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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Our First RV trip was a real cliffhanger...

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c104

Northern Sierra Foothills

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Posted: 06/27/08 03:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My folks (Jefe 4x4) have enjoyed their 2001 Dodge 2500 Cummings 4x4 with the Lance Camper for many years. They have logged a lot of miles from Alaska through most of the Western States. They have offered me, my wife, and 4 year old daughter the chance to use it anytime. We finally took them up on it and spent 6 days roaming around Northern California. We drove just under 800 miles and 50 of those miles were on dirt or gravel roads.

Google Map of our route and highlights

On a Friday in mid-June, we headed west on State Route 20 from Nevada City all the way across the Central Valley through Clear Lake. After lunching at Foster's Freeze in Clear Lake (good RV street parking), we continued to Willits with a short stint on US101, then back on SR20 for the winding section over the coastal mountains to Fort Bragg.

This is a good time to discussion my impressions of the camper as a road warrior. Jefe 4x4 has set this rig up to be a good highway machine, plus it can handle the bad stuff as you'll see. He has the "redneck duallies" 15" wide mud tires on the rear which gives a very stable highway feel. The tires hum a bit, but with the diesel it's not noticeable. The Dodge tracks better than any car I own, plus you'll never run out of torque with the Cummings. I didn't realize how awesome that engine was until I drove the camper for the long trip.
After leaving Fort Bragg, we headed North on SR1. I was amazed how fast the road gets narrow after leaving the town. After a few miles north of Rockport, we turned on to Mendocino County Road 431 which is the beginning of the Usal Road.

[image]

This is known as the "Gateway to the Lost Coast"

Notice the sign in the next picture

[image]

Obviously, we didn't heed the warning...it is our family motto to swim up stream.
The Usal Road is not too rough at first because most people drive in the first 5 miles to the campground near the beach. The road is not wide enough to get by oncoming traffic except for selected places. The first part of the drive looks a lot like this most of the time.

[image]

The Pacific was down there probably 1000 feet below.
After we made it in the first 5 miles in about 50 minutes, we descended into the clouds and arrived at the Usal Campground, which was somewhat inland from the beach. My Dad had been here before and said you can make camp out by the beach. My Folks couldn't drive on the beach last time because the creek was still high. This year, the creek was pretty dry. So we dropped down into the dry creek bed and drove out on the sand toward the spot my Dad thought would be a nice camp spot. As we drove in 4HI, the Truck was making good progress in the sand and I had the Diesel hummin', then we hit the blow sand and the 9000 pound beast started grave diggin'. That's it! We're camping here.

[image]

I had to take the tires down from 65 psi to 30 psi, just to turn around. My wife wanted to be able to open the camper door and see the ocean.

[image]

She got her wish.

[image]

There was a built-in fire ring out there.

[image]

This is looking north up the whole beach. We were the only vehicle who camped on the beach. It was cool weather, but the location well worth the chill, plus instead of going in our usual tent to escape the weather, we could escape the elements in the camper. So we eat dinner in the camper; then had s'mores and adult beverages by the fire. My job stress quickly faded from my mind and it was the three of us, the fire, the camper and the pounding surf.

[image]

I was hooked...RV'ing was making sense now.

[image]

Lonely beach...

[image]

The next morning we took a long walk south down the beach and collected shells and bones. My daughter enjoyed this the most. She's still talking about the seal or pelican bone we found.

[image]

Near the main Usal Campground

I was really surprised how many people were out there and this is really remote. Almost everyone spoke a European language. I asked them how they found out about this place. One word is all they said "Google." My Dad said last time they were there they saw one car. I guess our shriveling dollar is bringing them here...Good time to be in the travel industry.

So we left the people at the camp area and headed north on the Usal Road.
It was our plan to make it all the way through to Shelter Cove. We had 24 miles of gnurly road to go though...then we were stopped by this...

[image]

I had a hatchet and a 15k lbs winch, so we used both.

[image]

I cut through halfway, then used the winch to snap the branch at the cut.

[image]

We made it after an hour...this has to be the only one...right...

[image]

2nd obstacle we had to squeak by...there seems to be a reoccuring theme here...

[image]

This tree finally stopped us. We were 10 ft high and it was 9' 4". I contemplated trying to winch it out of the way, but it had fallen bet/w 2 large trees, so it was wedged.
Note to self...bring chain saw if I ever come back here. We saw probably 20 huge trees that had fallen over. Most were sawed up and we squeaked through many narrow passages that someone had cut to make the road passable. Of the 28 miles of Usal Road, we had made it probably 24 miles in. This was slow going with branches constantly dragging on the camper. The road was very rutted in places, so we needed the ground clearance and 4Low to crawl through some spots.

[image]

There was no place to turn around, so with my wife helping me, i backed the camper up a quarter mile to this 5-point turn.

