Overland Expo West is a Wrap!
More than 20,000 people attended the 2022 Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona, and it is hands-down my favorite annual overland event. I love how it brings together an amazing community of like-minded adventure travelers to camp, share stories, and get the opportunity to check out the latest overland gear and vehicle builds.
This year’s Overland Expo West was another great event and even though the expos are busy for me, I’m so thankful they provide the opportunity for me to meet so many folks who watch TrailRecon. You see, most of the time I’m staring at a camera lens and it’s not until I get to events like this that I get to meet the amazing people who are watching the videos I create and hear their stories. And that is what makes it all worthwhile.
And while there were plenty of great people to meet at the Expo, one thing I noticed about this year’s event was there seemed to be fewer people in attendance. I think at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, people were looking for activities that allowed for social distancing, could be done outside, or both. And that led to people discovering overlanding and significant growth for our community.
Now, as the world is opening back up for business and most places no longer require masks, it seems the return to normal means people are resuming other activities that were put on hold during the pandemic. While I’m glad so many people discovered overlanding and this amazing lifestyle, I’m also not mad about trails and outdoor spaces becoming less crowded.
Even with seemingly fewer attendees, Overland Expo West did not disappoint—there were still more vendor booths than you could shake a stick at and plenty of well-built overland vehicles on display. I always enjoy seeing how the different vehicle platforms are being built out for overlanding as I look for innovative ideas that I might like to borrow for my own rigs. My favorite vehicle of the event was the International Scout that had been fully restored and seriously customized. I’m a fan of the classics and that one really stood out.
Another of my favorite things to do at the Overland Expos, and something I highly recommend to anyone attending, is to take some time and walk around the campgrounds. There are hundreds of people camping there and it’s always fun and informative to see what ideas and solutions folks are coming up with to meet their individual overlanding needs. While it’s fun to check out the high-end builds on display, some of the most creative and ingenious builds around can be found in the Overland Expo campgrounds.
Regena and I will be at all the Overland Expos this year and we can’t wait to see what (and who) we find in Oregon, Colorado, and Virginia.
Old School Off-Roading
It’s been almost a year now since I brought home my “new to me” 1974 Jeep Cherokee and I really thought I would have had this gem of an off-road vehicle out on the trails by now, having some amazing adventures. But older vehicles are often on their own timelines and the Cherokee is no exception.
If you’ve ever worked with classic cars before, you’ll know they need lots of love and attention to make them roadworthy. When it comes to a classic off-road vehicle, just go ahead and multiply the amount of love and attention it’s going to need because you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t leave you stranded somewhere off the grid.
The very first time I drove the Cherokee after having it delivered from Arizona, it lost oil pressure on our way to the DMV. So, our next trip was via tow truck to an engine shop where I had them rebuild the 401 engine to give the Cherokee a new lease on life. This took 4 very long months of me waiting patiently to get it back. Once the Cherokee was finally back in my garage, it wasn’t quite done needing TLC. So, instead of hitting a trail, we hit the road…to the nearest leaf spring specialty shop where they did an amazing job of reviving the suspension.
Now, we could finally hit the trail!
Or so I thought.
In true classic car fashion, it’s been one thing after another with this old Cherokee. I’ve rebuilt the hubs, repaired electrical issues, replaced all the brakes, repaired electrical issues, fixed fuel problems, and repaired electrical issues. Oh…did I mention the electrical issues?
Owning and restoring a classic car is truly a labor of love, and at least I knew what I was getting into when I bought it.
Finally, after months and months of major repairs, tune ups, and tinkering, this classic Jeep is so close to being ready for adventure that I can almost taste it! Stay tuned because I’ll be sharing more about the 1974 Cherokee in the very near future!
Leave it Better Than You Found it
I planned on sharing a message talking about why it’s so important to “leave it better than you found it” and “tread lightly” but as I sat here writing this update, I realized that all of you reading this (and most of the folks who watch my videos) already know this. You are all part of this great community of off-roaders and overlanders who love getting out in nature and want to keep it beautiful for us all to enjoy now and in the future.
But even though I know you all get it, unfortunately, there are many who don’t. They may be new to this lifestyle or maybe they’ve just never been taught. Whatever the reason, as more and more folks have been hitting the trails and camping these past few years, there’s been a drastic increase in litter, graffiti, and trail damage—I’ve seen it for myself, as I’m sure many of you have, and I’ve talked to rangers who have had to divert some of their precious time to picking up other people’s trash. Trails have been closed because of these things and that means fewer places we can go to enjoy nature and get away from it all.
So, instead of telling you all the things you already know, I have a request.
Please be a voice and an example to others who don’t know how to tread lightly or leave our trails better than they found them. Show, by doing, how to responsibly enjoy all the beautiful places we love to visit.
I know it’s not fun picking up other people’s trash and it’s hard work scrubbing graffiti off rocks with elephant snot (yes, it’s a real thing), but we can’t turn a blind eye and say it’s not my trash or it’s not my problem. At least I can’t and I’m sure many of you can’t either. This is definitely a case of every little bit counts. If we all get out there, clean up what we can, and gently educate others about responsible trail use through our examples, we will make a difference. We will be doing our part to keep our trails clean and beautiful. And, just as importantly, we will be helping to keep our trails open so we can continue to enjoy them.
So please, encourage your family, your friends, and even complete strangers that you run into on the trails and at camp to leave it better than they found it and adventure responsibly.
Hope to see you at the following events!
- June 29: Temecula Jeep Meet Charity Event, Burgers & Beer, Temecula, CA
- July 8-10: Overland Expo Pacific Northwest, Bend, OR
- Aug. 26-28: Overland Mt. West, Loveland, CO
- Oct. 7-9: Overland Expo East, Arrington, VA