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Old 06-28-2012, 12:33 AM   #1
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Ohio to California- Tips and Advice welcomed

My name is Michael Miller- I have been a member of the Forums for a few years and always enjoy reading on here and I thought I would ask for some advice on my first long- multi day driving trip with my camper.

I will be leaving Afghanistan in 35 days and have planned to take a long trip out west to relax and explore after being away for a while.

For the most part my trips have always been 500 miles or less and I have arrived at my destination in one day of drving, so my 7000 mile trip out west and back will be my longest to date in my camper.

I will list some of the stuff I am planning to do to make my journey easier and please feel free to comment or post any suggestions on things to do or see or precautions to take.

Its appreciated.

I have made some purchases while I have been away this year, and will be utilizing and Equalizer hitch for the first time on my trip, and I also purchased some Camper Mirrors that will be an upgrade from the mirror extensions I typically use.


I have bought some 5 Gallon water jugs and have an additional 240Watts of Solar Panels that I will add to my current system to get me up to 350W of possible solar power at 20AMPs per hour. I live a 3 hours from the Factory and will have them upgrade my system. I plan on upgrading to two new Lifeline 12V Batteries prior to the trip as well.

I will have the local RV shop go over my axles, brakes and wheel bearings as soon as I get home, since my camper has now sat idle for over a year.

I would like to switch out my factory Microwave oven for standard propane oven that I can boondock better with, so I am looking for an oven currently to swap out.

Other then the above maintenance and upgrades, that is all I was planning on having done prior to my trip. Any other suggestions?
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:55 AM   #2
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Trip Info

I plan to spend at least a Month on the Road and am fairly flexible with my schedule and will depart Labor Day weekend. Unsure of which highway I will take south to I-40 to head west, so a lot is still in the air as far as which roads to take. I plan to just sleep on the Highway at rest stops and the sort and make use of my Solar Panels and battery power to keep the fans running and will live off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while I drive the 2000 mile west to the Grand Canyon alone.

My plan is as follows:

August 31- Depart Kent, Ohio
1 Sept- Drive
2 Sept- Drive
3 Sept- Drive
4 Sept- Arrive South Rim Grand Canyon at Mather Campground
5 Sept Begin Hike- South Rim to North Rim 23 miles
6 Sept Hike-
7 Sept Return from Hike
8 Sept Relax- depart Grand Canyon and check out Havasu Falls- hike in and swim
9 Sept Hoover Dam- Arrive at Vegas Desert Eagle Campground- Nellis Air Force Base
10 Sept Pick up my little Sister- she is 23, but she is the baby of the family. My parents will also be with her, so we will all have a day together.
11 Sept Depart Vegas- Arrive San Diego Del Mar Campground, Camp Pendleton Marine Base
12- Surf and chill
13- Surf and chill
14- Depart San Diego- Destination Unkown- We will just drive up the coast- may check out Malibu or just find a cool place to explore
15- Head towards Fresno- I may go and get the camper all set up at the Park prior to picking up a friend flying into Fresno, the Airport is only an hour away staying at Azalea National Forest Campground
16- Explore the Sequoia and Kings NP- General Sherman and Tunnel Tree and just soak it all in
17- Finish Sequoia and Kings and head to Yosemite- Crane Campground not far from Yosemite Valley,
18- Yosemite
19- Yosemite - Possible Half Dome day hike
20- Depart Yosemite- Arrive San Francisco-
21- San Francisco Explore- Depart-
22- Napa Valley
23- Redwood
24- Redwood
25- Sister and Friend to the Airport

And then I m alone again, and have yet to decide on any other destinations or to just head home and enjoy the sights on the way.

Unsure of where to stay in San Francisco, Napa and the Redwoods so if anyone has any suggestions let me know.

I drove to Montana before I left and have been to Yellowstone, the Badlands, Deadwood and Mount Rushmore, so I am not sure if I need to take I-90 home since I have made that journey already. I-80 may be the plan
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:54 AM   #3
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San Onofre- Military Campground

I may have changed my mind on staying at Del Mar Campground on the South Side of Camp Pendleton, and may book a spot at San Onofre instead. A little farther from the city, but I m really looking for a place I can do some Surfing and take a nice morning run on the beach and San Onofre seems to be the better bet. I can't reserve a spot until 10 weeks out, So I have to wait 4 more days, but hopefully something will be available there. I don't mind dry camping at all, as long as I can keep my little sister from using all the water during her showers lol.

Really excited about this trip, can't wait to fly out of Afghanistan in the next few weeks. This is my third tour overseas, two times to Iraq and now a year here and I guess I feel as if I have put this trip off for too long, and finally making it a reality has given me something to look forward to- on top of just getting home and seeing my friends and family.
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:58 AM   #4
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Thanks for your service. Try to keep the trip as slow and easy as possible. Too much planning sometimes leads to stress. Family visits are so very important, emphasize them. I t is FUN, so treat the trip that way. Did the Rough Riders beat the Ravens this year? Grew up in Kent but that was a lifetime ago. Be safe. Jim
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:06 AM   #5
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If you find a place to camp that you really like try to stay there at least one more day and DO NOTHING but CHILL. Very good for the soul. Have a great adventure. Jim
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:52 AM   #6
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Welcome home and have fun.

