Hendersonville, NC

     The Tuesday before Expo, we met up with one of our buddies, Grant and his 4x4 Sprinter in the Pisah National Forest for one last camp before the show. Unfortunately, we got to camp a little later than expected due to so many people camping in the forest. We ended up spending an hour or more trying to find a place to set up camp. So since we were pretty exhausted we just drank a few beers, cooked dinner, and headed to bed for the night.

The next morning, we got up, hit the closest Waffle House, and headed Reeb Ranch. We got to Expo pretty early that Wednesday and got my truck situated like she needed to be. But this was before the rains came and people were already getting stuck. We knew we were in for a long weekend.  

     That first night was awesome, I saw so many friends that live so far away and usually never get the chance to see them all at once. Although it did rain pretty much all night long our CVT Mt Rainier was amazing. We were warm and dry the whole night and it was perfect for a family of 4. The following morning while cooking some sausage, I thought, “damn, it’s nice to have that Dometic!!” 

     Saturday was the first day of some actual sunshine, and I mean that it more ways than one. I proposed to my girlfriend Emily, and she said yes! (A huge thanks to Derrick and Jason Specht from Mountain State Overland for the ninja camera skills to get some pictures of it!) I came up two days ahead of her and she brought along her two kids who are 5 and 7 on Friday. They were finally able to play in the dirt and be “kids” and meet other kids who were there camping. I was finally able to mingle around because Emily was able to reach the inside of my Dometic  fridge because I added a new DFG slide to it, and she could make her own mimosas.

     One of the of the main reasons this event has me coming back, is for the people and the friendships. But after this year I’m not sure. Unfortunately, there was a lack of space to camp and for the vendors area. Between that and the lack of planning for the mud and shuttling people from the parking lot. Which really disappointed me, I’ve met and made friends with so many people in the past years from coming to Expo. Some of my really good friends now, I met at Expo and it’s just a bummer to see that they haven’t been able to quite hit this event on the head. Hopefully they will continue to grow and improve in the future.

      After a few days of mud and some really fun nights with friends new and old, we said farewell to Hendersonville and headed to Uwharrie for some wheeling and hopefully dry weather. We would later find out only one of those things would happen. 

So until then, this is Rich signing off. 

Where to Begin???

     Man, so much has happened since I last wrote!!! A killer road trip with lots of camping, an awesome time with family and friends during Thanksgiving, oh and I got married too!!! But let me dial it back and start from the beginning.  

     As I said before, we took off the weekend before Overland Expo East for Georgia Bushcraft in Watkinsville, Georgia. As always, that was a great event. I know I’ve said it before, but I just love the smaller events. They just don’t feel like you’re actually working. But after that, Derrick and Matt from Blue Ridge Overland Gear and I all took off for North Georgia. We had a few camping spots marked that friends gave us, so we just had to pick a good one from those. Matt was rolling in the Sprinter, so we had to consider that. But in all honesty, it didn’t slow us down at all. Obviously, he had to pick his lines a little bit more carefully than we did, but that thing did great. 

     After several days of wondering through the Chattahoochee National Forest, finding some cool little local shops, doing some water crossings, crossing into South Carolina, then North Carolina, we arrived in Hendersonville. 

     There’s a lot more story left, so I’ll save some and hit you with another installment next week. So until then, this is Rich signing off.  

Final Push for Expo

     As we approach Overland Expo East, we’re trying to get all the little bits in order. Myself especially, the 60 will be in the CVT booth and I need her looking and functioning  the best she can.  But let’s back up a step. The fun starts a little before all of that. This coming weekend, Georgia Bushcraft is holding their Fall Gathering and that’s where our adventure starts. After that, we’re headed into to North Carolina for some camping and fly fishing for a few nights, then onto Asheville for the big show. After Expo, we’re headed over to Uwarrie National Forest and to see the guys at Overland Experts to start scouting for the Southern Xpeditions Rally. 

      But let’s talk details, I mentioned I have added a few things and one of those things I’ll do a separate blog on itself. The two major changes to the 60 are the new ARB front bumper and a DFG Offroad 45 degree tilting fridge slide. Ultimately, both were needed to get more function out of the truck, but damn sometimes function looks so good. Two absolute killer products. 

     If you’re heading to either events mentioned previously, come by and see me, I can promise you won’t miss me and the ole girl.  

And as always, this is Rich signing off. 

