Tested by Fire: Facing Overlanding Challenges
The Bible often talks about expressing thankfulness in the midst of challenges. When we are tested by fire should still seek to give thanks for all things (1 Peter 1:7). Tested by fire…I feel like I have been tested, and maybe, just a little, got burned.
This past weekend was an Overlanding test run.
I had made several changes to the trailer and wanted to test out several things. I have worked for several weeks on the plumbing, changing out the water heater and the magnetic faucet. I also plumbed another way the trailer could draw water…either through a Wavian can — our new LifeSaver Water Can — or through the main source of the water tank attached to the trailer.
It was a chore. But with the weather being bad, it gave me something to do in the garage. I also changed out the lift on the FJ and have recently re-geared the FJ with 4:88 gears, replacing the stock that was lugging my motor and killing my power.
I was anxious to pull the trailer and see how it did on the Arkansas backroads. In the middle of all that, I had installed a new Redarc Dual Battery Charger, along with a Lithium Battery to try and solve all of my worries about keeping the fridge running, devices charged and lights going at night.
It was ton of upgrades in a short time and I was overly anxious to try everything out.
We arrived at our chosen location.
The Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas has many amazing and beautiful spots, but this one we had found the weekend previous. Just off the main road, right on the banks of the North Fork Saline River sits an opening of one of the most beautiful spots we have seen.
Tucked away in between two larger hills we would be protected from winds and weather and have a great view of the river right beside us. It seemed as if we had found the perfect spot for our weekend adventure.
The re-gear was magical.
It worked! It pulled the trailer with ease. I was completely satisfied and overcome with joy as I would not have to worry about pulling hills again or deciding whether we would take the trailer or not. The new suspension system from IronMan was phenomenal. No sag in the rear meant the trailer was level and pulled like a dream. We arrived at camp and were setup fairly easily. The space was wide open and we decided to leave the trailer hooked to the FJ since we were only staying one night.
My wife was battling a cold and the rains were coming in on Monday, so Saturday and Sunday were all we were up for in this frigid, cold February in Arkansas.
The tent went up, we did a little video of the trailer.
I cooked us up some lunch on the Tembo Tusk Skottle and then we went for a hike exploring the forest road that went beyond our little campsite.
Our dog, Bruiser, was loving the chance to finally be out in nature, sniffing all of the millions of smells he had been eager to dig his face into.
We enjoyed a camp meal while Overlanding.
Evening came. We pulled off some incredible ribs from my little smoker and we sat down to enjoy a quiet evening beside the fire. I heard the beeping of the Snomaster Fridge going off inside the FJ. Something was not jiving with the battery.
I started the vehicle up to try and give the battery a little extra boost before bedtime. It ran about 20 minutes and I shut it down. The beeping stopped and then the gauge on the instrument panel did not have a reading.
I popped the hood and the ground wire had sheared off. The connector was gone. I had no tools to fix it. But with the cold temps, I though, it should be fine till morning.
I was trying to remain calm. I hate it when I work so hard on something only to fail on the first try. I kept consoling myself that I would rather have this issue here than a thousand miles away from home.
With so many major trips coming up this summer, I needed short, closer-to-home trips to test out my gear and make sure it's working well.
This "trial by fire" wasn't too hot — yet.
After sitting around the fire til late into the night, we decided to retire into the Howling Moon tent. The temperatures were dropping rapidly and were supposed to settle around 27 degrees, but we were confident our diesel heater would keep us nice and toasty and we would get a beautiful nights rest.
I turned on the heater and ran the hose through the door of the annex. Bruiser took his spot at the bottom of the ladder as we climbed up into the second story of our dream house.
We settled down for a long winters nap. I dozed off into a heavy sleep when my wife woke me up shortly before midnight.
"Im freezing and Bruiser is too. What is wrong?"
I felt the cold out from under the Oztent Sleeping Bag. I needed to be sure. So I grabbed a light and made my way down the ladder to check it out. The hose had blown off the diesel heater. I reattached it and crawled back upstairs. In about an hour, she woke me up again stating the same thing.
At this point I was about to get irritated. I got up, made my way back down the stairs to find the same thing had happened again. I tried to reattach the hose and it would not stay connected. I definitely was irritated now. I put on my clothes and made my way to the FJ to grab zip ties.
Finally after about 30 minutes, I fixed the heater, praying it would get us through the morning.
In the morning, I arose to find that the sink and all the water lines had frozen. The hose I was using to draw water from inside the LifeSaver water can was so curled up it wouldn't even get down into the water. I needed some coffee at this point. This little "trial by fire" of mine was starting to burn my skin and pierce my soul.
This is not why I do this. This is not relaxing. This is not the getaway I had dreamed.
We relaxed in peace in the midst of struggle.
I pulled out the Coffee pot, hooked up the Partner Steel Stove and ground some amazing coffee. Just watching the percolator do its thing started to calm me down. I poured my cup full and made my way over to my chair to sit by the river. It was there I found my happy place.
I found my inner peace. It was there I reminded myself of why I do this. It was there I told myself, there will be problems, there will be a testing by fire, but in the end I should be thankful and find joy in getting away…just sit here and relax.
Appreciation and thankfulness are vital.
Look at the water…the trees, the beautiful blue sky. Beauty surrounds you. You can fix whatever is not working later. Take some time and dwell on the reason you are here. Be thankful you are breathing today, and that you get to enjoy this day.
Be joyful that you are able to share this moment with your loved ones. The memories you are making are amazing and will always be there. No matter what happens that fire will never win. I will be tested, but I will overcome.
Overlanding is an Adventure and Sometimes a Test
These small trips are the reason I do this. I do it to test how well everything works. Sometimes it does…sometimes it doesn't. The good thing is that I'm close to home and able to fix her right up so when that dream trip comes…I am ready.