Photo by Tom Owen.
We have to hand it to the #TeamTepui partners and community, you are the reason this event is such a blast, and why all of us at Tepui Tents are so excited to put it on each year. Each year is a little different, and as we scale up, we also seem to sell out faster!
Approaching the first day of Tepuifest (which ran Oct.14-16), we kept hearing of big storms approaching the West Coast, with our venue, Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, square in the middle of the mess. Some friends in the Pacific Northwest were already getting hit pretty hard, and central California was in for it, but to us, all that meant was a little more mud on the tires for wheelin’!! Sometimes you just have to put the gear to the test, and as we heard many times throughout the weekend, “I was more worried about driving here than how my tent would do!” It feels good knowing that you will have a secure, dry place above the deluge to call home each night.
By mid-day Friday, folks rolled in from all over the place. Apparently storms in Washington and Oregon had gusts up to 100MPH, and the road from Colorado had some challenges too. Those heading in from the Bay Area and Southern California had a bit of an easier time, but nobody knew exactly what we were in for. We love it that everyone showed up anyway! Fortunately, Hollister Hills SVRA dodged the worst of it, and the showers that came in during the evening didn’t dampen the mood. Many returning campers setup camp once again near their friends, and new folks drifted in and got dialed in to the ideal spots. Some couldn’t wait until Saturday, and went out for mid-day trail runs before dinner!
Sheree’s welcoming melodies drew folks in from their camp games and individual sites as we tapped the delicious kegs from Discretion Brewing. A light drizzle fell, keeping the dust down and the weather pleasant and cool. As Mexxi’s served up dinner, Thrive took the stage and energetically pumped out nonstop tunes, keeping our spirits up as they put an another killer show this year – keys, horns and all – even as we put up a few canopies up for shelter. Fire pits were lit, and the night wore on as we exchanged plenty of stories and set up plans for the next day.
Saturday morning greeted the group with great breakfast food and delicious, hot coffee courtesy of Verve, so were all fueled up just right and ready for the day. The rain had let up overnight, but left plenty of mud in place, and every dog and kid that started out relatively clean soon began turning that wonderful shade of “camp dirt brown". Sheree opened the day with another terrific set, and as the sun began drying us out, last night’s plans starting coming together. Tepui’s very own Shona is a certified yogi, and led a group onstage in some late morning yoga while the main trail run got organized. It’s incredible how quickly you can pack up a Tepui when you don’t want to be left behind! Tire pressure was checked, radios were sent on channel, and we peeled outta there!
An intrepid group comprised mainly of NorCal Tacoma guys and gals that have been regular attendees took off for some more challenging runs, and about 15+ vehicles lined up with some of the North California Land Rover Club crew for a more moderate, but still at times somewhat technical run. We even had a few that drove their vehicles truly off-road for the first time, and did great! The Unimog and a few others picked their own routes, and ran into some challenges, but all vehicles made it back to camp safely, if not with a couple of breakdowns and mishaps. But that is all part of the fun!
Upon returning to camp, rounds of cornhole, washers, and various camp games simultaneously broke out all over the grounds. How many places can you go anymore where you are basically completely out of reception, and you can just be yourself, relax and chill out? Simple times can be the best of times. We value that.
Before Happy Hour started at 4PM, Tepui’s resident wine connoisseur Bernard took a group in a chartered van on a wine tour of a few of the local wineries, Calera and De Rose, just down the road. After a while, they arrived back at Happy Hour with a few cases and some cheese and crackers in tow. We began pouring right alongside the freshly tapped kegs from Discretion Brewing. The guys at NCLR put on a few informative demos of how to use an X-jack, and some basics of tools and winching.
Rack N Road had a great setup with plenty of gear for people to check out and test, and a few knowledgeable team members who spent the day on the trail with us, putting their stuff to the test. Kargo Master had killer Jeep all built out that was pure eye candy, highlighting their incredible racks and accessories in action. Nearby was Goal Zero – whose reliable lights had been casting a warm glow over the site the night before despite the unexpected rainfall – displaying a setup with every possible power and lighting solution you could possibly need while camping. Next over was another hit, Onewheel, and we just couldn’t keep off of those things! The rugged build and ease of use was totally camp-friendly and a fun addition to our weekend-long festivities. If you hadn’t already been blown away by the solid assortment of quality outdoor products, Tepui had a few new products to check out as well, with the new Baja Series model alongside our new crowd-funded White Lighting hardshell and various other gear. All this was set to the smooth and skilled sounds of Taylor Rae onstage.
Dinner by Mexxi’s was a hearty steak, chicken, and veggie affair. We happily filled our bellies in the cooling evening temperatures. Fire pits were lit, and we jumped right into the raffle, with many great prizes from Rumpl, Yeti (via Rack N Road), Goal Zero, Tepui and more. Following the raffle, we finished up eating and went back for another beer as the awards were called out.
The Oilcan Award went to Amber Turner for her Suzuki, which showed up last year with a ground tent tied to the roof. This year, it cruised around sans doors and broke down on a gnarly trail run, eventually getting towed back into camp. The Frankenstein Award went to Carl Meyer for his Unimog, which basically stands as a road-legal tractor, and looked absolutely awesome with an RTT posed on top. The Cherry Award went to returning camper Paul Boyer, who runs a built up Jeep in absolutely pristine condition (the award included some nicely packaged…dirt. Get that thing on the trail!!) And Best in Show, you must understand, is quite unique. Each year, the trophy is handed out to a winner who then takes it home and must modify it in some way and bring it back the next year to be given out and modified once again. This tradition happens year after year, and it is always great see what the last winner did to the trophy upon returning to Tepuifest. Last year it was taken home by Lloyd Copenhaver, for his highly modified VW truck. Lloyd added some beautiful customized aluminum plating, which matched the detail on his current rig. This year, the Best in Show award was handed off to Justin Roumiguiere, owner of Allsport Trailers, for his super custom trailer build, featuring everything you can imagine, including the kitchen sink!
As the night wore on, David Jeremy played and MC’ed the night away. He showcased an assortment of great covers and duets with Taylor Rae, incorporating audience participation and freestyle jokes as the campfires burnt on into the night. The next morning was a leisurely pack-up over breakfast and coffee as we shared a final few stories, already looking forward to next year.
This event is so much fun because of the incredible people and partners that make up the Team Tepui community. We appreciate all of your support and presence each year. Another cool thing in this community of tinkerers and builders is that people always bring interesting things to share with the group. Someone made fresh cookies, another cooked late night tacos, there was spicy homemade salsa and more! Very cool...we totally appreciate how people generously contribute to the good times for us all! Thank you!
Oh and hey, we would love to see your photos and videos from the weekend! Tag @tepuitents and use #tepuifest when you are sharing. Thanks, and keep in touch!