Oh the 60

     After this weekend, I can honestly say I’ve got my truck dialed in a lot further. As recently discussed, I was doing some upgrades. Gears- I went from a 3.73 to a 4.56, I added a locker to the old girl, and I also added a long travel front drive shaft. Due to the combination in lifts I have, my front drive shaft was pretty much completely yoked out. Luckily, Marlin Crawler sells a long travel kit. So I picked that up and turned out that once we opened up the front passenger side hub, I needed all new bearings, seals, and all. They also had a kit for that, so we got that ordered and I quite literally have a new front end now. At least the guts of it anyway. 

     Drivability has gone up. I basically have a four speed again, I just also have a granny low. First gear, low range is about the coolest thing yet on this ole girl. I can’t speak highly enough of her, that’s the truth. At this point, I am super happy with how things are going with the build. We really seem to be getting it all together. Only a few more things now!! Ha, yeah right.  

But as always, this is Rich signing off. 

      

The Rooftop Tent Way

      I’ve logged a lot of total hours in hammocks, ground tents, and rooftop tents. One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten a little older, is I care a lot more about the comfort of my sleep a lot more than I use too. Between that and being able to free up a bunch of extra room, due to the fact that you can keep all your sleeping stuff in the tent. CVT has been the solution for quite some time now and even before they were a sponsor.

      I currently have one of the hard shells that I’ve had for about a year now and absolutely love it. But since my girlfriend and I have started bringing the kids with us, we need a little more room. So I’ve been considering one of the Summit Series. I’ve had a great deal of experience with those and they’re great. It would provide the room we need and it would allow my 90 pound Doberman to sleep with me a whole lot easier. 

     I don’t know about you, but when I’m shopping the two most important things I look for is quality and customer service. Cascadia Vehicle Tents crushes that. Bobby is an awesome dude and takes incredibly good care of us, and for that, we thank him. So, if you're in market for a Rooftop Tent, check CVT out and you won’t be sorry. 

As always, this is Rich signing off. 

Southern Xpeditions in the Ham

     Well, Jim has recently bought this bad ass 2014 Tacoma that has been flat bedded and a custom, removable, camping tray for it. The thing is too sick. I wheeled it a little at ATR and was just dumbfounded at how capable the thing was. Now, granted it does have 37s, but it sounds like he’s downgrading to a 35. Anyway, he had planned to go to Birmingham so Derrick could help him wire up the back of the truck. Well, I decided I would go and now, Granger has decided he’s going too. So we’re just going to have us a big damn time and wire up a truck. If I had to guess, I’d say some alcohol will be consumed as well. I’ll be sure to do a post on the aftermath and all the upgrades we get done. Because there will be some surprises. That’s all I’ve got today. 

As always, this is Rich signing off.  

A New Era

      Well, I guess I should probably explain. Obviously, I haven’t been active on here in a while and for that, I apologize. But there’s a good reason for it. Life has yet again hit a crazy gear change that I would’ve never expected. I started working for this company in Dothan called Motobilt. If you know the company and you know me, yeah, it’s pretty damn amusing. But I absolutely love my job and all the people I work with. Even if they’re all Jeepers. Haha. No offense to anyone, just poking. 

      But there’s more!! The incredible woman that I’ve been seeing for the past few years and I have decided to get married and buy a house. So, as you can imagine, it’s been wide open and I’m completely good with it. All that being said, I’m starting to get a little better handle on it all now and will be able to knock out some blogs for y’all. So, just thought I would let you all know what the hell has been going on. But we’ve got some exciting new trips being planned coming up here real soon, and I can not tell you how excited I am that camping season is finally here!!!! 🍾🍾🍾  

But as always, this is Rich signing off.  

I’m Excited.

     Well, as you can tell from the title, I’m getting real damn excited. We have a lot going on right now, some of which I’m not at liberty to discuss yet. But we can touch on a little bit of it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been gearing my 60 up for a pretty sizable trip this coming fall.(At least one, actually.) Before I jump into that one, let me talk about another upcoming trip we’re planning. After some discussion, it’s looking like we’ll be headed to ATR(Appalachian Toyota Roundup.) I’ve heard about it for some time, but I’ve never had the capability to make it up there in my truck and that’s something I’ve really wanted to do. It’ll be a solid drive for the ole girl(8ish hours), but we’ve already established that she’s capable of that. I just hope it gets cool enough to actually enjoy the camping part of the event. 

