Everywhere you go, always take the weather notifications with you
Location-independent Lisa Morris and Jason Spafford are self-professed wilderness seekers, a freedom afforded by their successful content creating careers. Jason, a photographer with an internationally published portfolio and Lisa, an accomplished travel writer, told us about their transition to four-wheeled nomadic explorations and bacon-saving weather notifications in the ‘Land of Ice and Fire’.
In 2014, Jason Spafford and Lisa Morris shelved their love of scuba diving for new ventures above the waterline. They sold their country cottage and pared down possessions to a few boxes to embark on a four-year, once in a lifetime trip from Antarctica to the Arctic.
Hanging up the panniers
With minimal ride time under her belt Lisa took a giant leap of faith into the unknown but soon realised how the bikes defined their adventures, proving a magnetic source with people along the way and helping to define who they really were. Lisa says: “It’s the gruelling satisfaction of big-distance riding that made the journey hard but euphoric; the hard is what makes it so great.” But despite the euphoria the bikes brought, two-wheel travelling posed obstacles and curtailed some of their travelling freedom.
A lack of secure storage while trekking, nowhere to secure their valuables and thrice stumbling into Death Valley, California sans water and at the mercy of four-wheel travellers proving momentous. Lisa says: “Will I miss rain-obscured vision as we made a beeline toward a bank of swollen clouds into a coming storm? Or leaning into raging Patagonian winds on Argentina’s Ruta 40, while making the grunts of a professional tennis player? Probably not.”
A four-wheeled welcome
Although it was not a decision they took lightly, Lisa and Jason took the plunge with a Toyota Hilux 2.5L turbo diesel, 4WD as their new ‘live-out-of-vehicle’. Lisa says: “We wanted a self-contained base from which we could comfortably live without needing to resupply for days if not weeks at a time.” They took 11 months to kit it out, with every inch of the ‘build’ being hugely important to them. Replete with solar and lithium power, unfolding kitchen, four berth bedroom, rooftop tent, shower, generous storage, refrigerator, awning and opening skylight the vehicle and its interminable features was affectionately named the ‘White Rhino’ – all ready to take them on their next mission: from Northern Norway to South Africa.
In June 2019, they began a new photographic expedition setting off from the UK, across Europe to northern Norway, over to the Faroes and mooring in Iceland the following October for what Lisa describes as ‘sublime craziness’.
One night in Southern Iceland, they faced the White Rhino into a light wind for protection but were startled awake by an incredible 100 mph gust that blasted the supporting ladder connected to the hinged floor, clean off the ground, throwing it back at an awkward angle. This took the tension out of the canvas around the supporting steel bar, which collapsed and crashed down on them as they slept. Lisa says: “From then on, we were dialled down to weather notifications and when bad weather is afoot, we take refuge in the double cab.”
On their penultimate day in Iceland, 170 miles away from the ferry crossing they were headed to that day, they awoke to a frightful stillness and pink neon skies, the likes of which they’d not seen throughout their 10 weeks in the ‘land of Ice and Fire’. A series of urgent weather notifications pinged through their phones and a sailing update broadcast a 24 hour move forward of their crossing time. A 10-year bombogenius cyclone was about to hit Iceland in the North as they were due to set sail in the east. Consequently, the mountain pass to get them there was due to close and was the only route leading to the port.
Lisa says: “There really is nothing like a cyclonic weather fest gone freak to round off one’s Icelandic adventures! Being able to keep an eagle eye on the weather from a remote part of the island to reach the port was a godsend. It removed all trace of background stress in fairly tense conditions.”
Luckily, they managed to stay 30 miles ahead of the storm by staying vigiliant for three days to get back to Danish mainland, along with unwavering online access to the local met office and sites devoted to road conditions, they are hugely grateful.
Next trip – Africa!
Pretty fly for a Wi-Fi
Lisa adds; “In this digital age when it’s as easy to chew through data like you’re Homer Simpson chowing down a box of donuts, what, do I ask, is better than not just enabling one’s Wi-Fi connection, but enhancing it in virtually all corners of Europe and beyond? Thanks to Motorhome Wi-Fi, we’ve transitioned into tech savvy nomads. No longer a battle of the bandwith, it’s pretty fly for a Wi-Fi!”