Well, Elsie and I have been back in Australia for about 6 months now, and, as they say, "you can't keep a good (??) man down" !!! (Dont know where the "good" bit comes from !!)
I am coming back !!! I enjoyed everything about my trip SOOOOOO much - The roads, the scenery, the people, Alaska, Canada, Pikes Peak - I could go on, but if you have already read my old blog, no need to !! But the Alaska trip changed my life in so many ways, and I have realised that while I have breath in my body, and while I am still able to physically, I want to keep travelling. I think I first realised this when I was in Zion National Park in Utah, camping in the gorge, but the rest of the journey just made the feeling stronger. But I am going to do it slightly differently. First of all, not in a Lotus !! My last trip was so special BECAUSE I was in the Elise, so all the difficulties that were incurred because I was in the Lotus were inconsequential, because the trip was ABOUT meeting all the Lotus owners, and getting it to the Artic Circle and up the Dalton. So the camping issues (esp in wet weather), and the problems with dirt roads were just part of the trip, so not a problem. However, being in the Lotus meant I couldn't get to some of the places I wanted to (like Prudhoe, or up the Dempster) and nor could I free camp beside the road (Hey, bears and moose and tents don't really go together !!) which increased my costs considerably, so I always thought I would try to find a way to come back.
Like Bilbo says at the beginning of the Hobbit "I'm going on an Adventure" !! In Feb 2104 I will ship my car to Seattle, and in May will then drive back up to Alaska, this time up the Marine Higway. Then, all the fun roads up there before heading across Canada and down the East coast of the US, then across the bottom to Texas. Then down through central America, and after shipping the car round the Darien Gap, all the way down to the bottom of S America, where I will take a cruise (without the car !!) down to the Antarctic. After that, maybe up to Sao Paolo or Rio, before shipping the car on to Europe....Hey, plans are made to be amended, right ?
And the vehicle ? I have chosen a 4 WD Toyota Troop Carrier converted into a camper with a pop top. These camper versions are only available in Australia, and are made mostly for the rental business. So because I can't afford a new one, I have bought a 4 year old one which has 160,000 miles on it because it was a rental. It has a turbocharged intercooled 4.5 litre V8 diesel that has a LOT of grunt, yet gives fairly good gas mileage, and comes as standard with twin 90 litre fuel tanks (so about 50 US galls in total), plus a 90 litre water tank. It has a gas cooker and sink mounted on a slide out, and a double bed (well, a small double !!) upstairs in the pop top, and another bed down below if required.
I have had it now for a month, and I love it !! These Toyotas are fairly agricultural, but they are as tough as nails, and will go anywhere in 4 WD - And being a Toyota are renowned for their reliability and of course spares available worldwide.
Anyway, as I am attending the Australian National Lotus Meet in Canberra at the end of April 2014, I cannot leave this year as the seasons will be all wrong before I get there. Thus the reason for me not shipping the car till next Feb. Plus I am SELLING ELSIE !!! After 15 years of ownership, after the Nationals she will be for sale, and I already have several expressions of interest. I also learned from my last trip that it is worth spending time to get the car just right before you set off on a trip like this, and 12 months is not a long time to get everything done, especially when you are on a budget !! So I really hope to catch up with some of you again in 2014 - It was you guys that made the last trip so special. In the meantime, if you are interested, I have started a new interim blog here Watching and Waiting
which is just going to be about things I do to the Troopie, and trips I take to bed her in (planning to go up through Alice Springs, to Darwin, and across through Mt Isa to Cairns and Cape York Peninsula as a shake -down trip in August), so if you are interested, you can see what I am up to. Then when I set off to Alaska next Feb, I will start a new blog for that trip.
So thats the current situation. I will post a couple of pics of Troopie here, but there are lots more in my new blog, if you are interested.
See you in 2014 !