Where to park and if there is food
When Jody Overstreet packed his bags for his big adventure, it wasn’t as easy as throwing some clothes in a bag and heading to the airport.
No. She was on a sell and take road trip that covered 80,000 miles and lasted a few years.
Overstreet grew up in Southeast Alaska and worked in the tourism industry for several years before planning his getaway. Right before her big break, she owned and operated Alaska Photo Treks. She is an accomplished photographer.
“All my adult life I’ve wanted to do this,” she says.
But it didn’t happen overnight.
While Overstreet ran her travel agency, she lived for three years in a C-Class motorhome – a high-cab motorhome built on a heavy-duty pickup or truck chassis.
“The company was doing well, to the point that I needed to recruit more people. I realized that was not what I wanted at this point in my life, ”she said. “So I decided to sell the business. “
Living in the motorhome helped her decide what type of rig she wanted. She opted for a custom 18.5 foot fiberglass Olivier trailer. She bought a mid-size GMC Canyon truck to transport it.
“I wanted a four-season trailer,” she said. “Custom features included solar panels and a composting toilet. “
Although Jody grew up in Alaska, she had never driven the Alaska Highway. “I left in November 2018 on my first trip to Alcan,” she said. “I drove to Tennessee to retrieve the trailer. It was my first time towing something.
At that time, her business wasn’t the only thing she was selling. “I just cut everything down,” she said. “I had food, clothing, a tow rope, jumper cables and other road emergency equipment.”
When she left Anchorage, her first goal was to drive across Canada. “I was so lucky to start before the pandemic hit. I drove all the way to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, ”she said. Then she headed south to the Florida Keys.
Along the way, Overstreet has become a regular at boondocking or free camping overnight. “The East Coast and Florida are pretty tricky. But there are a lot of Cabela and Walmarts stores. There are also quite a few apps like RVParky and Overlander, where users share information about where to camp, ”she said.
Heading west from Florida, Overstreet made a few stops in Mississippi to see his family, then headed to Magnolia Beach in Texas. Magnolia Beach is on the Gulf Coast between Houston and Corpus Christi. “I met a group of Canadians there who had been frolicking for months,” she said.
Overstreet made a point of seeing as many national parks as possible. But in the end, she always “followed the butter” – that is, when the butter is cold, you head south. When the butter melts, you head north.
One of his favorite destinations, however, was the Sonoran Desert near Quartzsite, Arizona.
“There is free camping out there,” she said, echoing a recurring theme among boondockers.
“Is Quartzsite just a large ‘Nomadland’ set?” »I asked referring to the award-winning full-time VR film.
“I saw ‘Nomadland’,” Overstreet said. “She (director Chloe Zhao) was trying to capture people forced to live this lifestyle and make them dark,” she said.
“My experience at Quartzsite was that it was a huge community with all kinds of demographics,” she said.
“There are young people, old people, rich and poor,” she said. “You can park next to a quarter-million dollar diesel pusher (Class A motorhome) and on the other side is a family in a schoolie (refurbished school bus).
“Some people are forced to do this because of job loss or divorce. But once they get in there, they love the freedom, the community and the simplicity, ”she said.
Overstreet said there were two questions each day: “Where am I going to park? And “Do I have something to eat?” “
Throughout his career, Overstreet continued to work as a photographer. “I used my AT&T cell phone as a hot spot,” she said. “I had excellent coverage, except in national parks. “
Along the way, Overstreet published a blog detailing his journey: theroadtohere.blog.
“The blog contains a lot of thoughts. It’s not necessarily travel advice, ”she said. Rather, it was about keeping family and friends up to date on his progress. But his photos are superb.
Along the way, Jody named his truck and trailer. The trailer, which she describes as a “bloated casita” has been dubbed “Billiken”, the big belly lucky charm. His Chevy truck was called “Fluke”. “I wanted to keep an Alaskan theme! she said.
Overstreet has lost track of the national parks she visited. “I have visited the Grand Canyon several times,” she said. But also on the list were Death Valley, Big Bend in Texas and Carlsbad Caverns.
“I really enjoyed spending time in the South West,” she said. “I would never want to live in the desert, but I especially loved the Sonoran Desert in the spring.”
When the time came for her to change gears, Overstreet sold Billiken and Fluke to another boondocker in California. “I bought a new Subaru, fixed it and reassembled the Alcan.
Overstreet says she was very lucky to be able to grab that window in time and “be totally free”.
Months of boondocking, visiting national parks, and meeting other travelers have helped Overstreet develop a simplistic life. “Simply reduce your needs to the essentials. Then relax and be happy, ”she said.
Now it’s travel.