I was greeted with great big hugs as I found my campmates at OX13. It was a reunion with my moto family – the crew that makes up the Adventure trio (www.adventuretrio.com): a never forgotten cheerleader Sandy, strong Terry, and bright-eyed Jack; a warm welcome by the energetic smiles of Nicole and wisdom of Paul; and so many other familiar faces known and yet to be introduced.
There were exclamations of excitement on both sides, me because it had been a year since I had seen them, and them as congratulations of an accomplished trip. I realized that at a certain point on the road, it was just another day for me but not for those who watched back home. I had become a constant traveler, but to some of them it was the journey of a lifetime. Now, amongst a crowd gathering for a weekend to regale in Overlanding dreams, I settle back into my “We’re not weird here” family.
As we share ideas of a distant future with plans that begin now, similarities resonate. Distances and budgets get bigger every year. Overland Expo has become an annual checkpoint of what we accomplished within 12 months and how much closer we are toward the ultimate goal. We celebrate accomplishments of 10 years on the road with Simon and Lisa (http://2ridetheworld.com/), 20 years of marriage for Sandy and Terry, and two years in the making of a book published of a mototrip past (www.atlasrider.com). And then, of course, the yearly Ural test of might driven by Ms. Carla King (http://www.carlaking.com/)For each of us OX is an exploration of inspiration as well as a push to get two wheels under our feet and see the world.
As I walk around Overland Expo ‘13 looking at the congregation of heavily packed GS1200s parked next to the oversized tents you can fit them in, I question how many of these people travel long distances? Even though I get the short distance award for only driving (in my truck) 90 miles to the event, I recognize my observation is a hugely skewed after riding 16,000 miles to Tierra del Fuego. I pass through RV village in search of my moto family, recalling only one overlanding motorhome on the road in Ecuador, and not ever seeing a trailer pulled. To think of it, I did not see trailers or motorhomes on the road outside of the US until Chile and Argentina. At OX13, my favorite vehicle for the past three expositions is driven by two Argentines on the road for 13 years. I was excited to finally meet Pablo and Anna. (http://viajeros4x4x4.wordpress.com/) On the window of their small Mitsubishi van are scrawled with the words that have been burned into my eyes since I first read them: keep it simple, you’ll go futher. After only 6 months on the road, wishing I had more, I recognize how true that is.
Traveling is not about being sold perfection. I look at the over-packed big bore bikes adorned with accessories tightly fitted next to the idea improving adventure. I will agree, the right equipment makes traveling easier, just like I will admit I packed poorly and did not take certain proper items with me. I will adjust my setup before embarking on another journey. But I still cannot dismiss the idea of minimalism. I appreciated the demo on packing light by Andrew Pain (http://traveling250.com/ )
Through eyes of being on the road, I analyze many of the trinkets being sold and how over engineered so much of it is. You want simplicity. You want things that can be fixed by men with little to no education who are used to basic knowledge of the moving mechanical parts.
I also realize I am judging harshly because I have only been back in the states for two weeks and am in a slight state of reverse culture shock. So many “survived” with so much less in the majority of the countries I visited. I will have to get used to again being surrounded by the consumerist ways that make US go round. So here is where my rant ends and I recognize that OX13 is more than just a place to buy and sell goods, it is a meeting place for those of like minds, trading ideas and stories and giving those who need it a push. Inspiration, which can neither be bought nor sold, is what keeps us traveling farther.