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clouds threaten Pusch Ridge near Tucson, AZ
Canon 1DsM3. All photos copyright, Bill Caid 2010. All rights reserved.
After our mechanical issues that we suffered in southern Utah, we purchased a SPOT geo-location transmitter. This device reports your position through a satellite network and plots your path on Google maps. Additionally, the device has the ability to send messages through the satellite indicating that you are "OK", "Need assistance" or are having an emergency event. We hoped to not use the emergency capabilities of the device, but after the last trip, we felt that being prepared was the best solution. To follow our progress and see our current location in "near real time" see http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0W876btSW8SH7xrG6Z70n0NhXS9sne7me Bookmark this location to see our position over time. It shows the last 50 positions.
Go directly to the Trip
The away team for this trip consisted of only one vehicle and 2 folks. Kathleen and I went in our turbo-diesel Mercedes Unimog 1300L with our now-proven Alaskan camper. We would have loved to go with another vehicle, but this was planned to be an extended duration trip and therefore would have been a great imposition on any partners who had "real" jobs. As always, we were prepared for primitive camping. But, analysis of the available road system suggested that we would always be within several day's travel of "civilization".Indeed, most of the travel route would be on paved highways in one form or another. This will be in radical contrast to our other trip, but may turn out to be a welcome change.
For this trip, we will be running our "new" set of Michelin 395/85R20 tires. But, these tires are so big that it is impossible to bring a full size spare without significant re-engineering of the camper setup (which I elected not to do). So, we brought tire repair components instead and are hoping that we will be able to repair any issues we encounter. We do have a spare, but it is significantly smaller that the tires that are mounted. The spare is a 14.5R20, which is not a small tire, just smaller than the 395's. Also, for this trip, we elected to add a 130 watt solar panel and charge controller. That said, we will likely be reasonable close to civilization most of the trip so ask me later about the utility of the panel.
Kathleen and I have traveled extensively in the arid portions of the west. However, we have never been to the south or east coast (in the truck). We had planned a trip to south-central Texas to do some hog hunting and that would be the "anchor date" of the trip. Our plan was to get from San Diego to the hunt site in a timely manner and then do a "slow roll" from there. Neither of us have done hunting before, so our assumption is that we will either love it or hate it and nothing in between. Assuming that we survive uninjured, the balance of the trip should be rather benign.
The link table below contains links to the daily adventures that include photos and dialog.
|San Diego to Sonora, TX|
|Caverns of Sonora|
Hunting in Gonzales, TX
Charles, LA to New Orleans, LA
to Destin, FL
West, FL to Orlando, FL and Space Shuttle Launch
a "Grave" encounter
Washington, NH to Highland Lakes, NJ and Hub Repair
to the Blue Ridge Parkway
to Nixa, MO and Global Expedition Vehicles
to La Junta, CO
to Cripple Creek, CO
to Alamosa, CO
to Show Low, AZ
Low, AZ to San Diego, CA
We had a great time. The trip was long and living in 7'x10' quarters was quite cramped. And, even early in the spring, the southeast was very hot and humid. We encountered many camp locations where the bugs were so bad that we were forced to stay inside, in our hot camper, rather than venture out to become bug bait. We did discover the Thermacell mosquito repellent device and were happy to discover that it actually works. It saved us on many occasions and several of them are part of our permanent kit.
Again, as with our trip in 2009, we were shown great kindness by our fellow unimoggers. The unimog electronic community is clearly one-of-a-kind in that regard. As I told each of the folks that hosted us, if you get into the San Diego area, be sure to contact us so we can meet and return the favor. Mi casa es su casa.
We saw many wonderful things and visited some of the very best places on the east coast. But, despite the rush of seeing new things and meeting new people, it is always great to be back home. Our return home was met with a lengthy action list and some damage due to our renter. But, hopefully, in the weeks ahead, we can get these actions addressed and get things back to normal.
In all, we were gone for 167 days which is 5.5 months. On this trip we covered approximately 20,000 miles and our fuel mileage was 12 mpg. Not too shabby for an older-style motor and a GVW of approximately 16,500 pounds.
some reasonable extremes of temperature. On the outset of our
trip, we were cold and had to run our heater. In the south, we
encountered high temperatures and high humidity. In the west, it
was just high temperatures but the humidity was low.
We expected mechanical trouble and we not disappointed. We ended up changing two (2) hubs before the trip was over. The first hub was changed in NJ and the second in CO. One of the fellow moggers said "Boy, it was lucky that you had the parts". No luck was involved. I ordered these parts before we started our trip in the anticipation of trouble. And that was a good thing because they were needed. And once we used the first set, I ordered another set and had them in hand before the second round of issues. But, the odd thing was that the hub that I expected to fail was not the first to go. It did fail, just not first.
If you attempt an extended road trip, you have to be your own best friend. We carried a number of spare parts that we did not use (thankfully) but did end up having several failures that required the assistance of others to resolve. The fresh water tank in our camper ruptured and it took several weeks to get it fully resolved. And, the resolution required woodworking tools that I do not carry. Through the help our friends Mike and Barb, we were able to get things repaired and back on the road. Expect the unexpected!
The length of our trip was such that we had to do a number of maintenance actions on our rig during the trip. These actions included oil changes, tire rotations and fuel filter changes. We brought all the spare parts needed for these actions with us as we were sure that they would not be available when we needed them. And, of course, there is always the totally unexpected occurrence -- the rock through the windshield. We were able to get the issue addressed with new glass through the kindness of another friend. The result was better than new in that the old glass had war wounds from our Alaskan trip and the new glass was tinted whereas the old glass was not.
Be prepared to address issues as they arise. We had to have the foam in our dinette seats replaced on this trip. Through years of use, the foam finally decayed to the point it was quite uncomfortable to sit on the cushions. And, since the cushions also double as the mattress, the situation became untenable. Since the mattress was our sleeping area, we had to find a vendor that could replace the foam and upholstery in only one day. We stayed in a motel and they did complete the action on short notice; we were lucky that we had a local friend that hooked us up with the right vendor.
We were confronted with several recurring annoyances
on this trip. The biggest issue was the general lack of
availability of a reliable internet connection. We discovered
that we had cell phone service in most areas, but the availability of
internet at RV parks generally sucks. We discovered a little
device called a "mobile hot spot" which is a cell phone that serves as
a wireless router. It has worked great and it provided us with
connectivity in most of the places that we visited. Indeed, it
allowed me to update this very page from some rather remote locations.
about what you may need when you travel. One issue that
confronted us on a continual basis was getting prescriptions
refilled. Usually, CVS was able to do the job, albeit with a few
days notice. This, of course, requires you to know where you will
be in the future to make this happen. We discovered, to our
dismay, that the geographic coverage of CVS was not as wide as we would
have liked and were required to change vendors to Walmart to get what
we wanted where we wanted it.
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Copyright Bill Caid 2010