FARTHER

It has been several months since we last posted as life has been very busy. The Zephyr is  parked for the summer at Basecamp and we are all enjoying the mild summer weather in our favorite place, Alaska.

Summer In Alaska

Even though the big dogs love to travel, they have been enjoying being at home, racing through the woods, rolling in the green grass, chasing snowshoe hare and watching for moose.

Denise’s Flowers Are Again Awesome

After almost 5 years of traveling around America and Canada in our wonderful Mercedes motorhome we have decided it is time to make a change in our style or method of travel.

The Zefyr And The Cabose

During the last 45 years of wandering around the world together we have crossed paths with dozens of overland travelers, mostly Europeans, all with a fascinating story to tell.

Most times after spending just a few minutes talking with these interesting folks one could immediately sense they were inspired to discover new places and meet new peoples. Later we would often say to each other “we have got to travel like that some day”.

The freedom to travel off the beaten track and find new experiences is a privilege not everyone in this world has or wants.

Unimog At Denali Park Store 2017

Recently we realized it was probably time to make the transition from our current style of travel to one where we can venture farther afield.

We dream of crossing vast stretches of deserts, traversing narrow mountain tracks and visiting foreign countries where roads are not suited to the typical motorhome. It is time to switch to a much different type of vehicle.

Back Road Canada

During our travels we often would see narrow dirt tracks that branch off from the main highway and head off into the unknown.  

We have a strong desire to explore the back roads of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments before they are changed, we need to follow the historic trails across the Mojave desert, we need to leave the tourist trail behind.

Our goal is to be completely self sufficient while traveling remotely for extended periods of time wherever the road may take us.  We already have a growing list of dream destinations.

What Is Just Over That Rise?

This is not new rational for us. For years we have explored remote canyons, followed sandy tracks across the Baja peninsula, driven the back roads in Alaska and Canada and camped on remote ridges overlooking the Pacific.

Packing For Mexico 1975
A Southern Baja Campsite Mid 1980’s
Our first Motorhome In Yosemite Vally 1976

As we have aged our travel methods have evolved. Sleeping on the ground in the pouring rain while trekking across the New Zealand outback is no longer a desire. Now we enjoy a few of the basic comforts like a warm dry bed and a toilet.  

This new strategy will require a completely new type of vehicle, one that meets very specific requirements.

$1.2M Earth Roamer At The 2018 Overland Expo

About 6 months ago we actively began searching the web for a bare cab chassis truck where we could then build our own living module on the back.

We plan to combine all of our “lessons learned” from the previous 45 years of living in tents, VW vans, a converted school bus and recently a Mercedes motorhome and combine them into our ultimate expedition vehicle.

 

We Inspected The $250K Earth Cruiser Factory in Bend Oregon

During the search for this new chassis we learned there are many different types, variations, options and vehicle platforms to choose from.

In Europe there are many new and used overland vehicles for sale and many with some very cool options.

The $850K Mercedes Benz Zetros

But when one takes into account import duties, the VAT, US emissions standards that must be met upon entering the US and shipping costs it quickly becomes apparent that a Mercedes or Mann truck chassis is out of the question, at least for us

Ultimately our final decision was based on our budget, vehicles that were available in the US, the fuel and emission requirements of the vehicle, the carrying capacity and how long we wanted to be gone.

2006 Fuso 4×4 Chassis I Viewed In Chicago

Recently I traveled to Chicago, Flagstaff and Montana to inspect several different types of vehicles.

In May I attended the Overland Expo in Flagstaff which is where the annual meeting of overland expedition travelers from all over the world takes place.

The Earth Cruiser Camp 2018 Overland Expo

What started out years ago as a gathering of world travelers sharing stories of adventure from all over the globe is now mostly a trade show for the latest Sprinter van and Jeep accessories.

There is now an amazing amount of cool gear out there for the weekend warrior.

We considered This 2015 International 7300 Located in Texas But We Did Not Want A Crew Cab

We had set a very strict set of requirements for our new overland vehicle.

