*notcot - 09.17.14 , 09:10 - 0 Notes

Hotel Arts, Calgary

arts0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

One of our favorite Calgary spots is definitely their designer boutique Hotel Arts in the heart of downtown. Dog friendly, well located, and awesomely designed? Amazingness! And as far as Bucky was concerned, it was his first luxury hotel experience (days after his first hotel experience ever)… and i’m pretty sure he thinks that walking into them now means belly rubs and excited greetings from the valets and front desk ladies are standard. They also spoiled him (and us!) with treats when we got in - that are so beautiful! I’ve never seen a fruit+chocolate platter displayed quite like the one above! And their fun greetings on the plates - even special Bucky ones… so cute. We also got to check out the newly redesign interiors by B+H Architects - including my favorite custom made bedside tables (minimalist with USB and outlets in the base)! Take a peek inside the lovely new rooms and goodies on the next page!

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*notcot - 09.13.14 , 23:07 - 0 Notes

Moraine Lake in Banff, Alberta

moraine0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

The BLUE! That Glacier Water Blue… to be honest, I thought most people’s pictures were over saturated or photoshopped, but no. It really is THAT blue. It’s amazing how quickly the weather changed - from our snowy adventures at Spray Lakes to heading up into Banff National Park. My first stunningly glacier blue lake was Moraine Lake. We’d heard rumors that it is even more breathtaking than Lake Louise, so we detoured over first, and WOW. It is AMAZING. And beyond the lake views as you wander around… the Chipmunks! I’ve never seen such chubby little chipmunks run right up to you. Even crazier, they run up to BUCKY! And stand up in his face. You’d think a pup like him would go after it, but when it came right up to HIM, he had no idea what to do. And once you wander up past the chipmunks, the view down at the lake is just incredible. It was hard to leave Moraine Lake, but I had to keep reminding myself this was just the beginning! Check it out on the next page.

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*notcot - 09.10.14 , 21:30 - 0 Notes

Canmore Quarry Lake Dog Park

dogparkMAIN.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

I can’t even begin to sum up how much i’ve learned since Bucky joined us less than 2 years ago. We’ve all been learning a lot on this epic road trip… he’s been learning to take in all the newness, calm down a bit more with new folks, and adapt like a trooper to camping and hotels for the first time… and it’s our first serious trip with him. But along all of it - it also means less free roaming running around time for him to get his energy out and stretch his legs properly. SO - on unexpected awesomeness, we’re loving the Canmore Quarry Lake Dog Park. There’s a huge off leash area - as well as on leash trails surrounding it. And better than the beautiful land and views around it… the people! Who knew that pulling up our beast of a car with CA plates and having Bucky romp around with so many other big dogs would be such a great spot to connect with locals and travelers alike. Also crazy - we went two days in a row, the first with a little snow on the ground, the second covered in snow and snowing heavily! Both days you couldn’t stop Bucky from sprinting from end to end with a ridiculous puppy grin. Take a peek at the site and his giddy puppiness on the next page… and as we continue traveling with him, figuring out good off leash areas will definitely be high on the list.

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*notcot - , 15:45 - 0 Notes

Inspiration: Waterton Lakes National Park

watertonMAIN1.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

We made it! We crossed the US/Canada border in the NOTFZJ80 with dog and all with no problems, and even finally got to make use of our passport cards. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited Shawn and I are to embark on the adventure we’ve dubbed the NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape. As you know, the NOTFZJ80 Project was all about building a rig that could take us to experience new things and get inspired in a whole new way. So when Travel Alberta asked us to come explore their province - and were cool with us not only roadtripping up from LA (allowing for some fun adventures along the way) but also bringing Bucky along as he turns 2 next week… we couldn’t say YES fast enough. After crossing the border, we headed to Waterton Lakes National Park, which is essentially the Canadian side of Glacier National Park. In fact, in 1932, the United States and Canada joined together to create the world’s first International Peace Park: Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to commemorate the peace and goodwill our two nations share. In 1995, UNESCO even designated it a World Heritage Site. What more perfect place to cross over and start our adventure? See what we found on our first day into Alberta on the next page - from Bison to stunning lakes, to Pop Shoppe, to our campsite and more!

