I have really enjoyed the trip reports of others. Now I want to share my own. I purchased a truck camper because photography is one of my hobbies and I want to step out in the morning at the right spot and capture the magical light at sunrise. Then either go back to bed or enjoy a cup of coffee in climate controlled comfort. Not a 3.5 hour drive in the dark, nor a cold night in a tent. Been there, done that and current TC's are just the answer. I am going to do this in 3 parts as I want to share photo's and I can be a bit verbose (already obvious). My main reason to share is to give others idea's of places to go. (Wazoo, I have to visit the Doll House, thank you.)
So with a new truck and a new camper, off on my first adventure. So much happened that it was not a trip, but an adventure. The first day I almost ran out of diesel (which is apparently bad for the injectors) because of strong head winds and overestimating mileage. Did run out of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) and was hit by a micro-burst from a thunderstorm at the New Mexico border. Watched the storm for a ways and recognized a wall cloud that storm chasers get all exited about on TV. Didn't see any roiling, but all of the sudden, straight from the right a 70+ mph gust. I did not know a dually could lean over that far. Had to get off the road and sit that one out. Took me over 10 hours to go about 340 miles. Had to make adjustments to all my estimates for the rest of the trip. Didn't make it where I wanted to but stayed in a nice KOA on the eastern edge of Tucumcari, NM. Nice campground and recommended. It went from the low 80's to 48 degrees in about 15 minutes when I was hit by that micro-burst. Since I wanted to use the heater for this first time, I wanted to have some ventilation. But with 45+ mph winds directly from behind, could not open the top vents. After looking around saw the cab access window. Cracked it about an inch and it was perfect. Also, gusts over 50 mph really make a slide out awning flap. Oh and getting into my camper I saw that my big lens had ripped the hinges off the ward I was storing it in.
Don't know if it was the micro-burst or I40 thru Amarillo. And I had tried to wedge it in securely with stuff.
Well the next morning wanted an early start to get to Valley of the Gods in Utah. Never heard of it, but sounds interesting so why not check it out. Well as I battening down and getting ready to leave was hit with gastric distress. The ham sandwich I ate the day before must have been past it's prime. 6 hours later I have used up almost half my black water capacity and I haven't really started my trip yet. So with a late start, head off to my next night. As I am driving though New Mexico, then worse in Arizona, then bad in Utah the truck was pulling to the right. I am thinking I have to get an alignment and where can I get it. (Answer below.) I do make it to Valley of the Gods however.
Sorry for all the verbiage, but this is my first ever truck camping adventure and that is how it started out.
Valley of the Gods is kind of an northern extension of Monument Valley, but on BLM land with free camping and less crowded. Here is a picture southwest towards Arizona and Monument Valley.
Here is a shot to north, of Valley of the Gods.
Yeah, that looks good. It has a loop road, so start the loop and take a picture.
Even though it is BLM land, they ask that you only use established sites. Well at the base of a pair of picturesque twin buttes was a very large very white trailer attached to a Suburban or GM truck with a shell. Well I could "photoshop" it out, but I do things the old fashion way. Put a couple of lenses in the pockets of a photo vest, tripod over the shoulder and hoof it out to where a swale obscures the eyesore naturally.
One gets unique perspectives that way, so try another.
As long as we are looking at things differently, try a short telephoto (135mm) and isolate the subject.
Or, ooh ... ooh, backlit hoodoo's
Back to the rig and continue heading in. The dust trails on the right are two vehicles that I pulled over and let past. Now that I am here, I am in no hurry.
This spot looks good for my first real night with my camper.
I can't remember his name or id, but a fellow member started posting a view out the window in his trip reports. A great idea. Here is the view out the window.
Now here is a shot that would look good in a signature.
Now sunrise in the desert with clouds can be spectacular. But for the other 359-360 days of the year it is fleeting. A brief flash of color on suspended dust in the atmosphere. (I was blessed with a wispy cloud.)
Usually I just try to capture light play on the formations as the sun broaches the horizon.
But wait! What's this!? A monumental shadow on the desert floor. That's my camper (and a ghostly me behind it snapping the photo at full resolution). I have proof positive that my rig casts a giant shadow. :-)
One more shot of natures more impressive shadow play.
As the lyrics say - There's got to be a morning after. As I was doing my walk around prior to heading to my next camping spot, I noticed that my right inner dually was so low that it was rubbing my outer dually. That is not good. It also explains why the rig was pulling to the right. A lesson learned. For you new dually owners out there, if it starts pulling one way or the other, STOP! And check your tires. I do an inspection every morning, but did not do it yesterday because gastric distress distracted me. Oh well, nothing to do but shed the camper and put on the spare.
I remember the good 'ol days when if someone was stopped by the side of the road anybody passing by would offer help. Even on major paved roads. Even if I was only taking a picture. Well at least 12-15 passed by me in obvious distress and nobody stopped. Most slowed down to take a snapshot including a couple with a popup who after taking a picture waved and laughed as they sped off. (B%$%er&'s) These rims and tires weigh 150 lbs and I can only get them on/off with a heavy truck tire dolly. The small hard wheels on the end of the dolly would not roll on gravelly dirt. But after much grunting and kicking got them changed. Sharp eyed fellow dually owners out there probably noticed in the above picture that I forgot to swing out my dually brackets. Amazingly a 2012 AF 1150 will just slightly rub on a 2011 F350 DRW.
