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Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Ultimate Adventure Vehicle

For a long time I dreamed of the perfect adventure vehicle. I started rock climbing at 18, and I knew then I would spend a big portion of my life in the outdoors. I needed a vehicle that could get me where I needed to go with all my gear. I envisioned something like this.


But it turns out these aren't too practical. Hard to find. Generally in bad shape when you find them, and they require a lot of work. They are also expensive, and when you decide at an early age that the outdoors is going to occupy a large part of your life, there isn't a lot of money left over.

When I bought my first kayak I still lived in Manhattan. My boat lived at my sisters on long island. I needed a way to get myself out to the boat, and then the boat to the water. I settled on this.



If you squint at this blurry photo it looks a little like the land rover in the photo above it, but in reality it is a 1992 Isuzu Trooper. Everyone who rode in this truck loved it. It was inexpensive, reliable - with a pretty bad leak in the transmission - but it ran fine. It went everywhere, snow, sand, dirt roads to reach a put in. I loved this truck, and I died a little when its engine went. She was named Trucky by a dear friend, and is still referred to with affection.

There was a brief period with a Toyota forerunner. To give you an idea of how much we liked that truck, I have no photos of it. Everyone hated it. The last trip the forerunner made was to get my boats and my dog down to North Carolina. It literally died in the driveway, and not a single tear was shed.

I lived vehicle free for a few years, and didn't make a purchase until it was time to paddle the inside passage. I needed a way to get myself and my gear to Alaska.


Behold the Toyota Yaris. An unlikely candidate for the Ultimate Adventure Vehicle. It isn't four wheel drive, or have great road clearance. It was purchased for two things, a round trip to Alaska, and to get me to and from Wilderness First Aid classes. But over time, she has proven herself to be worthy the title. My son named her Yin - as in the white half of a Yin Yang. She is understated and quiet. Yin is featured pretty prominently in Paddle North - Episode 1


Paddle North - Episode 1 from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.





This is her in Dawsons Creek, BC. with three boats on the roof on her second round trip to Alaska. She did those Alaska trips asking for little more than oil changes. Carrying gear for three, on a 4700 mile trip (one way!). Chugging up over the rockies and almost hitting a bear on the Alaskan Highway. She took a rock to the windshield on both trips. The crack is pretty annoying, but it is kind of like a scar. A road map of a well lived life. 





We drove into a hurricane to go kayaking at the coast last year, and she never complained. She told me on that trip it was time for new tires, her second set. Tires, oil and fuses are about the only maintenance she has taken - I tried to get the brakes done a while ago and my mechanic said "she doesn't need them yet!" The fuses are because I seriously overwork the power port in the dashboard, charging phones, cameras, radios and just about anything else I can think of. If you look closely, you will see three other Yaris's. Yin was such a hit my wife, and both grown children bought yaris's.



She is my office when I am teaching, keeping any amount of gear, for however many things I am teaching, safe and out of site - I prefer a trunk to a hatchback for visibility reasons. You don't know I have $1000 in paddles in the trunk but you would see them in the back of a hatch back.




This week she turned 100,000 miles. Thanks for everything Yin. Maybe when you hit 200K I will get you that new windshield.

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