It was still dark when I woke up. Having recently been a little late to arrive at the Northeast Overland Rally only a few weeks before, I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice, so I gave myself ample time to make the long drive down to the American Adventurist Appalachian Rendezvous in Eldorado, North Carolina, near Uwharrie National Forest.
American Adventurist, if you’re not familiar, is a vibrant online community of vehicle-dependent adventure travel enthusiasts, founded by Dave Bennett. Dave’s passion for overland adventure is evident by his contagious zeal and by the energy he puts into bringing like-minded folks together.
The 2014 Appalachian Rendezvous is the first American Adventurist sanctioned event to occur in the east. There are two other popular
rendezvouses events in the southern California mountains and desert, which we’d like to attend in the future. The Appalachian event was held on the sprawling property of the Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center (UORTC), just across the street from the Eldorado Outpost, which is a popular hub and staging area for off-road enthusiasts en route to the Uwharrie National Forest.
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The drive down from Pennsylvania was uneventful; relaxing, even. I took I-81 from Harrisburg to Roanoke and then lesser roads through Greensboro to Uwharrie. I arrived at UORTC in mid-afternoon, and was immediately greeted by some familiar faces – my good friends Mark and Michelle Collins, also from Pennsylvania, with whom I’ve shared adventures before.
Mark, also known as “Haggis”, is a charismatic ridge runner who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors, and flavorful jerkies. He was responsible for much of the legwork in orchestrating the east coast event, and did so with grace and aplomb.
Only a handful of vehicles had arrived so far, and there was no shortage of room, so I was able to select a tent site at my leisure. I opted for a spot in a grove of trees, not far from the main fire ring. After setting up camp, I meandered around for the remainder of the day, chatting, and watching folks roll in.
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