The Arctic Fox 990 – AKA The Cupcake Chronicles

The Arctic Fox 990 signals change, and we’re excited to be opening a new chapter in our lives with you.  We’re going to call this chapter the “Cupcake Chronicles”.  We’ll update our website with posts about where we’re “at” and what we’re “doing”.  We have a few new methods for you to follow along with us and engage on our adventures. We’re going to be splitting our posts up a bit.  Some posts will continue to populate on our free website, other posts will head directly to our Patreon Site, and only be available for our community members. Click “here” to learn more.

Homeless by choice during a global pandemic

Being homeless during a worldwide pandemic has created a unique set of circumstances for us to navigate.  We no longer have a home.  Our personal possessions are in storage in Portland Oregon.

When we returned to the US in March we traveled to Colorado to reside at my parents’ empty house.  Our goal was to inventory their remaining possessions, ship items to family members who expressed an interest, and then sell/donate all the remaining items.  Through several months of work, we cleaned out and cleaned up the house. 

We began to explore “camper” options

We started venturing out in Colorado in late April and looking at small motor homes, bigger motor homes, tow behind and camper trucks.  The idea of a camper truck appeals to us.  It’s a camper that fits into the truck bed.  We did an obscene amount of research and narrowed our search down to camper trucks due to the ability to really go “off road” and not be confined to campgrounds.

We sold my parents car in May.  Not really having a concrete plan of our own, but recognizing the limitations of the camper van (Like I don’t fit in it!) we decided to also list it for sale on Craigslist.  If it sold, we’d look at buying something different.  If it didn’t sell, our next adventure would be in the camper van.  We were a little surprised that it sold within a matter of days.

Buying a truck-sight unseen

After renting a car, we got down to the business of finding a truck.  We wanted a workhorse, but couldn’t afford a “new” workhorse.  We settled our search on a 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 dually with a 5.9l diesel.  It was more challenging to find the exact right truck than we thought it would be.  We found trucks in PA, UT and TX and had each inspected.  We opted for the truck out of Texas, new to us at 120k miles.

The Arctic Fox 990 and Dodge Ram 3500 are a great combination
Noelle almost needs a step stool to get into the truck!

We were going to travel to Houston and pick up the truck ourselves, but COVID cases were spiking at that point in time, so we had the truck shipped to us in Colorado. We had the truck inspected locally and received a reasonably clean bill of health. It’s a used truck, so…

Purchasing the Arctic Fox 990 truck camper

We purchased an Arctic Fox 900 Truck Camper from a local dealer in Colorado after a lot of investigation, heart burn and hand wringing.  We must have visited that dealership four times, plus six or seven visits to other dealerships and private owners as we worked our way through the selection process.

The Arctic Fox 990 and Dodge Ram 3500 are a great combination
It’s huge!

The first thought I had when I saw the truck (with beefed up rear suspension) with the 990 in the truck bed was “Holy Shit!  It’s huge!” (Insert Michael Scott joke here.)  The sales guy laughed and said that most new owners are shocked at the size of the truck plus the camper.  We’re about 13 feet/3.9M tall.  We’re learning to pay close attention to all bridge height signage.

The Arctic Fox 990 and Dodge Ram 3500 are a great combination
Ready to rumble to a back road near you!

Where shall we travel in our Arctic Fox 990?

So now we own an Arctic Fox 990 and a Dodge Ram 3500 diesel.  We thought about traveling to the Arctic Ocean, but the Canadian border is closed due to COVID.  We thought about traveling to Central/South America, but the Mexican border is also closed.  So what to do?  Ready for our big plan?

We’re going to go somewhere south in the United States after the Thanksgiving holiday.  There you go.  That’s the sum of our current plan. Between here and Thanksgiving we’ll bounce around in a few National Parks, burn the last of our health insurance benefits in Portland, and try to start dropping our bonus COVID weight.

Cupcake-How we named the Arctic Fox 990

Noelle placing the Cupcake decal on the Arctic Fox 990
Noelle’s placing the Cupcake decal on the 990

In a previous post I shared with you that I called Noelle’s dad “Cupcake” and he called me “Sweetheart”.  When we visited with him last year via the “Shaggin’ Wagon” he expressed an interest in just leaving his assisted living facility and hitting the road with us. 

