Some Lessons Must Be Learned More Than Once

…and i hope this isn’t one of them.

It took me most of last night to get warm. I had the motel room’s heat (such as it is) on high when I went to bed, and I huddled under the covers, *and* I wore winter jammies to bed, too! About 3 AM I suddenly woke up and decided I was hot. This morning, I was back to normal, thank goodness!

The last weather forecast I had seen for the Flagstaff area for today had mentioned some morning showers, but I (thought I) remembered that it was going to clear off in the afternoon, so when I rode off to the Overland Expo this morning I left my rainsuit in the motel room. I *should* have worn it, just on general principles, because even with five layers of clothing (long-sleeve t-shirt, long-sleeve flannel shirt, riding jacket liner, TRR club jacket, and riding jacket) I was still just at the bearable edge of cold. My new hiking boots, though, kept my feet nice and toasty. My Thinsulate gloves didn’t do that well for my fingers – 50 degrees or so at 60 mph or so will eventually overpower Thinsulate, as good as it is. I *really* need those over-mittens!

And as it turned out, the forecast was wrong anyway. Thank goodness it wasn’t a steady rain, but the showers came and went all afternoon. It didn’t bode well for the return ride, but more on that later.

While I was at the Expo, I saw lots of neat overlanding gear, from Mercedes Unimog mobile palaces to Ford F-450 and F-550 motorhomes to many many different styles of trailers, and on down to things like winches, lights, recovery straps, and jacks. I actually bought a pair of reinforced gloves that I’ll use when winching, and they were only $15 instead of the $40 they normally cost. PLUS I got a free pair of their cheaper gloves, too!

Here are a few photos of what I saw. The first one is a group of Unimogs. They look silly as all get-out (to me, anyway), but they’ll take you almost anywhere on Earth that you want to go.


Next up is something that *looks* a little more conventional, but is still a very capable (and expensive!) overlanding platform:


The tires on these rigs are so big that they have their own little baby winches (winchlets?) to raise and lower the spare to/from its storage location.

[Side note: It was easy to tell which vehicles had come in early, before the nasty weather rolled in and made everything all muddy – they were clean!]

There were lots of trailer companies there this weekend, including the company from which I’m going to buy my trailer (after the JeepMonster is done!). Two years ago I came to the Expo to get ideas for a trailer, and I found one I really liked. After I got home and looked at the literature and their website, I found out they’re based in Phoenix! So when I actually *order* mine, I’ll be able to harass – er, consult with – them on some customizations I want. I confirmed my preference when I came to last year’s Expo. This year I found out that their cabinet doors / hatches have a pretty good seal, but that they won’t keep water out indefinitely. I told the man I was talking to that if the trailer was going to be in THAT much water THAT long, I had worse problems to worry about than whether water would get into the storage areas. He laughed and said I had a good point. This photo shows a trailer that is similar to, but not exactly like, the one I want. They’re built by Bivouac Camping Trailers.


I also saw a couple of very nice Jeeps, including one that (I think) was built by the Jeep design department – at least, I know I saw pictures of this one in the magazines I get, and it was on display at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari this year.


Of course, I saved the best for last. The next photos prove that 6×6 Jeeps actually *do* exist and are available for sale, although if you have to ask how much one costs, you can’t afford it. It’s obviously a conversion / customization of a Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited, but it is one bad-ass machine (IMO)!




By the time I saw this, and all the other stuff, it was nearing 4 PM. The day had never gotten very warm, and the rain had come and gone… and come and gone… and come… and gone… so I decided that it was time to head back to the motel – a ride of about 30 miles. I already knew I’d be cold, but I was hoping I wouldn’t also be wet. Alas, that hope was dashed about halfway through the ride when the rain came back. I was able to keep my torso and head dry by hiding behind the windshield, but my hands were wet again, and since I didn’t have my rainsuit, my shins caught it, too – and then the cold water started running down into my boots! *blargh*

Luckily, it was a relatively short shower, so my feet didn’t totally freeze. I stopped for gas just before getting back into Flagstaff and discovered that, if I didn’t have a 60 mph windchill to deal with, I could almost be comfortable! So instead of riding straight back to the motel, I stopped for dinner at a Sizzler Steak House, where I had a 14-oz ribeye, along with hot steamed vegetables. THEN I returned to the motel to hibernate and thaw out.

So today’s lesson, ladies and gentlemen, is that if you’re riding your motorcycle someplace where you aren’t familiar with the weather patterns, TAKE YOUR RAINSUIT WITH YOU – even if it’s just a 30-mile day ride!

Up next: The heck with the cold; I’m going HOME! (Stay tuned…)

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