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Thread: The Long Way South- A Pan American Adventure

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169

    Default The Long Way South- A Pan American Adventure

    I would like to introduce myself, and my traveling partners as we are now in the final countdown of departure on our Pan-American adventure. We are scheduled to leave from Maine and embark on our trip to Ushuaia in a little less than a month in the "Beast"...our 1996 Dodge 2500 CTD.

    My name is Nate, I am 28, and born and raised in Saco, Maine. My copilot, navigator and entertainment is Sarah, 26, born and raised in Saco, Maine....and Brady, 2 1/2, born in Arkansas, raised in Saco, Maine.

    We met in high school in 2002. We both lived and attended college in Boston; I studied Construction Management at Wentworth Institute of Technology and Sarah studied Social Work at Wheelock College. Brady is our pit/lab mix. He came into our lives in February of 2010. We saw his picture in an ad in Craigslist and took the drive to see if he would be a good fit for our family. We pulled into an unknown driveway, and saw a little black dog prancing around the yard. As soon as we met Brady, we knew he would be our best friend. We found out that he was found in someone’s backyard in Arkansas with 100 other dogs; some dead, some alive. There was no food, no water and no shelter from the sun. The rescue agency was able to save about 30 of the dogs; Brady being one of them. Once we got him home, we realized that he had way more energy than we were ever prepared for and we wondered what we got ourselves into. After a few months of training, Brady turned out to be a really great pet. He is now part of our family, our best friend, and a true companion and we would not think twice about going on this trip without him!

    We have a pretty relaxed lifestyle. We are both extremely hard workers but try to fit in as much time as we can with things we enjoy. We love to go hiking, camping, mountain biking; if it’s outdoors, it’s for us. We really enjoy the company of friends & family, good food and, of course, good beer!

    In 2008 , we took a trip to Costa Rica for spring break. After experiencing the relaxed vibe of Latin America, we were hit by the traveling bug for life.

    In 2009, we left on a four month road trip traveling throughout the U.S and parts of Canada. Living out of the back of our vegetable-oil powered truck, we spent most of our time in our National Parks, the Southwest and the West Coast. We realize how much you can learn, not only from each other, but from others while traveling and it is something that we both have become addicted to.

    There is something to be said about waking up to the sunrise on a deserted beach with no responsibilities, versus an alarm clock in the daily grind. For us, these trips were experiences to remember; we hope you enjoy reading along as we take it down South to Argentina!

    Our Website is: http://www.thelongwaysouth.org/

    And feel free to follow along on Facebook as well @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lo...90?ref=tn_tnmn

    -Nate, Sarah & Brady
    Last edited by 12valve; 07-16-2012 at 02:46 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Montreal & San Francisco
    Posts
    5,683
    Awesome - it's always exciting to see another couple hit the road!
    Christian

    CTO Expedition Portal
    www.expeditionportal.com
    www.overlandjournal.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    57
    Nice, can't wait to see this, I've got a 98 12v QCLB.


    I'm seeing "not found" when I click on the "our ride" part of your site?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    Quote Originally Posted by contento View Post
    Nice, can't wait to see this, I've got a 98 12v QCLB.


    I'm seeing "not found" when I click on the "our ride" part of your site?
    Whoops! I had been working creating a temporary page for everyone too see. I guess I forgot to put it back up! It should be working now.

    That picture is from our "Non-Petroleum Adventure" trip a couple years ago. I will have some recent pictures and the final build up as soon as possible.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    Let me brush the dust off of this thread...Sorry for the lack of activity, it has been busy getting prepped up, packed and headed out. I am just going to more or less copy and paste our blog entries right in here to get caught up. We are currently hanging out with some family on Ohio before we are off to visit Danny @ Dodge Off Road in Arkansas for some rear suspension love.


    What are You Rich or Something?
    by Sarah:

    We get a lot of people asking us how we are able to afford such an extensive trip. No, we didnít win the lottery. No, we didnít get some sort of inheritance. We didnít even rob a bank. For the past two years, since being back from our last road trip, we have worked our little butts off in order to follow our dreams. Yep, thatís right- we worked for all the money we saved to complete this trip- and we worked damn hard too!

