The team took off for the Overland Expo West with a full event agenda and an even longer list of photos, videos, and meetups to capture.
Nearing the southeast corner of Oregon on the first day, they set up camp at the Alvord Desert. This dry lakebed was plush with washboard roads, dust, and constantly windy conditions. Even though they were able to use the onboard air compressors, the fine dust particles worked their way into surprising nooks and crevasses. All things considered, the beautiful desert landscape was an incredible backdrop to photograph Launch Pad and Lunarnova at sunset with an incandescent starry evening to follow.
Due to turbulent wind conditions the team spent the day scouting new locations, trying to outrun spontaneous dust storms. The flat lakebed made for a great space to hit the pedal and see how fast these vans can hustle. Like a scene from Mad Max, a group of homemade roadsters and hot roads built for high-speed mobbing around the desert spread into a V-formation behind our vans. It was the perfect sendoff to leave Oregon and enter Nevada.
Wanting to capture engaging footage without having specific locations in mind, the team utilized iOverlander to help decide their next coordinates. They enjoyed not having a rigid plan or itinerary, allowing them to go with the flow and adapt to changes on the road, which is something you can do with a van when not worrying about campsites, hotels, etc. The uncertainty led to spontaneous adventures and unplanned stops turned out better than expected. Outside of Unionville, Nevada the vans pulled into their spot as the sun was setting. Thanks to exterior lights, they were able to settle in smoothly but didn’t know what the site was like until morning. Waking up to an expansive lakebed in-front with a peaking mountain range in the distance and rain clouds starting to form wasn’t a bad way to start the day. Fully rested, the team headed further south toward the Alabama Hills, California to meet Command Post.
There was a feeling of discouragement the first night at Alabama Hills due to smoky skies. It was hard to enjoy the environment due to air quality, let alone photograph our vans with any justice. Van life is about accepting what’s out of your control, rolling with the changes, and adaptability. They broke for lunch (a metaphorical breather) and accepted the fact we couldn’t avoid what was overhead and all around. After a few more stops at secluded locations for photographs, clearing skies were visible in the horizon.
They convoyed with Command Post to Joshua Tree where Rip Tide and Muléke would rendezvous with the group. If you’ve been to Joshua Tree during the summer you know how busy their first come, first served camping can be. The team braved the totally packed and cramped sites, creeping along slowly so as not to miss an opening or exiting vehicle. Finally, on the very last road two spots were open. Parked with precision, Command Post and Launch Pad shared a spot, while Lunarnova, Rip Tide, and Muléke occupied the second. Our sites received inquisitive looks, curious questions from neighbors, and lots of approving head nods. When the team wasn’t discussing van life, dream modifications, and upcoming destinations, it was nice to chat with people who weren’t familiar with our work. The look of surprise the crew received when detailing just how custom the vans are is always rewarding.
Rolling five vans deep into Flagstaff, Arizona for the Overland Expo West was an incredible feeling. It was the culmination of so many years of hard work, long hours, and ongoing improvement to their vans. It was a clear testament to the van community just how far the team will go for them. Never had Outside Van been able to show up with such a presence and can’t wait to do it again.
At the expo, Muléke was stationed at the Fox Factory booth. It was a proud moment to see this beautiful build positioned in such a prime location. The four other vans were setup in the Outside Van booth. Launch Pad was placed right up from with its hammock on full display. Happily, constant comments and questions ensued. For being an overlanding event, so much attention was given to the vans. As the community transitions from rooftop or truck camp set ups, over 30,000 people were able to get inside the vans, to touch and manipulate, to stretch out and walk around, to see how van life can be a reality. Seeing the consistent smiles and hearing the positive comments was well worth the long hours and thousands of miles traveled.
The road to Overland Expo West was adventurous, challenging, plus a whole lot of fun. It was a great learning experience, and the team was proud to represent Outside Van along the way.