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Author Topic: Big Western Trip – I need feedback and advice.  (Read 6354 times)
Ed Hackenbruch
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« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2009, 07:56:30 PM »

Almost 5 years ago we stopped at Grand Coulee Dam and watched the laser show that they do on the face of the dam at night. That was kinda neat.
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« Reply #31 on: February 03, 2009, 08:03:14 PM »

Lots of advise for you to go over for sure. North of Durango CO is one of the most beautiful rides I have ever been on..... with my motorcycle. I have done it several times. Just remember that it may be somewhat tougher with a bus and has some pretty sharp hairpins, climbs and such. You can basically spend the day riding the train from Durango to Silverton and back. They offer one way and two way trips. If you so choose to go the train ride route then you can bypass the bus trip that direction and afterwards head west to Cortez, Mesa Verde, and Four Corners ( not much at Four Corners) and continue as you planned out of Durango. May is pretty early for tourist season so I doubt you will have any problems getting tickets to ride the train up and back. Just try to get tics the day before. Sure hope you keep us posted during your trip!! Later
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Barn Owl
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« Reply #32 on: February 03, 2009, 10:23:02 PM »

I had a friend who is very, very well traveled log onto this forum and read the ideas you all are posting because I am not familiar with everyplace being discussed, and he says you all are giving some great advice. Everything is on the table and my plans and route seem to change almost every hour. This is a lot of stuff to work through. I am starting to worry that I am planning to get out there to early in the year because it seems many of the places I would like to go may, or may not, be open yet depending on the snow fall.

One of the reasons I chose middle May to leave Virginia is that I thought the heat wouldn’t be so unbearable. My OTR air is not working and will be removed before I leave and that leaves two roof top units that probably won’t keep it comfortable if it gets too hot while traveling. I also didn’t want to run the gas genset the entire way just to have the ACs running. That would just add to the fuel expense. My front unit sits to far back for the driver and copilot to get much benefit if we are getting baked while moving. I also thought that traveling before it gets terribly hot might be easier on the bus and its cooling system.
 
For those who are well traveled or live out west, what do you think about being there the latter part of May? At the most I might could push things back a week, possibly two, if I want to destroy my children’s summer activities (Scout camp, Girls camp, and other activities they are looking forward to).

Because of the feedback I am getting I might cut out southern California and opt to do highway one above San Francisco and turn west to Crater Lake. Even if the rim is closed can you still drive up to it and see it? What is the weather like on that part of the coast during May/June? If it is nothing but fog and rain I don’t think I would enjoy it.

It looks like I am doing a lot, and at this stage in planning I am planning as if I have plenty of time. In reality as we travel I want to be flexible and as we progress there might be parts that will end up getting modified, removed, or even added. It all depends on how we are doing. Reading the problems Doug has had with his bus does raise my anxiety level some. Let’s face it, I am traveling in an antique and going through some challenging terrain. Even some of the newer buses you all are driving have had problems. So far, even though I have had minor problems while on the road, I haven’t been left stranded yet. I have to laugh at myself, if I knew about this board before I bought my bus, I probably wouldn’t have one. I read about so many problems and huge expenses that I would be scared into bus paralysis. I bought my bus on the internet sight unseen. It was located in southern California (Santa Paula) and it hadn’t been out of the PO’s driveway for ten years. I bought my father and mother a one way plane ticket and had them pick it up. They drove it up to Monterey, back down to LasVegas, up to SLC and then home; an uneventful trip of almost 3000 miles. I often tell my friends that God looks out after fools and children, and I’m not a child anymore.

I am looking at everything you all are posting. I should have alternate and modified routes to put up soon, and with everyone’s help I will have a trip that will be great. I already know that I will have to do another trip one day to catch everything I will miss on this one.

It will take several days to work through the suggestions and I hope there will be even more. So if I am not posting regularly it is because I am using my computer time to follow up on your leads.

Barn Owl
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 10:26:26 PM by Barn Owl » Logged

L. Christley - W3EYE Amateur Extra
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Ed Hackenbruch
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« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2009, 08:03:01 AM »

Hard to say what the weather will be like that time of year. Sometimes lots of sun and other times lots of rain. Since they have had a lot of rain and snow this winter i would guess that they might have a nice spring and/or summer......but i wouldn't put any money on it either way. Smiley  With that said, I think that May, June, and July are the prettiest months in the Pacific NW.

