It’s 5:30 in the morning and the weather forecast for the day says 80 degrees and sunny. After hitting the snooze button a few times, team members Dara and Scott finally get upjoin the living and get goingbegin preparations. With Barley, the team pup, out to do his morning business, while Scott loaded loads the Toyota 4Runner(TR4) Limited for today’s adventure. tThey soon wereare soon out the door and on their way to meet the rest of the Bold Overland team at a local Starbucks cafe before heading out to the local Cars and Coffee event.
Shortly after arrival, a steady stream of vehicles of all variety can be seen making their way into the West Town Mall parking lot where today’s event is being held. While this is a well organized event, there are no designated areas to set up, other than for the host. It’s a first come, first serve affair.
Having been to this event in the past, Kevan and Scott decided to forgo their morning coffee and quickly formulate a plan to head on over to the site before the rest of the team arrive. From past experience, it is vital that if you want to get a good spot you need to arrive very early. Team Members Kevan, Scott, Dara and Amanda break out of Starbucks and head across the street and grab a good patch of asphalt for the rigs to setup.
Today BOLD Overland is Mall Crawlering.
Within a few minutes Bill and Tommy arrive, and, like a well oiled machine, get to work setting up their displays. Although it was asphalt and not the fresh mountain soil we so long for, the team viewed this as a great opportunity to display not just the vehicles, but all of the accessories and modifications that turn a mildly capable stock vehicle into a mighty overland vehicle.
Within a few minutes of the Highland Expedition Outfitters awnings and roof top tents being deployed the interest of passerby’s was evident. The girls decide to split up and walked back across the street to grab the morning brew. While they grab the coffee the team touched up a few last minute details on the trucks. By seven o’clock the parking lots was starting to fill up and the line of cars had wrapped around the entire mall. There was still a light chill in the air, but the sun was beginning to crest and a warm sunny spring day was assuredly on the horizon.
The girls return with the supply of morning brew and a few tasty treats. We sit back and watched the line of cars roll in. This event has something for everyone, classic muscle cars, sporty little hotrods, monster trucks that require ladders to get into, as well as some high priced European sports cars from every manufacturer. Dara was sitting in her chair and Barley, as usual, was curled up in her lap after devouring half of Scott’s breakfast sandwich, what a hard life this little trail dog lives.
Soon a sea of people began to make their way past our booth area. Some onlookers peer at the trucks and aren’t quite sure what to make of the mall camping setup, while others come over and discuss the equipment we have in and on the trucks with great interest. This is what the team was hoping for. We wanted others to discover the passion that drives BOLD Overland. This was a great opportunity to get others excited about what we do, to peak their curiosity and maybe jump start their drive to get out and explore the roads less traveled.
The chill in the air soon lifts to reveal a beautiful East Tennessee spring day. This was the first time the whole team had gone to Cars and Coffee and we weren’t sure what kind of response to expect. As the morning pressed on the team was being pulled left and right. There was certainly no lack of questions or interest from today’s crowd. “What kind of truck is that?”, “who are you guys?”, “what lift do you use?”, “where did you get that bumper?” could be heard in stereo at any given moment It was a truly amazing experience. We estimate several hundred people stopped by to check out our display.
While being pulled in every direction, Scott found time to have a great conversation with an older gentleman who stated that he had retired a few years back. He explained that he had a large RV and an older Jeep Rubicon that he had bought years ago. However, he confessed that he was now in the market for something a little different. Something with a little more room and a few more creature comforts. This would allow his wife to also enjoy it and he could continue to explore the backcountry. We discussed the pros and cons of Jeeps and SUVs as well as discussing what types of exploration he was hoping to tackle. Scott pointed him towards the Toyota 4Runner and soon after he was sold. He wanted a 4Runner. He thanked Scott for his time and then disappeared back into the crowd. It was exciting to see the glow on his face during the discussion of the trucks and exploration.
As the morning progressed the same gentleman kept reappearing to get more information about the trucks and seemed genuinely excited to start
down the exciting path of a vehicle build. It seemed that he was taking his retirement in full stride and beginning a new chapter in his life. The turnout was a great success, and we enjoyed the opportunity to get others excited about exploration. So yes, today we were Mall Crawlers, but we had a purpose. We had an opportunity to connect with those in our local community and impart on them our passion for exploration and adventure, as well as show off some really cool trucks.