On The Trail

On The Trail
Ol' Flora Jean at DTOR

Ventures Unknown Winter Wonderland At Windrock

 So we have have been invited to present at Venture Unknown Winter Wonderland at Windrock 2023.  We are doing a presentation called Overland Kitchen 101.  Here is a link to the slide show we will be giving.  If you are reading this come by and have some tacos at the rig Friday night.  This is the only invite I'm giving out for website viewers only.  See ya'll there!

Jason "Bearcat" Price

Overland Kitchen 101 Presentation


 It's been a rough year and half for most of us.  I get it. So when Overland Expo decided to go ahead and do their series this year I was stoked.  I have volunteered for the past couple of years and did the same again this year.  I saw that they had an opening for a Social Ambassador and I jumped at the chance to do it.  I needed to meet certain criteria to get to posted to the position, which I did.  I was going to Overland Expo East!  I was allowed to bring along one person with me so I choose my good friend Jarrod.  As the date grew closer I began to get the adventure trailer ready for the 7 hour trip.  I had taken it on longer trips before without a hitch.  In fact I had just taken it in July to Lexington Ohio for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.  The day finally arrived and I was off.  An hour out of town something went wrong.  I felt jerking in the trailer.  I pulled off the highway and found that a wheel bearing had blown apart.  I was stranded.  

 I called a tow truck to get me and when he showed up he was an overlander too.  We talked and I told him about the trip.  There wasn't much he could do but get me home so back I went.  Once I reached home I put the twins to work helping me move the RRT, awning and rack.  I also had to take all my gear out of the trailer and move it into the FJ.  Then move the Yamaha TW200 off the trailer and onto the back of Ol' Flora Jean.  I decided to get a few hours sleep and headed out at 2 am to Arrington.

The trip was uneventful other than the constant rain.  I keep myself going with coffee and a stead diet of trucker songs on my playlist.  Thank you Dave Dudley and Red Simpson.  When I finally got to Arrington it felt like coming home to the gathering of the tribe.  I got settled in and started on social media trying to round up other Overland Bound members to camp close.  By the evening people were rolling in at a good pace the hopes of having a repeat of the camping situation we had in 2019 began to fade because the venue would not allow us to camp next to each other unless we rolled in together.  But that didn't really matter.  We gathered a good group of people together despite the challenge.  Scott a OB member from Florida had been touring for a few weeks and was able to camp right next to me, on the other side I had left a spot for Jarrod and his Lexus GX.  By the time Jarrod arrived the camping around me was full but he slide right in with no problems.  

was testing a new set up with a Overland Vehicle Systems 270 Awning.  I had it mounted on the trailer but because of a $40 bearing I had to change some stuff around.  We were right next to a fence that divided the vendors from the general admission campers.  That thin plastic fence couldn't hold the vendor's back. They saw us with our charcuterie board full of venison, olives, cheeses, exotic mustards and other delights as well as our copper cups of Kentucky Mules.  They couldn't help but tear down a section of fencing and join the party.  As the bourbon flowed and the board was restocked we looked forward to the weekend because this was only Thursday night. When the propane fire pit came out so did the other campers.  At it's height I counted 15 people. We had created our crew of revelers.

The next morning I made breakfast from left over pork tenderloin from the night before and Bloody Mary's for anyone who came by.  With the hole in the fence we now were next to  the path of least resistance.  Jarrod and I decided to go and check out the vendors.   It was a wonderland of ovelanding and offroad products.  Jarrod works at a shop that uses a lot of Dobinson products so going to meet them was a top priority.  I have been testing traction boards and wanted to pick up a set of Maxtrax.  Other items just seemed to fall into our hands along the way. Blueridge Overland was one such place.  The have a bag for just about every aspect of overlanding.  I walked away with enough pouched to cover both of the backs of my seats.  Moto suppliers were in great numbers as well.  being a motorcycle guy myself this added a extra layer of fun.  

