The Notier Notes
Our Sunday... oops, Tuesday Tuneup!
After our soul-nurturing ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway for three days, we arrived at Overland Expo East in Virginia, not really knowing what to expect. Well, we knew what the other two Expos had been like. The one in Colorado, and the big one in Arizona had been full of adventure motorcyclists and 4-wheel drive enthusiasts who loved going off-road, hitting the high-altitude mountain trails, and roughing it out in the middle of nowhere.
But somehow I just couldn't imagine the east coast vibe being quite the same. We'd already heard that the East event was significantly smaller than West. Plus, horror stories of mud, mud, and more mud kept surfacing in conversations. It had been hard, and sometimes stressful getting all the way out to the east coast from Arizona in only ten days... and I wondered, was this going to be worth it?
We arrived at the event, and from the top of the small hill, I could see the entire venue of vendors and tents clustered in the grass in front of me. The skies were overcast and heavy with rain-laden clouds, and people were still getting things set up. We were a little early, but still, compared to the monstrously large expos out West, this looked like a tiny county fair, and the weather was not panning out well either. Naturally, I was concerned that nobody might show up.
But we didn't have long to think about it, because we had things to do - set up camp, get checked in, arrange the book booth (which included finding our books that had been mailed there), get our bearings of the place, and look at our schedule of presentations and round tables for the weekend. And then, as soon as we were done with that, we were whisked away to another area of the grounds where a film crew was waiting for us.
That's right, ANOTHER film crew from L.A. had flown out to do some "How-To" videos for the Expo, and they wanted us to do three of them! We had signed up, but in all honesty, we didn't really have any idea what we were signing up for.
We talked with Amanda, who was running the thing, and our lack of preparation was apparent. We even changed our plans on what some of our videos were going to be about right there on the spot. We had no scripts or plans, we were just winging it.
And once I saw the fancy cameras, and the uniforms we had to wear (that looked like we were doing a safari with Steve Irwin), the "bounce" light refractor, then the "negative" one, the lapel mics that were strung up under our shirts, and then worst of all, the dreaded clapboard that had "Notier's Frontiers - Take One" written on it... I started freaking out.
"I'm going to sweat through this shirt before we even get started," I whispered to Tim. "And what are we supposed to be talking about anyway? I'm totally not prepared for this."
"I don't know. This is supposed to be a How-To thing," he replied. "So we just tell them how to do what we do."
"Oh, you mean quit our jobs and be irresponsible on a motorcycle for years on end? There's not much to it, except being crazy," I said.
But Tim seemed as cool as a cucumber. "You'll be fine," he told me.
But I didn't feel fine. The safari shirt they gave me was far too big, so they had to clip it tight in the back in three places, meaning I couldn't move my arms. Plus, my boots were so squeaky, they told me I wasn't allowed to shift my weight or else it would ruin the audio.
The director then instructed us on how to stand in front of the motorcycle. "Ok, now Marisa, if you could just turn a little bit towards me. No, left shoulder back a bit. Stand up straighter. Now, put one arm around Tim. Ok, that's good. And, chin towards me. Up slightly. Ok, we're going to give you a countdown. Just do the intro and act natural."
What?! Act natural?! What intro?!!!
The guy with the clapboard came over and said, "Notier's Frontiers, How To Travel as a Couple and Not Kill Each Other, Take One." SLAP!
"Five, four..." the director counted down for us. 'Three, two..." Then he showed one finger up, and pointed at me. And I froze.
"Hi. Ummmmm...." That awkward silence filled the space between us.
"Ok, cut," the director called out. "That's fine, you're doing fine."
Actually, the film crew were amazing, and they really helped us break the ice and get the videos going. And by the time we were onto our third fifteen-minute video, we were having a blast. In fact, the crew decided that it would be really fun to do some footage of us actually riding on the motorcycle. And so just like for our documentary shoot in Colorado, we got on the motorcycle, they put a cameraman in the trunk of the hatchback, and we zoomed off along the gravel roads, keeping a very short distance away from their bumper. It was glorious.
We had such a good time, that I thought, "Well, even if the Expo turns out to be a dud, then at least this was great."
But "dud" was not the right word to describe Overland Expo East. Because the next day, the crowds showed up. We were zipping around the place, and had so many things on our plate (except food, we had no food on our plate because we were so busy, the neighbors had to feed us), that we decided to divide and conquer. While I was moderating a round table, Tim would be back at the booth selling books.
And boy did he sell books. Halfway through Saturday, we were sold out.
"I can't believe it," he said. "I thought I ordered way too many." So we started making a mailing list to send books to, and people were even signing up for that!
Even the other vendors around us were astonished at the turnout and how things were flying off the shelves. It was remarkable to see how excited people were to get on the road and experience the outdoors again, whether it meant on a motorcycle, in a vehicle, camping, a bicycle, or however else they got their "adventure" on. You could feel the energy of the place, the pure happiness of being there. Even though the clouds were gray, the weather did not reflect the attitude that people brought to Overland Expo East.
And then the raffle happened. People love a raffle, right? So the turnout was incredible, but after it finished, the Expo was going to premier our short documentary that had been made about us the month prior. And I figured that most everyone would leave. But amazingly, hundreds of people stayed to watch the video on us.
The tent was full. The crowd became silent as Eva Rupert introduced us over the microphone. We were in the back, and she said, "Where are the Notiers? Where are our big-time celebrities?" Having whooped-butt on the Discovery Chanel's Naked & Afraid show, Eva's not one to talk about being a celebrity.
But it did feel pretty special to walk down the aisle between the chairs and have everyone cheer for us. Then they premiered the video, and the crowd loved it (if you haven't seen it already, you can check it out here). And it was time for Q&A.
Tim and I stood up at the front, took the microphones, and asked if anyone had any questions. Tons of hands went up. This went on for over 20 minutes. People were fascinated, and Tim, being his witty, funny self, had the crowd in stitches. They were loving it.
And by the time the thing was over, I felt like I was on cloud nine.
I got back to our campsite, sat down in one of our camping chairs, and stared up at the stars in the night sky. "How did your video premier go?" the neighbor, Russ, asked me.
A smiled. "Well, I had my Oscar moment. So I can die happy now."
He laughed. But this Expo turned out better than I could've ever imagined.
I don't feel like Tim and I have done anything particularly incredible throughout our travels. We are just following our dreams, going wherever the wind pushes us. Lots of people do it (in fact, I hope everyone gets to follow their dreams at some point in their lives). And I don't feel that it's any more remarkable than what most people do on a daily basis - waking up for work and pushing yourself out the door to get there on time, getting dinner ready for the kids, or going out to see family and friends... These are all things that you might take for granted, but they are small triumphs that I we don't get to have much of when we're on the road. We have our own small triumphs, but I don't think they're any more important.
And yet, people tell us all the time how much we've inspired them. Sometimes we'll even be told that we've changed their outlook on life for the better. I don't know how that's possible, but if our travels themselves weren't rewarding enough, those moment where we can touch the audience and inspire them, that's truly the fuel that keeps us going.
So thank you everyone for following along!
Next week, we head to the Northeast Backcountry Discovery Route, which is both trip-defining, and trip-ending. So stay tuned!
Below is our latest video all about the things that make Idaho one of our favorite states to ride in (and one thing in particular that made it difficult to ride in).
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