HU Travellers Meeting North Carolina 2017


Horizons Unlimited 14th North Carolina Travellers Meeting

Thursday Sep 7 - Sunday Sep 10, 2017 - Stecoah, North Carolina


You missed it! Go here for current event!

It's All About Overland Adventure

Whether you're a seasoned veteran with wisdom to share or a complete novice hungry for ideas and guidance, it doesn't matter if you ride a motorcycle, a bicycle, or drive an expedition vehicle...

Horizons Unlimited meetings are for everyone who dreams of adventure along the road less travelled.

Horizons Unlimited North Carolina Event Schedule

The event is taking place from Thursday, Sep 7 to Saturday, Sep 9, 2017.

The Registration Tent will open for check-ins at 1 pm on Thursday, Oct 6, with the first presentations beginning at 6 pm. Last presentations will be Saturday night.

There will be slide shows and tech clinics on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and all day Saturday. Come early and make it a great weekend! We recommend riding on Thursday and Sunday, and participating in the presentations and clinics in the evenings, Friday and Saturday.

As well as hearing inspiring stories of overlanding adventure from around the world, you'll get the low-down on preparing for your journey, navigation, first-aid, photography, filming and a host of other essential topics. Whatever your past experience or future plans may be, there's something for everyone.

Presenters at HU North Carolina 2017 included...

Workshops and Tech Sessions below

Merrill Glos

Merrill Glos

A Solo RTW Journey of Discovery
Colorado Mountain Trail Riding

1. A Solo RTW Journey of Discovery

Mid April 2014, Merrill left his Cincinnati home by the front door and traveled in a westerly direction until he reached the back door. Google calculates his general RTW route to traverse seven countries and cover almost exactly 10,000 road miles, taking 184 hours (8 days) at the posted speed. Hypothetically, if you only ride 8 hours per day (on course), you can complete an RTW in 23 days: USA, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, France, and England. So why did it take me 190 days and 29,695 miles? If you're only going to do it once, do it right. At 68 years old, it was now or never, and he gave it his best shot. Merrill and "Tarbaby Too", his Yamaha Super Tenere, crossed 94 international borders and looped through 34 countries and an extra continent (Africa) to complete his RTW.

2. Colorado Mountain Trail Riding

Merrile and his friend Todd rode the iconic mountain trails and passes in the Colorado Rockies. They based themselves out of Steamboat Springs, Gunnison, Ouray Colorado, and Deadwood South Dakota, and were blessed with great weather to ride their dual sports on some to the world's most scenic trails and mountain passes. If a (self-described) fat 70-year-old man can do it, so can you!

Merrill is a world traveler who prefers the exposure of riding a moto.

Merrill on the Turkey border

Sleepy cat on the saddle

Overlooking Imogene Pass

Mark Carrera.

Mark Carrera

Cultural Challenges of international travel and
Safety & Security
while travelling

Mark Carrera, a world traveler, will give a presentation on Sharing experiences, creating dialog, discovering cultural challenges for international travel.

Mark Carrera.

Also, as an average-Joe rider and adventurer, Mark has maintained that no adventure is without risk but the media sours the pool with too much fear mongering. Plan on attending his Round Table discussion on safety and security while traveling abroad, or at home - how to mitigate risk, increase safety, and travel with confidence!

Workshops and Educational Sessions

...because Horizons Unlimited meetings are about information, not just inspiration!

Andrew Pain.

Andrew Pain

Practical Minimalism - Budgeting, Finding Time, Medical, Packing

Practical Minimalism - Budgeting

How to find the money, how much you need, and how to spend it. It's one of the most common questions asked of overlanders - how to pay for it? Andrew breaks down what needs to be planned for to build an overlanding budget, how to find the money, and how much you actually need for a long overland journey.

Practical Minimalism - Finding Time

How to find the time to take the Big Trip. It's one of the most common questions faced by overlanders, and perhaps the biggest hurdle that prevents people from taking long journey of their dreams. Leaving work, home, and loved ones to travel is a huge change, and Andrew works on how to approach finding the time to travel, dealing with the obsticles and delays, and how to come home and start again after the trip is over.

Andrew Pain.

Practical Minimalism - Packing

From what to carry to how and where to carry it - everything about packing

It's easy to become overloaded, but not having the correct gear and supplies while traveling only increases costs, adds stress, and makes it hard to relax while traveling. Andrew Pain reviews not just the things he packs while traveling on his 250, but how to establish a packing plan and make your own good packing decisions.

