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Discussion Starter #1
Thread for discussion about recent van-ventures
 

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Havent you heard, You are suppose to stay home!
I already had Coronavirus once, Not fun and I had a mild case. Immunity only lasts a few months and I am not looking forward to doing it again.
Other then some local trips I am making plans for next Spring.
 

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I wish I could!!! But the van is still in line being built. I hope the border between CAN and the US will be open by Dec/Jan. With all these are going, I am not holding my breath. It seems that we Americans can't learn from the past or other countries.

I want to get the Van just half-built and drive up to Nova Scotia and cross Newfoundland to test out if we can survive in the winter. We need to work out the bugs. We want to spend a winter in Alaska if we can. Who knows, we will see. :p

Edited:
P.S. But in the meantime, Bermuda and Panama's borders are conditionally open, and Hurricane season is about to end. I am busy setting up the plan to take a 52 ft catamaran from the Chesapeake Bay to Bermuda. This will kept me busy for a few weeks.
 

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^^ No match for that! ^^
1st & only trip so far was a long weekend leaf peeping color tour to the northern tip of Michigan's lower peninsula. Did some 2 tracking through the Atlanta (MI) State Forest. It was a shake down for hopefully a snowbird trip to Mississippi or Kansas or both in January of 21.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We just returned to SF CA area from about a week in Northern AZ, getting a feel for the area for possible relocation and to show the life accomplice some stuff there (she'd never been).

