Right on the heels of my hotly anticipated (?), and amazingly tardy, epic work Overland Expo 2016, I give you my notes from short notes from OE 2017.
During the 2016 trip I took notes, by day, of the places we stayed and things we did. Towards the end of the trip it was wearing thin which is partially why I didn’t write anything about it until a short while ago. With the 2017 journey I elected to not take those notes with the hope that the nightly homework wouldn’t be as oppressive.
Another difference between the 2016 and 2017 trip was that we left the motorcycle home. This was a van only trip. We’d extensively modified the van by removing the winch and ramp, and adding a bed frame. OK, extensively may not be the most accurate word, but my hope with the bed frame was that it would be transformative to my sleep. Enough with the big words 🙂
A final difference is that I needed to be back quickly after the event for a work commitment. That looming deadline did color the trip a bit, and since I work in technology also fed into my desire to not keep notes in one of our devices like I had in 2016.
Day 1: Departed Portland and ended our first day at a camp site in southern Oregon just off the highway. This site was amazing. We will use that as a launching point for other camping trips in the future. Was the bed frame transformative to my sleeping experience? No, but better.
Day 2: Stopped at a campsite at Alkali Lake State Wildlife Management Area which promised birds aplenty. There were some, but clearly we were not there at the right season.
Day 3: Drove through Las Vegas and to Davis Camp just outside of Laughlin, Arizona. The night was beautiful and we had a spot right on the Colorado river. We had the van backed in and fell asleep with the rear doors ajar. It was magical. Some might even say transformative.
Day 4: On the way to Davis Camp, the van had picked up a shudder. It had been late in the day, and we opted to deal with it the next day. Well, the next day had arrived and it was time to pay. We found a nearby Ford dealer, fearing the worst with a transmission problem. We arrived at Anderson Ford in Bullhead City with no appointment. After hearing our story, they bumped us up the list to get us out the door quickly. They quite literally saved the trip for us. The problem turned out to be the steel belt on a rear tire had become separated inside. We were probably miles away from a complete blowout which would have sent us careening off the road in the middle of nowhere. I know how to change tires, I’ve done this before on trips, but the thought of a blow out at 80-ish MPH in a top heavy vehicle was sobering. After spending a good part of the morning at the Ford shop, we hot footed it to the Homolovi State Park in Arizona.
Day 5: After waking up, we wandered the park a bit. The Native Americans of Pueblo fame were connected to this area. There are active archeological activities in this area and you can visit some sites which have been excavated. Leaving there, we stopped at Meteor Crater National Landmark. Like the Grand Canyon from the prior year, you don’t expect it to be as large as it is. Simply amazing. From there we hot footed it to Flagstaff and our pre-OE hotel.
Day 6-8: Spent at OE. Lots of more learning, and refreshingly no flying poop. The venue had changed to Fort Tuthill Recreation Area with a proper campsite. However, showers were at the far side of the park. Some thing to fix for next year. Instead of spending Sunday night at the venue, we bailed and drove up to Page for much needed showers and time in a hot tub.
Day 9: Departed Page and did a cannonball run up to Salt Lake City proper. We walked to the Temple Square, saw the Tabernacle, and went through the informational buildings regarding the works of the Mormon faith.
Day 10: Salt Lake City to a Best Western in Caldwell, Idaho. As we were retiring after dinner, we heard the sweet song of a budgerigar coming from the office area. They have their own hotel parakeet!
Day 11: Cannonball run back to Portland to unpack, decompress, and begin catching up with work — remember that I had that work commitment in three days.
Would I go to OE again? A resounding yes due to the lack of flying poop. There were some similarities to the prior year, but enough differences to make it worth it. Also, the time on the road helps to reset. I’d like to find a way to bring the motorcycle and the van, perhaps via a trailer, so that I could enjoy some of the amazing roads on the bike, but still be able to make the daily mileage the van provides.