So we backtracked to SR1 and headed north to the Avenue of the Giants - Redwood Country.
We camped at Richardson State Park. We were happy to get a spot on a Saturday and relax after the 10 hours of driving (mostly on bad roads)

[image]

Next day, went along the Avenue of the Giants road to enjoy the Redwoods.
We called my folks and Dad said where are you? I told him about our adventures and he said we had to stop at this next spot. This is just north of Miranda. a little road jeep road just drop right down to the Eel River. We had lunch and played in the water.

[image]

We headed North to Fortuna, then east on SR36 and camped at Grizzly Creek Campground. Our family has been camping here since the '60's and it hasn't changed a bit. This is a wonderful spot, right along the Van Dusen River. We met other families there, so my 4 year old finally had someone to play with.

[image]

[image]

The next morning we took the awesome hike around the Grizzly Creek State Park.
Then keep heading east up the Van Duzen River on SR36. This is a long windy road which is paved but goes down to a single lane occasionally. We made it to the Mad River area, stopping by the Ranger station to get the Six River NFS map and ask the Ranger where we can get some high elevation remote camping. He pointed us to the Lassic Volcanic area, which is SE of Mad River along the Van Duzen River.
Before go to camp, make sure you eat at the "Burger Bar" in the town of Mad River.
So we headed up to the Van Duzen River again and drove up to 5800' to camp at the Base of Red Lassic. I found a little jeep road which I presumed had a good camp spot at the end. It did, but I almost rolled the camper getting there.

[image]

I started going over the snowbank and the weight of the truck shifted to the back right wheel and then the Power-Lok diff starting pulling us down the hill. The ground was soft from snowmelt. I was committed... I couldn't back up without rolling it over...so I had the girls get out to a safe place. I started winching along until I was past the snow drift.

[image]

Video - Winching part 1

Video - Winching part 2

We got to this beautiful camp spot.

[image]

Used the wash tub campfire setup...thanks Pop.

[image]

Wonderful views of the Trinity Alps, Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen

The next morning, I cut into the snowdrift with the army shovel so we wouldn't have the same issues again. We coasted through this time, but I still had the girls get out.

[image]

We went back to SR36 and heading east toward Red Bluff.
(This is a long hellish stretch of endless road)
We fueled up and headed NE on SR36 to Lassen.

[image]

Lots of RV's in Lassen

We camped at Manzanita Lake at the North part of the Park.

[image]

The campground about a third full on a Tuesday night in mid-June.

[image]

Our last day we hiked out to Bumpass hell, which has steam vents and boiling mud.
It was a tough 3 mile hike over mostly snow, but everyone made it back.

[image]

[image]

We then came down SR32 into Chico to make a stop at the Sierra Nevada Brewery.
We got Pop's gift for letting us use the camper.
If you ever go through Chico, you must stop there and enjoy great food and beer.

It was a great trip and we can't wait to do it again.
My daugher almost asks me every day when are we going in Papa's camper to go RV'ing again.

Matt - Son of Jefe 4x4

FarcticOx

NH or somewhere else

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Posted: 06/27/08 04:26am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Now that's what truck camping is all about. What a trip. Thanks for sharing. Note to self, make sure that bow saw is packed.


FarcticOx

Run Silent, Run Deep
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Go Dogs

South of Pittsburgh, PA

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Posted: 06/27/08 05:00am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WOW!!!! That was better than any movie I've seen in awhile. Your posts are welcome all the time. Thanks!!!





Rawhyde

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Posted: 06/27/08 05:26am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That was AWESOME!!
I gotta go mount that winch on my Dodge rite now.

luv2skyski

Stockbridge, Georgia

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Posted: 06/27/08 06:59am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

GREAT TRIP REPORT!!! Thanks for sharing. I'm sure that's one trip you'll never forget. Dave.


2004 Northern Lite 10-2000RR, 1999 F250

luv2skyski.com

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4 out of 3 people have trouble with fractions.

Camp, Forrest, Camp!

Boise, ID

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Posted: 06/27/08 07:48am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I can't see the photos. [emoticon]


-2000 Chevy K3500 CC DRW 7.4L, Auto; 2000 Arctic Fox 1150 WB; 1999 Bayliner Capri 1800LS Outboard
-Air Lift bags, Torklift tie-downs, Superhitch w/48", Rancho RS9000X, K&N FIPK, MagnaFlow exhaust.


silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 06/27/08 07:50am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

...this one went into Trip Reports the instant I read the title [emoticon]


Silver
2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD 4x4 6.0L Ext/LB Tow Package 4L80E Michelin AT2s| Outfitter Caribou

silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 06/27/08 07:55am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

currently, Matt's home page at Mac.com appears to be down...hang in there, it will prob. be up soon!

homepage.mac.com/mattr/.Public/junetrip/SR1_431.jpg

jjohnson1179

Girdletree, Maryland

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Posted: 06/27/08 08:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Cant open the videos but GREAT picture wow that looks like alot of fun


JIMMY JOHNSON
93 Ford F-250 V8 5.8
Sold my tc and got a TT
1987 LANCE 980 11.3

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FEET IN THE SAND COLD BEER IN MY HAND


narcodog

Georgia

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Posted: 06/27/08 08:57am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Can't get to those places in an A.

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