Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Toy Box

by Scott

While we love the living quarters of El Tigre, the layout is not ideal for gear storage. From the start, we planned to mount a box on the back, with a bike rack mounted on top of the box. The question was where to find a suitable box. We considered many alternatives. We looked at patio boxes. I tried to find a big, old chest freezer. I thought about building my own. Ultimately, we spent the money for a massive custom aluminum box.

The shop that built it caters to the commercial trucking industry, yet at 85" x 33" x 31", it's the biggest single box they've ever built. For our gearhead friends (or english-speaking internet-savvy banditos), a list of toys is at the end of this post. The only items in the truck are the small kites/bars, wetsuits, fishing pole, and guitar. Of course, the bikes are on top of the box. For the banditos that have read this far, in addition to the two locking latches, the box is secured to the frame with a locking hitch pin and a cable lock. The whole thing weighs about 350 pounds, so bring amigos.

  • Kite - Ozone C4 7
  • Kite - Slingshot Rev 9
  • Kite - Slingshot Rev 11
  • Kite Harness - Dakine Tabu
  • Kite Harness - Pro Limit Eve
  • Kiteboard - Airush Switch 132
  • Kite/surfboard - Stretch Ratboy 5'6"
  • Kite/surfboard - Slingshot Tyrant 6'2"
  • Surfboard - T&C V-series 6'4"
  • Surfboard - Santa Cruz Pumpkin Seed 6'6"
  • Surfboard - Channel Islands K-step 6'9"
  • Paddleboards - C4 Waterman Rapid Rider iSUP 10'0" (x2)
  • Paddles - Werner Carve (x2)
  • Wetsuit - Ripcurl 4/3mm 
  • Wetsuit - Quiksilver 3/2mm
  • Wetsuit - Ronstan 3mm Farmer John
  • Wetsuit - Billabong 5/4/3mm
  • Wetsuit - Ripcurl 3/2
  • Mountain bike - Specialized Pitch Pro
  • Mountain bike - Haro Xeon
  • Fishing rod/reel - vintage Wright & McGill/Shakespeare
  • Guitar - Line 6 Variax 700
Other box items
  • 5 air pumps
  • biking accessories
  • spare truck parts
  • spare tire
  • 2 beach chairs

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Truck Preparation

We've spent the past 5 months preparing ourselves and our truck for extended, overland travel through the Americas.  At the time we purchased the truck, we didn't realize how lucky we were to get our hands on a Provan Tiger.  To the untrained eye, a Provan Tiger looks like a slide-in truck camper.  The cool thing is that it's actually an integrated motorhome, where you can walk between the cab and living quarters.  It's everything we ever wanted -- 4x4, diesel, a roomy living space, in a very small footprint.

We've made some major improvements to the truck (1994 turbo diesel Chevy Silverado), as well as the living quarters.  Now that we are in the final weeks of preparing to cross the border, it's been fun to look back on everything we've done.  Almost all of the upgrades were preemptive fixes.  The jist of it is that Scott has done an amazing amount of work to get the truck ready for adventuring in isolated areas.

When I was starting my research on overland travel in the Americas I found a lot of blogs with vehicle modification information.  It was interesting and very informative to see the cost associated with such a venture.  What follows is a very boring list of modifications and cost.

1994 Provan Tiger Camper Modifications ($4500)
  • Instant Water Heater (Removed old 6-gallon water heater) $120
  • Vinyl floor covering (replaced old carpet) $30
  • New/bigger drawers, refaced cabinets, new doors, new hardware $400
  • Exterior shower (scott's absolute favorite addition) $50
  • New foam bed $120
  • Custom 7' x 2.5' x 2.5' aluminum box  $776
  • Re-routed plumbing and electrical
  • Custom battery box $100
  • Towel bars, shoe holders, clothes hooks, etc. (major Ikea-fest) $150
  • 12-volt 4.3 liter NovaKool refrigerator (replaced Dometic 3-way fridge) $1000
  • LED lights (replaced incandescent energy-hogs) $100
  • 135-watt solar panel (in addition to the original 80-watt) $400
  • Xantrex C35 charge controller  $143
  • TriMetric battery monitor TM-2025 $205
  • 2 x Trojan T105 6-volt 235 amp-hour batteries $295

