This is planned to be a 4 week road trip/photo expedition, mostly in Washington and Idaho. I left Austin, TX on Jan 31, and arrived in the Seattle, WA area on Sat, Feb 2, rested Sunday, then started out early today (Monday) with an appointment at 4 Wheel Parts in Lynnwood, WA.
This trip is the first for my new Tacoma, and an experiment in several ways. I know how I like to travel: chasing the weather from place to place (the best photos are taken around the Edges: edges of the seasons, edges of the day, and edges of storms moving in or out of the area), never making reservations and rarely staying more than one night in any one location. I have been staying in decent hotels: clean, but not expensive, but need to transition into camping more often. This is to save money, and to be on location at last light, then first light the next day. I have camped off-grid in years past, and hope to do a lot more of it. Most of the established camping areas are closed in the Winter, when I do most of my travel, and the ones that are open require reservations months in advance. As alluded to above, I don’t know where I will be from one day to the next, so reservations are out of the question. There are millions of acres of land managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Mgmt) that are available for camping free of charge. But there are no facilities.
So, my truck is outfitted for camping off-grid: I have an auxiliary battery, a 120v inverter, and am fully equipped for completely independent camping for days at a time. I mentioned above that this trip is experimental: I am still working out the details of exactly how I will camp and what amenities to bring. Any camping set-up is a compromise between mobility and comfort: the more mobile the vehicle the less capacity there is for the comforts of home. My priority is maximum mobility and independence, while “roughing it” a bit.
I said “independence”: I have a winch mounted in the front bumper and carry almost every other recovery device available – so that I can get myself unstuck without the help of another person or vehicle. I even carry a chainsaw to remove tress that fall across the road in a storm (very common here in the Northwest).
Once I was fully loaded, the day before leaving Austin, I realized that the truck suspension needed an upgrade to carry all the weight. There was no time for that before departure, so I scheduled the date with 4 Wheel Parts in Lynnwood mentioned above.
Approx 5″ of fresh snow fell in the Seattle area last night, so I got my first “taste” of snow in the Tacoma. With 4 wheel drive and winter-rated tires, I had no difficulties at all. I later learned that Seattle rarely gets that much snow (if any at all), and it was a major problem for the locals: you can check out the news and U-Tube videos that others have posted (you may have to sign up at no charge):
The photo above was taken from my hotel room in Lynnwood this morning. My truck is the red one in the middle.