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Old 09-04-2013, 07:43 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Dripping Springs
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27 days, 6173 miles; Central TX to the Pacific Ocean and back observations

My DW enjoyed her last day in the office Aug. 7, we left our ranch near Dripping Springs, TX the next day for Bend, OR. Thanks to complications from the various schedules of our 2 kids, we needed to land in Bend ASAP. This meant four 500-mile days in a row. I do NOT recommend this, nor will I repeat it; but once done it was great. First night was in Lake Sumner SP, NM; second was in Moab, UT; third in a private CG on the Snake River in ID; and fourth was in LaPine SP south of Bend. <1st thing learned: use the deadbolts on the TT door, the snap locks will flex and let the door fly open otherwise.> <2nd thing learned: make park reservations well AHEAD of time, lots of folks RVing this time of year. Especially in OR and WA.> <3rd: don't overlook county parks, we found a fantastic park in Lane County near Eugene that was IN the city, but still had ample space, was on the McKenzie River, and even had wi-fi!>

Getting to Eugene was tough: my DW, acting as navigator, directed me onto a road that led from Bend to Eugene over the McKenzie Pass. I pointed out to her the multiple signs stating "No rigs over 35' long." Let's see, the WH we towed is 31', so unless my truck is 4' long, we're in trouble. Turns out, we were. There were 15 miles of switchbacks rated at 10-20 MPH, and the center 2 miles of the road went through a lava flow that the road had been carved out of. This means that where the pavement ended, so did the lava, on both sides of the road, at say, 8-10' of height. Luckily, we did NOT meet some other goobers like us coming the other way, and we made it through with only my severe nervousness as DW described the beautiful sights out the windows of the TV. <4th: DO NOT rely totally on DW for navigation, look at route BEFORE hand.>

Once at the Pacific Ocean (Westport, WA) we could slow down for a bit. Hauling the trailer was easy; and we lucked into a great campsite at Grayland SP just by showing up at the right time. <5th: we'd been trying to reserve a place at this CG for weeks>

After visiting with family/friends, we reversed course towards Yellowstone NP. Spent one night in Yakima, WA, in a SP within the city limits; then another night in St. Regis, MT. Next we moved onto W. Yellowstone, MT where we boondocked in a federal CG called Rainbow Point. It was great, not too far from the town, but a fine place for two nights. From there we moved into Yellowstone Park proper, to a CG at the Fishing Bridge community. It was a "rack 'em and stack 'em" CG with slightly more charm than a Walmart parking lot. BUT, it was centrally located and allowed us to explore a very busy NP at a slightly more leisurely pace.

From there, we moved S to the Grand Tetons, whose visitor centers, et al, seemed equally crowded as those of Yellowstone. We found a CG south and boondocked there for two days. <6th: even at some popular parks, there are CGs that rarely fill, especially if you're boondocking.>

From the Tetons, we returned to Moab, which we'd blasted through on our way NW. We stayed one night at the same private CG, spent a day exploring Arches NP; and then moved towards Mesa Verde NP. <7th: NO problem getting a water/elec. campsite there, on short notice. Turns out annual visitation at MVNP is around 500k.> Spent two nights there, then headed towards Pagosa Springs.

Spent one night there, boondocking in the Ute Campground, then headed for home. <8th: Honda 3000is genny will power AC ONLY, at least at 7000+ feet. Don't try to run fridge, water heater, or certainly microwave!>

We dropped into NM and hit 1, 2, and 3 state parks on Sunday, Sep. 1, thinking it wouldn't be very difficult to find an electric site. Each site put us closer to home, and it was only when we hit Sumner Lake SP (north of Fort Sumner) that we found our site. <9th: it was EMPTY on our first night headed NW; FULL on the Labor Day weekend. We got lucky, someone had booked 10 sites for a family reunion; but family had left 2 sites that Sunday! We got one.>

Last night we spent at Abilene, TX SP, thinking we could dine at the famous Perini Ranch Steakhouse, 1 mile away. Park was empty, we had a great site; when we got to the Steakhouse it was closed. <10th: CALL ahead!>

All in all it was a very fun run, but more driving, less enjoying than I had anticipated. For our next similar run, we'll plan farther ahead and allow more time to enjoy. We didn't spend more than 2 nights in any one place, my goal would be to aim at spending 3-4 nights at the least. Time will tell if this occurs on future trips.

