When I told my pregnant wife I wanted to leave her and our two-year-old daughter to drive around in a van for two weeks, I expected to hear, “Are you crazy?!”
Instead, she gave me the go-ahead because she knew it would be a rare opportunity and an experience that would help me in my new career as a Sales Guru at Vandoit. I just had to promise to call or FaceTime at every opportunity and send lots of pictures. (I still owe her a trip of her own.)
Overland West Expo 2022
Our trip started with a long, arduous drive from Blue Springs, Missouri, to Flagstaff, Arizona, for the Overland West Expo. We drove 15 hours in one day to minimize time away from our families.
Chris (another Sales Guru) and I each drove a van, and we met some other team members in Arizona for the show.
This was my first exposure to the overlanding community, and I could write a separate story on my four-day experience there. (In summary: lots of dust, awesome people with great stories, and “camping” vehicles worth more than my house).
Fantastic Shots in Amazing Spots
After the show, we picked up Austin and Marcus–Vandoit Marketing team members–from the airport. From there, Chris and I had the task of driving them to cool spots across Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado so they could take sweet pictures of the vans.
Austin and Marcus provided artistic talent with their camera and drone skills, while Chris and I got to drive the camper vans all around the Mountain West and occasionally pose for pictures.
The End of the World
Our first stop was The End of the World in Arizona. We drove 30 miles up a mountain on dirt, gravel, and rocks. At the summit, we experienced a view like no other. We were sitting on a plateau in a tall pine forest with a view of a vast valley full of craggy, volcanic rock and sandstone.
We rode dirt bikes on the rolling dirt roads all around us, flew the drone for incredible shots you’ll see on the Vandoit Instagram and TikTok, and cooked some tasty hot dogs for dinner on my Coleman camp stove.
Moab: Chasing Vacation Views
The next day we drove to Moab, Utah. At the Overland West show, Chris had struck up a conversation with an overlanding enthusiast who owns some property there. Chris’s personality and enthusiasm for overlanding were enough for him to invite us to camp and shoot photo and video content on his beautiful property along the Colorado River in Moab. He even offered us a hot shower in the campground they were renovating along the river.
I did my duty and parked the camper van perfectly for the guys to do their camera magic. Then I hiked up a couple of slot canyons on the property. On this solo adventure, I reflected on my fortunes. I hated my previous job. Now, I’m on a work trip with views I would typically chase on vacations.
Bonneville Salt Flats
We woke up in the morning with our sights set on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Western Utah (and a pit stop in Salt Lake City for some In-N-Out Burgers).
We spent the bulk of that day riding dirt bikes and taking pictures. I sat in the van for a while to do some work. Selling vans is even more fun when you are sitting in one on what looks like the surface of an unknown planet!
We left with sunburns, salty skin, and unbreakable smiles. Using iOverlander, we found a nearby campsite with a fantastic view of the next sunrise.
Fremont Ridge in Wyoming was our next stop. We arrived, and a road greeted us we weren’t sure we should be traveling on. So we put our vans’ all-wheel drive, Qlift, and suspension upgrades to the test and conquered the obstacles with no issues other than some white knuckles.
We were rewarded with more unbelievable views, cooked hot dogs, and soaked in the beauty.
Jackson Hole: Not a Sick Bear
The next day, we gathered ourselves and some supplies in Jackson, Wyoming. Chris and I did some work from Roadhouse Brewing Co. (Sorry, boss! The coffee shop was closed–we promise!)
Our campground for the night was at the base of Shadow Mountain. This spot provided an unobstructed view of the Grand Tetons. We drove up the mountain a bit for some more views and pictures.
We hoped to find a more isolated campsite but ended up staying in the lower campground with some neighbors. In the middle of the night, I learned the effects of having hot dogs for dinner too many days in a row. (Apparently, four is the magic number).
I was sleeping in the Roof Nest rooftop tent and could not get down in time–my dinner was now down the side of the van. Austin was almost asleep inside the camper van beneath me and had to ask if a bear was outside. He was relieved to hear that I was the sick bear.
Our morning view of the Tetons was spoiled by rain, so we headed northeast with the destination of Sugarloaf Mountain in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Along the way, we encountered a snowstorm in June!
This was especially wild to me, considering we were in the desert just a few days before. The campsite we hoped for was closed due to the snow, so we traveled down the mountain, then back up to another spot we found using iOverlander.
The pines blocked our view of the mountains but gifted us with seclusion. We were incredibly excited when we found bear droppings and the bare bones of what we believe was once a deer. That night in the Roof Nest tent, I was constantly wondering if the noises I heard were wind or a hungry bear.
Back to Civilization
The next day we drove to Denver and cleaned our salt, dust, mud, and mustiness out of the camper vans. It took the four of us only about an hour to return the two vans to trade show quality.
We transitioned back to civilization by parking in the driveway of one of Chris’s relatives for the night. We arrived during a neighborhood block party and enjoyed pizza, beer, and tons of questions about what we were doing and what we were driving.
We left the camper vans in airport parking for some coworkers to pick up for a trade show in Denver the next week, and we headed home with some fantastic stories and sunburns.
When I returned home, I got to change every diaper for a week to make up for the lost time. I missed my family dearly, and some days it was tough to be away from them. However, I look back with no regrets.
These pictures and memories are irreplaceable. I built great friendships with some guys I barely knew before. I learned things about Vandoit vans that I would have never known without using them in the elements and climates we encountered. I could do my job from the back of a van with views of mountains, valleys, and deserts. The cherry on top was when I saw my first moose!
When clips of our trip are on the Vandoit Instagram or TikTok, I eagerly show my wife and daughter. Then it triggers a memory of that fantastic journey. I finished the trip knowing, confidently, that the camper van was the easiest way to see the most beautiful parts of our country.