It’s hard to put into words when just a glance or a look will suffice.  Words can be overused, overstretched and pushed out of the scope of their proper meaning.  When you find your true “family”, you don’t have to talk much.  Just listen, take in their stories, learn from their lives, sit back and be who you are as they are more than willing to accept you without the strings.  I’m talking about Overland Expo and the true “family” that comes together for one short weekend a year.

First, I must say that I’m putting the word “family” in quotes as to not disrespect my blood family.  All of you know what I mean when I say your connections with certain like-minded friends go beyond just having each other over for barbeques or birthday parties.  With your true “family”, every day is a celebration of life, of love, of the willingness to allow yourself to put down your walls and put up yourself.  Please don’t get me wrong.  We love our families, most of the members of them at least, but tend to feel the pressure to conform, mold to their specifications, show-up when it’s “expected”.  In true “family” style, you are only expected to be honest, to be respectful.   Listen, learn and share.  When you are surrounded by “family”, it is natural.  Yes, it’s okay to blend family and “family” as you may be fortunate enough to find those kinds of connections within your childhood circle.  But, not all of us have a mother, a father or a sibling to count on when life interferes with living.  With our Overland Expo “family”, we have found our birthday party.  Our family was continuing to grow.

With Carla, we have found not just an editor but a sister, a friend, a mentor.  She knows how to bring people together, to find the common bond that holds us together for years to come.  She’s good at that. Upon arrival the day before the official set-up, we found our wisest “family” figure already relaxing under the pines, Ara and his buddy, Spirit.  With open arms, we were greeted with warmth and continued mutual respect, talking as if no time had passed.  “Did you get your tires yet?”  “Are you feeling better?” These were questions we had been chatting about for months leading up to this moment.  True interest is what each other have been doing.  Hank and Spirit sniffed and licked as if they, too, were happy to be in each others presence once again.  “When are Nicole and the kids getting here?” Jack asked over and over.  Not to worry, little man, they will be here very soon.  Not a few hours later, a honking of the horn and a wave out the window signaled their arrival.  Running to give hugs and introductions to the newest members of the “family”, the kids finally met and Paul became a part of the “family” as well.   Jeff was a soul that we met briefly 2 years ago during a moto repair in Iowa.  With only 4 hours of time together in person but years together via technology, the relationship was formed.  Our family was continuing to grow.

In rolls Alison and Bill.  Having only spent a short time with Alison last year, I knew that the length of time didn’t matter.  It was the quality of the time that was special.  Once again, an instant bond.  Bill was new to the Trio, but became a quick part of the festivities, having solo traveled to many countries, educating his self, becoming wiser after each region.  Carl and Wen-Ling strolled in as dusk approached.  They weren’t staying with us, but that was okay.  Our bond was solidified last year with a quick ride back to our camp for pasta eaten by headlamp.  We hadn’t met Wen-Ling last year but that didn’t matter.  Just hearing about her made the introduction much more meaningful.  Our family was continuing to grow.


As more “family” rolled in and set up by the masses, we watched as faces beamed, stories flowed over glasses of wine and cold beer, hugs ending each conversation.  Jules, T-Roy, Spence, Paul, Jennifer, Shawn, all “family” that journeyed 2 to 24 hours just to share in the OX energy.  Sure, business cards were exchanged, as that’s how we start of the moment, but it’s physical contact that ends the moment.  Living Overland, our lovely neighbors, quickly became part of the “family”.  Amazing what asking to borrow a pair of tongs will turn in to.  They were foodies as well, bearing a FOODIE sticker on their rig as a badge of honor.  The gentlemen to our other side did not camp at their site but that was fine.  They were good people who even offered up one of their campers for Terry and I to stay in on the last night.  Ah, the honeymoon suite, fitting as it was our 19-year anniversary.  Ted found himself making his way to our camp on more than one occasion.  He knew where to find good food – fine cheeses and meats in the evening, British style back bacon in the morning.  There’s a reason why this man has lived over 80 years.  He knows how to make the proper choices.  Nothing is contrived.  All is good.  Our family was continuing to grow.

As Roseann and Jonathan watched their “family” grow to over twice the size of the previous year, they stood in utter amazement as 2-wheels rolled in, 4-wheels rolled by and 6-wheels?  8-wheels?  Such admiration for all no matter how many tires carried the load.  Presentations and panels, demos and dirt, all was good with our “family” world.  But with great times must come great ends.  The Trio had to depart much too soon.  Jack stood motionless but not emotionless, his little face covered in muddy tears.  My face was wet as well.  How could I not tear up?  To watch our 10-year-old son wish to stay forever with his “family” made Terry and I ache.  Oh, the pain of having to say goodbye.  Stoic faces from the men as shedding a tear may completely shatter them if one happened to slip out.  I do not possess such a gift.  Hank and Spirit said their canine farewells.  The Trio reluctantly put the Burb in DRIVE and headed out.  It’s so hard to say goodbye.  The memories we shall treasure.  There is a respect and admiration for those who make the choice to wander rather than settle, to learn from all rather than learn from a few.  What a blessing to be so fortunate.  The new “family” members we have acquired.  Lorraine, J., Tiffany, Chris, Adam, Ken, Beau, Krista, Gus, too many to name though I wish I had time.  Why no time?  Because, life interferes with living.  But there is one thing that we know for next year’s Overland Expo…our family will continue to grow.