Knowing what to pack is only part of the problem with overland travel by motorcycle. Knowing how and where to carry your gear and supplies is as important - and often overlooked - as what to carry. Andrew breaks down types of luggage, weight and load, and where to carry your equipment so you have what you need, when you need it (without starting a yard sale on the side of the road).

Practical Minimalism - Medical

What medical and first aid supplies should you carry while on the road? No one wants it to happen, but injuries and illness happen? while on the road. Packing all the gear and medications to face every possible scenario is impratical at best and impossible at worse. Andrew has worked as a paramedic in Milwaukee for 17 years, and traveled around North, Central, and South America on a small motorcycle. He explains what you don't need, what you should have, and where you should get it, as well as a few simple tips for dealing with the things that go wrong.

Andrew Pain started riding motorcycles in 1991, riding over 300,000 miles around the United States before quitting his job and traveling through the Americas on a 30+ year, 250cc motorcycle, with a stuffed teddy bear named Blue. Back in the United States, he's written books on traveling on small, lightweight motorcycles, packing, and how to travel inexpensively. He now givens talks encouraging people to focus more on travel, and less on the planning and preparation. The trip should always be the goal, to Just Go.

Andrew is also a published author. Below are just some of his books, which are available on Amazon.

Andrew Pain - Pain, Curiosity and a Bear. Andrew Pain - Ten Things You Should Know.

LOTS of presentations to come! As people register to present we'll list them here.

How about you? We're all here to learn, and there's LOTS to learn! We want to do more presentations and seminars - but we need volunteers to give them! Any topic you can contribute having to do with motorcycle travel, maintenance, planning etc, lasting 20 minutes or more, would be great. Please contact us here to volunteer.

Presenters at prior year HU North Carolina meetings have included...

Workshops and Tech Sessions below

Sam Manicom.

Sam Manicom

'One of the best story tellers of adventure in the world today'

Africa. Full on Adventure – Every Day!

Nuts or an ideal ride for a complete novice? After all, ignorance can be bliss! Disasters = off-days, & the rest, pure travel magic

When he planned to ride the length of Africa, Sam had no idea what he was doing. But he knew that though a novice motorcyclist, with luck, respect and common sense, he had every chance of making it. Suddenly it looked as if this mix wasn't going to be enough. Just 6 weeks before he made it to the fabled 'Dark Continent' everything went wrong. What would you do? He'd given up his career and had sold his house, it's contents, his car and just about everything that had value. Where Sam's previous life had been, was a large empty space…

From this rocky beginning, 8 years of travelling around the world, magazine articles and his 4 books evolved.

Sam Manicom at the Fish River Canyon, Africa.

Sam Manicom has travelled for most of his life but he is better known for his 8 year, 200,000 mile motorcycling adventures around the world.
Lorry and Kelli Gombos.

Lorant (Lorry) and Kelli Gombos

Two up on Pamir Highway in Central Asia - Time travel to the post Soviet states

Our plans for a Central Asian trip were pretty shaky but everything worked out for the best. The idea of riding this remote corner of the world was a combination of dreams, opportunities and very little plans when Kelli and Lorry were living in Taiwan. Something had always attracted Lorry to ride the vast planes and one of the highest mountains of the world. It's a desire that only the most adventurous people can understand. Luckily Kelli is one those and it made the journey even more exciting.

Lorry and Kelli Gombos.

Kelli and Lorry have traveled on two wheels quite a lot around the world despite their young age (this passion is not age related anyways). Lorry has been riding for almost 2 decades and has always itched to go off the map, whether it be on a sports bike, dirt bike or big dual sport. Kelli has done most of their motorcycle adventures as a pillion.

Terry and Isabelle Porter.

Isabelle and Terry Porter

The "Trans-Lab" as Training for South America

Two years ago Isabelle unexpectedly said, "So when do I get MY bike?". That changed everything! Join them as they take you from her first ride that spring to becoming a "GS rider", one that will be ready for a year touring South America starting next spring. They will cover rider preparation (on/off road) through formal and informal training and practice and two practice trips that included Newfoundland's "T'railway" and the Trans-Labrador road. Find out a little about climate, taiga and tundra pockets, trail and road conditions, gear, wild animals and wild camping in this harshly beautiful land that has been variously settled by the Dorset, the Viking, the Basques and the Innu peoples, to name just a few. There will also be lots of time for questions!

Terry and Isabelle Porter's crash on the TCAT.

