In the summer of 2017, I borrowed a cool RoadTrek from friends and drove 11,000 miles to Alaska. Now, I'm embarking on new road trip adventures in my F-250 Ford truck and Lance cabover camper.
Deciding on the truck & camper
Once upon a time, I had a little brown Ford Ranger with a canopy over the truck bed. His name was JohnWayne. I made a little bed on a cot in the back, had my camp stove & stuff organized within, and room for my camera & ferrets. Yes, I traveled with pet ferrets; that's another tale. For years, in between graduate school semesters, I drove between Texas and National Parks where I worked as a summer seasonal ranger. I made 5 or 6 trips up the Alaska Highway, and drove across country a couple of times, photographing along the way. I loved JohnWayne!
I always wanted another truck and now, with WildEarthVisions, it was time to get a vehicle that could take me around the country to do my work.
For months, I drove myself, and Tom, crazy! Obsessing over every little decision & detail about what to purchase for my road trips in search of optimism, I examined all sorts of variables: keep my Ford F-150 & find a cozy pop-up camper for it? (I love these because they kinda have that tent-like feel & aren't ostentatious) Get a bigger truck & have a better camper that would be more comfy for family, too? (And, in all honesty, having room to cook, work, & sleep in - as well as a bathroom - is nice.) Or, get a RoadTrek, which I love because it is such a well-thought out vehicle? (But do I really want to have a tiny table, or have to make up the bed from the dining area every night?)
Day & night I pored over websites, specs, and Craigslist ads from around the country. I created spreadsheets comparing pros and cons. I barely slept. Everytime Tom asked me "what are you thinking?" I'd answer "payload" or "engine specs," or "storage measurements," or some such thing. I thought of nothing else!
Late one night, while poring over truck ads, I found the perfect truck, on a website for a dealership only a couple of hours away from home. I bookmarked it. But all the decent campers I could find were just way out of my budget. Then, on a whim, I decided once more to peek at Craigslist ads up in Oregon (we go there to check on the restoration of Tom's classic FJ43 Toyota Land Cruiser). Lo, and behold! Someone had the perfect camper for sale! That clinched the decision-making for me...a larger truck it would be!
Via WhatsApp, I arranged for the purchase of the camper. Over email, and a circuitous UPS shipment of paperwork (and some funny things in between), I bought the 2017 F-250 Super Crew 4x4. Wow! This thing is ginormous! After loving our electric Tesla Model X (and being concerned about & cognizant of my footprint), the thought of putting heaps of petrol into this monster is actually the scariest part of my new venture! But, it'll be a super comfy space with plenty of room for stuff and family. It's roomy enough to be home away from home, a mobile edit suite, and transportation into those quiet, wilder spaces to reconnect to Nature.
Most importantly, it has the right specifications to safely handle the load of a cabover camper. I gotta give a big shout-out of thanks to Gordon & Angela at Truck Camper Magazine; the many articles in that online publication are terrific resources for understanding the ins-and-outs of truck camping.
In two weeks we depart New Zealand. We land nearly 24 hours after departing (but on the same day we left) in Phoenix where we'll pick up the new truck! Because it's brown paint is called "caribou," and I love observing those migratory Arctic creatures, the new truck will be named "Tuktu," the Inuit word for caribou.
Now that the adventure of choosing the truck and camper is complete, I'm looking forward to the next stage: taking Tuktu on the road in search of WildEarthVisions!