Redoing the Truck Camper

I don’t have the tools (expertise or patience) to redo the interior of the truck. I began looking around for help and was recommended. Wow. They look way out of my price range. I don’t need fancy, just functional. But on the off chance they were looking for something fun to do, I sent them this letter.

Dear folks, I have been living in a 2006 Toyota Taco for the last 5 years. I am now back in Woody Creek for a year or two and am hoping to get help fixing up the interior. All of the plywood needs replacing and painted. I built this in a March snow storm in a hurry. There is now mold happening. I don’t need much, just help with some basics. And maybe some upgrades like drawers. Or any suggestions that you may have.
 I do realize that this is not your normal kind of work. If you cannot do this I would appreciate any recommendations.

I heard from them and they will be willing to take a look at the truck when they return from vacation. I sent them this picture, after I emptied out EVERYTHING.

Then I started planning. What fun. I made a list of things that had to get done and a list of extras if the budget allowed.

1. All existing plywood replaced. Coated with something that prohibits moisture. Making sure that the tie down bolts for the topper are accessible.
2. Fire extinguisher placed.
3. Back light correctly installed.
4. Window opening reversed.
5. Kangaroo-rat-proof drawer installed under bed.
6. Middle section liftable, to access back sides.
7. Grommets on outside to attach tarp. (I used 4 different glues and none worked.)

I gave up on this list, not knowing if I can even afford the basics. I will wait on the big dreams after I get the estimate for the basics. Do you have any wild ideas?

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Change in Truck Camping

I have accepted a short term job as property manager for some former employees. This will give me time, and money, to remove the musty, moldy wood, rearrange the shelving, get new cloths for covering the undersides of the bed, fix the access to the screws holding down the topper, etc.

I have to fix the fire extinguisher so that it stays on the frame of the topper. Nothing I have tried works on rough roads. Screws will work.

I have so much stuff squirreled away that this is the perfect opportunity to get lean. This is also the perfect opportunity to get myself lean. I work hard at this job and it is an opportunity to get in shape. Have spent the last year reading and sitting. Ugh. The older I get the harder it is to stay fit.

Lilith needs to be looked at by Toyota. There is a noise in the engine that is new, the tires need to be rotated, the oil needs changing, filters need to be replaced, the hood needs painting. I use the hood for many things, so I plan getting it painted with the heavy duty paint that is used for truck beds. Not pretty, but tough.

It is hard to stop traveling. I am so in love with that life. But it will be for a good cause, helping out friends and fixing up Lilith. And it is a magical place to live in the mountains of Colorado.

On the banks of the Roaring Fork

I will keep you up to date on the repairs. I will also tell/show you past events that I glossed over or never told you about. Do let me know if there is anything you want to know about.

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Water and the boondocker

Mark asked me about water while boondocking.

I carry four 1 gallon screw top water jugs. They are easy to refill anyplace you stop for gas, or the refill station in Walmart, or a house. (The pop top water jugs pop their tops on bumpy roads.) I also carry a 5 gallon container. Several portable plastic hiking containers. A 2 quart plastic container for the “sun tea”.

Please realize that my water needs are not anyone else’s. #1. I hate drinking water. #2. I am not very concerned about washing anything with water. Even my face or hair. Much less the dishes. #3. I started out with 7 more gallons, but felt the weight/gas wasn’t worth it. #4. The truck is very well maintained. I check the hoses and fluids frequently.
I can get by* for 14 days, with a couple of gallons left. I try to follow the rules and stay no more than the 14 days in any BLM or NF. I drink club soda, teas, juices, coffee, ensure, pediolite drinks, Gatorade from powder. Water is the last voluntary choice. I double the use of most water … boiling soft boil eggs in the coffee water. Etc.

So …. I have no idea how much you should carry. You will need to over-supply your water needs until you feel confident in your ability to judge. It also depends on your style/intent of traveling. Sitting by the river reading a scholarly book doesn’t require extra water. Bouldering or kayaking require lots more. It also depends on where you are traveling. Desert and high altitudes affect your need for water. It may depend on your personal hygiene level. It will depend on how much attention you pay to your water consumption.

Advice: Take lots more than you think you might need. Take less next time.

*”getting by” just means if there is enough water for coffee.

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Truck Camping Surprises

After driving for hours and days on an interstate I was crazy for some relief. Night time was usually in a motel parking lot or a truck stop. I wasn’t resting well, was still wound up tight from the visit, needed more than a Pilot. Thank goodness for a last second decision to get off the highway at the exit for the Vedauwoo Recreation Area. What a surprise. The Vedauwoo is known as “the land of Earth born spirit”. The camping area had a very old, beat up sign, next to an old, run down, entrance kiosk. It said to fill in entrance slip. Senior citizens are free!! I filled out the registration for a ten day stay and found a spot to camp.

