Another hard choice

I often describe myself as a, “philosopher poet with an insatiable case of wanderlust” (at least I do on facebook).  It’s succinct and sums me up nicely.  I often get asked what exactly I mean by that.  Well, the wanderlust should be pretty evident.  I love to travel.  I’m not content sitting idle for long.  It may not always show, but internally I’m always yearning for some far off horizon.  The poet part should also be rather evident given my love of writing.  I may not write in meter and rhyme, which most people recognize as poetry, but I like to think there is a certain eloquence to my writing that goes above and beyond basic prose.  I also consider my photography a form of poetry.  Although I’m more apt to compare it to painting with light than writing with it.  The philosopher part usually throws people.  Most don’t know by I have two college degrees at the bachelor level.  One is in philosophy the other in religious studies.  I have a complex mind and it often gets away from me.  As such, the wanderlust is as much a physical ailment as it is an existential one.  However, I didn’t start this rambling paragraph to talk about myself.  Rather I wanted to talk about Tantalus.

“Tantalus in Tartarus” by L. Szanto

Tantalus is a Greek myth about one of the many sons of the god Zeus.  As punishment for a rather gruesome act, which I won’t go into, he was banished to Tartarus (their underworld or “hell”).  His punishment for all of eternity was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree.  Doesn’t sound so bad, right?  Well, here’s the kicker.  If he was thirsty and bent down to drink the water it would recede out of reach.  If he was hungry and stretched up for the fruit it would remain out of reach and the water would rise high enough to drown him.  It is from this myth that we get the modern adjective tantalizing.  As defined, it means, “having or exhibiting something that provokes or arouses expectation, interest, or desire, especially that which remains unobtainable or beyond one’s reach.”  What does the myth of Tantalus and some linguistics have to do with me and overlanding?  I guess you’ll have to read on to find out…

Hard Decisions

Easter Jeep Safari has been on my bucket list for as long as I’ve been into Jeeps.  Last year was the closest I got.  However, like Tantalus, it would remain just out of reach despite my best efforts.  At the time I swore come hell or high water (seeing the parallels yet) next year would be the year I finally made it to EJS.  Well, a year has come and and gone and EJS is just over the horizon.  However, like Tantalus, I fear it will elude my grasp yet again.

Stopped at a Kansas rest plaza on I-70 W in 2016
Westbound and down.
Moab or Bust
I shouldn’t have said that…

On the surface things at ECOA have been going great.  Growth is up, the No Highways Tour books are selling.  I just launched the ECOA & NHT online store (more on that soon).  I even picked up a few new corporate partners for the 2017 season.  The LJ is running well (despite a persistent check engine light) and the trailer is about to get overhauled and prepped for this year’s trips and events.  So, why can’t I make it Moab for Easter Jeep Safari?

It’s not that I can’t.  I’m pretty sure if I forced myself to go I could make it.  Sadly trips like this, like love (and a good poop) shouldn’t have to be forced.  When I set my sights west this time last year I had obligations with JKS.  Without going into too many details, one of the conditions of my deal with them was making an appearance at EJS on their company trail ride.  There were plans for photos and a video.  Sadly the late season blizzard that hit Denver, combined with a few mechanical issues on the LJ, hindered me from getting over the Rocky Mountains and trapped me in Denver for three days.  Thankfully I had a place to crash – a warm and dry place.  Sadly the JKS ride came and went without me.  I was able to salvage the deal with them as best I can (again without going into too many details)  but by the time the roads cleared I opted to tuck-tail and return home defeated.

This is what stopped me last year from making to EJS.
30″ of slow in just a few ours in Denver.

Do I fear a repeat if I were to head west again for EJS in a few weeks?  Honestly, no.  It’s not fear that is holding me back.  Sure last year was a harsh lesson.  However, Easter is later this year and the likelihood for a repeat freak blizzard is low.  I’m also a little smarter this time around and would leave earlier and factor in some more flex time just in case.  The LJ is also running better so I’m not too worried about the mechanical stuff.  It’s something else.  Responsibility and opportunity.

The name of this blog and the brand identity that I’ve built around myself is East Coast Overland Adventures.  I’ll emphasis, EAST COAST.  Not the mid-west.  Not the Rocky Mountains.  Not Moab.  As cool as those places are my home is here.  I also think more attention needs to be brought to overlanding opportunities here.  If I were to run to Moab again I’d be neglecting an opportunity.  Actually, a few opportunities.  Therefore, it is my responsibility to reassess some things.

