Overland Journal, Winter 2013 Prevew
La Croisière Jaune: In 1931 a group of french explorers set out to be the first to cross the Himalayas by automobile. Asa Bjorklund narrates this fascinating story, illustrated with stunning archive photography.
Cape Town To Goodwood in a Vintage Biplane
In 1928, Mary Heath became the first person to fly solo from South Africa to the UK. This was an incredible accomplishment from a woman already know for a list of firsts. The first woman to obtain a commercial pilot’s license, she was also a record breaking Olympic athlete and all around go-getter. She was, and still is, an inspiration; certainly for modern day adventurer Tracy Curtis-Taylor.
Flying in an open-cockpit Boeing Stearman biplane, Tracy will attempt to recreate Mary Heath’s flight from Cape Town, South Africa, to Goodwood, UK. Her flight, scheduled to commence in November, will face a number of challenges. Flying at a top speed of only 95 mph, the Stearman has a short range of just 450 miles and an operating ceiling of just 10,000 feet. The ground based logistics combined with those in the air make this a daunting journey.
From all of us at Overland Journal, we wish Tracy nothing but clear skies and tailwinds.
An Interview with Forks author, Allan Karl
All of us at Overland Journal love a good travel epic and Allan Karl may have provided us with one of our favorite stories of the year. Crushed by the challenges of the daily grind, Allan loaded up his motorcycle and embarked on a three year, 62,000 mile expedition around the globe. His adventure is chronicled in his first book, Forks, taking readers on his journey with a stunning collecting of photographs, travel anecdotes, and recipes from the road. Part travel journal, part cookbook, Forks was funded by an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign in only nine days. I had a chance to chat with Allan to find out more about his trip and walked away from the exchange feeling inspired to take my own life-changing quest.
What was the inspiration for this trip? What made this something you had to do? I found that working for the company I had co-founded was no longer fulfilling or challenging, and my marriage was failing. As an entrepreneur, I immediately started another company, but soon realized that there was more for me to do. My dream had always been to travel the world and my passions were always photography, writing, and motorcycling. I realized that these life changes were simply opportunities that allowed me to follow my dream and pursue my passions.
Someone gave me Neil Peart’s book, Ghost Rider, and after reading it I thought wow, I can ride my motorcycle from Alaska to Central America. I’d always traveled to Mexico, but beyond––it hadn’t occurred to me. So my original plan was to travel to Panama. I soon kept expanding that until I realized that there was no reason not to shoot for the world.
Before embarking on this journey did you have any reservations which you had to overcome, and how did you work past those hesitations? To be honest, I had no reservations at all. I think that after reading Peart’s book, then Ted Simon’s book, and looking back on the times that I’d taken trips to faraway places where I had actually rented motorbikes or off-road vehicles, I had this awakening that with a little more time, I could just bring my own motorcycle.
The only hesitation I had initially was traveling through Colombia. I planned to ship my bike from Panama to Ecuador as to avoid the danger. When I got to Panama and looked to Colombia, I realized that I didn’t sell nearly everything I owned to simply choose the safe route. No, I knew I had to confront my fears, face danger, and take chances. That’s the only way to realize all the possibilities. So in Panama I changed my plan, and decided to go to Colombia. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made during my journey.
Is there a place you’d like to return to? I must go back to Ethiopia, Syria and Lebanon. These were some of my favorite places with the history, the people, and the culture. I wasn’t able to get into Iran due to visa issues, so I’m determined to get a visa and ride my motorcycle through Iran. British nationals can do this, Aussies and Germans can do this, most anyone else. But as Americans, only authorized tour operators can bring American’s into Iran. I can’t do that. I want to go alone.
You clearly have a deep appreciation for food. Can you remember your favorite meal from your trip? So many. I think one really sticks out. I was in Uganda staying in a tent camp of sorts on the high banks of the Nile River. They cooked me a goat curry with bananas and other vegetables that was so flavorful and with the warmed flatbread, like Chapati, it was just right after a long day’s ride.