As far as Crater Lake, we were there in early Oct. and it was raining, windy,and foggy. No cost to get in at that time, saw only a few cars, view was not the best at times but it was still a neat place to go. However this is once again a place i would rather not take my bus. Long climb up, the road around the crater is narrow and a little uneven in places, and in some of those narrow places it is a loooong way down. Grin  Good place to go in a toad if you have one.
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Barn Owl
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« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2009, 08:40:29 AM »

I do not have plans to take a toad because I need a toad that will take everyone. I could pull a jeep Cherokee but I am trying to avoid it.
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L. Christley - W3EYE Amateur Extra
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« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2009, 09:51:38 AM »

 BN;
 I will be watching the post on this thread closely;as I too am planning a trip westward this year too .It is going to be a challenge,but like you said;we will never know,unless we give it a shot. You definetly have one of the very best coaches for manuevering in these tight places!If I was going to build another convesrion,the 4106 would be one of my first choices.
Bill
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« Reply #36 on: February 04, 2009, 12:13:48 PM »

If you rplanning on running the Needles highway in the Black hills you might want to check into it. Not sure if they'll let it through. Have my doubts.  The Needlesare quite  nice but if your coming from the west coast you may be tired of the hilly senery.

Grant
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Have Fun!!
Grant
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« Reply #37 on: February 04, 2009, 03:20:16 PM »

Here is something else to consider. If it were me I would rather park somewhere and hike. Just a hike in the mountains would be great. Maybe park somewhere in Needles and then hike, instead of doing the drive. Also, I would make sure that you have plenty of time for hikes and such (I am not sure if you have little kids or not, but they can do quite a bit), but I always enjoy getting out and seeing things with my legs Grin.

Food for thought.

God bless,

John
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Chopper Scott
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« Reply #38 on: February 04, 2009, 06:47:14 PM »

A bus through Needles........... Not happening. In fact some of the tunnels are single lane and would probably take the a/c's off the roof. Hairpin turns galore. You may want to check on that to confirm my weak memory!! Cheesy Actually a trip south of Spearfish into Spearfish Canyon and on to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Museum and such would be more in order.

From Wikopedia   The Needles Highway, near Custer, SD, is a scenic highway running through Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is signed as part of South Dakota State Highway 87. The highway was completed in 1922.[1]

Along its 14 miles (23 km), the road winds its way through high granite "needles". It also has two tunnels blasted through sheer granite walls. These tunnels are less than 13 feet (4.0 m) high and 11 feet (3.4 m) wide. Owing to the narrow roadway, sharp turns, and low tunnels, the road has very little traffic. The vehicles that do travel this road are almost exclusively sightseers. Travelers on the Needles Highway are required to pay the admission fee to Custer State Park
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Seven Heaven.... I pray a lot every time I head down the road!!
Bad decisions make good stories.
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« Reply #39 on: February 04, 2009, 07:22:49 PM »

What about camping around San Francisco that would be safe and accessible to the Marta?


No "Marta" in SF -- that's Atlanta.  In SF there are two unrelated transit systems, the BART, and the Muni.  BART doesn't go anyplace useful, but you might find a parking spot outside the city where BART could get you downtown.  Emphasis on "might" -- there really is no camping anywhere near SF.  The bay area Wal-Marts are all No Overnight Parking, and the one commercial park that was in the city has long since closed. 

Not quite.  There are two decent RV parks just south of SF.  One is Treasure Island (which is actually 10 miles from Treasure Island, but who's counting?) and the other is SF RV Resort.  I've stayed at both.  SFRVR is a little more expensive and worth it -- it is on the bluff overlooking the ocean, and you can hear the breakers at night.  Either is good, and when I'm in the area, if SFRVR is full, I'm happy to go into TI.

« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 07:29:15 PM by BG6 » Logged
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« Reply #40 on: February 04, 2009, 07:35:52 PM »

Virginia City?  We did that one by mistake, and from the Carson City side.  Narrow, winding, up and up and up, slow, maybe 30mph.  Don let me know what he thought of my six mile short cut every mile.  Didn't matter I was too busy holding my breath.  Then we came down the other side into Reno.  What a view, too bad I couldn't look. I was too busy watching the air gauge. But they say Grey Hound trains their mountain drivers there. Since he pulled sixty foot mobile homes in another life,   I thought I might have reason for concern.

The northern California coast can't be beat.  We stayed in a park in Crescent City and got a rental car.  You could spend a week in that area alone.

Driving through Sacramento isn't bad,  just stay off the surface streets.  You drop off the freeway into Old Sac and the railroad museum.  There's a big truck stop on West El Camino road if you want to stay at a truck stop.

You really need that Mountain pass book.  We got ours right after the Virginia City trip.

If you are going through Paso Robles, you will want to stop at Hearst Castle.

Don and Cary
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« Reply #41 on: February 04, 2009, 07:49:54 PM »

Big Western Trip – I need feedback and advice.

First advice is to buy the Rand McNally map book for commercial vehicles.  It will tell you where the no-go roads, low bridges, tunnels, etc are located.