There were pit toilets, with doors that didn’t work, no water and dumpsters that took an engineer to open. I was so relieved to be off the highway. So happy not to smell diesel fumes at night. So glad not to be scared by huge tractor trailers whizzing by. Walking around, later in the week, I found a more recent registration area that said seniors were to pay $10/night. Whoops. I ended up staying 5 days. In retribution for my not paying anything I picked up a second bag of trash.

Loved the area. Lots of rock climbers blissing out on the granite masses. Worth exploring. I will return. There are huge areas to boondock, so I will return.

Looking for the next de-stress camping spot I dipped in and out of tiny dirt roads, looking for the perfect spot. The dirt roads were torn up by loggers, and I had to use 4wd. Found a Boy Scout place that looked promising, but had to turn around as there were massive trucks and burly guys with big chainsaws working. The Forest smelled of exhaust. Kept going.

I stood on the brakes and turned off the road on to the “Pump House Recreation Area”. I had no idea what an instant relief and soothing place this random pull off was going to be.

I admit to crying as I sat by the Colorado River. (“All rivers are the Ganges.”) This was the locals’ place to raft and fly fish. Old guys, young guys in waders with fly rods and nets. Youngsters on fat rafts floating by. Immaculate bathrooms, tasty potable water, dramatic clouds and the river made it a perfectly soothing spot. This was either $5 or $10 a night. It was not clear. Being extremely grateful for the divine spot, I paid $10. I was the only camper on this loop.

Driving south from here was the most wonderful two lane gravel road through the mountains. I was enchanted with every hairpin turn revealing another breathtaking vista. Herded some prong horns down the road for longer than I expected. Saw eagles and red tail hawks. Got swarmed by large mosquitoes at one pull off. Speed limit was 35 or 25 for ever. Wow. And very little traffic.

Lilith, the truck, did great. Even after miles and miles of interstate driving. After nights of being out muscled by huge trucks. She needs a reward. Maybe tire rotation time. Maybe a painted hood. Maybe fix the hanging light.

Keep Tweaking

Still carrying stuff I don’t need, don’t use.

  • Get rid of 20 gallon propane tank. As I age the damn thing gets heavier. Ming has a 5 pound one. Mark has a 10 pounder. My initial idea of doing gourmet meals with handmade pastas and bread was a dream that will never be realized. The rolling pin can go.
  • Donate tools I haven’t touched in all these years. I am liking less and less the idea of building a shed. Not sure what to do when I get too old to drive. I’ll figure it out then.
  • Donate the back-up-food-container. Filled with way too much non-perishable food stuffs. It is much easier to travel in the US than in Central and South America. Every gas station here has hot dogs and hot coffee and jelly doughnuts.
  • I do not need an entire box of old ball point pens. Nor index cards. Or a Roladex. Really.

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Highway Trip

My friend Jean is an “inmate” (her words) in a very nice old folks home. I have known her since 1970. We have lots of history. We talk on the phone quite often. She wanted me to visit. I was in Quartzsite, AZ and she is in Champaign, IL. I got on the road with the new Esbit stove and headed east.

June in Colorado’s Shavano Wildlife area. Because of the snow I tried out the Esbit. The smell of the solid fuel was not bearable, for me. Even when I used it on the tailgate outside. Very sad. It worked well enough, a bit slow.

The soup, still in box (no dishes!), heated up nicely with one fuel tab.

After a few days the snow melted and I fell in love with the area.

Leaving Salida, CO the serious driving started.

I drove through all kinds of little towns, was awed by the Mississippi, couldn’t get over the size of the wind turbines, saw Amelia Earhart’s birthplace, never had a problem finding a place to stay . Fell in love with a country and western song on the radio about a guy who loved his International Harvester. Thought about Eisenhower, regenerative agriculture, the business of corn and ethanol. Fun two lane drive for days. Then I was in a big city in Illinois. City traffic, big university graduation, horns, sirens, lights, stop signs, one way streets. Aggh. Headed back west after a 15 day visit.

For some cock-a-mamie stressed-out reasoning I decided to return via interstate highways. In the pouring rain. On I-70 for many many miles. Days of scary amounts of rain, monuments at rest areas to the westward-ho men and the “Indian troubles”, no one wearing masks.

Ate at interesting truck stops and never really knew where I was. I think it was the sameness of the road and going so darn fast. Lilith, the truck, held up very well.

Finally got to stop and camp in nature with giant boulders, then camped on the banks of the healing Colorado River. I’ll tell you about that part next post.

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