Deja Chicago

… plus de 2000 km déjà, et quand je vois où Chicago se trouve sur la carte … je me dis que c’est vraiment immense les USA!

On vient juste d’arriver et la première impression c’est qu’il y a vraiment quelque chose de commun avec le NY  que j’ai connu. Ou plutôt le NY comme je l’imagine avant : le métro aérien par exemple. Et puis on voit d’imposantes usines très près du centre ville … elles n’ont pas l’air d’être en état de marche … et que de feraille rouillée aussi!

posted by Cactus Killer in On the Road and have No Comments

On the road… Day One…

We finally got on the road early in the morning (though not as early as we would have liked) and the driving started out pretty smooth. The first day was a long long drive day. From New York to Ohio…

We were in PA before 9am, but Pennsylvania is a much bigger state than I imagined… and we hit some construction along the way, as well as some torrential downpours that made it almost impossible to see the vehicle in front of me…

But we made it into Ohio close enough to schedule… There was only one problem… by the time we got to Ohio skies were grey and rain was steady and heavy. Our first thought was that we would have to spend Day 1 in a hotel instead of our campsite! And that wouldn’t really be a great way to start the journey….

About 3 exits before the Cuyahoga Valley, as we were discussing our options, the skies began to clear… we would be able to camp afterall…

Made it to our site by about 6:30pm… very happy to be there! And our great reward was that we actually SAW A REAL BEAVER!!!!

beaverCROPPED

posted by Blue Coyote in On the Road and have No Comments

Under the Hood…

With freedom comes responsibility… And I have the great responsibility of getting us all there and back again safely. Which is exactly what brought me to the Jeep dealership the other day.

We need to make sure our vehicle can withstand the grueling workout it is going to get. Our greatest concern is the extreme conditions of Death Valley in August where it can get as high as 130 degrees farenheit!

Our Jeep becomes more than  just a mode of transport out there. It becomes a critical tool for survival. So having it checked out by our mechanic is important. And it is also important that we be able to do some emergency service in case something breaks down out in the desert.

So that means, we’d better know how to change a flat tire, and it was also suggested by those more experienced with Jeeping in the desert, that we carry some spare hoses, fan belt and so forth… and following up on that, I found myself getting a tutorial in changing radiator hoses and replacing the fan belt!

It was interesting to learn about what is under the hood of my Jeep, even though I hope I will never have to use that knowledge in the field!!!! But somehow it just seemed appropriate to start the story of our road trip with the hood of the Jeep open…

posted by Blue Coyote in On the Road and have No Comments

Texas to New Orleans to Home…

Am fleshing out the planning for the final segment of the trip — from the Big Bend back to New York, and once again have questions and options to consider. And this is probably something we will need to decide BEFORE we leave…

The current trip plan has us doing the following:

DAY 40: Big Bend to Palmetto state park, TX

DAY 41: Palmetto state park, TX to New Orleans, LA

DAY 42: New Orleans Visit Day

DAY 43: New Orleans, LA to Lurleen state park, AL

DAY 44: Lurleen state park, AL to Smoky Mountains National Park TN

DAY 45: Pick up day

DAY 46: Smoky Mountains National Park TN to Shenandoah National Park VA

DAY 47: Shenandoah National Park VA to HOME

That would give us no time to spend in the Cajun area of Layfayette which seems to really have a lot of fun and interesting things to do (almost more so than New Orleans itself)… Think it could be really good to break and spend the evening there and possibly do the swamp boat ride with that guy  in exchange for the pickup day we currently had in the Smoky mountains (i mean they are beautiful… but we will have seen so much incredible nature already… i think the Cajun bit is more interesting at that point in the journey…)

So if we decide to make the switch we have:

DAY 40: Big Bend to Palmetto state park, TX

DAY 41: Palmetto state park, TX to Layfayette, LA

DAY 42: Layfayette, LA to New Orleans, LA

DAY 43: New Orleans Visit Day

DAY 44: New Orleans, LA to Lurleen state park, AL

DAY 45: Lurleen state park, AL to Smoky Mountains National Park TN

DAY 46: Smoky Mountains National Park TN to Shenandoah National Park VA

DAY 47: Shenandoah National Park VA to HOME

The only “down” side to that is it leaves us with the last 4 days as straight “DRIVE” days with not much else…

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comment (1)

Made the test-drive to Pennsylvania today…

Wanted to field-test the Jeep  and procure some supplies for the bon voyage Fourth of July program at the same time… So did the drive this morning to the Delaware Gap and it was smooth driving all the way.