    Of course, it takes more than just working and saving to increase the number in your bank account enough to live off of for an entire year. We had to make many lifestyle adjustments as well. Here are some of our tips to save:

    #1: Get Decent Jobs

    The first thing we did was find jobs that we would be able to make decent money with. Nate decided to start his own tile and stone business. He does custom tile work in beautiful homes in all of the surrounding cities and towns. His business took off right from the beginning. This has helped us in so many ways. I find odd jobs all over the place. In the past two years, I have held four (sometimes 5) jobs at a time. My main job last year was working at a middle school in a new program designed to help children who struggle in certain subject areas. That position unfortunately didnít last, so I have resorted to substitute teaching on days I do not work at the butter factory. Which brings me to my second job: working for a local butter making business. I stumbled upon this job when I got laid off from my position at school. I figured, Iím willing to try anything, so why not make butter! Well, I donít actually make the butter. I bust my butt (sometimes getting up at 2:30 am to get to work for 3:30!) packing and distributing this deliciously homemade product. I also waitress at a local restaurant, which I have been employed at for almost eight years on and off. It is a great little restaurant and is my main job in the summertime. On the side, I clean for a local realty business. This is something that I find comes easy to me and the money isnít half bad either!

    #2 Cut Back on the Grocery Bill

    Of course we know that it is very important to eat well but we also know that you can still do this by not spending an insane amount of money on groceries each week. After eating rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner on our last trip, when we got back we were not very careful when grocery shopping; we were spoiling ourselves a little too much. We were spending close to 175 dollars on groceries a week!

    We figured out pretty quickly that if we wanted to save as much money as possible, we would need to make some changes. Our first accomplishment: stop buying crap. By crap, I mean pre-packaged, processed crappy crap. Now, Nate and I have always been pretty good about this but we would splurge every now and then. That every now and then adds up! We started buying bulk foods as much as we can and when something goes on sale, we stock up.Something as simple as buying a frozen pizza instead of one from a pizza joint will save you at least 5 bucks or more.

    bulk-food1.jpg

    I also started making our own granola/protein bars. I put together a bunch of snacks in the beginning of the week to grab for lunch. I cut up fruits and vegetables, make hard boiled eggs, roast a whole chicken for sandwich meat, etc, so we donít have an excuse to buy lunch throughout the week.

    Another thing we realized that was adding onto our grocery bill: beer. Oh, beer, you little culprit, you. Nate and I love a good beer. We truly enjoy sitting down at the end of the day to enjoy a nice cold beverage while talking about our day or making dinner. The downfall of loving a good brew? The cost! We were not quite willing to downgrade our beverage quality, so instead we cut back. 2-Buck-Chucks have also been a cheap, and delicious, alternative for wine!

    #3 Stop Paying People to Make Food for Us

    Okay, this was a hard one for us at first but now we got the hang out of it. You know when you work a ten to twelve hour day and the last thing you want to do is make yourself dinner? Or when you wake up a little late one morning and donít feel like making yourself a lunch to bring with you to work so you figure you will just buy one? Well, that was us. We knew we were spending far too much money eating out so we made a plan: Only eat out once a week at first and downgrade from there. After about two months of doing this, we now only go out to eat once every two or three weeks. Holy crap! If only we knew how much money this wouldíve saved us all along, we would already be on our trip!

    #4 Stop Over-Consuming

    Everyday you hear or see items advertised that you ďneedĒ or ďwantĒ. Whether it be electronics, clothing, cars, household items, etc.- we are influenced to believe that it will increase our happiness in life. Why throw all of these things into your life to complicate it? We decided about five years ago to stop buying presents for each other and for other people for Christmas, birthdays, etc. We did this for two reasons: One, we personally did not want or need anything else in life and Two: We would much rather spend time with people than buy them materialistic things that they will soon forget about or have no use for. We have found that simplifying our lives has been a much more affordable and better way to live. Certainly there are things you need in order to survive, but there a lot of things you donít need as well. We have found that we enjoy our time together much more now than we ever have and it definitely helps the bank account too!

    #5 Drive a 1984 Mercedes 300D
    photo3-e1348759084668.jpg
    Nate got ďSadieĒ during his senior year of college. He wanted to convert a vehicle to run on vegetable oil as a fun little project. We have always believed in being as eco-friendly as we can, and this was a great way to help save the environment from toxic emissions. He got the car during his finals week, and worked on it for three full days instead of studying for exams- oops! Little did I know at the time that this would be the car I would be driving full time!

    Sadie can not only run on vegetable oil, but she gets over 30 mpg! It is older than I am but is the most reliable and efficient car I have ever driven. I only fill up the gas tank once a month, if that. Yet another great way to save money!

