Many dream of living a freer, more adventurous life with less baggage and fewer belongings, but they keep putting it off. “Next year,” they say, or “when I retire,” or “when the kids grow up.” The trouble is, tomorrow never comes.
Dirk Baumbach, a 60-year-old businessman from Germany, does not believe in putting your dreams in hold. “Travel as far as you can and as often as you can, before it’s too late,” he says.
Dirk has been exploring the world since he was a child. “My parents took me on vacations so I could see more of the world. In 1969, when I was twelve, I remember a trip to Leningrad (today Saint Petersburg) in the former Soviet Union. Traveling to Russia nowadays is no big deal, but back then it was truly exotic,” says Dirk.
Dirk’s choice of vehicle is exotic too, even by the unconventional standards of the mobile living community. Since 1979, he has been the proud owner of a former Warsaw Pact military jeep (an ARO M 461, made in Romania, for anybody out there keen to google the specs). Now well over 50 years old, and with over half a million kilometers on the clock (330,000 miles), Dirk’s vehicle has proven itself to be highly dependable. “Yes, it’s a tough old workhorse. Naturally, I’ve had to replace quite a few parts over the years but with a vehicle like this, you can’t just walk into the nearest parts shop and find what you’re looking for. For instance, it took me over five years to locate a suitable engine,” recalls Dirk.
As you would expect, a vintage Romanian military jeep from the Cold War attracts attention – and opportunities. Thanks to his wheels, Dirk has enjoyed some unforgettable experiences. “In the autumn of 1987, there was an article in the German magazine Stern about a vintage car rally in Latvia to be held in August 1988. Cars from the west being were allowed to take part – by special decree. Bear in mind, this was before the fall of the Iron Curtain and Latvia was still a Soviet republic. I just knew I had to go, a chance like this might not come my way again. So we (a friend joined me on the journey) hooked a Trigano tent trailer to the jeep and headed into unknown territory … literally. In those days, there were no maps – and, of course, no GPS either – but we made it eventually and had a great time together with other enthusiasts.”
In 2018, will Dirk and his wife Brigitte embark on yet another amazing adventure – this time on the other side of the Atlantic. “We aim to spend 9-10 months traveling around the US, including Alaska, while also visiting western Canada. For the first three months we’ll explore the southern states. After that, we head east, follow the coast all the way up to Maine, then we make our way west to Oregon before entering Canada. During the trip, we plan to take part in a number of events hosted by Oldtimer clubs. And we now have our B1/B2 visa, so we’re good to go. From start to finish, we anticipate covering between 40,000 and 60,000 kilometers (25,000-35,000 miles),” says Dirk.
To make life a little easier for them, Dirk and his wife have turned to Dometic. “Yes, we’ll be bringing a number of Dometic products on the journey, a cool-freeze compressor fridge for storing food, an inverter, battery charger and battery booster – as well as a specially designed Dometic eStore Battery System. Because it’s a long journey, we’re also bringing portable toilet and tabs – made by Dometic, of course.”