With the 2018 Overland Expo East in the not so distant, but distinctly damp past, we can reflect on the truly incredible collection of vehicles that braved the rain, mud, and cold to commune on the fields of REEB Ranch, tucked in the North Carolina hills. While the exhibition motorcycles and 4-wheel drives represented the pinnacle of modern overlanding, curiosity for sheer inventiveness always drives me to prowl the rows of campers like an exotic bazaar, searching for some innovation or 4WD chimera that will serve as inspiration or cautionary tale.
The classics always catch the eye, from incredibly clean FJ40 and FJ60 Land Cruisers, to well-used Landys and Wagoneers.
The size range of vehicles varied immensely, from the popular crossover platforms like the Subaru Outback and light-duty-standby Toyota Tacoma, each with interesting, purpose-driven twists on the traditional builds, to a Duramax-powered H1 and beyond. Way beyond.
While adventure and overlanding clubs are common, the members from Anvil Adventures had staked their claim at Expo East early, erecting a tent city that Ringling Brothers would find tough to fill. The most interesting features of this club were its diversity of vehicles, their numerous homemade adventure trailers, and the complete embrace of self-deprecating humor, to include the fluttering dinosaur balloons scattered around camp and hilarious demonstration of their prized 12-volt toilet.
This Toyota Sequoia belonged to a member of Anvil Adventures and impressed me with not only it’s good looks and functional build, but the supercharged motor and impressive 18 mpg fuel efficiency, which would deliver it quickly to nearly any destination you desire.
Expo East would not be complete without a dash of mud and the ensuing carnage that has historically defined this unique event. After eight solid hours of rain on the first day, the valley where the campground was held began its descent into Dante’s 10th level of hell; the one reserved for 2WD sedans and those who opted for canvas shoes. With the creek running at full flow and the campground avenues worsening with every spin, each recovery brought out the best in our little community. Traction boards abounded and we were shown once again, we are in this together.