1994 Chevy Silverado K2500 Turbo Diesel Truck Modifications ($6000)
  • Replace upper and lower ball joints $463
  • Replace pitman and idler arms $360
  • New KYB Monomax shocks $240
  • 2 additional leaf springs from Oregon Spring $600
  • 6 new Michelin LTX AT2 tires $1430
  • Diamond Eye 4-inch exhaust (replaced 2.5-inch! exhaust) $500
  • High Efficiency Air Filter $57
  • New radiator thermostat $23
  • Replaced harmonic balancer/pulley $100
  • New high-output water pump and gaskets $220
  • Upgraded radiator fan clutch and fan blade $200
  • New PMD (pump mounted driver) mounted remotely (away from engine) with heat sink $280
  • Synthetic transmission and differential fluid change $400
  • Synthetic engine oil  $60
Other Truck Mods:
  • Stereo/MP3 player $50
  • Husky floor liners in cab $160
  • Custom seat covers $160

Spare Parts (approx cost $500)
  • 5 x Fuel filter $84
  • 5 x Oil filter $70
  • Fuel pump relay $13
  • Fuel pump $86
  • Fuel pump strainer $20
  • Crankcase breather element $52
  • Oil pressure switch $26
  • Radiator hose upper and lower $50
  • Wiper blades $11
  • 4wd actuator $120
  • Serpentine belt $30

Overland/Travel Equipment (approx cost $750)
  • Lug nut cover/lock $25
  • Locks for all of the exterior access doors $10
  • Locks and cables for gear and vehicle $80
  • Ridgid brand cordless oscillator/drill set $136
  • Craftsman 192 piece mechanics tool set $126
  • Lots of other random tools and fix-it stuffs (i.e. DUCT TAPE and adhesives) $100
  • GPS Garmin Nuvi 1450 $170
  • Guidebooks and road atlas' $100

Friday, October 7, 2011

Portland, Oregon Part III - Enjoying the Journey

Spending limited time with family and friends during the past 6 months, has made me realize that being present in the moment is essential. Often times it's hard to put down the to-do list and forget about "the destination" (whatever that is) and really take in the surroundings.  Our nomadic lifestyle makes it hard to really connect with people.  Enjoying moments of camaraderie and friendship has been great for my spiritual wellness.  At times I've felt overwhelmed with family and friend's generosity in hosting us for meals and having us stay at their house.  Not to mention the fact that Holly has let us use her car while she is away.  I can only hope that I will pay-it-forward as we continue our travels south.

Juliet and then Geri hosted us for some great vegetarian fare.  I've done a horrible job at capturing all the delicious meals people have served us.  These two pictures are from almost a month ago when the weather was nice and warm.  Lovely memories.

I don't claim to be new on the live-in-the-moment subject.  Other people have said it much better than I ever could:
Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. 
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.  
Too often we are so preoccupied with the destination, we forget the journey.
We stayed at Nooby's house (pictured 1st), then we moved to Holly's condo, before we moved into Andrea's house (pictured 2nd).  All the while, we've been able to use Holly's car.  Like I said, I am overwhelmed with the generosity.

Andrea cooking us eggs for breakfast -- DELICIOUS.  Bruce bought us pizza and we enjoyed hours of fantastic conversation.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Portland, Oregon Part II

Portland never ceases to amaze me with all the cool things you can do in the city or just outside the city.  How 'bout a night laying on a hillside watching 1200 swifts (those are birds) roost for the night?  If that's not cool enough, we watched a falcon pick off one of the swifts for his/her dinner.  When nature and good friends collide, I am very happy.

Good friends, drinks, and NATURE!
Last week I had the opportunity to prove that I'm younger than I look.  It didn't work because I barely made it past 11 pm.  Regardless, I had a great time with some friends at The Voice Box belting out songs in our own personal karaoke room.  Nope, we weren't in Japan, just Portland.

Voice Box. Yes, I'm killing a Fergie song.
An hour west of Portland we went to a beer fest in Hood River (aptly named Hops Fest).  We definitely missed our favorite IPA drinking buddy, my dad.  As is common with Hood River, it was sunny and warmish while Portland suffered from it's common ailment -- dark and rainy.

Standing in front of Hops vines.  Scott and Juliet seeing dollar signs?
On a more serious note, we probably won't finish our todo list for at least a week and possibly 2 weeks.  Oh well, I guess we need to find more cool stuff to do in Portland in between chores.