Route:
Day 1 Bay Area to Mojave Preserve to camp. About 3-4 miles up Kelbaker road off I-40 is a good dispersed camping area. You can go up toward the radio tower and be close to the rocks similar to Joshua Tree NP, or there are turnouts right off Kelbaker for a wide view. No other people.
Day 2 Mojave Preserve to Grand Canyon. Went through Oatman to surprise her with the burros. Other than that, Oatman is a Savage Land encampment filled with t-shirt stores.
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Stopped at the visitor center and museum in Kingman, I recommend that if you've never been. The $4 fee for the route 66 museum at the visitor center gains you an annual pass to 3 different museums in town (we didn't visit the mansion or the history museum, and they were closed when we came back through on the Monday holiday). Camped on the NF302 road near Tusayan. I had to go back in past the Ten-X Tank to find a spot without neighbors, about 3 miles. It was cold that night, in the 30's.
Day3 Grand Canyon South Rim. Parked in Back Country lot and showed her the main stuff, walked the Rim Trail to Geology center and back via marketplace. Not a huge number of people, but more than I would expect for an October and during a pandemic. I guess other people also have some free time. Kolb studio was closed but everything else was open in limited fashion despite the noticeable denier/deplorables. Camped near Grandview lookout tower on NF310, literally within 100 meters; of course we climbed up! There were many people camped out the 310, but we found a spot 50 meters from anyone and not visible through the trees. Most campers were transient, just staying overnight in tents to avoid motels, but there were a couple entrenched camps with large trailers and ATVs that looked like they were building a small village with their shade tents, BBQs, etc. they were closer to Desert View Drive. Temps only down into the 40's overnight.
Day4 Back to the Backcountry parking lot adjacent to Maswik Lodge, took the shuttle to Hermits Rest and walked back along the rim (7 miles), the opposite of how people usually do it. The shuttles had just started running again, and the interiors were roped off to keep pairs of seats 6' apart so seating was limited. However, there was never a time when people were lined up waiting for a next shuttle, and the most we had in ours was 4 groups. Stayed in El Tovar, enjoyed the electricity and indoor plumbing!
Day5 Friday, stopped at GC General Store in the park, bought a large selection of local craft beers (they have them ALL, plus a bunch of others, probably the largest selection of beers I've seen outside a BevMo). The GC General store is not gougy like you'd expect, prices on everything are reasonable. It was the same for the GC restaurants, although we didn't eat at any of them, I did look at their menus. The concessionaires like Xanterra must be trying something new; not being all Disney about pricing just because they have no competition in the park. Drove to Sedona down Oak Creek Canyon. Poked around a bit, visited the Chapel of the holy cross. Traffic on the main drag was HORRIBLE, but I'm from the Bay Area, so I wasn't driven to madness.
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Ate at a raw food/organic restaurant the life accomplice found called Chocolatree, the first food/drink we'd had that we didn't bring with us and prepare in the van. Camped out the NF525/Loy Butte Rd. That was NOT fun. The road is very washboarded from all the 4x4s and ATVs, had to drive 5-10mph to not rattle loose every bolt on the van, and there were MANY people camped, even bunching up in the same larger dispersed spots. We went about 7 miles and finally found the ONE SPOT that wasn't right next to someone, but 25 meters away blocked by a few junipers. Had to drive down the 4' long 45 degree road cut and ditch to get there, and pondered how I was going to get back up in the morning (managed to do it 1st try by turning off traction control and going diagonal, some of my wheels were in the air at different points, and I only high-centered a little bit; life accomplice didn't want to be in the van when I attempted it and told me later. I actually never spun out). We woke up to an intermittent roaring sound, and looked out the window to see about a dozen air balloons, one just a rock's throw away coming down to land on the road for pickup. Tip for anyone seeking to camp on 525: go looking before 1-2 in the afternoon, we went around 5pm.
Day6 Continued on the washboard roads at jogging pace toward Boynton Canyon, finally reached sweet sweet pavement. Parked at intersection of Dry Creek rd and walked to the Boynton Vortex/overlook. It's a gender-neutral vortex, I didn't feel any "energy", but I never do. Surprisingly traffic was better on Saturday than Friday. Picked up to-go lunch for her at Chocolatree and drove on 89a South to Cottonwood, then over to I-17 to Arcosanti.
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It was impressive, but as a former arch student and current designer/builder I wasn't all that impressed. I was more impressed that they were able to get as far with it as they have. They have a few Air B&B rooms, and we'll stay there at some point. Of course the life accomplice thought we should live and work there for a while, but neither of us work well with others, and we'd be low on the totem pole, so that's a pipe dream. Drove back on 69 to Prescott, then onto the 89a North. Camped on the NF413 in the Mingus Recreation area toward the top of the pass over to Jerome. Lots of people, but it didn't take long to find a spot.
Day7 Drove through Jerome, back to Sedona. Looked around at some neighborhoods and houses I'd seen on Zillow. Went through Village of Oak Creek to I-17 instead of going up Oak Creek Canyon again. Went to an Air B&B in Flagstaff the life accomplice found that features restored vintage trailers, stayed in a 1950's Spartan Mansion (32'?), enjoyed the electricity and indoor plumbing. The trailer was impeccable, but they share the lot with kind of a junkyard. It's great if you're just wanting to enjoy staying inside, and the hosts are great people who have been restoring vintage trailers and motorhomes for a long time. They're working on a Winnebago Chieftain right now.
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Day8 Driving tour of Flag and Williams. There are no appealing neighborhoods or houses in Flag to us, so it's crossed off our list of prospective relocations. Another healthfood store for her in Kingman, and I ate In-n-Out, only the second time on the trip for food I didn't bring. beelined to camping spot just North of Mojave on CA58, near radio tower, I THINK inside "California City" limits. I've stayed here innumerable times, no one around for miles, anywhere from quarter to half mile or more off the highway on smooth dirt roads. Perfect weather and the stars were brighter than any other night on the trip (forest fire smoke had followed us from CA the whole time, but Milky Way was very visible despite it).
Day9 Over to I-5 and home.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Havent you heard, You are suppose to stay home!
I already had Coronavirus once, Not fun and I had a mild case. Immunity only lasts a few months and I am not looking forward to doing it again.
Other then some local trips I am making plans for next Spring.
We hardly interacted with anyone or anything. Mainly gas pump handles. Used sanitizer anytime we left the van. I was surprised/not surprised at the deniers/deplorables we saw in AZ defying the LAW AND ORDER of face coverings and physical distancing. Saw an interesting article upon getting home that AZ spread of CV19 dropped 75% once the face covering ordinance went into effect. I also had CV19, in late June. I hardly ever get sick and have never been in a hospital other than getting patched up after youthful bar fights, and I was looking up the routes to the local hospital on the second night thinking I might have to go to the ER. It was that bad, and I'm reasonably fit, I run about 40-60 miles a week. Life accomplice was in NYC so I was on my own. 3 days bedridden with high fever, high BP misery and 3 weeks of dizziness, headaches afterwards.
 