We finally made it back to camp after walking the area and settled into making dinner.  Lunch had been some quick BLTs but Friday night was going to be Pulled Venison Street Taco night.  One of my passions is entertaining and when you can combine that with overlanding you know I'm in heaven.  Even though I would never consider going to a festival overlanding the tribe was there so it was time to get down to business.  I had pre cooked the venison for 12 hours so it was beyond tender.  I had made up a slaw mix with a little apple cider vinegar, chopped some cilantro, scored a good feta cheese and found a very nice cilantro aioli to finish them off.  Of course the tortillas were grilled on olive oils to just the right balance of crispness and tenderness.   Kentucky Mules were at the back door bar once again.  Made with Woodford, ginger beer, ice, lime and mint it makes a killer cocktail.  Piot Noir was the wine of choice along with vodka and a few other mixers.  We were set up for the evening.  The fire pit came out again and the guys from TRUKD Racks came over for a few drinks and good conversation.  We were up late into the night discussing products, overlanding and the future of the industry.  

The next morning saw us up for a breakfast of venison omelets and of course Bloody Marys once again.   We hit the vendors again to spot stuff we missed the day before.  There may be a pattern here.  We decided to hit some of the classes that were happening.  There was lots to see and take in as we wandered in and out of the tents.  Classes ranged from entry level basics of overlanding to more advanced recovery courses as well as motorcycle skills.  Because we were working as Social Ambassadors for the event we couldn't test our skills on the course but we were able to see some great instruction happening.  

 We hosted an afternoon cocktail party in the campground with a few more Kentucky Mules.  It was a good thing we has brought 4 liters of bourbon because the Woodford got polished off.  We headed off on the TW200 to the moto party, which is alway a blast.  The food was great as well as the music.  We ended up hanging around with them the next day as well.  

The night ended with more bourbon and more stories of adventures finished and ones yet to come.  The propane fire pit drew people in like moths.  The later it got the more people showed up.  As a regular attendee of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days I have seen and planned many big camp parties.  This one was nowhere near as rowdy but was a nice change of pace.  Often overlanding can get lonely when traveling alone as I often do, so meeting with the tribe is often quite refreshing even if it ends in a hangover.  

Sunday was a day to clean up, pack up and hit the trail.  We made one more spin around the vendor area talking with the new friends we had made.  We made it up to the seminars and caught a few last minute sessions.  Hitting the food trucks was nice at the end of the weekend.  There are a lot of events I attend every year and this is one of my favorites.  

Astoria Albatross Part 2

 As the past two years have drug on and COVID has put a dampener on many, many activities and some  have even come to a halt...but not overlanding.  With some projects put on hold or slowed, we decided to go overland instead of building.  What is comforting about this is that the pressure was off to post pictures of things we were working on.  First the money simply wasn't there. So we decided to load up the Albatross as she was and hit the tracks.  The last 18 months have been a whirl wind of adventures.  2020 had us do a lot of wheeling on the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway and 2021 saw us hitting The Hoosier National Forest, Michigan and the UP as well as the Trans Wisconsin Trail. But this isn't about tracks it's about the trailer.  

We often take motorcycles with us so the trailer was built with that in mind.  We also took the trailer without motorcycles which made things much lighter on the tracks. The trailer has made the rounds.  We have been everywhere from Land Between the Lake to Red River Gorge.  We have take it to a few overland meet ups and to off roading excursions.  It's certainly not done but I think you will agree that she is defiantly come a long way.  


The THOR Debriefing part 2

As the THOR began to develop it became more and more an obsession.  I pored over satellite images of Hoosier National Forest with a fine toothed comb looking for the most dilapidated road I could find. I began to realize that the back roads of Indiana were beginning to be paved over without concern to whether they should be paved.  I know that this seems counter productive but here me out.  As overlanding becomes more and more popular people are looking for more and more places to go in their own back yards.  We don't all live out west and have the luxury of massive tracts of protected federal lands.  Many of us live in urban areas and only have limited amounts of time to get out and have an adventure.  With this said if we could have overlanding opportunities close to urban areas that will give the largest amount of the population access to wilderness the better off we will be. The  local population of these areas may want to have improved roads but they be missing the economic impact of offroading to their communities.  If you look at the Hatfield-McCoy trail system you can see how the people of a region, that have been neglected, have reaped the benefits of an activity in which participants have money and are willing to spend it.  So the unpaved roads of Indiana should not be seen as a hindrance to progress, they may well be the key to it. 