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*notcot - 09.09.14 , 00:36 - 0 Notes

Inspiration: LA to Yellowstone to Glacier

precanada0.jpg Almost a week into our adventure to go explore Alberta, Canada… and first time curled up in a hotel (now in Calgary!) to catch up and give you a proper update. As the last post told you, Bucky, Shawn, and I are adventuring north in the NOTFZJ80. A mix of remote roof top tent camping and hotels as we work our way around. Here’s the update from LA blowing through Las Vegas and Salt Lake City heading up into Yellowstone, around Montana, into Glacier as we got ready to cross the border to Canada into Waterton as our first Alberta stop. Here’s a peek at everything from what we saw on the road to the magical sites in national parks to roadside bison, sunsets, pasties (and cocktail pasties!), google map detours that turn into off road courses to get around highway closures, dozens of miles of dirt roads to get to the perfect camp spot by a lake, unexpected little towns, ridiculously good huckleberry pancakes and pie, and one of the most epic drives i have yet to experience (Going-to-the-sun Road!)… ready to get the quick version of the last few days? To the next page!

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*notcot - 09.05.14 , 09:23 - 0 Notes

Road Trip: LA to Alberta, Canada…

instagram.jpg Going a little quiet here as internet gets intermittent and Bucky, Shawn, and I are adventuring north in the NOTFZJ80… we have to get across the border to Waterton by Sunday! And then the REAL adventures begin… but for now, follow along on the NOTlabs Instagram and NOTCOT Twitter if you want to see where we are in real time. So far we’ve made it up through out of LA and California… through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and now we’re back in Montana and heading up into Glacier National Park…

*notcot - 09.02.14 , 14:03 - 0 Notes

Inspiration: ORD to Iron Mountain, MI

up0.jpg On continuing this year’s trend of doing things i’ve never done… just knocked 3 more states off the list! This weekend we flew into Chicago, spent a night, and road tripped through Wisconsin and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a lovely wedding in the woods, with pit stops in Chicago, Sheboygan, and Milwaukee and explorations around Iron Mountain, Norway, Vulcan, Faithorn and more. Ready to see what inspiration we found? To the next page!

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*notcot - 08.27.14 , 18:40 - 0 Notes

NOTFZJ80: Test Trip, Big Bear II

map0.jpg The NOTFZJ80 Project is being sponsored by our friends at AutoNation: America’s largest auto retailer with 270 stores selling 33 brands nationwide backed by industry-leading policies like SmartChoice pricing and no-hassle money back guarantee. They are helping us turn our 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser into an overland adventure rig to go discover inspiration off-grid! Follow the progress here as we build up to our first trip.

So for Part I of the NOTFZJ80 Test Trip, we focused on Camping… in Part II, it’s time for off roading! And in this case, we decided to explore the Forest Service Roads around Big Bear further and really put the NOTFZJ80 through its paces. So from paved roads and highways… we headed down Forest Service Roads to find our campsite. They varied from paved to dirt to rocky… as we used the yellow post sites as an excuse to weave our way through the mountains as we checked out a few more spots, we arbitrarily picked service roads to explore! The result? everything from easy scenic routes to steeper routes… super steep rocky routes… weaving from peeks of lake views… through once burned forests starting to get lush with new growth… coming across a surprised family of deer… and more! Most importantly? It was fun, relaxing, and the NOTFZJ80 handled like a tank! you can see our route on the map above - the X is where we camped, and the rest is where we wiggled before popping out in Fawnskin. Take a peek on the next page…

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*notcot - , 18:15 - 0 Notes

NOTFZJ80: Test Trip, Big Bear I

maincamp0.jpg The NOTFZJ80 Project is being sponsored by our friends at AutoNation: America’s largest auto retailer with 270 stores selling 33 brands nationwide backed by industry-leading policies like SmartChoice pricing and no-hassle money back guarantee. They are helping us turn our 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser into an overland adventure rig to go discover inspiration off-grid! Follow the progress here as we build up to our first trip.

