(Words and Photos: Abby Nelson)
The last 7 months have been difficult to say the least. Our world shut down, lives were at risk, and income became scarce. The effects of COVID have impacted each and every single one of us. For my family, I was furloughed from my paycheck to paycheck job for 16 weeks and my boyfriend, Brek was let go from his job. Did I mention we live in one of the most expensive cities in America too? Things were not looking good for us. Our normal outlet of going outside was non-existent. We needed something to cope with the pain of not only the world around us but, for our current outlet-less situation.
As business after business boarded up their walls, we started to slow down and absorb all the changes around us. Although the dark gloom hung over our heads, we noticed people reaching out more and connecting via phone or zoom. We noticed communities coming together to support one another. We could feel the love and support of the city. Something that may have been “overlooked” before, was now staring me right in the face. That’s when I noticed a change for Brek and I. We asked ourselves, how can we turn this unknown into something positive? How can we go outside without risking the health of ourselves and others? Our eyes locked, and we both murmured the words “Road Trip”.
A few weeks into the pandemic, we discussed how we would embark on this great American road trip. From discussing finances to health, we covered all aspects of how we would safely and successfully make this a positive chapter in our lives. That meant sleeping in the back of the truck, no dining out, social distancing, wearing masks, and consistently applying hand sanitizer. We both agreed that if we kept these guidelines our main priority, we would feel comfortable hitting the road.
On June 23rd 2020, we decided that the next day, we would kick off our road trip. It could have been the multiple beers that lead to this decision but regardless, we would be hitting the road June 24th 2020. For the next month, Brek and I traveled all across the Western region of America. We drove from Seattle, Washington to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon. Our trip was filled with National park visits, and adventuring new fishing spots (license included). It was indeed, the trip we would never forget.
With such a memorable road trip, it really begins with your foundation or in this case your vehicle “set-up” and gear. Brek and I are very budget friendly people so, Brek had built out the back of his Toyota Tacoma, a slide-out bed that also had a pull-out drawer for storage.
Not only did he build a bed with additional storage, he also built in a light switch to have visibility in the bed of the truck. This was important to have when storms rolled through, or late-night Uno games needed a champion. To hold the lights, Brek used a pole that ran from the front of the bed to the back. This was also used to hang hats, CMT lanterns, and other “hangable” items.
Was this built overnight? Well, sort of. Brek is very gifted in building. However, we continue to come up with new innovative ways to make our traveling more strategic and with less “fluff”. Identifying the needs with adding in a slash of wants. Getting your foundation, or vehicle prepped for a road trip is extremely important. If you start off with a broken foundation, you’ll most likely not get much out of your trip.
With that said, I have created a ‘camping’ list over the years as my go-to camping checklist. Of course, depending on the adventure I would adjust my list.
In regards to our month long road trip, we checked our camping list and our next step was to figure out where we were going to store our gear. The bed of the truck was used as our bed. The drawer located underneath the bed housed all our food, cooking gear, first aid, and extra lights. On each side of our bed we had about 5 inches of space to store our CMT High-back camping chairs, CMT trekking poles, and our CMT lanterns.
We decided to put all our fishing gear, pool floaties, and camping gear in the Yakima box above.
We used our Safari rack to tie down leveling blocks, and other truck equipment for if we got stuck somewhere. Our 80 quart Cascade Mountain Tech cooler was placed in the cab in the back seat (seats folded). It’s very important to have your food/beverages accessible while on long-distant drives. As the co-pilot I was in charge of two things: music and grabbing food.
We had room on the other side of the cooler to place our clothes, and dry food items. On the floor, we had set our water compressor. This is what we used for showers, cleaning dishes, and cooling off during our desert sections of the road trip.
Since masks were priority, we made sure to hang our masks and hand sanitizer close by to make sure we were always wearing, and sanitizing throughout our road trip. With our final touches added, our foundation was looking ready to embark on a road trip!
Did we evolve our truck as we traveled? Yes. We found better ways of managing our gear, better ways of storing items. We learned that it’s great to have the CMT cooler plug near the door so you can drain the water with ease. We learned that GPS can lead you in the “wrong direction” for 16 miles. We learned a lot and laughed a lot in those few weeks on the road.
So, if you plan on embarking on any form of a road trip during this pandemic. Make sure your vehicle feels like home because that’s exactly what it is, a home.
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