The first thing I bought when I started using my Equilizer hitch was a spare set of pins and the "L" shaped aluminum brackets that hold the bars to the hitch. The Equalizer web site sells a kit that contains all the spares in one package. I also purchased another lift lever, keep one in the trailer and one in the truck, that was probably over kill but I sleep better knowing I've got spares.

On the hitch subject I also carry the proper size wrenches and sockets to check the security of all the bolts and a spray can of white lithium grease to lube the ball and moving parts on the hitch.

Don't box yourself into a set schedule if you see something that looks good take a detour and explore the country - most of all have fun.
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Old 06-28-2012, 08:07 AM   #7
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MGM,
If you are heading to I40 it might be a great chance to take route 66. It is a trip I still look forward to making some day. Please keep us updated as you take your trip. It would be great to go with you virtually.
Thank you for your service to our country. I hope and pray that the trip will be a wonderful experience and a good reward for all your sacrifices.
Kathy
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:31 AM   #8
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This sounds like a great trip. My only suggestions is, San Onofre can get a bit noisy. The camp sites are located right on the freeway and the truckers have the tendency to use their jake brakes going down the small grade. If your in the military, I would suggest to stay at the camp ground on Camp Pendleton. It sits right on the World class surf break Trestles. When I lived in So. Cal. I use to do the 2.5 mile walk to get there. I was all ways jealous that we couldn't park in the parking lot and unload and surf.

Thanks for your services.

Surfs up,
Robert
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Old 06-29-2012, 04:23 AM   #9
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LED Lights Purchased

Well, I finally broke down and bought the LED lights for the Camper. Only purchased the cieling lights for now. I will replace the rest down the road.
The Factory had them in stock, and they were on back order at LED4R, but I felt bad not giving Dan the business. So I purchased them from him. I went with the Warm White 12 LED at $14.95, but with free shipping and no tax, it will be cheaper then what Airstream could have offered.

Now I just need to get my 2 new Lifeline Batteries, after reading so much about 6V versus 12V, I decided to go with the 12V- simply because I don't think I need the huge AMP hours the 6Vs have for my style of camping, and the extra weight I would rather have available for other stuff.

So with my 350W of Solar Panels I feel confident I can break even on my nightly use when the sun rises.

I m going to purchase the Lifeline 31XT at 125 AMP Hours a piece that will give 250 AMP hours which is a 100AMP increase from my current set up of 150 AMPs between my 2 generic batteries.

The best price I have seen on them is $377 a piece with free shipping, I m gonna wait a week or two to see if I can find anything cheaper before I pull the trigger.

Getting the camper set up is getting expensive lol, but these are purchases I have wanted to make for a long time now I can finally rationalize them when I know I will be boondocking near the ocean soon

Money well spent
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:18 AM   #10
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Just an observation: Azalea National Park is in Sequoia, and the drive up 180 from Fresno is a very windy road. One hour to Airport may be a little ambitous. Also, I think you may not be able to purchase fuel in the park, so driving up and back, be sure you have plenty of fuel. September in the Sierra Nevada mountains is beautiful. Enjoy.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:33 AM   #11
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Yeah, I have been checking out the route from the Airport to Azalea, I didnt want to wast the gas, but I think I may go to the campground and get everything set and then make the trip to go pick up my friend when he lands. He has a long flight from Syracuse, NY after he is in a wedding, so I m hoping he won't be too jet lagged when he arrives, because I will want to explore the next day.

I will be sure to fill up when I see a gas station on the way back. Thanks for the advice. Other then the Park, Any tips or favorite spots, bars or restaurant in the area to check out?
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:55 PM   #12
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Campgrounds Booked

I lose my internet in Afghanistan at the base I am at in the next week, so i decided to make the best of my last few days of connectivity and book some campground Reservations.

I was able to secure a spot for 4 nights at Mather Campground at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, as well as some spots at Military Campgrounds.

I will stay at Desert Eagle RV Park at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and then on the beach at Camp Pendleton Marine Base in San Diego at San Onofre Beach Campground.

Was happy to be able to make some reservations in advance.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:04 PM   #13
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Have you thought about venturing South on the way home? I-40 perhaps? At least until Nashville and then head north. Northern Arizona, and New Mexico are absoutely gorgeous and there are is plenty to see along the way. This approach would obviously require you to veer A LOT south out Cali, but may be worth it...just my 2 cents.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:07 PM   #14
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LED4RV gave me a 5% discount for bulk order over $300

Well,
Buying the LED lights wasnt cheap, and even though I decided to only change my ceiling lights for now- which cost me $373.00 roughly for 25 new LED Lights, I was excited to see that LED4RV sent me a rebate of $18.25.

Nothing huge, but hey- thats all the more reason why I will order the rest of my lights from Dan at LED4RV. With free shipping and a nice rebate, that trumps ordering the same bulbs from the Factory by quite a lot.
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