About

We plan the way we want to live, but only GOD makes us able to live it. —Proverbs 16:9 MSG

Dark Sky Overland is an overland lifestyle brand that was created to support the various trips I take to National Parks and other designated Dark Sky Parks within the United States.

It was also born out of a strong desire to simplify life after my wife of over 24 years passed away from a three year battle with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

Months before she died we had several conversations about downsizing so that we could be more intentional about living for today instead of just dreaming about what we’d like to be able to do tomorrow.

patrick tinaObviously, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about the future, but when you’re faced with a terminal diagnosis like IBC your perspective shifts and makes you much more cognizant about your own mortality.

As time went by, we learned to cherish every second of each day. Time became our new obsession and we never took it for granted.

We laughed. We cried. We dreamed a ton about her being healed. But we weren’t naive. We knew where life was heading so we focused on today.

Being more intentional allowed us to experience more joy, engage in many more meaningful conversations, and create much more cherished memories together than either one of us could have ever imagined.

The day after she passed I felt even more compelled to continue on our newfound journey of living for today. I spent hours reading Scripture, writing in my journal and reflecting on how the kids and I would do life without her.

Since we’re only given today and not guaranteed tomorrow I began to question my own pursuits and the legacy they’ll provide. As I spent more time in God’s Word, the more clear the answer became. I needed to pursue less in order to live more.

A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree. —Proverbs 11:28 MSG

Today I am pursuing less. I’ve downsized, reprioritized and am just trying to focus on life with my kids. Yes, it’s a new chapter filled with exciting plans, but to be honest it’s not easy. We still grieve for Tina and miss her dearly.

Nevertheless, I strongly believe Tina would want us to move forward in life instead of being stuck in the past. As a matter of fact, this new journey has made me realize that we can’t start the next chapter of life if we keep re-reading the one we’re currently in.

So to move forward I decided to document my new journey as a widower through this site. Documenting it will only amplify my experiences and allow me to appreciate them even more as I get older.

Why I’ve Chosen to Travel to Our National Parks

As you’ve probably noticed, my focus throughout this site is on the trips I take to our National Parks. Since Tina’s death, I’ve had an innate desire to explore the great outdoors similar to how I did as a child during the summer months behind my house.

npsInterestingly, as I learned more about how our National Parks were established, I stumbled upon the writings of John Muir. What intrigued me about Muir was his fanatical advocacy for the protection of these wild places and his belief that they’re necessary for the health of our souls.

Then there’s Theodore Roosevelt, often called the “conservation president”. He not only impacted the National Park System well beyond his term in office but also enacted the Antiquities Act of 1906.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Antiquities Act enabled him and succeeding Presidents to proclaim historic landmarks, historic or prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest in federal ownership as national monuments.

But that’s not why I mention him.

Even though his impact on our National Parks was enormous, my fascination with him stems from how he used the woods as a place of solace during some of the darkest days of his life, including the time he escaped to the Dakotas in 1884 following the near-simultaneous deaths of both his wife and mother.

Why does that fascinate me?

Because I can relate.

Even though my wife and mother didn’t die eleven hours apart, they did succumb to cancer just over a year apart. Tina passed on June 28, 2017, and my mom passed on July 3, 2018.

Those events have left me longing, longing for a place that I can go to get lost that’ll help clear my mind and rejuvenate my soul. Like John Muir once said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” I can’t think of a better place to begin this journey than within our National Parks.

How I Discovered Overlanding & Why It’s A Good Choice For Me

During the middle of Tina’s fight, I longed to get away—far, far away. Not from her (heaven forbid!) but from the stress and everything else that goes with fighting cancer.

This desire—the desire to get away—was innately driven. As mentioned earlier, it can be traced back to my childhood.

You see, as a young boy I loved playing in the woods. They were my happy place and drew me in like a moth to a flame.

During the summer months I would stay there from sun up to sun down. The only time I’d leave was when I either needed something to eat or was called home by my parents.

As Tina’s fight became more intense, I oddly thought about those times in the woods.

I’m no psychologist; however, I believe my embodied cognition surfaced simply to remind me of the benefits of getting away. It made me want to scoop Tina up in my arms so badly and take her to my happy place.

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. —Anonymous

But I couldn’t. It simply wasn’t possible. We had kids to take care of, a house to maintain, and a business to run to help keep us afloat.

Since we couldn’t get away I turned to YouTube to bring the great outdoors to us.

Initially, I stumbled upon Shawn James and My Self Reliance at the exact same time he started to hand-build his log cabin. I then discovered Joe Robinet and binged watched hours of bushcrafting while Tina lay sick next to me.

This led me to Chris Schontz of Venture4WD before he left on his very first overland adventure. Watching him sit in his apartment mentally processing his next move was both amusing and shockingly therapeutic. But it also opened my eyes to an entirely new world called overlanding.

Simultaneously, Tina and I had many discussions around a term I coined “essential minimalism”.

Essentialism by Greg McKeownIf you’re not familiar with Essentialism, I recommend you read Greg McKeown’s book titled Essentialism—The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

Likewise, if you’re not familiar with minimalism, read Joshua Becker’s book titled The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own.

Even though both books are uniquely different, they share similar philosophies that radically challenge the lies we’re constantly fed about the American dream.

If you haven’t read either one of them, I highly recommend you do so. They’ll cause both epiphanies and paradigm shifts that’ll only make your life better.

Ironically, I picked up a copy of Essentialism when it was first published in April of 2014, just a few months before Tina was diagnosed. Not only was it tremendously helpful from a business perspective but also applicable to parenting, raising a family, and navigating through more serious trials that life would soon throw our way.

And now being new to overlanding, it also helped me realize that I could comfortably travel to anywhere within the United States without spending a fortune on hotels, flights, or motorhomes. My new rig became my home on wheels and provides me with the ability to get to places I never could’ve gone in any of my past vehicles.

Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.” I have God’s more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees. At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, for you, God, have put my life back together.—Psalm 4:6-8

So if you’d like to keep up with my whereabouts, click on the banner below. You’ll then receive occasional emails about upcoming trips, routes and other information that I think you’d be interested in.

I’m also on Instagram and YouTube so make sure you follow and subscribe. I’d love to connect with you and look forward to sharing my adventures with you!

My current overlanding vehicle is a 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. If you’d like to see an in-depth video on why this particular truck is well-suited for overlanding click here.

Thanks for visiting! I do appreciate it.

Patrick

The spacious, free life is from GOD, it’s also protected and safe. GOD-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—when we run to Him, He saves us. —Psalm 37:39-40 MSG

National Parks I Have Visited So Far

In chronological order and updated as of June 8, 2024:

  1. Hot Springs National Park
  2. Gateway Arch National Park
  3. Grand Canyon National Park
  4. Petrified Forest National Park
  5. Joshua Tree National Park
  6. Bryce Canyon National Park
  7. Zion National Park
  8. Death Valley National Park
  9. Kings Canyon National Park
  10. Sequoia National Park
  11. Yosemite National Park
  12. Saguaro National Park
  13. Great Sands Dunes National Park & Preserve
  14. Mesa Verde National Park
  15. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  16. Arches National Park
  17. Capitol Reef National Park
  18. Grand Teton National Park
  19. Yellowstone National Park
  20. Glacier National Park
  21. Rocky Mountain National Park
  22. Big Bend National Park
  23. Canyonlands National Park
  24. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  25. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  26. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  27. Badlands National Park
  28. Wind Cave National Park
  29. Mammoth Cave National Park
  30. New River Gorge National Park

Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly. —Unknown

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