travel

Not your grandparents RV!!

By: Jeff Domingues

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It’s been a long time dream of mine and my wife’s to get into a vehicle, leave everything behind and hit the open road for days/ weeks/ months at time. This obsession started with our honeymoon out west. We landed in San Francisco jumped into a Hyundai Elantra rental (I know the most exciting car possible) and started driving.

We had an idea of what we wanted to do but didn’t want to stick to a rigid time schedule, all we knew is we had to end our trip in 2 weeks in Seattle. 2 weeks of open roads, from San Fran to Seattle, I think we can find a few things to do.

We took in the beauty that is San Francisco,  headed west to Yosemite, drove north weaving between the mountains and the cost to the Redwood National and State Park in Northern Cali. Into Oregon hugging the coast as much as possible and into Portland. Then Portland into Seattle, by the time we handed the rental back we managed to do around 3,000 miles, it’s crazy but that cheap rental opened our eyes to the wonder of road trips.

During our 2 weeks driving around relentlessly exploring as much as possible, I notice something that I’ve never seen before. That is offroading vehicles that looked like more than just a 4×4 to go mudding or rock crawling. I noticed people set up their vehicles to go camping as well. WHAT’S THIS!? Offroading with camping. Never have I seen this before and let me tell you my imagination ran wild with ideas of being perched up on top of a mountain waking up to sun rises in a landscape that hid itself from us because we drove all night to get on top of this imaginary mountain.

We have been camping plenty of times, and not car camping were you drive into an over crowded site with people making noise 10′ away from your site. I’m talking spending days out hiking and killing ourselves to get to a site that few have been to or want to go to. So the idea of driving to remote places that are near impossible to get to by foot in the comfort of our own 4×4 rig became a new dream of mine. After returning home I started researching and found out this is called overlanding.

Overlanding is the idea of using a  vehicle to go offroading into remote places so you can camp for days at a time. The vehicle will provide you with shelter, carry your food and water, your camping supplies ect…    This doesn’t need to be anything special as long as the vehicle has a capable 4×4 system, you can use it to go overlanding. Which brings me into the vehicles. Like I said nothing has to be special but special is what we are looking for and special is what I’ve found.

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Photo by: http://www.Outsidevan.com

Outside Van is a customization specialist located in Troutdale, OR. They use Mercedes Sprinter vans as the platform to create some pretty wild creations. This van is their canvas and they use their limitless imaginations and yours if you want, to create the camper of your dreams. Me and my wife live pretty active life styles so this kind of camper makes sense to use. Outside Van specializes the designs towards people that like to go mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, atving, whatever outdoor activity you like they have a van that can accommodate you.

This list of options that can be put into each of their 48, that’s right 48 base models is limitless and overwhelming to list in this blog entry. Showers, solar power, beds, kitchens, storage, seating, winches, bumpers, whatever seriously whatever you can think of they probably have a model with it in it but just encase they don’t they will make one for you.

Pricing is where this vehicle either stays a dream or becomes your reality. Pre-made base models can run around $80k. This is a get you into a van as quickly as possible model or you can jump into models around $100k that are tailored more to your liking. Then there is the I won the lotto, money isn’t an issue anymore models that can put you well over $200k or even $300k for some models that have everything you want, probably so much in the van you can sell your house and live in it full time. Either way they have something for everyone. I’m currently in the “this van is still a dream” phase. But you never know maybe there is a lotto ticket with my name on it somewhere.

Check them out and spend the time needed to see everything they offer and let the dreaming begin.

www.outsidevan.com

Video by: www.outsidevan.com

Photo by: http://www.outsidevan.com

Photo by: http://www.outsidevan.com

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Las Vegas / West Coast Road Trip PT. 2

So the next day, getting a $30 buffet at the Westin since they lied to us about the all inclusive food for breakfast. We stepped out and checked out the hotel, the view of the Nevada mountains and palm trees, along with the 30 something degree temperatures which we weren’t expecting since we come from the East.

