Hey Brian. I said to Jane that I thought I saw your rig. I cant recall where we were, either NM or Southern Arizona. As to the lack of a GPS, it was a real hassle. The maps we had didn't go across the border, for some reason, so we weren't sure exactly where we were traveling. In addition we knew that the area had heavy human trafficking making it a bit of a dicey proposition to not know where we were.
So, you are very correct about being careful with directions.
The border crossings can be a real hassle and we probably shouldn't have crossed at San Luis up to Yuma. I mean that line at the border went on for hours. I couldn't understand why there were teeth implants and proctologists right next to the curb. Now, I realize I could have gotten really tuned up without losing any time.
Whazoo, you named Sweet Jane if I remember correctly, quoting Mott the Hoople.
We may very well make it up into your country in the next year. Sweet Jane is talking about 2 months on the road, which is a real thrill to me. In the meantime we have a lot of construction to complete on some projects here at home. As to swapping out our dog Hula: she doesn't drink or smoke as much as my last one. And Sweet Jane is crazy about her. So, you'd have to swap out me before she'd let go of Hula the Wonder Dog...
Rockhillmanor, I think Hula got ticked off being left in the Mexican truckers parking lot. For all I know she was barking and defending our rig while we chowed down on exotic versions of huevos rancheros with cactus leaves. I had a football coach who would get so excited when we were blocking and tackling that he would pull up tufts of dirt and grass and eat them. Maybe that's what happened to Hula: she was thrilled with the defense of the Avion and snapping at everything in sight ;-).
Hey John, thanks for the note. Remember last year we went through the wildflowers in the Smokies with you and other truck campers. This was a total spur of the moment decision to go West. Glad we did it...
The story begins with me saying to Sweet Jane: "Why don't we go to New Orleans for my birthday? We'll take along Hula the Wonder Dog, the mini Australian Shepherd. She's such a smart little dog and a good traveler", I said.
So we traveled to New Orleans, saw our niece and nephew, and had a great birthday dinner. Later we tried to stump the bartenders with orders of obscure drinks. Needless to say, we failed to beat the New Orleans Mixologists. The next day was a bit hazy.
We decided to go to Cajun Country near Lafayette for a few days. Then I said to Sweet Jane in a true truck camping moment: "I hear there is once in a life time bloom of desert wildflowers in Arizona and California. Particularly in Anza - Borrego Desert State Park.
Jane said, let's roll. So we headed to California by way of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona.
There is a 43 mile road through the park that the rangers said was a "high clearance 4 wheel drive" road. Of course I took the truck camper. It was a rough road, but the stares of folks along the road with their expedition vehicles was quite enjoyable as we rumbled along.
There were huge swaths of desert flowers at Organ Pipe. We stayed in the campground which had just a few primitive spaces on the week day we were there. No problem with our solar and water tanks.
We headed for Anza-Borrego as we left Organ Pipe. Our GPS had us traveling through the Mexican border at Pikeville, Arizona. The border was just a few miles from the Park so we said, why not? I talked to the ICE guys and they assured me we'd have no trouble getting back into the US even though I wasn't carrying a passport and we didn't have dog papers.
We traveled on Mexico 2 from Sonoyta. It was an extremely nice road, well kept and lightly used. We saw trash containers that looked like sculpture.
We noted that there were a lot of abandoned buildings along the way, though the road shrines were still intact.
Jane and I decided to eat at a Mexican truck stop. We left Hula in the car. Great meal.
When we got back to the truck Hula had eaten the GPS.
I know people say that your dog can get exasperated with you while cooped up. And then they do something that is really, really amazing. But, we trusted Hula. And we thought she trusted us.
Now we had no GPS and we had no map. We wanted to get back into the US on the way to Anza - Borrego Desert State Park in California. We blundered through San Luis, Mexico and were directed to a road that would take into US Immigration. It was a very long line. The line was so long that food vendors worked from the buildings alongside the queue. It moved so slow that you could order ala carte and guys would bring the food to your truck or car. We had burritos and tacos.
We finally made it across the border due to an ICE agent who spent a lot of time in our home town. He decided we were OK. Including Hula. We immediately headed for a Walmart to get another GPS.
We got to Anza - Borregos Desert State Park late at night due to the border crossing. We had no idea of the number of people who were out looking for the "Bloom of a Lifetime". Everything everywhere was filled. We managed to get to a road north of Borregos Springs and boondocked.
In the morning we headed back to Borregos Springs area. We took a wrong turn and wound up in Galetta Meadow, a development of some sort, where there were metal sculptures of fantastical animals as far as you could see.
Turns out the sculptor is Richardo Breceda, a self taught artist. He was commissioned by the developer, a fellow named Dennis Avery, and has created over 129 of the sculptures in the last decade.
But, the amazing thing was that the area was absolutely filled with desert wildflowers. As many as we had seen anywhere. Jane tiptoed through the flowers with Hula.
