Numbers First ...
- 11 intense days
- 19 states: CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, WV, VA, NC, GA, TN, AL, MS, AR, OK, TX, NM, CO, UT, AZ
- 3,681 miles (334.6 miles/day on average), 5,924 km (539 km/d)
- Dirt roads: 40%
- 246 gallons of gas (average of 15 MPG), 931 liters (6.4 km/l)
- 50 gallons (189 liters) of water
- 14 bottles of wine (after driving!)
- 6 lbs (2.7 kg) of propane gas
- 1 laundry
- Showers or sponge bathing: daily
- Dispersed campsites: 8 nights
- Organized campsites: 3 nights
- Lowest point: 0 ft (0 m) sea level, Bell Island CT
- Highest point: 10,660 ft (3,250 m) in CO
- Lowest temperature: 23 F (-5 Celsius) in PA
- Highest temperature: 108 F (42 Celsius) in NM
- Mechanical problems: 0
- Speed tickets: 0
- Deer crossing: daily
- Wildlife highlights: yaks in NC, a lynx in CO, tarantulas in TX, coyotes in UT and AZ, a wolf in AZ, a moose, a herd of bison in CO, rattlesnakes in AZ
- “Fun Index”: 10 out of 10 we would hit the road again tomorrow!
At v-adventures, we are so passionate about Overlanding, and we made it our job. African self-drive safaris are our core destinations and business. Since we are based in the USA, we have also discovered hundreds of enjoyable trails on this vast continent.
After exploring for 5 years the 4×4 trails and Parks of New England, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, we decided to move next and explore the West side of the continent.
We already offer our clients itineraries in Baja, California, Utah, and Nevada; however, we are eager to go deeper and explore each corner of the West, so we decided to relocate our company v-adventures to Arizona.
We questioned ourselves: how do we get to Arizona from Bell Island, the lovely beach community where we lived in Connecticut? Well, of course, we did choose the unconventional way, and we decided to find a route to avoid all interstates, use as many dirt-roads and backroads as possible, and make it an overland tour. And here we are, with “our” Trans-America Itinerary.
What truck did we choose for our adventure?
We did our homework, extending our experience and know-how with the suggestions and books from the overland experts: Dan Griec, the Bell family, our friend Charles Norwood, XOverland, Andrew St Pierre, Tom Sheppard, Jonathan Hanson, Jim Allen, Simone Monticelli and Lucia Gambelli, Overland Journal articles, and the endless blogs we read about the topic.
Our beloved BlueWillys, a 2-door, soft roof, Jeep JK, has been a fantastic companion for short overland trips and intense 4×4 trails. We found perfect solutions to store all our camping and recovery gear efficiently. However, each camp’s set up was too slow and not practical in case of bad weather. We had a lot of fun with this super capable build (thanks EVB for this), but the setup was not suitable for a life on the road.
We did a lot of thinking and research on how to combine the 4×4 capabilities of a small and agile rig, like our BlueWillys, with the need for efficient storage, shelter, and independence of a real overland truck.
There is not a single solution, of course, and every time it is different. It depends on the itineraries you are planning to follow, the countries, how long you are planning to be independent and self-sufficient, and also your overland travel style.
In the next few years, we plan to go beyond, and explore both the USA and South America, and offer our clients new and exciting itineraries, together with our African self-drive safaris. Fuel, food and water, spare parts, and maintenance are easy to manage in the Americas. At the same time, we wanted to keep the off-road capabilities of a small rig to be able also to follow some challenging 4×4 trails.
Our choice went to a reliable 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad, double cab, with 2”5 lift, 33’ tires, modified Bilstein suspension, and heavy-duty leaf springs. A wonderful “mild-build” set up for us by EVB.