  • It must be high clearance and 4 wheel drive to allow us to easily maneuver the steeper, rockier, sandier and muddier backroads.
  • It must be a pre 2007 vehicle since there is no USLD fuels or Blue DEF available in southern Mexico, South America and beyond.
  • It must have the carrying capacity for plenty of water, food, supplies and fuel allowing us to go FARTHER and stay longer.
  • It must have single tires on the rear axle that are strong enough to carry the required weight, resist off road punctures and provide ample traction in slippery conditions
  • It must be all season capable and have good insulative properties within the living module
  • It must have enough space for all four of us to live comfortably.
Our New Truck In Glendive Montana Before Bucket Crane Removal

After several months of searching we finally found the perfect cab chassis that met these requirements, it was located In Glendive Montana.

It is a 2004 International 7300 extended cab 4×4 with a 26,000 lb rear axle. It had a boom/ bucket crane mounted on the back which has been removed.

Our New Truck In Transit To Interstate Power Systems In Billings

After much negotiation we purchased the truck and in June I flew to Billings to oversee its inspection, repairs and modifications.

Truck At Interstate Power Systems In Billings

Through several good recommendations we found  Interstate Power Systems in Billings.

I must say I have never worked with a more dedicated, professional and capable team of folks.

New tires Being Installed At Interstate, Each Tire Is Rated For 13,000 lbs.
An Example Of What Our New Rig Might Look Similar To When Completed

Once work on the truck has been completed I will drive it from Billings to LA to visit my mom.

While in Southern California we will purchase all the interior appliances, batteries, solar panels and materials needed to construct a comfortable and rugged camper on the back.

A Day Trip Over Beartooth Pass Near Red Lodge Montana

Construction of the habitation module will begin this fall in our shop which brings us to the most shocking part of this story…. we may spend this coming winter in Alaska.

(I have to be kidding right?) we will see….

I Visit Beartooth Pass Above Red Lodge While In Montana WOW

It will most likely take us all this coming winter and all next summer, about a year, to complete the project. We have a heated shop just big enough to fit our new rig, it should be a very enjoyable project and a very busy year.

A Possible Future Destination

We hope to make the maiden voyage of FARTHR next fall by driving it up the Dalton Hwy to Prudhoe Bay to road test its capabilities.

Eventually our plan will be to again venture south of the border into Baja, mainland Mexico and South America and possibly even FARTHR.

Our intention is to build a vehicle that will allow us to take the road less traveled, to explore new and unknown territories, to discover out of the way campsites, to experience life outside our normal comfort zone and along the way meet some new friends.  

Should be a lot of fun! Stay tuned!

These are the good old days….don’t waste them!

Keep you posted….

31 thoughts on “FARTHER

  1. Can I just say, you guys are the biggest badasses I have ever known (without actually having met you). You’re just fearless and you do what you want and go where you want and no challenge is too great. That first photo of you in front of your VW bus was taken two years before I was even born and you guys have just kept moving the whole time. You’ve had the most incredible life experiences (trekking through Tibet comes to mind) and instead of slowing down over time, you just keep finding new ways to keep moving and seeking out new adventures. While there are all these people marketing the idea of “living life on your own terms,” you guys have just done it your whole life because that’s who you are. It’s awesome and inspirational and I can’t wait to see where you guys go next.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the very nice comments. I must admit its been easy to travel all these years when both of us enjoy it equally. Another reason is probably because we live in Alaska. For years the seasonal Alaskan lifestyle allowed us the time to follow our noses around the globe. We know eventually this wanderlust will wane but for now we continue to seek out adventure and new friends. Thanks again!

      Like

  2. Awesome to say the least. Love hearing that you are in “full steam ahead” mode. Imke and I are so confident in your ability to complete this conversion, that we would expect you to be completed sooner than later. (I actually considered purchasing a new 4×4 Sprinter 2500 and doing the conversion myself…that thought until my mind reviewed my skill level…about 9 seconds). We are bummed though of the possibility of not seeing you guys for awhile…maybe we can connect if time permits when you are down. If not, you have a standing offer…if you need a Pacific Ocean getaway you got a perfect cabin at the Hidey Hole to hang out. We look forward to hearing more updates.

