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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Trip Report: 9 weeks of aimless wandering

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North Bend

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Joined: 08/29/2007

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Posted: 03/19/22 11:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wife and I took a little trip, 9 weeks, last summer. Have had a few since then, so I’m really behind on completing the trip reports. My bad…

I debated breaking this up into sections, and adding more written detail. My end thought was not to bore all with a diatribe of details that they don’t care about, but to be able to convey the overall expanse and diversity of the trip with a few musings. Open to thoughts and questions for sure.

We were planning on taking off in April. A couple of work items got in the way, jobs delayed, and the customers were worth taking care of. We waited and took off at the end of May.

Stopped and weighed in Oregon as we headed into the Umatilla Forest. What a beautiful area.

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Headed down through Utah into Payson area to see friends. A little north Rim of the Grand Canyon, then a family visit, then a visit with more friends, then…changing refrigerators in the trailer. Sort of criss crossed Arizona in the process.

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We had bought a new Norcold for the support trailer. It started acting up..which is worth another thread in its own right. Let’s just say Norcold customer service and warranty are useless. Spent a few days on the shipping and replacement, about $3000, and I still own a piece of useless junk. And it was 118 degrees when we switched it out..rebuilding the cabinet to fit the new one in. Good times…

A few weeks into the trip, we left the rig and flew home for a wedding..what a surprise to see our Washington weather, lol.. the wedding was fantastic, stopped and saw the Grandbaby (what? Hey, it had been a few weeks, what can I say).

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Heat was wearing us out as neither of us wants to listen to the AC all night, and sleeping was getting thin. We headed to cooler temps.. New Mexico via meandering, Silver City area (forest fire over yonder), a forced detour because of our height, to Deming and a night at City of Rocks. Things you find when you have to make a turn you weren’t planning on. That led to Lake Valley historic town…and just awesome sights everywhere.

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And finally…. 9000ft and 69 degrees.

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We hiked…I can assure you the air is thin at 11,000’.

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Stayed 3 nights, totally refreshed and relaxed. Headed down and back west to White Sands, a BLM camp site (we actually PAID for camping..yuck). Then to El Paso for family and down to Big Bend. BTW, not crowded in the summer.

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Back tracked a bit and stopped at Carlsbad Caverns; wife had never been. Probably the best trip I’ve had there, probably because of the company. But man, has it changed since my first visits. I remember the personal guided tours, similar to what used to happen at Alcatraz and other similar parks. I took our son there when he was about 16..was almost a let down with the changes, so this trip brought a bit of the magic back.

From there, headed northeast to friends in Arkansas. What a fantastic time hanging out on Beaver Lake and having docktails and stories!

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Left there, wandered towards Dodge City via crooked back roads, then to Hutchinson. Wow.. what an awesome, incredible museum; Cosmosphere. Don’t miss it, if you are even slightly interested in flight, space, war or American History. It was exhausting. We have been planning another trip back with the grandkids and parents…going to make it happen.

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Up into Nebraska, lunch with friends, another museum (got in an argument with the security guard), and then to hometown for my wife’s parents. They grew up across from each other; just stopped to see the homes. One was a railroad car..it’s gone, been replaced with an actual house. While we were standing outside, a neighbor came up to talk. Hour later, lots of stories, as they knew the families. The husband asked me if we were here to see the Golden Spike. Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about. A couple of miles or less, was the world’s largest rail yard. Now I know. Learned all about hump yards and sorting cars, quantities, maintenance processes, really cool.

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Then onto the Bad Lands, Rushmore, Norbeck Scenic hwy, twice, Crazy Horse, Custer and seriously awesome off grid camping. NO… we did not take the camper on the Norbeck drive. It is a classic, don’t miss ride. And of course, the worlds smartest cashier; note the tip jar they stuck out. They weren’t picking sides, they were capitalists! Brilliant.

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A concert in the parking lot in Sturgis, then to the actual center of the USA, movie set for Encounters of the Third Kind, then to the Big Horns and a ride down the ‘alternate’ 14. LOL, same basic mileage, not the same drive. It is steep. With the engine brake on and in first gear, I was still gaining speed going downhill. Piece of cake, but cocky would get one in trouble pretty fast.

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We wandered back again through Yellowstone, then to Virginia City, then a slight beeline to Silverwood to meet up with friends for a couple of nights. I’m done with roller coasters for another year.

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Backtracking again, headed to friends in Maupin area, and then…truck lost the turbo. Made it about 10 miles on the morning we left..turned around and burdened the friendship by leaving the truck and trailer. Wife and I jumped on the KLR motorcycle and drove to Troutdale area where I left her with our kids and a grandbaby. I shot home, next morning, took a p/u and tilt trailer and a little lumber, went back to Maupin. Unloaded the camper, got the truck loaded (no…it doesn’t really fit..have to raise the front wheels on blocks to get past the fenders, and a couple of other tricks). Stopped at a scale on Mt Hood out of curiosity, as I knew it was close and I had three or four more scales to cross on the way home depending on what was open. Scaled out nicely, as in barely, but legal. Truck is heavy even without the camper.

