Ask the Blonde Coyote: What do I need to hit the road?

On the road to Mount Adams in Washington

On the road to Mount Adams in Washington

I’ve been getting so many lovely, thoughtful, inquisitive emails from people and I’m sorry to say it’s become impossible for me to answer all of them. Most of you want to hit the road – for a long weekend, for a few weeks or months and some of you want to go full nomad. I’d love to help each and every one of you set yourselves free, but if I spent that much time at the keyboard answering emails, I wouldn’t be living the kind of life I want to be living. Selfish, yes, but therein lies part of the secret to my free living success. My solution to this ridiculously flattering conundrum is to start answering some of these queries on the Blonde Coyote.

Self portrait in post-fore woods

Self portrait in post-fire woods

Hi, My name is Kody and I’m putting things in motion to live on the road. I currently live in a house that I turned into a little Urban Homestead. I recently gave just about everything I owned to my friend and his wife when they bought their organic farm. I’m trying to sell my house and find a trailer at the same time. Once I get my trailer I was start building what I think I need to survive on the road. Once all is built I’m going to do a test and live out of it with my dogs on my brothers property. Figured that would be smart before driving out to the west coast.

I am reaching out to you because I’m wondering if there is anything you think I should get and/or install in my trailer? Something that you didn’t realize you needed but learned that you did once you were on the road? I’m hoping to find the trailer I want within the next two weeks and start adding modifications to it so any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this. Safe travels!

Antone, WA: My kind of town.

Anatone, WA: My kind of town.

Thanks for the email, Kody and congrats! After I bought my trailer the first big investment I made was in a solar panel and a battery. In my first month on the road in the trailer, I spent around $250 at RV parks and coffee shops, seeking power for my laptop so I could work. It made a lot of financial sense for me to invest in my own source of power.

With the help of solar mastermind Lawrence Jenkins at Front Range Renewable Energy in Frederick, Colorado I had a 135-watt, 28-pound  Kyocera panel, mounted to the roof with two aluminum brackets. The wires run down through the sunroof to a 10-amp charge controller and then to a 55 amp-hour sealed battery. A 400-watt inverter then converts the DC power to AC, giving me more than enough power to run my laptop, charge my phone and camera and run the Teardrop’s interior LED lights. The whole system, including installation cost me around $1,100 (in 2012). You can read more about the installation in my original post: The Power of the Sun In My Teardrop!

My rig in Utah, showing the solar panel and the awning.

My rig in Utah, showing the solar panel and the awning. The climbing crash pad is my couch.

The big change I’ve made this year is the addition of a fridge. I always hated dealing with a cooler and buying ice so when a friend offered to lend me his portable fridge, I was really grateful – they’re very expensive. The model I have is similar to this one. Right now it lives in the trunk of the Rover and runs off the engine while the car is running (I have an inverter that plugs into the cigarette outlet), but I’d love to invest in a separate battery system for it so it can stay cooler while I’m parked. That might be my big upgrade next spring.

Rural Washington ruins

Rural Washington ruins

It’s a good idea to camp out for a little while at your brother’s place while you get organized, but the best way to figure out what you need to live on the road is to live on the road. Being mobile comes with its own quirks and requirements and you’ll find that what you need to be comfortable and self-sufficient while you’re stationary will change when you start moving. You also don’t need to have everything before you leave home. They sell stuff everywhere. Better to start rolling and figure out what you need along the way rather than delay your departure buying a bunch of potentially extraneous stuff.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

I’d say stay at your brother’s for a few weeks and then hit the road for a trial run. Maybe you’ll circle back around to your brother’s or maybe you’ll head for the next big town where you’ll have access to hardware stores, etc where you can make repairs, upgrades and pick up a few things. The sooner you start rolling, the better!

Visiting my friend Camilla, a writer who lives in an Airstream with two big dogs.

Visiting my friend Camilla, a writer who lives in a stationary Airstream with two big dogs.

Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions and best of luck hitting the road! Got a query for the Blonde Coyote? Email me at theblondecoyote@gmail.com. Check out some of my past Ask the Blonde Coyote posts on: traveling with dogs, boondocking bathrooms, food and safety.

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in Big Sky, Montana. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
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3 Responses to Ask the Blonde Coyote: What do I need to hit the road?

  1. Lavinia Ross says:

    I like the Anatone, Washington sign. Smallest town we ever passed through was the town of Buford, Wyoming, population 2, at the time. We had been taking our annual trip from east coast to west coast (some years ago now) and had taken on a tank of gas with a hefty dose ethanol in it. In the heat of summer, vapor lock set in on the 1995 Mercury Villager, and the fuel pump shut down. The tow truck driver told us to wait, let the van cool down, then tank up on fuel across the border in Wyoming. We got going again, and as soon as we saw the big Sinclair dinosaur, we pulled in to the “town” of Buford, comprised of the trading post owners.

  2. Lisa says:

    Great first hand experience and advice. Off topic, but I’ve often wondered why you chose that particular photo to be used as a mural for your teardrop, especially when you have taken some of the most gorgeous photos from so many beautiful locales?
    Does that photo and location have special meaning for you?

  3. Pingback: Ask the Blonde Coyote: Where in the World Are You? | Travels with the Blonde Coyote

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