This time our departure was rather rushed as we could not leave until the new wheels arrived from Germany. (http://www.expeditions-lkw.de/felge-11-75×22-5-8-loch-et-110-kronprinz.html Thank you, Fabian!) They made it by the skin of their teeth and we drove to Baltimore on the Wednesday to pick them up and then dropped them at the tire shop. Fred had them installed with the new tires on the Friday and then it was all systems go for departure on the following Wednesday. Thank you all of the wonderful folk at Alban Tire, Springfield. (https://www.albantire.com)
It always takes far longer to get ready than one thinks it should but we made it out about 11 AM with most of what we planned to take with us! And in the U.S. one can always buy what one forgets! In other parts of the world that is not always the case!
We were heading for Overland Expo West, (https://www.overlandexpo.com/west) so had a limited amount of time to make it to Flagstaff, Arizona which made for long driving days. We could see considerable flooding as we approached the Mississippi River and as the river was cresting further north at that moment, we were glad to get through without problems. Perhaps as result of all of the rain, the spring flowers beside the interstate were lovely, even into the desert.
We took the shortest possible route, Interstate 40, but were frankly shocked by the state of the road surface in several of the states and by the general lack of open rest areas. Oklahoma had not one rest area available, so no wonder all the truck stops advertised “clean toilets”. Even a camper needs a rest area for a lunch stop. Eating lunch in a truck stop parking area is no fun.
That said, there were some pleasant surprises en route. The KOA in Grants, New Mexico is not impressive from the road, but it turns out to be lovely and right in the middle of “El Malpais” (badland). (https://koa.com/campgrounds/grants/) They even have a short, annotated lava/nature walk which gives you a sense of the unique geology of the region.
As it was warm and the sun was shining, we made a flying return to the Painted Desert and stopped at the same overlooks we had visited on our first trip west in 2014. That time it was cold enough to chill the proverbial monkeys! This time it was lovely and the sunlight made the colors so much richer.
But we made it to Flagstaff in time, met up with friends at the KOA and headed to Overland Expo. And the new wheels and tires? Round and wonderful! We could make as much as 60 MPH!
Overland Expo is in a new venue, Fort Tuthill Park, which is right in Flagstaff, a boon for day trippers and those who stay overnight in hotels. The event is now up to 22,000 people, and, as Denise’s brother would say, it was “heaving.”
We showed the 917 at the XPCamper display and were busy dawn to dusk.
We were able to slip away and catch Dan Grec’s wonderful presentation on West Africa. (http://theroadchoseme.com)
Fred was also able to catch a presentation on driving to the Eye of Africa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richat_Structure a cool looking hole that can only be appreciated from space. Go figure! Still, we may put it on our agenda for the coming years. This link gives a good impressionistic view of the event: https://americanadventurist.com/overland-expo-west-2019/
True to the history of Overland EXPO in Flagstaff, it snowed on Monday morning!
We even saw Rob and Nina Blackwell’s old truck in the camping area. The new owner is said to be delighted with it. (http://whiteacorn.com)