Follow by Email

StatCounter

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Travel vehicles



My lovely wife and I have traveled with a number of different vehicles over the years. At the time we decided to live out of a tent and do car camping, we really did not have the right car for it. When our daughter went to school she had a little Dodge Neon. Once she graduated and started to make money she decided to upgrade to a new car. My lovely wife and I ended up with the Neon.

I'm not fussy with what I drive. My “image” does not depend on my transportation. The car had roof racks to carry a canoe so it was all good. Our first season I'd added a small receiver hitch to carry a cargo buddy. I figured we needed all the extra cargo room we could get. That winter the car was loaded down pretty heavily -canoe on the roof, big cargo box hanging off the back.

The next season we eliminated the cargo buddy completely. We'd pared down our stuff some. Other gear we packed in dry bags and stuffed inside the canoe on the roof. The little car rode much better.

What I was really wishing for was a classic VW camper van. Maybe it's the old hippie in me but I really liked the romance of those old mini-vans. My lovely wife and I looked at a number of them. One of the things that slowly started to change my mind was that a lot of the vans we looked at had blown engines. Then I found one in great shape.

The woman who owned it was stuck on a price and I was stuck on a lower price. I had cash in hand. Her husband really wanted that cash, but the van was in her name. No way was she going to budge. I left as the marital disharmony was reaching a fever pitch. That's the closest I came to buying one. Considering how underpowered and unreliable they are I probably dodged a bullet.

Right after that I got into running diesels on Veggie. We had an old Mercedes Benz 240D converted to run on WVO. With a small utility trailer on the back for veggie oil our range was 3000 miles. Loaded up with a canoe on top and all our camping gear, it accelerated like a fat man jogging. Eventually it would get to highway speeds. Still died on the hills, but we loved that old car and put 400,000 miles on it.

Later we ran a Ford F250 on veggie. That was a pretty good camping rig. Once we got into sailing it was a great tow vehicle. Unfortunately it was susceptible to rust. I changed both fenders and did a lot of patch work. Then we started to have drive train problems so we let that go.

That's when we won an ambulance at auction and turned it into the veggie van. It it's a good camping rig, fun to drive, and pulls the sailboat well. That's out current set up. It's pretty comfortable with a full sized bed, 12 volt cooler, microwave, and solar electric power.

Once in a while we find ourselves going back to more minimalistic camping. My lovely wife has a Nissan Versa Note. The little hatchback has roof racks for camping gear or a canoe. In a way it's a lot like back when we camped with the Neon all those years ago. We are still fond of tent camping. My lovely wife thinks tents are romantic and who am I to argue with that?

-Sixbears

10 comments:

  1. You know the old saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. There's something about the simplicity of a small car and tent that keeps bringing us back.

      Delete
  2. The old Honda Element had a reputation for a good amount of cargo, especially if you removed the back seat stuff. I think now and then of finding one and outfitting for myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the boxy shape for hauling stuff and the fact it doesn't have carpet. The whole thing could be hosed out if needed.

      There was a problem with roll overs in the early models. Not sure if that was ever fully fixed.

      Delete
  3. VW vans are wretched gutless things, they can't get out of their own way. By a set of strange circumstances I came to own one about 25 years ago. Hated it. You need to be a Cheech and Chong stoner to have the patience to drive it. A couple years ago I had to have some transmission work done on my 94 Dakota and borrowed a 01 Honda Odyssey from a friend who had replaced it with a newer car and kept it as a spare. Never thought I'd care for it but I was so smitten I bought it from him for a song and sold the Dakota. I see why they are so popular. Spacious and comfortable to drive. Very zippy, 25 to 30 mpg. And way easier to load all my tools in than my truck was. Without the back seats you can get a 4x8 plywood sheet in it and can carry up to 12 ft long materials inside. It don't look like much, but who cares about looks at this point in life?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Honda Odyssey is under appreciated.

      A lot of VW vans had their engines replaced with subaru diesels. Big improvement, but they still are death traps.

      Delete
  4. hi Sixbears, hope you have recovered from your cold. I did a winter trip with 3 friends in the 70s in a vw camper, cross country skiing in Michigan's UP. Great memories, but yes, very underpowered.

    I've never understood why someone hasn't started doing pop-tops for US minivans? And I can't believe the prices the old VW campers go for. Minimum $5000 for a basketcase with a dead engine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cold is still hanging on. Such is life.

      That must have been a great trip. The wind can stop those buggies in their tracks.

      For some reason they are collector's items to prices have gone crazy.

      Delete
    2. I like to look at the purpose built bug out vehicles in Recoil, Off Grid, American Survival Guide, etc. Then I look at the price tags and think "well, we've got the '88 F250 and the '99 Jeep, just have to deal with it.

      Delete
    3. Harry, what you need one of them British Ferrets.
      http://www.ferret-fv701.co.uk/vr/01cc99_john_boyes.JPG
      Those goons you ran in to in the woods the other day couldn't touch you in one of those.

      Delete