Every now and then Mother Nature throws you a curve ball, but on rare occasions, she throws a nasty knuckle ball and you just have make the best of it. This was the case with this year’s Overland Expo East at the Oscar Reeb Ranch. We watched the shifting forecast for days and when it was time to finally pack the only real options was to throw in ALL YOUR GEAR…rainwear, mud gear, and cold weather gear all went into the truck. Having completed my final walk through I was headed into the garage and happen to catch a glimpse of my Muck Boots over in the corner of the garage and thought, “May as well throw those in too.” Little did I know that this decision will be the best one I’d make for the whole weekend!
We arrived at a pristine, grassy field around lunch time on Thursday ahead of the vendor check in rush, another fortunate decision. We quickly set up our booth and organized our space as we’ve had plenty of practice this year and it comes second nature. Soon more trucks began to pour into the vendor area and things began to get sporty. The ground was soft from weeks of consistent rain and now it was raining again and trucks were getting stuck……everywhere. Big trucks, little trucks, 2wd trucks, 4x4 trucks, and most of all, ANY truck pulling a trailer. Even the huge Earth Roamer sank to its axels. We cleared our booth of all personal vehicles and parked in the vendor overflow, another good decision. Having done all the heavy lifting, we watched the stuck-truck hijinks and helped where we could. We turned in early as MORE rain set in and drove us into our shelters for the night.
Friday morning, we woke to 6” of water IN our booth. I began to dig trenches above our booth to divert the water; by the end of the day we had a series of trenches that rivaled the Roman aqua ducts and our booth wasn’t under water….just ankle deep in mud, as was the entire venue by this point. By midday Friday the entire venue was an absolute mud bog. The kind of mud that sucks off shoes and boots (remember those Muck boots) and many were not prepared for these conditions but most tried to make the best of it a tough situation. It rained off and on most of the day and finally subsided Friday evening, but Mother Nature wasn’t done just yet…the temp quickly began to drop.
Saturday morning added freezing temps to the existing mud bogs; but, spirits were not dampened and the show quickly got underway and booth traffic began to pick up. People moving to stay warm no doubt. Our booth was busy all day and we got to see old friends and meet new ones as the day progressed. This show was interesting in that we got to spend more time with people and just hang out a little more than normal which is always appreciated. As Saturday ended the rain was completely gone but the impact from the torrential downpour lingered and our minds began to think about an exit strategy. We all knew that this could be extremely problematic given all the stuck vehicles and bumper car shenanigans we’d witnessed all weekend. We had a front row seat to a HUGE parking/camping lot across from us and we heard the unmistakable sound of cars crashing into one another often over throughout the weekend.
Sunday morning broke early and very COLD! Booth traffic was steady and we made our final rounds to say bye to friends. The Overland Expo admin had been dealt a very difficult hand to contend with and fortunately they had come up with a plan to help vendors make a safe and efficient exit. They helped up cart our gear to our waiting vehicles in the overflow parking area to minimize the traffic in the vendor area and hopeful forego more stuck trucks. The bit D10 bulldozer was busy pulling out the larger vehicles and rigs and they did NOT want to add to the that number.
To be blunt, this show was epic and challenging. There were some logistical challenges for all that attended on the vendor and attendee side. The overall vibe was very positive; even though, many were just in survival mode early on. Everyone braved the rain, mud, and cold and made the best of an otherwise difficult situation. Kudos to all that weathered the storm and we hope to see you out there again, albeit under better weather conditions next time!
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