As Matt and I neared our 60s, Matt said to me one day that he no longer enjoyed camping on the ground in a tent. That immediately caught my attention as our backpacking trips have always been one of my favorite things to do. I had to agree that carrying 30+lb backpacks any reasonable distance and sleeping on the ground, even with pads,were becoming increasingly less physically realistic; so we began to explore alternative ways to travel. Much as I hate to admit it, compromises become inevitable as time goes by.
Since road trips have always held an allure for us, car camping seemed a logical next step. Several previous boat charters had convinced me that life could continue in a confined space (for a limited time) so we began our search for a small self-contained RV/van that could serve as our camping base but also double as our primary or secondary transportation vehicle. We found the perfect combination for us in the hightop Dodge Sprinter van converted by Sportsmobile.
My dad had helped me build a bed frame in my beloved Chevy van during my skydiving years (eons ago), and now I had a van again! It’s a joy to drive, and I am even comfortable driving and parking around town. I’ve always avoided parallel parking like the plague and continue to do so although Matt is up to the challenge. The only restriction is our height, so no parking structures. However, the high top allows Matt (at 6 feet) to easily stand up throughout the length of our Ruby Slipper. Sportsmobile builds the interior by modules so one can pick and choose the amenities one desires <www.sportsmobile.com >
TheRuby Slipper transports us to far away places and returns us home again, safe and sound..
It wasn’t long before we had bike racks on the back and kayak racks on top. We found beautiful, lightweight (40lb) Delta kayaks www.deltakayaks.com that have been a delight in tidal estuaries, large rivers such as the Santiam, the Willamette, and the Columbia, and small lakes. Matt lifts the kayaks to a roller bar on the back roof edge, and I pull them into their cradles and tie them down. Last summer we began our explorations around the northwest and soon felt the lack of a shuttle vehicle confining. Half our time was spent returning to our vehicle instead of continuing down unexplored (to us) territory.
Initially we thought to buy motorcycles (dirt bikes would also expand our off road capabilities), but, believe it or not, I could not find a legal forum in which to learn how to ride. The logistics of using bikes to return us to the Slipper, then backtrack to pick up the kayaks, were unwieldy. Then we found the SmartCar4Two: small and light enough to tow and darn if it doesn’ t look like a baby Slipper (hence The Baby Bootie aka The Ruby Bootie). It was the obvious choice to complete our travelling rig. Matt is working on the remaining piece: the racks to carry the kayaks. No one makes a kayak rack and, in fact, they say it can’t be done; but of course we know that isn’t so. Just about anything is possible if you have a Matt.
next post: discovering Pedal-Paddle