Sunday, September 16, 2012

Big Vacation

Last February 1 was our 20th Anniversary.   The plan was, some time this year, to go to Alaska.  But ... the house fire and the subsequent re-building kind of wiped that dream out (maybe 25th?).

So this year I thought we'd try a version of something we've talked about ... taking two weeks off and doing a "loop".  I have three in mind.  A NorthWest loop, a SouthWest loop, and a NorthEast loop.

But I really miss my mountains, so I thought hey, how about this?  We'll go through Colorado into Utah and see Arches and Canyonlands ... then swing down to Mesa Verde and then come back up and spend a few days in the mountains before heading home, right in prime Aspen time.

Now ... typically, I camp in tents, but Vicki's not going to do that for two weeks -- and frankly, I've discovered after 4 or so nights on a blue pad on the ground, my bones start hurting.  I've solved this by using an air mattress... but we've had trouble with those, too.

Ryan and Kristie bought a big popup a couple of years ago ... complete with kitchen, bathroom, and shower ... but to date they haven't used the bathroom and shower (lots of setting up and cleaning and sanitation involved) ... so, hey, do we really need them?   Well, maybe.  I checked into renting an RV.

On a 2,500 mile trip, gas mileage would be an issue, plus I didn't want parking to be an issue, so I looked into these smaller RV's you can rent from Cruise America or some place like that.  But it turned out the closest place I could pick one up would be ... Chicago.  Wrong direction, too.

It was also going to be $1,200 to $1,500 + gas at an optimistic 14 MPG for that. And 10 MPG or less for anything else. So we're looking at a trip that would come easily to $2-$3K just for transportation.  Which wasn't shocking, it was just more than I had in mind this year.

This is the one we got, only ours
is a 2012.  Slightly different decal.
I started hunting around for teardrop trailers to no avail, but I ran across something I didn't know existed... a tiny 455 lb popup from Coachman... a Coachman Viking Express.   Basically a glorified vinyl tent on wheels.  the box it folds up into is 4'x7'.  And my little Ford Escort can pull it.  Two beds, bigger than twin but smaller than full fold out of it, with a 4x7 area in the middle and a folding table that fits nicely against the back wall.

The other, nicer, more complete popups they had started at 1,600 lbs, bare naked with nothing in it.  But the Taurus' towing limit is 1,500 lbs.

And they wanted to get rid of the Viking for cost.  I bought it for $2K.

Ryan suggested I have a diamond plate tray made for the front of it to hold a propane tank and an RV battery.  Great idea.  I did that, bought an 11 lb propane tank and a big honkin' marine battery along with a 13 Watt solar charger.  And I got a Mr. Heater Little Buddy propane catalytic heater for it.  We also have a 12V fan.

We can trick this thing out a bit.

I bought an LED light bar with 4 directable pucks and glued a couple of magnets to the back so it could hang on the frame and light the place up.  And a spare tire.

Packing Logistics
We made plans for two weeks.   But the annual fall Midwest Hemophilia Family Fun Fair was that first weekend, and Vicki and I had planned to go.   Vicki went, and I stayed home to make sure the packing was done.  Also got a chance to go to a home Mizzou football game (vs AZ State) Saturday... and had everything ready to go Sunday morning.

I left for Kansas City to pick Vicki up along the way, and we spent the afternoon and evening with the Groves in Olathe before striking out westward in the morning.

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