I’ve had the good fortune over the past two years to attend Overland Expo, an international event held in Flagstaff, AZ that educates and inspires people to get out and explore their world, either by motorbike or vehicle. OX is the largest event in North America for the do-it-yourself adventure traveler with skill classes for both adventure motorcyclists and four-wheel drive explorers, roundtable discussions, how-to classes, vendor booths, and film festivals that bring the world to life and allow people to dream a little about where they see themselves in the world.
What is Overland Expo All About?
If you ask ten attendees what Overland Expo is about, they’ll probably give you ten different answers. For some it’s purely about truck porn– lusting after the incredible motorbikes or the kitted-out adventure vehicles, for others it’s about learning the skills necessary to feel comfortable driving in remote places, and yet others might think that Expo is about seeing all of the cool gear on offer by the hundreds of vendors. While all of those things are great in their own right, I prefer to believe that Overland Expo isn’t about the fabulous training, the crazy-expensive gear, or the drool-inducing vehicles. You could attend Overland Expo one time and see all of that stuff, but when you come back the next year you realize that Overland Expo is about the people.
The reason I keep coming back is my tribe. Seth Godin defines a tribe as; “any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, or an idea. For millions of years, humans have joined tribes, be they religious, ethnic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.” Call it what you will; tribe, community, network, or society…whatever, the point is that we share a passion for international travel, a flagrant disregard for popular ways of doing things, and a view that all people- no matter where in the world are inherently good.
Even though most of us are solitary creatures, off on our own adventures throughout the world, we’re unified by our passion for adventure, for awesome scenery, for long days on the trail, for learning, for talks around the campfire, and for a life well-lived. I would do anything for my tribe, and I believe that they would do anything for me. It’s hard to find that.
My Top 5 Highlights of OX13
So, instead of showing you the same pictures of trucks and motorcycles that everyone else has on their websites and Facebook pages, I want to give you my highlights of Overland Expo 2013– from a human standpoint:
Highlight #5: Celebrating Sandy and Terry Borden’s 20th Anniversary
Friday night we got to spend some time with Sandy and Terry Borden of Adventure Trio and celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. I love these peeps and was so happy to be able to be there for their special day!
Highlight #4: Toasting to a friend’s departed father by drinking a 45-year-old bottle of Bourbon
On Saturday evening J Brandon (@americansahara) invited us to his campsite to raise a toast to the father of D. Brent Miller, who recently passed away. J related how he came into possession of a certain 45-year-old bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon which was a gift from D. Brent. J brought it with him by motorbike from Nevada with the intention of sharing it with friends in his friend’s dad’s honor. What a cool experience!
Highlight #3: The Muskoka Foundation “Do Good As You Go” Presentation
On Friday, we got together with Katie Clancy and Alice Gugelev of The Muskoka Foundation to talk about volunteer opportunities while traveling overland. While our experience was centered around the work we did for the Maya Rally, we were able to pass our passion for “doing good as we go!”
Highlight #2 The Maya Rally 2012 Reunion
All of the Maya Rally teams that made it to Overland Expo this year got together on Sunday to talk about the rally, share our experiences, and show off the video series created by Enrique Vega. It was great to be able to see everyone again! Check out my Maya Rally posts for more of the action!
Highlight #1: Seeing Old Friends and Making New Ones
The biggest highlight for me is the relationships that are built through this group. This year I was able to see old friends like Gary Kardum of Mudrak Custom Cruisers, Zach Berning of Grab a Wrench and Overland Gourmet fame, Dave Bennett, Mark Trump and Mitch Moerch from American Adventurist, Matt Scott from Expedition Portal, Gianni Donati from Triple Aught Design and many more that I’m probably forgetting.
Along with the old friends, you always meet new people and this year was no exception. I finally got to meet Brenton and Shannon of Ruined Adventures, Ryan Shauers of Desk to Dirtbag, Jeff Simpson of Giant Loop, Michele Kirkpatrick, Alfonse Palaima AKA Fonzie of Motoinsider and Sarah Blessington– The Ginja Ninja. I’m sure there’s others I’m forgetting here too, so I apologize ahead of time.
I hope you have the chance to attend Overland Expo in 2014, see some cool rigs and meet some amazing people. It just might change your life.
P.S. if your life isn’t complete without seeing some pictures of cool trucks, you can head over to our Facebook page and check out those highlights! Give us a “Like” while you’re at it!