Tag Archives: Overland Expo

Week 15: Living at the Overland Expo

Our home at the Expo

This week was a blur as Jay and I worked at the Expo from Wednesday until Sunday (and Jay went back Monday to help clean up).  Our week really was fully consumed by working at the Overland Expo as campground hosts.  Jay’s parents came up from Phoenix for one of the days of the expo, so that was a nice treat.

Monday I went back to my regular job, which is getting busy as we get ready for the next AmeriCorps term.

Volunteering: We both worked all 7 days this week and did not have the opportunity to volunteer except for Sharon’s continued promotion of the 20th Annual Made in the Shade Beer Festival.

Beer of the Week:  A New Belgium Fat Tire in a bottle that was offered to me for free by a three year old at the Expo (she was assisting her father in outreach).  Also, Mother Road was one of the sponsors of the expo and I enjoyed their Twin Arrows Brown Ale on tap.

Something New:  We learned at lot at the Overland Expo this week – Sharon got to drive a Evoque Range Rover on the 4-Wheel driving course!  On Wednesday, Jay gave his first speech at Toastmasters.

Highlight of Being in One Place: Being locals for a large event like the Overland Expo, we had the chance to give out dinner recommendations and directions

Video of the Week:  We didn’t take this video, but it’s a nice look at the Overland Expo


Overland Expo 2012

Jay at last year’s Expo

It’s time to get excited!  All this week Jay will be out at Mormon Lake helping to set up for the Overland Expo.  If you are new to the word “overlanding” it just describes the broad field of adventure where explorers travel by land.  Most overlanders drive burly vehicles, but there are also off road motorcyclists, touring bicyclists, and folks like us who drive a small vehicle and tent camp.  The Overland Expo is the largest gathering of overlanders and it brings together a truly inspiring group of adventurers.  We look forward to reconnecting with friends we made last year and hearing their stories from the road.

A picture from last year’s Expo

Last year we attend the expo in Amado, Arizona and we are so excited to be part of the team that is bringing the expo to Flagstaff for the first time!  If you come out to the Overland Expo this weekend, be sure to stop in and see us.  We will be the campground hosts and will also be presenting as part of two speaker panels.  If you come for the day it is only $15 and kids under 16 are free.  You can purchase day passes ahead of time or at the gate.

Motorcycle at Overland Expo

A picture from last year’s Expo

Great Online Communities for Road Adventurers

At this time last year we were preparing for a year long road trip and weren’t sure where to start.  I want to take a minute to give a shout out to three online communities that have been helpful during our trip.

In addition to our favorite blogs that we list on the left hand column under Blogroll, we also find these sites awesome for communicating with other road trippers.

Drive the Americas – If you are planning a trip in North, Central or South America (or all three!) then you have to check out this site.  Set up by two couples who met on their own grand adventure it is built by road trippers for road trippers.  If you’re looking for inspiration read the road tripper profiles.

Drive the Americas Tent at Overland Expo

We spent a lot of the 2011 Overland Expo hanging out with Chris at the Drive the Americas lounge learning about his adventures driving the Pan-American highway from California to Argentina (photo credit: Chris Nolan)

Expedition Portal – Setting out for an overland adventure where you intend to get off the paved roads?  Expedition portal is chock full of helpful advice about preparing to be self sufficient for any overland route you choose to take.  Jay particularly likes comparing notes with other travelers about modifications they have made to their vehicles.

As we learned at the 2011 Overland Expo, you have a lot of choice in what vehicle you choose to travel the world in - this picture shows two very different overland travel options

Rav4 forum – We haven’t met anyone else in the Overland community that travels via a Rav4, so when we’ve got questions specific to our mode of travel we turn to this source.  There are forums out there for every type of vehicle and I recommend checking them out if you are going to be relying on a vehicle for your lifestyle for a year.

Sharon and Jay with the Rav4 fully loaded

Ready to get on the road from Phoenix to New Mexico in April

A Network of Paying it Forward: Napi Friendship Association and the Muskoka Foundation

I liked how Earlene, the Youth Coordinator at the Napi Friendship Association, explained to a coworker why we were there teaching photography to the kids.  She started with, “Remember when that man and that woman came in here with their little kids and they were talking about their photography…”.  Our volunteer experience in Pincher Creek, Alberta started 2,500 km away in Amado, Arizona at the Overland Expo where we met Jay and Alice, founders of the Muskoka Foundation.  When I heard Jay speak on a panel about how they were trying to help travelers “do good as they go”, I was excited.  That’s us!  We do that!  We connected with Jay, Alice, and Brian later that day to talk about what type of opportunities they could connect us to.

Our campsite for most of the time, at Beaver Mines Campground

One of the Muskoka Foundation’s signature programs is a photography workshop for youth in villages and indigenous communities along popular overlanding routes.  It’s a win-win-win type of program in which the kids get to learn a new skill, the village gets a chance to earn income through the sale of calendars made from the kids’ photos, and the travelers get to meet the local community and learn more about their culture.  We were excited to take on a project that would require more responsibility and allow us a lot of independence.

