Travels With Frito Road trips are the stuff of life


A European parcel delivery van as a road trip vehicle?

In fact, it's near perfect. The Mercedes Benz Sprinter is my first Merc and probably my last vehicle. It's fuel efficient, a joy to drive and you can stand up and walk around inside. But most important of all, you can sleep in there.

I'm landscape photographer. A big part of the challenge of shooting landscape revolves around being in the right place at the right time; frequently at the edges of the day. "Magic Hour", it's called. A misnomer, for it lasts just a few minutes, Magic Hour occurs when the sun is very close to the horizon. Those fleeting moments are golden for landscape shooters and we'll do whatever is necessary to be somewhere interesting at those times of the day.

For example, to shoot the sunrise you need to be on location well before dawn. If you stay in motels (seldom found in the wilderness) you need to set your alarm for very early indeed, for it's often a long drive to where you want to be when the sun comes up. Similarly, if you shoot the sunset, you'll frequently find yourself driving home in darkness, arriving back at the motel long after the restaurants have closed.

That's where Frito comes in. See, Frito lets me sleep right at the location. When my alarm goes off, it's just in time for sunrise. If the sky looks uninteresting, I can roll over and go back to sleep. If it looks promising, I'm ready to go instantly. And, of course, Frito is the restaurant. If I need to wait for better light, I can make breakfast.


In Canyonlands National Park under a full moon, Frito and I have this wilderness all to ourselves.

A propane stove, a well-stocked pantry, a fridge, a lawn chair, a hundred litres of water and a comfy bed are all I need. I can stay here in this wilderness campsite for as long as I like. I even have my own pillow.

An unauthorized, yet perfectly legal and convenient campsite on the California coast.

On this little bit of the California coast, no signs said "OVERNIGHT CAMPING PROHIBITED". In fact, there were no signs at all. So I stayed there. Once it was dark, the highway emptied and my soundtrack consisted of nothing but the Pacific Ocean.

Sunset on the open Pacific.

This was the view from my bedroom window. Far better than any hotel I could afford. And I had it all to myself.

Early the next morning, after morning coffee we're ready to go. Off on new adventures.

This is for me the perfect road trip vehicle. Essentially, Frito's a stealth RV. In addition to his many other attributes, a white delivery van like this is basically invisible to the general public. Nobody notices, nobody cares. You can park (and sleep) pretty well anywhere you feel safe.

Oh, and since you're probably wondering.... why is he called "Frito"? I had to name him, like I do all my vehicles. My wife named him. When I brought him home, . She said "If you're going to drive a potato chip truck, you might as well call it Frito".

Created By
Peter Mclennan


Photos by the author

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