Last month we had the opportunity to attend the 2023 Truck Camper Adventure in Quartzsite, Arizona, as a Vendor and Sponsor. "Mello" Mike is a great event organizer and host, and I wanted to point it out in case you had never been there.
Aimee, Lindsay, and I (JP) left Prescott on Wednesday afternoon and caravaned down to our campsite in Quartzsite. David had been camping in the Kofa Mtn area for a few days and met us there once we arrived Wednesday night. We set up camps, chit-chatted with Mello Mike and some of our temporary neighbors, proceeded to make dinner, and called it a night.
The event kicked off first thing the following day with great informational talks, gear displays, and over 300 attending camping rigs. We got to drink our coffee while setting up our swag bags and canopies and started talking to some early-riser attendees who asked us about Aimee's Aterra prototype trailer, our products, and what we do. We pretty much turned Aimee's camp into a tradeshow booth.
The rest of the first full day flew by, with all of us talking to people most of the day. I whipped up the "most amazing Philly-Cheese-Steak Sandwiches on my Blackstone Griddle," claims Aimee, our CEO and self-proclaimed Philly cheese steak snob, for dinner, and our team chilled by our fire for the rest of the night. Nights were not cold compared with the current weather back at home in Prescott, AZ.
The second day was even busier than the first one. Attendees were still walking around, checking out everybody else's rigs and setups. We got to answer many questions regarding our products, their features, and how to install them onto existing camper units with leaking/broken windows/doors/roof hatches. It definitely got us thinking about many ways of fulfilling the need for quality components in the aftermarket used market. A market that would be entirely new to us since we have always worked directly with builders, whether a one-off DIY builder or with the 125 OEM companies that build many campers/vans/trailers a year. It was eye opening to hear the stories some campers have had with their products and receiving service. Our roof hatch is a direct replacement, by the way, for the Midi Heki.
Mario and Janine with AT Overland joined us on Friday afternoon. They brought Mario's Single-Cab Ram trucks, one with the Aterra Camper and the other with the OEV Alpine Flat-Bed Camper. Both got a ton of attention from attendees.
We had a great time with old and new friends, and the lack of ice cream started taking its toll at some point in the evening. After fighting the craving for a while, I decided to go into town to get supplies (codename for... you guessed it right! Ice Cream). On my way out, Mario kindly asked if I could get him some eggs for his homemade-tortilla Huevos Rancheros breakfast the following day, and I said, "of course, no problem!" (Little did I know...).
After visiting every single establishment that could potentially sell eggs in the town of Quartzsite, and by "every single establishment," I mean it, I found the last remaining 12-pack available at my very last stop in town before heading back to our campsite as triumphant as a Viking general after conquering and ransacking a small village.
The following day, Mario and David were guest speakers at the show, and they talked about all kinds of different things, from Overland traveling to modifying vehicles for camping. "Mello" Mike held a Q&A session involving both, and everybody seemed highly interested in what they both had to share.
David, Tern's co-founder and former CEO gave an educational introduction about Tern Overland during one of the educational sessions. His Aterra camper prototype on a Tacoma platform garnered a lot of attention as well as being an entirely off-grid, self-contained, lightweight, unique rig.
The Tern Team answered and troubleshot many questions throughout the weekend. Talking to kind and interesting travelers and consistently ending the days with great food, some relaxed time sitting around the campfire, and sharing stories from the past while listening to Michael Ewing play some incredible sets. Did you know Lindsay lived and worked in Antarctica on and off for about three years?
In conclusion, this event was full of interactions with incredible people, industry friends, and truck-camper owners from all walks of life. We got to chat with the guys from Bowen Customs, Kingstar, and Pop-Top Overland. They are great people and, more importantly, very passionate about their work and the industry. We hope to collaborate with these innovators in the near future. We definitely would recommend the show next year if you have never been to the Truck Camper Adventure Rally. Special thanks to "Mello" Mike; we look forward to next year's desert event.