We know he would have loved the idea of hitting the road in the truck camper, so we used the inheritance that he left us to purchase the camper. It seems only fitting that we name the camper after him! We’d rather he were here with us, but we’re incredibly grateful for the gift that he left us.

Why does one man need so much toothpaste?!?

During one visit with Noelle’s parents, I couldn’t help myself. I lined up all of Cupcake’s toothpastes and asked him why he needed so many. With a slow drawl he replied, “Well Sweetheart, some days I feel like my mouth wants Crest, other days it may want Colgate, on weekends my mouth prefers Close-up.”

I miss you Cupcake. The irony of you being gone this year, when we really needed your help to talk about diesel engines, isn’t lost on us.


  1. Heidi Halverson

    Awesome. You guys rock! My recommendations: Do Rocky Mtn Natl Park while you are still around there. About now is when the elk are bugling and it’s amazing. I wish I had seen more into the park, but the valley is great. Also huge elk herd up outside Tetons, but I think they have serious snow already. We were going to hike the Tetons this summer, but alas, COVID, and we purchased new appliances instead of family vacation. For winter – 4 corners, Mesa Verde, arches, you can drive through monument valley with 4WD, Great sand dunes, NM has white sands, which is also nice, but I would check out sedona and grand canyon. If I had time and money that’s what I would do – hike the hell out of the grand canyon in the off season. Also – in Utah there’s Zion, never done it, but would love to. Mtn biking? Rock climbing? Open your wheelhouse. These things dovetail with hiking and are more adventurous, but you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy them. I think beginners have more fun 😉

    Rock on…

  2. Colleen

    I’m glad you have your tracking device on again! I love watching where you have been. Sweetheart had quite a collection of Visine, as well. “The better to see you with, Cupcake! 🙂

    • mcgarveysan

      He was man of many tastes! We’re also glad to power up the tracking device once again.
      SO good to see you and Patrick when we were home.

  3. Gregory Fast

    Let the adventures begin! (again)

    • mcgarveysan

      Whoop Whoop! Hugs to you and Kathleen!

  4. Karen E Huck

    I love the toothpaste story! And can we see pictures of the inside? I’m curious about how you are feeling about space.

    • mcgarveysan

      We’ll definitely be posting about the inside of Cupcake! There’s lots of curiosity.

  5. Jason 80

    Your choice of truck year and model AND camper model is on point!! Great choices!
    Hoping in 5 years I will be joining you guys on the road with a new sprinter or RAM promaster built into my new home.

    • mcgarveysan

      We received great input on the truck from our son, who is a mini-Jason! We’ve already put the truck and camper into serious four wheel drive situations (that maybe we shouldn’t have!) and the truck has responded perfectly. Our shorts however, were rather moist. More about that on a future post.

  6. VFat

    Somehow I can’t imagine the two of you in Cupcake in the Florida Keys. Seems too…warm? Too humid? But then maybe you’ll just laze on the beach, enjoy the light breeze and work on those Oregon tans. And weave straw hats for use on a future trail.

    Steve – check out “An Island to Oneself” by Tom Neale. I read it first about a decade ago, and I go back to it at least once a year. It is a tropical vacation/adventure in a book, and I feel refreshed just thinking about it.

    Also, “A Place in the Woods” and its sequels by Helen Hoover. Life in the north woods by a couple that leaves Chicago…tremendously engaging.


    • mcgarveysan

      Hey VFat!

      We spent time in Central America a few years ago and we both found out that we wilt a bit under high heat and humidity!
      So, we’ll see how the Keys play out. I think we’ll be OK for heat/humidity in Florida, during the cool season!
      I’m an OK beach person for about two or three days, after that, I’m looking for the next adventure.

      I’m still reading the Regan diaries, but I’ve also started in on Jupiter’s travels. (Whew, that’s some seriously dense sentence structure.)
      I’ll definitely check out your recommendations though!


  7. Elizabeth Stiffler

    So happy for you. This armchair traveler is looking forward to seeing and reading about your adventures. I would have loved to have done a US road trip. Vaya con Dios!💖

    • mcgarveysan

      We’re thrilled that you continue to follow our adventures! What suggestions do you have for us when the weather turns cold up North?


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