This was on our calendar for awhile...and will (hopefully) be a perennially-attended event for Zoverlander teammates.
In 2016, Karineh and I went for the first time; paid our way (opted for the full 'Overland Experience' package) and really took advantage of all the classes that were offered (both of us had a full calendar, all three days) and had a truly spectacular time! We met new people, made new connections and friends and learned some really invaluable things.
For 2017, we had applied (back in December) to be volunteers in order to a) save some money and 2) make deeper and better connections with the staff, instructors and other dedicated overlanders. We organized the trip with a couple that we had met last year at the Turf N Surf event and decided to camp together, and also stayed in touch with the folks we met at 2016 OEW.
Unfortunately we had to miss the whole first day of the event due to work commitments, and didn't arrive on site until about 2am on Friday 5/12 (really, Saturday morning). The organizers of the event were SUPER accomodating and understanding - and scheduled our volunteer shifts for Monday and Tuesday on the 'event teardown' crew so that we could enjoy the limited amount of 'event time' that we were present for (basically, all day Saturday and Sunday).
On Saturday, after catching up on sleep, we made some breakfast and and then moved our camp so that were next to the other couple we had organized our trip from (who drove all the way from San Francisco). After a relaxing morning, the 4 of us ventured into the event grounds and started exploring the vendor area.
While there, we ran into a number of folks who recognized the Zoverlander truck (thanks to Instagram!) which was super encouraging. We also were successful in meeting up with some other folks/groups that we had interacted with online :) If there is anything that keeps our drive going, it is interacting and engaging with other overland enthusiasts! There were so many nuances that it's hard to succinctly describe everything and maintain any sort of brevity with this post; suffice to say, that the Overland Expo is a GREAT time and we highly recommend you find a way to attend one of their future events :)
After completing our volunteer shifts, we set off back to CA. We decided to take a little detour and stop in Chloride Arizona - a teeny, tiny old mining town that was slightly off of our route home, but based on what we read - had a lot of charm and cool things to see. We managed to find some lodging on yelp (after camping 4 nights in a row, a shower and an actual mattress sounded really good) at what can only be described as a quaint, western inn. We were the only customers, and the manager/owner met us in the middle of town on our way towards the motel to make sure we didn't miss the place (even though it was a VERY small town - cell reception was so bad that it wasn't easy to locate our destination with GPS).
The we slept wonderfully! I gave our little adventure poodle a shower (literally had to hold her up to the shower head because it wasn't a tub-type shower, and there was no extendable shower head) which was an experience in and of itself :) The next day we set off to do some more exploring (had learned about petroglyphs and famous outdoor rock paintings that were an attraction here) and drove through some of the backstreets in town, on our way to the dirt road/trail that lead to the murals. We came across some really cutely decorated yard art, and one of the home owners greeted us outside and welcomed us inside; turns out that she converted her house into a bonafide antique shop! 'Shady Lady Antiques' was the name, and Karineh and I both thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent there (which turned into like an hour!).
After seeing what Chloride had to offer, we decided to head to Vegas (which was only about 70 miles away) because I had actually won a bet on the 2017 NCAA March Madness tournament (am a tried and true tarheel, and happened to be in sin city at the outset of March Madness 2017 so bet on UNC to take home the trophy - which of course they did!) and Karineh's parents were actually on a little vacation of their own there. So, we decided to to take some sick days and spend the night :)
On the way to Vegas, we literally drove right by the Hoover Dam - so naturally, stopped to explore this amazingly impressive and historically significant site.
After doing some minor truck maintenance, we headed back to LA and managed to avoid the trafficky times :)
Another epic adventure trip for the record books!