Let Me Get My Crash Helmet

You’ve done those long ass road trips before I know you have. Those ones where you try to be a hero and drive all night long. You stop every other gas station for gas, but more so for caffeine so you can keep going and get there in time. I have done probably too many of these kinds of trips. Not likely to never do another either. However,  with only 4 days to test the new tiny camper. I think one is in order. Look out Gennai! I need to get my crash helmet. No it’s because its a test flight….no because it will be funny. Now it doesn’t’ work as a joke. * clears throat* Now let me get my crash helmet!

Okay I wish that this trip was planned out better and had a good reason. Really though the problem is we are in California building and seeing the sights like you do. My birthday is coming up and I may have forgotten that my license expires this year. Not like I need it for a road trip or anything though.

So lets see. We have 4 days, 3 nights, 2 people, and 1 driver’s license to get. The beginnings of a quick trip were never so obvious. The trick here is how can we do this and still see some good stuff and not have it be so boring. I mean lets face it I can drive and turn this trip around in 2 days if needed. That won’t really show me how the new rig works though.

Day 1

We wake early and rush to finish packing the last of what we need for the trip. The base is built and now sufficiently holds at least my weight properly. We are only taking the double sleeping bag we used last year on camping trips. There are a few other things we take to possibly test out. The car is soon packed and we say good bye to my parents and the pups. I start the car and back down the driveway. Ready to blaze a trail of fire in the road behind me. I give out an evil laughs the power of the engine grips me. Okay maybe not exactly like that. Sounds better than the truth of we pull away and get a little ways down the road when Gennai fires up our audiobook for the trip.

We make good time getting to what is our halfway point for the day. Barstow is a strange little town. It looks run down and new at the same time. The time we are spending here though is specific to a couple of things only. We are in need of fuel and some lunch. We found one not far off the highway. Almost $3 a gallon in California at this time of year. Painful to be sure. Lunch is easier to digest though. A fully cooked chicken that has been turning for hours is calling our names. Oh yeah and the coleslaw we find to go with it is just as good. The heat is beating down on us outside so we finish with a shared pint of coconut ice cream. I fill our 5 gallon jug of Water and we put miles between us and the poor city fighting between new and old that only gives a feeling of run down. Which is a shame as it was at one time a good stop along the old route 66 highway.

We rolled into the city of Las Vegas a few hours later. It was here that we Simply needed to get more fuel. For the car and us. Coffee for me and a coke for Gennai. Then it was to go just a bit up the road and find a camping spot. What we didn’t know was that our plans for that spot were not as perfect as we thought.

Day 2

It is now almost 1am. We have been on the road since 7am the previous day. The benefit today is that we don’t have to set up a tent. Which is why we went right past our intended camp spot from the first day. We found online that it seems the site we had picked was really at this point only accessible by way of a 4×4 vehicle. Not exactly what we are in for this trip. Today we are in the new converted Honda Element SC Tiny Camper. Front wheel drive and a lowered suspension wasn’t going to get us anywhere but stuck. So we made the decision to blaze past and keep going.

Now after a few stops for gas, coffee, and bathrooms. We are making our way through the mountains at night and talking and listening to our audio book. We are trying to make it as far as we can towards the Colorado boarder of Utah. It wasn’t the plan but when we stop at the Love’s Truck stop to get gas. We noticed we were both just to tired to go on. Gennai asked permission for us to sleep there and the lady was welcoming in her answer. Just anywhere over there you can fit is fine.

We parked the car and went in to get ready for bed. I finish first and get out to the car and start setting up the bed for the night. The first time I will do this and the first night on this new setup. I’m tired but still brimming with excitement about the fact that I’m actually doing this. I have the bed ready and the window covers in place by the time Gennai gets back out to the car. Total time to get it all setup and ready was about 5 minutes. Not bad at all. Thankfully too we find that it is warm and quiet in the car as we get settled into place. Both of us too tired to stay awake for long.

The morning comes quick and we put the car to gather and get ready quickly. Then it is all on the road again. Heading down I-70 as we pull into the Colorado city of Grand Junction. It was time to get on with the main goal of the trip. A couple of hours later I had my temporary license and we were free to do what we wanted. We got some food and did some shopping in the area. Then a plan was formulated. We had only a few hours of driving to go to make it to someplace nighter of us had been before.

