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Interstates and long term travelling - tips and tricks?
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MakeFast
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:39 pm    Post subject: Interstates and long term travelling - tips and tricks? Reply with quote

Wife, baby, and I are loading the house into a POD and going for a bit of a walkabout (err...driveabout?). From Portland => Salt Lake => Yellowstone => Portland => Yosemite/Crater Lake/Olympic Peninsula and from there who knows where.

This will be a long trip for the Van (farthest we have gone in it at this point was about a 2 hour stretch) and then after we hit Portland on the way back through it will be a lot of camping for us.

Anything I should be especially aware of before heading out? Just changed brake/clutch fluid when the slave went (transmission is still a bit sticky - may have to bleed it again) and did an oil change. Fuel lines are good. She is running great although for the first time since we bought her (in January) the temp. gauge is actually rising a bit (to right on the LED, but no higher - and the cooling fan is still rarely coming on) - indicative of anything?

Anyone have tips or tricks for camping? At Yellowstone we will be in a cabin my wife's family rented, if/when we head down to Yosemite we will be on our own - how hard is it to find a campsite for the van there? I know a bunch of places on the Oly Pen are first come first serve, so I am not as worried there. Also looking for good Westy-friendly meal recommendations.

Lots of pictures will be taken and I will try to post up a trip-log if/when we have internet.

Thanks for any advice,
/MF
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Aswah can sure give you some gourmet feeding tips, try to find some of his threads. Have a wonderful trip and if I hadn't welcomed you to Vanagonitis before, well its's about time. WELCOME.
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guaranteed to be an adventure -- you can't be ready for anything so try to be at least mentally ready for something. We have done this in the past, longest was 12 months/24000 miles -- you know it's a long trip when you change the oil 7 times and buy tires along the way. Our only problem was a collapsed cat converter which I probably did in by driving miles of wash board road.

I assume you have made arrangements for your mail & bills. We kept a logbook with a narrative of each day (this was before anyone knew what a blog was) -- makes for great reading years later.

Yosemite may require a reservation but in general we avoided making any reservations in order to stay flexible and follow the good weather (had one rainy day in the entire year).

Print off or bookmark the list of mechanics on RoadHaus and be familiar with the AIRS list just in case -- and of course you can always call out for help here.

Best of luck to you.
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Saguache
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're headed to Colorado and around for about the same amount of time and for most likely the same reasons. We leave on the 8th of July. Wife, baby (7 mo by then) and two dogs. Along the way we'll pick up my 14 yo old son too.

How old is your baby? What are you doing for diapers while underway?
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wyomingresident
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

re: Interstates...

Don't drive 'em. Your Vanagon hates highways, mine sure does.

Have fun in Yellowstone! I was there yesterday and it is weyyer, lusher and greener than I have ever seen it.

PM me and I'll give you the inside scoop- we live in Jackson Hole and go there frequently.
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vwlovr
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

here's a bit of a non-vanagon related tip. i full time in an RV and my wife and i are addicted to audiobooks. they really make the driving time fly and give us something to talk about. that's assuming your baby is young enough not to care what background noise is going on. we're listening to the Dragon Tattoo series now, very good. audiobooks are spendy but you can often find them at the library and what you do with a CD and your computer is yer own biz.

other than that, i'd say don't discount state parks. national parks are nice and all, but i've often found state parks try harder. some are more like really nice RV parks which might not be your thing, but i swear of the hundreds of places we've stayed in our RV hands down the best places have been state parks. OR has some great state parks. everyone i've been too is great. Sure you can camp in national forest for cheaper or free, but with the wife and kiddo a nice shower and bathroom may be preferred.

if you want to take some internet with you, i think Virgin is the only carrier offering no-contract data plans. for like $99 you can get a USB stick and for $40/month you can get 5GB/mo 3G. they use sprint's network which is good. i now use sprint's 4G which has unlimited data (when on 4G), but it's $60/mo and requires a contract. the virgin deal is really quite good, you'll find yourself getting nickel and dimed at various wifi hotspots and soon $40/month isn't that bad.
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vwlovr
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

also, don't waste camping fees if you coming into an area late at night. anything past 9, just stop at a rest area/walmart/trunk stop and sleep there. they can be dodgy, but if you're with someone i think the danger is pretty minimal.
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jacobcroke
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have Fun!!!! Last year, partner and I lived in a Honda Element. Biggest tip I can give you is have a system for your gear storage. Gear creep (when S%$t starts piling up around you) can lead to some serious stress when you are limited in space. Have a place for everything. NExt biggest tip would be to stay flexible. Routes and time tables included. We had to take a 650 mile detour in British Columbia because of the forest fires last year. If schedules would have been tight, that also could have been stressful. Third, and most importantly, go to the Water of the Gods Hotsprings in Norris, Montana. A little north of Yellowstone, it's a great drive, Vanagon friendly, and seriously one of the coolest places you'll ever see.
Our year off last year ended up with the news of a new edition to our family, so now we bought the Vanagon. More room for a kid, more adventures to come

