The NW Overland Rally (NWOR) is currently being crushed under the weight of its own success, but don’t let that stop you.
It’s hot. Death Valley, hurts to inhale, no shade to be found, zombie face melting hot. At one point the temp read 106 Fahrenheit. In the center of a hay field, hundreds of people are shoehorned into 20×20 sqft spaces to park their truck, erect their campsites, arrange their adventure trail and attempt to manufacture shade. I’ve had more privacy camping in the Walmart parking lot. The upper section has become tent city where all the dual sport guys are lined up tent to tent with motorcycles stacked one after another.
The NWOR’s premire sponsor is Touratech, a big deal in the dual sport motorcycle world and their marketing budget can be seen in the professionalism of the two wheeled events. There is an offroad course where PSS Off Road provides hands-on beginner and advanced rider training (for a fee). Professional led moto sessions addressing everything from bike field repair to readiness inspections.
The four wheeled side of the house is supported by volunteers (we helped with the advanced recovery session). Outstanding support from the volunteers but hardly comparable to guys who are getting paid to be there and plan out the details. For example: when 70ish trucks showed up for a morning scenic drive everyone did their best to divide up the convoy into more manageable groups but that is a lot of trucks at once.
The intermediate drive didn’t fair much better. It took several hours too long when the large group had to be held back while a dozen trucks at a time were lead up and back down the last half mile.
The campfire MC worked the crowd like an MTV spring break party at Fort Lauderdale. Not the campfire experience we were looking for.
There were numerous interesting sessions packed into two days. In fact with all the overlap of sessions, it felt like there was too much and no way to see all the sessions I was interested in because of the overlap.
If you came to wheel or if you came to spread out… you were sorely disappointed. But that is not what NWOR is really all about.
The overlanding world is filled with amazing, friendly, warm, welcoming people and this is why you come to NWOR! NWOR is about community and making connections with those who share a love for exploring the road less traveled. We reunited with a few old friends we’d not seen in years. We met several new folks who like us are always looking to see what is around the next bend in the road or over a distant mountain pass. We shared stories. We talked travels and exchanged ideas.
We did manage to sneak off on our own to get a little wheeling in. We escaped the heat, temporarily, down at the river and enjoyed dining out in Levenworth’s air conditioned restaurants.
In just five years NWOR has gone from dozens of attendees to hundreds. To say the least they are going through some growing pains and like a case of teenage acne they will get past it. The event will continue to attract fabulous people who want to spend a long weekend sharing their stories with others who love the road and can’t wait to explore areas unknown.
We’re already planning to go back next year!