I eventually made it to Moab in 2016.
I checked off a “Bucket List” trail in a “Bucket List” location.
I may not make it out for EJS this year, but I’ll be back to Moab for sure.

Opportunity Knocks

Not one, not two, but three opportunities have knocked on my door in the last few weeks.  One revolves around planning and co-hosting an event.  One revolves around a potential magazine article. The last is an opportunity to do a little community service and give back to the offroad community.  You’ll have to pardon my vagueness but that’s about as much detail as I can share at this point.  As things move forward I’m sure you’ll see bits and pieces revealed on social media and I’m sure when the time comes there will be a detailed blog post about what’s going on.

What does this mean for Overland Expo West and the first volume of the 2017 No Highways Tour?  Luckily nothing.  Both of those things will occur as planned.  I’m already committed to teach at expo and that’s too good an opportunity to pass up.  It’s also an opportunity to uphold my mission to, “educate, encourage, and inspire” – well, mostly the educate part at least.  Also, the NHT trip following the Old Spanish Trail is still going to be an epic trip.  Now, keeping my above rant about identity and responsibility in mind, and my commitment to the east coast, that’s why this year I’m doing two books.  It also alleviates the burning desire to go to EJS knowing that a month later I’ll be on Moab anyway.  Looking at my schedule it did seem silly to bend-over backward to make a round-trip to EJS in April only to turn around a few weeks later to head west again for expo and the Old Spanish Trial.

Still the plan for the month of May.
Start off with an appearance at Overland Expo West in Flagstaff…
… finish off the month with a three week trip along the Old Spanish Trail.

Anyway, these three opportunities here on the east coast have rekindled my focus on this area.  I think you will all be pleased with things as they develop (again, sorry for the vagueness) and won’t miss me reporting on the comings and goings of a bunch of Jeeps in Moab.  Oh, and just so everyone’s aware, I’m not shirking any responsibilities by skipping out on EJS.  Sure it was on my schedule of events, but if you read the fine print it does say, “Schedule subject to change.”  This is also a case of trading one event for three and I think the odds come out in my favor in the long run.

ECOA/NHT Online Store

Hopefully by now you’re well aware of the new online store.  I am now offering up patches, stickers, and books for sale on my own site.  Inventory is a bit low but as time goes on I’ll make sure to keep it stocked and flesh things out as best I can.  In the meantime those of you who want to pick up some ECOA and NHT swag can do so.

A look at the online storefront for ECOA and the NHT
It can be found at: store.eastcoastoverlandadventures.com

The store also provides me an opportunity to better control the ECOA Patron Support Team.  As I’ve mentioned, in the past I’ve used crowdfunding to pre-sell the NHT books as a way to “prime the pump” and get a little extra capital.  I can now only manage my patrons monthly through Patreon but I can also collect one-time payments through the store.  I like giving you guys options.

Want one of these?
Want other cool patron-exclusive stuff like hardcover copies of the NHT books?
Join the 2017 Patron Support Team:
patreon.com/ecoa
store.eastcoastoverlandadventures.com Patron Packages

What’s in the works

Here are a few things I have in the works in terms of projects and potential blog articles:

  • DIY Storage – I look at my 2015/2016 box as well as the new rack I’m working on
  • Trip planning – Digital file management using Google Earth and mobile apps
  • Camp Stoves – Basics of different types as well as a review of my new MSR Windburner
  • Camp Stoves Maintenance – A step-by-step rebuild of my MSR Dragonfly
  • Trailer Overhaul – Prepping the trailer for this season as well as new bed platform/organizer
Those five articles (as well as a few other drafts I have in process) will most likely get me through to the start of the first 2017 NHT trip.  Last year I didn’t post anything to the blog while I was on the trip.  I just focused on social media stuff.  I might prep a few articles to post in May while I’m out-and-about.  I might also just post weekly updates from the road.  If y’all have any requests feel free to ask.

P.S.

If you’re going to be at Overland Expo, and you want anything from the online store, let me know and I’ll set stuff aside for you and will hand-deliver it.  Once I find a way to add that as an option in the store I’ll announce it in social media, but in the meantime you can always email me an order and I can process the payment manually through PayPal or you can pay in person.

P.P.S.

This is the kind of shit that keeps me up at night:

Rough low idle.
Powerloss.
TPS low-voltage code.
So I replace the TPS and the coil-pack…

STILL THROWING THE DAMN TPS CODE!!!

Oh well.  I’ll figure it out eventually.