Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Anchorage, Alaska, noticing more feeling returning to my big toes after last weeks adventures took some of it away and taking a bit of a mental recap of the contrast the past week has been. Four days ago I was celebrating 4th of July in the old mining town of McCarthy (population 50) watching a man walk by in a ranger hat, apron and nothing else. While five days ago I was walking across the third glacier I’d been across in three days having just been to the most naturally beautiful place of my life.
Before we get into describing any of those adventures I should introduce myself. My name is Jessa and I’m the second member of this pan American adventure and the co-writer of this blog.
Travelling has been something I’ve loved since I’ve been small. Likely an appreciation I picked up from my Dad. Discovering new places, setting off on new adventures or learning about new cultures has always been something I’ve pursued. Since I’ve started to venture off on my own I’ve tried to push the boundaries of comfort in terms of where I’ve gone and what I’ve done and I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time living in a couple different areas of the world. But like a lot of people this day and age the past couple years I’ve been bogged down in work and figuring out which way my career path should go. Because of this, adventuring had to be limited to weekend trips and the occasional couple week trip.
This past year, having made the decision about what and when I would be going back to school, I realized I had a small window of time before committing myself to 4 years of intensive schooling. While I do appreciate all the little trips I’ve been able to go on in the past couple of years I’ve been craving a bigger adventure different from anything I’ve experienced before and something I couldn’t get from these smaller trips. Part of the beauty of this trip is that I’m still a little unsure of how exactly it’s going to unfold. If the first couple weeks have taught me anything it’s that it will be full of both incredibly challenging and very rewarding days.
After we made the decision to go on this trip, our focused turned to finding the vehicle that would make it all happen. We happened across a Bellingham craigslist post with promising pictures of a camper in all its 80’s glory. After a chat with the owner Will, we decided to go down and take a look. Will, a zoologist with a passion for amphibians and reptiles, gave us an introduction to the camper that was a more like the description of a beloved pet then the simple technical details you normally get about a car. He told us about the past trips that he had been on in the camper across Illinois, the winter he spent living in it at the base of Mount Baker, and fond memories he had of working on the camper with his dad. Future plans kept him from keeping the camper and he was hoping it would make it to a good home with owners that would uphold the integrity of the camper taking it on some epic new adventures. After a couple mechanics looked it over we decided to buy it and took a second trip down to Bellingham to drive the camper home. Before leaving Will made sure to take a picture of us with the camper, to show his parents the camper had made it to a happy new home.
To give you a bit better picture of this truck camper combo you need to know some technical details. A 2.4L inline 4 cylinder Toyota 22RE engine pulls this 6000lb GVW camper. For those that are as technical as I am, that means it has a tiny not so powerful engine that pulls tremendous weight. We’ve often compared it to an ant that miraculously carries cargo that is much larger and far heavier then itself. The real magic of the Toyota 22RE engine is much like the worker ant it continues to do its job through some of the gnarliest roads we’ve ever seen. Mile after mile of reliability and slow but steady hill climbing it’s truly proved to be ‘The Little Camper That Could”.
Stay tuned to finally hear some stories about our adventures in the coming days!