When? May 17th, 2018
Destination: San Diego to South Rim Grand Canyon
Temp: 75 and Sunny – Low 30s at Night
Vehicle Configuration: 2017 Tacoma TRD Off-Road & Tepui Rooftop Tent & SmittyBilt Scout Trailer & RTT
Purpose: Networking at Overland Expo West & Testing the Scout Trailer
Thought of the hour: The Andersons (@andersonoverland) are amazing people
CG description: Dispersed camping right outside the park. Not many people around, gorgeous and FREE
After many days of vigorous preparation, gear purchases and working to get the Scout Trailer ready for the road, it was finally time to begin the long journey to Flagstaff AZ for the @Overland Expo West. Unfortunately Erica couldn’t make this trip, but our good buddy Colin was able to meet and head out with me.
We were lucky enough to get an invite to caravan out and camp with @andersonoverland, so naturally we couldn’t turn it down. We met up with Joey, his wife Robin, daughter Jetta and amazing pup Luna in Barstow. From there we charged it all the way to South Rim Grand Canyon; boy what a drive that was! We figured it would be best to try and make it all the way there before dark, that way we had a full day Friday to explore the park and it’s surrounding areas.
This proved to be the best plan as we got to see so much amazing scenery! Luckily, Joey and fam know all the best spots to camp off-the-grid so they took us to one of their favorite spots just outside the park. It was a quiet, small dispersed camping area right outside the town, just before the park entrance. There were a few other campers around when we arrived, but we headed up an off-road trail up onto a small ridge away from everyone else.
After some careful consideration and exploring, we landed on what we felt was the best option and began setting up camp. Daylight faded away and we quickly set up our camp as we got dinner brewing. My buddy Colin is vegetarian and given he was coming with, I made the commitment to not also not eat meat for the weekend. Being the BIG meat eater I am, I figured this would be no easy feat for me, but I did it. I was able to hold out and I’m happy to report, I did it with ease.
After dinner we relaxed by the fire with the Anderson family, telling stories and really getting to know one another. This was the first time we had ever met, so there was a lot of ground to cover. It was great to learn about their family and all that they had been through and accomplished, together! We came to find out that Joey is a firefighter and is able to camp often with their family given his work situation. Him and his wife are raising their daughter Jetta out in nature for the most part; they homeschool her which I’m certain makes it easier to travel. What a cool way to raise a child and live an adventurous life. It really puts everything into perspective and makes me realize how important family and friends are.
After sometime, we decided to head to bed given the long day of travel. This was by far the coldest night I have experienced in our RTT. It got down into the low 30’s and man oh man, it was chilly. Although quite cold, it was nothing some added layers and serious burrowing in my sleeping bag couldn’t fix.
We woke up a bit late Friday morning, thanks to the late evening before. Colin made us some awesome veggie style bagel sandwiches for breakfast and then we hit the road to explore. As we entered the park eager to see the sites and really find out what the Grand Canyon was all about, I began to think.
I hadn’t been to the park since being a young boy and Colin since he was 16 years old, so it was a thrilling thought to know we’ll be in its presence shortly. Pictures really just don’t do it justice.
The Andersons took us to a couple look out points, one where we sat and made lunch and overlooked the Grand Canyon. Boy what a place to have a sandwich.
Afterwards, we drove towards the watchtower to check that out that rad place where you can walk up spiral stairs and get a better view down into the canyon. The walls are filled with old Indian artwork, paintings, etc.
We then headed into town to grab some additional supplies and find Colin some warmer sweats for the sure to be cold night ahead. Unfortunately we had no luck with the sweats, so thank goodness it was much warmer that night.
We headed back to the campsite for a few to relax, re-group and make our next plan. Joey suggested we order some take out pizza and head back to one of the look out points to watch the sunset with our fancy fare. This was one of the best ideas of the trip! There’s nothing like a nice slice of fresh pie while watching the sunset above the world’s biggest ditch. We got some really great photos and had a grand time watching the sun fade away into nothingness.
Back at the campsite, we made another fire and reminisced on the day’s events. Colin and I enjoyed some ice cream all thanks to the @smittybilt’s arctic fridge/freezer that I had in the trailer. After dessert, we hit the sack so that we could get some good rest before heading to Flagstaff the next morning for the expo. It was like Christmas that night wondering what the next day would hold. The anticipation of all the rigs, the big brands and all the amazing people that are all avid Overlanding enthusiasts was almost unbearable.
After a much better sleep, we got up at a decent hour to pack and get ready for the short journey from South Rim to Flagstaff for Overland Expo West. For me, the thrill of the unknown, the allure of this new world that I was about to expose myself to was more than enough motivation to get up and get going.
I couldn’t wait to see what it was all about and if reality would live up to my expectations of the show. We re-fueled the rigs and grabbed a quick bite in town before hitting the road. It took us about an hour and a half to make our way over to Flagstaff, and oh man what a gorgeous drive we had. It started off with a little desert scenery, but quickly evolved into gorgeous trees with mountains in the background as we climbed elevation. I think the highest point was just about 8,000 feet or so before we headed back down a bit into Flagstaff. We decided that it would be best to find a spot to camp and drop the trailers off before heading to the Expo. This proved to be a great plan (Thanks @andersonoverland).
We scored an epic dispersed camping spot only a few miles from the event entrance. It took a little looking and exploring, but we were able to snag a rad little spot all by ourselves. Just nature, beautiful trees and gorgeous landscape surrounded us as we set up camp and prepped the trailers to leave behind while we headed to the Expo.
Upon entering, my expectations had already been met and then some. I was shocked at the size of the event, how many people and brands were there as well as how many booths filled the park. It was great to hear people talking about how much bigger this year was compared to last, which served as some validation for me and the new brand.
After we grabbed lunch, we canvassed the event checking out all the epic rigs, amazing Overlanding products and trying to meet as many people as possible. I was definitely a bit overwhelmed given the crowds. We traveled from booth to booth, snapping photos, talking to people and learning about all the different options for trailers, RTT’s and Overlanding products. I went in hoping to have some new vehicles and trailers picked out for our next purchases, but unfortunately left even more confused given the endless amounts of options.
At least I got to see them in person and hopefully that will help me narrow down the choices when it comes time to increase our fleet size. The main goal for me was just to see what the Expo was all about, see who the main players were, meet and connect with them for later down the road. After accomplishing these things, Colin and I headed back to camp and relaxed for a bit, while The Anderson Crew were doing their thing meeting and talking with the people they came to see. We got back to our camp just in time to snap some photos, cook some grub and relax a bit before the sun went down. Joey and the fam pulled in just before the sun finally set and we traded stories from the day’s events. We cleared out the fire area, built up the pit and made a small fire to chill by for the night. As we reminisced, I reflected on the awesome, short journey we had just embarked on and all the awesome people we had just met, as the unfortunate reality set in that it was time to go home in the morning.
We tackled another early morning and packed up given the long drive ahead of us. After packing up and saying our goodbyes to the Andersons, we headed out.
As we were pulling out of camp, a feeling of genuine happiness and accomplishment came over me. The places we experienced and the people we got to know made for an incredible memory. Sometimes words fail when it comes to articulating what it’s like to camp and explore. You just have to try it out.
We definitely found some freedom on this trip and can’t wait until the next!
Happy camping friends, talk to you soon.