KP's Overland Rally Part 1: Getting Rally Ready

It's hard to explain, and I certainly don't expect any sympathy, but the planning and prep that goes into quitting your life and living on the road can be pretty stressful. Especially if that includes building a new truck bed from scratch with a material you've never used, while keeping an 11 year old Chevy with 180k working miles running. 

I've been working pretty steadily each day after work until way past my bedtime on getting the aluminum bed to a usable form. That, and the other prep has really become a second full-time job. Each stage has taken longer than I thought, so I was running pretty behind by the time the week of Overland Rally came around. I wired the lights and installed the hardware Wednesday night, but didn't make it home until about 11pm. By then the storage lot was closed, so it was impossible to pick up the camper the night before.

I rolled out bright and early to get the truck fueled up and hit the lot gate right at 7am when the timelock would let me in. I had a gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that something would go wrong with the truck though. I had been largely ignoring it since I've been so engrossed in the bed fabrication. 

Turns out my fears were justified. Right on que, I heard a loud POP and felt a pull to the right. The panic sweats started. I quickly pulled over and bottle jacked the front end up.. Spun the wheels, shook everything down and I couldn't find anything wrong.

It started to rain. Hard.

With time running short, I took the "let it develop" approach and loaded the camper onto the new bed. Luckily it fit like a glove, so that was one less worry on my plate. The truck continued to pull and pop all the way back into town. By now I was already 30 mins later than anticipated and my sweet, excited wife was patiently waiting to be whisked away to Overland Rally.

The panic increased a little.

I whipped into work and snagged a forklift away from the poor guys actually trying to get something done. I lifted the whole rear of the truck, camper included, and enlisted the help of Luke and Brian in the metal fab shop to help me diagnose the issue. 

Turned out that the driver's side parking brake was randomly working itself tight, then suddenly releasing. We pulled the parking brake cable and I beat the parking brake actuator into the released position. I also loaded a chunk of scrap steel and a big hammer to act as my "parking brake release tool" for the weekend.

I rushed home, forgetting to fill the camper with water..

~Jack was cool with the carrier until he realized that little door thing closed...~

We quickly loaded the camper and stuffed the cat into his carrier. We'd be dropping him off in Portland on our way through for a trial re-homing. He's a very sweet old fat cat, but really hates travelling. I was already on pins and needles from the stress of the week, the sudden breakdown, and concerns that my aluminum engineering wouldn't be up to snuff and a quick lane change could send our tiny house into oncoming traffic. 

The wind started to blow. Hard.

~WiFi stop in The Dalles so we could both finish up a couple quotes. 




On top of all that, I was getting panic calls and emails from work about jobs that were never ordered and needed to be done yesterday or mid-fabrication alterations. I found myself going into the same mental place I'd go during a long run or hard workout. The cat yowling, phone ringing, and my hyper-aware state trying to listen for more mechanical issues had me in a rare level of stress I've never reached before.

After dropping the cat off, the panic calls from work also slowed down. We pulled onto the interstate and I began to gain confidence in my fabrication skills. Nothing had broken yet..

The further from Portland we drove (and the closer to Plain) I could feel the stress melting away with the rhythm of the road. As we drew closer to the rally, we began picking out other adventure rigs- Tacoma's with roof top tents and Sportsmobiles with ham radio setups. Finally pulling into our camping spot among such a great community of like-minded people was transformative. Shutting the truck down and popping the cap off an IRA blew the remainder of my stress away like so much dust.

We spent the rest of the weekend drinking great beer with friends, talking lockers and gearing, and learning as much about as many things as our brains could absorb. 

We even bought a solar setup, so theres one less thing on my prep list.