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3 days bedridden with high fever, high BP misery and 3 weeks of dizziness, headaches afterwards.
Glad you are OK. My brother was in ICU for 6 weeks in NYC. The ventilator couldn't keep him alive, they put him on ECMO and saved his life. He was the lucky one.
 

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We hardly interacted with anyone or anything. Mainly gas pump handles. Used sanitizer anytime we left the van. I was surprised/not surprised at the deniers/deplorables we saw in AZ defying the LAW AND ORDER of face coverings and physical distancing. Saw an interesting article upon getting home that AZ spread of CV19 dropped 75% once the face covering ordinance went into effect. I also had CV19, in late June. I hardly ever get sick and have never been in a hospital other than getting patched up after youthful bar fights, and I was looking up the routes to the local hospital on the second night thinking I might have to go to the ER. It was that bad, and I'm reasonably fit, I run about 40-60 miles a week. Life accomplice was in NYC so I was on my own. 3 days bedridden with high fever, high BP misery and 3 weeks of dizziness, headaches afterwards.
Yeah, Had it early April, One night was scary with the spiking blood pressure and it was hard to breath, The next two nights it were tough. All of the hospitals were overcrowded so I just rode it out, then I slept for two weeks. I have the underlying conditions so I was surprised I got off that easy.
 

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Surly Bill,

Nice trip.
If you had gone a little further on 89A south of Sedona, there is a dirt road that goes up a hill where few people camp. Also just on the other side of the hill is another forest service road that has a lot of dispersed camping. At the top of 89A before Flagstaff but after the hairpins are lots of fs roads that take you above Sycamore canyon. Also lots around the San Francisco Peaks.
We moved out of Sedona (above uptown in an old neighborhood) to Munds Park because of heat and traffic. The area we are in with our cabin is off 17 on the way to Mormon Lake. It is a forest service road and a lot of Phoenix people use it to get away on the weekends. They do it all over the area as snow birds do in the area you camped.
If you are looking at AZ, we are having a house built in Prescott Valley so we are close to my wife's sister, due to my medical reasons. Close to 89A which you took over and camped on Mingus Mountain. Not as hot as Sedona, lakes for hiking around or kayaking and such. Gets some snow, 6" a year. Lots of stores and such. VA hospital also.
Oh by the way I hated the food at Chocolatree also and my wife loved it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The road a little further South on 89a you mention is the 525/Loy Butte road I mentioned. I knew about the NF roads above the viewpoint, but we didn't go back up there.
I looked around at some properties in the Granite Dells, still kind of meh for me. Maybe somewhere upslope with acreage and a view in Prescott might work. Some of the old summercamps along Oak Creek in Cornville look ok.

I had the quesadilla at Chocolatree, with real cheese, and it wasn't bad. Nothing else on that menu looked palatable to me!
 

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Exciting trips! We did a month in the van this past February, CA/AZ/UT. Wonderful (pre-COVID) experience and it was a nice respite from the dreary Seattle winter. We are trying to decide what to do this winter. Arizona and the California desert are still very appealing but we want to be more isolated due to COVID.
 