Pretty much only rubbed the dirt off with no noticeable scratches on the wheel wells. Ahh, but now the fun. I had maneuvered the truck to the best spot for a bottle jack and heavy truck tire dolly after shedding the camper. And now I get to load my camper for the second time ever, by myself, with the dually jacks in. Do you know how hard it is to move the rear end over 1/16th of an inch either direction? (Preferably 1/128th of an inch.) Well I got the wheel wells in with only minor scratches, but the truck was still not square with the camper, so lots of back and forth keeping the wells inside the jacks. Whew, I did get loaded up, so time to continue my adventure.
A couple of views in the harsh midday sun.
Ohhh, so that is how it works. A ridge is weathered to a knife ridge, and then the end is isolated. A monument is born.
The colors of the lower strata are nice.
After driving around a bit, found a good spot for my second night.
Although not needed here I have 6 wheel drive (5 actually, don't have a front locker). :-) Though with the limited slip in the rear, I do have full time 4WD. Came in handy at the back of the loop where the road does get steep. Could feel the tremendous (and high) weight of the camper, but did not even consider engaging the front axle.
It was a nice day, upper 70's with feint breeze, so I opened up all windows and vents. As I was eating a late lunch a mid sized dust devil hit me. I mean it centered me and proceeded to blow sand and dust in every single opening in turn while sucking it throughout with all the other openings. It was about the diameter of my rig. Sigh!
One more image showing the nice ground clearance with my 34.5" diameter tires. That comes into play in Part 3.
It was a nice spot, so here are the views out the window whilst drinking my coffee the next morning.
While drinking my coffee I thought about my lack of a spare tire. My next destination was to be 3 nights in Capitol Reef. But I want to get my spare fixed, so looked at the atlas to see if there was someplace on the way to get it fixed. Thought about Henrietta, but decided to back track to Blanding as I have been there before and knew it was big enough. (Turns out Henrietta is just a whistle stop, so was a good choice.) Well today happens to be Sunday and I know that nothing would be open. So where is someplace I can stay near Blanding? Well there is a Devil's Canyon CG just north, so that is my next destination. Before we go there a couple of more midday vista's at the other end of the loop.
Now to Devil's Canyon CG. From "Valley of the Gods" to "Devil's Canyon" I must be taking the GRAND tour this trip. (Not as handy with prose as Dante or Wazoo however.) Here is my camp site.
That is a very nice campground and is highly recommended. Campsites are mostly spread far apart and isolated. The fresh pine scent was almost overwhelming, but very nice. Those that have been between Moab and Blanding will understand my surprise at the pines. Walked the 1/3 of mile to the end of loop C (my loop) and there is a self guided walking tour. Near the end is an Anasazi granary that they estimate to be 1100 years old. It is in Devil's Canyon proper.
Here are the views out the window the next morning during coffee.
So now to Blanding at 8:00 am to get my tire fixed. They lent me a 1/2" socket wrench and right sized socket so I could lower my spare without shedding the camper. Something to add to my tool list. It turns out that there was a leak at the bead. He dismounted the tire and there was a manufacturers sticker that encroached onto the bead. He ground it off and re-mounted the tire. Ahhh, I have a spare again.
This concludes Part 1 of my adventure. Hope you enjoyed. Next will be Capitol Reef and Kodachrome Park.
2011 F350 DRW, Rickson 19.5X7.5 Rims, Goodyear G622RSD 265/70R19.5
2012 Arctic Fox 1150 Wet Bath
Torklift tie downs and Fastguns
May you always have a tail wind. (Cheaper that way :-)
2005 Dodge 3500 DRW:Firestone air bags w/ in dual cab control, Rancho 9000, Helwig sway bar, 55 gal fuel tank, cold air box
2005 Lance 1191: generator, TV, A/C, solar
Bayliner 19.5 Capri & 12 ft. Gregor
Rosie the dog
Haven't been to Valley of the Gods yet and from your photos I'm going to have add it to my very long list. This one photo of your would be a good contender in the next TMC calender contest, a very nice shot.
Enjoyed your adventure. I drove by Valley of The Gods 2 years ago on a road trip by car. Wished I had an RV to enjoy that beautiful place. I am now shopping for an Arctic Fox camper and dually truck so can appreciate how much you enjoyed yours. It's on my "bucket list".
2005 Dodge Ram, Laramie Quad Cab, 3500 1 ton Dually, 4X4, Auto, Leather Interior, Sunroof, 8 ft. Bed, BD Exhaust Brake, Stainless Exhaust, PacBrake Air Suspension,
2007 Arctic Fox 990 Camper
This is the part of this country that the Truck Camper excels in and your grand photos and narrative helps the scenery have perspective. It is nice to see that there is someone that wants to take the great Whazoo on, too, with trip reports. There are never enough trip reports and your first one is a good one too. It is always great when someone takes the time to include narrative with their photos. What camera are you shooting with?
I am glad your Poseidon Adventure turned out really well. You are right to be observant with your tires and pressures. Typically, if a vehicle is characteristically pulling one way or another, there is an air pressure change. If there is a new vibration, you typically have a flat. Carrying a bottle jack would allow you to lift the truck without removing your camper. Also, carrying a small “Wonder Bar” crowbar will help you lift up your tire incrementally to reach the lugs and by pushing and pulling the crowbar, when the tire is lifted allows the tire to rotate to line up with the lugs too.
Nice looking Arctic Fox Camper and truck! X2 on the pic for the Calendar, too.
For future reference, when you forget to swing the jacks out, back up until the jacks are close to the dually fenders then lower the front of the TC until the truck supports the weight. Then you can swing out the front jacks, jack the TC back up and then you have room to maneuver.
Great start to your trip report. Can't wait to see some more.
2011 F-350 DRW 6.7 Scorpion Diesel Reese Ford Hitch
2008 Bristol Bay 3420
2006 Okanagan 117DBL