Spreading the Revel Love at Overland Expo East
Spreading the Revel Love at Overland Expo East
By: Marcus & Heidi Hammitt
What is this #VanLife thing? Who in their right mind would want to live in a van?
We had been studying RVs in Europe for the past four years, particularly 4x4's and more of the overland type vehicles. After countless hours of research, we really only had two requirements. It needed to be a four-wheel drive and have a bathroom. A comfy bed was a close third as well.
Finding Our Van Home
Little did we know, back in March of 2018, while on vacation in Florida, we would randomly stop to look at the newly released Winnebago Revel. Apparently, once you have the opportunity to experience one ... you immediately get bit by the bug! Add the fact that it had both things we were looking for, and a comfy sleeping area, there was no turning back.
Next was the hard part ... finding one available. We searched all the way home from Florida back to Wisconsin. We called every dealer along our route home in hopes of locating one and making this crazy dream a reality. Everyone we called told us the same story. It would be six to nine months before they may even see one. We thought our dreams were over before they even started. Then a call from a dealer near us in Minnesota alerted us to the fact that he might be able to help us out. Was the dream soon to become a reality?
We had never driven a Sprinter. We only had one brief encounter to sit in and experience a Revel that, unfortunately, was already sold. It was at that moment, we knew we had to make it happen. There was a moment I will never forget throughout this process. It was when our dealer said, "just sign here and it's yours." What in the world did we just do? Who would ever spend that kind of money for 'a van'? Looking back now though, it was probably one of the best decisions we ever made. In June of 2018, we took possession of our new Winnebago Revel and the crazy van life adventure began.
New adventures soon became a regular part of our life. Meeting new people soon followed. Not only did we buy a Revel, but apparently, we bought into a network of likeminded people. Many of them we now have as part of our extended van life family. Never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined all the adventures we would be on in such a short period of time. In just 16 months, we have racked up just over 40,000 miles. Many of these were spent exploring the backroads of Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, Northern Minnesota, and Iowa. We have also done a few longer 2-3-week adventures to Florida, Colorado, and recently Virginia. Winnebago and Mercedes helped open the doors to new adventures that we otherwise may never have done.
An Adventure to Overland Expo East
One day as I sat in my shop, working on doing some modifications to our Revel, I received a phone call. It was one of Winnebago's design team members and another from their product development group. They just had a meeting about a show they were attending out in Virginia. They asked if we might be interested in joining them at Overland Expo East in the coming month. It didn't take us long to rearrange some things and confirm that "YES" we would love to attend! We worked to continue to try and finish up a few modifications to our Revel over the next few weeks.
After all, it had to be show ready! We had worked for the past 12 months to make all the modifications, tweaks, and customizations to fit our needs and now it was time to share it with the overlanding world.
We decided to add a few days and make it a working vacation. We are also professional photographers, another reason we chose the Revel. So, naturally, we took some time to take in the sites along the way. The Revel makes a great base camp for those early morning and late evening nature photo shoots. We had many places we wished to visit.
First stop was Cades Cove in Tennessee. We had always wanted to visit this area to capture some images of black bears, and we were lucky enough to see six bears that day. Next, we stopped at one of the Smoky Mountain Visitor Centers. Inside we saw a sticker that said, "I drove all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway." From that moment we knew it would be the next part of our adventure. So off we went, heading north for 469 miles over the next couple of days. It is a drive like no other. Great views at every turnout and very limited traffic through the beautiful hills.
When we finally made it to Infinity Downs in Virginia, we checked in for what turned out to be four days of OVERLAND AWESOMENESS! If you're not familiar with what overlanding is, you need to check it out. There were people from all over the world. They all had a love for the outdoors and adventure, not to mention rigs of all shapes, sizes, and value. From a simple pop-up tent, to elaborate roof-top units, all the way to million-dollar rigs were on display. Many of the 10,000+ people camping had some pretty awesome rigs as well. We continued to meet great people every day and expand our van life family.
Sharing the Winnebago Van Life Love
We worked in the Winnebago booth during our time there. There was a Revel and a concept Boldt on display. We were asked to share our Revel experience with others at the show. And that we did! We met lots of people just like us - people trying to escape the daily humdrum and wanting to experience more of what is out there in this big ol' world. We were eager to be able to share our story with all those that stopped by and even reconnected with a few of our "old" friends we met at other events earlier in the year. All in all, it was great to hang out with Winnebago and spend some time meeting new vendors and future van lifers.
After the event, we continued our trek home and ventured to some more places of interest such as the famous Grist Mill and the New River Gorge Bridge. We truly love the travel flexibility we have with our Revel. It's refreshing to get away from reality for a while, even if it is only a few days.
Revel in Life!
It is common to look back on our choices in life. We are glad that we made a choice to experience more of what life has to offer sooner, rather than later. We've already acquired many of the material things in our lives. It was time to wait no longer, it was time to start experiencing more adventure. Most wait until they retire to do what we are doing. Others may never even have the opportunity. We encourage everyone to take time to reflect on what is important to you and then get out and do it. WE DID! And we'll never look back and wish we would have taken the leap.
If you would like to know more about the Revel and hear from some of the other owners, be sure to follow along on the Winnebago Revel 4x4 and Revel Owners & Wannabees Facebook pages. And if you'd like to follow along with our journey, we're @Revel_Adventures on Instagram.
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