About Us

We are Kristel and Dave, avid adventurers with a love of hiking, camping, travel and all things outdoors. We hail from Alberta, Canada where we work as civil engineers (that’s how we met). Although we have great jobs, we have always talked about how we’d love to find a way to take an extended adventure and explore our passions. So, we finally decided to stop talking about it and just do it. We are taking a year away from our home and jobs to wander south through the United States, Mexico and Central America. We have no strict agenda and we are traveling with our truck and camper so we will have the freedom to go where the wind blows us.

Also with us is Chester, our quirky Irish Terrier. At eleven years old, he a pretty laidback chap who loves meeting new people and taking long naps in the sunshine. We couldn’t imagine this adventure without him.

AboutUs

10 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Anita & George Haunholter

    What a great idea! My husband and Dave were good friends growing up in the Peace. Unfortunately we have not seen each other in years and it is awesome to see that things are going well for him. Please tell him a huge hello from us! We hope you have a fantastic trip, stay safe and have the time of your life!!!!

    1. Dave

      Thanks, it’s great to hear from both of you. We are really excited to be started on this trip after all the planning we have done.

  2. Sylvain Gaudreau

    Hi Dave,

    Whish you a very nice experience I about to start myself the «retirement trip» at the end of the month

    Take care and hello to wife

    Sylvain, Quebec City

  3. Octavio

    Hi Dave,
    I see you are having a great time. Enjoy and I hope you will be speaking Spanglish at the end of the adventure.

  4. Paula and Douglas Stewart (and Finn!)

    HI there,
    A couple of teachers from New Brunswick here. We just stumbled upon your blog. Great reading! We are have arranged a leave of absence for Jan-Aug 2016 and are planning a big journey south (that’s all we know so far). Can you tell us more about Chester? We have a 7 yr old English setter that we plan to take with us. Leaving him is simply out of the question- he would die of a broken heart, as would we. What kind of preparations did you make for the dog? Are there certain vaccines? Did you bring a doggy emergency kit? What kind of permits did you need for him? Anything else you would like to share would be appreciated. BTW, we just had a snow storm…over 50cm….the third one like that in the last 10 days. I’ll bet you’re not missing the Canadian winter!
    Paula and Doug Stewart

    1. Dave

      Hi! Excited to hear you are planning an adventure. We have had a great time traveling with Chester. He was eleven years old when we left home and we celebrated his twelfth birthday on the road in December. We followed our vet’s recommendations in terms of care but it was not really anything out of the ordinary. We updated his shots (rabies, bordetella, distemper/hepatitus, parainfluenza/parvo) before we left and started him on a monthly dosage (comprehensive) to prevent fleas/ticks/heartworm. We also requested certificate of all vaccinations and a certificate of health.

      The permit requirements really vary from country to country. Some countries required nothing of us and we did not even need a permit. We always declared that we were “carrying live animals” if it was a question on the customs form and Chester rode openly in the truck with us. However, if an official did not tell us we needed a permit, we did not go looking for one. If we did need a permit, it was usually just a matter of finding the quarantine office and showing our proof of vaccination and health certificate…and paying the requisite $10-$30 fee. In a few countries, there was also an inspection fee (Panama, Honduras, Belize)…another $10-$20 for a very cursory inspection. In all, this typically adds about 45 min to the border crossing time. The only country which needed more “work” was Belize. We needed to apply for an import permit 10 days prior to our entry (if you don’t, they will apparently still process your permit but will charge an extra $100US). Belize also requires that your certificate of health be issued within the last 14 days and that the rabies vaccination be older than 30 days but less than one year old. Because of this, we needed to visit a vet in Guatemala to update our paperwork.

      In terms of emergency kits, we didn’t really bring anything though we did have to apply some polysporin to an ear after Chester decided to tangle with a street dog. We did wish we had brought an extra retractable leash or two (we actually had my daughter and sister pick each bring us one when they visited). These are practically impossible to find down here and the sand and salt seriously shorten the normal life span. I would also recommend some antibiotic eye and ear drops. Although not that difficult to find, Chester did come down with a couple infections this past year…likely because he can’t resist sticking his nose into a bush with an interesting smell.

      The other thing that’s worth noting is that dog friendly hotels are a bit scarce in Mexico and most of Central America. When we were tired of camping and just wanted a hotel for a night or two (or just in the middle of a city), it was often an adventure to find someplace that would take us. TripAdvisor was a help but not always 100% accurate.

      If you haven’t found them already, here are a couple resources you may find useful:
      http://www.drivetheamericas.com
      http://www.nelisbigadventure.com

      Good luck and let us know how your planning goes! We would be happy to answer any more questions. And we are sorry to hear about the winter (and happy to have missed it)! Sounds like the east coast has been hit especially hard this year. Stay warm and dry!

      Dave and Kristel

      1. Paula and Douglas

        Thanks for the reply. Your info will be of great help in our planning. We are just in the middle of purchasing a 2006 Tacoma. We were thinking of getting a pop up for it…but they are really hard to come by unless we buy new. I see that you have to have your frame repaired near the end. Do you think that you could have done any mods to avoid this? Do you think that towing a camper trailer would just be a head ache? Also, did you use water, etc on the camper and did you find that dumping was an issue? Thanks for taking the time to answer so many questions!

        1. Dave

          Paula and Douglas;

          Glad to hear your plans are coming along, I’m sure you will have a wonderful time.

          I think Tacomas are a great choice, tough and plenty of Toyotas throughout Central America, so mechanics are familiar with them.

          We considered a pop up but could not find one at a reasonable cost and we already had the molded fiberglass camper. I think the pop up would be great as it would allow access to many secure parking spots that thwarted us.

          I feel the frame problem may have been started by a botched installation of air bags by a shop here at home. They bent the frame by using wrong setup and then straightened when removing and this is where the ultimate break occurred. I considered frame stiffening kits but was advised that welding on the frame was a bad idea; having gone through the experience I would probably decide differently now.

          Pulling a trailer may be possible but would definitely limit where you could go and you would need to do a lot more investigating anytime you wanted to leave the main highways. We drove a large number of backroads, particularly in the mountains that would be very difficult or impossible with a trailer. A trailer would also make tight city streets considerably more of a challenge. I ended up backing up more than one extremely narrow street when there was no way to get through a market or other unforeseen obstacle. Personally, I’d advise against a trailer.

          We have a 70 liter fresh water tank. We installed a foot pump to fill our sink, trying to minimize electricity use, and it drains to 20 liter pail outside. We never had a problem dumping this small amount. We don’t have a bathroom but carried port-a-loo for emergencies and rarely used it. We met many overlanders with bathrooms and generally they didn’t find too much trouble with dumping. The best set ups had macerator pumps so they could pump uphill to pit toilets, etc. if necessary or cassette toilets.

          Feel free to ask more questions.

          Regards
          Dave

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