A view from Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and place of great significance for the Piikani First Nation

Jay and Alice had met Earlene earlier that year as they traveled through Alberta in their EcoRoamer.  They were introduced through a couple of fellow travelers, Doug and Karen, who live in Crowsnest Pass, 30 minutes west of Pincher Creek.  We followed in their tire tracks, climbing up the hill to Doug and Karen’s to learn about the area before starting the workshop.  Doug is a biologist with the Alberta Conservation Association and could share detailed information about the local environment and camping opportunities.  Karen works at the women’s center in Pincher Creek and was more familiar with the women and youth in the community and what types of challenges they faced.


Jay humoring me as I talk to the kids about framing a portrait

So this is how we found ourselves in the basement of the Napi Friendship Association with five Piikani teenagers talking about photography.  We were supported by a network of other travelers and people who work with youth.  Without this support we wouldn’t have made it through the week.  You learn a lot about yourself on a trip like this and we learned that we are not good at working with teenagers.  In fact, working with teenagers is the most stressful thing that we have done yet, besides getting Jay out of Death Valley after being burned.  They were good kids, but trying to keep a group of 11-15 year olds focused for four hours, three summer days in a row was a challenge we had no experience in tackling.  The workshop is designed for 5 days with shorter classroom time on each day and that added to the challenge.

heading out for our first photo walk in Pincher Creek

It was fun to see the kids’ excitement when they got to use the cameras for the first time.  It was cool to be accepted into this community, in which we were the only non-native people in the Napi Friendship Association building.  We welcomed the challenge of doing skilled work again, figuring out how to set up the room and present the material.  It was awesome to see the kids start using some of their new knowledge to critique each other’s photos or to decide which of their own photos were the best.  I enjoyed the chance to share something I am passionate about and reflect on my own photography.  It was also inspiring to be included within the tribe of travelers that Muskoka connects throughout the world.  That said, it was a very stressful week.

kids at Muskoka Foundation photography workshop

Seth and Jesse trying to capture a photo of a bird on our photo walk

We hope to work with the Muskoka Foundation again along our travels.  If we are ever back in Pincher Creek I would definitely drop in to say hi at the Napi Friendship Association.  However, Jay and I are planning to avoid any positions of responsibility involving teenagers again.  Lesson learned.

Man Zou : An adventure film reviewed

While attending the Overland Expo in Amado, Sharon and I had the pleasure of seeing Man Zou as part of an adventure film festival. The film is a documentary following the adventure of four Americans and their Chinese guide as they cycle from Beijing to Shanghai. The film is independently produced and the entire trip was unsupported. The whole operation is literally contained in a few Ortlieb panniers. Many adventure films of this ilk suffer from a narrow focus on the travels of the adventure. This film is not like that, its far more about the changing nature of the Chinese landscape and the Chinese people with just a little bit actually about cycling. By forgoing support vehicles permits, planning and even a bit of sense it resulted in a deeply immersed and close up look at the country.

The title of the film translates loosely to “walk slowly”. It is an appropriate title as a major portion of the film considers how life in China is changing with some living the fastest, most modern lives imaginable, while others have simpler slower paced country life. This film gives a good look at what life in modern China is really like. There are also interviews of many scholars and experts which further improve the film. This is a five star feature not to be missed.

Reminder: Vote for us in the Travel for Good contest at: http://www.volunteerjournals.com/volunteer-travel-grants/entries/send-sharon-and-jay-full-time-volunteers-alaska


Getting Our “Desert Legs”

With Jay’s remarkable progress in only two weeks, we are going on a mini road trip this weekend from Phoenix AZ to Amado AZ for the Overland Expo.  This is an annual event at which overland adventurers (people who travel in motorized or non motorized vehicles over land) gather to talk shop.  By sharing a picture of the Rav in Death Valley and sharing the story of the accident, we were able to win 2 tickets from one of the Expo exhibitors, Drive the Americas.

driving course at Overland Expo 2011

Prepping the driving course at Overland Expo (photo credit: Overland Expo gallery)

We are hoping to learn tips and tricks about keeping our vehicle in shape for 4-wheeling and staying safe and healthy on our adventures.  We’re also looking forward to hanging out with other folks who embody the same vagabonding spirit.  I think this will be just what I need to get my confidence up for going primitive again.  The Expo is a 2.5 hour drive and we plan to camp for a couple of nights.  This will be a good test of Jay’s return to normal health and activity.  We still have to change the burn dressing once a day, but it should be possible to do in the tent.


Amado Arizona

Amado Arizona where the Expo is being held (Photo credit: Overland Expo gallery)

While we are out there in the desert (in 90 degree heat) preparing for our next adventure, we hope you will be sharing our Travel for Good video with your networks on Facebook, Twitter, and email. The voting has  begun and we appreciate your support!  Please let us know if you encounter any issues with voting.