It's a boy! I am thrilled to announce the arrival of Lord Laszlo the Landy (Australian slang for Land Cruiser). Laszlo was born in Japan back in February 2002, weighing a mere 2,000 kg's and measuring 5 meters long, but just arrived to his new single parent, Sofía. In their first weeks together, Laszlo seems to love diesel and has a particular affinity for open roads.
I am not particularly good at easing into things so learning to off-road was no different. A sane person would have rented an expedition truck and practiced a few times before deciding to buy one. Not me! After 4+ years of living in NYC, my driving skills had atrophied and I had almost no experience off-roading. But I was no stranger to 4x4's - I had been around expedition trucks all of my working life: Nicaragua, Madagascar, Namibia. The only problem was, I was never the driver. Yet remote driving was a skill I knew any modern explorer needed in his or her toolbox, so I decided to take the leap and buy one.
Being a passenger in 4x4's throughout Africa.
I knew I wanted a Toyota, given the availability of parts in remote Australian towns, so I scoured Gumtree (the less sketchy Australian version of Craigslist) for weeks on end. Again and again I wasn't quick enough, and the car would get snatched by grey nomads (retired rad Australians who road-trip around the country). By week two I was hardly leaving my apartment, glued to the used car section, my frustration escalating. Then the mystical unicorn appeared. All of the boxes were checked and I knew I had to move fast. I did. It worked. I made an offer and waited for what seemed like an eternity. 9 hours later, I felt pure elation... the car was mine!
I flew to Canberra with a backpack full of cash to transfer ownership and was immediately struck by the size of the truck; It is 2,000 kg's after all. I practically need a booster stool to get into it... The previous owner seemed alarmed at the fact that a petite, 20 something girl was actually buying the beast. We signed the papers, exchanged money, and I began the long drive back to Sydney.
As I drove, thoughts were flying through my mind ... "stay to the left" I kept reminding myself... "why is there a labyrinth of roundabouts around what seems like every corner??" When I made it to the city, I was met with a whole new set of challenges due to the size - I simply don't fit in most low clearance parking city garages. I learned my lesson the hard way and removed a few overhanging signs to prove it.
In the coming weeks/months, Laszlo will be DIY refitted to include a sleeping platform, 12v refrigerator, UHF radio, winch, jerry can holders, and pop out cooking platform. Any recommendations? Let me know in the comment box below! Don't hold your breath on the refit, I'm on a US government salary here..
So get ready for some epic bush bashing as only the Australians know how to do... including Broome to Darwin via the Gibb River Road!