Isabelle and Terry are experienced wilderness campers but are new to motorcycle travel. In two seasons and 7 weeks of travel they have visited the White Mountains, New England states, Gaspe Penninsula, Cape Breton Island, Newfoundland, the Trans-Labrador road and Quebec's Northeastern roads as part of the "Great Northern Circle Route".

Chip Nelson.

Chip Nelson and Ken Showalter

RTW - East to West

Two longtime adventure junkies highlight their 2014 trip round the world via North America, Northern Asia and Europe on 1100GS bikes.

Chip Nelson and Ken Showalter.

One quit his job and the other put his business on autopilot to be able to carve out the time for this epic adventure. There are countless approaches to RTW trips – the presenters will inform you of the how(s) and why(s) they did it the way they did. The presentation will take you through bike prep and logistical planning pre-departure, as well as what was experienced throughout the journey to include border, ocean and sea crossings. Although the ride touched 23 countries, much of the discussion, photos and learnings will focus on the monster landscape of northern Asia to include South Korea, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

Ken Showalter dodges camels.

Chip Nelson lives in the mountains of Colorado, bought his first motorbike in 2012 and quit his island paradise job in the Caribbean to do this RTW trip.

Ken Showalter, an experienced rider and farmer, lives in rural Virginia. With the support of his awesome wife, he left the business in her capable hands to be able to head off on the trip of his dreams.

Panel discussions at most HU events include...

Border crossings - How to get through borders with minimal stress and cost!

Packing light - Tips and techniques from experienced travellers to reduce weight and bulk.

Regional discussions - e.g. travelling in South America or Asia.

For Women Only - A must for the ladies, so be sure to plan on being there! A chance to talk to experienced travelling women without the men around!

Experienced Travellers Panel - ask the experts anything you want!

Walk arounds / Show and tell!

Tents and Bedding discussion (in the camping area) - What works, cheap vs dear and which ones keep you dry, warm and comfy!

Farkle Walk - Take a stroll and talk about your best bike mods - homemade saddle bags, toolbox mounts, GPS mounts, seats, side stands, tank panniers, cup holders, etc.

Horizons Unlimited North Carolina Ride-outs

Do-it-yourself Ride information

Self-guided Ride details
Tail of the Dragon / Cherohala Skyway Loop ride

Facilities for a Fantastic Four Days

Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge, Cabins and Campground
1755 Lower Stecoah Road,
North Carolina 28771

For more information:
Telephone: 1-828-479-3864

John & Charlene Powell have been welcoming Horizons Unlimited to Iron Horse since 2004, and a friendlier bunch of folks we've yet to meet!

From their Website:

"Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge and Campground is a secluded 39-acre resort on Stecoah Creek in the smoky mountains of western North Carolina. We are surrounded by the splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains, which provide some of the best motorcycle riding in the world. Iron Horse is within minutes of the famous Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, the scenic Cherohala Skyway, Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherokee, Fontana Dam, and the Nantahala River Gorge. Gather around the fire at the Iron Horse Pavilion and enjoy a home cooked meal.

Fireplace in Ironhorse pavillion, Steocah, North Carolina.

Great ambience for presentations - of course it's air-conditioned!

The Pavillion includes a large screen surround sound TV with satellite/VCR/DVD, pool table, karaoke, camp store, and your favorite T-shirts and souvenirs. Check your email or browse the internet using our high speed wireless internet service. Connect with your own wireless laptop or use our public computer located in the Pavilion."

Solarium for smaller presentations, Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge, North Carolina.

Solarium for smaller presentations and casual meals

Upstairs in the pavillion.   Pavillion from creekside, Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge, North Carolina.


Accommodation is NOT included with your registration fee.

Iron Horse offers full cabin rentals, comfortable cabin rooms, creekside tent camping, RV hook-ups, and bunkhouse accommodations.

Covered bike parking and an unloading ramp are available. Guests have use of the spacious and clean wash house with showers and washer/dryer. See here for more details and rates.

NOTE: You should book early for camping and cabins. For rooms or bunkhouse there is a Horizons Unlimited special - stay 2 nights get 3rd night free. You must book directly with Ironhorse before May 1, 2017 to reserve rooms at the HU Special rate. Call them at 1-828-479-3864 or e-mail:

Camping facilities at the HU North Carolina meeting.

Camping facilities at the HU North Carolina meeting. Does it get any nicer?

Camping at Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge.


Meals are NOT included with your registration fee.

"Breakfast and dinner is served daily. We serve quality home cooked meals and fresh baked desserts. All meals are served in the pavilion with comfortable indoor dining, creek side on the deck, or gather round the group campfire. Dining is available for our guests only. Guests should call ahead or sign up for dinner in the morning or at check-in."