The TV did great, fuel economy averaged 6.5 MPG at the worst, and 12.83 at best (with some miles w/o TT). Most "towing" averages ran from 8-9, which is about "normal." TT did great, too, no major issues that required immediate attention. (Carbon mono detector went awry the 5th night, had to disconnect it.)

BUT, it was really nice on our first night home to enjoy a long shower in a full size shower! Only bummer is that it still is HOT and DRY in Central TX. We already miss the morning lows in the 50s and highs in upper 70s/low 80s!


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Old 09-04-2013, 07:55 PM   #2
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Wow, your trip sounds like it was a great adventure....., especially the Bend to Eugene road, I sure wouldn't want that tow either. Boondocking, you picked some great locations along your route.

If you get a chance, post some high-lite pics....., did the DW take any pics along Lava Flow Pass



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Old 09-04-2013, 07:57 PM   #3
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Sounds like a nice trip.
Glad you made it home safely.
I also find 3-4 day stays more enjoyable, even if I am lounging around the camp site.

Best regards,

Southwest, Ohio
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Old 09-04-2013, 08:38 PM   #4
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Good report; thanks!
Richard & Marilyn
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:12 PM   #5
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Location: Bozeman
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Very awesome, I have driven many of the same roads you talked about, except not the McKenzie Pass, this past June I towed a large utility trailer along Hwy 20 from Bend to Lebanon Or, it's just north of McKenzie pass and quite similar with the hairpin turns.

Also in July, I camped at Rainbow Point campground near Yellowstone, isn't that place great? Loved it....

Glad you had a great trip

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Old 09-14-2013, 02:24 AM   #6
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Location: Seattle, WA
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Very nice! Being a WA resident I concur, most State Park campsites in WA are full throughout the summer months. It's best to book well in advance.
Enrico and Donna + 2 kids
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Old 09-14-2013, 09:23 AM   #7
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Location: Dale Hollow Lake Tn/Ky
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Nice trip. Couple ??'s and a comment or 2. Why didn't you use Walmart lots on the overnights out? You were logging a lot of miles and just stopping to rest and eat. No reservations needed and they love you since RV'ers spend a lot of money there. Never been hassled and never been told I wasn't welcome. Most of the time there are 3 - 6 others doing the same thing. Faster stops, not real set up [flat asphalt], and fresh coffee and donuts in the AM. I've tried the DW navigator plan before and she has a lot of strengths, but map reading and directions are not among them. Her typical direction is "turn that way"? or "get in that lane [when there are 5 to choose from". Thank the lord for GPS and the internet. I always plan out the road trip part of all our adventures. The DW just can't master "right and left" or "move to the left lane and continue straight" and prefers just pointing at the map on her lap. I'm a two time visiters to the lava fields you drove thru. They put those signs up for a reason. You're very lucky you made it thru and that you couldn't hear the comments and "?&*(&()*(^*" language those behind and passing you were uttering. Been there and done that, we've all made those type mistakes. Eugene is a college town and has all the college town nuances. Narrow streets, confusing road signs, and students [also lifetime students] everywhere. Son lives there so we've done the dance a few times. Did a drift boat trip on the McKensie a couple years ago.

Went from Ky to Willamsburg VA a few years ago and no mountains there but the coastline creates a lot of the same "can see it but can't get there from here", situations. That's when I got my first GPS. What a blessing. Cut arguments by 80% and made for a lot of marital bliss. Final suggestion is to consider renting the RV on long trips west or ?? We've done it twice to Alaska and 2 years ago to Oregon. We flew to Eugene and rented a Mhome for a 10 day drive thru the Oregon Mtns and the Columbia River gorge. Visit to Mt St Helens was amazing. It will very quickly give you reason to never again doubt the power of mother nature. Why rent when you own an RV. Simple we can fly for less than the cost of fuel to pull the TT and our vacation is to enjoy Oregon, Alaska, or places far away. Arrive rested and when we amazed our selves with all that we've seen we turn in the RV and fly home. Almost everyone we met on our Alaska trips who drove from the lower 48 will never do it again. They have logged 5 to 8 thousand miles by the time they cross the Ak state line.

Sounds like you had a great trip. Rest up for the next one.

For the most part, we avoid reservations on our trips unless we are targeting a specific destination. Since we retired time and distance is much less a factor and allows us the flexibility to roll with the punches. Using WMart on the road and seeking out out of the way CG's has never let us down.

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