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by Dewald Botha
Whether we like it or not, stress has become part of our daily lives. We learn to live with it. We learn to endure it. We sometimes even embrace it. All very well, but, every now and then we need to shed this load, cleanse the system, blow the stress, like the mouth-wash-add on television, BOOM! All stress gone.
Stress levels rarely drop whilst slanting in a deck chair under an umbrella, checking out the passing scenery through our designer sunnies with an exotic drink in the hand! (Although, that now sounds real cool). Stress relief, essentially, is all about applying our minds to new things, to undertaking new challenges, to stretch our muscles, to test our guts, to get our adrenalin pumping! The sort of thing that, when done, we involuntary burst out with an “oh man, that was awesome!”

Four wheel driving is one of them. It is very much an Australian thing I would say. It is ‘that' sort of adventure, the sort that challenges us in a different way to the daily breadwinning stuff of meetings, targets, deadlines, bills, freeway traffic and waitresses that ignore eye contact.

Depending on our driving skills and the level of sophistication of our vehicles, these adventures could be classed as ‘outdoors.' For instance, some of us, when we hit the sand dunes, have to get out and lock the free-wheel hubs, (so I have learnt) and drive with open windows (the aircon turned off for more power to the driving wheels) while others, in the more expensive and powerful jobbies, sit in the comfort of the aircon, shift to D, flick a switch for the diff locks and off they go.

But off-roading, however, is not restricted to the enthusiasts and experienced 4-wheel-drivers, nor to the well-to-do young executives with their state of the art electronics and Crocs shoes.
No, there is plenty of room also for the novices in their early nineties Landies, Patrols or Troopies, you know, the ones with stitched-up seat covers and doors that are dented from the very much needed extra push-till-youhear- the-click-after-the-slam and then the apologetic “excuse the dust.” Yes, this is for you and me also, and this is how we do it.

Rule Number One: Never ever venture out as a single vehicle into rough country. (My wife's Rule Number One is to always have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge). The unexpected is bound to happen. At least two vehicles, and, unlike a romantic evening, more is better (so I've been told).

It is an exhilarating experience to drive along narrow tracks, winding between trees, or, waiting your turn to climb the long sand dune. Inevitably the guy behind you would walk up with a “are you taking it in third gear low range?” and you just pray he hadn't seen your foot shaking on the pedal. At that point, you may be close to a nervous wreck, but, when you burst the sand apex and they all clap hands, well, that is it. That is what kicks the city stress in the butt.

How then? Well, you will need a 4WD vehicle, even one of the socalled “soft-roaders,” then, click on our ever-helping source of information, Google, and check out what the tag-along 4WD guys in your area have to offer: These trips are unique and varied with that special indefinable spark of adventure. Generally these are not of an ‘extreme' 4W Driving nature. This is exactly what we as hard and smart working people need, a fair level of challenge and excitement, and, an important ingredient for stress relief, fun and laughter. Personal safety and concern for the environment, naturally, are first priorities and second-nature with these full blooded off-road professionals.

The tours on offer will vary between states and operators but generally include captivating trips to desolate beaches, lush bush lands, undulating mountains, wandering riverbeds, wildflower wonderlands. Then some operators also offer corporate weekends, team building outings, 4WD training, etc.

It is a way of getting to see places and traveling routes that we would otherwise be totally unaware of. Camping in the bush, cooking on gas stoves, spending evenings around campfires, chatting to and making friends with fellow tag-along-4W drivers, sleeping like logs after the day's excitement, waking up to bush sounds, having brekkie as the sun rises, sipping warm coffee from our favourite mugs...I could go on and on!

Sure, there are many ways to reduce the ever-building-up stress and tension, most of which are aimed at relief for the individual, but, these outings work magic for couples, (married or otherwise), for families with kids, for neighbors and friends. It creates situations where they all get involved in mild basic survival and enjoyment, like pitching tents, camp cooking, sitting around warm and cozy campfires. It is also about family teamwork, strengthening bonds, testing and measuring abilities, exposure to new challenges, meeting and interacting with other people and, most of all ….. GETTING AWAY.

Posted in lifestyle |
Posted by Dewald Botha
21 Apr 2009

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