So, summer is for travel and cooking and camping... so, why not combine all three, plus whatever else we can pick up along the way, right? Of course. So, since we were on the committee to plan and organize the family reunion for my wife's (very) extended family, which was scheduled for this summer in Colorado, we decided to drive there, and back. We drive a 2001 Toyota Land Cruiser as on of our primary vehicles, which just HAPPENS to be set up for overland travel and camping. Funny thing, huh?
So, plans began formulating in mid July to travel to Winter Park, CO, as well as all the interesting things we could see along the way. Where to go, what to see, where to camp, especially for little to no cost. These are import factors, of course, but the biggest one? Could we travel the entire distance and NOT EAT FAST FOOD?! I thought we could, since said Land Cruiser is set up with an Engel fridge and a gas operated two burner stove. This allows us to carry both dry and refrigerated foods, plus my son's insulin, which is kind of a big deal. Carrying your own food is more convenient, more cost effective, and face it, just better tasting as long as you don't burn it too badly.
Hey look! There is still room for chocolate!
This thing is a game changer, for sure. If you've never had a fridge in the vehicle on long trips, or even for hauling ice cream to a picnic, then maybe you need to stop and consider just where your life is headed.
And while there are fancier models available, with separate fridge/freezer compartments, and digital controls, this model is pretty much bulletproof and simple. The only thing we've had be careful with is freezing bottled or canned drinks. Trust me, cleaning frozen Coke out of a fridge is not the best 15 minutes of your day... just sayin'.
The other major concern while camping/overlanding is sleeping quarters, cause there is nothing like having a great trip ruined by a bad night sleep. My wife wasn't real fond of the 2" thick mattress that came standard with our roof top tent, and it also made my shoulders hurt all night, so, upgrade time! After some research and price hunting, I broke down and ordered a Nemo Cosmo sleeping pad. I liked the fact that it was insulated, had its own built in pump, and would pack down flat. You can learn more about it here.
Looks like we found Nemo...
And, I'm please to report that it was a success! After the first night on the road, I asked how she slept, and was greeted with vigorous nodding and "I slept all night!", which was a vast improvement.
So, food and sleeping issues addressed, we proceeded to continue planning and packing, weeding out things that we didn't use on former trips, and trying to include items that would be able to either multi-task or make life easier. After all, do you really need a tablecloth while eating in a camp chair? Methinks not, gentle reader (a little Stephen King coming through there).
And while we're on the topic of sleeping, you are probably wondering where this Cosmo thingy goes, right? Well, allow me to explain...
We purchased (ok, I purchased) a roof top tent from James Baroud, a company based in Portugal. The overlanding community has a number of companies that cater to their odd ways, which include the urge to sleep on top of their vehicle. I know, missing out on the rock lodged up against my spine all night was hard to give up, but that's just part of being a man, making tough decisions and such. Anyway, such is life. So this tent is bolted to the roof rack, and opens clamshell style to expose a tent, with a short ladder leading up to the sleeping platform. Some people tout the idea that you are safer, since you aren't at biting level with bears or snakes and such, but since I've never had those in my tents before, I slightly disagree, at least for the bulk of camping I'll be doing. I'm more concerned that some vacuum salesman will wander into camp and shill his wares to me, and I have no place designated for a vacuum in the Hundy.... so, better to hide above eye level, my thinking goes.
Here is a shot of the tent when test fitting the above Nemo pad:
So, we were off to a good start.
In my next post, I'll share a little more about my vehicle and how it's outfitted, as well as why, and begin to share more about the trip as it began to unfold. Which is better than unraveling. Don't ask me how I know...