Picked the wife up, drove home. Turbo was replaced two days later, and we returned to Maupin for another night with friends, a concert at the park, and then home.

Someone once said to me something to the effect that “wow, you saw a lot, now you can check that off your list”. Reality is, everytime we go, anywhere, it only brings to our attention where we want to spend more time and areas that we didn’t know about that were just right ‘there’. The list gets bigger..not smaller.

Truck campers are awesome! In 9 weeks, we only went 8000 miles. About 1500 was on interstate. Everything else was on back roads, secondary or less. We only paid for camping at five areas. Previously mentioned BLM near White Sands, Big Bend for the electricity (AC!!), Silverwood…a parking lot, City of Rocks because it was a fluke, and a private camp spot up near Disney (Grand Lake) because we wanted to scout the area, dump, do laundry and liked the owner after stopping to dump only.

Happy travels all..

List of some of the places we hit:

Umatilla NF, Red Rock Canyon, Grand Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs, Titan Missile Museum, Gila NF, City of Rocks SP, Lake Valley ghost town, Valley of Fires NP, Smokey the Bear NP, Sierra Blanca in the Lincoln NF, White Sands NP, Big Bend NP, Carlsbad NP, Ozark area from AK into OK, Grand Lake, Cosmosphere Museum, Santa Fe Trail, Dodge City Museum, Dane G Hansen Museum, Golden Spike Tower, Samuel R McKelvie NF, Sand Hills, Badlands NP, Black Hills, Mt Rushmore, Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Crazy Horse Museum, Custer SP, and both the popular Center of the US, National Monument, and the real center of the US, cow pasture, Devil's Tower NP, Bighorn NF, Yellowstone NP, Silverwood Theme Park.

After getting home, I put together another book…a photo album if you will, for us. I wrote in the pages, the following, and looking back, it sums up a lot of what the trip brought to us:

“We camped almost always off grid, side of the road or in someone's front yard. Best camp sites in the world are free. We hiked some, once to 11,000 ft (at Ski Apache...there is no oxygen up there, I assure you) stepped in Mexico without a passport, ate great steak and fish the entire time, drank every bottle of wine we brought, met some incredible people (Joe in Windom...you take the cake buddy!) found that middle America still has their act together, and realized for the umpteenth time, there is beauty everywhere. This is an amazing country.”

"With no plans other than Arkansas, we wandered. Detours and passerby's brought sites to our attention that we'd have never known about (Golden Spike Tower and City of Rocks were awesome!) and hot weather changed our course and created more stories (Coyotes at night in Sierra Blanco...so COOL!). Reading books brought new ideas (gotta see and stand at the center of the USA!). We discussed politics, children, the past and all those pioneers, animals, geography and the stunning world we live in. We experienced 'docktails' and the Darwin Theory and the amazing luck of some people. And we saw the most beautiful cemeteries...over and over again, and beautiful lawns and endless mowing. And then the constant ingenuity and determination of the people of this country, the awesome power and restraint that has been shown and the unbelievable reality that hard work and honesty pay off in huge dividends, and trump evil and laziness every time."


'16 F550 CC, 4x4 with Link Ultraride air suspension, '18 AF 1150. Just so we can play with our snowmobiles, dirt bikes and fishing boat. And new 20' tag along...kayaks, bikes, mc's and extra water and food!!

Lwiddis

Cambria, California area

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Posted: 03/19/22 12:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Interesting report. Thank you for posting. That was one dusty bison!


Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, WindyNation 300 watt solar-Lossigy 200 AH Lithium battery. Prefer boondocking, USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, state camps. Bicyclist. 14 yr. Army -11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560) IOBC & IOAC grad


jimh406

Western MT

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Posted: 03/19/22 01:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice long trip.


'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 Dbl Slide, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Air Bags, Toyo M655 225/19.5 Gs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.


stein4

California

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Posted: 03/20/22 08:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for sharing - great photos.

notsobigjoe

southeast

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Posted: 03/20/22 10:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great report, Thanks!

daily double

ketchum ok.

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Posted: 03/20/22 10:19am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

great report, makes me want to load p and go!! BTW how tall is your rig?

otrfun

On The Road

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Posted: 03/20/22 12:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Memories galore. Thanks for sharing!

wanderingbob

monticeeo, fla

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Posted: 03/20/22 01:18pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Take me with ya next time , I will sleep in the trailer !

Reality Check

North Bend

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Posted: 03/20/22 02:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

daily double wrote:

great report, makes me want to load p and go!! BTW how tall is your rig?


13' 4"

Go... always, load and go. Life is to short to ponder "I should have"

Reality Check

North Bend

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Posted: 03/20/22 03:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jimh406 wrote:

Nice long trip.


Interestingly, it's never long enough.. But we always look forward to coming home. Then planning and working on getting things ready for the next excursion. Had about 4 months total last year. Hoping for a bit more this year.

otrfun wrote:

Memories galore. Thanks for sharing!


It's my pleasure.

Serious question to everyone: I debate myself on the longer TR's. Prefer more detail broken into sections? less chat, or more stories?

Putting a few days or couple of weeks together is pretty straightforward, but wandering trips are a different breed for me. Curious, and thanks for reading.

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