The MOTUS tribe was well represented this year at the recent NW Overland Rally 2014. We reached out to MOTUS Contributor Luis Getter of Lost World Expedition and tribe member Todd Arrigoni and asked them share their own rally experiences with the rest of the tribe. You can read their stories below.
Luis Getter, Lost World Expedition
These days, the definition of overlander (for some of us) seems to have been narrowed down to only include vehicle based travelers. Being a Land Cruiser based overlander, in my humble opinion, anyone traveling by car, truck, motorcycle or bicycle is a overlander. I enjoy the company of fellow overlanders and I take any chance I can get to hang out with fellow travelers. I recently attended the Northwest Overland Rally in Washington State. It was a great opportunity to meet and hang out with an amazing group of fellow overlanders and vendors of overland goods.
The event, spearheaded by Ray Hyland, is well thought out and very well-organized. I do not know how many people or vendors attended overall, but I’d say it was somewhere in the range of 600 to 700 people. However, it wasn’t too many to the point that it wasn’t enjoyable. There was a wide variety of classes for both motorcycle riders and 4×4 enthusiasts, as well as fly fishing lessons and cooking classes.
Every night there was a bonfire gathering hosted by Mountain Khaki’s very entertaining “rock star” Steven Talacki, where a seemingly never-ending raffle of products ranging from t-shirts to full sets of tires were given away to the cheers of all attendees. The sense of camaraderie and joy was palpable.
At the rally there was a diverse representation of many different makes and models of 4×4 vehicles, including a healthy collection of Land Cruisers (which are my personal favorite). The drool worthy AEV Jeep Brute Double Cab in a Filson Limited Edition was even on hand.
My personal favorite, and judging by social media the crowd favorite, was a FJ40 converted to a small homemade camper. The motorcycle crowd was, in my opinion, larger than the 4×4 crowd with a good part of the campsite area covered in a small and well represented “moto city.”
The motorcycles at the event ranged from KTMs to an amazing BMW with a gorgeous Steib sidecar. The motorcycle crowd also seem adept at fun, with afternoon events like the “slowest rider race.” This was a fun “race” in which the slowest rider or the one to touch the ground with his feet last wins. All in all, it was a great time and I highly recommend attendance to anyone in the area next year.
Todd Arrigoni, MOTUS Tribe Member
I’ve been a reader of Overland Journal for a few years and have always lived vicariously through the adventures in their pages. I’ve read the write-ups, seen the pictures, and heard the reports of attendees of the Overland Expo and have doggedly been attempting to figure out a way to get there one of these years. Imagine my joy and surprise when I found out a couple of weeks ago that there was an offshoot of the Overland Expo, the NW Overland Rally, and it was held a short three hours from my house! I quickly hopped on their site and purchased a day pass for Saturday because as much as I would have loved to, work and family obligations kept me from attending the weekend.
I woke up bright and early Saturday morning and hit the road in my ’08 Subaru Forester. A couple hundred miles, a couple of coffee stops, and one wrong turn and I hit the campground in Plain, WA, with time to spare before the first of the classes I had planned to attend. When I pulled into the campground my jaw immediately dropped.
The pages of Overland Journal had come to life directly in front of me. I’d never seen so many Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, FJ Cruisers and the like so lavishly decked out for true overland journeys before. The different rooftop tents, camp kitchens, and trailer tents were very impressive. I had arrived right at breakfast time so the smells that were wafting out of the mobile kitchens were mouth-watering. These guys knew how to do things right.
My camping and backpacking experience through the years has focused almost exclusively on backpacking trips. My friends and I like to drop our cars at trailheads and set out into the wilderness to explore areas that are inaccessible by cars. We like to find the lakes that rarely get fished and enjoy the solitude of a rudimentary campsite 5 miles from any trail. Because my style of camping is so different from the full on setups that the folks at the rally had, I wasn’t accustomed to the luxury in which you could experience the outdoors. I’ve always focused on lightweight and multi-use products – even while attempting to car camp with my wife and children. My idea of a high-quality breakfast has always been a pouch of Mountain House Granola or a Clif bar. My beliefs have now changed. You really CAN camp in luxury; it just takes a little more work.
