Decided to put together a build thread for my truck/GFC.
This is my 2008 Toyota Tundra double cab with the GFC Platform Camper. I call it “Grandpas Tundra” because I bought it from my grandpa. I helped him pick it off the lot in 2008. He used the truck sparingly, but hard, mostly for towing his boat or his tractor.
Tundra and my first car, a 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit, circa 2012
In late 2020, my dad had a massive stroke and was permanently disabled. At the time, I was driving a very unreliable 1980 Volvo 242, and was having to rely on using my girlfriends car when I needed to come back to see him. My grandpa very graciously sold me his Tundra so I had something reliable, and to this day I cannot thank him enough. It allowed me to visit my dad easily and helped create some incredible memories.
The day I brought it home. Pawpaw’d out with the canopy, front hitch, and chrome sidesteps
With that being said, I couldn’t leave it stock. Within the first few days I removed the steps and ordered a set of Method MR701s and BFG KO2s. This helped change the look massively
I started to plan a buildout using the existing canopy. I knew I wanted this to be a adventure truck and it felt like the perfect base - low miles, family history, and low likelihood of me ever selling (I have an issue… ~30 cars since I was 16?)
My buddy and I picked up materials to build a basic platform in the rear, circa 2021
Unfortunately, in February of 2022 my dad passed away. His life after the stroke was never the same, it entirely robbed him of his independence. Pictured below is him with his Honda Element, he built it out and drove around the country four times, trying to visit every National Park, successfully visiting every MLB stadium, and a trip to experience famous blues and jazz destinations.
You’re probably wondering how this is all relevant to a truck build, but we’re getting there.
My dads passing was difficult on our family and is still difficult to this day. Much of what I do, I do to try and honor his spirit and character. He loved to travel, meet new people, see new places, take the slow road.
And this is where the GFC comes in.
I had pined for a GFC for years, but didn’t expect to buy one until later in my career. With my dads passing, I received some life insurance and was torn with what to do with it. I planned to invest a portion and save a portion, but my mom said “use it for something he’d love”.
I hemmed and hawed for a few months, before putting in my order with GFC in November of 2022.
My dad was born and raised in Butte, MT, an hour or so west of Belgrade. I planned my pickup on St Patricks Day of 2023 and began waiting
Sold the ARE canopy in preparation
Finally the day came. My two buddies tagged along and we headed towards Montana
Sunrise in Spokane
Deer Lodge, MT
Pickup was flawless, cool seeing the GFC shop. We made our way back to Butte and enjoyed the festivities.
I might not look happy in the pic, but it was 10deg
Pekin Noodle Parlor, the longest operating Chinese restaurant in America
To be entirely honest, my dad would have laughed at the idea of a GFC. “You can just sleep in the back of the truck!”. But if I liked it, he would love it.
We made it home in one piece. It was cool showing my friends Butte and revisiting some of the places I had gone with my dad.
First thing I bought/installed was the Overland Vehicle Systems 270LTE awning. This was the budget/lightweight option. It does its job, total coverage isn’t excellent but its better than what I had before! (nothing)
Our first camping trip, March 24th, Seaquest State Park. This was mostly a shakedown run with the dog, see how he liked it. He was part of the reason I went with the GFC vs a traditional tent/rack setup. I figured he could sleep downstairs and I could access him easily (how foolish I was. He’s spent one night in the downstairs and the rest with me in the penthouse)
I had zero issues with the actual GFC. Mine was the first round of updated weatherization upgrades and I live in a very moist area. To this day, zero issues with water intrusion.
However, Smokey had some major issues with the truck bed. The bare metal did not make him happy.
This was easily fixed by some 3/4" plywood
Kilz anti-mold primer with help from my buddy Gary
Indoor/outdoor carpet cut n glued
And Mr. Smokey, who does not look thrilled, but thats mostly because his nuts had gone MIA
I started to plan/prepare for my first major roadtrip in the GFC. A few years prior, I had driven Highway 101 from San Francisco north to Oregon with eight of my college buddies. Have you ever traveled with eight 21 year old men? If not, I’m sure you can immediately think “man that sounds terrible”. It was. So this was going to be my redemption trip, just me and the dog.
Road trip preparation, making the backseat into a throne for Smokey
The day before I left, my buddy Gary washed and detailed my truck. The cleanest I had seen it in a while!
And we’re off! Vancouver, WA > Cape Perpetua, OR > Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, CA > Petrolia, CA > Trinity Lake, CA > Bend, OR
Within 100mi, one of my front caliper bolts backed out and locked the front wheel. Insurance towed me and Les Schwab had me back on the road in an hour. Guess who did the brakes?
Headed up to dispersed camp near Petrolia
Windows screen saver?
This was the perfect shakedown trip, and honestly one of my favorite roadtrips I’ve ever been on. My dog did a good job (his first big trip in general), we hiked and explored quite a bit, dispersed camped for the first time, and got out on a few unmaintained roads.
Got myself stuck, could have been a medium-hairy situation but got out with some thinking. Not pictured, a very large black bear about 100yds up the road that had been poached
I got home and immediately started planning my next trip. During my California roadtrip, I enjoyed true dispersed camping and knew I had the setup to do it efficiently. I had 9 days off at the beginning of July and decided to tackle the Washington Backroad Discovery Route.
In-between, I did a few quick trips with friends.
Free camping on the Klickitat River. Super cool spot, one of the largest remaining natural stands of Oak in Washington
Camping near Mt Hood for a friends birthday
Streamlined my camping gear into a few boxes. All I need is my toiletries and some fresh underwear and I’m about ready to go with this
Did some light maintenance on the truck (new water pump, radiator, thermostat, etc. God willing I did a better job than the brakes) and then got everything organized for WABDR. I left July 1st.
Bethel Ridge, day 2
Begging, pleading for a belly rub at 6:00am
Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River
Perhaps the best photo I have ever taken of a vehicle I own. Steliko Lookout near Ardenvoir, WA
This trip was incredible. It was a different kind of fulfilling compared to my California trip, which was relatively structured and not very remote. This put me into parts of Washington I had never seen before, never had a way to see before. I dispersed camped every night, cooked every single meal. First real taste of “overlanding”
I polished off the trip with a trip to Spokane to see my mom and grandparents for a few days. They’re all happy to see me enjoying the truck and taking adventures (albeit, a different flavor) that my dad would have loved.
So, thats about where we’re at. If it was clear enough, I love my GFC. It has done everything I’ve asked of it and opened doors to new places that I hadn’t imagined going. When I bought my GFC, I probably had camped less than a dozen times my entire life. I made a promise that I’d camp in it 12 nights this year (1 day per month average). I believe I just hit 16 nights in it after this last weekend. Rookie numbers compared to some, but it excites me. I have a 10 day vacation in September where I am planning a trip down the ORBDR with a loop to Steens and Alvord, as well as any opportunity between then to get out for a weekend!
This has been a long-winded post, so I’m gonna wrap here. I have a lot of plans for this truck and look forward to having a place to keep track of them as well as my travels!