Best of luck, and keep us all updated on your adventures
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bjrogers86auto
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:30 pm    Post subject: travelling Reply with quote

I'm wondering, if at say,40mph or more, could you hear an audiobook in a Westy? It would be nice to go to sleep to though...

We did a long trip with our kids who were quite a bit older. Stopping often and someplace slightly entertaining was the key to our success. The dvd player was handy as well. We avoided interstates in the U.S. When in Canada the Trans Canada is often the best and sometimes only choice. We diverted whenever possible.

Enjoy every mile. It was discussed in other threads that you never know when and if you will get a chance to do this again. Our plan is to do it again next summer! We shall see.

Best of luck! May the Westy Gods smile on you!
Brian.
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pioneer1
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:56 pm    Post subject: travels Reply with quote

State Parks are great deals @ $17 a night but you'll need reservations during peak season- google "reserve America" for camp sight info and reservations.
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dhaavers
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wyomingresident wrote:
re: Interstates...Don't drive 'em.
Your Vanagon hates highways, mine sure does...

Bahhh! Don't listen to him - he's only got a 1.9... Wink

Hit the interstate & see if you can stand it - you won't know 'til you try. On big travel days I've found
that I can only take a couple hours on the I-state; then I switch to the local roads until I get nuts
after a couple hours of dodging mailboxes. By then it's time for lunch anyway...

YMMV.

Your mileage will certainly suffer above 60mph, but on our 2-week, 3000-mi trip last summer (MN to Y'Stone & back)
we still averaged almost 18mpg over the whole trip, including 2 full days at 65-75mph & 5 climbs over 9000 ft.

Camping: I always try to get a forest service map for any area I'm likely to be overnighting in.
It has all the info you need on all the "quality" sites. Yes, you can use state parks to your advantage
though you may not need a shower every day - I know my crew doesn't.
You can always settle for the KOA-type which are very well advertised, but can also be full up.

Around Yosemite w/o reservation you may be limited to "dispersed camping" on BLM land;
search on that (here & Google) to find what you need: where to go, rules to follow, etc.
You need to decide if you're comfortable being truly "out on your own" & no help around...
...Or get up early & get in line for the first-come sites - like at 8:30 am!

Good luck & Happy Trails...
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vanjoe
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have fun. I would definately recommend having the Bentley and a lot tools and all the common spare parts. Have you gone through everything maintenance related on your van? Here is a great link in case problems arise. Save this in your favorites. Again have fun and happy Vanagoning.

http://www.vanagonauts.com/Vanagon-Rescue-Squad74.htm
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carterzest
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Interstates and long term travelling - tips and tricks? Reply with quote

MakeFast wrote:
Wife, baby, and I are loading the house into a POD and going for a bit of a walkabout (err...driveabout?). From Portland => Salt Lake => Yellowstone => Portland => Yosemite/Crater Lake/Olympic Peninsula and from there who knows where.

This will be a long trip for the Van (farthest we have gone in it at this point was about a 2 hour stretch) and then after we hit Portland on the way back through it will be a lot of camping for us.

Anything I should be especially aware of before heading out? Just changed brake/clutch fluid when the slave went (transmission is still a bit sticky - may have to bleed it again) and did an oil change. Fuel lines are good. She is running great although for the first time since we bought her (in January) the temp. gauge is actually rising a bit (to right on the LED, but no higher - and the cooling fan is still rarely coming on) - indicative of anything?

Anyone have tips or tricks for camping? At Yellowstone we will be in a cabin my wife's family rented, if/when we head down to Yosemite we will be on our own - how hard is it to find a campsite for the van there? I know a bunch of places on the Oly Pen are first come first serve, so I am not as worried there. Also looking for good Westy-friendly meal recommendations.

Lots of pictures will be taken and I will try to post up a trip-log if/when we have internet.

