Playing Catch-up V2.0
Alright, maybe now I can finally get this thing up to date. Even with boycotting sleep and focusing a lot of attention on my trip preparation, it just seems like I keep falling behind. That’s OK, challenges make life more interesting and enjoyable. If it were easy, it would be boring.
Where did we leave off? Oh yeah,, I had just acquired the teardrop camper and thought it was all down hill from there. Well, as I stated, I was very wrong.
Once I got the camper home I created a list of the things I need to do to prep it. An array of things such as:
– axle swap / trailer brakes install / rewiring
– redo battery, A/C, and electrical setup to be able to handle Alaskan road
– increase ventilation airflow for puppies
– etc, etc, etc
Well, all the time I spent researching how I would overcome each of these tasks was soon shown to be for educational purposes only.
A week ago I did a mock drive with the camper to see how much it changed my MPG. Every time I fill up with gas I calculate, and note, my MPG. This is a very useful habit I recommend to everyone. I filled up my tank before heading out. The pups, a friend, and I spent the night at my dropzone, Skydive The Farm, and did a morning of sky jumping before I had to go to work. The break was a small birthday present to myself. Upon returning home I filled up my tank and was shocked at how much it had reduced my MPG. Even with me driving extremely conservatively, it reduced it by just over 5 MPG. That isn’t bad for local trips, but for a trip of this magnitude that potentially means over an additional thousand dollars in gas, which I can’t afford/justify. With things so lose to the line what was I to do? Rely solely on my camping tent and hammock? Without the dogs I’d say yes, but with them that isn’t logical. So I got home and spent the night researching alternatives.
Luckily, during my camper research I had come across a thing known as a SUV tent. As seen below:
They initially intrigued me due to their light weight and compactness, but they were passed due to being soft sided and perceived price vs value when compared to a cheap hard sided camper, such as mine. Whelp, I didn’t really have to many options at this point, and this seemed like the best way to go. A wise CTA, cadet training assistant, once said,”sometimes a good plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow.” SO instead of wasting more time I chose to stick to this plan and run with it. After doing hours of research of course.
Luckily, my endless hours researching came with a great reward. I happened to find a very nice used SUV tent in new shape for less than half price on the local craigslist. To top it all off, it was from what reviews and research showed to be potentially the best manufacturer, by far. So, I contacted the seller, who said she used it once, and picked it up.
Enter the Napier Sportz 8400:
The Escalade isn’t mine. There were pictures resulting from a Google search. Since I just put up the tent for the first time and it’s midnight, I think you’ll get a better idea from there.
With the decision to go this route came other obstacles. Mainly the loss of storage space from not taking the camper and me being too tall to be able to lie down in the back of my Rav4. Long story short, I found a great way to help alleviate the storage issue by scoring another awesome deal on craigslist. A used, also in very good / new shape, Thule storage container for my roof rack at less than 1/3 of the original cost. In the 12 hour window from when I contacted the seller and I bought it, he already had 4+ people show up to buy it but not do so because of it’s size. Well, as soon as I saw the add I immediately searched and found its specs. It was HUGE!! Being 8′ x 36″ x 16″ the dogs and I could sleep in it. This may turn away some buyers, but it was perfect for me! I don’t have any pictures of it on my Rav4, but here it is sitting on my RX7:
Having solved two big issues in one weekend I was motivated and continuing the momentum. Next big issue, fitting into the Rav4. Since I can’t stretch the SUV, I had to come up with a creative solution. Once again, after hours upon hours of research (are you seeing a pattern here?) I decided to convert the rear hatch into a sleeper/bed/camper setup. Such as this:
Since I don’t have the funds, time, or desire, my focus is much different than this.
What I desire:
– Economical, with $$ and space
– As light as possible, less impact on gas mileage
– Efficient, function> form all day every day
Well, my motivation was still going strong, so I kept the momentum up. I brought in my birthday by pulling an all nighter getting the Rav4 ready for the conversion:
Apollo just stayed inside waiting to go for a ride.
For the last week I have picked up supplies, and ran through endless ideas for the design. I have a very good idea of how I plan to do most of it, and I will start on it this week. Just have to find time around all of my final design projects, vast amount of other things I still have to research, and other school / ROTC duties.
During this same weekend I was able to square away the vast majority of the remaining needed gear for myself and the pups. REI why you take all my money?! I still have a few very crucial items to get, and I need to get them ASAP, but I have research I need to do before hand.
I just finished putting the Napier Sportz tent up for the first time, mostly in the dark, and it wasn’t bad. So instead of my usual way to enjoy the night air, my hammock on the back porch:
The pups and I are going to begin our acclimation process and sleep in the tent, which we will start doing most nights. This will help us transition, me determine weaknesses before I seam seal the tent, and should be fun considered the large storm we are expecting tomorrow night. Once it gets closer to time and I have all of my gear, we will start “living” in the tent to ensure we are prepared for our voyage.
At this point I am considering this blog caught up, and will try to ensure it stays that way. Things should be a lot more exciting from this point forward.