Utah Desert Solitude…Searching for Swasy’s Leap

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We spent the weekend in the Escalante Staircase National Monument. This is a prehistoric yet wondrously accessible desert in central Utah. If our Commander and creep has his way, this land will be mined out… selling its beauty to the evils of oil and natural gas exploration. Oil fields scattered all over this beautiful landscape. Heavy machinery traveling on the fun back roads we explore in the peace and quiet of this desert.

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At least for now, this is a pristine area that takes you into some of the most ancient exposed rock on earth. The vast panoramas are breathtaking and are the product of millions and millions of years of evolution. More to the point… wind, sand and water. I have traveled to many places in this world and seen many landscapes.
This Utah desert is spectacular and has a history full of intrigue, cowboys, Indians and bandits.

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We set out to find a trail called Swasy’s Leap. It was at the end of some pretty advanced 4WD roads requiring a high clearance vehicle. I can say that the trek in was far easier than the trek out. Funny we never did find where this little bet was waged and the leap was made back in 1800. No problem the 5-6 miles we hiked were rewarding and around every butte was more and more wonder and awe.

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We followed an eighteen year old 4WD Book and a topographical map. The dirt roads go off everywhere. We got off on the road to the trailhead, finally, and maneuvered our Cruzer carefully over the rocky ledges and step downs for 4 miles to the trailhead. The heavy black storm clouds hung around the rocky peaks in the distance, and threatened us with curtains of rain and flashes of lightening. The sun held the storm at bay until we got back to the car and found our remote campsite.

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We unfolded our roof top tent as it got dark with heavy thunder clouds and sought refuge inside the Cruzer as Mother Nature unleashed her fury. We kicked back to wait out the storm and had a well deserved cocktail and laughed at our hike and joked about this kid Swasy, who jumped a crevasse, on his horse, somewhere out there, instead of riding around the damn thing. He got 75 head of cattle for this little stunt, which made him rich and got him written up in the Utah history books.

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The storm passed, gave us a rainbow, and as is usual, the desert sucked up every drop and dried out quickly. We settled in, cooked some dinner and had a fire. Love, love LOVE the desert solitude.

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We were basically “trying out” the remote camping or boon-docking. We have purchased so many new items to get prepared for our upcoming Overlanding adventure. A new Snomaster fridge/freezer, new double battery setup, new suspension and steering components, new Baja full length flat roof rack, we wired and installed a Pure Sine Wave 1750 Watt Inverter. She’s never really been tested out.

I am here to tell you she performed incredibly. The fridge didn’t pull down the AGM spare battery at all. The Inverter worked flawlessly. She stepped up and stepped down rocky trails, got her first brush scratches, rooftop tent was awesome, although a bit hard… but toasty warm.

We spent the weekend talking about how to build out the interior. Wether or not to buy a 4×4 van. The SportsMobiles are very expensive. You can’t drive an ULEV diesel into Central America… the diesel isn’t available, so a lot of the nice big turbo diesel vans are out of the question. Decisions… decisions…

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On The Road Again….

Well we are off… spent last two days scrambling around to get everything just right. It’s an eight and a half hour drive and 531 miles. First road trip… me, Gandaulf and Lucky, the Adventure Cruzer!

The Overland Expo will fuel my imagination and give me great ideas for finishing off Lucky’s interior. It can also be dangerous!  These guys live to outfit the lifestyle we are striving for. With our home on our backs, so to speak, everything we own inside a 12x6x4 foot space, we need to learn to travel safe.  We need to learn how to read a map… not always gonna have GPS or cell phone service… can’t just call AAA if we get a flat.  This weekend is gonna be like going to outdoor school. So excited!!

Flagstaff ARIZONA here we come!

Overland Expo West… Here We Come!

It seems like forever since I have written. Life has been crazy… to say the least. We are continuing to sell cars, go to work everyday, walk the dog every morning, pay bills, do yard work, fix up the house for the eventual sale, and still try to fit some fun time in. I will be happy when the list gets cut in a third and all we have to do is plan our next destination, walk the dog on a beach or jungle trail, make new friends and LIVE.

We have been beefing up Lucky, our 1998 Adventure Cruzer. She has almost a complete ‘face lift’ now completely replacing most of her front end suspension parts, installed the roof top tent, added a great, non-ostentatious stereo with Bluetooth and XM, second battery system installed and cold air intake installed.  There is still the interior build for storage coming up… but first The Overland Expo in Flagstaff this weekend for some over the top experience and lots off good ideas from fellow minimalists and overlanders.

It is amazing to know that there are other crazy people in this world that like to “hit the road”, abandon the “responsible reality lifestyle” we all have been raised to live in and forced to conform to. With the instability in the political climate of this world it it scary to even turn on the TV and wonder what stupidity has occurred overnight. To be reliant on fossil fuels, electricity, consume water like it’s a right… these items are what keeps most of us chained to our homes, our repeating loop of everyday living to support our reliance on our carbon footprint. Hitting the road forces us to downscale. Live life at its fullest without being tied down. It allows us to move freely about, exploring the world and all it’s back roads and byways, without having time limits.

In two days I will hit the road with Gandaulf and Lucky for our first 600 mile road trip. I hope to connect and be motivated. To be inspired by fellow travelers. To accept criticism on ways to better keep us secure as two women travelers. Stay tuned as we post some incredible pics and share great ideas as we travel to and attend the Expo!

