It was with both excitement and a little bit of trepidation that myself, Tony, and Kate loaded up the Toyotas and headed North to Huntingdon, PA for the third annual Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival, hosted by Main Line Overland.
Excited to see a bunch of old friends, cool gear, and getting to do a little offroad driving. A little nervous, because it was (of course) going to be the hottest and most humid weekend of the year and we’d definitely be sweating it out!
To add a little more spice (and comfort) for the weekend, I had borrowed the freshly-built (and air conditioned) offroad trailer built by Chris Griggers, who graciously loaned it to me. It was the first time hauling a 2,500+ lb trailer for anything other than local duty, but early on, it was clear the 4Runner was up for the task. While the mpg sucked and I needed 3rd gear on mountain passes, the setup was rock solid on both the highway as well the curvy country roads that you have to take to get to Huntingdon.
The trailer proved to be a comfortable base-camp for the weekend, and the unit’s generator powered AC took the edge off interior temps before heading to bed each night. The Bundu-Awn awning was rock-solid, holding its own in a pretty mean Thunderstorm on Saturday afternoon.
Being a younger event, the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival continues to evolve and improve with each passing year. 2016 was the best yet – more structure, vendors, classes/presentations, and trail options.
For Tony, Kate, and myself, there were several highlights to the weekend (in no particular order):
Scott Brady’s Anti-Presentation, Presentation: For the second year in a row, Scott Brady, founder of the Overland Journal and Expedition Portal, attended the festival. His keynote presentation was a super-entertaining, and somewhat self-deprecating storytelling session of things that have gone wrong in some of his adventures. It was super cool to hear Scott chat candidly about those moments, what he though he or others could have done differently, and what he learned.
The “Solo Cup Trophy”: One of my favorite new additions to the event this year were daily competitions that tested driving skill in a low-pressure environment. My favorite involved taping a solo cup filled with water to the hood, and running an offroad course for time, the only restriction being that a minimum level of water had to be maintained in the cup.
Pat Lambert’s “Boom Boom Room Wing-Fest”: Pat has become one of our very good friends over the years. If there’s anything more impressive than the cleanliness of Pat’s customizations to his 4Runner and build of his trailer, it is his ability to throw a a great camp party – complete with 30 lbs of deep fried wings, Texas lollipops, and the lights, music, and antics that we’ve come to expect from Pat and his “Boom Boom Room” setup. We stopped keeping track of time after 2AM when things were still rolling on Saturday night. (no photographic evidence)
Winching Exhibition: Many of us have winched our vehicles before – however Overland Experts took it to the next level with a pretty extreme rigging and winching exhibition. They successfully “recovered” Main Line Overland’s FJ Cruiser up and over a near-vertical embankment. A sight to behold!
The Night Run: Nothing gets the excitement going like a little bit of nighttime trail riding, with a little bit of well-executed vehicle recovery thrown in the mix!
Just Hangin Around Camp: One of our favorite things about this event, and most of those that we attend is that it gives us an opportunity to reconnect with friends we’ve made over the years in the “Overlanding Community”, trading jabs, having a few drinks, and catching up on life – thick skin required! As interest in off-road adventure seems to still be on the rise, it is fun to meet new folks and form some new friendships coming to the MAOF for the first time.
Overall it was a great event, despite the heat (and the sweat). We hope to see you there next year!
Photography credit: Tony Schulstad