Only 40 days to go until we attend our first Overland Expo! To say we are beyond excited is an understatement. Started in 2009 by Jonathan and Roseann Hanson, Expo has become THE event to attend each year in the United States. Jonathan was formerly with Overland Journal but now works full time, with Roseann, to make Expo the premier event that it is. The largest meeting of overlanders in the US, perhaps the world, Expo has become so popular that 2014 marks the first year it will be offered on both the west and east coast.
Overlanders travel from around the world for the classes and socializing with like-minded individuals. Although more people are out there overlanding than you may believe, the desire to experience the trials and tribulations of the road long-term does make for a relatively limited resource pool of people who don’t believe us to be a bit touched. Needless to say, we are quite excited to be surrounded by just such people.
Jim and I are not new to overlanding, having driven New Zealand, eastern Australia, the United States, and East and South Africa, but many of the instructors and attendees at Expo have been on the road for YEARS. While preparing to head south on the Panam Highway we have followed many of their journeys, and can’t wait to be able to speak with them in person, hearing their tales of the road.
Camping is more than just getting away. It’s a clear blue sky. The song of a bird. The beckoning woods and wide open spaces. Camping is greeting the breath of dawn unhindered by the walls of city life and watching the sun set in ribbons of color as it says “good night” to a perfect day. Camping makes hearts grow lighter and food taste better. It’s sharing stories around a campfire and gazing up in a silence at a star-filled sky. Camping is more than just getting away. It’s the thing we need to rekindle the spirit of a simpler time, refresh our hearts with nature’s beauty, and remind us that life doesn’t have to be quite so complicated after all.
Overland Expo is a 3-day extravaganza of classes, socializing, and exhibitor booths. Wanting to take full advantage, Jim and I spent quite a bit of time determining which classes would be most beneficial, while not over-doing it. The impulse was strong to fill our days, but we refrained. After all, one of the main reasons we are thrilled to attend Expo is simply to be able to meet fellow travelers, gleaning knowledge and tips from their own experiences, both positive and negative.
In the end, the interest of Aspen and Porter also came into play. We’re unsure what the weather will bring and didn’t want them left in the camper alone for long periods. To this end, we split up our time. As head driver and mechanic, Jim’s focus will be on advanced recovery driving courses, taking on Overland driving skills & Awareness, Advanced Vehicle recovery skills, and Advanced driving water recovery.
For myself, I tried to mix things up a bit. Although I love writing and blogging, keeping up with it all on social media can be an exhausting endeavor. I’m hoping that “Social media for Overlanders” can offer up some tips to make it less of a chore. I am in charge of discovering the volunteering opportunities we will be taking on, both at home and on the road. To this end, my second class will be put on by Do Good as you Go, the Muskoka Foundation. We have been linked to Muskoka for over a year now, since being approached to partner with them. This fantastic organizations vision is to create a network of travelers around the world, utilizing their skills to help and “do good as you go”. I can’t wait to meet some of the staff in person and gain more insight on how we will be able to work with them once we hit the road.
Saturday I am taking a class I’ve been thinking of for quite some time, and something I think may be essential at some point: a basic, beginners compass class. Jim will be joining me for a second volunteering class but when he heads off to his final advanced driving class, the pups and I will be checking out the Unleash your Hounds seminar. Border crossings, vet records and vaccinations, oh my!
Of course, evenings will be spent at happy hour and the travel film series, along with the requisite Sunday afternoon BBQ!
We are also taking this opportunity to check out some areas we have yet to explore; Hwy 395, the Sierra Nevada’s and Death Valley on our way to Expo and Monument Valley and four fantastic nights in Moab on our route back. Stay tuned, I am quite certain this 17 days is going to be the highlight of our year, in more ways than one!