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When Adventure Travel Goes Wrong & Why That’s A Good Thing

There’s been a rare collision-of-awesomeness in the UK recently in that the Northern Lights made a spectacular appearance for a bunch of people to see. I missed it, but looking at all the incredible photos that came from it made me think back to seeing them for the first time in Canada. There was a subtle electric buzz in the air and the colours, oh crumbs, the colours. That moment of first seeing them really epitomised the appeal I’ve got for adventurous journeys, and maybe it’s the same for a lot of people. You see stuff that you’d never usually see, make real what you’d only seen in photographs, and encounter things that you’d previously just imagined.

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So many of those moments happened on the bike trip, in the evening after riding all day and then camping somewhere subtle. Waking up on lake shores, next to the ocean or in redwood forests. Or in the sand dunes, the green farmland or the top of a mountain. That’s surely a big part of why people are drawn to the wilderness and to getting away from it all. It can be breathtaking and it can be so freakin’ FUN. That’s adventure travel when it all goes perfectly. Shooting stars, owl noises, leaves. All that good stuff.

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What’s talked about less on these kind of trips though is the moments that don’t go perfectly. It’s kind of taboo. The dark side. The times when you sleep in a village post office because you’ve been rained on for days and can’t face another night outside, and you just hope no-one will come in to pick up their post and find a human-filled sleeping bag blocking their box. Or the nights when you’re on tenterhooks and you’ve hidden a knife in your sock just incase. Or the times when you’re worn down and literally believe a bear is going to eat your arm ↓

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Then there was the following moment caught on video. Trying to camp discretely in an urban environment became a rolling theme throughout the trip which often lead to less-than-perfect moments. Flicking through a hard-drive from the trip a couple of days ago I found this footage. It was a night when I wasn’t functioning at all and ended up in an all-out battle with some pesky and powerful garden sprinklers. Yep. True arch-nemesis stuff. Whilst many wiser people might not have found themselves in the same situation, I’m sure they have at some point experienced the darker side of adventure travel. Something that many people might relate to. Actually scrap that – everyone can relate to. Those moments when it all goes wrong.


‘Time heals all wounds’.
Time shifts perception, and that’s really cool. That was a moment where it all got a bit much. The routine had become sloppy and it was showing – persistent fatigue had built up to the point where being solo on the trip was starting to make me a bit loopy. There was little that was ‘stealth’ about it. Looking back it’s doubtful that was the worst nights sleep ever, but it felt like it. I definitely still look back on that as one of the roughest nights on the trip, and there were a few. But it doesn’t take long for everything to change – now I look at this footage and strangely long for it. Maybe not actually getting soaked again – let’s be realistic, that sucks – but what it represents. These journeys shift views, open doors to new experiences and rad people, create memories and new foundations, and have their own unique set of ups and downs. That’s the most important part of what you can get from going on an adventurous journey, and that’s why people should stop talking about their ultimate journeys and make them happen. No-one looks back on them and regrets them, even the rougher moments.



Vague Direction: A 12,000 mile bicycle ride, and the meaning of life.
Available now: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com



Follow Dave on Instagram for adventure photography and behind-the-scenes updates about his new courage project.
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9 comments on this post

  1. Tom Pritch says:

    I just spat out my water watching that video. So funny. I can relate to this completely. When it’s been a while on tour and the craziness kicks in its easy to find the nearest lawn and pitch up regardless of anything else.. Not stealth camping, more like just rough sleeping. Sure you quickly learnt from this though! Goddamn sprinklers…

  2. Danish Michael says:

    Should have gotten the tent out! I suppose if the grass looks too good to be true…!

  3. Barb Barna says:

    When I was 18, I came west from Ontario to BC with a friend. We were in a VW Bug with a two person tent and a cooler for our food. It was August, and we almost froze camping in Jasper. A bear was in the park and huffed loudly outside our tent during the night. I was waiting to be eaten :-), but survived to camp another day! I hope life is treating you well, Dave!
    Barb and Les
    PS Les would like to know if he can have a copy of the fishing video that you took?

    • Dave says:

      Sounds cold and adventurous! The fishing video is on the youtube channel: youtube.com/vaguedirectionproj – hope you’re all well!

  4. […] View original post here: When Adventure Travel Goes Wrong & Why That's A Good Thing … […]

  5. Blaine Koch says:

    Excellent post Dave.

  6. Mike Cambray says:

    Great post Dave – it’s always wet in BC! Super presence of mind to record it, I think I would totally lose it on a night like that.

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