Trip

If you love water sports like I do, get in that SUV now and get ready to find some great places. Most people I know love anything from snorkeling and diving to kayaking, and more. The spots that draw aficionados are far apart as they take place in different seasons and parts of the country. No matter, you know you can get there in your van, loaded to the gills with just the right gear. Road trip anyone?

The SUV is in heaven when it is headed in the direction of some water recreation—especially during the summer months. You have your choice of a lake, river, or ocean as a rule. What you do most often no doubt depends on where you live and how far you are willing to drive for a short jaunt or a longer vacation. Taking the family has to be routine for you married guys. Isn’t that why you bought the vehicle in the first place?

In case you are a newbie, I have created a little lexicon for first timers.

Kayaking

Canada anyone? The Discovery Islands are a great spot for kayaking, and you might even get to do it amid whales. Most of the time it is an adventure with mountain views, amazing wildlife encounters, plentiful tidal pools, and emerald lagoons. It is a top choice for the sport as it mixes both the peace of nature and high-blown adventure. It’s the best of British Columbia on the water. Otherwise, load up some fishing kayaks on the roof of your SUV and find your local fishing spot.

Surfing

I like to fuel my surfing dreams in California. It is a big sport there along the Pacific coast. Even if you don’t have sun-bleached hair, you will fit in if you just have a board. The scenery is glorious: just gaze west over endless seas as you wait for the next set. Anyone who loves to put their feet in the sand will choose stand up paddle boarding as their first choice of water sport as a beginner because it’s really easy to pick up. I like San Diego. The area brings out the dudes in wetsuits and the gals in bikinis.

Snorkeling

There are many top snorkeling locations around the world, but you can’t drive to most of them such as Fiji or Hawaii. So what’s left? Plenty of options. I have been known to be seen in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but off season when the college kids are gone. Florida’s ocean waters are rich in aquatic life. You will be amazed at the underwater world near the coral reefs, just off the shore. Grab the snorkel gear and let’s go! Whether your preference is a glass bottom boat or your own close range viewing, your experience will be colorful for sure.

Water sports include boating and sailing for many people and just about any local lake will do. If you are more ambitious either the east or west coast will get you out on the high seas. Otherwise, up a lazy river might be just the right amount of fun. If the ocean calls, a paddle board or Jet Ski might be your idea of heaven. A speed boat is an exciting alternative. Then there is water skiing and diving off the pier for those wanting some adventure.

But I have really digressed. I was touting my SUV as the best mode of travel to water sport destinations, even if one is only a mile or two away. This dependable vehicle takes me from a work day to a play day with minimal transition. If you are a fellow traveler, I don’t have to try too hard to convince you. As for the rest of you, well I invite you to jump on board.

Off-roading on my day off is my kind of fun. Roaring through sand, gravel, a riverbed, or mud and rocks is easy when you have the right vehicle. I do. You can call it a kind of extreme driving with a nod at “extreme” sports. It’s all in the same mental and physical vein. You need the right tires and a vehicle with a sound body and superior suspension. I vote for the Xterra.

When I get back from a day on rough terrain, the car looks a bit worse for wear. Sometimes the mud is literally caked on and the paint is hidden beneath a layer of grime. It’s a patina that bespeaks of a great time out there in no man’s land. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I don’t wait too long to address the need to clean it all up. I get to the pressure washer within hours of my return to restore my SUV’s sparkle and shine.

My advice to you if you are in the same boat is to get a great pressure washer. They don’t cost a bundle relative to what they can do for your van. Tidying up is their specialty. But only a sturdy device can handle a gritty job. You have your choice of many models. Here are just a few I like.

A mid-range option in the $300 range is the Karcher K 5.540 if you want electric. It is known as “best in class” by reviewers for cleaning performance. The water-cooled motor gets high praise from experts because it lasts so much longer. The Vario power wand lets you switch from detergent to high pressure spray with ease.

