July 23, 2013
In my search for Cameleers to sign my copy of The Great Adventure I found a link from MSN Auto talking about the 1995 Camel Trophy. In it, there was some background info about Daphne Greene and it mentioned her website Twende (Swahili for "Let's Go!"). I visited the site and sent her a message, but the website didn't look very current so I did some more digging. Eventually I came across a site that had the domain registration info for Twende. There were a couple phone numbers and an address. I copied anything that looked useful into my spreadsheet of contact info for Team USA Camel Trophy participants. I then moved on to researching the next Cameleer.
The first person to get my copy of The Great Adventure was Bill Burke. He was the special guest at the NCLR's Annual Event in 2012, and since we met in person (and he's a great guy to boot!), I felt confident that the book would be returned to me. Given the shipping time to Colorado, Bill's work schedule and then shipment back to California, it took about one month for the book to make it back into my hands. That day was Friday, July 19, 2013. That weekend, I relished the fact that I had my first signature, in what was (and still is) to be a long journey of searching, emailing and sending to get as many signatures as possible.
The following Monday, (July 22, 2012) I woke up and checked my email as I do every morning before getting ready for the day. To my surprise there was a reply from Daphne! She apologized for not getting back to me sooner, and wanted me to know that it wasn't from a lack of appreciation regarding my book. Daphne mentioned that LR dealers were coming to the Bay Area to celebrate the introduction of the new Range Rover Sport, and some former CT driving instructors were going to be there for the off-road driving portion of the event. She said to give her a call and leave a message as she wouldn't be able to check email that day, and that afternoon, we could go over the specifics of getting the book to her. There was only one small problem. She didn't leave her phone number, and I only had her email address!
At this point I started to mildly freak out. Somehow, someway, this was going to work. The spreadsheet with the CT contact info was pulled up and voice messages were left for both phone numbers I had for Daphne. My hope was that one was her house phone (where she would get the message too late) and the other her cell. But there was no way to tell which was which. They both had a female voice (promising) and one said it was Daphne (bonus). However, that wasn't enough for me. I needed some backup in case we didn't make contact again.
I knew Lea Magee was part of the Camel Trophy "squad", but wasn't sure if he would be part of this dealer event. It seemed logical that he would be given his relatively close proximity to the Bay Area. He was going to be my backup, even though he didn't know it at the time. During my intense research phase (there is more to do) of US Cameleers, I came across a county housing plan for what looked like an addition to the Magee residence. There was an address and phone number so those were copied into the CT spreadsheet. Around that time, a former President of the NCLR Club (Astateofmike) sent me Lea's number and it was filed away in the spreadsheet for future use as well.
By this time I was at work, but my task of the day was just starting. Just in case something materialized, The Great Adventure was with me. I called the two phone numbers I had for Lea. The first was out of service, and the second went to voice mail. Not knowing if this was the correct phone number, I left a quick message and said if this isn't the Magee's to please disregard this message. About an hour later my phone rings, and it's Lea's wife! She was calling from the house phone and gave me Lea's cell number (the one that was out of service). It turns out there was one incorrect digit.
I tell her who I am and what is going on. She was aware of the LR dealer event, said that Lea and Jimmy (Jim Swet) will in fact be part of it. When she heard that I made initial contact with Daphne, she said everything was in good hands and would pass my info to Lea.
After that Daphne called me and said an LR rep (and the rest of the dealers) were staying the St. Regis Hotel in downtown San Francisco. If I could get my book to her before 6 am the next morning, she could take it with her, hand the book over to Daphne who would then pass it around to the other Cameleers.
Lea did call me a little later and was curious what my project was for. He sounded leery at first, probably thinking I was just going to turn around and sell the book. I reassured him by saying if my house is on fire, The Great Adventure and one of my Les Paul guitars would make it out with me. He chuckled and seemed happy with that answer. Since everything had been worked out with Daphne before that I told him what was going on and he was happy to help out.
I get the address to the hotel, which was a 2 minute diversion from my usual way home. At the concierge desk I see some LR gift bags and know that I'm in the right place. I give the name of the LR rep from Daphne and leave with eager anticipation. Later that night my head was still swirling from everything that went down that day. The next morning as I was walking the dog, Daphne sent me a text that the book was all signed and would be available to pickup after 6 pm. Already? It was already signed and I hadn't left the house yet. Thinking back I probably could have convinced Daphne that it would be no trouble for me to get down south (it sounded like the event was in Redwood City) and meet everyone to thank them in person. But I didn't want to overstep my bounds and wasn't sure of their schedule for the day.
On the way home that night to pick up the book I was still in shock. After a little bit of searching the concierge person found the book, I showed them my id (a big relief) and opened the Pelican case. I wanted to be sure the book and collector CT pen was still there, and make a quick check of the signatures. Patiently waiting until I got home to really look at the book wasn't going to happen. What should have been a 15 minute drive took me about 5 minutes, even in rush hour traffic!
Once home, it was time to finally enjoy what had transpired over the last 36 hours. There they were, signatures from Daphne Greene (CT '95), Jim Swet (CT '95), Fred Monsees (CT '90), Lea Magee (CT '90), Don Floyd (CT '87), Jim West (CT '92), and Tim Hensley (CT '93). Since I didn't get a chance to meet anyone in person, I'll be heading to the 2014 Overland Expo this May to do that. There will be a few more Cameleers to add including Duncan Barbor (Event Manager), Ken Cameron (CT '96), Tom Collins (CT '87), Andrew Dacey (UK Team CT '90), and Bob Burns (LR training team and events coordinator).