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We just returned to SF CA area from about a week in Northern AZ, getting a feel for the area for possible relocation and to show the life accomplice some stuff there (she'd never been).
Thanks for the details. I'm planning the route for a Kansas City to NorCal trip with biking along the way, hopefully starting early next week. Current thought is KC - Denver - Bergen Park to Mt Evans summit by bike - Cortez - St George, UT - Whitney Portal - Yosemite Valley - home.

Weather looks like it'll be good enough for that route, at least at the moment. I hope to camp most of the way, though that'll be contingent on buying enough goods in KC to take sponge baths and washing my cycling kits along the way. 🤪
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the details. I'm planning the route for a Kansas City to NorCal trip with biking along the way, hopefully starting early next week. Current thought is KC - Denver - Bergen Park to Mt Evans summit by bike - Cortez - St George, UT - Whitney Portal - Yosemite Valley - home.

Weather looks like it'll be good enough for that route, at least at the moment. I hope to camp most of the way, though that'll be contingent on buying enough goods in KC to take sponge baths and washing my cycling kits along the way. 🤪
check out freecampsites.net for info on...free campsites.
 

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Just rented a Transit as an experiment and went to Lake Alpine, CA. Not a particularly exciting destination but I really needed to find something not too far away from where we live so the kids wouldn't have a terrible experience sitting in the car forever. Also, the air quality just about everywhere in CA was horrible before we left. Lake Alpine seemed pretty good though and campsites weren't booked for the Columbus Day weekend. Turned out pretty well.
 

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We just returned to SF CA area from about a week in Northern AZ, getting a feel for the area for possible relocation and to show the life accomplice some stuff there (she'd never been).

