A year on the road!

>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

Our house
We have already been travelling in North America with our vehicle for over a year and have already covered several thousand kilometres. The car is at the same time our home and everything depends on this Jeep Wrangler, which was supplemented with a camping kit from Gazell. Our vehicle is a whole 9 cm higher and 48 cm longer than the original dimensions, so that it fits everywhere where any normal jeep goes. Although every American “Jeeper” recognizes that this car is somehow different, but otherwise it passes as a normal car. Only when the roof is set up it becomes a photo object and in the many internet forums our “Jeep” must already be a hero.

It’s no coincidence that we’re travelling in a jeep: This car comes from North America and was also assembled here. What we didn’t know, however, was that although our car is assembled here, it has certain components that are only available in European versions, and every service already presents workshops with certain problems. Although they are happy about the diesel jeep, certain maintenance and spare parts are not available in North America – there are no diesel jeeps here! Some mechanics find other solutions and look for comparable products, others simply install the wrong parts somehow, without the customer (we) being informed.

At home in Europe our off-road vehicle belongs, as is generally said, to the bad air polluters and is in the tax category G (in Switzerland). It probably can’t get any worse! Here, in the land of unlimited possibilities, it is a small car, and often we cannot look down on the others, but have to look up at the other road users. Our turbocharged engine with 2.8 litre capacity and four cylinders is also rather weak on the chest when it comes to motorisation. But the diesel engine is somewhat more economical compared to the American petrol model of the same design. We cover about 150-200 kilometres (100-140 miles) more with one full tank of fuel than the petrol engine according to the consumption measurements of the manufacturer.

However, whether it’s an air pollutant or a small car, we love our mobile vehicle above all else, which has been our mobile home for a year now. The living space is rather modest and the whole interior was already changed before the departure to America according to our conceptions, whereby most of it was rebuilt in many leisure hours. During the trip we perfected certain things, so that the use of the available space was improved once again. Actually the whole thing now corresponds to our ideas and even in darkness we find all necessary things (…or not!).
And as back-roaders, certain things, such as salvage material, have to be accessible at all times, which may result in a certain loss of comfort.

In front everything is standard and our daily place of stay during the big trips.
At the back of the Gazell kit there is a small room where we can stay in pairs in the worst weather conditions. More than eating, reading or playing is not possible! As soon as we cook, at least one person has to leave the back room. In principle, we cook outside, as we consider the interior to be too inflammable. A small rain roof protects the cook from possible wetness from the sky.

Sleeping is under the pop-up roof and the bed is only for lovers; 1.2m on 1.9m  (4 on 6 ft) lying surface are available. We supplemented the original hard foam mats from Gazell additionally with 3.5 cm (1 ½”) thick Therm-a-Rest® mats, so that despite the thin mat we still received a certain lying comfort. When the pop-up roof is lowered, the air mats must be ventilated, as the narrow space has no more room than for the original mats.

And something else for the really tough guys and women among you: the camping construction cannot be heated, i.e. from 0°C (32°F) and rain it becomes uncomfortable. At -10°C (14°F) we slept already once, but it was damn cold and almost borders on a miracle that we are still alive! The additional down sleeping bag proved to be lifesaving several times.

The general material, as for example for the kitchen, food supplies, tools, spare parts, etc., take relatively much place. For the personal clothes there is only a limited space available. Chantal can stow her clothes, which are additionally stowed in travel bags, in the rest of the free remaining shelves. My clothes have been in a travel bag for a year, which I consider an advantage, as they can be moved according to the needs, or taken right out of the car.

On the remote tours and paths we have a maximum of 48 litres of water at our disposal, which must be sufficient for cooking as well as for daily sanitation. The longest independence was once 5 days in Big Bend-State Park/South Texas, where we had to be very economical with the water. As pure drinking water in such areas we carried of course further water containers with us, whereby we could not take more than 10-12 litres (3 galons) of the loading capacity with us.

And another word about personal hygiene; every mountaineer or desert driver knows how to do it and you don’t necessarily have to take a shower twice a day! But also we don’t despise the refreshing water and if there is no shower available, there is also a pool with water or even a jump into the refreshing lake.

