Overland Expo 2015
It's been a wild couple of weeks. 5 days of Overland Expo followed by a 3 day weekend of training others as well as myself. Here we go! The night I arrived at Mormon Lake it was "fairly" dry. The track was being worked on and added to. No one was in camp yet, other than Expo staff, but everything was looking nice. Water trucks were on hand to take care of the #1 complaint from visitors, dust. I putted around on my dirt bike to check everything out. Some of the staff had been there for more than a week at this point setting things up. There is no setup/teardown team. The instructors of your cooking, winching, recovery etc class are the same ones who setup and take down much of the event. After a fun evening of catching up with my "best friends for 2 weekends a year" I woke up and started working. We flagged the driving course lanes, moved a few tons of sand for my tire class, set up some rigging examples and put up countless signs to direct folks to the different areas of the event. We needed to spread out the sand... What should we use. A rake or shovel would take all day. Let's start with our bumpers and axles.
I never said the work was all, work. We needed something with a lower axle tube. Graham's 110 will work.
We eventually borrowed a small loader to spread it out. We wanted to make it nice and smooth so the different types of tread, tire PSI's and vehicles could make an apples to apples comparison on the sand. About that time it started to rain. No biggie, at least that would help with the dust. Ken was dead set on raising the Camel Trophy flag so he stayed up there until it was secure.
At this point the weather was still on and off. It would stop raining and get nice and blue again. This is a shot of the clunker Discovery I bought for the swamped and rollover vehicle classes next to Ken's Camel Trophy truck.
By Thursday evening it was getting muddy, but nothing a normal 4x4 couldn't handle.
I was very honored to receive this beautiful knife from the creators of OVEX for my years of service. A beautiful piece of craftsmanship.
Friday brought with it... more rain... and snow. At this point most of the grounds were pretty soupy. People were walking around in rain jackets laughing and enjoying the weather. It did keep most peoples camera's, including mine, put away. Here is the hard top Defender 110. These are 1990 military 110's. Mechanical NA diesel. Slow as heck, but they are great little trucks. This ones for sale in case you're wondering.
I lucked out in that my first class was under a nice big awning at the BFG semi. It wasn't sponsored by BFG, but I happily accepted their offer to bring the class out from the weather and under their awning. I heard that some people had failed to show at the event or had left for hotels in Flagstaff already, but it was clear that anyone who made the choice to stay and go to class brought a good attitude. The rest were asking for refunds or were checking into warm hotels. Wusses. :-)
We were shivering, but smiling while talking about tires. Once that class was over I got out and did a "little" picture taking while it was somewhat dry. A Brazilian Jeep. "Troller."
They've been around.
In no way necessary or practical, but we all want it just the same. ;-)
There are big differences in the offroad capabilities of each Offroad RV offered. We realized after talking with some attendees that these differences aren't readily apparent to everyone. Some of these trucks are good for a dirt road or two and others can really hit most of your favorite trails in Moab and Colorado. Those are two very different types of offroading, but I could see myself enjoying either one if I could carry some mountain bikes and a dirt bike!!
Brief bits of sun with snow still on the mountains in the background.
This dog was not messing around and was ready to float away, should the water level reach that point.
I love the scope of trucks. Everything from new to old and from production line to one-offs.
Some things, like this suspension trailer, look neat, but would be hellacious to turn around on a tight trail!
Never before have vendors thought to choose their booth location based on elevation, but I think that next year people will fight over the areas that were just a couple inches higher than others. No flood.
It's always fun to see old race trucks. I didn't have time to check out if this one was a legit race truck or a repop. It looked way to nice for a truck that's seen any miles so at the very least it was redone. I wish they'd leave race cars as they are post race.
Here is a different truck, but similar era Rod Hall Mopar.
Being someone that does a lot of different outdoor activities I always like it when there is some crossover from sports I love.
The Camel Trophy area. It was a bit of a mess, but you can see the different rigging setups. In the back is a 6 to 1 pulley setup so almost anyone could life the heavy transfer case attached to it.
The grand stands were a great place to kill a couple hours and watch countless close calls with the bikes falling over. All in all, everyone really held it together. It's also fun to see the pro's launch the 500lb behemoth adventure bikes a few feet off the ground.
Almost time to finish the bridge. This was an attendee event meaning that anyone from day pass holders to full Overland Experience folks could come over and help.
This is another class that I would HIGHLY recommend. Synthetic Winch Line splicing. It's fairly easy, but it's in no way intuitive if you've never done it. Andy, former Camel Trophy Member and current logger/military forces driving instructor, walks everyone through the process with such patience that anyone can get it done no matter your experience level.
It's "drying out", but not fast enough. Even the BFG Jeeps have stopped running to avoid chewing up the short offroad course we set up for them. It doesn't help that in the deeper dips the water is over a foot deep. (It's not the depth, but the muck that the old lake silty dirt is turning into) The Land Rover's on street tires hadn't been running since Friday. The instructors are good guys and top notch which meant they were going crazy just standing around. Especially when they knew a decent set of tires could get them running again. Time to finish up the bridge.
We decided to make this bridge beefy so we drove a Mitsubishi Fuso over it. I took it over the bridge as well and there is something disconcerting about driving a cab over vehicle where you can look 15 feet down and see water beneath you. Creaking logs doesn't help either.
Duncan eases the "borrowed" truck across the bridge.
Poor cell phone photo, but you get the idea.
All in all the weekend was too overwhelming to type out as usual. There were some people charging to tow others out, but mostly it was neighbors helping neighbors. The NAU 4x4 club came out from Flagstaff and towed out people for practice. AZ 4x4 recovery was out to help get the BFG Semi unstuck and I watched some aluminum sand mats along with some maxtrax actually work and not disintegrate under the weight of a moving semi. I got my entire truck's interior covered in mud, but there were not big issues so that's a plus. It was a blur of a week and weekend. Then it was time to rush home on Monday, catch up on work via some LONG days, re-prep the truck and head out for some NPTC training on Friday.