Monthly Archives: June 2015

Overland Expo West 2015 – Saturday, Part 2

May 16 Late Afternoon – Evening

  

 
With all of this rain, we saw lots of rainbows this weekend. 

We walked around the Vendor area for quite a while longer. It had mostly stopped raining. 

  
We dropped by a few vendor activities. Goal Zero and DeLorme had a joint brat and beer event. We have several Goal Zero solar charging products. 

Goal Zero
We are big fans of the DeLorme’s inReach two way global satellite communicator. No matter where we travel, we know that we can get help or contact friends and family with it. We also love their Atlases & Gazetteers. Jon gave me the ones for all of the Western States for Christmas.

DeLorme inReach
  

Earth Cruiser had a launch party to celebrate the EarthCruiser FX, their new fixed roof model. We visited there as well. 

Earth Cruiser
  

Fred and Denise Cook were making Indonesian noodles at the Mojoe Griddle booth. We dropped by for some samples. It was tasty. It was great hanging out with them for a bit.

Mojoe Griddle

We wandered over to Happy Hour after that. We stopped by a couple of other parties after that. We eventually went back to the Fuso to sleep.

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Overland Expo West 2015 – Saturday, Part 1

May 16 morning to early afternoon

  
It had snowed during the night. The tent next to us had collapsed due to the weight of the snow. The occupants had slept in their car overnight. They were able to get it back up again. There was a big pile of snow from the top of it the tent.

  
The snow melted very quickly. The ground went from a little muddy to incredibly muddy with standing water. Jon left for the morning Instructor’s meeting. He was participating in the “Regional Q&A: Continental U.S.” at 10:00 and the “Regional Q&A: Mexico and Central America” at 3:00 today.

  

I went to the “My Perfect Overland Vehicle (Small): Honda Element” by David Hoffman. I have a Honda Element and was interested to see how this one had been set up. it. 

   

He had an ECamper on the top of it. It seemed like a very useful, space saving idea for someone overlanding in a Honda Element. 

 

The ground got progressively wetter and muddier as the day went on. 

  
Note the snow on top of the mountains in the background.

And this was nothing compared to the general camping area.

They were still running recovery classes on the driving course.

  
We walked around when it wasn’t actively raining. We met Susie & Gary Bowman who were camped nearby. They are trying to sell their new GXV vehicle. 

   
 

We talked with Luisa Bell from A2A Expedition.

  

After lunch, Jon and I walked over to the general camping area. We tried cutting through a closed driving course with the hope that it would be a little less muddy than the road. It didn’t make any difference. It was all incredibly muddy. 

   
  

There were quite a few people leaving. A lot of vehicles were very stuck. We watched a number of those vehicles get pulled out. 

  

We were able to get a ride back to our campsite in a Halflinger. It was really cute and very capable. It just made it through the mud without any problem. 

  

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Overland Expo West 2015 – Friday

May 15 

It started to rain Thursday night. The theme for Friday and Saturday was wet.

Jon went out for the Instructors meeting Friday morning. He recommended that I take advantage of the Land Rover driving course this weekend. I said yes, but I wanted to wait until it stopped raining. As it turned out, that was not a good choice. The driving course was really muddy already. Land Rover had stopped running their course entirely by mid-afternoon.

The view of a driving course from the back of the Fuso. 

   
 
It was raining off and on all day. We wandered around the vendor area several times. We spent lots of time talking with friends and vendors.

   

We bought lunch at the Montana BBQ food truck and brought it back to the Fuso to eat. Here are a few views from our camper. The flag and Perky Mog’s vehicle were good landmarks to find our vehicle.

  
Here is part of the vendor area/driving course that we could see from our vehicle.

  
We went out to the Happy Hour. It was a good turnout considering the rain. We talked to several people we knew and met a few new people. 

By early evening, it had started to sleet/snow. It wasn’t a good night to go out and visit, so we stayed inside. We were so grateful that we weren’t in a tent.

   
 

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Overland Expo West 2015 – May 14

  

Overview

Overlanding is vehicle based expedition travel. The type of vehicles are as varied as the people who do it. There is everything from adventure motorcycles to car camping with tents to pop-up campers to giant Unimog based specialty vehicles. 

The Overland Expo West is a yearly event held in May at Mormon Lake in the Coconino National Forest about 20 miles southeast of Flagstaff, AZ. The site is huge and includes driving courses, vendors, camping, classes, a restaurant and theater. Except for a limited RV campground that does provide water, electricity, and sewer, the camping is primitive. There are classes, presentations, roundtables, demonstrations, driver’s training and an extensive vendor area. 

