May 2 is my Alto-versary, celebrating that day way back in 2016 when I picked up my shiny new blue Alto F1743 and became a full-time vagabond. I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I liked to travel, I didn’t mind driving, and there was a lot of America and Canada I wanted to see. Seven years later, I’m kind of surprised I’m still out here.
A lot has changed in those seven years, including me. I’ve learned so much about traveling, about trailers, and about myself. I’ve been staying longer at places, exploring the back roads as much as I can, and camping more with friends than in previous years. Here’s a look at my last 365 days of Alto life:
Over the last year, I learned a lot more than I ever wanted to about weather warnings. I know what a heat dome is now, and I could probably have lived another few decades without having had to learn that. And then there was that hurricane on the east coast that made me hunker down for 4 nights at the southern tip of the Delmarva peninsula. Through it all, my Alto was a safe haven, keeping me warm (or cool) and dry.
How is the Alto Holding Up?
In the last seven years, I’ve towed my Alto somewhere around 66,500 miles. The list of things that have broken is short: a fan, the big front window and two shade/screens, the caravan mover, a couple of front frame bolts. It still doesn’t leak in heavy weather (and, trust me, I’ve been in some serious storms!) and I still wouldn’t trade it for anything but another Alto.
The favorite changes I’ve made to my Alto? A lithium battery and Victron battery monitor, a bigger sink and a nicer faucet, a folding table up front instead of the default mounted one, and opening up the front area with a shelf/bookcase instead of the default long and narrow cushion (I used the front area as a bed exactly twice in the first five years I owned my Alto).
I’ve learned a lot about plumbing, electrical, solar, and wiring in my seven years of being an Alto owner. I’ve fixed little things, changed others, and overall done a lot of things myself, although I always let someone else do the yearly maintenance, frame bolt checks, and wheel bearing checks and replacements. I know my limits 🙂 Many thanks to the fellow Alto owners who have given me advice and and those special people who have worked on my baby, from upgrading the solar controller to installing a permanent surge protector.
Overall, my Alto has been stellar on the road, providing a safe and comfortable little home for the last seven years. I’m just as happy with my purchase now as I was on my pickup day, May 2, 2016.
Camping with friends at the beach is the perfect way to celebrate my Alto-versary this year. The photo at the top of this post is from May 2, 2022, a year ago, when I was camping in Texas (and dodging the first of many tornado warnings…)
Bonus Map: My last three years of vagabond life in one (exhausting to look at) map…