We had been through several iterations of what the ideal vehicle for a trip like this would look like. We first considered an SUV which we would strip most of the interior from and add something resembling living quarters to it. From that came the idea of getting a rooftop tent. It didn’t take long for us to decide that that type of platform would be less than ideal. Next up was the idea of a flippac camper on the back of a truck. The flippac has great appeal to me because it is extremely slick and I’m a sucker for slick. Plus a platform such as that offers a clean slate to start from. It could be built to my liking. Long story short due to complications that I don’t want to bore you with, we decided that the best thing to do would be to find a turn-key solution. That conclusion was brand new when Cate ran across an ad for what would turn out to be a turn-key solution. We ended up purchasing a 2004 F-150 with a Northstar TC-650 camper as seen in the cursory introduction to Moby.
I’m originally from Wyoming, my driver’s license is from Wyoming and it’s advantageous for me to maintain as many ties to WY as possible so I knew whatever vehicle we ended up purchasing would be titled & registered in Wyoming. The truck was in California. There are a lot of miles between California and Wyoming.
First Day on the Road and Rookie Lesson Numero Uno
Google maps told me that it was just over 4 hours of driving to Reno, NV. That is a completely unrealistic expectation. Just after sunset I found myself beginning my ascent of the Sierra Nevada. I had pulled over for some fast food and did a quick map search for a campground. I clearly remember thinking to myself “It’s April. It’s Monday night. Nobody will be at this campground” that thought process was completely flawed. By the time I actually arrived at the campground the sun had set and it was quite dark which led to my re-introduction to assholes in America. I get it, I’m driving around in a campground with my brights on. If I had been camped there already I would have found this to be an annoyance too. But I never would have tried to declare my intellectual superiority by calling someone a “fucking idiot”. This is America afterall and you never know when someone is going to shoot you because they have been slightly annoyed. The rule is “never drive at night, always find your camping spot before sunset”. This rule applies even while in your native country. I ended up pulling over at the Donner Pass rest area and stayed the night there. Thankfully Moby came pre-equipped with everything I needed to prepare a cup-o-joe in the morning. I’m already in love.
The Altiplano of Nevada and the Salar de Utah
I haven’t mentioned that I work a full-time job (more about this later). I had only done a tiny bit of work on Monday and really needed to catch up on that. Also, I needed to get closer to Wyoming. This was my first real introduction to the practicallity of trying to work and travel at the same time. Suffice to say that this will need a lot of tweaks to figure out how to balance. I was a bit shocked to discover that, despite my pre-conceived notions, The U.S. isn’t necessarily better connected than any other particular place on earth. I drove to Winnemucca, NV and pulled over for a bite to eat and managed to get a bit of work done. Once caught-up I continued on to Salt Lake City. During that drive I made a point to stop along the way. I really appreciate the small history lessons that are available if you only take the time to pay attention. One example was this plaque at a rest area along the way:
And then, there’s this art installation on the Salar de Utah (Bonneville Salt Flats – I just made the Salar bit up)
Again, I arrived after sunset but assumed that I would be able to get a spot at a KOA. Flawed thinking got the better of me there too. Apparently there are closing hours.
I stayed the night in Salt Lake City, worked through the morning and in to the early afternoon. While I was there I arranged a storage unit for Moby to live in and opened a mailbox account with the UPS store since we will be making a few retail purchases before the trip begins and need someplace to ship that to (more complications).
The Final Push
I had made an assumption that when I got to what qualifies as civilization in Wyoming that I would be able to catch up some more on work. Again with the flawed thinking. This time my mobile carrier doesn’t have coverage so I was not able to tether my phone’s data connection. This necessitated a quick turnaround. I had an early AM breakfast with my grandmother who was thrilled to have me stop in for a even a brief visit, I took Moby for an oil change and by the time that was completed, the county governmental offices were open. I was pretty nervous about this one, thinking that perhaps I would be missing some critical piece of paperwork, but all went smoothly and Moby is now titled and registered in Wyoming.
With the main objective of this part of the trip completed, I needed to get back to somewhere I could get some work done so I headed back towards Salt Lake City. I arrived early enough in the evening to be able to check in to an RV park which was convenient as I would need a proper place to drain the grey water before taking Moby to the storage unit.
This was one helluva road-trip. I’m really hoping that the rest of our overland journey is nothing like this. The point is to slow down, relax and enjoy these places.
Nancy Zimmer says
Slow down, relax, and enjoy…
Love it, Will. All the best to you two on your journey.
When can I expect my kitten?
Will Brubaker says
Howdy Nancy 🙂 Good to hear from you!
There should have been a kitten picture overlay after you submitted the comment. If not, I’ll have to file a bug report with whoever the bozo is that made that bit of functionality.
Why Moby? Does it handle like a whale?
I didn’t see Colorado on your list if stops.
What kinda gas mileage does it get?
Will Brubaker says
The previous owners reckoned it was similar to a “Big white whale” and I’m not sure if renaming a truck has the same implications of bad luck as renaming a boat, but I’m not keen to tempt fate so we’re sticking with Moby.
Colorado probably isn’t in the cards – while I would love to go EVERYWHERE on the U.S. portion of the trip, there are time constraints (I need to stay under 35 days total in the US for the calendar year) and my ties to Colorado aren’t as strong as they once were.
Pretty poor mileage TBH – massive engine carrying a heavy load and all that.