In the last 5 years, we moved from the old Land Rover Defenders, which made history in Africa, to Toyota trucks (Hilux and 79-series Land Cruisers) with the AluCab canopy, a solid wedge camper made for the hard life in the Southern Africa bush. We found this rough solution super reliable and efficient during our past overland trips and very sturdy and resilient to the tuff African trail conditions. At the same time, we had consistently positive feedback from our clients.
Our AluCab canopy camper has been shipped from South Africa to the USA and installed on our truck by OK4WD in record time. We were in a rush to depart, and therefore we couldn’t complete all the initial desired settings. We left Connecticut with the “basics” and promised ourselves to complete the build in Arizona.
From a different point of view, this has been a wise choice. The Tacoma is not a big truck, the real estate is limited, and it would have been a big mistake to load extra weight without really knowing what is really needed for that specific setup. We know well what is required for our African Overland safaris. However, an American overland trip is different. Carrying almost-useless items is a waste of space and added weight in the truck. During our traverse, we lived by the day and learned our needs. Now we know what is mandatory, what is useful, and what is “nice-to-have”. In the next posts, we will tell you more about the must-have and what you can comfortably leave home without spoiling your overland experience.
We are used to naming all our trucks, and this time, the Tacoma was special as it was our personal truck. The JK has been our BlueWillys. What could be an appropriate name for our Tacoma? Our idea was to combine who we are, what we aim, and what we love.
We are Italians by origin, and therefore we liked the idea of contemplating our heritage of the great Italian explorers like Amerigo Vespucci or Marco Polo.
When we do the scouting to create the itineraries for our clients, we like to follow our schedule, making our choices based on our expertise and the moment’s inspiration. In other words, by ourselves and as remote as possible.
And here is the winner: #solivagant. The word is a blend of Latin and American-English languages, and it translates into “The One Who Wanders Alone”.
19 States in 11 Days
We wanted to enjoy the colors and the pleasant weather of the Fall season, not too hot or cold. At the same time, we had to compromise with the previous engagements, which pushed us to rush a bit. Maybe this has been the only negative side of our adventure.
We had to cope with scheduled business virtual meetings at fixed dates, and we often had to get to locations with a reliable wifi connection or 3G signal. Meanwhile, we had to coordinate with the movers who carried our stuff from Connecticut to our final destination in Arizona.
We had to drive extended hours almost every day. This is something we do not normally plan for our clients. We love driving offroad, and this made the entire trip in such a short time doable and enjoyable at the same time.
The classic coast-to-coast across the USA follows the legendary Route 66. We crossed the picturesque 66 a few times, aiming for trails and dirt roads, always off-the-beaten-path.
We got the inspiration from Sam Correro and his famous TAT (Trans American Trail). It took him 13 years to explore and track the entire itinerary from West Virginia to Oregon. We took the parts we thought were the most interesting, and we did some “cuts” to meet our tight deadlines. The original TAT has been designed for off-road motorcycles, but it can be done with 4×4 vehicles as well, at least in most of its length. We had a capable truck and we wanted to do it “our way”, and find our perfect blend of overland, adventure, 4×4 trails, and meet our schedule. In any case, Sam’s GPS tracks have been an extremely useful resource and guideline for us.
In 11 days, we crossed 19 states, driving for 3,681 miles. From the Atlantic beaches, along country roads and trails, through the Appalachian mountains, along mountain lakes and ghost towns, through cotton fields, crossing the Mississippi River, we wandered in the vastness of the deserts, and driving along the iconic Monument Valley, we eventually reached Arizona and the Grand Canyon area, where we found our new home.
We hope you liked this first blog post. In the next few weeks, we will post the second part and the YouTube video of our journey. We will cover the day-by-day description of our itinerary, our highlights and lowlights, the challenges, and the review of our truck and gear we used.
#solivagant and v-adventures keep exploring itineraries for our Friends and Clients. Please, leave your comments or questions in the following section of this blog.
At v-adventures we are looking forward to hearing your thoughts, replying to your questions, and, at the same time, suggesting, planning, and maybe guiding your next overland adventure with us.