I can’t believe we’re finally at this stage… TEST TRIP! For our first quick test trip there are two big things that need testing: #1 Camping! #2 Offroading! It still blows my mind how quickly we’ve gotten here, and how much we’ve done. It looks like such a different car from when we first brought it home. Looking back for a moment - we’ve been asked “Why THIS project car?” quite a bit, and without a doubt, it’s all about the experience for me. This isn’t exactly the type of setup you can just rent - and there’s something different when you do it all yourself bit by bit to make your ultimate setup! And as NOTCOT closes in on 10, I can’t even count how many incredible experiences i’ve been exposed to as i’ve run around covering events, exploring brands, testing (new) cars all over the world, but what has been lacking are the random vacations and goal free explorations I used to have. So the NOTFZJ80 is our way to do something that none of our other vehicles can do, and a reason to simply venture out, get lost, and get inspired by the unplannable unknown. Will it work? I can’t wait to find out!

So back to first test trip… having just gotten back from Atlanta, and heading to Iron Mountain, Michigan tomorrow… we didn’t have much time to squeeze in a little test trip. So it had to be close to home! A bit of research landed us on Big Bear! Only 2.5 hours away, gorgeous lake, and an easy spot to camp for a night and off road a bit… so take a look at part one (Camping!) on the next page!

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*notcot - 08.05.14 , 17:20 - 0 Notes

NOTFZJ80: PART III

update0.jpg The NOTFZJ80 Project is being sponsored by our friends at AutoNation: America’s largest auto retailer with 270 stores selling 33 brands nationwide backed by industry-leading policies like SmartChoice pricing and no-hassle money back guarantee. They are helping us turn our 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser into an overland adventure rig to go discover inspiration off-grid! Follow the progress here as we build up to our first trip.

Seems about time for a NOTFZJ80 Project update! This update is a combo of accessorizing and… waiting. So much patient waiting… as the Land Cruiser heads in to TLC to get some work done. But just because the car isn’t here doesn’t mean there aren’t NOTFZJ80 Project related tasks to be done. In this update we’ve got the front bumper + winch installed, dropped it off to the shop, started the scavenger hunt for parts (which even brings us over to AutoNation Toyota in Irvine), amusement with jigger siphons, jerry cans, MaxTrax, D-ring shackle bracelets, marine grade battery and more… check out the latest progress on the next page! We are nearly adventure ready!

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*notcot - 07.23.14 , 01:02 - 0 Notes

NOTFZJ80: ARB Simpson III Roof Top Tent

arbtent0b.jpg So excited to announce that The NOTFZJ80 Project is being sponsored by our friends at AutoNation: America’s largest auto retailer with 270 stores selling 33 brands nationwide backed by industry-leading policies like SmartChoice pricing and no-hassle money back guarantee. They are helping us turn our 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser into an overland adventure rig to go discover inspiration off-grid! Follow the progress here as we build up to our first trip.

On NOTFZJ80 updates - the truck is currently in the shop at TLC and we have put in an order for some OEM parts over at AutoNation Toyota Irvine - so big updates to come in the following weeks! Currently the biggest update is the addition of our ARB Simpson III Roof Top Tent we received, installed, and climbed around in… (No, i haven’t spent the night in it yet!) I’m still in awe of it - so fun, so BIG, and i love the way it opens and closes. While rooftop tents have long been the norm in places like Australia and Africa (keeps you up above the creepy crawlies and such) - they are starting to pop up more and more in the US lately. It took Shawn a bit to convince me it was the way to go - until our adventures at Overland Expo where i got to climb in and around a few models to fully understand how this was so different from camping in a regular tent… and picked this one!

So what’s so different? Firstly, THE VIEW! Everything looks so different peeking out from the windows up above the car. And they say a shift in perspective can do wonders - i’ve even heard that taller beds often changing the way you dream! There’s also something treehouse like about being perched up there. Secondly, the nearly queen sized foam mattress! Yup, this isn’t just sleeping on a sleeping pad in a sleeping bag. You can even close it up with your bedding in there. And thirdly, the way it opens and closes with ease - just pull off the cover, slide out the ladder, and pull it open! With a little practice, we’re getting faster and faster with it!

Oh, and yes the cantilever is super secure - and no the ladder is not structural. (First thing everyone asks as they climb up in there!) Ready to see all the details of it up close? To the next page!

