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Adventure Profile | Brian & Christina

Brian and Christina with Dolores. 

Full-time Adventurers

Hey there! We are Brian & Christina and we’ve been adventuring together for 9 years and counting, spending the majority of our free time exploring dirt trails and beautiful landscapes in the middle of nowhere. We picked up our GFC in May of 2022 and have been living in it full-time since that very first night! In general, you'll likely find us somewhere around the desert southwest or Rocky Mountains. If you’re curious, here's a little more about us.

Car Camping History & Life On the Road

Over the years we have lived and traveled in many different “adventure rigs” and the path to landing in our current setup started 9 years ago out of a Toyota Corolla, affectionately nicknamed “Rolla”. Rolla is where it starts for us, as that was Christina's home on wheels when we met. Brian already owned a Subaru Forester so we “moved in together” with the rigs that we currently owned. We built a very simple platform in the Subaru that we named “Olive” and then used Rolla as our closet and storage for our camp kitchen and outdoor gear.

We drove around in convoy like that for a summer and soon decided that it was a little too cramped. We were young and on a budget and were able to save a bunch of money by not paying rent to instead spend on adventure travel. The next summer we bought a Ford E-150 van for $1,200 and named it “Roxanne”, which became our home on wheels for the next seven months. While living in Roxanne, parked mostly on BLM and Forest Service land, we continued to work full-time at our retail jobs. Our weekends and vacations were always spent camping out of our van, climbing, biking, and exploring new dirt roads.

The limitations of a 2WD van came to light one evening when we got it stuck on a fire road after wedging a rear tire between two football size rocks pointing nose down into a rushing creek.Wanting to be able to access more places than a 2WD van can, we again changed vehicles. Though we never called it home, we had several summers of “weekend warrior” camping and adventuring in a 2000 Toyota 4Runner. We built a basic raised platform in the back of the 4Runner that we could sleep on and stored our camping gear under the bed and in the roof box. This vehicle really opened up our eyes to overland travel and its potential for exploring more remote and seldom visited areas. Wanting a rig that was more spacious, and capable, we changed platforms once again. This time to “Peanut”, an expedition truck that Brian built on a surplus M1078 military truck.

"Peanut" in a field of flowers., and "Olive" .

The van named "Roxanne" and the 4Runner with no name.

We called Peanut our full-time home for seven months and continued to use it as a weekend and vacation rig for years. In all its comforts we slowly realized that we had gone too large and were again limited to the places we wanted to explore.All of this finally landed us in our current rig, “Dolores”, our 2003 manual 4x4 access cab Toyota Tundra with a 6.5’ bed that we soon topped with a GFC camper. For us this is what we have determined is a perfect-size adventure rig. Blending a perfect balance of size, weight, capability, and comfort we have happily called this setup home for nearly 11 months at this point — allowing us to travel from Colorado to Tuktoyuktuk and then to the southern end of Baja.

Our Current Build

"Dolores" is our 2003 Toyota Tundra + V2 Platform GFC! The build-out that is currently in the bed of our truck is a carry-over from before we got our GFC, when we just had a simple topper and it has continued to work well in both situations. Our build out in Dolores is a multi-functional 3/4 inch maple platform with storage under the floor for our clothes and a slide-out kitchen. 

We’ve got a Dometic fridge and water tap, which have both been very luxurious additions! We generally keep our GFC configured in “bunk mode” so that it is easier to stand inside and use as a camper to get dressed or so that our dog Greta can jump upstairs to take a nap whenever she wants. Over the past 11 months we’ve made a handful of simple upgrades to our GFC that have really made it feel more like home.

Daily Needs

Of all our daily needs, food and water are our largest limiting factors to how long we can stay out in remote areas. We have some plans to make changes to this in the future but currently, we have the ability to carry just shy of 30L or 8G of water stored primarily in two Dometic GO hydration water jugs, paired with their rechargeable faucet, this has been a great simple running water solution for us.

Food is split between three different compartments in the bed of our truck, refrigerated food in our Dometic Fridge Cooler, our dry pantry being the largest and fresh veggies. We try our best to buy and cook with veggies that don't have to be refrigerated so that we can preserve as much space in our fridge as possible, for whatever does need to be kept cold, like dairy, leafy greens, etc. We rotate beverages into our fridge on an as-needed basis from our dry pantry so that we aren't storing a whole 6 pack in there when we may only drink a small portion of that each night. If we balance all these things out well we can usually ration our supplies to where we don't have to restock for up to two weeks.

Brian dries out his waders after some time on the river.

Since we are working while traveling the thing that we rely on most heavily each day is our solar system and Starlink. This usually means that we are parked in areas that have a clear exposure to the sky and usually point the wedge of our roof south or southeast to maximize our solar panel exposure to the sun during the work days.

