The Overland Expo: A Recap of Teaching Travel and Parenting

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Overland ExpoBrooke and I spent three months planning and organizing for our "booth" at the Overland Expo.  We had a tough time wrapping our heads around this idea that we'd be conducting informal, yet organized and scheduled, class-style discussions about family adventure travel.  This because we'd be set up among the vendors and commercial exhibitors.

We did it, and everyone who came to see us either posed questions we hadn't thought of, or (and for the most part) were already on board with the idea of traveling with their kids.

However, we spent a short hour with Brian and Debbie who are both approaching 40 and thinking about having children - their questions were the same ones all parents throw over the plate, and nevertheless just as valid.  I held to The Parent's Code and didn't spill the real secret to having children: "raising kids is a lot of fun, hugely rewarding, and a dream come true as long as they're asleep or moved out of the house."

Jason and Kellie, another family who visited us, have a little baby boy and though they may have stopped by our booth to talk, they're headed to Baja as a threesome right now as I type. For the most part, we swapped stories with other parents like them.  And on the way home Sunday night, I said to Brooke, "I wish Jason and Kellie were our neighbors."

What's left to do but swap stories and give each other some ideas?  I thought the whole event was great for this. Perhaps some of our visitors expected us to divulge some deep parenting secrets only we held. One visitor posed this issue, "What do you do?  Like I could be in Italy going, 'AH!  Look!  Tuscany!' [pause, then disappointment] '...But I have to change a diaper'."  My only response: the longer you complain about the diaper the less you can explore Tuscany.

There Is No Secret, But There Is One Rule

Here's a funny thing.  I talked to a number of passers-by who immediately concluded that we were a guide service or a children's camp of some type.  That made my head burn with itches.  But I got over it. I hope you're laughing right about now.  And pointing your finger at the screen.  And holding your pee in.

So . . . inspiration.  I so wish we would have been able to provide a few slideshow trip reports and offer up Q-n-A.  I think that would have proven more practical and successful. Lesson learned.

I learned that the overwhelming trouble with our plan is that there is no single technique to parenting on the road.  It's not like winching, for example, or driving through a rock obstacle on a trail - both of which have a simple set of rules and techniques to guide your vehicle through.  But your kids are far more idiosyncratic than a Land Rover (I can hear the Land Rover owners out there scoffing, "That's debatable!") There are no hard and fast rules about how to take on a 1200 mile trip with a 10-year-old boy and two 6-year-old twin girls in the back seat.

No, I take that back. Pardon me, I apologise.  There's one rule: Do what you can to survive and then make them miserable by any and all means possible when they turn 16.

Speaking of Idiosyncrasies, Brooke Got to Drive a Land Rover LR3

Because Brooke performed a miracle of sorts to organize (if that's the word) a hodge-podge daycare system that invovled the other mother-exhibitors in which we'd all take an hour here and there to help watch the kids, Roseann Hanson set up a private lesson for Brooke with Sarah Batten as a thank-you.

Sarah Batten is an instructor at the Land Rover Experience Malverns at Eastnor Castle (no crap, that's castle).  Brooke got to drive a Land Rover LR3 on the trail, and I get the feeling the she'd actually leave me for a LR3 or for Sarah Batten herself.  I'm actually a little worried that they laughed their heads off at Brooke's descriptions of the way I grunt and moan and make noises at the way she drives when we're off highway.

Oh, I swear, I try to be a good natured fella about it but sometimes I just have to say things like, "OH UM LIKE ERRRRR UGGGGGHHHHH, OVER THERE OVER THERE OVER THERE!" in part because I'm a man, in part because I'm her husband, and in part because of that overtly sexist thing I have to live up to: dirt road driving means macho stuff.  I'm working on it, I'm working on it.  Lay off.

I'm not justifying that.  I'm just admitting it and laughing at it. You're not still holding your pee are you?

Did I mention that she got this sweet private lesson in a LR3?  I've already recieved two emails from my buddies about this.  "I hear you're looking at getting a Land Rover?"  I mean really.  They'd heard about the experience well before we'd even made it home from the Expo.  They're already mocking me.

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