    #6 Live in an Airstream

    Airstream-300x225.jpg
    Nate and I have always tried to find cheap places to live where we wonít be completely miserable. This can be hard, but it can be done if you do your homework. We live in a seasonal area where the summertime is the busiest. You can get what are called ďWinter RentalsĒ. They are usually large houses that people rent out by the week for a ridiculous amount of money in the summer. But in the winter, you can rent them for super cheap. The downfall? The lease is only from mid-September to the end of May. So you have no place to live from June to mid-September. Our solution? Buy a 1972 Airstream camper to live out of in the summer.

    We parked this silver bullet in Nateís parents backyard for free, eating from his motherís garden all summer. I bought a bicycle on Craigslist for 30 dollars and rode that to work or carpooled all summer. What better way to save money?!

    #7 Steal the Internet

    This is pretty self explanatory, but internet costs around here are about 55 dollars a month for basic speed internet. Thatís 660 bucks a year!! Itís great if you have neighbors who do not have passwords to use their internet. If you arenít lucky enough to have that, public libraries or relatives houses are great alternatives.

    Also, get rid of cable! Nate and I have never once paid for cable, and we never will. We have friends who pay over 100 bucks a month for cable and internet- thatís absurd! Stop rotting your brain out and start saving money!

    #8 Live Off of One Personís Paycheck and Save the Other

    This has been the hardest thing we have had to do yet. We decided to live off of my paycheck and save all of Nateís in order to save the most that we can. I think if I made the same amount each week, it would be easier. But since I juggle four jobs, it can be difficult to figure out how much I will make each week.

    I started by writing down how much I make each week on a calendar. We tallied up our expenses and found that if I make at least 500 dollars a week, that would be enough for our rent, groceries, electricity bill, heat, my student loans, our occasional trip out to eat and my gas. Nate would pay his student loans and gas out of his own money and save the rest.

    Ultimately, all of these things have helped us to save what we need to in order to go on this trip. So, no, we are not rich. It has taken us almost a year and a half to reach our goal. Also, another interesting outcome to all of this is we have found ourselves enjoying life more now than ever before. Everything we have ďsacrificedĒ for this trip has already made our lives better in some way, and we cannot wait to see what else is in store

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    MEDICINES AND VACCINATIONS
    by Sarah
    yellowcard-470x260.jpg
    Believe it or not, we are not able to simply pack our truck and drive anywhere we want. For the past two years, we have been researching the documents, vaccinations, etc. needed to travel throughout North and South America. We’ve found that there are several vaccinations that are suggested if you plan to travel throughout Central and South America and there are also several medications that would be helpful to take along with you. We hope to help other travelers who plan on completing a trip similar to ours as well as let family and friends know how much work this really is! It’s not as easy as we may make it sound!

    We visited our local travel clinic a few weeks ago and received an overwhelming amount of information. The doctor and nurse were super helpful and answered any questions we had- we were there for over two hours! Their biggest concern was malaria. Several of the countries we are going to be visiting are malarious and haveing a form of prevention is not required but highly suggested . Malaria is spread through mosquitoes and can make you very sick, even kill you. This means that we have to take proper precautions to not get sick. They do not have a vaccine yet. The most common method to prevent malaria is by taking doxycycline because it is effective and cheap- only about 32 cents per pill. You start taking the antibiotic one day before entering a malarious area, take it each day throughout your time there, and then for four weeks after leaving. The other issue with taking an antibiotic is it interacts with other medications such as birth control pills. There are other options to prevent malaria, such as malarone, mefloquine or chloroquine. In some parts of South America, the parasite that causes malaria is resistant to chloroquine so we decided not to go with that option in order to keep the medication we will be taking consistent. Malarone is also taken once a day, like doxycycline, but much more expensive- about 13 dollars per pill. Mefloquine is taken once a week, is also expensive- about 13 dollars per pill, has side effects such as hallucinations, depression, etc., but does not interact negatively with birth control pills. You just have to find what is best for your situation, but there are many options!

    We then talked about dengue fever, which is also spread through mosquitoes. The only way to prevent dengue fever is to wear insect repellent and long pants and shirts. You can check the Center for Disease Control’s website to see if there were any recent outbreaks in the areas you will be traveling to by going to: www.cdc.gov. Another great website for information regarding malaria, dengue fever and any other health concerns you should have is www.healthmap.org. It shows you where there have been recent disease outbreaks and what areas have diseases you should be aware of.

    You can get a rabies vaccine as well. This is optional and not required to get across any borders. It is a series of three shots, about $225 per shot. Needless to say, Nate and I decided to take our chances and just stay clear of any questionable animals. Also, if you do get bit by an animal and are worried about it, you can receive the shots afterwards, as long as you get it within a certain window of time.