Saturday night special: Prime Rib or Fish, includes Salad Bar, Baked Potato, and Dinner Roll

Susan notes: Meals are great, and you will not go hungry! The prime rib is awesome!

Dining indoors at Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge, North Carolina. Dining outdoors at Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge, North Carolina.

More info on their website, and a review of Iron Horse in "Motorcycle Consumer News." (128kb .pdf).


What happens at HU events?


HUMM is Everywhere!

HU South Africa

Join the Volunteer Crew

From welcoming travellers at the gate, to taking care of the campsite and making sure all the presentations run smoothly, the success of every HU event relies on the enthusiasm of its volunteer crew.

Dee Masters, volunteer extraordinaire!

"What a wonderful bunch of people. I had no idea how much fun I'd have by helping out!"

"It was my absolute pleasure to be able to give something back to the HU community and working with such great folks really made the event special."

Volunteering is a great way to make new friends, get more involved with Horizons Unlimited and have loads of fun! You can sign up to volunteer when you register for the meeting, OR click here if you have already registered and want to add volunteering.

Comments about HU North Carolina

"Big thanks to Mike & Steve for putting together such a wonderful event! All the heart & soul you put into it gave us a platform to chillax & connect in so many ways. Thanks for setting the tone & keeping the ball rolling."

"A great venue and excellent hosts, what a honor to attend and present at HU in NC, and humbled to share one of three seats with Andrew Pain and Sam Manicom at the panel discussion... hats off to both of you!"

"It was great seeing and meeting everyone. Felt welcomed and had a great time talking with everyone I was able to talk to. The seminars were great, with some great stories on what to do and what not to do, and how to do it."

"Hey guys, the NC meeting was my first event, and what a great time! Great people, great presentations, specially the last one, Sat night, and by asking around, met some great people to ride with and done some very fun offloading riding in addition of riding the 'Dragon'. I will be looking forward to the next event. Great job!!"

"Just wanted to say that my gf and I (Curt and Lucy) had a great time at the event (Our first ever) and enjoyed meeting everyone and seeing the presentations. Hat's off to everyone who presented and organized! it was a great event! Can't wait for the next one."

"Just a quick note to let you know how much we enjoyed the HU meeting in NC. The line up of speakers, the location and all the interesting attendees , and the icing on the cake was having both of you there for the 10th anniversary ! great job to Mike K. And Steve too."

"I always find these events entertaining and inspiring. Thank you all so much for coming and making this weekend so special."

You can help!

If you have a few minutes, please download the poster (Adobe pdf format) and print off a few and hand them round your club or your local bike shop or anywhere seems like a good place.

Poster in pdf format (433kb) full colour Event poster:

HU North Carolina 2017 poster.

High-Res Poster (1.5 MB)


Postcard in pdf format (669kb) full colour Event postcard, can be printed 4 to a page:

Horizons Unlimited North Carolina postcard.

You may need to right click and choose "save target as..."


Be a Presenter

We're inviting submissions for presentations, so whether you're attending the event or exploring a distant continent, if you've got a story to tell or expertise to share we'd like to hear from you.

We love to hear stories about your travel adventures, especially if you have great pics! Also, practical how-to sessions such as roadside cooking, navigation / GPS, trip prep and planning, adventure motorcycling medicine, packing light, setting your bike up, communications / blogging from the road, self-publishing your story, yoga for bikers, bodging / bike maintenance, self-defense, photography, videography, tire repair, safe riding techniques, how to pick up your bike, off-road riding, all are of interest.

There are 40 minute and 90 minute sessions available for talks, workshops, demos and live web chats.

Click here to submit your ideas


Submitting a Presenter registration DOES NOT mean you will automatically be included in the schedule, as we often have more presenters than available presentation slots. We will confirm one way or the other as soon as we can (but not immediately!).

In order to get FREE entry to the event, you are expected to either REPEAT your presentation OR do TWO or more DIFFERENT presentations.

Departing or Returning?

If you're planning an expedition, why not make the Horizons Unlimited meeting your official start point? Or maybe you're nearing the completion of a journey and would like a very public welcome home? Of course you might just be passing through and fancy marking a key stage of your travels?

We'd love to make you a big part of the meeting, so feel free to get in touch and tell us your plans.

Advertise at HU North Carolina

Run a business that serves the overland adventure travel market? Want to spread the word at HU North Carolina but can't take a Trade Stand? Send us a vinyl or roller banner and we'll display it in a prominent position.

