2015: A Year in Review

I guess technically it’s only a review of half a year, but you get the idea.

Taking the lead as Trail Guide at Rausch Creek ORP earlier this year

I’ll start with a thank you to all of you who have made ECOA worthwhile through your fandom, your support, and your encouragement.  My goal of bringing awareness to a budget-minded approach to the overland adventure lifestyle has turned out to be spot-on.  There are a lot of people giving attention to the high dollar side of the lifestyle.  Lots of articles on titanium sporks, fancy imported 4wd’s, and tricked out expedition rigs.  Those things are all great if you have the money.  Some of us however, are on a budget.

The mission of East Coast Overland Adventures is to:
Educate, encourage, and inspire other adventurers in the overlanding community.

The above mission statement helped frame my vision for what ECOA is, and what it isn’t.  My goal was to never draw attention by putting myself in the spotlight.  I’m not here to build envy in others by showing off all my fancy toys.  Rather what I’m trying to do is encourage people to get out there and undertake their own adventures.

Part of that is education.  I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge over the years that I owe to countless other people who took the time to explain things to me.  The tech articles I write are a way for me to pay it forward and help pass on that knowledge.

The second part is encouragement.  I want to see people out there responsibly enjoying the outdoors.  Sometimes it takes a little nudge to disconnect and unplug from our daily lives, point our 4×4 to the horizon, and just GO.  I want more people to enjoy the vast natural world out there.

Lastly I want to inspire.  Part of that inspiration comes from modeling the overland adventure lifestyle.  When I do trips like the ‘No Highways Tour’ or attend overland events like the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival, Overland Expo, or Vermont Overland Rally and do so with limited gear I want to show people they do can do it using what they have.

What has now become the infamous “Camp Humble”

With 2015 all but wrapped up I will share a few lessons I’ve learned and some things I hope to carry into 2016:

  1. Less planning, more exploring. I tend to over plan things.  I like to do a lot of research before I leave and try to cover all my bases.  That said, some of the most powerful moments from my year were unexpected.  A good outline, or basic idea, for a route is solid.  Know your boundaries, emergency information, and major routes, but beyond that just go and leave a little to chance!
  2. Invest wisely.  Being on a budget doesn’t mean being cheap.  Smart purchases in quality gear that will last are often a much better payoff in the long run than buying cheap gear and replacing it over and over again.  Whether is hiking books, a sleeping bag, or tires, always think about the big picture and not just the bottom line of the receipt.
  3. Network, network, network. The overlanding community, as a subset and intersection of the greater 4wd and outdoor communities, is hands-down one of the greatest groups of people to be a part of.  Sure we all have our quirks and some personalities will clash, but in the end we all share similar passions and when the fire’s lit we can all share a drink together knowing that politics and personalities aside, we’re all part of a pretty cool group of enthusiasts.  Some of the people I’ve met this year have proven to be fast friends and I hope to connect with them again in 2016.
  4. Inspect your gear before and after the trip.  A little less lighthearted than the first few, but a solid lesson learned this year is I need to do a better job of inspecting my gear before and after a trip.  Between the conclusion of the NHT and Overland Expo East the shortcomings of my gear set reared their ugly head.  A leaky tent, a no longer waterproof rain jacket, and some sub-standard boots left me dam and drained while in NC.  This goes well with the 2nd lesson moving ahead as I search for new muck boots.
Lesson: Be Prepared
Corollary: That last gas station you passed… Yeah, you should have stopped.
Looking ahead at 2016 it should be a good year.  I’m already pulling together the outline for the next ‘No Highways Tour.’  Going to ramp things up with a coast-to-coast trip with a layover at Overland Expo West in Arizona where my Jeep will be a featured vehicle for the event.  I’m also slated to be a presenter which will be fun.  After the trip I’ll follow it up with visits to the PA Jeeps Show, Mid-Atlantic Overland Fest, Appalachian Rendezvous, Expo East, and the VOR.  Of course I’ll continue taking photos and writing.  So stay tuned for more articles, books, and photo galleries.
In the meantime, thanks again for following ECOA.  Your readership and support is what makes this worthwhile.  Hopefully you’ve learned something along the way and hopefully you’re itching to get out there yourself!
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year!