Overland Expo

You can attend with a Day Pass and get access to the vendors, roundtable discussions, many demonstrations, and presentations. Or you can sign up in advance for the Overland Experience Package which includes all of what a Day Pass provides plus access to a number of classes taught by leading experts and driving/recovery classes. 

Things start with a Welcome Ceremony on Friday morning at 8. Events finish up with BBQ Celebration on Sunday at 4:30. 

Jon and I attended with the Overland Experience Package last year.  This year, Jon was an expert on a couple of roundtable discussions and we both led a program on our vehicle: “My Perfect Overland Vehicle (Large): Mitsubishi Fuso Custom Rig.” I kind of overdid it with classes last year, so we had not signed up for any this year. 

   

Thursday

We left for Overland Expo in the late morning. We were surprised to see water in Morman Lake. Last year, there wasn’t any water in it. 

  

Jon & I both attended Overland Expo West for the first time. We had been overlanding for years, we just never called it that. Last year was hot, dry and dusty.

  

There was a long line of cars to get into Overland Expo. After a long wait, I got out to find out what was going on. The hold up was due to registration.  By the time I got back to the vehicle, the traffic issue had been sorted out. We waited in the registration line right in front of Fred Cook. There were lots of familiar faces. The line we were in took a bit of sorting out, but everything did and we were on our way to the Featured Vehicle area. 

When we arrived, there was no one around us yet. We happened to be near the back corner of the Featured Vehicle section. It meant we had a great view of some of the driver training courses.

   


Once set up, we went out for a walk around. The sun was shining and the weather was cold, but beautiful. We headed over to vendor area. A number of exhibitors/vendors were setting up. Quite a few hadn’t arrived yet which is typical since things don’t officially start up until Friday morning.

   
Fred & Denise were camped in the to the Tiger Adventure Vehicles exhibitor area to show off their vehicle. It is the very tiny blue vehicle in the center of the photo. 

 
They had finished getting settled into their spot and had gone out for a wander as well. We met up wandered around the main exhibit/vendor area together for a while. 

   
  

A very creative use of a horse trailer

We had an Instructor’s meeting in the late afternoon.  Jon and I wandered around talking with people for a while after the meeting. It was great to see so many friends and acquaintances. We had a chance to talk with Nina and Rob of Whiteacorn. We stopped in the Sportmobile area on our way back to our truck and talked with Bill & Deb. They had been camped next to us at the Flagstaff KOA last year and this year.

The Featured Vehicle area had gained quite a few more vehicles. Luisa and Graeme Bell of A2A Expedition were just pulling into the area. It was great to talk with them a bit. We had met them for the first time at the Flagstaff KOA yesterday.

A2A Expedition

It started to get quite cold once the sun went down, so we had a nice dinner in the Fuso. Between the rain and the cold, it just wasn’t a good night to sit around outside socializing. 

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Flagstaff – May 12 & 13

  
We stopped at the local Wal-mart for groceries, the REI for another shirt for me, and a really great beer, wine and liquor store called Majestic Mobil before heading to the Flagstaff KOA campground.

Last year, Jon and I stayed at the Flagstaff KOA to get ready for Overland Expo. By chance, we were camped next to Fred and Denise Cook. Jon and Fred had known each other online, but had never met in person. We had a great time and planned on doing it again this year.

 
We finally arrived at the KOA in mid-afternoon. Fred & Denise were already there and were in the same spot as last year. We were also in the same site as last year (by design). It was great to see them again and after setting up, we caught up with each other. 

We walked around the KOA and greeted people we knew. The Flagstaff KOA is almost like a Pre-Overland Expo. It is a convenient place to do laundry, clean up our vehicles, restock with supplies, and do minor repairs on the vehicles. Denise had already finished their laundry earlier today, and I wasn’t ready to do ours yet. 

They invited us to join them for dinner at the Delhi Palace: Cuisine of India restaurant. It had been a long time since we had eaten Indian Food and we eat out rarely when out on the road. 

  

It was a great dinner. The food and the company was wonderful.
We went to bed fairly early since it had been a long day and we were feeling quite sluggish after eating too much at dinner.

The next morning I started my laundry. We were camped close to the laundry room which certainly made things easier. It is a fairly large facility, but this particular day there were a number of washers and driers that weren’t working. Fortunately, many of us were able to get our laundry finished off that morning.

  

Jon and I left to do some errands in the afternoon. When we got back, lots of other people had returned after their errands. Plus, there were a fair number of people rolling into the campground to spend just the one night.

