The big RV with Roadmaster dinghy post set off some pretty strong anti-RV comments. Fair enough, and to each his own. As an avid owner of a 1977 Dodge Chinook Class B, my opinions are…mine. And the way we use ours may not exactly be the most common. A few basic rules we follow: avoid “campgrounds” like the plague, with crowded state park campgrounds at the top of the list. Who would want to “get away from it all” with a teeming horde in a smoky refugee camp that makes staying home seem peaceful and uncrowded? No, my friends, the key is to get really away from it all, and for that one need the right kind of rig. Like this one, which I very much lust after. Perfect for boondocking:
Now my very abbreviated paean to boondocking may not apply to the Eastern two-thirds of the country so readily, although with a bit of creativity, I know folks who manage aspects of it to some degree or another. Anyway, here’s the thing: you own an almost infinite number of free campgrounds, as a stakeholder debtholder in our nation’s assets: National Forests and BLM land. It’s yours, to camp in as long as you do it with some thought, respect, and consideration of some possible local district regulations. That applies more to NFS than BLM land, which is usually pretty wide open. But generally, if you drive a bit off the beaten path, nobody’s going to bother you, most of all an official, given how thin their ranks are. Anyway, you’re legal, unless there are certain local restrictions.
And if you just have to see those famous sites and National Parks, go in the fall or spring. Last time we were at Yellowstone, there were more bison on the road than cars; it was practically deserted (late October). Cold nights, though.
We’ve gone for weeks without ever paying a campground fee. It’s not so much about the money, as it is about getting really away. We’ve spent night after night in superb locations, right up against rushing rivers, mountain peaks, and swimming holes. Enjoy the dead quiet, or if in the mood, enjoy the Dead without bothering anybody. In a pinch, and if it’s late, just turning into any National Forest road off a highway, and finding a flat pull-off does the job, and beats Wal-Mart. Although in some locations, like on the California Coast, obscure parking lots work fine too. Having the right vehicle helps.
And this ’65 Ford would be perfect. Trailer are pretty much out for boondocking; sometimes you have to turn around on a dead-end road, or one that just won’t do. And a simple, fully amortized and rugged rig is preferred, one that can take a bit of abuse and getting scratched by branches without causing a coronary by having ones’ $100k palace on wheels dinged.
This Chinook slide-in has a bit of historical interest to me, as it’s one of the very first products made by that firm. I might not be wrong, but my guess is that this camper and its truck have been joined at the bed since new. Even their paint jobs match.
If I remember correctly, this Ford sported a V8 emblem on the hood, meaning the 352 FE, a rugged but inefficient beast. My MM version would have the 300 CID big six, with a two-barrel carb added. The 300 has killer torque, and its not like you’re going to spend days trying to keep up with traffic on the freeway. For bopping down two-lane highways, and lugging up little roads and such, the 300 is plenty strong enough, with the right gearing. The really ideal setup for that would be a modern six-speed manual, with a low first, four nicely spaced intermediate gears, and an overdrive top gear.
One of my endless regrets (I lean to that) is not getting an F-250 instead of my F-100, so that I could put a camper on the back. But then the Chinook has a number of advantages, except for the need to maintain another old truck. The endless internal debate…Meanwhile, the real challenge this summer is to find the time to actually go and do it. Probably explains why I’m writing this.
I definitely agree this is the way to go, maybe because I only live 1 state to the east from you. We will either tent camp or use my in-laws 1989 F350 duallie (460 V8, 5-speed) and pop-up bed camper. We’ve considered getting a Tab or Casita to pull with the Outback (2.5l H4, 5-speed) but I’m afraid that would be a slow go even though the vehicle is rated to tow one and I have a Class II hitch.
You’ve got to remember, BLM and BOR land is pretty much non-existent east of the Divide.
Here’s a map.
Perfect getaway truck a good set of mudgrips and it would get most places.
Yup. And on a 2-wheel-drive, combining grippy tires with a limited-slip differential will get you almost everywhere that you want or need to go. A good friend had a 1960s C10 (can’t remember engine, but could have been the straight six, and it had a manual trans as well IIRC) with the limited slip in it, and he was amazed at the places that he went in it and didn’t get stuck. Like at the beach (where as I child I have vivid memories of early 60s full-sized cars stuck axle-deep in the sand with the teen-aged group of passengers standing there, trying to figure out what to do).
You make it sound appealing; and done the way you do it, the way you’ve learned how…it almost certainly is.
The trouble is, most of the area east of the Mississippi and along the Front Range of the Rockies…is teeming with people just as eager to get away from it all. National Forest land is quite a bit more scarce in the East, and much more heavily used and trafficked.
My own current locale is within an hour’s drive of parts of the Hiawatha National Forest, but between hikers, bikers (with and without motors) and hunters, one has to go quite deep into the woods to get away from the other refugees. And the woods themselves aren’t that deep…most of this area was logged in the 1930s and looks it.
And having lived for a few years in Denver…and for part of that time, having that Westfalia…I can tell you, the closest woodlands in that region are just as busy. I recall a time we set up camp, about a mile from the nearest (gravel) road…broke out the drink fixings…had our first for the night…and had a Deputy Sheriff telling us there was a Girl Scout camporee about a mile away (we could hear them faintly) and we had to move on. IMMEDIATELY.
Neither one of us were really in any shape to drive, but such argument didn’t faze the deputy. Go now, he explained, or go directly to jail.
Knowing a little of Oregon, having worked for a railroad contractor out that way…I’d say you found the ideal place to base yourself and yet get in touch with your inner woodsman. Probably, too, it helps that so many Oregonians…take their trips in the comfort of their own home.
C’est la vie…each of us has to find our own road.
I like 352’s!
Would you stop it with the old pickups already? You’re going to get me in trouble, this is so much cooler than anything you can buy new.
Even up here in the PNW (Vancouver Island to be exact) it get harder to get away from people. Logging roads are decommissioned (trenched/bermed), bridges blocked, and gates put up. It’s no problem for trial bikes or the summer snowmobile – ATV, but for 4 wheeled vehicles it is frustrating.
Paul, you know a syncro westy is the vehicle for this kind of thing, here’s a picture from a trip back in June. Two syncros and the silver 2wd westy has a locking diff. The bronze syncro is currently having westy pop top roof installed by someone who grossly underestimates time and work involved – me.
One more thing, Saddletramps is continuing to post camping/exploring vehicles from the sublime to the ridiculous, http://saddletramps.tumblr.com/
Love the KIWI Bedford
Having driven both a 70s Dodge van and a 60s Ford pickup, I would hazard a guess that your current setup would be a lot more pleasant on the drive to and from your destination. I have vivid memories of nudging my 63 F-100 from side to side on either edge of the 8 inches of free play in the middle of the steering. Like herding. I have heard from others that my experience is not unique, but I guess most anything is fixable.
For any that are interested. We are selling the 1965 Ford F250 w/ Chinook Camper mentioned above!
You can see the Craigs List Ad:
That link doesn’t work. Link to the final published ad.
Thank you for the heads-up. Here is the proper link:
PS. We love what you are doing!