By noon Thursday the calm, peaceful grounds became a whirlwind of activity. With over 110 vendors at the event this year, the excellent Overland Expo staff had their work cut out for them. Despite my official badge not making it to the event, registration went as well as can be expected and nearly all the vendors (and many, many attendees) were checked in by early Thursday evening.
Keeping the three year old entertained by looking at trucks and exploring works fairly well, albeit for a limited amount of time. Brenden & daddy spent plenty of time on a couple of mini-adventures into Flagstaff for supplies, and exploring some of the local hiking trails. I’ll also admit that giving the lad a break from the wind with his iPad inside the FJ happened on a few occasions, but he really is a trooper and with 4 countries (and over 40 airplane flights) under his belt, he travels very well.
Friday was supposed to be the big day for us: we expected huge crowds like we saw in 2012, and with so many vendors to chat with we figured it would be a challenge to see everything. We ended up spending quite a bit of our Friday visiting with the team from Expedition Overland at their booth, catching up on their new adventure and letting Brenden hang out with Clay & Rachelle’s oldest boy, Cy.
While there were plenty of people at the event Friday, it seemed a little slower than the previous year. It could be due to the odd way the grounds had to be organized. Since there were so many vendors this year, each of the main ‘rows’ between the roads in the vendor area was split. Instead of a vendor on each side of the row, an additional column was added down the middle to accommodate more vendors. It’s a good plan, and using railroad ties on one end to define the rows was a good step. Unfortunately, most attendees would rather walk on gravel roads than down a bumpy grassy area. As a result, the middle rows didn’t see much traffic at all, and many of the vendors used it as a parking area, further blocking access and restricting traffic. We’ve heard rumors that Overland Expo will be looking for a new facility for the 2014 event, and hopefully they can find something that’s a little larger and more vendor friendly (a little less wind would be OK too).
Late Friday afternoon we decided to do a real-time install of a BajaRack Utility Rack and Rigid LED light bar on Jim’s Tacoma (See June 2013 issue of Tacoma Magazine). After another quick trip to Flagstaff for a T-Mobile hotspot, we moved Jims truck to the BajaRack booth so the install could be tackled first thing in the morning.
Luckily Jeff Downer from Expedition Overland and the guys from BajaRack were on hand to help get both items installed, since I was busy manning the hotspot + cell phone to keep the live stream going. They were more successful than I and as it turns out, UStream from an iPhone in the middle of the mountains is not the best way to stream an installation. A few hiccups with the Rigid light were quickly solved by Valerie Douglas, and Jim’s new light was good to go.
Between running around helping with the Tacoma Mag install and keeping my boy entertained, I was able to gather a few great pics of various Toyota Cruisers of all kinds at the event.
Unfortunately Brenden & I had to start our trek north around noon on Saturday, so we missed the rest of the expo and the final dinner Sunday. Having a cracker-jack Tacoma Mag Managing editor worked out though, he managed to cover more of the event & get a few additional great photos.
Our adventure for the 2013 Overland Expo definitely worked out differently than expected, but it was a great chance for Brenden & I to spend some quality time in the FJ and checking out cool trucks and meeting with other adventurers. We’re looking forward to the 2014 event, hopefully in a new venue that works well for both vendors and attendees.