The idea of attending the Overland Expo in Flagstaff Arizona has been on Cari’s and my bucket list for a decade, and in May of 2019 we found ourselves with our daughter exploring the Expo during its tenth anniversary.

Cari and I contacted Rochelle, currently living in Phoenix who is all about overland rigs and restoring her 1970 FJ40, with the idea of a spring visit and trip to the Expo. Below is a blast from the past photo of Thom and his 1975 FJ40 in 1986,  Rochelle at three helping me under the fj and many years later as a Master Sargent in the USAF, who just happened to follow a career path in mechanics 🙂

She met us on Friday night at a US Forestry camp just outside city limits and we had the “guest” bedroom all set up for her in the Chevy van. On Saturday we set off at 8am and found easy parking at the Expo which was held at the county fairgrounds.We spent about six hours wandering the grounds enjoying the dozens of vendor displays and rigs.

Prior to the Expo, Cari and I had been pondering the idea of researching Truck Campers so we made sure we stopped by the TC vendors at the event, with some quality time spent particularly at the Hallmark pop-up truck campers. I will share that we were really fortunate on the timing of the Expo Saturday-Day Pass…Saturday was clear skies and beautiful weather. A stark contrast from the wind on Friday and light snowfall on Sunday!

We spent the rest of the weekend back at camp enjoying the family time and made plans to meet up again the following weekend at an area just outside Pine Arizona, an easy drive south from Phoenix.

On Monday morning Cari and I headed further south to explore the Mogollon Rim. I’d found mention of the area in the iOverlander app and Freecampsites.net site. After a relatively easy 30 minute drive on the gravel forestry road we found a dispersed camp site seveal feet from the ~2000 foot cliffs with amazing views of the valley below. We had parked the vans so close to the edge that Cari asked to move them a bit the next morning, come to find out she didn’t sleep well that night with thoughts of tumbling down the cliff! It was such a wonderful area that we stayed for the full 14 day limit. If you need to be connected to the outside world the Rim Road area is not the place to be as we had no ATT or Verizon coverage. But with views like this most can endure being unplugged for the duration 😉

Part of our plan for the next leg of the adventure was to visit the facilities in the Denver Colorado area of Hallmark and Outfitter soft sided Truck Campers. While we enjoyed the visits, we had several nights of wind that got us rethinking our research into a possible future rig and decided a trip to the Alaskan hard-sided pop up truck campers might be beneficial. We did visit the Alaskan unit at the recent Expo but thought a tour would be nice… so we made the trip to Winlock Washington, via Wyoming, Utah, a visit to home in Pahrump, then on to Idaho and Washington…

We had no definite plans on where to stay between Denver area and the Alaskan factory so we simply stopped each day mid afternoon pretty much wherever we found ourselves.

The first afternoon I spied what looked like an interesting camp possibility and told Cari over the radio I was pulling over and making a U Turn in the Chevy and to follow. A mile back east and we turned into Medicine Bow and stayed a couple nights as we were in no rush to get west. The geology of the area is wonderful and there were about 3 dozen dispersed sites in the area…

We broke camp and headed toward Salt Lake city stopping overnite at a very nice truck stop called “Little America” just east of the Wyoming-Utah border. We stayed a night and then stopped at Offroad Vans in Salt Lake City to check out the 3” lift they were making available for the Promaster. The lift added a nice trail-bling look to the Promaster we saw it installed on, maybe someday we will add it to the rig, though so far the Promaster has exceeded all our expectations in agility and comfort so we don’t feel a real tug in that direction yet.

From Salt Lake we drove south on i15 through Las Vegas and to our property in Pahrump for resupply and also to put the Chevy in storage as we were eager to test out the Promaster on a rest-of-season solo adventure to the Alaskan factory and summer in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

I will continue the adventure in the next post “Alaskan Truck Camper visit and PNW summer”

 

Cheers,

Thom