By contrast, the Campbell Hausfeld is your budget model at under $150. The PW182501AV is also electric and features a swivel hose adaptor. It has a 20-foot hose with onboard storage. It is convenient and handy.

For a little more than the Karcher you can select the Simpson Megashot 3100 with a gas-driven Honda engine. This is premium stuff for home use. It boasts of a pro-style steel spray wand with five nozzle tips and a soap applicator to boot. This may well be the Cadillac of pressure washer and a great machine to own. The hose won’t cause you any problems being kink resistant and snarl free. You’ll love the easy twist-on connectors.

I say read the reviews if in doubt and compare prices. You want something definitely user friendly where you don’t even need to read the manual. By the way, you can always shave off a few dollars and get a better deal. There are plenty of these washers on the market so the competition makes for bargains. The point is to get one and start using it for so many chores around your home after the SUV is done. Take care of dirty driveways and sidewalks as well as oily garage floors. Get that grimy garage door while you are at it. Then attack your shed and the back patio.

All things are not equal, however, in the world of pressure washers. You will want top-grade construction for durability and longevity, something ergonomic that won’t break your arm or back, an easy-start motor with consistent high performance, reasonably light weight, and even good solid little tires. In the long run, with most any model, you will love getting things done yourself. But high on my list is the van. It always comes first.

A well-designed SUV has plenty of room for everything from a 6-speaker radio and CD player combo to steering wheel-mounted controls. Each year, the interior gets better and better. The newer models have the same great features as the older ones, but many have been updated. Worth mentioning is the rear cargo-management system, adjustable lumbar (for the happy driver), NissanConnect with mobile apps (now standard equipment), and a fabulous sound system. Some models have heated seats and a navigation/infotainment system complete with Bluetooth connectivity.

But enough bragging about how great this SUV is whether it is an S, an X, or a Pro-4X model. The accessories are out of sight. Did you know you can get a pet divider to carry your pet while on your rugged road adventures? Did you know that it has an Utili-trac cargo channel system? There is nothing in this category of 4-wheel drive that is quite as fine. A vehicle is all about performance, especially in tough terrain. That is where I like to take mine. I can subject it to rocks and boulders, small rivers or anything Mother Nature throws at me and still get a pretty smooth ride. I have to give thanks to amazing suspension. If you try to tell me your Jeep Wrangler is superior, I am not going to listen.

I am getting ready as I speak to take another trip. I have my really cool backpack in tow, as tough as the van, loaded with what little is not already embedded within. I don’t need an iPod, that’s for sure. I do need a heavy duty number, however, as I plan to do a little camping. I am going off-roading to test those big beefy tires. I don’t expect to be leaning too much in corners and I know the steering is super reliable. Plus, with the V6, I will have plenty of power and torque.

A friend gave me the backpack for a gift and it has been my constant companion. I lug it here and there, full of short-term necessities of life. It goes inside the van and outside as needed. He must know me well. The thing is double thick denim with heavy stitching and adorned with rivets. These metal babies will never let a seam divide. It has compartments inside to separate one item from another so you never have to fumble for keys or a pen. Your smart phone has its own little zippered home.

A backpack is a travelling companion and sometimes the only one you have long for the ride. It can be mistreated if you forget its contents, as when you toss it about like a sack of potatoes. But it is resilient and can take the beating in stride. I keep in half packed most of the time in a strategic closet at home. It has batteries, a flashlight, eating utensils, a collapsible drinking cup, thin gloves, and a cap, among other miscellaneous things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap. It often gets an extra change of clothes, underwear, socks, and a rain parka. It has no limitations to speak of.

It is odd, you may think, to speak of a cool SUV and a backpack in the same breadth, but they do have a lot in common. They both have great compatible exteriors and interiors that are the result of some innovative mad genius who has virtually thought of everything. They are roomy and can handle a lot of gear. They come through in a pinch and perm their duties and functions appropriately. No matter that one takes people as cargo. Both have body shapes that maximize interior space and both can carry their own required amount of equipment. The good news is that you can have them both side by side.