fold-out chair, a sleeping bag, a tarp, a hatchet, a blanket, an umbrella, and a poncho. Boots, some sweatshirts, a headlamp. One of those disposable Styrofoam coolers. A single-burner camp stove, the kind you screw directly into a propane tank. Instant oatmeal, a huge water tank, water jugs, coffee, coffee filters, a pour over. Emergency canned goods.

All this fit into a handmade camper shell I found at the last-minute, on Craigslist. I cut a three-quarter-inch piece of plywood to size and lay it over the wheel wells as a makeshift sleeping platform. Like a coffin. As I drive I listen to the ultimate overlanding novel, As I Lay Dying, in which the progeny of a deceased matriarch build a coffin and, with her corpse inside, hitch it to a wagon, and venture overland to her desired burial ground. They get knocked into the river and the wagon capsizes, but they keep going.

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