Bluto, short for Blue Toad, was an indigo Mitsubishi Delica four-wheel drive van we imported from Japan in 2011. The name came from the letters on the license plates – RBT – Roland’s Blue Toad. It didn’t take long for that to get shortened to Bluto. We redesigned the back to give us a sleeping place and took it on an adventure to Sedona in August that same year.
It was the year of our 25th wedding anniversary and the goal was to revisit places we found and fell in love with during the first year of our marriage, when we were in Arizona helping my parents build their house. Driving down memory lane seemed like a fitting way to mark our quarter century together.
Ten nights and eleven days, roughly 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) and six states, mostly on the back roads. Fantastic.
We gave a lot of thought to camperizing and came up with a plan for a fold-away bed that was easy to set up at night, allowed for storage underneath, and gave us ample room for a cozy sleep, even with Frodo the devil dog included.
Some of the things we learned along the way:
- Trite as it may sound, dreams can become reality if you work for them and have patience.
- Some things keep better as memories (Sedona, Arizona).
- Some things still live up to the memories (Wood’s Lodge, Mammoth Lakes, California).
- 37°C (98°F) is relatively cool when the temperature drops to 37°C from 49°C (120°F) (Death Valley, California).
- Sometimes, when you think you’re lost, you find the most awesome places and when you think you know exactly where you’re going you end up in an ugly campsite right next to a highway.
- Don’t wear a headlamp flashlight, not even a little one, and try to make dinner outside after dark.
- The most expensive campsite doesn’t necessarily end up being the nicest, cleanest, and worthwhile.
- Bears can be less frightening than some people.
- It’s forbidden to gather rocks from State and National parks but hey, it’s ok to take your gun in and kill the wildlife!
- The scent of pine tar may just be my favourite smell in the whole world.