The Vehicle

truckRedWallThe ideal off grid vehicle is a 2000 Toyota Tacoma, preferably green with a white top.

OK, I got that out of my system, rather, you know that it’s in my system. Let that not dissuade you, that’s just my opinion. My first off gridding was in a Rabbit. My truck bias occurred after getting one in 09. I’ll get into that later, but suffice it to say: with a small bed built from plywood and a couple containers for food, a two wheel drive pickup becomes an off grid camper. (The significance here that you can pull up on entirely rocky terrain and take a nap!)

Regardless, it’s a road trip, so the vehicle will become, THE vehicle. I’ve seen Subarus out there that folks sleep in. Of course, there are campers. And compacts or vehicles of all shapes can get some places off grid and toss out tents. As long as you have good tires and adequate clearance then it comes down to driving conservatively.

About Driving
I’ll cover this elsewhere, but it’s worth describing in the context of vehicle choice (if you have one). In particular, anyone who hasn’t gone off grid or done much overnight camping of any kind is a lunatic if they aren’t scared of getting stuck off grid. The notion of car trouble is a pain, even in a metropolisĀ (we over-civilized wimps); and lemme tell ya… (beware when I say something like that, it can’t be important).. but lemme tell ya, the one time. THE ONE TIME in the last 100,000 miles of heading off grid, THE ONE TIME my truck wouldn’t start and I had to call a tow truck, I was 25 miles to the nearest gas station in Alamo, NV.

Of course, the one time the truck doesn’t start I’m very far away. Did you know that Route 375 is aka The Extraterrestrial Hwy with signs “Next Services 111”. Oh yeah, that’s that thing about a reliable vehicle, often there are signs like that to some of the coolest places off grid. A little Murphy’s Law and you’ll get stuck. But now all I’ve done is scare ya. Hmmm!

The point is, be conservative. Don’t try to make it. If it comes down to trying, that there’s risk of not making it, don’t try. This goes for merely getting stuck in the sand. I just don’t take chances. Yet I did get stuck on a pass in Nevada for a night, after staying a night. But I had plenty of water and food. I was plenty warm. I didn’t have cell reception, so calling that tow truck meant going for a walk.

Yeah, it’s kinda cool, the air is clear. You are walking on a road that is barely traveled in a state where the main east-west route is called the “loneliest road in America.” Hitching a ride is an existential thing out here. It’s a sort of standup comedy. The first guy who picked me up said he did so because he wanted to see what I was up to out here. Which reminds me, when you get really off grid, folks will stop as they go by just to make sure you’re ok. It’s kinda cool. That said, hitching a ride in Rachel for a few hours got me nothing except a chance to have an awesome grilled cheese. Thing is. If you go through Rachel, stop and get a grilled cheese, just do it.

So no one picked me up in Rachel, and I gotta say it, if I were a woman I would have gotten help. As is, a cool local drove me back to camp hours later and tried to jump start, to no avail. But that story for another time, the main thing, drive conservatively, which means nothing is scary about driving off grid, therefore there is no reason for concern about the vehicle. It’s simple, you need one. Some are better than others. Trucks rule. This is my opinion.