Mary Ashley Krough and Owen Chikazawa were awarded top honors in last week’s 2019 Overland Expo West “Cool Ride” Photo Contest. The winning photo, taken by Owen, features a 2018 Four Wheel Camper Flatbed Hawk and is the first Overland Expo “Cool Ride” winner to feature a slide-in truck camper. “We like the picture because the camper looks like a Mars Rover,” Mary said.
Built by Main Line Overland, the winning rig is clearly worthy of top honors. The rig consists of a 2019 Toyota Tundra powered by a 5.7L iForce V8, a 6.5-foot custom aluminum Norweld service tray, and a fully-equipped 2019 Four Wheel Camper Flatbed Hawk. The truck was extensively modified with a Dobinsons 2-inch suspension lift kit with a Dobinsons rear leaf pack, an ARB rear locker, Firestone air bags, a Stealth Fighter Winch Bumper with a Comeup Winch, a Baja Designs lightbar, and a Safari snorkel. Fully self-sufficient, the charcoal metallic Four Wheel Camper is equipped with a 65L Isotherm compressor refrigerator and is powered by an Overland Solar 320 watt solar power system and a BattleBorn 200 amp hour lithium battery bank. The painted tray includes several upgrades including extra storage compartments, an extra 11-gallon gray water holding tank, and an ARB air compressor.
As for the winning photo, the picture was taken in California near the Salton Sea and Anza Borrego. “We had just got there. The sun was just going down and it was super windy, which is why the camper’s top was down,” Mary explained. The photograph was taken by Owen using a prime Nikon lens on a Sony A7R. The ISO setting was set for 100 and the focal length was 85.
The couple lives full-time in their Four Wheel Camper rig. It serves as their vehicle/office/living room/surfboard carrier/and cat palace for their 10-year-old adventure cat, Luna. Living on the road certainly has its perks—like saving money and seeing the world—but getting into a reliable rig hasn’t been easy for the active couple.
“We’ve been on the road for three years now and this is our fourth vehicle,” Mary explained. “We started out in a 1985 Volkswagon Vanegon and as much as we loved it, it required three engines from us in a year and a half, as so it started to suck us dry financially, but it was the one symbol of freedom and was the one thing that was really holding us back, so we really felt that we needed to find something a bit more reliable, a bit more stable, just because we are full-time and we work full-time on the road.”
“Our second vehicle was a 1985 Toyota Sunrader 4×4, it was super rare, the first domestic 4×4 RV ever made, and we spent nine months building it out only to realize that it wasn’t as capable off-road as we were wanting it to be. So then we switched over to a base model, four-banger Toyota Tacoma and just lived out of the bed of the truck for nine months, while we were kind of figuring out what was going to be next and so this is what was next. It’s the perfect combination of all of our different vehicles all rolled into one,” she said.
The couple are both free-lance designers and got married six months before hitting the road. Each is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design and met while competing on the college’s swim team. The couple is happy to report that they had just paid off their student loans, a huge accomplishment made possible by their low-cost, nomadic lifestyle.
“We have the theory that happy people make good work,” Mary said. “Even though it can be scary to trust a free-lancer who can’t sit down in front of you to do the work for you, we found that our clients really like working with us because I think we are happy and do good work and our travels inspire what we do.”
“Living full-time on the road was the best decision that we’ve ever made. We’re so happy and I wish that we could give a little slice of our happiness to everyone because it feels really good to be living the way you want to live,” she said.
Readers can follow the couple on Instagram @boundfornowhere.