There were a number of small tasks to do on the Fuso/camper. Fred needed to fix a squeak in his steps. Jon advised him on the use of lithium grease instead of WD-40. It required quite a few contortions on the part of Fred, but it did fix the squeak.

  
Fred greasing the steps while Jon supervises.

There was kind of a social happy hour where people planning to attend Overland Expo walked around visiting each other and their vehicles. After a while, it seemed like most people went back to their own vehicles for dinner and last minute preparations. 

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Jerome and Sedona – May 12

  U.S. Highway 89A from Prescott to Flagstaff is a really pretty drive through mountains and along the river. It is definitely worth making the journey. 
We would have gone this way last year, but there were significant forests fires near Sedona.  
 

Jerome
 

We went to Jerome for breakfast. Jerome is a really cute, former mining town. It has a very seedy history during its boomtime, but has been gentrified into an attractive, kind of funky, tiny town. 

   

  

  


It is set up in the mountains where the copper was. Consequently, it is very hilly.

   
and has fabulous views.

 
We ate breakfast at the FlatIron Cafe for breakfast. They have a rather limited menu, but the food was really excellent.  

  

We walked around the town a little before heading back to our vehicle.  

  

We parked on the way out of town. The streets are small with limited parking.

  

  

Sedona

I must admit that I had a lot of expectations of what Sedona would be like. The most impressive views of the red rocks were before we even reached Sedona.mwe stopped at the Scenic View, but it actually had a pretty lousy view of them. 

  

The town itself is bigger and more touristy than I expected. It was packed full of people, traffic and shops. A number of the buildings are done in natural colored adobe, which does harmonize well with the surroundings. 

I might have liked Sedona if it was possible to be there in the off season, but the way it was, I just wasn’t inclined to stop. 

Once you leave Sedona, Highway 89A follows the river along the bottom on a canyon for a long ways. It would have been a good place to stop except that we would have to buy a special pass to even be able to stop at one of the parking areas of a state or federal parks. Plus there were tons of other cars and people. If we had more time, it might have been worth it, but we were ready to get to Flagstaff. 
We did stop at an overlook that didn’t require a permit. 

   

Most of the forest fire damage was between Sedona & Flagstaff. It seemed primarily closer to the Flagstaff area.

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Potato Patch & Prescott – May 11

  

We needed to be in Flagstaff on May 12. We also were in great need of supplies and clean laundry. 

We could do our laundry at the KOA in Flagstaff, but we decided to go to Prescott for supplies. It was great to be able to go to a Costco and World Market. 

We planned taking US Highway 89A to Flagstaff. Last year, we wanted to spend a day in Sedona, but there were forest fires. 
After consulting our maps and the Ultimate Campground app, we headed to the Mingus Mountain Area in Prescott National Forest. 

We saw a pronghorn on our drive up there. It was only the second time we had seen them on this trip so far. I really miss seeing them. We had seen large numbers of them on our last couple of trips out west. We passed by a small herd of Mule Deer in the National Forest. 
We made our way to the Potato Patch campground. 

  

It has a small RV only loop that wasn’t much more than a parking lot. It had only one RV in it.  The campground has a bigger loop that is set among trees and the campsites and more spread out. There wasn’t anyone camping in the bigger loop. 
We found a great campsite on the bigger loop. While I set up inside and walked around taking photos, Jon collected firewood that had been left at some of the other sites. Some of the pieces were too long, so he used a saw to cut them up. 

   
You can just make out Jon sawing up wood in the background.  
 
We had a wonderful campfire, a great dinner, and a very quiet night. 

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Verde Hot Springs, Part 3 – May 8-11

  
The next day, most of the people around headed out by late morning-early afternoon. We just hung out for a bit talking with people. 

   

We decided to walk around the closed Childs Power Plant. The building itself is locked up tight, but the fence around it had a number of holes in it. 

  
There was a very large pipe that had a tremendous amount of scale built up inside it. 

  

And we found this plaque. 

  
Once most everyone had left, we went back out to the Hot Springs.  We took the riverside route this time. It required scrambling over a rocky steep bit. We still went upstream of the Hot Springs to cross the river. 

   

When we arrived, there were just a few people there and they were all in the process of leaving. It was really nice having the place all to ourselves.

   

By the time we got back, a number of new campers had arrived. We took a walk around to meet them. We met a couple of guys that turned out to be math teachers in middle and high school. Jon and I talked about how much we use math, especially geometry in our activities. For Jon, it is mostly related to building things. For me, it is mostly craft related. Almost every quilt project I’ve ever done has required a large number of calculations. 