Left base at 5 a.m. Traffic was already active on the Long Island Expressway, but still flowing smooth enough to at least go the speed limit. The Belt Parkway was about the same. Made it over the Verazanno Bridge and into New Jersey by around 7… and from there decided to take the New Jersey Turnpike to I-80, rather than the shorter route that seemed less well sign-posted…  Traffic was light the whole way to the Delaware Gap, and I arrived there by about 8:15…

So basically the drive to that point took 3 hours… (the return took about the same… amazingly little traffic headed east)…

The Jeep rode well and I didn’t notice any problems or things that felt like they needed to be checked out… though I will have them check the brakes, because when I started it up after 2 weeks of non-use the break pedal needed to be pumped a bit… not sure if that means anything (and i was driving another vehicle while in Ireland that had very sensitive brakes, so I might be reacting to the difference in vehicle feel rather than anything precise…)

Finally, the procurement run went off without a hitch and we have everything we need to make our pre-departure Fourth of July program a success!

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

Options from Moab to the Big Bend…

Moab to Big BendWe had an interesting discussion yesterday about the need for rest during the journey. Originally it was built into the plan with pickup days between the various travel legs, but as we refined things we have (on paper, anyway) decided to split up some of the drive days, eating into those pickup days. And adding on the Zion Narrows required further reworking the schedule, stealing a bit more from the “rest” time.

This has left us with a segment from Death Valley through Moab which may be a bit of an endurance challenge for the driver (though not exactly, as there is a big difference between driving 12 hours from point A to point B on the highways and doing an off road jeep trail through the canyons and deserts we came to explore…). However, we do always have the option on those off-road trails, of just stopping and staying in place (that is the beauty of the road side camping … we don’t have to have an approved pre-determined campsite) — though for the Death Valley segments I think we just need to be aware of environmental factors, and make sure if we decide to hold up somewhere, we chose a wise location…

So with the discussion of “rest” still in mind, I am looking at the post-Moab segment of the trip… the long ride down to the Big Bend… and seeing how best to approach it…

In the original plan we had Day 33 (our exit from the White Rim) staying in a hotel in Moab (btw, should we go back to the one we had last time? The Big Horn Lodge…), then Day 34 canyoneering, with the option of leaving Moab that evening…

But perhaps we stay that night in the Moab hotel again… (allowing for a good night’s rest before hitting the road again)…

Then the following day we have a couple of options. Basically we have 3 days to get down to the Big Bend (we need to be in the area on the night of Day 37, as we have the river trip starting the morning of Day 38)… And to put it in perspective, the total distance from Moab to Big Bend is just about 100 miles less than Nesconset, NY to Orlando, FL (where we went to Universal Studios park)!

so Option A:

Day 35 – rest in Moab till lunchtime, then drive 2 – 3 hours to cortez colorado, settle in there and  see the indian dancers at 7pm… (overnight in Cortez area)

Day 36 – drive Cortez to Elephant Butte or El Paso (8 – 10 hours drive depending on how far we go)

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

Option B:

Day 35 - depart moab after breakfast and get as far as we can either Aztec or Albuquerque… (it is 6 – 8 hours to Albquerque… if we could get that far, or stop around farmington/aztec NM area which also has a number of lodging options)

Day 36 – drive Aztec to Elephant Butte or El Paso (7 – 9 hour drive)

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

Option C:

Day 35 – early wake up and marathon drive to Elephant Butte (approx. 12 hours)

Day 36 – day off / rest

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

California, Las Vegas and the Zion Narrows choices…

Picture 9

As we are refining the plan, we should probably think about whether or not we want to include the Zion Narrows hike

It was not originally in our plan, but while researching the route, and looking for stopping points between Las Vegas and Moab, we discovered it… and it seems like it could be really AMAZING…

In early drafts of the plan, we had it as an optional stop along the route… but if we want to do the hike and overnight along the river, we will need to get a backcountry permit soon (there are only 11 campsites along the route)

Estimated time for the hike itself is 12.5 hours walking (based on the estimates of the National Park Service, which says it takes into account allowances for rest stops and slower hikers), and about 60% of the time is walking through the river. So it is definitely a two-day activity.

Timing-wise, the shuttle that takes us to the departure point (Chamberlain’s Ranch), leaves twice a day — at 630am and 930am.

The estimated drive time to the park from Las Vegas is about 3 hours (so calculate based on 4 hours for this segment of the drive). We would have to leave Las Vegas by at least 430 or 5am to make it in time for the 930am shuttle.

