As many campers do, we started out tent camping – mainly backpacking into the wilderness in search of solitude. We do still love to backpack, however, as we got older and, let’s face it, lazier, we also decided that we occasionally enjoyed simply driving the car to a campsite and throwing up a tent and, yes, a blow up mattress was also a good thing. After a couple of years we had car camping down to a science with those fantastic plastic containers filled w/ all the essentials.
When we decided our next REALLY big adventure was going to be to drive the Pan American Highway we spent hour upon hour discussing what would be our vehicle of choice. We immediately knew we wanted a VW Westfalia camper van for the size, ease of maintenance, and great style. Our great friends Ron & Dario have a gorgeous ride.
The search began in late 2010 and we were shell shocked by the prices. Sure, you could find an older van in not great condition for a reasonable price but anything that fit our qualifications was pushing $35,000! Finding prices way out of our price range we started to explore other options. We discussed something like a Toyota 4-Runner w/ a rooftop tent or simply driving a jeep and taking a tent but we knew such a choice would cause us to spend a lot more time in hotels and alternate lodging than we wanted.
After finding Logan & Brianna’s website, www.panamnotes.com, we started to look at more in-depth at pop-top campers. Jim had brought up the idea to me several months earlier, however, with my limited knowledge of such campers I was totally reluctant. I didn’t want the odd short door, the barren feeling interior, etc that I’d checked out at the Sportsman show. After seeing that there are many different options we started shopping.
The first line of attack was to trade in our Toyota Tacoma for a larger 2007 Toyota Tundra which we promptly named Tequila. Shortly thereafter we found a 2007 Palomino Bronco 1255. Although not large by any means, Tequila camper is extremely comfortable for the three of us. With a 5 cubic foot fridge, a 3burner propane stove top, queen size bed and even a little port-a-pot. Our home on the highway was complete.
Since our original purchase we have made a few modifications including changing out the 12volt battery for two 6volt batteries and adding an awning and LED lights. Jim also put in a car stereo and speakers so we’re never without music.
We have a few more modifications we’ll make prior to heading south. The Tundra will get new and updated tires, a sway bar, new front bumper with headlight shields and a rack on the back for jerry cans for water and gas. For the camper we want to add an AC unit and solar panels.
So far, with more than 50 nights already spent in Tequila, we’re happy with our decision. Yes, we do still occasionally discuss re-thinking a campervan. The smaller profile and better gas mileage are appealing. However, having already spent a few rainy days hanging out in Tequila, we can say the roomier truck camper has some very definite advantages as well!