The THOR maybe the seed that Hoosiers need to get this economic opportunity planted.  With this in mind my mission became even more clear.  I needed to expand the THOR to include stops that will highlight this economic impact to Hoosiers.  I began to steer the route into things that would be of interest to a larger audience all the while maintaining the original flavor and vision that was the THOR. 

I also wanted to highlight the natural resources of Indiana.  I began to contact people from the DNR to get their input into what would become a learning opportunity for the people that would do the first running of the THOR. I was surprised at apprehensive some of the people I approached were to the idea.  I figured that they may not get much interest in some of the smaller state parks.  Finally I was able to get a person from Purdue to come and talk to us, as well as a person from Sullivan Green.  

With all the education elements in line it was only a matter of time until we took off.  When the day came we met at Buzzard Roost Recreation Area.  I arrived on Thursday,a day early, to get a good spot and by late in the evening others began to show up.  That Caleb from Wisconsin was our first arrival as well as the person who drove the furthest to get there.  Later in the day we had Scott from Michigan with his son.  With these three and my self and one of my sons, we would be the only ones to finish the entire THOR. 

Later in the day the rest of this motley crew showed up in a grand assortment of rigs.  As people settled in and through up ground tents, RTTs, hammocks and other sleeping arrangements we began to explore the area. Buzzard Roost has an amazing overlook of the Ohio River.  The river spreads out in a glistening ribbon broken by the droning barges meandering up and down the river.  These giant floating monoliths carry the raw materials of industry that are the life blood of the Ohio River Valley.  A trail leads down to the river from the high perch of the campground some 200 feet above the water. As night fell the camp fire was lit and we enjoyed the cool night air and the companionship of other overlanders.  

The next day we rose early and began to pack up the rigs.  More and More rigs began to show up until we were 9 deep in our convoy to Interlake State Recreational Area.  The line of trucks spread out behind me like a shimmering snake in the morning light.  I chuckled to myself knowing that the route and Interlake would soon have the vehicles covered in dust and mud. Interlake is a 3,500 acre reclamated mine that has over 100 miles of trails and 17 lakes.      

The THOR Debriefing part 1

This series of articles will follow my planning and running of the Trans Hoosier Overland Route.  I hope you find in entertaining and insightful, funny and heart breaking.  In the end I hope you get out there and explore your own backyard....Carpi Diem...Bearcat 

The first running of the Trans Hoosier Overland Route (THOR) was a big success. It was the culmination of two years of work on my part.  The goal was to highlight the offroading opportunities of the Hoosier State as well as her quirky back road culture.  When you think of offroading you don't typically think of Indiana. Let's face it, Indiana is not known as a destination spot for most people in the country.  At best we are know for the Indy 500 and that's about it. So many thought that this idea to create an overlanding route across the Hoosierland was a farce.  I was even compared to Don Quixote trying to slay something that wasn't even there.  

As I planned the route I soon discovered that I was right and others that had assumed that Indiana was nothing but flat corn fields were in for a surprise.  Don't get me wrong, we got lots of corn and soy beans here but that is far from the whole story.  I wanted to highlight the natural environment of Indiana.  I wanted to promote some of the things that make us unique.  We have lots of hidden gems that are just waiting to be discovered.  I also wanted this trip to be reasonable on the pocketbook.  Often overland trips can become very expensive very quickly.  I also wanted this to be a good introduction to overlanding.  I wanted it to be something that a family could do in a stock SUV.  I also wanted people to be able to get their rigs in the dirt and mud if they wished and have a challenging offroad experience.  What follows is the culmination of these ideas into what became the THOR.