   

After this, I headed back to the camper to work on dinner while Jon walked around talking to people. We had a nice dinner and headed to bed pretty early. I can’t say it was a quiet night. 

   

Around 3:00, we woke up to loud music. It seems like in most of these cases, it is caused by a number of drunk people who are often pretty belligerent. I always bring ear plugs for this very reason. 

The next morning, we packed up. We walked around and talked to a few of the neighbors. We talked with a nice young couple that had a five month old German Shepherd puppy. He was adorable. 

   

It hasn’t rained during the last two days, so the roads should be fine. The rain the first night had made the ground around our back wheels really soft. 

  

We did a little digging and had not yet gotten free. A really nice guy offered to get his pickup truck to give us a tug. 
   

  
We didn’t have any problems on the road out. Everything had dried out and the road was just fine. 

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Verde Hot Springs, Part 2 – May 8-11

  

The next morning, we dried things off a little better inside. Jon hung up a clothes line to hang the wet towels on. Never underestimate the importance of having some clothes pins and rope as part of your equipment (and old towels). 

 
Jon removed the brush bar. I scraped off the old sealant, coatings, etc. Jon was on the roof preparing the surface to be able to reapply the brush bar. 

We wanted to finish this up before heading out to the Hot Springs, especially considering it might rain again. 
While working on the Big Foot camper, a guy from AZ drove up in his pick up truck. He asked us about the camper and we talked for almost the entire time we were working on the vehicle. Once we were finished and about to head to the Hot Springs, he decided he didn’t really want to go and drove away. 
A big van containing numerous college-aged young men arrived while we were talking. They all headed to the Hot a Springs. About an hour later, they all walked back and drove away. 

  

The start of the trail to the Hot Springs. 
The trail is about a mile and a bit. We took the high route which is longer & more exposed (hot). You have to cross the river to reach the Hot Springs. The place we chose to cross was about mid-thigh deep on me. I took off my shoes to keep them dry, but I tripped on a rock and dunked them in the river anyway. 

  

Looking upstream near where we crossed the river

From there, we walked another quarter mile to reach the Hot Springs. 

  
The Verde Hot Springs were once part of a fancy hotel & resort. It burned down about 50 years ago. All that is left is the foundation which includes two hot spring pools and a concrete deck overlooking the river.  

  

One pool is large, very deep and warm. The other pool is in the stone building. It is much smaller and quiet a bit warmer. 

  

As you can tell, there has been a lot of creative expression. 

  

   
 
The Hot Springs have a great view of the river. 

  
– photo of river before Hot Springs. 
When we arrived, there were lots of people there. 

 

And more were arriving. 

It is possible to cross the river at the Hot Springs, but the water is much deeper. 

    Note the guy in white crossing the river. 

We stayed until we started to get all pruney and hungry. When we got back, there had been quite a change in the people at the campground. A number of groups had left and others had taken their place. 

A nice couple originally from El Paso had set up camp next to us. We talked to them for a bit and offered them a few drinks. They really appreciated the cold drinks and suggested that we come by to share in their dinner later. 

After taking a break, we went out to talk with the neighbors. Mike had suggested we come by for dinner since he was sure that he would have a lot more food than his family could eat. Well, he was right. He had fried up cod and hush puppies. His family had already finished eating, so we talked with him and his wife and ate fried fish. The food really was great. 

We later dropped by our new neighbors and had a little grilled steak and tortillas. That was really fabulous too.  We talked with them until it was really late and much past time for bed.  

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Ultimate US Public Campground Project App

Jon and I use this app to help find most of our campsites when we are in the U.S.  It lists most of the places to camp on public lands. Some are really out of the way places to camp and others may be at a city park in town. This includes dispersed camping, municipal sites, Corp of Engineers dam areas, military bases, and state & city campgrounds. 

The app downloads the basic information on your phone so even if you don’t have cell coverage, the basic information is still accessible. 

Ultimate Campground

Some of the campsites are free, especially the ones that are dispersed camping in BLM land. Even the ones that do charge are usually less expensive than commercial campgrounds especially if you have a Federal Access pass. Some places may also require paying for an entrance or day use fee in addition to the campsite. That is especially true in some state parks including ones in Texas and Colorado. 

Please note that some of the campsites require a high clearance or even 4 wheel drive vehicle to reach them, especially those in BLM or Forest Service land. 

As usual, I wouldn’t recommend that you base all of your plans only on this reference since district policies and prices do change on occasion. You may also want to bring small bills since you often are unable to pay with a credit card or get change. 

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