My first plan was to just come for the day, check things out, and go home. After the drive of the morning however, I decided it might behoove me to stay the night. Luckily, I had the foresight to bring some rudimentary camping gear so I ready to stay over. Of course, you almost always forget something, right? I set up my trusty Big Agnes Lynx Pass 2 and found that my stakes were still in my camping cabinet at home. Normally while camping in the woods this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but the rally was held on a field with no trees or windbreaks and it was WINDY. I quickly filled my tent with most everything that was in my car. Cooler, backpacks, case of water, sleeping bag, everything went in my tent to keep it from flying away and I set off in search of some pegs.
Vendor Alley at the rally was very impressive. Mountain Khakis, Combat Flip Flops, Snow Peak, Expedition Overland, and ARB were just a few of the high quality brands and stores that were in attendance. Snow Peak came through for me in a pinch, and I was able to pick up a few of their excellent Solid Stakes to keep my tent anchored in the windy conditions. These stakes, while not really suited for backpacking because they’re so heavy, are the most robust tent stakes I’ve ever seen or used. They truly are a work of art, and I’ll be able to pass them down to my kids when it’s time for me to put away my tent.
The first presentation I attended was Personal Security and it taught by Jason Ramos of Product Research Gear, Inc.. Jason is a smoke jumper and has extensive experience in travel and trains government entities and private individuals all over the country in situational awareness and personal security issues. His presentation was spot on, focused, and very informative. If you have the chance to meet with Jason and learn from him, I heartily recommend him.
I had a couple of hours to kill before the next class I was going to take so I spent some time just wandering around the vendor booths and the campgrounds. I met Griff, the founder of Combat Flip Flops, and was seriously impressed by both his and the company’s dedication to helping people in war-torn countries succeed and make a living after the conflicts are over. His flip-flops are super comfortable to boot. You can check out the MOTUS review of CFF’s Claymore Bag here. It’s a very solid and well-thought out piece of kit.
For lunch, luckily there were a couple of food trucks on site. One was BBQ and fry bread and the other was a Mexican truck with tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. They were both very tasty, and I was glad to have them there so I didn’t have to break into the Mountain House Teriyaki Chicken I brought with me.
The second class I hit was Fly Fishing 101, hosted by Orvis. Normally when my friends and I go hit the Alpine Lakes I pack a collapsible spinning rod and call that good. Lately though a good friend has taken up fly fishing and will take his fly rod and gear up with us and he seems like he’s having a much better time than me. It seems to be more of an experience to fly fish than spin, and I’ve been intrigued for the past couple years.
The Fly Fishing 101 class put on by Reggie Harris from the Orvis Bellevue store was excellent. I’d never even held a fly rod before Saturday, and by the end of the 2 hour session I was throwing good casts, had learned about the entymology of local insects, learned how to tie a couple new knots (which I really suck at), and got the basics of fly fishing down. I can’t wait to visit some local lakes and rivers and put my new skills to use.
I spent the rest of the day wandering and popping in on other classes such as overland skills, Moto Packing Tips, and Overlanding in the NW. I was impressed by all of those classes as well. Side note: there was a whole other part of the rally – motorcycle touring – that I’m not even touching on because I have absolutely NO experience or skills to offer any sort of opinions. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle in my life, let alone toured on one. I’ll leave that review to someone who knows something about that.
As the day drew to an end and all the motorcyclists came back into camp from their daylong Touratech tours, the grills got fired up and the fun began. One of the highlights was the motorcycle slow races. The goal of the slow race is to be the last one to cross the finish line while not touching the ground with either of your feet or driving over the caution tape. Like I said, I don’t know anything about motorcycles but this looked extremely difficult. When the sun went down, the campfire was lit and the door prizes were awarded. One of the Motus 50 was the emcee, and he did a bang-up job, holding everyone’s attention and keeping people laughing for the extensive prize giveaways.
My biggest takeaway from the rally was the welcoming atmosphere and the friendliness of everyone attending. The gear and trucks were very cool, yes, but I was welcomed into a community where I knew absolutely no one with open arms. Whether it was Griff handing you a cold Rainier the moment you stepped into the tent or someone taking the time to explain their setup in detail, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend a Saturday with. I’ve been to many different types of “shows” before – gun shows, fishing shows, outdoorsman shows, and the like – and there is always an air of superiority among the experienced. However, at the NW Overland Rally, I was welcomed with just me and my little Forester. It was without judgment or ridicule because I didn’t have the latest Super Blaster 5000 or the best fishing pole.
I will definitely be back next year for the entire weekend.
All photos courtesy of Luis Getter / Lost World Expedition
Todd is a security professional, avid outdoorsman, and competitive shooter. If you don’t find him outside then he’s probably at home with his three kids