A Southern California Adventure (Part I)

I’d like to share a little quote from Overland Journal’s website, “Overlanding is about exploration, rather than conquering obstacles. While the roads and trails we travel might be rough or technically challenging, they are the means to an end, not the goal itself. The goal is to see and learn about our world, whether on a weekend trip 100 miles from home or a 10,000-mile expedition across another continent.” 


Sounds easy enough right? Maybe not. From a few recent conversations with fellow enthusiasts, it would appear that there is a different, and far more limiting, view of overlanding. In fact, they seem to be under the impression that the definition reads much more like the following:


Overlanding is about driving modified trucks over difficult terrain, rather than experiencing new places. While the roads and trails we travel might be smooth and paved, they are a means to an end, and in no way count as adventure. The goal is to see and learn about the parts of our world you can only reach by 4×4, and bypass the places you could reach with any car. Whether on a weekend trip 100 miles from home or a 10,000-mile expedition across another continent, you’re not overlanding unless you drive most of the way on dirt in a 4-wheel drive, never stay at a paid campground, and never, ever, visit an H-Word (Hotel).

While this may be the common perception, especially of our team’s exploits, we decided to show everyone how we really traveled during a recent trip to Southern California to pick up our new So-Cal Teardrop trailer. Leaving the office at 7:30 PM Wednesday night for our six hour drive, the team filled every thermos, cup, and water bottle we had with coffee from the local shop. A full day of preparation and work already had us exhausted, but the pure excitement and continuous influx of caffeine would be more than enough to keep us awake and moving through the night. By 1:30 in the morning we had made it to our remote back country campground…


The morning brought a delicious breakfast, after our incredibly short night. Orange juice, coffee, croissant sandwiches, fruit, and pancakes were all up for grabs and thoroughly enjoyed. The fact that we didn’t have to prepare any of it made it that much better. Of course we made sure to take a look around and enjoy the little bits of nature around us before heading to Upland.

We spent the remainder of our morning talking with the awesome team from So-Cal Teardrops. Located in an otherwise unassuming building, you can immediately tell you’re in the right place by the big American Flag and slew of awesome trailers adorning the driveway. Gabe walked us through the facility step by step helping us understand the attention to detail that goes into building every single one of their products. By the end of the tour I was more than just a little excited to look over what they’d done to refresh my own trailer. There’s so much more I could say about So-Cal Teardrops but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. You can find out more in our company profile here, and on their website here.


I think Chazz Layne and I could have sat around talking to Gabe and Ted all day, but alas we had to hit the road. There were places to go, things to see, and of course delicious food to eat. Being in Southern California there was but one choice for lunch: seafood, lots and lots of seafood. Originally from this part of California, Chazz had just the place. Called the Santa Monica Seafood Market, the name is a little deceiving as it’s not really in Santa Monica, nor a typical market. I arrived expecting the stench of fish, large plastic tubs of whatever had been caught that day, and a grease covered cook huddled over a grill. What I found instead was much more enticing: the sweet aroma of finely seasoned seafood, a selection of wines and beers, and of course a delicious lunch of crab cakes and salmon burgers.


We were well on our way to committing the second unspeakable act… staying at a paid campground! Caution: viewer discretion is advised. Paid campsites are known to be low class, unadventurous, ugly, and ruin your reputation as an overlander.


Oh, well this doesn’t suck…

After enjoying the beach for a few hours we decided to head back to the campground to watch the sunset and have a little rum. Even our dog paxton was entranced with the view. It was one of those moments where the outside world seems to wane away with the sunlight. The ocean waves gently crashing below, the cool breeze heralding the approaching night, and the smell of bonfire slowly coming to life at each campsite. We settled in, rum in hand, and enjoyed nature’s show. Of course the city night brought some beauty of its own…


Recommended books for Overlanding

National Geographic Road Atlas 2020: Adventure Edition...
by tional Geographic Maps
From $20

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Senior Editor while living full-time on the road.