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*notcot - 06.18.14 , 12:40 - 0 Notes

Rock Creek, Mammoth Lakes Adventures

0-main.jpg We recently disconnected from the world (and our technology) and disappeared up to Rock Creek up in the Mammoth Lakes area at the foothills of the Sierras. About a 5 hour drive from Los Angeles, 4 humans and 2 dogs went to go play in the woods! It dumped snow the first night we got in, but luckily it started after we were tucked away in our cabin - and the NOTpuppy, Bucky was lucky to catch his first taste of snow (which he LOVED jumping chest deep into) and the last snow of the season. The highlight was definitely good times with good friends and a chance to watch the dogs run free - frolicking through the streams and meadows till they just couldn’t handle anymore… which resulted in coming home and sleeping for a few days! Along the way we also found some amazing jerky, delicious pie, and had a near catastrophe with some flying carrion. Take a peek at the adventures (and a taste for what the NOTFZJ80 will hopefully lead to!) on the next page!

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*notcot - 05.28.14 , 14:40 - 0 Notes

Audi Q3 Camping Tent by Heimplanet

auditent0.jpg We’ve been intrigued ever since Heimplanet (the guys behind the amazing inflatable geodesic tents) dropped hints at a car tent in an email recently… and then THIS popped up on their instagram, which filled me with curiosity to know and see more! Luckily, I ran into this Autoblog piece which features it front and center! So what is it? The press release describes it as “…a newly developed concept called the “Q3 camping tent,” which with a wind load rating of up to 70 km/h is also suitable for harsher weather. The tent structure can be removed from the supplied bag and set up in roughly seven minutes: roll it out, pump it up and the free-standing tent is ready. It can even be fastened to the open rear hatch of the Q3, if necessary.”

Take a peek at the details on the next page ~ all i’m wondering now, is if an inflatable rooftop tent is a NOTFZJ80 possibility…

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*notcot - 05.18.14 , 16:10 - 0 Notes

Front Runner Outfitters

frontrunner1.jpg “GO TO EXTREMES. BRING BACK PROOF.” This ad for Front Runner Outfitters sums up the potential and lifestyle of overlanding wonderfully! And this is just one of may stunning visuals they have. Honestly, one thing that has struck me when researching all things overlanding, both online and in person, is the lack of usability and branding/identity in communications. So many of the websites seem to be surprisingly difficult to navigate, and even when you figure out which products you are interested in, it isn’t the easiest to find exact dimensions/weights, vehicle compatibility, and i’ve run into lots of dead ends following links. This definitely feels like a very forum driven industry when it comes to trying to find reviews and detailed comparisons… So it has been a breath of fresh air to find Front Runner Outfitters.

According to the press page, “Front Runner is a 14 year old South African based company founded by a team of engineers, designers, outdoor enthusiasts and professional off-road drivers.” Their tiki themed booth definitely stood out amongst the Arizona landscape of our first Overland Expo adventure… and their ‘Go to extremes. Bring back proof.’ ads are just fantastic. Additionally, as a newcomer to overlanding, their one-sheet Vehicle Specific Brochures (including a Toyota Land Cruiser 80 one that looks a lot like our white NOTFZJ80) definitely helps me visualize the possibilities MUCH more easily! Take a peek at the next page to see some of the fun goods we found, the FJ80 one sheet, as well as more of their great ads!

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*notcot - 05.17.14 , 23:57 - 1 Notes

Overland Expo 2014: Flagstaff, AZ

0-overlandMAIN.jpg I think i’m experiencing Overland Overload? Here at NOTCOT, we’re nothing if not thorough when we get into obsessive research mode! So it should be no surprise that once we watched tons of videos, acquired our NOTFZJ80, and even shared lots of fun design inspiration in overlanding gear (in a week!)… that when i realized Overland Expo was only a 7 hour drive away in Flasgstaff, we had to hop in the car and go see it all in person! And WOW, if you’re at all curious to not only see and touch all things overland in person, but also talk to both brand reps and overlanders who are camped out in their custom rigs… it is the place to go!

On the next page check out everything we found - from more Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, Unimogs, Jeeps, and more of every vintage/color… to every variations of rooftop tents, pop up and pop out kitchens, survival gear, hammock pods, and so many happy dogs…

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