Friday, October 7, 2011

E Camping

In order to provide insight on how you too can travel as cheaply and "luxuriously" as I have been, particularly if you also happen to own a Honda Element, I've decided to create a special blogpost on just this topic along with some sweet pics of my E in some of my favorite places. First, the setup...

I've used color coding to separate the different areas of storage in my "E House". For the color blind... I'm sorry, you're just going to have to use your problem solving skillz to figure it out.

Black Oval= My general purpose storage area where my vast array of clothes for all the swimming, biking, running, and hiking I do are along with my invaluable REI camp chair. This all gets moved to the driver seat for "sleep mode". Behind this area is my Igloo Xtreme cooler which sits on the front passenger seat. My feet touch it sometimes when I sleep (6'0), but it's not in the way.

Blue Oval= My bed. I use a 1.5" thick Alps Mountaineering sleeping pad laid on top of the fully reclined seats and a cheap $25 Coleman 40 degree sleeping bag that works absolutely perfect for my needs. I am just as comfortable here as I would be in my own bed. In fact, it now has become "my own bed". Next to the bed in the rear side pocket is where I store my "fine" red wines.

Green Oval= My camping/cooking gear. Basically my kitchen. I use a super inefficient but cheap Coleman Single Burner stove along with a pot, a wok, wooden spatula and spoon, cheap ss plate, bowl, cup, and silverware, a thin, plastic cutting board and good chopping knife, and I have a Jetboil Flash for quickly boiling up water for my various loose leaf Japanese Green Teas I am addicted to. Using an X-ray machine to move to underneath the leaned back front seat reveals my storage bag for my various tools such as a camp axe, trowel, wrenches and other hand tools, flashlights, matches, man/bear killing knife, bear spray (in case the knife fails), duct tape and other various useful items that may or may not make it easier or more difficult in crossing an international border. And amplifying that X-ray machine that I'm hoping you bought legally and did not obtain from "other means" further on reveals my pantry, located in the very front of the vehicle's passenger side, on the floor beneath the cooler. This is where most of the food (mostly fresh fruits and vegetables that don't need refrigerated) is stored that isn't strewn randomly about the rest of the vehicle.

Orange Oval= My super sweet carbon bikes! They can be a pain to get in and out, but the setup is quite slick for using space as efficiently as possible. This setup shows my Cyclocross and Tri bikes. It also works for my road and Tri bike combo which I used in the Northwest during the summer.

Purple Oval= A neat little storage box that doubles as the platform to set my bikes at the perfect height that is needed for them to fit in the space allotted. Lots of random stuff like bike gear and vitamins and such go in here. Behind it and under the bikes is a nice little space where I have a big back with all my smaller bags of various teas, vitamins, personal hygiene products, and some mini spheres containing parallel universes.

Brown Oval= My Thule Sidekick (8 cu. ft storage) storage box, or as I call it, my attic. I chose this one because of the price and the weight limits of the factory rack (I figure it's a good idea to keep the handling as good as possible with all the twisty roads I drive on). Here is where I keep most of my triathlon and cycling equipment, extra towels, laundry detergent, dirty clothes, and the vast amounts of shoes needed for all the different activities I participate in.

And now for some sweet pics of it in action!

This was at our camping spot in Allenspeak, CO, during the Fourth of July weekend.
Awesome place with tons of free camping spots.

This was Rabbit Valley on the Colorado-Utah border just off I70. This camping spot was not only free, but had pits, grills, picnic tables, and bathrooms as well and was all mine on this particular night.

This was along scenic Highway 128 going to Moab from I-70 from the east side.

I included two pictures since it really was that beautiful. My favorite scenic drive yet.

This camping spot in Mt Hood National Forest was found when I had to backtrack from my planned route because of a road that was washed out. I decided to drive down a dead end path in the forest and found this sweet little spot where it ended.

This was at Mt Rainier. This night I ended up in a parking lot in Paradise where overnight camping was not allowed. Someone shined a flashlight in my car but didn't bug me.

For urban camping, many times I've parked in a Walmart parking lot or that of a 24 hour grocery store whenever a National Forest was not close by, but several times I've found nice little spots in neighborhoods as well. This worked great in Seattle where there is no law against this and so many cars along the side of the road that one more was hardly noticeable. Usually I found a spot close to one of the many parks for quick restroom access in the morning. In small towns like Boulder and Ann Arbor I found awesome spots right next to downtown so that I could just walk back from the bars in the evening and to the coffee shops in the morning. Other times, such as in national parks or the Adirondacks I've found backcountry trailheads to park next to where a car sitting overnight would not be suspicious. And for National Forest and other such free camping areas, the website has come in handy quite a few times. As of this writing (3-4 months of traveling), I've yet to pay for a camping spot.

And in closing, I leave you with a pic of my carbon fiber drink holder for when I feel like a nightcap

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