Next advice is to keep in mind that, unless you have ever driven in the West, you have never driven real mountains.  Make sure you have your cooling system checked out!  Also, brake early and brake often.  I remember being told how terrible Monteagle (Tennessee) was, and my first time over -- at night -- I kept wondering when the bad part was going to start . . .until I realized that Monteagle was behind me.

Since I don't know what interests you, I don't know what to suggest.  For history, you will pass by several sites where the Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII.  Don't miss the Temple Square tours in Salt Lake City.  I think the Donner Party "Interpretive Center" is now open on I-80 just west of Elko, NV.  Wendover, Utah (where I-80 crosses into NV) hosts the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Wendover Army Air Field restoration project (this is where they trained for the first atomic bomb drops).  If you have a couple of days to burn, park the coach in Sacramento, take Amtrak to Reno, RON there then take the train back the next day.  This is the most scenic main line railway in the country, on the same railbed over the Sierra Nevada mountains that was build for the Transcontinental Railway (which I-80 runs beside most of the way).  The Golden Spike Monument is north of Salt Lake City.

In Idaho, if it's still cold when you go through, Lava Hot Springs is a good place to stop, but not very coach-friendly the last time I was there (3 years ago).



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Sean
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« Reply #42 on: February 04, 2009, 07:54:36 PM »

Not quite.  [emphasis mine - SW] There are two decent RV parks just south of SF.  One is Treasure Island (which is actually 10 miles from Treasure Island, but who's counting?) and the other is SF RV Resort.  I've stayed at both.  SFRVR is a little more expensive and worth it -- it is on the bluff overlooking the ocean, and you can hear the breakers at night.  Either is good, and when I'm in the area, if SFRVR is full, I'm happy to go into TI.


OK, let me repeat what I said:  There are no RV parks in San Francisco.

The "San Francisco RV Resort" is in Pacifica -- a far, far cry from SF.  It's not like you're going to hop over to dinner in North Beach, or even at the Cliff House from here.  No real transit options here, either.

"Treasure Island" is in South San Francisco.  That's not part of SF -- it's a completely different city.  Although you can at least get a city bus from here.  But, again, hardly convenient.  BART is fairly close by, but not walking distance.

So I stand by my statement -- remember, Laryn is not going to have a car with him.  He'll need to rely on public transit, walking, or else driving his coach around.  Note also that he has written that he is trying to keep to a fairly low budget -- these parks are upwards of $45 per night.

I did live in this area for 20+ years before we hit the road, and we are back at least once or twice each year, FWIW.

-Sean
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« Reply #43 on: February 04, 2009, 08:48:39 PM »

This got to be a very interesting trip for you & family via bus. Go for it!

I am too a railroad enthusiasm or nut since 2 ½ years old. By all mean Durango & Silverton RR is one trip you not to want miss. I have not been to it yet but have been studying about their history that was then Denver & Rio Grande Railway.
The other narrow gauge railroad that was part of D&RGR  Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

I assume that your bus brakes are in “A one condition” because some of your routes have very steep down hill braking…especially North of Durango and to Sedona if you added this in your trip.

Sedona, AZ is south of Flagstaff, AZ is one of my favorite visiting stops. It’s like walking or driving thorough the bottom of Grand Canyon only better. I have been there 3 times, one with my MCI-8 bus. Sedona

For a usual beautiful pink sky and sunset…drive a mile to a 500 feet high flat plateau with is the Sedona Airport
Many tourist & local wait at the curve before this spot (enlarge map and click "Satellite" and zoom in letter A) for that magic moment of breath taking view that happen in 5 of 7 days a week.
Call the Sedona Chamber Commerce if motorhome parking available at sunset spot at the airport.

About going on to any trips with a tow car is a cheap insurance for emergency and have capability to get around at night or tight tour trip.

I never go on bus trip without my car.

FWIW

Sojourn for Christ, Gerald

BTW…try to avoid pulling into small parking lot or Dead End Street that will be very hard turn around. In other words go slow to watch for sign under a tree (bus driver sit higher than car) that says “Dead End” and overhead clearance before you begin to make the turn in.

« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 09:15:03 PM by Sojourner » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: February 05, 2009, 12:12:15 AM »

Barn Owl,

You've gotten enough advice to consider.  After Highway 1 ends, you'll be on highway 101.  We live in Klamath, CA, about 140 miles north.  If you're going to be in the area you're welcome to spend a couple days at our place.  We only have 30 amps outside, but do have water and sewer.  We're on the road working much of the summer, but if you let us know in advance we can have the people who watch our place let you in.  Dependent on when, we may even be home.  Enjoy your trip either way.

TomNPat
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« Last Edit: February 05, 2009, 12:15:39 AM by TomNPat » Logged
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