Thanks for any advice,
/MF
All I have to say is Get in it and get going. Sounds like you have hit all the high points. Tips, your back lower bed makes into a great crib. Just act like you are puting it up and lock the bottom up, then tie it off....perfect kid play area with the back hatch closed of course.
have patience....kids take it out of me in a hurry. The more organized you are the better. Have your wife take the kids on a walk whilst setting up camp...this works great! Do not pack in bags(unless its babys bag...)give each kid a cabinet and plan accordingly for this.....remove rear big table and keep it up top.....kids love cubbys and they can each have one. This means that you need to organize accordingly for the stuff you need.....play with it...its fun and this is when you realize the true meaning of Westyadventure Cool Have a great trip and please post a lot of pics of the journey!
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vwlovr
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:55 pm    Post subject: Re: travelling Reply with quote

bjrogers86auto wrote:
I'm wondering, if at say,40mph or more, could you hear an audiobook in a Westy?


if i can hear audiobooks sitting on top the cummins in my RV, you can hear it in a vanagon. the key it to adjust the EQ for less bass. Smile
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windnsea
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reservations are absolutely required for Yosemite and some of the high elevation campsites will be snowed in until mid-July.

Go to the Reservation Desk in the NE corner of the Curry Village parking lot very early in the morning and get in line to get a cancellation. This is your best bet for Yosemite Valley. You'll get busted if you try to sleep in your van in any parking lot in the valley, and it's a big fine.

If you can't find a campsite go west out of the valley along the Merced River and hang a right turn at a bridge about 5 miles after exiting the park (Just West of the Yosemite National Park Service Yard (can be seen across the Merced River on the North side of the river)). Head West on this road past a few houses and in about 2 miles you'll come to two campgrounds on the river that are US Forest Service. This is a great salvation if you can't get a campsite cancellation while in the valley.

Good Luck!!
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JPrato
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've found State parks are great too. We've been to a few private campgrounds and literally had our neighbors 4 ft away. They had so many people jammed in when the campfires got going at night you could have smoked jerky outside it was that thick!
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or my other personal favorite of private campgrounds, the seasonal (semi-permanent) squatters.. err campers.
you know those quasi camp trailers with the shed & deck, pink flamingos small yappy dogs and grand kids running around like they don't care.. Rolling Eyes

I do/will check the state & fed parks 1st.. then the county (which can be tough to find) and I'll go KOAs before many "Privately" owned campgrounds. but that may be just me.

JPrato wrote:
I've found State parks are great too. We've been to a few private campgrounds and literally had our neighbors 4 ft away. They had so many people jammed in when the campfires got going at night you could have smoked jerky outside it was that thick!
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funagon
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jacobcroke wrote:
have a system for your gear storage. Gear creep (when S%$t starts piling up around you) can lead to some serious stress when you are limited in space. Have a place for everything. NExt biggest tip would be to stay flexible.


I'll agree with these points. I spent about two months on the road this spring. I found that I spend a lot of time (too much time, really) re-arranging the stuff in my van. If you just have a system for "what-goes-where," you won't waste as much time cleaning up the van.

As for showers, I don't always stay in official campsites or sites with showers. But I still think it's important to "wash up" once a day. I just close all the curtains and use a soapy washcloth and a dry towel to scrub myself everywhere. Then put on clean clothes. Just make a point to start or end each day this way and it makes your journey much nicer.

When you're focused on going somewhere, seeing the sights, getting three meals, grocery shopping, finding a place to stay, cooking, cleaning, etc. it is very easy to say "I don't need a shower today." But if I take ten minutes to wash up every day it makes a huge difference in my outlook: I feel better mentally and emotionally, not to mention physically. And I would think that traveling with two people and a baby it will become very important to keep everyone clean in that small space!
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MakeFast
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the tips guys.

We picked up one of these for gear storage and are working on finalizing some bus-related stuff (getting our roof rack installed to put our box up there and thinking about whether I want to attempt installing A/C with a week to go).

Getting moved out of the house right now.

For diapers: We have done cloth up until now, but went out and bought disposables for the trip - pretty sure we could figure out a method for cloth on the trip if we had some more time/testing.

We will be taking the interstate out to UT since we are heading there to make a wedding. When we come back we will take it a bit more leisurely.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:12 am    Post subject: Re: Interstates and long term travelling - tips and tricks? Reply with quote

MakeFast wrote:
She is running great although for the first time since we bought her (in January) the temp. gauge is actually rising a bit (to right on the LED, but no higher - and the cooling fan is still rarely coming on) - indicative of anything?


Your radiator may be getting clogged. If so the fan will not come on and would do you no good if it did. Don't think there is anything you can do short of replacing the radiator.

I have a lot of interstate miles on my Vanagons, both early and late models. They seem to hand it just fine.
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