Pups Go West 2012 – Trip Preparation

This year, Her On Wheels will be taking on some new, non-motorcycle adventures.  I’ll definitely be riding (the upcoming Women’s Track Day at Grattan Raceway for one) but no extended trips.  Instead, I’ll be on 4-wheels and the most exciting adventure will involve many hours of airline travel!  My sister moved to southern India last fall, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend 3 weeks with my amazing sister traveling around India (and possibly Nepal)!!

Since my fall trip out west, I’ve been thinking about the desert non-stop so I figured the first trip of the year should be to Utah and my dogs needed to come along (hiking is way more fun with the beasts).  I decided that converting my Jeep Grand Cherokee into a mini-motorhome would be the best option, partly for portability (no tent setup/takedown), partly for safety and comfort and partly because my lab mix Yukon figured out how to unzip the tent flap so he could roam the campground schmoozing with fellow campers hoping for bits of food 🙂  The trick was to make it comfortable for the 3 of us for our 12 days on the road! In this post I’ll run down what I did to make it suitable for (wo)man and beast 🙂

My primary concern was finding a way to cover the windows of the Jeep so I could change without scaring anyone and also to block light while we slept.  Originally I intended to sew curtains for the windows, but as the date of departure approached, I grew lazier and lazier…I needed an easier solution!  After a bit of searching the net, I found an Instructables that detailed making window coverings using Reflectix (didn’t follow instructions exactly but it was a nice guideline).  Reflectix looks like shiny bubble wrap and is found near the insulation section of the home improvement store or hardware of your choice (mine was purchased at Menard’s – a 16” by 25′ roll for about $15.00 if I remember correctly).

I traced each of the rear windows onto newspaper and transferred those patterns to the Reflectix with a Sharpie marker.  They turned out OK, not perfect but good enough for my purpose, I didn’t even need to use Velcro to hold them up – they fit perfectly in the channels around each of the windows.  Between the front and back seat, I cut a piece of Reflectix to the appropriate width and Velcroed it to each of the side plastic pillars.  In the future, I’ll likely ditch this for a large piece of black fleece attached in the same fashion for better coverage.

A few of the back windows covered with Reflectix

The dogs helping out with preparations – my sleeping pad on the left of the pic for size reference

Next, though I knew Mira would likely sleep either on me or in my sleeping bag and Yukon is pretty happy sleeping anywhere, I needed somewhere for the dogs to snooze.  So I threw some foam padding beds that I picked up inexpensively from one of the rescue groups at this year’s pet expo into the back of the Jeep.

Securing the dog food bin was also of high priority as my aussie Mira is an evil genius when it comes to food, I didn’t want to return from visiting a rest stop bathroom to find she had eaten 10 cups of food!  To try an thwart the little menace’s efforts, I drilled a couple of small holes into the lip around the edge of the food bin, and matching holes in the lid.  I threaded some of the Nite-Ize Gear Ties through the holes and twisted them tight, theoretically keeping the food safe – reality was a different story, she figured out how to open it at the first stop, a mile from my house.

For my sleeping accommodations for the trip, I inflated my Exped Synmat and slid it into the sleeve in the back of my Big Agnes bag and left it setup next to the dog beds in the back.  It surprisingly was very comfortable and gave us more room than my two-man tent provides.

Mira modeling in the rough setup

Yukon testing out his new bed while I work on cutting Reflectix

Freshly “Mira-proofed” bin

**Next Post — Pups Go West 2012 – Day One**


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