     Anyway, on to real exciting shiz. Just a little background, I’ve grown up only 90 miles from the beach. My grandparents had a house, so we always went. Well, ever since I was kid, I wanted to drive on the  beach and I’m FINALLY getting my wish!! That brings me to the juicy stuff. The planning is still being worked out, but we’ll be doing about 600-700 miles from the most northern part on the North Caroline coast and down and finishing on Savanna Georgia. A lot of this will be beach driving, there will be several ferry crossings, and a little bit of forest service roads too. Honestly, to say I’m excited is a gross understatement. Between camping on some really remote islands, on the beach, and hanging out with some awesome people, yeah, one could understand where I’m coming from. The best part about it all, all of you reader will get to experience it too. We’ll be filming the whole thing for a three part YouTube series. More on this as I get more information and closer to go time. 

As always, this is Rich signing off.  

BioLite

      Well, as usual, life has picked up the pace. Myself and the family has just gotten back from an exciting week at Disney, down in Orlando. But all that is beside the point, so let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?? 

     I first learned about BioLite about three years ago and that’s where my love affair first started. If you haven’t seen their stuff, you should absolutely check them out. But to give you a little background on the company, they basically provide energy efficient camping products. They have several lighting products and even a few cooking products. Their pizza oven is probably one of their cooler products, but I haven’t gotten to that point just yet. The first thing I picked up, was the Base Lantern XL and some site lights and that’s what’s been powering my camp light setup on my 60. But they’ve recently come out with something else that’s equally as effective. Let me first say, all of the site lights are capable of being daisy chained, but the new lights are going to be a game changer. Each set comes on a 10ft strand, with four smaller lights, that can also be daisy chained. The cool part, even if you don’t have any of their other products, they work. Each set comes with a USB port converter. But if you DO have a Base Lantern XL or something equivalent, they plug directly into it. A few awesome features with that is a proximity sensor and complete control over your entire light setup, via your mobile device. But if you have any questions about BioLite, just give me a shout and I’ll do my best to help you out. If I can’t figure it out, I’m sure they’ll be able to help. www.bioliteenergy.com 

But as always, this is Rich signing off.  

Downtime

      If you live in the south, you know what I mean. Unfortunately, we only have soo much time to get all the camping in, before you start having to head further and further north. I’m going to take advantage of that fact. Right now is not the best time for the 60 to be making any long trips. Although, she preformed beautifully to and from the Smokey Mountain Overland Rally, we had some problems too. To begin with and most importantly, my hubs decided to shit the bed, so I have a bad ass 2wd at the moment. Also, a few of the more aggressive hills, shall we say, in north Georgia, killed my truck. At one point, I was doing 35 in 3rd gear, struggling to make it to the top with the rest of traffic. So that’s getting fixed. Along with new hubs, the ole girl will be getting some fresh 4.56s for gears and probably a locker for the rear. 

     Between all of that and a few other small things, I should have a damn realiable truck. Or about as realiable as a 31 year old truck can be. We’re gearing up for a trip this fall that will be the biggest and longest to date for the ole girl and I don’t want to have to worry about anything.  

     In other news, my lady friend has been shopping for 4Runners and I’ve gotten to help!! It seems as if she’s finally found something she likes and we’ve already placed the order. She’ll be the new owner of a SR5 Premium, with the XP Predator package. It’s 4wd and capable enough to still take it in the woods, but nothing super crazy with a bunch of extra shit she didn’t need. I’m really excited to say the least, I normally do all of the driving and it’ll be nice to have this thing for trips if my truck happens to be down.  

     Anyway, that’s all that I’ve got for now. This is Rich, signing off.  

SMOR, Here We Come.

     Well, as you can tell by the title we’re headed to the Smokey Mountain Overland Rally this coming weekend. This will be the longest trip to date with the 60 I’m finishing up a few last things before we go. To begin with, I got some airbags thrown on the rear to help carry the ass end of the old girl. Since the new 5 speed has gone in, I’ve noticed that my rear u-joints need replacing, so that’s also happening. The fan shroud for my radiator and dual 12” fans finally arrived, so my clutch fan is coming off and those are going on. Finally, we’re moving my fuel pump to the rear of the truck. It’s a “push” pump, instead of a “pull” pump and it’s currently under the hood, so this will allow it to run more efficiently. A new throwout bearing for my clutch arrived yesterday, so that will be nice getting replaced before the eight hour road trip in the old girl. 

