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The OE Blog

Adventure 003 - Overland Empire x Sanborn Canoe Co.

While we work hard during the week and most weekends, we dream of adventures and quick getaways. So we got away to Orange Island in Florida's Canaveral National Seashore for another canoe adventure while the weather was still cool.

We teamed up with our friends over at Sanborn Canoe Co for some killer paddles to use on our journey, so after paddling in to our camp on Orange Island we spent the weekend fishing, canoeing, cooking great food, and enjoying the outdoors. 

We hit the weather perfect—warm enough to wade in shorts in the middle of the day, cool enough not to sweat through the night. You've gotta love Florida in the early Spring. 

It was an easy paddle on the way out, with calm waters and barely any wind. It doesn't take long when you're out on the water—with dolphins swimming a few feet from the bow of your canoe—to feel far from home. After hitting land we made camp, built a fire, and started preparing food. Then we hit the water to freshen up on our fly casting and explore the area.

After a good amount of paddling and exploring we came back ready for dinner, and prepared an overland feast of maple-glazed pork chops, grilled artichokes, roasted potatoes, and corn on the cob. All grilled over open flame, the way food was meant to be cooked. It's a good feeling having cooked an amazing meal outside, and it's why we put in that extra effort and load the canoes with a little more food.

After dinner it was off to paddle and fish more, of course shooting photos and videos the entire time. Once it got dark we stoked the fire, started fooling around with some time-lapse to catch the full moon move across the sky, then decided to start a batch of chili to enjoy on day two. This wasn't chili from a kit either. Sliced up steak, coffee, cocoa powder, onions, black beans, and a mess of other guessed and hand-measured ingredients made for a chili that surprised all with how good it was. We kept it warm over the fire and broke into it the next morning. Break a fried egg over anything and you can call it breakfast. 

After that it was more shooting, more canoeing, and more eating. We know how to have a good adventure.

Check out more photos on Sanborn's Scout Field Log.

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Adventure 002 - Dual Sport Ride

We've always had a love for two wheels. While you can bring everything you need for comfort in a car, SUV, or truck, nothing strips you down to the bare essentials of adventure like riding a motorcycle. Especially an offroad motorcycle. This adventure was taken on to prove that even in an area overcome with urban sprawl, adventure riding could be found just miles from home.

To get off the paved road and explore dirt roads is liberating. It transports you to a time and place that may only have existed in your imagination. But it's there, and it's real. And it's right in our backyard. No traffic, no red lights, no trains. Only dirt, blue sky, and endless possibilities. This is what we came for. To get away and yet to be right here.

We aim for something more than a Sunday drive. Sure, it may be as easy as getting on your bike (or in your truck or jeep) and going for an exploratory ride, but we like to take it up a notch. To plan a route worth photographing, worth slowing down for, and one that will literally take us all weekend. The planning can be consuming—hours spent clicking through Google Maps, more hours scouting and coming across dead ends, private land, and locked gates, and still more hours preparing gear and equipment.

Then there's the food. For us, food is the tie that binds. An impromptu cookout after a scouting session rather than dinner out. A legitimate hot lunch on the trail rather than a granola bar or pre-made sandwich. Great food is such a tremendous part of our lives. We grew up in households anchored by a home-cooked meal, and that is one legacy we each pass along to our families. A scratch-made meal is always worth the extra effort, be it at home, at camp, or here on the trail.

And so we now find ourselves huddled together on a particularly frigid Saturday, going over our route and plans in the dark space between night and morning. While a vehicle-dependent expedition can be had with only the necessities required for your length of adventure, we decided early on that we would have a support truck. The video needs required to meet our critical eyes, along with the food and equipment involved in putting together meals worthy of sharing, helped make this decision a rather simple one. Now as we stand and eat homemade pop-tarts and bulletproof coffee, we laugh about how we get excited over a good break of pastry, or the perfect mug for a photo. Six men with a unified purpose—to have an adventure worthy of pictures, and pictures worthy of an adventure.

After a delicious and protein-rich breakfast we quickly load up and ride out, a race for the rising sun. Two motorcycles and a truck, all off-road ready and built for this type of adventure. There's an excitement to setting off on any sort of journey, much less one that's been anticipated for weeks, even months, on end. An excitement that can barely be matched, and we feel it immediately. We drive a carefully planned route from one of our homes, driving back roads North towards our destination. The planning pays off in spades. Almost zero traffic, easy navigation, and picturesque vistas that remind us of the aforementioned goal—to enjoy an area less developed, before time and growth catch up to it and spoil it for good. So we pass country homes, pastures full of cows, and beautiful groves full of peach trees just beginning to blossom, and we make sure to enjoy it.

