As we get ready for our final departure, we made a trip to OK 4WD & Tire in Stewartsville NJ. Like a fat lady in a taco shop I walked around hypnotized by all the stuff I wanted to buy. I could have easily blown the budget in no time, but after a few deep breaths I convinced myself to only purchase what I came for. They installed my ad-a-leaf springs on my Dakar leaf packs and I bought an ARB awning, viair 12-volt compressor, recovery gear, as well as a few odds and ends. Everyone at the place was a great help. We walked out a few hours later completely satisified. Mission accomplished!
We did our final departure from Jersey City yesterday. Our apartment is rented, we said our final farewells to the hood, and now we visit our families one last time before we hit the road for good. The emotions and excitement are running hot through our veins. We predict that Labor day is the offical start of our 18 month journey. Wish us luck!
There is only so much a person can do to keep their possesions safe while driving to South America. My theory is to not bring anything. If you dont have it, they can’t steal it. Or in our case, and in the case of most overlanders, bring absolutely as little as possible. Yea thats right, all that crap you bought off the Sky Mall catalog stays in your parents crawl space. No 3-D goggles, or liquor cabinet golf bags allowed. Before we pack it all up, let us all take a quick moment to poke fun at all the rediculous trash Sky Mall tries to hustle.
You need to organize and lock up your gear so wandering eyes look the other way. If and when someone tries to smash and grab my gear, what will they really get away with? Inside the truck cab there is a lock box which can hold the laptop, important files, camera / lenses, and a few other things. This lockbox is made from 3/4 inch ply with angle iron steel corners, fastened with one way flathead screws, then bolted to the truck body. Someone could get into this thing if they had grinders, power saws, some time and effort. That is unlikely.
Next, I had an alarm installed. It is the most inexpensive alarm at the car security store. It was $200, including install. It has remote locks, activation blinking light, and it will provide me with a better sense of security. I have been told by experienced overlanders that a cheap alarm system can help deter theft in crowded areas. Yes, thugs will smash and grab on crowded streets. Our $200 alarm will help us out in this situation.
Follwing the alarm, I had a limo tint added to all the windows on the cap as well as the back windows in the cab. Yea you can’t see inside my whip, plus it looks gangster. I also welded up some steel window cages for the rear slider windows. The sliders are easy to access inside the cap, but if someone gets them open, the cage will keep them out. It is also to keep Lupe safe. (notice the fishing pole holder on the cieling also.)
Installing an auxiliary battery in a truck can be useful for several reasons. We plan on running an inverter from the aux battery so we have DC power outlets avaliable for a laptop, fridge, interior lighting, charging stations, and what ever else we want to plug in. The aux battery will be wired in such a way where it will charge while the truck is running, but when the truck is off and we are using the aux battery it will not effect the starter battery.
Before any wiring happens you need to find a place for the aux battery. Ideally it will be under the hood, but some vehicles will not allow any room for this so they need to find other locations. Luckily for our Toyota I was able to move the the cruise control out of the way which leaves just enough room for my battery.
Once I moved that stupid thing out of my way I started fabricating the battery tray from some scraps of steel I found in the shop.
The welding went smooth and this thing appears to be pretty solid. This is the first time I’ve done one of these, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Once it got spray painted black it looked legit.
This thing aint going anywhere now. I just need to figure out how to wire this thing up. To be continued…
We all know living in a car, truck, or van is nothing to brag about. Usually it is a result of a person going through financial distress, or some kind of mental breakdown. Our parents always warned us about the guy who lives in a parking lot nestled between Wal-mart and TGI Fridays. Oh, and don’t forget about the couple that lives in the van full of birds under the Bklyn Queens Expressway. Despite these tall tales, and as glamorous as this does not sound to many, Sara and I have decided that this lifestyle sounds pretty good to us. Calling a vehicle home is an excellent way to travel. When traveling, lodging can take up a large percentage of your budget. By eliminating the lodging expense completely, we will be able to extend our trip by a matter of months. Now, this all depends on the person of course. Not everyone is open to sacrificing a certain amount of comfort in exchange for the extension of a trip. It is a personal decision that many travelers ponder. Or not.
With all this being said, I am in the process of making our 2001 Toyota Tacoma as comfortable as possible. Besides our roof top tent, which is where we will be sleeping, I have decided to build a cabinet / storage system in the bed of the truck. The system I built will contain a hand pump RV faucet with a 7 gallon tank, propane tank and hose hookup, a 12 volt cooler / fridge, electrical outlets, ample storage space, sleeping room and/or an area to chill out. Here is a rough step by step guide to the build:
First build your basic structure- notch out for wheel wells and anything else that might be in the way. You want this thing to be as tight as possible, and still have the ability to remove easily if need be. Before you go any further TEST FIT!
Once it fits, decide where all compartments will be located. I measured my fridge, propane tank, water tank etc so everything fits properly and can be easily removed if need be.
I painted the entire structure with 2 coats (all sides every piece) with herculiner truck bed paint. This is basically a rubber coating that will withstand abuse as well as water and moisture.
I then got some outdoor carpet and adhesive and covered all cabinet doors and the platform. I used piano hinges because they will help keep doors from warping and they have a low profile.
The RV pump sink works great. It was easy to install and seems to be very durable. This will be great for drinking water. The small cabinets will probably carry basic every day things like toothpaste, toothbrush, suntan lotion, and hot sauce.
The fridge has a fan thats need constant ventalation, hence the blue vent on the sidewall. The 1 gallon propane tank has an access hole so it can be turned on and off easily. The propane hose runs through cabinet along the side of the fridge so it is not seen. When the stove is in use on the tailgate, the hose is accessible near bottom right side of fridge compartment.
The 7 gallon water tank is in the back right of the cabinets. In this location its out of the way, but can be easily removed or filled up. the clear hose runs through the pvc pipe. The pvc is only there to protect the hose from whatever storage is in the cabinet.
The center platform is removable, and fits on the floor when not being used as a platform. When the platform is not in use the space acts as an area to chill out. When the platform is in use it can be used as a sleeping platform, or a way to hide gear from wandering eyes. As you can see the cabinets provide a good amount of storage space for my machetes, bags of rice, and underwear.
Well here it is! its basically done except a few minor adjustments and additions. I estimate it weighs a bit over 200 pounds. We cant wait to go camping and test this thing out!
The Salt Flats of Bolivia also known as Salar de Uyuni are the largest salt flats in the world at 4,086 square miles. During the wet season (December to March) the flats are covered by a layer of water a few centimeters thick making it the worlds largest mirror. During certain times of the year it is also a breeding ground for pink flamingos.
It’s said that people often lose their sense of direction here. When you look around everything looks exactly the same. For this reason, certain people might become anxious and panic. Getting lost in any desert is no joke. It is necessary to take certain precautions that might include bringing a compass, familiariizing oneself with specific landmarks, going with a guided tour, or just having some common sense. Its amazing how far some common sense will get you these days.