I was reminded of Tiny Tim who sang "Tip Toe Through the Tulips":
"Knee deep in flowers we'll stray
We'll keep the showers away
And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight
Will you pardon me?"
The crowds crowded us out so we headed north to Joshua Tree National Park.
As usual when we wanted to camp the park was closing, and NO there were no camping spaces. So that was another boondocking night on nearby BLM land. Not bad at all. Its why I love truck camping.
We headed home through Texas. Visiting old friends. At one point I looked in the back seat after detecting a pungent oily smell. Hula had eaten into the Ketane additive for the diesel engine. She was alright. But, we're going to change our camping style or this dog is going to do us all in. Hula the Wonder Dog...I hardly know you.
My wife and I traveled through Northern Europe 2 years ago. We rented a Tonke Silverline http://www.truckcampermagazine.com/expeditions/world-travel/truck-camping-northern-europe/
Its an expensive machine, but a splendid choice for us. However, Tonke makes other models that have been awarded Camper of the Year for 2017 http://www.tonke.eu/en/travel/allcampers
I don't know if the camper would be within your price range or whether it can be imported back into the US. What I can tell you with complete assurance is that Maarten van Soest of Tonke is the one of the most pleasant fellows I have run across. He speaks perfect English, as do most of the Dutch, and can fill you in on absolutely anything to do with camping in Europe. And his campers and vans are brilliant.
Went through Mexico on the way to a once in a lifetime desert flower bloom in Anza Borrego. Turns out that it IS a record bloom but there are as many people as flowers. Dozens of truck campers. We love it but we've had enough. Rolling north to Salton Sea, Indio and Joshua tree. Publish pix when we return to our snowbound home. Silver, you rock.
I'm sitting at a campsite at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in the bottom of Arizona and next to California. I have in my hand a Canebrake Beer from Cajun Country. We're having crawfish ettouffe tonight and it's 89 degrees in the shade.
As usual we had our challenges. The hot water heater sprang a leak. The passenger side tie down failed, tearing out of rotted wood and leaving a Torklift Fastgun on the side of the road somewhere.
But I genuinely feel blessed. Wherever we go there are smiles from the RV folk. They like the fact that a 50 year old camper is on the road. And we enjoy the comfort of our Avion.
Life is good.
There is something that is so thrilling about the desert. And I'm sure your young folks felt it. Its a memory of a lifetime. Best of luck on your new house. We'll be pleased to park in your driveway...
Silver, on the fridge. I may have mentioned that I have a 2.4 CF Nova Kool that fits perfectly into the cabinet. It saved my marriage (just kidding). But, honestly, its an incredible fridge. We have around 200 watts on the roof and two AGM 31 batteries. We can stay out several days, at least. Everything stays nice and cool.
D1, in looking back the one thing I regret is not coming up with a better solution to the windows. The jalousie windows on my coach are hard to see through when shuttered, and too small. I wish I had installed larger clamshell windows that opened out and up, with screens and shades. I think that Dometic carries a line of dark tinted clam shell windows.
I saw that on television when it was first produced. I watched and was vaguely interested until they spotted the Avion in really rough condition. That made me sit up. If I remember correctly we had a string somewhere on this list about the show - and the Avion boat. Amazing transformation.
Hey there D1. Glad to see you're still pursuing the dream.
As to condensation, I have also seen the reports. But, we have never had a problem. I don't know if that's because we seldom camp in really cool weather, have a peculiar air circulation pattern, or always have the vent running if we are cooking. Whatever the case we have remained dry to my knowledge.
I know that Garry has had issues in Alaska. But that is to be expected with the harsh conditions that he encounters (not to mention the number of folks onboard).
Having said that, I'd like a bit more information about the material you described other than aluminum. Is it vulnerable to being pierced, wettened or broken? Takes paint well, if thats your plan?
I really appreciate Brian's post and the subsequent discussion. This is the sort of valuable information (and corrections) that make this forum so valuable. I'd like to hear more, but please leave the critique of administrations out of the mix.
Silver, I think that Southern Illinois is on the way. Cross the Mississippi at St Louis, Cape Giradeau or head on down towards Memphis. Stop on in....we'll talk about KC Bar-b-que that we had just a few weeks ago.
So, I'll install the Olympian Wave catalytic heater instead and use a small 12v fan to circulate the air.
Well, Gee, that is exactly how I rigged my system. I have a separate water heating system that is powered by propane. Frankly, I didn't have any issues except that the Wave set off my CO detector - over and over.
But, last year we traveled through Europe in a Dutch made Tonke "Fieldsleeper" that was equipped with the Truma system. Frankly, it was amazing how gently and quietly the heat warmed the cabin. And it was amazing how much hot water we had - quickly. The whole heat and hot water issue faded into the background during our trip. A very nice development.