I first met Brad Van Orden where I meet many people––on a bicycle. We were just two in a small group of roadies out on a training ride in Prescott, Arizona. All I knew of Brad was that he was an incredibly strong rider and in a few days would be heading to Europe with his girlfriend for a full season of racing. When I next crossed paths with Brad it was again in Prescott, albeit a decade later and this time we were riding bar stools. His then girlfriend was now his wife and they were once more headed overseas. I have since come to learn that if you bump into Brad and Sheena, they are probably on the way somewhere.
If you frequent Expedition Portal, you know we have a fondness for this couple and their captivating stories from the road under the title of Drive Nacho Drive. They have been traveling since 2011 in their cantankerous VW van named Nacho, a primary character in their narrative. Like many modern overlanders, they started a blog to chronicle their travels and in short order we realized their website had one thing many others lack––oodles of talent. They not only have an insatiable appetite for adventure, they possess the unique ability to convey those experiences through beautiful images and entertaining anecdotes. It was only natural they would transition some of those entries into a book.
Published just this last year, Drive Nacho Drive is an amusing collection of excerpts from their two-plus years on the road. I tend to shy away from travel books as so many are little more than a series of florid journal entries. I started reading Drive Nacho Drive with a cup of coffee in hand and by day’s end turned the final page with a tilt of a beer. I couldn’t put it down.
A good travel book starts with good travels, and the Van Ordens immerse themselves in their surroundings taking time to capture the essence of each destination. There is an approachable humility to their interactions that I find refreshing. They also have their fair share of misadventures and setbacks, but understand how those challenges contribute to the overall experience, and certainly how they add texture to a story.
Through their casual writing styles, Drive Nacho Drive also achieves what few travel books can. It transports the reader to the bumpy road. After the first hundred pages, I felt like I was riding shotgun in Nacho with my new traveling pals. It’s a great read, a proper compliment to their amazing website, and a compelling reminder what life is really all about if you have the courage to embrace it.