Until we chat again…

Lucky is Coming Along!

Lucky is coming along! She got rear ARB Coil Springs for a 1 1/2″ lift to support the roof top tent and weight of gear and utility trailer.  We tweaked the factory torsion bars to give her a front end lift.  GeoAdventure Gear GT180 roof top tent ordered… ceramic heat reduction tint installed… and finally she’s been “tagged” with our logo and website!  Check it out…

 

Gandaulf the Red

Over the last 25 years, we have always traveled with a dog.  Mercy “Bucket”… a 75 pound German shepherd was an awesome travel companion and member of our little family.  She passed on Mother’s Day in 2008 at 15 years old.  After a short grieving period we got Gandaulf.  We were looking for another Adventure Dog that could keep up with our travels but this time without the size and hairiness of a shepherd.  The Corgis are a working breed just like the shepherds, with a lot of the same mannerisms, easy to train and always out to please.

Gandaulf came to us as a rescue at 10 weeks old. How could a dog with such short legs keep up with our hiking, climbing, rafting and travel abroad?  He would get high centered on the Sunday papers in driveways on our walks, high centered on tennis balls… but boy could he jump! It wasn’t long before his first 2 mile hike, camping trips and rafting/fishing trips. He was a natural in the outdoors.

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Gandaulf is now 7 years old and shows no sign of slowing down.  He has been to more countries than most humans.  Every year he has his own calendar showcasing his travels… he’s a natural in front of the camera.  This adventure will be a test of his patience and travel savvy.

We have never entered another country via driving across the border.  There is a bit of trepidation on our part.  We see blogs and FB posts of people traveling with their dogs. Traveling by airplanes is such a hassle with the red tape and vaccinations he has to go through. Poor guy… but he is a trooper.  We hope crossing a border is no big deal…

We would love to hear from anyone out there with such experience for some pointers.  Dos and don’ts, etc…

Introducing “Lucky”

When Chris and I decided to “hit the road”… we vacillated between flying to one destination, settling in for a short while… getting healthy and traveling out from a home-base. In October 2016, we bought a 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser and a light went off. Why not go Overlanding?  Drive down into Mexico and through all of Central America, west coast and back up the East Coast… and wherever the road takes us.

Some modifications needed to be done in order for this stock Land Cruiser to be road worthy in Central America. We started out with an ARB Sahara front bumper. Next came upgrading the headlights to a set of LEDs… don’t want to hit a cow in the middle of the night… Next came beefing up the suspension, not too radical after all we are a couple middle aged women and a short legged Corgi. We put on a full set of “KYB Excel-G Shocks”, beefed up the tie rod ends to “Proforged Chassis Parts Tie Rod Ends” and upgraded the tires to “Yokohama Geolander A/Ts” for a nice deep tread and strong sidewalls for off-roading… but not a noisy road tire.

How did she get her name?  She’s copper penny color… pennies are LUCKY…

Lucky will become our Adventure Cruzer. Still to come… a “Geo Adventure GT-180” fold out roof top tent with annex, interior build for storage… solar panel and backup deep cycle battery with an 800 watt power inverter for charging laptops, phones and running our “Edgestar 43 quart fridge“. A mounted lock box for securing personal items during travel. Off-road lights and an 8,000 lb winch. Two middle aged gals and a Corgi as the icing on the cake.

Dreaming BIG!!!

On Becoming a Minimalist

So the biggest challenge that faces us is liquidating everything we own. It is amazing to me that two people can collect so much “stuff”.  Our first house was 1300 sq. feet. It was two bedrooms and a living room and a kitchen… simple and never too cluttered.  As with the American dream, and the desire to pay as little to the Man as possible we moved into a 2600 sq. foot home. More rooms and more “stuff”. Our third home, the one we currently occupy, 6500 sq. feet and even more “stuff”. Lots and lots of “STUFF”. The bigger the space to more room to accumulate.

If you asked me to name two or three things I could not live without, I would tell you some trinket, object or maybe a favorite bed. Ask me what I would grab if my house burnt to the ground… I would answer my GF, dog and cat, and perhaps iPad and cell phone. Isn’t it sad that aside from living things I would probably rank my media devices over anything else. Actually my past 20 years is stored on those devices so it would be like my grandmother grabbing her family photos and memoirs. Of course we do have “the cloud” so these devices are actually just material items.

Last year we began to eliminate the clutter. Can I tell you how freeing it is! Just last weekend we filled two 50 gallon garbage cans just from one room in our house. We have donated clothes, blankets, pillows, and other miscellaneous sundries that have been gathering dust for years. We are down to just the bare needs in the kitchen. Our closet of clothes that once spilled into two walk in closets has shrunk into less than one. Of course a girl must have her shoes so it has been hard for Chris to part with those, even though she hasn’t worn them in years.

Our goal is to have everything we own fit into a 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser. Like a turtle our home will be on our backs. This is not our first rodeo, we’ve done this before in 1992-93 when we hit the road in a 24′ fifth wheel trailer for over 10 months. We traveled all over the USA until we ran out of money. This time we are MUCH older and wiser and have more “STUFF”. This time we will be gone for 10-15 years or longer, till death do us part… This time the emphasis will be on spiritual growth and the accumulation of memories rather than treasures.