Choosing the right “one” for our journey.
When we first started seriously thinking about doing the trip Meg and I owned a 1987 2.3 litter, carborated, red Isuzu Trooper and our original dreams had us taking this beauty down the road to South America. This sport utility was made in an era that actually thought more about function than form. No fancy plastic bumpers, a minimalistic dash and plenty of real steal through out the vehicle. It was actually made for off road traveling, not for just bringing the kids to soccer practice like today’s North American SUV’s. Meg and I had already had many fantastic adventures slowly bumping along the back roads and trails of southern Utah in the Trooper.
With its simplistic engine and drive components plus lack of electronics, the Trooper was extremely easy to work on and very reliable. This was a big selling point for wanting to take this rig for the ride. I already had intimate knowledge of its workings and knew its off-road capabilities. I learned through hours of research that the trooper was also found and sold throughout many of the countries in Central and South America which meant we could most likely find parts if, or rather when, we broke down. The trucks boxy open design allowed us to sleep in the back which was also a plus. We built a raised bed platform with plenty of storage for camping gear underneath. Perhaps the best reasons for taking the Trooper was that we already owned it and had it dialed for living out of. This would allow us to redistribute the thousands of dollars to be spent on a costly vehicle towards the trip savings instead. Eureka, we already had the perfect vehicle! Well almost…
There was one major down fall of the trooper, It was pitifully slow and under powered. It was so slow that it was at times painful to drive, especially up hill. It had no buisness being on the highway with top speeds downhill at 65 mph. Up hill driving was a maddening experience of rapid down shifting and roaring RPMs while still going 35 mph. On one particular hill in Colorado we unanimously agreed this was not the vehicle we could sanely or safely drive for a year fully laiden with our adventuring gear. It was just too damn slow! So then began the search.
So Many Options
After ditching the Trooper idea we got to start from scratch, a clean slate, an empty canvas. We started putting together a list of things that we wanted out of the vehicle mechanically and comfort wise. After all we would be sleeping, eating , hanging out and driving in it for at least a year. It would not only be our vehicle, it would be our home.
So when the list came together and we had covered all of our wants and needs we realized that we had come up with the perfect vehicle for living out of… in some canyon nearby Moab, UT while each working three jobs to pay for it.
Ok, so realistically what do we need? Something reliable, something with rugged 4×4 and clearance, something relatively easy to work on and get parts for in any American country, something roomy enough for sleeping and gear storage, and finally something affordable.
The answer… a slightly older Toyota Tacoma with low mileage at a reasonable price and a used but functional slide in pop up camper with a kitchen, also at a reasonable price. Not too much to ask, right?
Right! As long as you diligently check multiple classifieds everyday for about a year and a half, take a few worthless 5 hour drives to see some more than slightly misrepresented offerings, and finally take the plunge on a 50/50 hopeful, you might just be lucky enough to be the proud new owner of something like our amazing beast. Hey, we are not calling it an adventure for nothing!