By Corrie #0000
Lots of mud.
A TON of mud.
And it’s kinda epic.
The first half of the Overland Expo brought on some amazing classes, incredible vehicles and gnarly weather. You name it, we’ve experienced it in the last 48 hours.
Overland Expo Classes
Build Your Own Bridge
Michael took a class on how to build a manmade bridge with the Camel Trophy racing crew. He braved the snow/rain/sleet/wind and walked away from the class with a solid understanding of the basics; the knots, the tools, the techniques and more.
A highlight of the class was learning how to cut rope in the field. The short version is to take your rope and wrap it in tape (to prevent fraying). Take your knife and a mallet, and whack until you’ve cut it in half. Boom!
Michael was drenched and shivering afterwards, but he was smiling ear to ear over the experience.
(This panel was full of people with WAY cooler accents than ours.)
We both attended a class on crossing borders, navigating the ins and outs of different cultures, and how to handle/avoid bribes. South America, Africa, Asia… We got a crash course in border crossing prep!
Key take aways for border crossing: Arrive in the morning. Dress nice. Shave. Clean up. Take off your hat/sunglasses/gloves. Make eye contact. Be polite. Be patient. Only answer the questions you are asked. Have hard candy and bottled water ready to share. Have your paper work ready. Don’t cut into your chassis to hide valuables, you’ll look like a drug smuggler and life will be painful. Don’t be in a rush. And most importantly… The border guard is the most important and most powerful person there. Do not forget that.
Native Fire: Starting a Fire the Old Fashioned Way
Michael will be doing a write up on this class when we’re back! A great reminder of the most basic of basic outdoor skills!
Welding in the Field & Wenchless Recovery
Michael is taking these classes today, and we’ll write up on them tomorrow!
Rigs, Rigs, Rigs
So many amazing vehicles. I’ll let the images do the talking!
Adventures in Weather
Mormon Lake is insanely gorgeous, and it’s the perfect setting for the Expo; however, Mother Nature in all her glory is putting on a SHOW. Everything from hail, to rain, to snow, to sleet… And the mud pit of doom.
As the Expo staff said to me yesterday while I was driving around, “You might want to find another place to camp. It’s a sh*t show out there, and it’s only going to get worse.”
Alrighty then… We needed a Plan B. The RV spots were covered in gravel, and water seemed to drain out of the spaces. We decided to try and grab a 2 night spot there.
Our friend Jorge from Live.Work.Wander warned us that the spots were completely sold out, and nothing was available as of that morning.
Now, the thing about me is that I LOVE hearing information like that. Operation: Get the Rig Into an RV Camping Space was ON.
I walked into the RV camping spot office and treated the staff like I was approaching the border crossing into Ecuador. Hat off, gloves off, sunglasses off, lots of eye contact and a good attitude.
“I know you guys must be slammed, and I’m so sorry to be another person asking, but is it possible that anyone has canceled their reservation for an RV space in the last hour or so?”
It took about 5 minutes of humble banter and lots of flattery, and slowly I pried a few vague references to something possibly opening up from Mike and Judy, the clerks behind the desk.
Now, I’m a patient person. I politely waited about 30 minutes, and wouldn’t you know it… Judy and Mike came through. We locked in a 2 night spot on dry-ish ground with electricity. High five to the people who bailed on the Expo, and high five and hugs to Mike and Judy! Boom!
The guys at Rigid Industries LED Lighting putting on a show at night!
Hanging out in the Lodge helped fight off the cold! And we got to spend time with Overland Bound Founding Members Dom #0158 and Kevin #0103! Great meeting you guys in person!
We made it out of the mud field, and we’re launching into Day 2 with excitement!
Big Learning/Take Aways for the First Half of the Journey
DATA – POWER – FLEXIBILITY
1. We did NOT do a thorough check on internet/cell availability in AZ with AT&T. Our first night at the Lodge we realized that everyone who was on their phone was a Verizon user. Our CA AT&T phones were jank and useless.
We are social people and we love sharing our adventures (be sure to follow @overlandbound on Instagram!), and having access to Internet/Cellular Data is mission critical. I ended up driving back into Flagstaff yesterday and hunting down a Verizon pay-as-you-go Hotspot. We’ll be using this from here on out on our extended trips as backup to our AT&T phones, and we’re going to look into switching providers in the future.
2. For all of our lists and planning… We did not have an extension cord in our gear. I have no idea how we missed this piece of equipment. We now have a 10′ cord with 3 outlets, and we’re adding this to the permanent kit.
And again, because we are social and we like to share our journey, access to power outlets became a logistical concern out here. I am currently huddled in the corner of the Mormon Lake Saloon by the popcorn machine using one of the only outlets accessible in the joint. (And I had to unplug the Bud Light neon sign to get it.) We’re going to review our ability to charge our gear when we’re NOT near civilization, and do it without using Rig battery. (Note: We have the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar pack, but this weather hasn’t been conducive to charging up much with the sun.)
This is a little bit more in my wheel house than Michael’s. Michael is amazing at getting from point A to point B, and executing on the prime directive. I’m a little more flexy-bendy about how we get between the two points, and that’s why we make a great team. Michael did not want to move into the RV spaces at first, but by Friday morning, we were in agreement that staying some place dryer with power was the best solution for us.
And if this weather in AZ has taught us anything.. It’s be flexible and work together as a team!!
More about the Expo tomorrow. We’re off to take some classes and see more amazing rigs!