Where did We Go?
Last weekend we attended the Overland Expo in Amado, Arizona. It’s only the second annual but already is quickly gaining momentum because overlanding enthusiasts are well….enthusiastic about their community, the world, adventure, giving back and hitting the road.
But what exactly is overlanding? To be honest, three weeks ago, I didn’t have a clue and I’ve been a world traveler all my life. Overlanding by traditional definition describes how the Australians used to travel with their sheep…over land. Today the term is quickly becoming known to describe a method of travel. It is vehicle supported adventure travel and it wears many hats. You can “overland” in a Land Rover with a roof tent across Africa or take a tricked out monster rig around the world. It is within the attitude, truly, that to me describes overlanding. It is not about getting from point A to point B, it is about the journey. It’s not about covering 600 miles to get across Nebraska, it’s about stopping along to the way to meet people and experience life at a crawl. It’s about seeing a big world from a small perspective.
Who Put THIS Idea in our Heads?
We were introduced to the concept and the Expo by the former Camel Trophy director Duncan Barbour who Ridlon met through LinkedIn. He is an off road specialist and camera tracker. Duncan was coming over from Scotland for the show and commented that we should check it out. So we hopped in our truck, threw in the camping gear and mountain bikes and “overlanded” our way down, leaving Montana in 8 inches of fresh wet snow to arrive three days later in 86 degree southern Arizona.
We met up with Duncan during the show set up on Thursday, looking every bit the explorer in his safari hat and khakis.
Duncan became our mentor and guide throughout the show and introduced us around. Only later, through reading the industry’s phenomenal magazine, Overland Journal, did we realize that Duncan, our humble Scot, was a celebrity among this community. We weren’t exactly sure who we would meet at the Overland Expo. Would we find Bubba on his souped up 4×4 tearing it up or retirees in their Winnebagos? What we found was a community of like minded explorers, wanderers and adventurers with an itch to see the world on their terms, to live life a bit differently, slowing down to savor its riches. We found journalists and photographers who work on the road as well as businessmen who had quit jobs, sold their homes and took off on motorcycles around the world. It was all here.
Who Did We Meet?
Come…let me introduce you.
Meet Monika and Gary Wescott They have been traveling for the past thirty years in a series of vehicles all by the name of “Turtle”and their company Turtle Expedition. They are currently on Turtle #5, now sponsored by Ford. They have traveled the globe most recently with a Ford 350 with a camper on the back all custom built. To make a living, Gary writes and has produced a couple of documentaries. They are also, we happily found out, USANA associates and have a small business with the same nutritional supplement company Ridlon and I work with. One day while we were hanging out with Monika and Gary, a young man came up to them and told the story that they had been his heros since he was young. After seeing a documentary where Monika and Gary drove their Turtle through a river, the man described how, at age five, he went out into his backyard, dug a hole, filled it with water from the hose and kept driving his Tonka trucks through it! That was 20 years ago and he wanted to have his photo taken with his heros!
Meet Connie Rodman and Graham Jackson. Graham grew up in South Africa and like many of his friends spent heaps of time in a Land Rover with a rooftop tent scouring Africa. Now he wanted to show Connie, the concept of overlanding. It took Graham years to convince her to go but finally they took off from London to drive to Capetown and experience the world. During the expo, Connie gave seminars about the expert ways to pack, store, and keep food while being on the road for nine months at a time.
Meet Lois Pryce. Lois has done the world, SOLO, on a motorcycle! A Brit with an abounding sense of adventure and bubbly personality to match, Lois boldly goes where few women have gone and has recently written a book called, “Ladies on the Loose”.
Meet Alice Gugelev and Jay Shipiro of The Muskoka Foundation. They travel in the EcoRoamer complete with solar panels on the roof and a couple of small children inside. They have founded the Muskoka Foundation. This non profit aligns overlanders who want to “do good as they go” with projects throughout the world. Overlanders are people who will take days or even weeks to stay within a community and give back be it by teaching them to fix an engine or educate a child. If you plan to travel and spend time, hook up with Alice to find out where you can give back. They have many innovative ways to do good around the planet.
The Overland Journal
This is a very small taste of a not so large group of world wandering heros in the overlanding community. One day we sat and chatted with Scott and Stephanie Brady, the founders of the gorgeous, Overland Journal. Scott and Stephanie are huge adventurers themselves but currently are content to use their time and talents making a cohesive industry out of this group of vagabonds. Stephanie with a flair for design, creates a fine art photography book out of every issue, giving space and light to world travel. Stephanie explained to me that the magazine is not about highlighting vehicles it’s about showing off the world and the amazing stories of those who dare to crisscross its borders without trepidation.
What’s the Plan?
So besides being world adventurers ourselves, why would the overlanding community beckon us? We have decided it is time to take on our own epic world adventure called “Seven”. It began with a declaration by Ridlon to climb the seven summits, the highest peak on all continents. Then I added that we should include the “7 summits” of diving along the way. Then, Ridlon suggested we simply drive around the world to do it. Sounds like a plan to me! So we are pulling together the overlanding, diving and climbing communities in this grandest of all adventures. It’s a feat that has never been done but that’s not why we will do it. It is the culmination of our grandest passions of being under the sea, seeing the world and all it’s beauty and culture at our own pace and declaring our love of life from it’s highest peaks, while doing good in the process. More to come on this adventure soon!
What to Drive?
In closing this post, we’d like to say thanks to all of you who helped open our eyes to even greater possibilities this weekend at the Overland Expo. We look forward to becoming an integral part of this wondrous community of adventurers. We feel we have found our soul mates with you all.
See you on the road!
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