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CEDAR FALLS – From behind the wheel of his modified 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, Joe Hunt and his wife have seen the country.

Usually via dirt roads.

“It’s all about the journey, that’s what we are into,” said Hunt, a retired Cedar Rapids firefighter who showed off his rig to guests at the 44th annual Eastern Iowa Sportshow at the UNI-Dome this weekend.

“Overlanding,” as it’s called, is an off-the-beaten path form of car camping that falls somewhere south of recreational vehicle glamping and north of backwoods roughing it.

Hunt shared his secrets to staying comfortable and self sufficient while traveling light.

“He can go through all your stuff and throw out what you don’t need,” said John Bunge, the sports show’s producer.

Last summer, Hunt traveled the TransAmerica Trail, a mostly off-road trek from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to the Oregon coast. His next journey is Alaska.

“We keep away from the main roads and the tourist traps and just really explore. … You have to enjoy the trip. It’s like life, you’ve got to have an adventure every day. Enjoy it from point A to point B,” Hunt said.

Videos of his travels can be found at his website nomadoverlanding.com .

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Hunt’s setup includes a rollout electric fridge and equipment drawers in the pickup’s covered bed. A wench graces the front bumper, and red jerry cans for spare fuel are attached to the back next to the spare tire.

A roof-top tent can be mounted on a platform over the Tacoma or on the upper rack of a self-designed two-wheel pull-behind trailer. His loadout ranges from solar panels to keep electricity flowing to a simple Coleman camp stove for cooking.

But campers don’t need to drop a lot of money to join in the experience.

“You don’t need all the stuff to do the overlanding. I can show you how to, if all you have is a Honda Civic, how to pack it efficiently in order to go,” Hunt said.

Nor do they have to travel far; the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail is just one state away. The trip runs from Galena, Ill., to the Lake Superior shore over 600 miles of paved and dirt roads.

Hunt’s overland presentation was just one new feature at this year’s sports show. Also new this year is the All-Star Stunt Dogs Challenge, KW Paintball and electric bull riding.

“This is cabin fever like I’ve never seen before. With this break in the weather, people are ready for something fun to do outdoors,” Bunge said. “We have a lot of new entertainment this year, a lot of family activities. We try to have as much entertainment value as we possibly can. We’ve got all the fishing and camping and tourism related booths here.”

The sports show continues 10 to 4 p.m. today. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for ages 10 to 15, and 9 years and under are free. Trophy whitetail scoring and fishing seminars also continue today.

More information is at easterniowasportshow.com.

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