First a little background.  I started really wanting to do this after my mother was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer.  I was at the with her when she first got sick back in 2017. We had many deep discussion about life and things we had done and things we still wanted to do.  I have always been the adventurous type.  I spent my formative years in the late 80's and early 90's following the Grateful Dead and being a shovel bum.  I was no stranger to traveling the country side and living out of a vehicle.  I have worked in the outdoors industry on and off for over 20 year.  I have traveled the length and width  of this country many times over and still have that lust for what's around the next bend.  I have paddled and mountain biked and sucked the marrow out of life.  My mother had done the same thing.  As a chef she traveled the world just to find a great meal.  So you could say the apple didn't fall far from the tree. We talked for hours about adventuring and both of us had places we had wanted to go and experience.  She didn't want me to stop my travels on a count of her but I wasn't going to travel far with her so sick.  She suggested I look in my own backyard for places I had not been.  Sure I have traveled all over the mid west but mostly along the interstates like most people.  I have driven the route from Louisville to Chicago more times than i can count but never got off the highway other than to get gas.  Being  a history teacher and lover of local stories and attractions I began to think about the idea of what would happen if I just left out my back door and found adventure right under my nose.  I finally came up with the idea of a route from the Ohio River to the Indiana Dunes.  I had never been to the Dunes and  thought that it would make a great destination.  

I chose Buzzard Roost Recreational Area as the starting point for the journey. It lies deep within the Hoosier National forest and has free camping.  It has an unbelievable view across the river to Kentucky.  The slow meandering Ohio is punctuated by large barges that seen to defy the laws of physics as they run up and down the river in a never ending parade of raw materials that keeps our country going.  I live in New Albany and work in Louisville and cross the river on a daily basis.  I give very little attention to the river as I zip across it every day to go to and from work.  Slowing down to really enjoy it's beauty and majesty  is something that doesn't happen very often. As I get older and with a family connection to the river I have begun to appreciate it more and more.  

Much of the THOR I pre-ran solo.  It gave me time to think and get away from the daily grind that is teaching.  I was able to clear my head and focus on something other than my mother's illness.  On the dirt and gravel of forgotten southern Hoosier roads I began to find my center again.  Ever since I first venture out into the woods in the late 80's I have sought the solitude that escaped my suburban existence. In the early years I would often drive hours and hours just to find a mountain bike trail I had heard about from a friend.  Those years before the internet and gps were some of the most formative times of my life.  I would often get to the trail head to only discover that the trail was closed to mountain bikes.  Most people would have chalked this up as a lose but I never did.  I was able to get out and see some great scenery with the windows rolled down and smell of freshly bush hogs fields and the sound of The Dead blasting from my second gen tape of the June 9 '77 Winterland show (If your an old Deadhead you'll understand...that St. Stephen>Terrapin> Sugar Mag....magical).  For me that is how overlanding started; as long drives in the country searching for that something that always escapes definition or logic.  It's the journey not the destination.  

As I began to piece together the route using internet mapping sites like Gravelmap and Gaia I began to understand how big of a task lay in front of me.  It was going to be epic. I began to seek out the twistiest off the beaten path roads I could find in a quest to go North in the most indirect way possible.   
#offthegridsurplus#hiliftjack @offthegridsurplus @hiliftjack

Image result for ohio valley overlandImage result for overland boundImage result for TLCA

We are proud to announce that we are now members of the Toyota Land Cruiser Association (TLCA).  It was something that has needed to happen for a long time.  While we can appreciate all offroad vehicles Toyotas have a special place in our hearts.

I have also been named the US Mid-West Regional Members Rep for Overland Bound.  I am please and honored to have recognized for my work in the Overland community and will continue to work to build a vibrate overlanding scene here in the Mid-West.

Ventures Unknown Winter Wonderland At Windrock

 So we have have been invited to present at Venture Unknown Winter Wonderland at Windrock 2023.  We are doing a presentation called Overland...