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Of Crazy Clothes and Campers, Fish Frys and Fair Trade Festivals: A Love Story (Part 9/10)

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

(for Part 1, click here)

Although I am still a bit nervous about our rig coming off as pretentious, we finally decided to build out a Mitsubishi Fuso as our camper. These medium-duty commercial trucks are trusted workhorses commonly found all over the world. It is even possible to find them in four wheel drive (which we definitely wanted), though those are quite rare. We began the hunt for a used Fuso of the desired model year, engine size, wheelbase, suspension, and drivetrain. Anywhere else in the world, we would have found dozens of options from which to choose.

Here in the United States, after a couple months of searching, we found three. One was a heavy-duty dump truck in Pennsylvania that had seen a lot of use—too big. One was in North Carolina and looked good, but had the underpowered engine we were hoping to avoid—too small.

The only other one was a telecommunications service truck in eastern Oregon. It had the bigger engine and had seen only light use—just right. The next time I had two days off in a row, we hopped in my little Honda and headed to Oregon.

We drove back the next day in two vehicles, me in my subcompact commuter car and Andy, lumbering along behind in a gigantic four wheel drive Mitsubishi truck. We named him Walter--Walter Mitsubishi--after the book and movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Both main characters, after all, were good at doing their jobs, faithfully punching in and out day after day, but had never really experienced real adventures until their lives took an unexpected turn.

So, with the rig purchased and named, and with whatever time we can steal away from selling laundry sets and maximizing our rental incomes, we have set to work planning the upgrades Walter will need to be fully outfitted for long-term international travel.

So far, we have removed the service body from Walter’s back and replaced the 30” highway tires with 36” all-terrain tires, adding super singles instead of the factory duallies. We have purchased new driver and passenger seats, the parts for an upgraded suspension, and insulation and sound-deadening material to give the cab a more comfortable ride. We have ordered the door and windows and samples of materials for the walls.

Andy has become best friends with Google Sketchup and, together, they are refining the design for the camper box. We have put countless hours into research for the various systems we will use and the gear we will need. We have started a massive digital database full of all the resources and information we don’t want to forget—systems, gear, contacts, finances, maintenance records, health records, destination ideas, travel documents and requirements for the various countries in North, Central, and South America, etc. In our spare time, haha, we are consuming travel books, blogs, and videos, as well as studying every resource we can find about outfitting off-grid overland travel vehicles.

Although there is still so much to learn, we are gradually coming to the point where we feel comfortable with the practical side of what we want to do—the nuts and bolts (literally) of building out our rig, simplifying and monetizing our home life, and finally getting on the road. For us, however, that is only part of the equation. Our bigger concerns center around why and how we will travel. What will we actually do out there? Can our travel lifestyle actually be a reflection of our values? Before we could answer that, we had to examine what our values actually are.

(for Part 10, click here)


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