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The OE Blog

1999 Overland Empire Land Rover Discovery

This rig has been our primary adventure vehicle since buying it in 2014. The Landy currently has only 94,000 miles and runs like a champ. Here are the build specs:

Overland Empire Land Rover Discovery Series 1

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The OE Scrambler rises

It seems that life can move by pretty fast. Super fast, actually. And when you throw in managing a business, attending shows, doing pop-ups, building a 4Runner overland rig, and then of course the good stuff—adventures, trips, family time, etc.—well the months can go by before you even know what happened. And that's where our little OE Scrambler project comes in. It had been bearing the brunt of a busy life. Sitting patiently in the corner like a dog waiting to be noticed by his owner. Well no more. She has been noticed.

Overland Empire Scrambler

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Desk to Glory

Desk to Glory

One thing we love is supporting overlanders—especially those undertaking life-changing trips. We came across Richard and Ash from Desk to Glory a while back and were instantly smitten. Being able to help these guys on their journey with some OE tees, sweaters, and enamel mugs—and being along for the ride—brings us more joy than we can describe. We recently had the privilege to interview these guys to get a little more insight into their travels.

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2016 Overland Empire 4Runner

2016 Overland Empire 4Runner

Well now we've gone and done it. We've started a new build on a 2016 Toyota 4Runner Trail. A new lift has already been installed, with Icon Vehicle Dynamics front struts, UCAs, rear springs, and trackbar, Fox 2.5 reservoir rear shocks, BFGoodrich All Terrain ko2 tires, and TRD matte black wheels.

 
Soon we'll be installing rock sliders from our friends at PelfreyBilt, a front bumper from the guys at Shrockworks, and then a CBI Offroad rear bumper, full-size spare tire, winch, and more!
We're stoked about this build. We'll keep you updated as thing progress!
2016 Overland Empire Toyota 4Runner Trail Black
2016 Overland Empire Toyota 4Runner Trail Black
2016 Overland Empire Toyota 4Runner Trail Black

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The OE Scrambler build update

We've been hard at work building our next #adventuremobile for some time now. What started life as a 1975 Kawasaki KZ400s is now becoming the OE Scrambler—a trusty little sled that be put to good use tearing up back roads, dirt roads, and trails. You can get the details on the full build here on Expedition Portal, but for now here's a quick little update:

Originally we cut the frame down, removed anything unnecessary, powder coated the rims and respoked them with new stainless steel spokes, then shod them with Pirelli MT43 trials tires. We installed a smaller battery, upgraded the wiring to a new harness from Sparck Moto, made a custom seat, and fabbed new high exhaust. Most recently we rebuilt the engine, replaced all gaskets and cleaned the pistons like new, tuned the carbs, and now she's purring like a mad kitten. The exhaust is welded, we just need to fab a couple brackets to stabilize them out back. We made a new electrics tray this past weekend and now everything is clean and protected from the dirt we'll be slinging. We'll be welding on a tab for the ignition this week, and after that she should be ready to be stripped all apart again and ready for powder coat and paint. 

We took her out yesterday for a proper test run, and she performed like a champ. Just a little more work and she'll join the fleet for whatever adventures come our way.

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

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Overland Expo West 2015

Hailing from the Southeast means it’s not too easy to drive out to the American West. Being an Overland company we could obviously make the drive, and would love to make the drive, but we just haven’t had the time to make a two week trip out West. So although Overland Expo had been on our radar for years, we hadn’t been able to make the trip. This year we decided to take a different approach. Since we knew a drive was out of the question because of other travel and work commitments, we decided to fly in. Heresay, yes. Flying to an overland event? Well what are you going to do, just not go? Nope. Sometimes you just have to make things happen. But this wasn’t going to be any old fly-in/fly-out trip. We’re Overland Empire! We had to make it an adventure. Make it fun. Here’s the story.

First, instead of getting stuck with a Ford Escape or some other wimpy truck from a rental-car company, we needed something good. Something worthy. So we got in touch with our friend Sean (@defconbrix) and asked if he knew anyone we could team up with to get a vehicle to the Expo. He put us in touch with the Pelfreys of PelfreyBilt Offroad, who had a beautiful, built 2014 4Runner we could drive to the show. Problem solved.

And do you know what’s incredible about this whole thing? Overlanding, the community, Instagram, whatever? All of it? Meeting people. From our trips to St John and Canada and meeting and hanging out with some incredible people, to meeting people in our local area, to meeting people on the complete opposite side of this country, somehow we’re brought together. It’s just been such a rad, unexpected part of this little venture. So, left the house at 2:30am to catch a 5:20am flight from Tampa to San Diego. Ugh. Not too fun. But this is what we do to make things happen. Then, arriving in San Diego, Mrs. Satin Pelfrey rolls up in the gorgeous white 4Runner above. 

Super gracious, super kind, and having gone out of her way to drive to the San Diego airport. Just connected, right off the bat. We drove out to Poway/Ramona to their shop and met her husband, Tyler. Another incredible person. This was going to be a great trip, from the beginning. Went and had lunch with Satin, talked shop and customer service, then dropped her off and began the road trip to Phoenix. 

A drive that should take maybe five and a half hours takes seven when you pull off to explore every dirt road or photo op. The scenery is a world away from the lush east coast oak hammocks. Brown, dry, mountainous. So fun to drive through. The opportunity to make this drive in—especially in a great ride like the PelfreyBilt 4Runner—was such a great part of this trip. We drove from Poway west through Ocotillo Wells, past the Salton Sea, then up through the Glamis sand dunes on the way to Phoenix. And those dunes are seriously amazing. Never been to Egypt, but it sure felt like that's what it would be like. Soft sand piled into sharp dunes. Breathtaking.
To be continued...