We started driving towards the Hoover Dam and along towards the Hoover Dam was the beautiful Nevada desert. It was an experience and especially the desert roads with our rent a car (which was a Toyota Corolla from Enterprise) I’m so used to having all these exotics and luxury cars with my job back home and it’s been a while since I had driven a Toyota.

After sitting through the Hoover Dam traffic (which took us about 30 minutes sitting), we got to the parking deck. And in that parking deck was this really lazy lady who didn’t come up to us to get the ticket. Had a horrible attitude and just sat around (maybe that’s why she’s so fat).

After stories of driving in the parking deck, we got out and saw the damn Dam. You can walk through two time zones and it was magnificent. It was so dam high and I have issues with height. I really am afraid of heights and I felt like I conquered it somehow this day. The damn Dam was about 45 minutes drive from Henderson where we were staying.

We eventually left and punched away the Corolla towards the Grand Canyon. It was ridiculously far, we spent 4 hours driving towards the Canyon and by the time we got there the sun was down but we had enough time to catch the sun setting in the canyon.

It was  a ride towards the canyon, beautiful smooth roads and the speed limit was 75 mph. I’m so used to Jersey highways where it’s 65 and we can go 79 to 80 without getting in trouble. I was intrigued by going over 80 and not getting in trouble (less than 85 of course) in the Arizona highway.

My friend and I took turns, I was more impressed and intrigued by the view of the desert and mountains. I know it was my friends turn to drive and instead of taking a nap, I just took snaps of the highway.  It was a great road trip towards the canyon and home. Arizona was a favorite place of mine to drive and even going to Grand Canyon West with the cactus over the desert.

 

Las Vegas Road Trip PT. 1

It was a long year for my friend and I, since my wife got sick  we decided to go to Las Vegas for a week to take our minds off the stress in the East Coast.

The first day, which was the 26th of December, we went to La Guardia Airport. My friend took Delta and I had Spirit Airlines. My flight was supposed to leave at 8:30 am but it was delayed and I had a connecting flight which was leaving at 11:30 in Detroit that morning which meant I was going to MISS that flight.

The customer service person said they can give me a refund and go somewhere else. Which meant I was going to spend more money for this flight. The lady who was training another girl (who was helping me) rolled her eyes on me because she said I should take my business somewhere else. Eventually after talking to the new person, they took care of my issue and gave me two vouchers for $14 (well talk about this more in a second.)

The flight that they booked was at 3:30 pm which meant I had to wait for a while. I walked my friend to his terminal since he is leaving first, after going back to my terminal, the gate I am boarding had tons of people because a Spirit Airline caught on fire. Okay, this made me feel safe about my flight.

Everyone finally boarded, my flight got delayed to 5:30 pm. Once I got on the plane, these damn vouchers didn’t even work. The seats were TIGHT and for some reason, when you get your ticket, you get a random seat. That’s right a RANDOM seat, even after I chose my seats online.

I didn’t get to Vegas until 10:00 pm that night (Pacific Time) and it was a rocky trip.

My friend and I eventually met up and went to our hotel. I had reserved an all inclusive stay at the Westin Lake in Henderson, Nevada. That too was a lie, I paid for an all inclusive which I thought included some food and other stuff. All it included was a damn paddle boat. The food vouchers were separate and I felt betrayed by my purchase online. This was a rough first night but there was an adventure ahead of us.

It’s Been A While Since I Blogged

I took a long time off because I had been busy with work and also taking care of the wife because she was recently diagnosed with Cronh’s disease. I blogged about this earlier when she was in the hospital for a few months.

It’s been a rough road but I had taken a time off since she got off the hospital and took a road trip with one of my best friends to Nevada during New Years. We went to Las Vegas, saw the Hoover Dam, crossed two time zones, the Grand Canyon in Arizona (both Main and the West Side of the Canyon), the desert, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica.

I can’t wait to show the pictures in an upcoming blog of our adventure. Stay tuned and thank you for reading and following my blog.