    The following is a list of vaccinations we had to get (or have already gotten) that are suggested before entering Central and South America:
    • Hepatitis A
    • Hepatitis B
    • Typhoid
    • Yellowfever
    • Tetanus (suggested)


    You must show proof of receiving the yellow fever vaccine before crossing some countries borders by having an International Certificate of Vaccination, also known as a yellow card.

    The travel clinic also suggested that we take along a few different medications in case we get sick along the way. The following is what we were prescribed to take along with us:
    • Flagyll (also called metronidazole): for giardia, taken 3 times a day for 7 days
    • Ciprofloxacin: for travelers diarrhea and urinary tract infections, taken 2 times a day for 3 days
    • Cephalexin: for skin infections, taken 4 times a day for 7-10 days
    • Fluconazole: for yeast infections, taken once a day, for 7 days


    Along with everything the travel clinic has provided for us, we will pack a full first aid kit. Our first aid kit will have alcohol, adhesive tape, bandages, gauze, hydrogen peroxide, rubber gloves, scissors, a suture kit, thermometer, tweezers, Ace bandage, antibiotic cream, aspirin/ibuprofen/acetaminophen, epi-pen, allergy medication such as Benadryl, upset stomach reliever such as Pepto Bismol, hydrocortisone cream, anti-diarrhea reliever such as Immodium and a few other random things that are thrown in there.

    We will also have a dog first aid kit for Brady. The things required for Brady beforehand are an International Health Certificate, documents that provide a medical history and rabies vaccination documentation. You have to get the International Health Certificate signed and dated 2-4 weeks before crossing the border into Mexico. Many countries do not accept the 3 year rabies vaccine, so we will have to make sure to get Brady the one year rabies vaccine right before we go. We will stock up on Frontline (flea and tick prevention) and heart worm medication. These things can be bought abroad but having plenty on hand ensures that Brady will always be protected. Another thing we will do is create a dog tag with our contact information in Spanish.

    Although it may sound like fun to be able to just “pack up and go”, unfortunately it is not entirely realistic. When not knowing exactly where you may be traveling or for how long, it is okay to be a little over-prepared. And of course it is highly possible that we may be prepared in every situation that we come across, but we can’t say we didn’t try! And sometimes, not being prepared for everything makes for an adventure you will never forget

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    USDA CERTIFIED…DOG?
    by Nate



    Ever tried to have your dog USDA certified? We have! It’s not exactly the same certification as the beef we eat, but it does prove that our dog is legit for international travel.

    It turns out you need to have the USDA APHIS form 7001 signed and dated within 10 days of your border crossing. Not only does it need to be signed by a USDA certified vet, but it also needs to be signed by the state department, which is located in the Capital. Well we will not be crossing the border within 10 days of our departure. And since we are driving, there is no way we can get this form filled out prior to every border crossing we are going to have. Not to mention ever country has different rules and regulations for what they require (requirements by country can be found here).

    Now please keep in mind, we are not just discovering this now. We have known about the International health certification for quite a while now. When we started asking our vet about the process about a year and a half ago they told us to wait until we got closer to our departure date. Tried again about six months ago…”wait till you get a little closer”. Tried on Monday…”We will not be able to fulfill your request as you wish”. So, instead of being able to work our options out for the past year and a half, we are now doing the run around in the final hour. In hind site it’s our own fault for putting our faith in the vet’s knowledge of the process. And in their defense, this trip isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill vacation.

    Personally, I feel like the form is more of a formality than anything, and the border guards aren’t going to even look at it, but our vet thinks differently. We tried to get them to leave the date blank so we can fill it out prior to crossing, but they said something about losing their license to practice or something…I’m not really sure how they wouldn’t be comfortable doing that for us, but it’s their loss. So with a 10 day crossing window we are left in a slight predicament. Currently there are a couple of options on the table:

    1. Leave the dog behind until we get close to our border crossing date, have him examined, form signed, and loaded onto a plane to California. Not only would this be inconvenient for anyone who is left in charge of Brady (he can be a handful) it would also be a long and anxious trip for us and the dog.

    2.Get the document signed by our home vet and forge the date when we get to the border. Although not completely crossed off our list, the consequences can involve up to $10,000 and is punishable by no more than five years in jail. Piece of cake, right?

    3. Find a vet in California who will help us out by examining the dog and signing the APHIS form, then proceed to locate the correct USDA department in Los Angeles. Anyone who has not driven across the California border before would think this would be a simple task. However, the California Department of Agriculture will take everything from you, down to the very apple you are eating. This is probably our most likely option but I would imagine there will be some loopholes to jump through.

