In Virginia

So its midnight 11 in Virginia….. being kindly hosted by two State Dept friends as my buddy who set this US trip in motion had to head west for family business when the trip fell flat due to poor vehicle preparation. Been chatting to several LR guys over here in the US and potentially a busy few days coming up, what with the Land Rover Muddy Chef Challenge in Connecticut before I fly back, plus a few other bits and bobs going on. Also doing quite a bit of sampling of local real ales – ale is having something of a renaissance here in the US and I must admit there seems to be an obsession with IPAs and varieties thereof – perhaps as a reaction to bland low-alcohol lagers that have flooded the market. I’ve been hugely impressed by many that I’ve tried, not least from the 14th Star, Magic Hat and Stone Corral breweries in Vermont. Nice brews also from Sam Adams and from Bells in Michigan although they are a bit light and wheaty for my tastes.

Another revelation (well, I knew it would happen) is the relative cost of outdoor gear here in the US. I’ve bought a fair few pieces of kit here as it’s cheaper to buy than to bring in from the UK and things like sleeping bags, tents and other staples are much cheaper than home. Also knives – with my bushcraft ‘hat’ on I’ve always had an eye for a practical knife for use about camp, and developed a liking for Buck knives – far, far cheaper here in the US than Britain. A military buddy here passed me a Gerber as well which I’m very taken with, and have reappraised my opinion of Gerber based upon it.

We’ve had a lot of contact as well with Land Rover specialists in New England and much care and attention was directed our way by Rovers North in Vermont and North America Overland in Connecticut. Two sterling bunches of thoroughly decent chaps who went above and beyond the call of duty to help out with various issues on our trip. Rovers North lent us a Freelander 2 for a bit of offroad exploration whilst they replaced our bonnet that flew off, and were hugely welcoming and accommodating – even giving us some home made Vermont maple syrup. North America Overland accommodated us and fed us and checked the truck over – two new groups of friends who will get a lot of business from my Defender-owning buddy. Mind you thanks also must go to Mark Folkedahl in Decorah, Iowa; not a Land Rover specialist but a genuinely nice bloke and great mechanic, and someone who was willing to drop everything and fit us in when we needed help. I’m a bit embarrassed to record the need for so much help, testament as it is to lack of vehicle preparation, but there are lessons in all this – not least of which the old military maxim of the 7 Ps – Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. I’m just relieved that for once the onus for vehicle preparation and trip-equipping wasn’t on me, though I do feel for my mate who set it all up.

I think I’m going to sell my old MyWay roof tent when I get home to the UK as I’ve upgraded to their latest version – it’s a 1.6m Evolution model. Let me know if anyone is interested.



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