I spent a couple of months working on getting the 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan ready to go! All of the seats behind the front two were removed. With a platform bed in their place, the entire space under the bed is used for storage. I’ve got five, large plastic boxes—with lids—to hold everything from foodstuffs to clothes and other personal items (toilet paper?).
There’s not much room in a minivan but, the entire point is to explore the west and get a good night’s sleep. S0, I opted for a twin size hybrid memory foam/coil mattress (really a bed you might find in an indoor bedroom) that fits nicely in the back on a stable steel bed frame. Together, they offer a real night’s sleep while on the road.
With little room left, I had to abandon the idea that I could add a thin shelving unit of some kind. I’ve got a flat panel wall mount holding a 26″ HDTV. The TV signal has to be local from wherever I am for the night but, that’s okay; it’s part of exploring the broadcast band! I can use an HDMI cord to watch DVDs on the TV, if I want, played on my laptop drive. So far, I haven’t watched more than a minute of television.
I have a sleeping bag that’s good all the way down to zero degrees (Fº) standing by if the temperatures drop outside and the blankets don’t cut it. I installed a carbon monoxide detector with a totally obnoxious—and loud—alarm. For Christmas, I gave myself a Mr. Heater Portable Buddy propane heater, powered by $3.50 cylinders, available anywhere.
You know, I really hate temperatures that hurt!
I did purchase that stove I’ve mentioned before. It’s a self-contained Coleman that uses butane in hair-spray-sized cans that fit inside the stove itself (I have extra cans with me and they’re available at any Walmart on the road for $3).
I also bought a sauce pan with cover, a teapot to boil water and a cowboy cooking set (blue metal with white speckles) with four each of: plates, cups, bowls and fork/spoon/knife service in a spiffy little roll up holder (it’s unbreakable—and I don’t care for plastic sporks). I have a four foot table that folds in half (flat!) and can be used for eating, blogging, food preparation…. You know: whatever a table can do!
It took several weeks to decide what to take with me and what I don’t need to carry. It’s a nutty problem, really, as storage is very limited. Do I need some blank DVD’s to go along or do I leave that kind of stuff behind? Do I really need more than a couple pair of shoes? I do know this: I didn’t take a single suit with me! I think the key is to “travel light”—much like you would on a hiking trip, possibly with a burro walking behind!
North (but, not to Alaska!). At first, I took only major roads after leaving San Diego. Later, with a little more confidence, I’d brave some off-the-beaten-path roads (there’s the real fun there!). Going north I stuck, mostly, to the California coast, at least up to the City of Angels.
Then, it was up for grabs!
I had always wanted to see the California redwoods, Yosemite, lighthouses in Oregon, Seattle, the Canadian border (before they build a fence to keep us out), the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone, the Presidents and, of course, the Grand Canyon.
That’s half the country!
UPDATE: I missed getting to the lighthouses—and the majority of Yellowstone was closed for the winter! I’ve have to see the Presidents next time, too. Didn’t make it as far east as I had planned—because I wimped out on temperatures reaching down to minus 25º. So, I headed south (to Phoenix) once I hit Yellowstone. The Grand Canyon photos are truly beautiful.
The Hopi grounds, surrounded by the Navajo Nation, and other archaeological sites were definitely in the game plan (I’ve studied the Maya of Mexico for years). Who wouldn’t love these ancient civilizations? The Maya, for example, were advanced astronomers, geneticists, surgeons, scientists, geologists, and engineers—and they invented chocolate!
Many mistakenly attribute the origin of chocolate to be from the Aztecs but, Mayans preceded Aztec society by many centuries—and the physical evidence (leftover hot chocolate in carbon-dated pottery) is undeniable. Indeed, the Maya noted the “stupid” Aztecs, who were nomadic and didn’t live in city centers—at the time, living in forests—until they later moved into abandoned Mayan dwellings.
“Xocolatl” even became a trading currency because everyone wanted it!
It’s entirely possible that all American Indians are descended from the Mississippians (from whence we get the name of the river and the state) and I believe they are remnants of Mayans who had explored new territories in the north (the similarities astonish!).
One. Big. Loop.
I returned to San Diego after about three months (Phase One) and then set out to launch my next trip (Phase Two). I am adverse to keeping a schedule—and anything I see that looks interesting I will stop and see (and tell you about). You can expect to see a lot more photos and, most likely, more video (Watch the Sienna tour video). And you can expect a lot of stupid when it comes to writing about my travels.
I’ll take you along for my travels as best I can. Hope you enjoy the ride! I try to login every day and update the site but, I don’t know when or from where that will happen (likely from a free WiFi connection whenever I can find one). I can use a data connection from my smartphone if there is a signal!
If you have any suggestions or comments, please contact me. I’ll be reading every email I get (I have the time!).
Happy trails my friends!