    Like

    1. We really appreciate your support and positive thoughts, it going be a challenging project but one we are up for. We will most likely see you guys at some point in the next few months, one way or another. Seeing the 4 of your and the Hidey Hole are always in our thoughts, thanks for very nice offer.

      Like

  3. How cool!!! So excited for you guys… and super happy you guys had an excellent experience at Interstate in Billings (that’s where our Zephyr’s engine was rebuilt in 2013).

    Must be something about Alaska, His & Her’s Alaska just got an overland vehicle too.

    Like

    1. Thats amazing! While I was at Interstate earlier this month they were telling me about this cool couple who lived in their bus for weeks in their yard while their engine was being rebuilt, I never put 2+2 together that it was you guys…very cool! Your right there are a very talented and nice group of folks. Being Alaskan definitely has an effect on the way we travel.

      Like

  4. Sounds wonderful
    Can’t wait to see what you do
    Hope to see you when you stop at your moms
    I am st Leo Carrillo site 44 at least until sept
    The creek is still closed and they have not caught the shooter
    Love you 😘🙋💞💞

    Like

    1. Sorry to hear your not back at the creek yet…maybe a good thing? I should be down again in Aug and will stop by, hopefully Leo Carrillo should be somewhat cooler for you being on the coast? Love T

      Like

  5. I hope y’all come by to Clarksdale, Mississippi & visit us again at Mattson Gin. It was great to meet you both & ur beautiful dogs. Ginger Cooke

    Like

    1. Hi Ginger, we would love to come back to Clarksdale again and see you guys but it may be awhile. We hope your cotton harvesting is going smoothly this year, we certainly enjoyed learning about the process from you.

      Like

  6. Wonderful post! Loved the photos and the explanations here. Even though we knew part of the story, this post filled in some of the blanks. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing “FARTHER” in the future.

    Like

    1. It was great visiting with you guys at camp, this story could change at any time but thats the fun part of being flexible with our plans, lots of options. Probably see you this fall one way or another.

      Like

    1. Hi Mary Ann, Its going to be awhile before we are on the road again but the wait should be worth it. Unfortunately we will no longer tow the bug or any car. Towing off road comes with challenges but we may hang a small motorcycle and Mt. bikes on the back for alternate transportation…stay tuned

      Like

  7. Oh my gosh … how exciting and fun. When I was a young teen, my dad built a motorhome. We had the chassis delivered to our house and for my dad to park it on the side of the house, he literally sat on an upside bucket – his ‘bucket seat’ 🤣 After five years of use, he traded it in on a ‘Bounder’ and the dealership never knew dad made it. I have all his slides/photos in storage that I would love to get my hands on to share.

    Good luck with the build. It’ll be an exciting project and hope you share the journey!

    Like

    1. Wow your dad sounds like a very talented guy not only in photography buy also in fabrication, he would be interesting to talk with. I am looking forward to a retrospective post from you about your dad building a motorhome on the side of your house, what a great legacy, I for one would love to read the story and see the photos …just saying!

      Like

      1. Have to get those photos out of storage first 😏 Yep, he is one very talented man… old world German craftsmanship. When my folks came to this country in the late 50’s, he worked his entire career in downtown Chicago – custom interior woodworking. At one time, he had the contract for Godiva Chocolates and made all the showcases for the stores across the country. Plus custom kiosks and woodworking at Union Station, the Opera House, attorneys/judges offices, the list goes on. Yeah, one of these days, I need to get the stories on paper, especially for my children.

        Like

      2. Hahaha! Unfortunately, at 91 his body doesn’t always cooperate as well as his mind. One of his neighbors is always consulting him. Neighbor was replacing an interior door, and while dad sat in a chair, he directed Edwardo on how to shim the door properly. Dad loves feeling useful. I’ll definitely be sharing your posts with him on your build and he can critique you instead of me 🤣

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.