We wash our clothes if possible on the campgrounds or, in America there are in every bigger place laundries, where one can wash for little money and dry immediately. While the laundry is turning in the drum, one can do some shopping or wash the car next door at the same time; actually everything is very practically furnished.

Fast food!
Our daily bread was up to now the finest and only once something really went wrong! The American fast food we left behind until now and always prepare our food ourselves. This also has the advantage that we do not have any unpleasant food additives in our food and can therefore avoid Chantal’s allergies to some extent.

Already at breakfast we get down to business: eggs and bacon, cereal or a fine pancake with maple syrup? Often the leftovers from the evening before simply go into the frying pan and a fried egg provides additional freshness.
Of course, a fine coffee from the Italian espresso pot is a must.

When Chantal strolls through a shopping temple in the afternoon, she always comes up with the craziest ideas and sometimes we lacked pots for the appropriate preparation (couscous, Asian, cream steak, “Bernerrösti” are some examples). We could even enjoy fondue).

By the way, the food offers are extensive even in very remote areas and organic is no foreign word in the new world. Even the Americans don’t eat everything and like to do without modified organisms and the like.

Anyway, we ate and drank very well until now and those who don’t believe it may travel with us and let themselves be pampered by the delicious gourmet cuisine.
(… probably I have already gained some weight! )

And as a speciality: Usually everything is prepared on an open fire, which often brings the assistant cook – me – to the limits of heat tolerance. Where the fire is not permitted for fire police reasons, the pots go to the propane cooker.

Of course the liquid must not be missing! I don’t have to write too much about fermented grape and barley juices: In the Liquorstores everywhere really fine bottles stand to the selection and even in the price-wise lower segment we were never disappointed. Well then: “to your health”!

Routes and projects
Where our tours and trips go, we usually determine together and also personal wishes are considered accordingly. So far, the Lonely Planet guides have been very helpful and the longer we are here, the tips of the locals and other travellers lead more and more to our ways through the wide world of North America.

We visited big cities, but we both – Chantal and I – are not city dwellers and museums can be visited later. But we love the wonderful landscapes that are still abundant here.

Overnight stay
We almost always spent the nights in our camper. Only a few times we had to retreat to a motel due to the cold or extremely heavy rainfall.

And what we also don’t despise: outside the big centers and tourist areas you can settle on public and not specially fenced land everywhere for the night. Even for the Americans and Canadians this is almost a matter of course. They also enjoy this independence and on weekends you often find real mobile homes in the countryside. There are earplugs for disturbing emergency generators, which have to run because of the air conditioning in the caravan, so that you can sleep despite the unpleasant noise.

State and national parks, as well as forests already offer a little more luxury, such as an outhouse and barbecue area and for a few dollars you can choose a place. The individual places are very far apart and sometimes you get the feeling that you are alone somewhere in the wide prairie or forest. Interestingly, from state to state there are big differences in terms of sanitary facilities and how they are maintained – from horrible to the top there is everything.

We mostly avoid private campsites, as they offer all possible connections for the monster campers, but are soon in the price range at the cheap motels. Also, the individual pitches are very close to each other and one has to be careful not to sit right in front of the neighbour’s door. Cooking on the fire is usually forbidden for space reasons. The amenities hardly make up for the price!

The “www”
Unfortunately, although the Americans invented it, there is not everywhere in North America the usual and super fast access to the WWW. We don’t want to say that it’s a developing country in terms of the Internet, but it’s often difficult for us to get any secure and good connection. Often a connection doesn’t come off or breaks off all the time.

In world-famous restaurant chains, the Internet is usually good, but open. There our virus program refuses to establish a connection. For certain work and banking transactions we need a protected network, which we do not always find immediately and lead to the renunciation of the desired intention. Thank God, despite the sometimes late payment transfers, we always met our payment obligations and the credit card function has never been forbidden.

Although our mobile home or jeep already has a certain age and high mileage, we hope very much that we can still experience many unforgettable adventures in the wide world. Many moments remain unforgettable and a great gift that we have experienced so far!

I am already looking forward to writing you some great stories and adventures soon.
See you soon.


>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator