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What Happens When An Oboz Van Lifer Hits the COVID-19 Roadblock

Peter C

Back to Trail Tales

My job at Oboz is Education and Outreach Specialist. What's that mean? Essentially, it entails traveling around the country with my big, green Oboz van to deliver clinics at retail shops, attend large events such as grand openings and anniversary sales, be present at our dealers' One More Tree events, attend festivals like PCT Days, Trail Days and Banff Film Festivals, and have face time with our retail partners, their staff, and our consumers. 

But, in these times of COVID-19, I've been relegated to having more face time with my computer than with people. It’s also given me a chance to go through the junk I've plastered on my desktop, dive through folders from 2018 and 2019 to see what needs to be dumped or remembered, and generally organize my home office life. Yes, totally boring. 

Alas, there are always distractions. I happened to notice a few photos on my desktop, so I decided to dump them into the Photos icon at the bottom of my screen. Well, wouldn’t you know, hundreds of photos I'd taken over the last year or so during my travels popped right up. Distraction complete. And now I have a photo blog of my travels across America to share with you! Here you go...

First, let me acquaint you with my van. The place I spend most of my time.
Here it is!PeterVanLife 1

Maybe you've seen me out on the road!

The build. Definitely suitable for #vanlife.
Upon opening, you have the living room and kitchen. The butcher block holds a sink and stove on top, the fridge is to the right, my beer hidey-hole is under the bench (which is responsibly consumed once I've arrived at my destination and the keys have long been out of the ignition), and the front passenger seat turns around for when I have company.

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Here's my bedroom.

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And here's the business end.
The tray on the bottom slides out so I have easy access to all my swag, samples and demo sets. Up on either side, under the bed, is a cutout so I can slide my E-Z UP tent and other gear in and out of the way.

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Some interesting places the van has taken me.
Here we are at the Trail Days festival in Damascus, VA last year.

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Then, that time I visited the USS Alabama. 
I did a quick self-guided tour of the battleship while I was in Mobile, Alabama.

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More perks of the job.
At least once a year I have been able to get down to southern Florida and spend a few days with my Mom, 83 years young.

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Of course, lots of interesting/odd things to see out there.
Below are some of the random things I've seen on my travels!

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A relic piece of POP (point-of-purchase) marketing.
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One time I was driving through abnormally high corn, so high that I could not see to the left or right of me for miles and miles. I'd never seen corn stalks that were 12-15 feet tall. When I got to town, there was this.
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It's the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
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His rider had matching attire.
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A rocket at a gas station. Who knew?
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Yes, I walked it. No, I did not attempt to take the van, although there were people driving their cars on it.PeterVanLife 8
Now this is a spider! Found this bad boy on my tire when I came off a hike in Tennessee. He/she better have not left any friends or offspring in my van.

Now here's a story. I was holding a clinic in a store in the Midwest. I got to the part where I take out my skeleton foot to demonstrate flex point and arch length. The employees all giggled and I noticed them making eye contact with each other. Then I heard, "I think he's cool, we can show him." I said, "Show me what?" and they led me to a drawer in the back room. These are two real human skeleton feet. Back in the day, it was legal to own such items. This shop was over 80 years old and these were legally purchased back then. I must say, I was impressed by the delicacy and lightweight feel of these bones.

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And lots of really cool things to see out there.
Here are a handful of the many neat things I got to experience during my travels.

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I met a Boy Scout Troop at a trailhead and noticed several of them wearing Oboz. We got to chatting, and they were very cool kids. I just happened to have a bag full of Oboz neck gaiters.
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Twist my arm and make me go to an anniversary sale in Kalispell. After the event, my son and I took a drive to Glacier NP and spent a few days on R&R. This image is now my desktop photo.
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I went to Anchorage for a grand opening event and while I was there, I drove up to Eagle River and met some cool staff members at one of the shops that carries Oboz. We got to talking about trails and I lamented that I didn't have much time to get out and wasn't too keen on going solo. This kind fellow offered to take me hiking. Thanks, Jake!
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I was doing a training session and this was my accommodation. Actually, it was quite comfortable...once I figured out how to get into it.
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My son working with me on a trail at a One More Tree event here in our own backyard of Bozeman.
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We're a proud partner of Mt. Washington Observatory, so the Oboz van was at the Seek the Peek event in North Conway, NH on an abnormally hot, blistering day last July.

And finally, an interesting story along with this pic:

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I'd planned a market trip from southwest Florida to Dallas, TX via the Gulf Coast.I was excited to go back to New Orleans, as I'd only had a small taste of it last year. About a week before the trip, I was confirming appointments and a store manager in a NOL shop said, "You realize you'll be arriving here on Fat Tuesday, right?" I had no idea. Living in Montana, Fat Tuesday is not on my radar. I was excited and terrified at the same time. Everyone imagines that one day they'd get to NOL on Fat Tuesday and experience Mardis Gras, but doing it with a big van and a work schedule was not the way I'd imagined it. I decided to find a place to camp on the north side of Lake Ponchartrain and thought maybe I'd take an Uber into the city to visit the store and get a taste of Mardis Gras. Needless to say, going to the shop in town was out of the question. In fact, I wouldn't be able to get there if I wanted. All roads into NOL are closed that day. If you're not already there, you're not getting there. I was a tad disappointed that there was an opportunity of a lifetime just a few miles away and I couldn't get there. So, suddenly having the day off, I did the next best thing. I walked from the campground to a very local establishment, ordered crawfish ettouffee and a Blackened Voodoo lager and watched Mardis Gras on the TV. In retrospect, I am lucky that I was disappointed. Turns out, Mardis Gras was an incubator for COVID-19.

Peter C

Peter is an Outreach & Training Specialist with Oboz. 

He also likes Bryce National Park so much that his kid is named after it; he highly recommends a visit if you can.

As a teacher, he took students all over the country hiking. Now he gets to travel all over and teach about hiking footwear.

He loves to connect people to the outdoors. Just ask and he’ll try to help you.

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