Dec 2011

Blog, North America

DISCUSSION 14 Comments

Nacho the Driving Fortress

When Sheena and I lived in Wales during college, we didn’t really trouble ourselves much over vehicular security.  Everyone had one of those club things that goes on the steering wheel, so we bought one for our 1992 Toyota Corolla.  We’d bought the car for $700 from a young Nigerian man and named it Gershwin.  A few short months after buying it, while eating spaghetti in our townhouse, we were interrupted by a frantic knock at our front door.  Our neighbor was standing there at our doorstep with an ominous orange halo emanating from behind him.

“Is that your car on fire?”  The Welsh sound cheerful even when asking rhetorical questions about your burning car.  “Yeah.  Yes, that is our car.  Thanks for the heads up.”  It just wasn’t a situation I’d thought to rehearse for.  As luck would have it, we were chosen for a seemingly random car bombing.  I can’t prove that it was a bomb, but it was powerful enough to blow the rear doors open, knock the license plate off, and incinerate our car in a blast of ten foot flames.  Poor Gershwin burned to the ground with his government-mandated fire extinguisher sitting on the back seat.  Irony.

While we didn’t take it personally, and certainly don’t ever expect it to happen to us again, we figured adding a few security features to Nacho wouldn’t hurt.  By the time we thought of this, it was too late to make the van fire proof.  We opted instead to cut our would-be enemies off at the knees by adding these state of the art Home Depot locks to the doors.  This way we can lock the doors from the outside so thieves and other ill-doers will have to crawl through a broken window to gain entry.  If they’re going to take us down, we’ll make sure they get several minor cuts in doing so.

The next step in Nacho’s home security makeover was to make sure nobody could steal our roof box.  If a thief were to make off with it, he would be very disappointed as it’s just full of spare parts.  However, this would be a big setback for us, as we’ll probably end up needing a lot of spare parts out there.  I secured the box by taking the front luggage compartment off of the roof and bolting the box into it from underneath.  Would-be roof box thieves will now succeed only in looking foolish by trying to outsmart our homemade security system.

The final security enhancement on yesterday’s list was the coolest and most technologically advanced.  However, telling you what it is would defeat the whole purpose of having it, so you’ll have to use your imagination.  I promise, when the trip is over in three years, I will tell you what it was.

Yesterday’s success of transforming Nacho into a heavily guarded fortress was not to be repeated today.  I split the first half of the day between buying fittings at Lowe’s and plumbing in our espresso machine for Sheena’s parents.  Finally after lunch I attempted to install a new battery and a battery separator for the auxiliary battery, but ended the night not having completed anything.  At least we’ll have good espresso in the morning.

We decided that Nacho should have a quick-drying shower curtain, so Sheena went to work creating one out of rip stop nylon.  The white vinyl one that we currently have has two problems; it doesn’t dry quickly, so it’ll turn into a ball of fuzzy mold in no time, and it looks like (and is) a regular home shower curtain, so we’ll be pegged as W.T.  Because, you know, living in a van won’t already accomplish that.

And so here we are, one day closer to departure, a few more projects ticked off the list.  Given the depth and breadth of our preparations, I can’t wait to see what irony has in store for us this time.

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  1. Kelly

    I just read your blog aloud to my boyfriend from the passenger seat of my Lesbaru. It has provided solid entertainment for the icy drive from Madison to Duluth. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Kelly on December 30, 2011 at 4:09 pm

  2. Mike

    Really enjoying your blog! Please fee free to contact me if you need any assistance in Mexico or Central America. Just finished riding from Durango, Colorado to Panama on my motorcycle.

    Comment by Mike on December 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm

  3. @Mike: that sounds like an awesome trip. We spent a couple of weeks in Costa Rica and I thought it would be a great place to bring road bikes (the pedal kind- a little bit less manly than your moto). Beautiful country.

    Comment by Brad on December 31, 2011 at 3:26 am

  4. already so good. I look forward to this story unfolding for the next few years. ir con la ironía de su lado

    Comment by gnome on December 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm

  5. Neal

    Too bad you have much to do before departing, I would enjoy taking you guys out to South Mountain to ride while you’re in Phoenix and buy you some beers afterwards. Good luck on your travels, can’t wait to read about them!

    Comment by Neal on December 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm

  6. Tony Stahl

    What is the other security measure? The gas tank? Spare Tire? Either way you have me white-knuckling for the next blog post!

    Go Nacho!

    Comment by Tony Stahl on December 31, 2011 at 12:10 am

  7. Tony Stahl

    What about GPS on Nacho, so we can track you guys? Or would that be a security breach?

    Comment by Tony Stahl on December 31, 2011 at 12:58 am

  8. @Tony: I could tell you what the other security feature was, but I’d have to kill you. As for GPS, we have a SPOT tracker that we’ll be using. I’m having a little trouble getting the map to talk to the GPS, but once I get it figured out I’ll link it to the site.

    Comment by Brad on December 31, 2011 at 3:24 am

  9. @Neal, I think we’re going to allow ourselves one last group ride tomorrow (Saturday) out at the Black Canyon trail. Beers in the parking lot afterwards. My success in Nacho projects is diminishing day by day, so I need to step back for a day and get some exercise. Thanks for the offer though, South Mtn has some nice technical riding (my favorite).

    Comment by Brad on December 31, 2011 at 3:30 am

  10. Joel

    My Vanagon buddy Terrance Maloney, just shared your blog with me. I’m going do a little catching up now, you’ve got a big head start. I’m very impressed with your gumption and fortitude. Safe journey and may the 84 run strong all the way. (I have an 85 Weekender)

    Thanks for sharing your well written story!

    Comment by Joel on January 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm

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  12. Andrew

    That’s a great espresso set up! You guys make my days better.

    Comment by Andrew on July 20, 2013 at 10:30 am

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  14. Mike

    Hi Brad
    Thanks for the great books, I cant’ wait for the next one.
    You guys have inspired our own trip to Tierra del Fuego.
    So what was the final security enhancement?

    Comment by Mike on February 26, 2018 at 8:46 am

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