Saturday, November 30, 2019

Another Vendor Tour

If you look closely you can see the cows
DAY 6 Neil and I woke up to the sounds of mooing this morning. It was sure better than the sounds of bears. We had spent the night in a cow pasture. And it was also in the path of a local bear.

We packed up camp and headed into town to Blue Ridge Overland Gear. Or should I say Neil packed up camp while I took care of Jersey to make sure she stayed clear of the cows. 

The shop is located in Bedford a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. They provide several jobs in this community to help support small town USA. 

I found this company years ago and have been using their products in my Jeep. I have several molle bags as well as their seat back panel. Check it out here in this blog post.   

Blue Ridge Overland Gear specializes in Molle and canvas bags which are all hand sewn right in the shop by local townsfolk. 

Neil and I got a tour of the small town "factory"  Blue Ridge Overland Gear Tour
After the tour and great conversation with Matt, the owner of the company, we headed to James River Park for the Roof Top Tent Rally.

Neil and I found a spot way off in the corner and began setting up our campsite. 

Then we got to work on dinner. Neil grilled up the chicken. Jersey was close by to give Neil chicken cooking tips. Neil uses a Magmus grill which is amazing. I should say used to use.  Later in the trip there was a slight accident with the grill.

Using the fork to flip the chicken just wasn't working so Neil started using his new L.T. Wright Knife. During our adventure he taught me a knife can have so many uses while you are overlanding. 

As the chicken was getting juicy on the grill, I made quick work of the peppers and onions with our new camp kitchen knifes from L.T. Wright Handcrafted Knives. Then started frying them up. 

There will be a knife review video up on my YouTube Channel soon. 

It was nice to have the time to spend making a yummy dinner. And... of course Neil had to have his hand in ever pot! 

We made Chicken Quesadilla's for diner that night. I used the left over chicken to have chicken salad sandwiches the next day for lunch. Both Neil and I were looking forward to a relaxing night by the campfire. Then checking out the Roof Top Tent Rally the next morning.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Meeting My Inspiration

Day 5 

This was the day I finally understood the meaning of let the adventure lead you, and it sure doesn't lead you wrong...when you let go. Neil and I woke up and gave the guys at Blue Ridge Overland Gear a call. They are located in Bedford, Virginia a few hours from my home in Maryland, so I made a full circle.

During our tour of the knife shop, L.T. Wright put us in touch with the guys from Blue Ridge. They were practically down the street, and on our path to the Trans America Trail. 

We set up a tour of their small town shop for the next day. The best part was yet to come. Matt ,the owner of the company, invited us to a dinner with some overlanders that evening. To my surprise Dan Grec, The Road Chose Me, was attending.

Both Neil and I were extremely thrilled to be meeting Dan Grec. The original plan was to attend one of his classes at the Overland Expo East the weekend before which we missed.

The dinner was amazing, I'm afraid I hogged all the time with Dan. I had interviewed him while I was a host on the Jeep Talk Show and followed his journey across Africa. He inspired me to do my own adventure and to be able to hear about his adventure first hand was amazing.

Both Neil and I asked question after question. His stories are inspiring. You can catch his first adventure in North America in his book The Road Chose Me.  

During dinner that night, we were invited to attend the Roof Top Tent Rally happening at St. James State Park in Virginia that weekend. Another great surprise! 

With winds howling and temperatures dropping Matt with Blue Ridge Overland found us a really awesome campsite in the Blue Ridge Mountains away from civilization. The only thing we needed to worry about was the local bear and several cows. 

Neil and I quickly set up camp in the whistling wind and went to sleep with smiles on our faces. Not only did we  have a one on one conversation with Dan, he was going to be at the Roof Top Tent Rally as well! 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Let the Adventure Lead You

Day 4

Once again we woke up in chilly temperatures, but were able to lounge for a bit since it wasn't a rush day. We decided we wanted to tour Salt Fork State Park since we were there. They had some interesting points of interest we wanted to see. 

The first stop, of course, was the visitors center for coffee. Neil is an absolute bear (grumpy old man) until he has at least one or two cups of coffee. Unfortunately they were out of "public" coffee, but Neil sweet talked his way with the receptionist and she whipped up a special cup. I was rolling my eyes the whole time!  

After Neil got his dose of caffeine we were off to see the sights at Salt Fork State Park. There are many to see but we had time for just a couple. 

The first stop was the Kennedy Stone House which was built in the 1800's by Benjamin Kennedy. What a perfect location for a home!   

Then it was off too Hosack's Cave Falls a 60 foot high sandstone cliff with a rocky overhang and a roomy rock shelter. Neil was amazed at the formation. I thought it was okay. The whole park reminded me of state parks in Maryland. 

I was very eager and impatient to get out west! I wanted to see the red rocks, cactus, mountains and all those cool scenes I hadn't seen for 35 years. 

What struck me about the Hosack's Cave was the tragedy of a 14 year old girl who fell to her death in 2003. It seems others have died her as well. 

