(Part 1 of 2)
As a child, I grew up camping and traveling with my family all over the Southeast. We spent most of our time in and around the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Spending time between my grandparent's cabin (a hotel/cabin business owned by family friends in Gatlinburg) and the various campgrounds in Eastern Tennessee/Western North Carolina. Looking back now, I really can't pick a favorite spot or adventure, but I will say that those summers were some of the best times of my life. I was also in Boy Scouts growing up, so those trips only added to my desire for adventure and thirst for knowledge of all things outdoors. As often happens in this fast paced world we live in all of that went by the wayside once marriage, kids and a career happened. The priorities of "adulting" came into my life and I just didn't have time to go camping anymore. I now only have the memories of those times stored away in the computer upstairs. The pictures and home movies that were taken over the years have, sadly, gone missing due to moves and deaths in the family. Its all good though, because as long as that computer between my ears keeps humming along, the joy and and passion will live on.
Fast forward to late 2018, I was scanning the Overland Bound forums, reminiscing about the days when I could just disappear and go camping. I suddenly decided that I was ready to try and recapture some of the past since free time and extra funds were becoming more common now that our kids were grown. As far as I was concerned, this seemed to be a GREAT idea and an awesome way for Carrie and I to re-connect now that we were empty nesters. Besides, “overlanding” as it was now called seemed to have exploded and looked like a blast! Funny thing was, I “forgot” to talk to her about it before the planning started. Her childhood consisted more of summer sports and trips to the beach, so she had no experiences to fall back on like I did. Needless to say, the look I got when I told her what I wanted to do said it all, “Are you out of your MIND???”
Planning For Expo
For the remainder of 2018 and the first part of 2019, I slowly started gathering the basic supplies I felt we’d need. We already had the vehicle as we own a 2011 4Runner that was PERFECT for the job out of the box. I also researched the hobby as it was NOW, poured over forums and made lists of interesting places I’d never been before. I then came up with an, admittedly, over ambitious itinerary for an extended Spring 2019 trip out west. The plan was to begin with Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona and end in the Moab, Utah area about three weeks later. The highlight (for me anyway) being the White Rim Trail with the North and South rims of the Grand Canyon sandwiched in between. For her part, Carrie was a good sport about it and as the time came to pack and head out, she began to get a little more excited about the prospect of new experiences. Me? I just wanted to GO! Damn the torpedo's and full speed ahead!
AND we're OFF!
The end of April 2019 finally rolls around and we’re packed and rolling west! After a marathon drive from South Louisiana to Flagstaff Arizona, we make it to Expo. We claim our spot and get the ground tent off of the roof for a quick set up and nap. This is where things take a turn and should have clued me in to the fact that my camping skills were NOT what they once were! Me, in my “infinite” wisdom, didn’t think about MAYBE setting the tent up at home to see what was what before we left. I’ve set up plenty of tents in the past, so easy peasy, right? NOT! What I found, after TWO hours of work and lots of choice words was that I should of read the instructions before leaving home. This was reinforced by plenty of good-natured ribbing from the peanut gallery, but being my father’s son, I didn’t. Oh well!
Meeting New Friends
Anyway, we finally got the tent set up, took a nap and then set out to get the lay of the land. We also met up with Brent for the first time in person along with SO many other OB members that I'd only ever talked with via the online forums. We got to know each other and settled into what would become a very enjoyable, but memorable weekend.
As a bit of background, Brent and I first "met" on the Overland Bound forums after a conversation began about getting the OB ham radio net started. The forum discussion soon turned into texts and phone calls that would eventually end up starting the Overland Bound Friday Night Echo-link Net and boy did it ever take off! Unfortunately though, life got in the way again when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and my day job began creeping into the time I could set aside for my ham radio hobby, so my net control duties had to be put on the back burner. I DO intend to get back to that net "someday", so stay tuned...
While wandering around at Expo, we drooled over some of the off-road trailers that were on offer, but me being me said, “Nah! The 4Runner and the tent is all we’ll EVER need!” Hindsight being 20/20, one of those trailers would’ve come in handy in the coming days. We also spent an extra day with Brent and Roberto in the Sedona area after Expo before parting ways with plans to get together again ASAP.
Let The Fun Begin
So on a slightly damp Tuesday morning, we said our goodbyes and headed toward the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for the first real stop on the to-do list. I will say that I DID actually plan for the weather before we left, so at least we had the correct clothing AND enough of it, because we were going to need it…
Stay tuned for the rest of the story where Shane and Carrie had their tent fly away while in it sleeping..............part 2 of 2 will be out in the coming weeks.
Shane & Carrie Tindall