Assuming we have a campsite close to 6 hours in, we will have at least 6 hours to walk the next day… there is no way we will want to do the 7 hour drive to Moab the same day! So we will have to overnight somewhere near Zion NP, with the plan of leaving for Moab the following morning…

Then, instead of doing the rapelling the first day in Moab, we should plan to go directly into the white rim that first day… and leave the rapelling for the last day…

Here is how our schedule looks now:

DAY 22 – Leave LA — DRIVE 12 hours along Pacific Coast Highway — ARR San Francisco Hotel

DAY 23 – San Francisco Visit Day – morning free , optional visit to Fishermans’ Wharf in the afternoon, 4pm – cruise to Alcatraz – tour Alcatraz 730 pm arrive back at Fisherman’s Wharf (night in hotel)

DAY 24 – Free Day – (can use as San Francisco Visit Day 2 or to go part way to Death Valley or direct to Death Valley)

DAY 25 – DRIVE to Death Valley (8.5 – 10.5 hours from San Francisco) — ARR Death Valley Wildrose Campground

DAY 26 – Death Valley Day 1

DAY 27 – Death Valley Day 2

DAY 28 – DEP Death Valley — DRIVE 2.5 – 3.5 hours — ARR Las Vegas Hotel

DAY 29 – Las Vegas Visit Day

DAY 30 – DEP Las Vegas — DRIVE 8.5 – 11 hours — ARR Moab hotel (with possible short visit to Zion NP to stretch legs)

DAY 31 – Canyoneering in Moab (hotel)

DAY 32 – Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 1 (backcountry camp)

DAY 33 –  Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 2 (backcountry camp)

DAY 34 – Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 3 (backcountry camp)

DAY 35 – DEP Moab

and here is how we could do it if we want to include the Narrows:

DAY 22 – Leave LA — DRIVE 12 hours along Pacific Coast Highway — ARR San Francisco Hotel

DAY 23 – San Francisco Visit Day – morning free , optional visit to Fishermans’ Wharf in the afternoon, 4pm – cruise to Alcatraz – tour Alcatraz 730 pm arrive back at Fisherman’s Wharf (night in hotel)

DAY 24 – DRIVE to Death Valley (8.5 – 10.5 hours from San Francisco) — ARR Death Valley Wildrose Campground

DAY 25 – Death Valley Day 1

DAY 26 – Death Valley Day 2

DAY 27 – DEP Death Valley — DRIVE 2.5 – 3.5 hours — ARR Las Vegas Hotel
(leave DV early in the morning, arriving by noon in Las Vegas… see the city… do our shooting range… sleep)

DAY 28 – DEP Las Vegas 4:30am — DRIVE 2.5 – 4 hours — ARR Zion NP for 9:30am shuttle to Chamberlain (departure point for the Narrows Hike) — HIKE 6.5 hours — CAMP along river

DAY 29 – HIKE 6.5 hours to exit — shuttle back to parking — hotel or campsite TBD (somewhere in or near Zion NP)

DAY 30 – DEP Zion NP — DRIVE 5.5 – 7.5 hours — ARR Moab hotel (or Canyonlands White Rim first campsite?)
(if we leave early enough, we can potentially make it in time to go directly to the White Rim first campsite — the one we had last time)

DAY 31 – Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 1 or 2 (backcountry camp)

DAY 32 – Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 2 or 3 (backcountry camp)

DAY 33 –  Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 3 or 4 (END at hotel)

DAY 34 – Canyoneering in Moab (hotel)

DAY 35 – DEP Moab

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

The Pacific Coast Highway and options…

Looking more closely at the post-Route 66 part of our trip, I am wondering if we should split up the drive from LA to SF on the Pacific Coast Highway, camping somewhere in between the two cities…

According to the mapping program, if we want to take the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), we are looking at almost 500 miles… or about 9.5 hours of drive time… so 12 hours of travel time. Now in other spots we have tried to split that up so it isn’t so much at once… Although here we will allegedly be somewhat rested, after two full days “off” in LA…

Am thinking it is about as much of a drive as we have the first day of the whole trip (which is a massive drive day)…

Possible alternatives are to cut short the last day in LA and start up the coast a bit (also avoiding paying for another expensive hotel night)… or cutting into San Francisco Day One instead… (again avoiding a costly hotel)…

The argument AGAINST “breaking” the Pacific Coast Highway segment is that after almost 3 weeks of driving, maybe it is good to rest a little and then just plow thru the PCH, with just one or two short stops along the way to stretch our legs and look at the beauty… We will be going from hotel to hotel that way, and so it isn’t really that big a deal if we arrive a bit late in the evening… we (or maybe just me, if you guys rest en route) can go straight to sleep, if need be…

what are your thoughts on this one…

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

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