    We have not completely sorted through the options/BS but we think Sarah has a good lead in California. Keep your fingers crossed for Brady!

    Stay tuned…
    Last edited by 12valve; 09-27-2012 at 03:37 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    HOMEMADE FRIDGE SLIDE
    by Nate



    Alright, this time around the fridge is going in the back of the truck. Last time, we had the back seat removed and the fridge was mounted behind the drivers seat. Well that has changed for two reasons: one, I couldnít recline my seatÖ.ever. And two, the dog would be pissed if I built him some half-width rear seat to sleep on. So in the back it goes. The only problem with the fridge in the back of the truck is the lack of access to it and the height to reach in looking for the last beer that slipped to the bottom.

    Engel, the manufacturer of our fridge, makes some really sweet slide options, even ones that pull out and lower to a manageable level. Starting to look around, I noticed one downfall to these thingsÖ they are friggin expensive! Like $380-$700 expensive! Too much for a drawer that the fridge moves on. I scoured Amazon, Ebay and even Craigslist with no luck. So feeling cheap I decided to make my own. Hereís what I came up withÖ

    Had the pan bent and welded by a local metal shop. Itís 14 ga. The angle is 3″x3″ x1/8″, and the slides were ordered from drawer slides.com. They are 200lb rated.

    All Bolted Up

    Mounted

    Test fit

    Fridge Temporarily secured. Just needs a coat of paint and itís ready to roll.

    As you can see, the truck is still in work mode but the build has begun. Overall Iím very happy with the slide. I do not have a latch to secure it yet. However, the distance from the slide to the tailgate is only 3/16″ so Iím thinking a couple of stick on cabinet bumpers and Iíll be good to go without a latch.

    I was feeling so amped up about the savings I even fabbed up a set of artificial rain gutters for the roof rack. Can you believe Yakima wants $17 a piece for these things?

    So for about $160 and some time I saved myself about $325. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    SoMaine
    Posts
    169
    TRUCK BUILD- PHASE 1, SUSPENSION
    by Nate



    As everyone knows, the roads are not the greatest south of the border. Also as some may know, driving a stock dodge 3/4 ton truck is not the greatest either. The combination of the two = a bone jarring, rear end dancing, white knuckle and frustrating ride, for months on end. Since we knew they weren’t going to re-pave the roads for us, we decided to upgrade the suspension.

    Over the course of the last year, we slowly purchased a collection of parts that are specifically designed, valved and manufactured for our truck. When picking suspension you can spend anywhere from $500 for a basic package to $10,000 plus for a top of the line daily driver package. We decided we weren’t planning on doing 80mph on the Baja1000 race course, but 40mph on washboard roads wouldn’t be unrealistic. So we went somewhere close to the lower third of the price range.

    There were two companies that are at the top of the game for Dodge 2500 quality, innovation and performance: Thuren Fabrication and Carli suspension. For no reason in particular we went with Thuren. When raising the front of the truck it pulls the front axle forward so longer control arms are needed. We could not find exactly what we wanted for quality, length and price so I asked Danny from Dodge Off Road to make a set for us. We ended up with a set of control arms 1/2″ longer than stock with heavy duty bushings made from .250 DOM tubing. Exactly what we wanted! I still need to do a rear shackle flip for the rear springs, but overall I am very happy with the ride. It seems the faster you go, or the bigger bump you hit, the smoother the ride gets!

    The list of parts purchased are as follows:

    Thuren 2″ soft rate coils

    Thuren valved FOX 2.0 remote reservoir shocks

    Thuren Track Bar

    Stolid Steel track bar mount

    Dodge Off Road 1/2″ control arms

    Instead of giving a play by play of the work I am just going to post up the pictures. We need to give a HUGE thanks to Sarah’s dad for the help, and letting us invade the garage for a couple of days! Many bolts were cut, and all needed a torch to remove. Thank you State of Maine DOT/salt spreading crew!


    Please check out the photos in the gallery here. Sorry, too many to upload right now!
    Also, we are headed to Arkansas for some rear suspension love from Dodge Off Road...I'll post it up when complete

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Phx, Az
    Posts
    4,782
    Very impressive on the working & saving for your trip.

    Now I am really looking forward to the psot from the road as an inspiration to the rest of us.

    Thanks for updating us!
    cigar smoking, wilderness first responding, ham talking night nurse who is overland certified and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.....
    now everyone say "so what where have you been lately?"

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