About a Year and half ago I got this itch to do a crazy trip around North America. This lead me to reading blogs, active trip posts and after trip reports. Soon this plan seemed realistic. Then about a year ago today I started work on my first ever off-road teardrop camper. Now I sit here in Colorado at the end of my trip and I can’t even fathom all the things I saw. The good and crazy people I talked to. All the scares of driving on rock ledges and the frustrations of the break downs. It all seems so far in the past. Yet I set out on my trip 20 weeks or 137 days ago. I traveled over 27,000 miles and I visited 19 US states and 4 Canadian Territories. It is honestly unreal and unbelievable that I was able to accomplish this while I only turned 30 years old in the middle of British Columbia, Canada with a broken trailer axle for a birthday present on this trip.
I know a few of you will ask and have asked what did this trip cost me. Without the trailer build and the repair cost/broken parts it cost me right around twelve thousand dollar. So with that out of the way lets get back to lessons and memories.
As I write this I think it is finally hitting me of everything I got to see on my trip along with that it is finally over. I’ve seen parts of the USA and Canada that only locals go visit. I’ve meet the town drunks and shaken hands with the local socialites with populations so small you can count them on your fingers and toes. I also had to pose or slow down driving more times than I can count so an international tourist can take a picture of my rig and trailer. I’ve traveled down roads and trails that might not have been traveled on for years. I have freaked out about running out of gas a lot and almost ran out a hand full of times. Somehow I always got lucky with filling the proper amount of Jerry cans at the previous gas stations. I was in a record setting heatwave in the desert then less than two months later I woke up to six inches of snow and a flat tire in the arctic circle. I drove through some of the most popular national parks and drove for hundreds of miles without see anyone. At times I got so lonely I accidentally waved to a cow and once I even talked to a heard of cows that visited me while I camped for a few hours. Then I would feel overwhelmed driving through a city with 3 stoplights because it had to much traffic. I have woken up in the middle of the night because a squirrel was playing on top of my camper or I heard a noise of a large animal outside. Overall I would say I was pretty lucky. I never had any close calls with animals and only one close call with humans and that was early on. I know a lot of people dream about this trip and all I can say is stop dreaming and start doing.
The lessons I’ve learned on this trip are as vast as the terrain I’ve seen. I’ve learned how to be more patient and think through solving a problem because hurrying up won’t fix anything. Slowing down and enjoying the trip is very important to seeing everything around you and limiting damage to your vehicle and trailer. The two most important vehicle modification needed for a trip like this is tires and planning. It does not matter what you drive or what you have seen or fixed on your trips. To accomplish a trip of this size takes planning and the proper tires. Don’t cheap out on your tires and get something that is overrated for your vehicle the more ply the better. Also don’t go to soft or they will wear out too fast and you will be looking for tires along your trip route. Now lets get to the planning portion. First financially, figure out gas, hotel, camping, food cost, basic maintenance per day, week or month. Then double that and that should be your cost for broken parts along with any extra cost you did not foresee. You can stop at a gas station and the one twenty miles down the road can be a dollar cheaper or more expensive or closed and you could run out of gas, it is always a gamble. Then there is the recovery side of things. I am a believer that you can build up and over the requirement but no matter what you do to your vehicle having proper recovery equipment is key. I won’t go through a list of what I have or what brand to buy. You can read that on the other portion of my website. I will say this. Have a winch that is rated far beyond your vehicles requirement. Also have enough shackles and winch line extensions for any situation you can dream of. On top of that a good land anchor is key. I don’t care if it is a home made one or bought but test it out in sand, mud, gravel, snow and see if it lives up to your expectations if not upgrade. A winch without an anchor is pointless and they don’t grow large trees everywhere. Ensure that your winch mount is rated above your winch also. If you are going to pull a trailer I would say it is a good idea to be able to winch backwards too if it is from you main winch or another one. On top of this is spare parts. Know your vehicle. I would highly recommend anyone who did not modify there own vehicle to not do this type of trip. You never brake down next to an mechanic and defiantly never to a parts store. Know every possible part that is commonly broken on the vehicle you choice and have a spare for it if it is possible. Please remember the more you modify your vehicle the more it will brake. Now on the other side of all of this is weight is a killer. It will stress and wear out parts faster and more unexpectedly than you thought.
Some of the things I would change. I would of designed everything to be as light as possible and of all my after trip modifications this is going to be the number one goal.
I was going to highlight some of my favorite spots along the way but there are so many and they all blend in. Instead I went through 7,396 photo’s I took on this trip and pulled out some of my favorite. I don’t have the location of where every photo was taken as that will take some time for me to coordinate the time stamp with my GPS’s time stamps. Which I hope to accomplish over time. So here are my favorite photo’s of my trip.
Also for those of you who made it all the way down here. This is what I looked like after not shaving or getting a hair cut for the whole trip.
This is what I looked like before and now.