We made the turn off to head straight towards a place called Moab. It fueled us to think that we would seeing such a great place. At least that was what we had heard to this point. It was time to find out for ourselves though.

As we got into the city it was packed full. This time we were going to pay for a spot for sure. We arrived at the local KOA. Luckily we were able to get the last tent spot in the place. Apparently we arrived during the week long biggest jeep rock crawling weekend of the spring. I guess I should have liked that up when I was thinking about it as a place to go. Either way it is fine and we get settled then head into town and get some dinner and breakfast stuff. Then head to see if we can get some wine for dinner. This is genii’s first time with the strangeness that is Utah liquor stores. Not only is selection limited. the store is closing at 7pm on a Monday.

We eat and get showers at the KOA. then we spend the early evening talking and looking at the stars. Soon we are back in the bed of the Element snoozing lightly as we get some good sleep. This time we are getting to bed reasonably and plan to sleep a good amount.

Day 3

We awoke and after eating breakfast were quickly setting off on the road north. Wait North? I know right thats the wrong way. However, we were ready to get in a hike. So we were heading to the Arches National park. It was a wait to get in and we found that we had to renew something else. Our America the Beautiful Pass of course. The first one we owned together was last year at this time already. So it was time for a new one. We get our money’s worth, and plan on getting more this year.

The sites at arches are amazing. We did a short hike, but were not let down. On the back side of the window arches trial we switched from the worn and paved path to the primitive one. What we found was a sweeping expanse and absolute silence. Like the kind of silence that you only get at night. It was a glorious thing. We loved the experience of being there and were even more enthralled when we got to witness a pair of crows doing their Mating dance in the air. The air rushing through their wings in a way that made it sound as if Jets were passing by in the otherwise silent area.

We then had decided that we would head back north and go the same way we had gotten there. Heading  that direction for gas and to see these dinosaur statues we passed on the way in. Getting there though we found that it would have cost more to get in than it would have to camp two more nights. So we got expensive gas instead and as I headed the car towards the highway. Gennai had this notion that maybe we could make it to the Grand canyon with what the day still held. What to do next was hanging the air.

We left it to a flip of a coin and then the car was squealing as I made the left hand turn on the highway. We now needed to head south and in a hurry too. The plan was to see the sunset if possible. I didn’t tell that to Gennai though.

Day 4

I can’t tell you what all we saw on the drive in the dark. I can tell you that we found another last place to park the car and got some short amount of sleep. The alarm was going off and we had to move quick. Bathrooms were needed and then we had a short walk. We missed the sunset at the Grand Canyon. However, we were now able to see and experience it together. I click away with my camera and Gennai is patient.It’s easy to be distracted, but I make sure to  give her attention too. Hopefully, it was enough. It’s something I  worry about that from time to time.

After seeing such an amazing sight though. We made our way south again and got some light breakfast. In our minds to try and get back home that day. Both of us were loving the ability to decide that we wanted to wake up at the Grand canyon and make it happen. Yet at the same time we both missed our little baby pup. She is hard to keep happy on the road, but we both love her and were missing her a lot.

The miles went by quickly as we found our road and headed back towards California. The hardest part of the drive back though was that while we have a good relationship and loved what we were doing. The way we were doing it was taking it’s toll on us. We had done most of this trip with almost no sleep. Which is is hard if you are trying to be safe while traveling.

Conclusions about the build

All in all the testing of the tiny camper conversion went well. We needed to know if it was going to be comfortable. It is a bit tight when laying down for me. Gennai is a bit shorter and not as cramped. We also found that we think we can make it work without cutting the mattress. This will make it so that we can also use the mattress in the tent if we need too. We do need to make a change internally on the storage. there is a place to get us some longer storage in there.

That is it though for changes. We have no doubt that some of that will change down the road. however, for us and for what we are planning to do with it. These small changes we feel are going to be sufficient for our needs. All that remains is for us to get them done and get on with life on the road.

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