Month: February 2014

At the start of our 2010 road trip. Colorado River near Moab, UT

At the start of our 2010 road trip. Colorado River near Moab, UT

(Editors Note: Today we are having another guest post by my very good friends Forrest and Beth. They are very young but they have already packed two lifetimes of adventure in their few years: I tremendously admire them for that! 🙂 In today’s post they are going to tell us about their cross-country trip in a 4×4 Jeep Cherokee. I have to tell you that if you are considering living in an SUV I think a Cherokee would be my first choice. The engine and transmission is a very reliable and proven combination that gets reasonably good MPG. Under the sheet metal it is the exact same vehicle as a Jeep which means that there is a huge aftermarket of accessories to make it better off-road and 4-wheeling. But even box-stock it is a tremendously capable vehicle in the back-country. Best of all there are a lot of them available used so you can probably find one for a good price and parts and service are available for them everywhere. I think it may be the perfect adventure vehicle! Sprocket is their Black Lab that they had just gotten as a puppy.) Be sure to check out their great blog!!   http://3upadventures.com/

The Cherokee is not the most comfortable rig to live out of. Especially for two people. HOWEVER, I’ve joked that if it were ever just Sprocket and I, I’d probably get one, put this set up in it and tow a 13′ Scamp. Because I love them both so much.

The whole 2010 road trip (Oregon to Texas to Key West to Maine back to Oregon) came about when I found a 5spd on Craigslist. I was driving an automatic Cherokee and getting ~18-20mpg and was hoping to pick up a few miles per gallon. They’re pretty rare so we headed out to buy it. Turns out we got 22-28mpg depending on elevation, speed traveled, etc. That thing LOVED going about 45mph at 6,000ft! We’d get that 28mpg only under those conditions. It could usually be counted on for 23 or 24mpg at 55mph.

We were 4-wheel drive equipped in a nice small secure package. Cherokees are also relatively easy to work on (you’ll have to talk to Forest more about this).

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Here’s the “under the bed” drawers we used for storage. I had run all over town measuring options at Target, Walmart, Fred Meyers, and other retailers. We actually built our platform based around the height of these containers. (They were either the shortest or tallest under the bed type I could find. I can’t remember the reasoning anymore.) Food went in the left hand one, clothes, and toiletries (for two!) went in the right.

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Inside view of the bed. You can see there’s not much room to sit up in, but it totally worked! (Especially when just Sprocket and I used it later for camping…much more roomy for one!)

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Another rear view of the rig with the bed folded out for sleeping.

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The bed is folded up into the “day position” (we did this to fit Sprocket’s crate in the back). It also shows the storage cubbies under the platform on either side. We stored water in one side as pictured here. I can’t remember what went in the other side. Shoes? I think?

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Just because it’s so stinking cute! (Editors note: Sprocket’s head is now about the size of his whole body when he was a puppy!)

A view of the back of the Cherokee in "day position." Sprocket quickly refused to ride in his crate preferring the freedom of the whole back of the rig. Our bedding folded under the mattress vaguely protecting it from puppy hair. When he was wet or sandy he went into his crate. You can also see our stackable cooler that we cut the handles off to fit into the available space.

A view of the back of the Cherokee in “day position.” Sprocket quickly refused to ride in his crate preferring the freedom of the whole back of the rig. Our bedding folded under the mattress vaguely protecting it from puppy hair. When he was wet or sandy he went into his crate. You can also see our stackable cooler that we cut the handles off to fit into the available space.

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Where baby Sprocket slept! This crate was the biggest one I could fit in the front seat! Each evening, I would prop the crate on top of his food bin and the console to get him out of our sleeping space. We had to abandon the crate in Pennsylvania when he got too big for it!

Cherokee on Louisiana's Gulf Coast

Cherokee on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast

Forest, Beth and Sprocket in front of their current adventure vehicle.

Forest, Beth and Sprocket in front of their current adventure vehicle.

This is their current adventure vehicle. It's a Dodge Cummins 4x4 flatbed and a Lance Ultra-Light camper. Like Pavlov's dogs, I start drooling every time I see it!

This is their current adventure vehicle. It’s a Dodge Cummins 4×4 flatbed and a Lance Ultra-Light camper. Like Pavlov’s dogs, I start drooling every time I see it!