30 pounds of Crap in a 5lb sack!

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13.4.11

As long as I’ve been with my dear sweet bride Maria, I’ve been going “down the shore” (Jersey speak for the beach) with her family every year to Ocean City, NJ.  And as long as I can remember, and no matter what vehicle I’ve ever owned. It has always been packed to the roof with food, and umbrellas, and coolers, and CRAP!  And while it makes our week long family vacation MUCH more comfortable having everything we own, it’s always difficult to get everything in the car to fit, both coming and going.  Luckily for my own sanity, I AM the master car packer!  I’ve been road tripping it with my family my entire life, so when it comes to packing 30lbs of crap in a 5lbs sack, I’m your guy!  I’ve never had a problem until this last year…

I am the proud owner of a Toyota Tacoma, It’s a pickup truck.  This is the truck we take on vacation, and two years ago I tried ordering a Tonneau cover for the bed of the truck to keep our stuff dry and out of sight.  I didn’t get it in time, but I installed it when we got home, and realized almost instantly it was well worth the money.  It keeps my stuff dry, and INSIDE the truck blasting down the Garden State Parkway.  Shown below, Extang’s BlackMax Tonneau cover.   If you’re a truck guy and want a cheap bed cover, this is the one for you.  It was $220, it has snaps which is a pain to close up when its cold, so I seal it up in the fall on a nice warm day and hopefully don’t have to open it till spring.  The only other problem has been my own fault; I left the back part of it open on route 80 with part of a handtruck popping out in the middle of the winter, and it torn apart at the seams a little.  Again, my fault, and voids warranty.  Now its not as weather proof as it once was, but still does its job for the most part.

 

Since our son Nikolas joined us last year, we had to forget about bringing the 6 bikes and everyone beach gear and everything in order to make room for pack & plays, and 2 strollers, and diaper bags, and bouncy seats and various other baby paraphernalia.  Everything barely fit, except my wife’s suitcase and our big rollie cooler.  I fixed that whole problem by borrowing my brother’s wire rack cargo carrier.  They run a couple hundred dollars, but they are fantastic.  They connect right into the tow hitch on your truck/SUV and can carry 200-400lbs depending on the model, and your vehicle specs.  I’ve seen people carry anything from a deer to a cooler, or luggage on the back of these things.  My brother uses it to carry one of his son’s 50cc dirt bikes out to our parent’s house in PA.

This all got me thinking last year when I was jamming our belongings under the bed cover on the truck, wishing and praying that everything my wife wants me to pack sitting in a tall pile on the driveway, will somehow fit.  “I NEED A BIGGER TRUCK NEXT YEAR BABE!”  We pulled into Ocean City, and it started pouring, CATS AND DOGS!  Everything under the tonneau cover stayed nice and dry, and everything on the hitch cargo carrier was soaked, but luckily it was only the coolers and CRAP, HER SUITCASE!

Since then I’ve been looking into my options, and short of buying an new truck, this is what’s available to extend your cargo carrying capacity, to keep everything dry and safe, instead of wet, and bouncing down the highway…

I don’t remember the name of the one my brother has, but it looks exactly like this one.

 

If you want one that will last, you’re gonna want to spend some money.  I’ve seen these flimsy things at Wal-Mart and Kmart, for like $60, and the thought of putting any kinda of load on it attached to a vehicle moving at highway speeds, scares the crap outta me!  Spend a couple hundred, and you’ll have one that will outlast your vehicle, and the one after that!  They make bags for these too to keep things dry.  The biggest problem is once you have it loaded, it’s impossible to get your back door or tailgate open!  You have to take everything back off, that’s where this next guy comes in.

This is a Stowaway2.

It’s like my brother’s carrier, but its weather proof, has 16 cubic feet of storage, and swings away from the back of the truck for easy access to the bed even when loaded with 200lbs of gear.  It’s a bit pricey at $600.  But its basically bulletproof and awesome.  They have a bunch of different models, this is one of their top of the line deals, but they start at a couple hundred.  The nice part about this is it gives you a ton of storage, and you don’t have to climb up on top of the vehicle to load it.  And this one swings away giving you access to the tailgate.

This is Cross-country model “Roof bag”  can be used without roof racks, its 100% waterproof, windproof, rain, and snow proof, tornado proof, zombie proof.  It’s like $100, and its 15ft of cargo space, can fit our suitcases, or all the smaller bags up on the roof, can be used with my truck or your car…  This is probably the best way to go, give us enough room to not squeeze everything in bed.  

this one is the Cross-country model.

 

A hard cargo carrier would be great because again, waterproof, impact resistant, weatherproof, and aerodynamic, but you need a roof rack, which my truck doesn’t have, and carrier alone would be $350-400.  Then I need to install a roof rack for another $100-150.  Doesn’t make sense unless I had an SUV right now.  But they are the ultimate in road tripping cargo space…

So for this year, I think I’ll want to go with the Soft roof carrier.  I need the room, with the bigger family, and I think I may be able to ditch one of the 2 strollers we bring when my wife isn’t looking, and cut down a little on my fishing stuff to make everything fit better…

Spring has sprung in NJ

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06.4.11

I’ve waited.

All winter, I’ve waited.

Through snow, and ice, and shoveling and wind-chill, and -7F nights, and winter jackets and hats and gloves.

Through storms, and frozen gutters.

Through endless dark days, SUN SETTING AT 4PM, and through frostbite, and frozen toes…

Spring, for me, has officially come to NJ.  For my boat goes in the water this week.

For the last 6 months, my boat, has been cooped up in at the Marina, just waiting…  We decided we were ready to buy our first real boat.  My Rowboat just wasn’t cutting it anymore.  So one day last October, we started negotiations to buy a 2010 Bayliner 160.  While we knew we’d have to put it in storage a week later, we wanted to be ready for the spring.  I didn’t get it in the water until the last week of October by the time we finalized the deal.  And so while getting a small taste of the boating world, before we knew it, the frost was here.  Had to drop it back off at the Marina.

But not this year.  This year we have it all summer.  And I have been waiting, did I mention that already?

Every time I went outside, a little piece of me that remembered warm sunshine, and early morning fishing trips died a little.  You forget what warmth feels like.  You forget that there even is a summer, and your days are dark and dreary.  You forget that sometimes wind in your face doesn’t make you cold and numb.  Sometimes it’s warm, and you get the spray off the water, riding a jet ski doing 70mph…  Lately, I’ve forgotten there was anything BUT winter…

This morning I woke up and got ready for my morning coffee.  I rolled out of bed and put on my fleece pants, and a sweater, and then my thick fleece hoodie, and my hat, coffee in hand and walked out onto the deck for my morning constitutional where I realized, holy crap, I’m not shivering.  It was 60F!  HOORAY…   “I’m calling the Marina today!”

And so, the time has finally come.  I called the marina, we had our friendly chit chat for a few minutes, and the gent asked when I’ll be ready for my boat.  I told him, “I’ll be ready when you are!”  He told me if it stops raining, at some point in the next few days he’ll get it out of storage and in the water, hopefully before the weekend.  Outstanding!

Here’s a few pics from last year’s break in rides…

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