Click here to arrange advertising

North Carolina Venue Location

Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge,
Cabins and Campground
1755 Lower Stecoah Road,
North Carolina 28771
N35 deg 23' 20", W83 deg 40' 38"

View Larger Map

Iron Horse is located in Graham County, North Carolina, on Lower Stecoah Road just north off Highway 28. A short 30 minute ride to the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap and the scenic Cherohala Skyway, two of the best motorcycle destinations in the United States.

Iron Horse Location Map.

more maps here

Other Accommodation

Camping is NOT included with your admission to the meeting.

NOTE: For Ironhorse, you should book early because September is peak season for them. For rooms, cabins or bunkhouse beds there is a Horizons Unlimited special - stay 2 nights get 3rd night free. You must book directly with Ironhorse before May 1, 2017 to reserve rooms at the HU Special rate. Call them at 1-828-479-3864 or e-mail:

Other options:

Phillips Motel, Robbinsville, NC

Two Wheel Inn, Robbinsville, NC

Suggestions anyone?

Information about the area

  • Ironhorse is in Graham County, NC. promotes the county and has driving directions to Graham County from Asheville, Atlanta and Knoxville. Even though the directions are not directly to Ironhorse, this site might be useful.
  • North Carolina's 'Scenic Byways' website has a lot of great information on various scenic roads in North Carolina. They also sent Karen a book she says is great. It will be on display at the Meeting. Viewable online in pdf format or can be ordered from their website for only $5.00 each.
  • Wheels Through Time Museum a "35-year collection of rare American motorcycles and automobiles...230-vehicle collection in the lovely community of Maggie Valley, North Carolina, located just a few miles off of I-40 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Maggie Valley is a quiet community of 400 people nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains." Owner Dale Walksler has very generously donated door prizes for our meeting, and wants to invite you to come visit the museum - he'll be delighted to meet you!

Any info you have on the area, rides etc, please let me know.

Local Bike Shops

Let us know any good dealers nearby!

New BMW Dealer in Asheville

And a special thanks to all the local sponsors and supporters!

  • Mortons BMW, Fredericksburg, Virginia. Mortons have been a long-time Horizons Unlimited supporter, so a special thanks to them, and for coming all the way to the meeting! Say hi to Steve, he'll be wandering around the meeting...

  • Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC - "rare American motorcycles and automobiles"

  • Bluemoon Cycle in Norcross, GA. - "one of the largest volume BMW motorcycle dealers in the Southeast."

  • Fraziers Harley Davidson in Buford, GA. - "Our goal is simple. We want to keep everyone happy."

  • Precision Cycle & ATV Sylva, NC. - a full-service shop - "Mechanics are the backbone of the business"

  • BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta, "the leading BMW dealer in the southeast, with all the latest models, genuine BMW accessories and your exclusive source for BMW clothing in Georgia"

Please drop in for a visit and thank them for their support.

Local Hosts

Mike Kilpatrick, local organizer for HU North Carolina.  Steve Anderson, Mortons BMW.

Mike Kilpatrick is the local host for this event, assisted by Steve Anderson of Mortons BMW. We're VERY grateful to them for stepping up and making it happen with a lot of legwork and effort.

We can always use help on the day - please volunteer to help out for a couple of hours when you register!

HU Events Refund Policy

We know 'stuff happens', and you know we have financial commitments to venues and caterers!

If you're unable to attend an event, please let us know (by e-mail reply to your confirmation e-mail from us) so we don't worry that something has happened to you...

Up to 30 days prior to event start, we will refund all fees in full less a $10 (or €9 or £8) fee for handling and PayPal charges.

Up to 15 days prior to event start, we will refund camping/accommodation and food packages in full less a $10 (or €9 or £8) handling fee. We will apply your registration fee to any subsequent HU event in the year or following year. If you have purchased a t-shirt, let us know your mailing address and we'll send it out.

Within 15 days of the event start, there will be no refunds, but we will apply your registration fee to any subsequent HU event in the year or following year. If you have purchased a t-shirt, let us know your mailing address and we'll send it out.

New to Horizons Unlimited?

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle. The website, HUBB forum and regular events across the globe have inspired thousands of people to follow their dreams and take the road less travelled.

Susan and Grant Johnson
Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - Show you're proud to be a Horizons Unlimited Traveller!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love overland adventure travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events such as this one (18 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

You can join at a reduced rate as part of your meeting registration. Note that new Memberships with your Meeting Registration are applied as of the Meeting date or as soon as possible thereafter, not earlier, unless you make a special request in the Comments box when you register.