Vueltamerica: Episode 1 - Start the journey

March 15, 2018

Vueltamerica: Episode 1 - Start the journey

This post is the first in a blog series showing #ikampercrew members on an adventure with the Skycamp. Enjoy!

Meet: Vueltamerica, a couple who left their jobs in Ohio, got in their Toyota4Runner and iKamper Skycamp, and are currently driving down to the end of the world, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. ‘vuelta’ in Spanish means a turn, a spin, or around. Learn more about this journey around the Americas.

The dream:

This crazy dream of embarking on ‘the ultimate road-trip’ was sparked whileriding along the strip of desert hung between Phoenix and San Diego. Out our window, stretched the long gated border, painting a dark line in the sand. Our eyes followed the line. Inspired by the stories of life the road, we envisioned embarking on that long trek and connecting a continent. We vowed that one day, we would take that road, the ultimate trip along the Pan-American highway from the US to the Patagonia. Top to tip.

The combination of our hispanic heritage, our passion for Latin America, our spirit of adventure, and our love for each other is what gave us courage to take the leap. To pause our office lives, grab each other’s hand, to jump into the sun, meet our estranged “hermanos”,  visit their communities and feel the greater extent of what Latin America is and the life experiences it can give us.

So we came up with a plan. Saved for 3 years. Sell most of our things and pack the rest in boxes, get a vehicle and travel west, from Cincinnati to California. In October 2017, we left our desk jobs, got in our Toyota 4runner, and started driving from Ohio, USA, down the Pan-American highway to the tip of Argentina, Tierra de Fuego, the end of the world.

 

Ready to leave 

The team:

Meet José and Lindsey. Lindsey and José are a salsa dancing, active living, music making, adventure seeking couple reaching for meaning and beauty in life.  Serving on Non-Profit Boards and Hispanic Forums, they are both very passionate about social justice and Hispanic/Latino Communities. They are both fluent in Spanish and strive to incorporate minimalist, sustainable living and connecting with the locals as a part of their big adventure.

José, an aviation engineer at GE  by day (He makes big things fly) and musician by night. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he loves to play guitar, scuba dive, and climb obstacles through the mud in Tough Mudder races.

His journey around the world started when he moved to the states from Puerto Rico straight out of college, lived/studied in Spain, and traveling most of Europe.

Lindsey, an Operations Manager by day (She gets sh*t done) and Zumba instructor by night. Born and raised in OC California, she loves to read, salsa dance, run marathons, and learn new yoga poses. Her journey around the world started when she was born in OC California, moved to Costa Rica after college, and traveled most of Central/South America.

 

The route 

The Route:

The Pan-American Highway is a vast network of roads branching all over the continent, connecting the Americas. The highway passes many diverse climates and ecological landscapes, from dense jungles, to arid deserts, bonding these diverse countries together through blood and history.

Vueltamerica started in Cincinnati Ohio (where they were both living), crossed over toward the west coast of the states, down Baja California, through Mexico and all of Central America, and are currently traveling through South America. Then we will finish in Buenos Aires before flying back to the US. At this point we would have traveled over 20,000 miles, 16 countries for over 250 days. We plan to be on the road until July 2018 and reach all the way to the southern tip of Argentina, Ushuaia.

 

Enter the iKamper:

For a long time, during our planning phase, we struggled to obtain the right vehicle for the trip. We were inspired by travel books such as “Drive Nacho Drive” that romanticizes the VW Vanagon style camper for it’s compact, vintage and photogenic design in the wilderness. The problem was that such design is out of production and scarce of supply in the Mid-West of US where we live. It’s a niche market of travel enthusiasts that don’t mind slow travel, high maintenance and doing their own mechanics. Besides the cute curtains and peace sign stickers, we needed something more. Our vehicle needed to be reliable, affordable, maintainable anywhere in the Americas, and if possible, with all terrain traction for the unknown roads along the way. RV’s were too much, converted vans where too scarce and pricey, however SUV’s were more widely available.But where are we going to sleep?

One day on December 2016, we saw a Facebook post of one of those “fantastic new gadgets” where it featured this super slick rooftop tent that can be mounted to a wide range of cars and it can make camping possible virtually everywhere. It was the Skycamp. In our mind, this changed everything. A SUV now seemed feasible for our needs.We researched further and found the details of this brand new kickstarter, we jumped into a risky investment that would be our home for nearly a year. We ventured into the Skycamp kickstarter even before having a vehicle!

While we waited for its arrival, we sold our city car and bought a 4wd Toyota 4Runner, parked it in the garage, and began to transform it to our home on the road.Toyota, reputable for its reliability, serviceable at a lower cost all over the Americas, and retains value at higher mileage, was the perfect fit. We out-fitted our 4runner as our personalized camper. We pulled out that back seats, built and installed a wooden compartment for locked storage, wooden drawer for camp stove use and storage, and wooden shelf system for storage. We installed a second battery that sustains all additional lighting and hooked up to a 12V 35L Dometic Fridge/Freezer.

Finally, the day arrived when we opened our Skycamp. We were on the moon with excitement! It was way more spacious than we ever dreamed and pops open like a jack-in-the-box. Our iKamper rooftop tent system includes Skycamp, iKamper Awning extension system, and iKamper inner insulation tent accessory for those colder nights. Climbing up into the tent feels like arriving to your rooftop kingdom and peaking out the windows feels like a kid in a treehouse. The hard shell transforms it to an aerodynamic disc that sits right on top of our crossbars.

We popped the tent on top and we hit the road.

 Enter the iKamper

The Journey:

As we’ve met other overlanders on the road, we have consistently been the envy of other rooftop tent owners including comments such as “How did you set it up that fast?” “How can you have that much room up there?” “I wish ours had a hard shell covering” We have had multiple people ask for photos or ask to climb in. With the multiple layers on the windows, it is equipped to survive the rain, snow, and sun and has already proven itself in all of these seasons. We would highly recommend this to anyone and everyone embarking on their adventure from taking the family camping in the mountains of Colorado to a beach trip along the Baja coast. iKamper is your golden ticket.

As proud iKamper kickstarter backers and Skycamp owners, we are thrilled to be partnering with iKamper along this journey. Follow along as we continue to write about our travels, our challenges, and our experiences traveling south. We are pleased to share our story with you including photos along the way. Join us on this journey south, to the end of the world.

Instagram: _vueltamerica_ / Facebook: Vueltamerica

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