Mike and I bought our tickets as soon as they went on sale for the Overland Expo East. I’ll be honest, Mike talked me into it, but I am glad he did. We purchased the full Overland Experience ticket so we got access to all the classes and camping.
Our original plan had us getting to the expo around 3:00 on Thursday, but life had other plans and we arrived around 5:30. The check in process was really easy and afterwards we went campsite shopping. This event was held at the Taylor Ranch in Fletcher, NC. It is a very scenic place but the hills were rolling, and I don't mean from all the overland vehicles. It took us a while to find a campsite that was level enough. When we settled down we realized that we picked a great spot. We had a view of the mountains and the port-a-potties were close enough to be convenient, but far enough away to not be bothersome.
Thursday night the camping was good, but the owners of Taylor Ranch decided that nobody could get back in after 7:00 PM. By the time we got camp setup we were out of time to go get food so Mike and I ate some beef jerky and peanuts for supper. It got us by and we figured we would just get food on Friday.
As the sun came up we could see the clouds coming over the mountaintops and moisture rising into the air like a steam. Rain was inevitable and it started coming down mid-morning and it continued to rain until late afternoon. Mike and I had a full day of riding classes planned and all of them got rained out.
We hung out with the Rawhyde guys most of that day and they did some really good classroom time. The expo was the first exposure I have ever had to Rawhyde other than magazine ads and I was impressed by their attitudes. Everybody was very welcoming and it didn’t matter if you were on a BMW or not. We were all just riders.
We also got to meet Brad Barker with "The Ride Of My Life". He is building an online ADV show on YouTube and he does a great job. Check out his latest "Taste of Dakar" He was very busy while we were there, but he still took the time to say hello and talk bikes for a few minutes.
After the rain stopped the land was soaked and it was getting very muddy with all the vehicle traffic so Taylor Ranch decided to shut down the roads. Our plan to get groceries on Friday just got cancelled. If we left, we would not be allowed to ride our bikes back to our tents so we ate at the food vendors all day. The food was good, but there were only two vendors so the choices were limited.
On Saturday the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped. I was worried, but our tents stayed in place! Mike and I had a few classes scheduled and we also spent some time in the vendor area. The classes offered by Overland Expo were extensive. The packet seemed like a class catalog from a community college. We took classes like, DIY tool kit, Crafting a Narrative, and How to Read a Topo Map.
While in the vendor area we got to meet a bunch of people. The more memorable experiences was hanging out and having a few adult beverages with the ADVMoto Magazine team and Brandon from Watershed. I have talked with these guys on the phone, but they were a lot more fun in person!
We got to meet up with a few IBAR friends from the internet too. We got to hear Tomas’ stories on riding down from Chicago and check out Artimis’ new teepee tent, which has TONS of floor space! I was blown away by how many interesting people were around this event. It was worth coming to the Overland Expo just to talk with random attendees. One of the most famous was Ted SImon, he has written many books about his adventures. Mike is a big fan and he got to talk with him one on one for a long time. He was so pumped!
On Sunday morning there was a heavy frost on the tents and grass. It was not easy to crawl out of our sleeping bags. Mike and I had a few more classes scheduled for Sunday, but we have not had a shower in days and we have been living out of food trucks all weekend. We were both just ready to get home and have a hot shower and a meal so we decided to break camp and head home.
This was the first year of the Overland Expo East and I think it was a great success. There were certainly areas to improve, but I hope they keep coming back. I learned a lot and we had a great time making new friends and checking out all the new gear.