As for daily in-camp entertainment we enjoy listening to audiobooks and music, watching our friend’s YouTube videos, and the occasional thing on Netflix (although we are thinking of canceling this since we use it so infrequently!). Of course there is the inevitable evening internet scrolling sessions. The real problem with Starlink is that you have to intentionally turn off the internet to disconnect!

What we do for work and how we work full time from our GFC

I (Christina) work as a Program Manager for a solar design software company that is fully remote. I am able to carry on working like normal from wherever we are in our GFC because of two main things: Starlink and sheer willpower! But really most of the time, weather permitting, working out of the truck isn’t much different than working from your back patio, just probably with a potentially better view. I recently wrote a forum post about how we work remotely from the GFC so check it out here for more details!

Brian likes to joke that he is the “starving artist” in our relationship but he truly keeps the #trucklife rolling! He quit his full-time in-person job last year as a master bike mechanic and service manager to pursue freelance work in a lot of different things like illustrations, photography, and writing. But he also handles all of our day-to-day logistics like keeping us fed and getting us where we are going. It is also a huge peace of mind that Brian is intimately familiar with all the mechanics of our 20 year old truck and how to maintain and fix them!

I’m pretty sure we’ve tried just about every working configuration you can think of in our truck. Our awning helps to break the space up a little bit, sometimes one of us will hang out under the shelter of the awning while the other works in the bed of the truck or “upstairs” in the tent of the GFC, or even from the passenger seat in the cab.

Our Tips & Tricks for Life on the Road

Choosing Your Campsite

After years of seeking out beautiful and remote areas to camp, we have slowly dialed in our tools and systems. We recently wrote a blog post covering tips for finding amazing camps that we have slowly worked into somewhat of a system while we have been traveling. In short, we rely pretty heavily on a combination of things, using satellite images from Google, and land management maps on Gaia GPS and iOverlander. Our preference for places that we camp is on either BLM land or Forest Service land where we can enjoy dispersed camp spots, not that we are anti-social but we so much more prefer a private, hard-to-access camp spot over one in an established campground.

Maintaining Your Relationship

I think early on in our relationship we learned that we could comfortably live in a small space together when we were calling Roxanne, our van, “home” for the summer. But even still, having some personal time and space is important. We often take solo walks or runs and having a general “routine” helps manage expectations of when we can get each other’s attention. We also communicate freely if one of us needs quiet time, or personal space without taking it personally. Ultimately the truth of it is that we also just enjoy spending time together! Sharing outdoor activities are important to our relationship, and that lends itself very nicely to comfortably calling a simple truck camper our home.

Trying New Hobbies

In general we just love spending time outside! We enjoy hiking, climbing, biking, fly fishing, skiing, and paddling. While we have been in Baja our activities have changed a lot from what I would say is our ‘normal’. Lately our most common activity has been hiking, but the lack of trails here and the high concentration of really spiky plants has meant that we stick to dirt roads for running and evening strolls from camp. Something that is completely new to us while we have been down in Baja is snorkeling! We both grew up without spending much time in the ocean, so this is a very new activity for us both, and still one that we are not 100% comfortable with yet! It's been a really fun experience to try something new together and to both be equally new and awkward and excited about it! Otherwise, our free time around camp is usually spent cooking, listening to audiobooks, photographing the areas we are visiting, or our personal favorite, scouring maps for where we might be heading next.

Being Stewards of the Land

This subject strikes home for us as we've enjoyed our public lands for a long time, but we've seen some of our favorite areas closed for various reasons. With the growing popularity of outdoor recreation, these areas face added stress, making it crucial for everyone to do their part in preserving them. A simple way to be a good steward is to leave the area better than you found it, taking out any trash and minimizing your impact on the landscape. Check out these resources for more tips on responsible outdoor recreation.

  • The 7 Leave No Trace Principles
  • Quick Tips for Responsible Four Wheeling
  • How to Go to the Bathroom in the Woods

Our number one tip is to keep it simple! We are really starting to realize that for us, less is more. Less junk equals less clutter which equals less stress. Simple mechanical systems mean less opportunities for things to break. Get out there in the rig you have right now and make the most of it because at the end of the day it’s all about the experiences and memories you create and the places that your rig takes you. 

Brian is a freelance Photographer/Writer and Christina is a Program Manager for a solar tech company. Together they are Dirt Trails Wanted and they’ve been traveling to the far reaches of North America in their 2003 Toyota Tundra + GFC along the roads less traveled. Follow their travels on Instagram at @dirttrailswanted or on their website at DirtTrailsWanted.com