As we were headed out of the park on our way to L.T. Wright Knives for our tour, a creature was taking a leisurely stroll along the side of the road. Again Neil was amazed as he had never seen a fox up close and personal.

I am thinking Neil needs to spend a little more time on the East Coast. 

Neil and I reached L.T. Wright Knives just before lunch. I was very surprised at how big the knife shop was. I was honestly expecting a small shed in the back of someone's house. 

However, this shop was way more than I ever imagined. L.T. Wright also had several craftsmen working for him. Take a peak at our live interview with L.T. Wright and the tour video of the knife shop. They make excellent handcrafted state of the art knives. 

While on the tour L.T. share with us about the company who designed the bag for the camp knives and hooked us up for a tour of their facility in Virginia the next day. 

This is were Neil and I really began to understand what it means to let the adventure lead you. Not only were we getting the opportunity to tour Blue Ridge Overland Gear (video coming soon), we were going to have dinner with my overland inspiration Dan Grec. 

After the tour we headed to a small town in Ohio where Neil spent his high school years. We met his daughter for a dinner at my favorite, a Mexican restaurant. Then it was on to Wheeling, Virginia. I have to admit this is where I needed the creature comforts of home. It was raining and I didn't feel like setting up our tent in the pouring rain so I booked a room for the three of us. 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Camping in the Cold

Day 3

Neil, Jersey and I woke up to chilly morning temperatures in our tent at an out of the way campground in Illinois. I was in my happy place, camping in a tent just like when I was a kid. I have so many great memories camping with my family as a little girl in Minnesota. Sharing the experience with someone else who likes the outdoors and roughing it was the cherry on top.

The night before (day 3), we arrived just as the sun went down, and set up camp. Most people would find setting up the tent in chilly temperatures as the sun was setting a chore, but I was excited to get the tent set up and to start cooking over an open fire. 

I was surprised at the teamwork Neil and I developed that first night. It was like we were reading each others minds. We worked together like a well oiled machine getting the job done. Oh... don't get me wrong we still took jabs at one another. It seems we both like to annoy each other. You can kinda get the picture here in our first live together. You will need to go follow our YouTube channel. I will be posting more videos in the coming weeks of our adventure. 

Once we got the tent set up Neil broke out one of our machete's from L.T. Wright Handcrafted Knives. The machete worked like a charm as Neil went about setting up our campfire. Neil is a master fire starter. He was offended that I brought fire starters.

I have since forgone fire starters and taken lessons from Neil. I still need some practice though, maybe a second adventure is needed.     

I cooked up some fresh green beans on our camp stove, rice in the Jet Boil, and Neil grilled up some Polska Kielbasa. It was so yummy for our first night of camping. 

Before dinner while Neil was working on the fire,I broke out the sage. I needed to do a little smudging to get rid of Neil's Negative Energy. I'm not sure he thought it was such a good idea. The negative energy was the bad luck he kept having with getting Maggie May to run. Then the tire blow out. 

It was my turn to drive that morning as you can see Neil was a tad nervous with my driving skills. We were headed to Ohio visit Neil's daughter as well as tour L.T Wright Knives

We both were disappointed to have missed Overland Expo East. The Expo was our meeting point for the adventure to get to know each other and get organized for the trip. Also, we were going to meet up with Nexen Tire one of our sponsors as well as meet Dan Grec from The Road Chose Me. Dan is my inspiration for this adventure. We would soon learn everything happens for a reason. After that it didn't take us long to let the adventure lead us.  

We made our way to Salt Fork State Park for the night. It was dark before we hit camp so we just set up the tent and tucked ourselves in for the night. Temps were getting on the cold side, but Jersey kept us both warm. Plus, I was camping in a tent, what could be better. 

We were soon to be on our way to the L.T. Wright Knife shop which we were both excited to get a first hand look at knife crafting. However, I was cherishing every moment and taking in the experience every second. 

L.T. Wright Knives Live YouTube
L.T. Wright Knives Shop Tour 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Down to One Jeep

The adventure must go on! 

Even though Neil and I were down to one Jeep, we had to forge on! We both had way too much stuff for just my Jeep, so it was time to consolidate. Okay, so I admit I had way to much stuff. 

However, in my defense I was bringing extra things for Neil's "home". We unloaded everything and picked the basics. It looked like we were having a yard sale on the side of the road.

Side Note: A clarification from the previous blog post. As Neil was driving his buddy's Land Rover to meet me in Virginia it was my responsibility to look for a tire store on the way for him. He left Alamosa, Colorado in the middle of the night with worn tires. In efforts to meet the deadline he hit the road and I said I would help try to find tires. Well I failed as I was at lunch with a friend and it got too late. So I will take some of the blame for the tire blow out. :)  

After we were all loaded up, we made a spur of the moment decision to go see the Arch in downtown St. Louis. We felt since we would be heading out West it would be good to see the Gateway to the West. We both took a lot of pictures. 

Stay Tuned to this blog for Day 3 of Jeep Momma & Neil's Adam's Xtreme Off Road Adventure