Overlanders all around!

A must have book review!

3y ago


“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
Amelia Earhart said this simple explanation to why going out and pushing limits is important sometime in the 1930s. The far reaching internet seems unable to give me a date. I believe in the last few years, this quote has been brought to the forefront of the Overland Culture by Clay Croft of Expedition Overland, who used the quote at least once in the amazing short films he and his crew have done around North and Central America. While I agree with this, there is a quote that always struck a chord with me a little more:

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, remembered gate, when the last of earth left to discover is that which was the beginning.” T.S. Eliot

Why this strikes so with me is unknown…but I’d like to think I have, in a small form, grabbed this drive by the tail. All journeys, however long, are a circle it seems, and if you start from a point on the globe, point the nose or bow in any direction of the compass, you will some day come to the exact spot you started. How true this is, and it can be applied to everything: love, education, life….We all start life and then leave it, and that adventure is a circle.
How many twists, turns, dives and steep climbs in the circle, however, is up to you.

This is going somewhere, I assure you. About a year and a half ago, I came across a story. I honestly can’t remember how, though I think a podcast may have had something to do with it…that or ExpeditionPortal.com. Regardless, I found this story and it was amazing. A Man and his Wife had taken their two children and stepped away from the “Norm”. While that may seem not as spellbinding as some things, it did turn me onto a book this man had written, and that is where all of this comes somewhat, in a circle.

That man was Graeme Bell, and the book was We Will Be Free. What a book, let me tell you.

I did do a (rather crap) review of it on this same blog about a year later (link is below, somewhere) which really gives my full opinion about it. You should read the review, which I wrote sober and may have detracted from it. Better, read We Will Be Free itself. Just a recap: Graeme and Luisa Bell strike out on a grand adventure with their two kids and a land rover, and wind up seeing parts of the world that I’m sure none of us ever considered. They set out with little more than a desire to do, and they have at this juncture, done amazing things and have transformed themselves and their world view in ways the entire globe would benefit from. Very much a Covered Wagon, frontier sort of adventure. I gifted my copy to another of my Montana Toyota OffRoad crew here so he could have some joy on his three month stint on an Oil tanker out of Valdez….

I may regret that….

Needless to say, their book has awoken quite the monster in the overland sector. It has taken this thing that people have been doing for years (Overlanding is not a new thing) and introduced it to the common man, if you will. It is a story, a chronicle….it is not, however, a “How To” manual.
If We Will Be Free is the story told over amazing food and exceptional beer with good company and a fire nearby, the Bell’s new book Travel The Planet Overland is the self-help best seller.
And I say it like that because it is not exactly a How-To manual. Have you ever tried to read one of those? I just had to read up on removing a CV axle in my Toyota 4Runner to change a leaky seal, and had to read the how-to: “Remove hub bushing and washer. Discard Cotter Pin. Tighten Hub Nut to 147 pounds pressure. Kill yourself because this reading has no soul” kind of bland sadness.
Travel The Planet Overland is a Self-Help book. Have you read a Self-Help book? I have. It’s a book where someone shares their experiences, what they did with their lives, their actions to change and suggestions to readers who are on a similar wavelength.

To say it as “The Bells changed their life, and you can too! Here are tips and tricks!” almost cheapens it, but is still pretty apt. I will probably post this review, reread it and be very angry at suddenly thinking of a better comparison, but that is what it is. I have skimmed (I skim pretty critically) the book, and am about halfway reading it word for word, and once again, Graeme hits it out of the park. Luisa’s sections match his, and there is a distinct ballet of how the book is knitted together. I think I said in We Will Be Free, the whole family wrote the story, but Graeme was the only one typing and scribbling the accounts. Yeah, Travel the Planet Overland is all of them again, with the whole family submitting their own words. Graeme and Luisa do most of the writing, as their son is a teenager and busy with .....being a teenager (or something…we’ve all been there) and their daughter is channeling Dr. Doolittle and adopting all the animals she can find. Still, the book comes off as a masterpiece. It is written completely, without lots of jargon and babble.

This is a blue collar Self Help book, not an Oprah one.

That said, the information and education one gets from this book is something you can’t get in school. These are the real lessons by real people, and the Bells present it to you in language you can understand and equate to your own adventure.

Can’t think of a vehicle? They have seen all types in the field, and can tell you what they have seen work best. And what breaks down always.

Issues finding camp spots? The Bells open the secrets of finding good ones.

Technical driving, border crossings, the all important “MONEY” issues, field mechanic-ing, RECIPES (you know I am breaking out all the meat and fire to try these out) and kit to bring on your trip, they share what they know. And I mean SHARE: this is not a “This is how YOU do it” book, this is a “Hey, grab a beer and a plate, let me tell ya some stuff that WE did, and if it works, sweet” book.

It is presented with whimsy, happiness, frustration, anger and love. This is their life lesson, and it is presented to you in all the color of the Hindu spring festival of Holi. Its beautiful.

The book itself, as a physical thing, is fantastic as well. The build quality, the lay out and format, the pictures…. This is a book with heft. Like, bring it on your overland trip because you could bludgeon a stampeding howler monkey with this thing. I’ve seen books of equivalent size, for more money, be less impressive….a lot.

What is more impressive is that this book is a Kickstarter Project. Means, the Bells came out and said “WE WANT TO DO A THING FOR YOU!” and you, the people, adventurers, fans and overlander kin, said “F--- YEAH WE WANT TO SEE IT!” The Bell Family’s Kickstarter for this thing reached funding in like….4 days. I may be wrong, but the turnaround was insane. Worth every Penny, I think.

An actual Adventure Guide? Yes please….I can read about magical sparky vampires, you know, never.

That said, this awesome book that I have was the Kickstarter version, which is amazing. The Mass published version is a touch down the road at the moment, I’m sure if you send Graeme or Luisa an email they can give some exact times. Maybe….they are overlanders, after all… Places to go, you know, and maybe-haps more books to write? Like I said…adventure is a circle…I don’t think they have come to the starting place again as of yet.
They may still have a few extra copies of this version up for sale. The link will be below.
I say do it. Get the Book. Do the Adventure. Break out of the rat race and the grey suits in the grey cars going to grey office buildings… Break down the wall and see the color again, man.


Original “We Will Be Free” review by some guy (maybe me)

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Its a good book to have.

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