The cold cuts hard through our clothes, and the sun does little to make a difference. Thankfully there is only one stretch of road that requires highway speeds, and we get through it quickly. By the time many are just wiping the sleep out of their eyes we've reached our first waypoint, our destination for all the dirt roads we can handle: a Wildlife Management Area consisting of 50k+ acres that crosses three counties. And it's our home for this portion of our adventure.

When many hear the words "Wildlife Management Area" they may immediately think of deer hunters and tree stands. And they would be correct. As we enter this area on the last day of general gun season for deer, we see our fair share of rifles and blaze orange. However we're the ones that receive the odd looks today, "hipsters" in our funny clothes. We get a laugh from the looks we get, but we know many are well deserved. It's not everyday you see a guy with a GoPro on a four foot pole strapped to his back. Now we roll off onto this leg of our trip, feeling the dirt beneath our tires. We explore the forest, finding a lake, smoking trees, and yes, plenty of hunters. We drive until we find a spot for lunch, a grassy site with plenty of sun and a break from the wind. We set up our temporary camp, with our field kitchen and cooking supplies, and quickly set to work on making a hot lunch. Homemade vegetable soup, made from scratch right on the trail, along with Shao Bing chicken sandwiches and some much needed beverages. We enjoy our break together, standing in the sun to get warm, telling stories, talking shop, and just being guys. We also have a good time making fun of ourselves, imagining the conversations in passing trucks as they see a bunch of dudes taking pictures of each other. A strange world indeed.

After lunch we're off to lay tracks in the dirt, enjoying the sky above our heads and the dirt 'neath our feet. There are few things in life so simple as this, to enjoy our surroundings, the Earth as it was made. As we traverse our route, making wrong turns, dead ends, running out of gas, and burning leather on hot exhaust pipes, we grow stronger in our ties. These adventures of ours become our signature, an inscription of our time on this planet and our lives together. For as much as one can accomplish alone, we know of our strength in numbers. Our wisdom lies in our collective skills. Friends joined by purpose, bonded by story and adventure, and clear in intentions. As society hurtles on in progress, gobbling up our land and open spaces, we are sure to enjoy what we have around us, while we have it. Be that the outdoors, friends, or family. In our case, it's all of those and more. Nothing can replace our time together, our time doing what we enjoy.

So while today's road takes us to a remote lake house where we'll meet up with family and enjoy a delicious dinner spent around a campfire, tomorrow the road takes us somewhere completely different. And that, our friends, is why we do this.

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Adventure 001 - Canaveral National Seashore

Our first official adventure took us to Canaveral National Seashore on Florida's east coast. This protected waterway is home to sea turtles, dolphins, redfish, bald eagles, and many other native species. The primitive island campsites provide the perfect setting for adventure. 

We struck out on a Friday afternoon, work and family obligations creating a later start for all of us than originally planned. Once on the road, however, all stress subsided and we were happy to just be guys in a truck. We rambled on like kids about our plans for the weekend—the food we would cook, the photos we wanted to get, and the logistics of loading our excessive amount of gear into canoes. There would be no support boat, no easy way to our remote island campsite. Four guys and a dog, three coolers—one each for food, drinks, and ice—one amazing field kitchen, camera equipment, tents, firewood, clothes, propane, water, and various necessities. These would end up filling three canoes.

As soon as we were on the water we knew exactly why we were embarking on this adventure. Literally leaving land and trouble behind us, we paddled toward freedom, toward excitement, and toward a lot of hard work. We reached land at twenty past seven, not a far cry from nightfall. We set to work immediately building our camp, splitting duties between setting up the kitchen, and cooking, starting a fire, and pitching tents. By the time camp was set and dinner ready, it was dark. Like nine thirty dark. But the results were magical. A steak and salad never tasted so good. In the last hours of Friday we sat around our fire, drink in hand, and talked about our hopes and dreams: for this story, for the future, for adventure.

There were many more great moments that weekend; many more amazing meals cooked over fire and propane, many more ambitious thoughts and propositions, and many more chances for smile and laughter. And although things may not always be perfect or go exactly according to plan, adventure brings forth our knack of improvisation. Whether caused by rain, unseasonable heat, bugs, or some other setback, you learn to just roll with it and go with your instincts. To trust your gut. Because no matter what, the joy is still in the arrant satisfaction of getting away. And at the end of it all one thing was sure: we were four men closer in friendship than before, determined that this would not be the last adventure. 

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