In Kenya, near the Somali border, in a town without electricity and not even on any map or GPS, I had another goat dish, boiled in spices and herbs with tiny potatoes and again, Chapati bread. Maybe I was just famished, but it was in a thatched-roof house, sitting on the dirt floor, and eating only with my hands. I’ll never forget that meal.
The dish that inspired my book is the Moqueca fish stew brewed in coconut milk and spiced with a unique Dende palm oil. I had this dish several times in Bahia, and if it were not for me insisting on getting that recipe, my book FORKS might have never been made.
As a solo traveler you had to find a way to quickly relate to strangers. What was your best icebreaker? I’m amazed at how easy it is to connect with people – humanity. Two things that are fail free: First, smile and look into the strangers eyes with warmth and openness. Also important, learn at least one sentence in the local tongue.
The language can be tough. Cause if you spurt out a few words, be prepared for the stranger to unleash a barrage of fast talking and in such a dialect you’ll never understand. But the fact you try to communicate proves your eager to learn and embrace their culture and their language. Learn.
To learn more about Allan’s journey and to order your own copy of Forks, visit his Kickstarter page.
J & R Guram, Crafting Campaign Furniture with Legacy
Only the most romantic overlanders appreciate the use of genuine campaign furniture where it was intended to be used––outside. Oft relegated as decorative pieces for home offices and living rooms, today’s campaign furniture seldom sees the glow of a campfire. Renounced as ostentatious luxuries, most overlanders rely on metal and nylon furnishings, and that make sense. Does a campsite really need a rosewood night stand or a teak writing desk? Probably not, but that’s not to say there aren’t more useful campaign furnishings a modern overlander could employ in camp. Fortunately, campaign furniture is not lost to the ages. There are still traditional craftsmen making these timeless pieces. J & R Guram of India represent one of the most celebrated manufacturers of campaign furniture and their catalog is a beautiful journey through the pages of overlanding history.
Jeet a Raj Guram were raised in colonial cantonments all over India where the outdoors was a way of life and having been exposed to campaign furniture in their early years, the business of manufacturing what they knew, possessed, and remembered came naturally. Their comprehensive inventory includes a vast array of chairs, tables, cots and even writing desks. Using only the best wood, leather, and metal, J & R Guram’s furniture harkens to an era nearly forgotten by time. It’s easy to imagine the likes of Hemingway or Stanley in repose in one of their Roorkie Chairs, or Kipling scribing letters at his namesake table.
At a time when heirloom craftsmanship is increasingly hard to find, knowing J & R Guram are still in the marketplace is encouraging. People do appreciate the history of overlanding, even if they don’t take their campaign furniture outside.
Wolverine Whitepine 1000 Mile Boot
If you happen by the Overland Journal office, you might notice all of us have an affinity for high quality boots and shoes. We don’t sit still for long, so keeping our feet happy is important to us. In our never ending quest for the best, we discovered Wolverine’s beautiful series, the 1000 Mile Collection. In particular, the Whitepine caught our attention.
Seldom do form and function blend so well. Inspired by designs from the early 1900s, the Whitepine is a boot with a storied legacy and a classic appeal. Founder G.A. Krause created Wolverine more than 125 years ago with boots of unparalleled quality, much like that of the Whitepine. His early productions from 1914 were made with shell horsehide and were said to be so tough they could last 1000 miles. Their secret tanning process created a boot that was “soft as buckskin, but wears like iron.” These same attributes now adorn the Whitepine. The Goodyear Welt, leather-stacked heal, waxed duck canvas panels, and rich leather toe also make this one of the more attractive boots we’ve ever seen. For the overlander, these features offer more than just a pleasing aesthetic, they offer the promise of years of loyal service. Easily resoled, ruggedly built, the Whitepine’s work boot heritage makes it an ideal option for adventure travel. Hand crafted in the United States, all of the 1000 Mile boots and shoes are proof that American craftsmanship is alive and well. It also confirms that great designs are timeless.