      As far as the rally goes, we’re leading a few trail rides throughout the weekend. So if you’re interested in hanging out, come by and say hello. 

But that’s about it for today and as always, this is Rich signing off.  

 

The changes that come with time

The fact that some of you are here and reading this is just remarkable and thank you so much for following along on our journey! It has been a crazy year since we brought this idea from a conversation between friends into what it is today. 

Now some of you may ask what is Southern Xpeditions? Why do you spell it weird? Well lets see if I can answer some of the basic's.

Southern Xpeditions started as a group of guys who came together after Overland Expo East 2016 at the Biltmore is Asheville, NC. Rich and I had been friends since college and Jim I had never met before that night that entirely too much moonshine was poured. We all bonded over one common goal. UTAH!!!

Not to spoil the end but we did it. We traveled hundreds of miles through deserts and over mountains across the state of Utah on the Backcountry Discovery Route. On top of that we filmed it, or at least did our best. And trying to show everyone how much fun and how beautiful it truly is out west! I know we aren't a first rate production company but we did it! We set a goal and accomplished it!

Where do we go from here? Good question, but for now we know that this hosting of the Overland Challenge and helping Veteran based Veteran operated Veteran Focused charities is something special and we hope that you continue to follow along as we try to make a real positive impact on this community and other peoples lives....... Oh and did i forget to mention have a damn good time along the way?

Stay tuned for what is sure to be a fun ride!

Derrick

Camping and Extra Gears

     Well, hope everyone had a great Easter weekend with family or whatever you did.  Like I said, we escaped for a few days of “solitude,” at least as much as you can have with children. Haha. But anyway, super happy with all of the additional mods we did last week. My steering feels great, she tracks a whole hell of a lot straighter and the extra gear is just heavenly. At one point, I was doing 75 on I10 and only turning 2300(ish) rpms. Which is a HUGE change from the 4 speed.  

     I actually returned to find a few surprises in the mail, one being a fan shroud for my two 12” electric fans. So now, hopefully I can free up a few horses with that upgrade and never have to worry about overheating again. I also realized my universal joints need replacing. So that’s going to happen here soon too. I’ve decided to go ahead and replace my shocks. Everything was good when I lifted my truck the 2”-2.5”, but then I did a shackle reversal in the front and extended shackles in the rear and that screwed me. That being said, I’ll be measuring for new shock lengths and hopefully getting some new ones ordered to help with my ride. We’re basically done with camping season this far south, but I’ll have her better than new by the time that rolls back around. 

That about does it for today, so as always, this is Rich signing off. 

Events and Upgrades

      Well, as I expected, the Spring Gathering was an awesome time. We meet lots of cool people, hung out with old friends, and got to play with our toys. What more can you really ask for??? But now that we’ve got a little down time, I’m trying to finish up a few last projects on the 60. My 5 speed is finally going in, so hopefully mileage will improve just a little bit. New brake lines are going on to make up for the added few inches of lift, and I’ve got new tie rod ends going on to tighten up my steering. 

     This week is spring break for a bunch of kids around here, so my girlfriend and I are taking her two youngans for a few nights in the woods to try out some of the new gear. This will give me a chance to see how the new transmission is on the road and hopefully play with the new nascar like steering. Ha. I just hope we don’t get carried off by blood suckers, cause it’s damn sure getting that time of year in the South. 😒 But anyway, we’ll have some more events coming up this next month and I can’t wait to hit them all up!!  

As always, this is Rich signing off.  

Georgia Bushcraft Spring Gathering

     Hey guys, we’ve got an exciting weekend planned up in Watkinsville, GA.  The Spring Gathering kicks off this Friday morning (March 23) and I hope to see a bunch of you out there!! They’ve got classes planned, vendors will be there, and live music in the evenings.  We’ll have a booth setup and several of us will be around to chat and drink a few beers. We have a few events happening this year and may even be adding a few more.  But if you haven’t heard me talk about how much fun events like this are, you missing out.  Not only is it a chance to kiss some hands and shack some babies, but it’s also a chance to play with ALL of your gear.  Most of the time, unless we’re going to be there for more than one night, camp is pretty minimal.  Not this weekend!! We’ll be there for three nights, so all the toys are coming out.  So stop by and check out some cool shit.  Several of our industry friends will be there as well, including Mountain State Overland and CVT. Anyway, I’m tying down the last few loose ends on the 60 this week and will be rolling Thursday morning. 

And as always, this is Rich signing off. 

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