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  5. My RV: The Tow-Anywhere Trailer

My RV: The Tow-Anywhere Trailer

Upgrade by upgrade, an overlanding rig takes shape.

Image Caption: Photo Credit: Pedro Zardeneta

Pedro Zardeneta, Muskogee, Oklahoma

Rig:  2016 Taxa Cricket

Miles Logged:  10,487

Trivia: As a NASA architect, TAXA Outdoors founder Garrett Finney worked on designs for the International Space Station.

Taxa Outdoors Cricket

With its pop-up roof, the TAXA Cricket can sleep two adults and two kids. Photo Credit: Pedro Zardeneta

“I’d had a truck with a fifth-wheel, and you had to go to campgrounds. Which is fine—I grew up camping on the lake—but I saw the overlanding stuff, and I always wanted to do it. Just get a little farther out.

When I first got my Pathfinder, my wife gave me $1,500 to do a little something to it. So I got a Rancho quickLIFT and a grill guard, the kind that are pretty but don’t necessarily do much. I put some little lights from Amazon on the front and made the original basket on top out of electrical conduit and wood. Then I went on Craigslist and bought an orange Napier Outdoors Backroadz tent that hooks onto the back of an SUV. That was 2016 or 2017, and that was kind of the genesis of the overlanding rig.

I did some more to the Pathy, and then a couple years later, my wife and I go camping in January for my birthday, and she freezes her tail off. So I was looking at teardrops, and with everything I wanted in a trailer—something warm, something to stand up in, something rugged—the TAXA Outdoors Cricket kept coming up. I just didn’t like the way they looked—like, they’re so radical, it’s just not right! But I found one on RV Trader for a pretty good price, and I sent the email. I might’ve had a little scotch in me.

Taxa Outdoors Cricket

Beach camping on an off-road Baja sojourn. Photo Credit: Pedro Zardeneta

Fast forward: I go camping with it, and it’s so well insulated. Even with the tent top on, we have a little indoor Mr. Heater on low, and I take my wife camping, and she’s like, ‘Babe, we’ve got to open the window.’

This group I camp with, we call ourselves the Overly Secret Overland Society, and we made plans two Christmases ago to go to Baja. And I’m looking at the Cricket and going, ‘Okay, it’s good, but do I trust it in Baja?’ I get some aluminum skid plates, some Coastal Offroad high-clearance bumpers. I get a different basket and an awning. I find a Timbren axle-less suspension and realize immediately I’m over my head swapping it in, so a neighbor who builds cars helps me out. When he lifts it, I buy two more Nissan 18-inch-wheel tires, just like the ones on my Pathfinder, and I put on spacers and adapters to make it fit. And the trailer’s all electric, so I put a solar panel on.

Great time in Baja. We swam, hiked, took pictures. With the suspension and bigger tires, we can take it way out now. Do we always take it to really rough places? No. I don’t have an articulating hitch, so there are limits. But it’s a tank now. I named it Juju, after what my son would call my mom, Judy, when he was a baby. And then Penelope is the Pathfinder.

Taxa Outdoors Cricket

Zardeneta added mounts for propane tanks, to run his stove and firepit. Photo Credit: Pedro Zardeneta

Two other sets of friends have since bought Crickets. And we found out that a group of crickets is called an orchestra. So now we’re the Overly Secret Overland Society and also the Cricket Orchestra. When we go camping together, to rallies or, like recently, to Big Bend National Park, we say, ‘The orchestra is moving!’

We’ll caravan someplace and set up. Go for a hike, maybe a drive. The kids will be out playing on bikes and coming up with dumb games, the adults sitting around a fire, laughing and eating asana tacos, just having a good time. It’s this moment that’s not about the grind. We’ll crack some beers or sodas around the campfire and have fun. I have a ukulele. And we’ll do what we call walkabouts, just walking around to other campers, and if they’re friendly, we try to be friendly with them.

Taxa Outdoors Cricket

Newer Crickets have a Dometic stove/sink combo; the Zardenetas cook outdoors. Photo Credit: Pedro Zardeneta

The value is just having memories with these people who come into your life and then out again. Just these moments of connection of, ‘Hey, I met these people one time on a camping trip, and they were cool.’ And then there’s so much happiness that comes with just going out in the woods and being quiet.”

Follow Juju and Penelope’s adventures (@penelopethepathy), and tell us about the rig that’s shaped your memories at [email protected]. This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity

This article originally appeared in Wildsam magazine. For more Wildsam content, sign up for our newsletter.

Brian Kevin
+ posts

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