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Ambassador Feature - Bear Treadway

We've recently started an ambassador program where we team up with some amazing folks that line up with Overland Empire. People who are out going on adventures, building overland rigs, or exploring this great planet. We'll be running features on these ambassadors here, starting with the one and only Bear Treadway. 

Bear has always been one of our favorite explorers. Originally from Alaska, she grew up in several states across the US and now calls Washington home. She'd call herself an amateur photographer, but her work shows skill that's anything but amateur. The striking compositions of mountains and landscapes don't always tell the full story: that Bear is climbing and exploring every bit of what she shoots. You can check out beartreadway.com to learn more.

The other day we did a little Q&A with Bear to get things started:

OE: How old are you? Bear: I'll be 24 for another month.

Where were you born? Fairbanks, Alaska

When did you get the itch to explore? We've spent the majority of my life moving from place to place and outdoors. Outside of that, watching my father return from distant places built a curiosity in me.

Where's your favorite place that you've been so far? New Zealand.

Why? Even in the hard days, everything felt right. I never wanted to be anywhere but where I was.

You leave for Ecuador in a couple days (she's actually there now)—what made you want to visit Ecuador? Ecuador stood out because it was a good season for climbing and beaches. A bit of two worlds in one trip.

What's next after Ecuador? Immediately after Ecuador, I will make my way to Peru. Most of my time here will be spent in different sections of the Andes mountains. Later this year I'm also looking forward to a trip to India & Nepal.

Where do you dream of going one day? Outside of going home to climb Denali, my biggest dream would be Pakistan and Mongolia. The Karakoram mountains draw me in, but through all the landscapes, culture, and uncertainty it has a pull.

One thing you couldn't live without? The outdoors. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't play outside.

Favorite food on the trail? Vegan burritos! Nothing better.

Favorite food when you're not on the trail? Pizza, blueberries, and bananas.

If you weren't exploring, what would you be doing? Trying new things. Recently finding an excitement for snowboarding and rock climbing.

Learn more about our ambassador program here, and if you're interested in joining the team you can fill out the entry form there too. And as always, tag your photos with #overlandempire to join the Empire.

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Goodbye 2014

Here's to trucks, to motorcycles, to sleeping on the roof, to short drives, long drives, and drives around the world. Here's to hiking in on foot, to getting there by plane and boat, to seeing new places, making new friends, hanging out with old friends, and making memories. Here's to all that we've done and will do, to the late nights and early mornings, to the stoke and radness of epic adventures, and to the good times playing in our backyards. Here's to 2014, and as always, here's to adventure.

We'd like to thank you all for an amazing year. It was truly incredible. From the Virgin Islands to Canada and everywhere in between, we had a blast. Thanks for following along and making this the Empire that it is. 

A truly special thanks to our friends Bamboo Studios, Treeline Outdoors, Travel Alberta for your hospitality. It's the moments shared with you guys that make us realize why we do this and why we'll keep doing it. So good.

And now we roll onward to 2015. We've got plans and ideas, new products, new friends to be made and new places to visit. So stoked about what's to come.

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Adventure 007 - Georgia Mountains

This was our sixth year in a row coming up to the North Georgia mountains. What started as a camping and fishing trip between a dad and his two boys had turned into a recurring cabin trip with the entire family, which had now grown to 14 strong.

 

These are about the closest mountains from our home in Florida, even then it’s about a nine-hour drive. We don’t have trout streams by us either, the hot weather not creating ideal situations for the trout. So we look forward to our annual migration north, for the time outdoors, the time with family, and for the change of scenery. This year we met up with family in Atlanta and spent a night in the city. There's something special about departing for a week in the outdoors from a big city. Maybe it's the contrast. Whatever the case, it was a good start.

Every year we go fly fishing on the local streams and rivers, and we’re never terribly successful. So this year we lined up a day of trophy trout fishing and quail hunting with a local outfitter, Noontootla Creek Farms. NCF has some beautiful property, and we passed by it the last few years on our way to other fishing spots, so we were stoked to have a chance to fish and hunt with them.

It happened to be the coldest day of the year so far—a brisk 15º F. The quail don’t move too much when it’s that cold, so we pushed our start time to a little later in the morning, arriving at the tiny log cabin at 9:30am. We huddled around the old wood burning stove for a bit, then headed out to the field. Watching the dog work the land has always been pretty incredible, and this day was no different. We ended up only finding five or six birds, and got three in the bag.

 

We then broke for lunch and switched gears for an afternoon of trout fishing. The water was as clear as gin, which meant that the monster trout we could see from the banks could see us, as well as every fly we floated in front of their faces. We fished for hours without a single bite. Then, as the sun started to go down, we came upon a section where the water was a bit faster, the clarity a little less. We ended up landing two giant rainbows within about 30 minutes. When you pull in a fish like that—one that’s been carefully managed to live so long and get so huge—you realize what catch and release is all about. There’s a certain respect for a fish that size, and it’s easy to put it back in the water.

 

The rest of the week was filled with the usual cabin activities: cooking big dinners, taking walks through the woods, games, drinks, and family. The week seems to go by so incredibly quick, and before we know it we’re packing up to come back home.

When you stop and look, it’s funny how things become traditions without even realizing it. Our original trip was cancelled due to a health scare with dad, and we weren’t sure if we would make it up at all. Thankfully, it all worked out in the end, and our tradition continued. The drive up together, the trip to the apple store (real apples, not electronics), the family dinners, and even a talent show from the kids. Traditions are important, especially for families. You may have your own, or you may be starting new ones. Whatever the case, make time for them.

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