Route:
Day 1 Bay Area to Mojave Preserve to camp. About 3-4 miles up Kelbaker road off I-40 is a good dispersed camping area. You can go up toward the radio tower and be close to the rocks similar to Joshua Tree NP, or there are turnouts right off Kelbaker for a wide view. No other people.
Day 2 Mojave Preserve to Grand Canyon. Went through Oatman to surprise her with the burros. Other than that, Oatman is a Savage Land encampment filled with t-shirt stores. View attachment 141145
Stopped at the visitor center and museum in Kingman, I recommend that if you've never been. The $4 fee for the route 66 museum at the visitor center gains you an annual pass to 3 different museums in town (we didn't visit the mansion or the history museum, and they were closed when we came back through on the Monday holiday). Camped on the NF302 road near Tusayan. I had to go back in past the Ten-X Tank to find a spot without neighbors, about 3 miles. It was cold that night, in the 30's.
Day3 Grand Canyon South Rim. Parked in Back Country lot and showed her the main stuff, walked the Rim Trail to Geology center and back via marketplace. Not a huge number of people, but more than I would expect for an October and during a pandemic. I guess other people also have some free time. Kolb studio was closed but everything else was open in limited fashion despite the noticeable denier/deplorables. Camped near Grandview lookout tower on NF310, literally within 100 meters; of course we climbed up! There were many people camped out the 310, but we found a spot 50 meters from anyone and not visible through the trees. Most campers were transient, just staying overnight in tents to avoid motels, but there were a couple entrenched camps with large trailers and ATVs that looked like they were building a small village with their shade tents, BBQs, etc. they were closer to Desert View Drive. Temps only down into the 40's overnight.
Day4 Back to the Backcountry parking lot adjacent to Maswik Lodge, took the shuttle to Hermits Rest and walked back along the rim (7 miles), the opposite of how people usually do it. The shuttles had just started running again, and the interiors were roped off to keep pairs of seats 6' apart so seating was limited. However, there was never a time when people were lined up waiting for a next shuttle, and the most we had in ours was 4 groups. Stayed in El Tovar, enjoyed the electricity and indoor plumbing!
Day5 Friday, stopped at GC General Store in the park, bought a large selection of local craft beers (they have them ALL, plus a bunch of others, probably the largest selection of beers I've seen outside a BevMo). The GC General store is not gougy like you'd expect, prices on everything are reasonable. It was the same for the GC restaurants, although we didn't eat at any of them, I did look at their menus. The concessionaires like Xanterra must be trying something new; not being all Disney about pricing just because they have no competition in the park. Drove to Sedona down Oak Creek Canyon. Poked around a bit, visited the Chapel of the holy cross. Traffic on the main drag was HORRIBLE, but I'm from the Bay Area, so I wasn't driven to madness.
View attachment 141148
Ate at a raw food/organic restaurant the life accomplice found called Chocolatree, the first food/drink we'd had that we didn't bring with us and prepare in the van. Camped out the NF525/Loy Butte Rd. That was NOT fun. The road is very washboarded from all the 4x4s and ATVs, had to drive 5-10mph to not rattle loose every bolt on the van, and there were MANY people camped, even bunching up in the same larger dispersed spots. We went about 7 miles and finally found the ONE SPOT that wasn't right next to someone, but 25 meters away blocked by a few junipers. Had to drive down the 4' long 45 degree road cut and ditch to get there, and pondered how I was going to get back up in the morning (managed to do it 1st try by turning off traction control and going diagonal, some of my wheels were in the air at different points, and I only high-centered a little bit; life accomplice didn't want to be in the van when I attempted it and told me later. I actually never spun out). We woke up to an intermittent roaring sound, and looked out the window to see about a dozen air balloons, one just a rock's throw away coming down to land on the road for pickup. Tip for anyone seeking to camp on 525: go looking before 1-2 in the afternoon, we went around 5pm.
Day6 Continued on the washboard roads at jogging pace toward Boynton Canyon, finally reached sweet sweet pavement. Parked at intersection of Dry Creek rd and walked to the Boynton Vortex/overlook. It's a gender-neutral vortex, I didn't feel any "energy", but I never do. Surprisingly traffic was better on Saturday than Friday. Picked up to-go lunch for her at Chocolatree and drove on 89a South to Cottonwood, then over to I-17 to Arcosanti.
View attachment 141154
It was impressive, but as a former arch student and current designer/builder I wasn't all that impressed. I was more impressed that they were able to get as far with it as they have. They have a few Air B&B rooms, and we'll stay there at some point. Of course the life accomplice thought we should live and work there for a while, but neither of us work well with others, and we'd be low on the totem pole, so that's a pipe dream. Drove back on 69 to Prescott, then onto the 89a North. Camped on the NF413 in the Mingus Recreation area toward the top of the pass over to Jerome. Lots of people, but it didn't take long to find a spot.
Day7 Drove through Jerome, back to Sedona. Looked around at some neighborhoods and houses I'd seen on Zillow. Went through Village of Oak Creek to I-17 instead of going up Oak Creek Canyon again. Went to an Air B&B in Flagstaff the life accomplice found that features restored vintage trailers, stayed in a 1950's Spartan Mansion (32'?), enjoyed the electricity and indoor plumbing. The trailer was impeccable, but they share the lot with kind of a junkyard. It's great if you're just wanting to enjoy staying inside, and the hosts are great people who have been restoring vintage trailers and motorhomes for a long time. They're working on a Winnebago Chieftain right now.
View attachment 141158
Day8 Driving tour of Flag and Williams. There are no appealing neighborhoods or houses in Flag to us, so it's crossed off our list of prospective relocations. Another healthfood store for her in Kingman, and I ate In-n-Out, only the second time on the trip for food I didn't bring. beelined to camping spot just North of Mojave on CA58, near radio tower, I THINK inside "California City" limits. I've stayed here innumerable times, no one around for miles, anywhere from quarter to half mile or more off the highway on smooth dirt roads. Perfect weather and the stars were brighter than any other night on the trip (forest fire smoke had followed us from CA the whole time, but Milky Way was very visible despite it).
Day9 Over to I-5 and home.
Leaving tomorrow on almost that exact trip! Glad to hear you had a good time!
 
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The road a little further South on 89a you mention is the 525/Loy Butte road I mentioned. I knew about the NF roads above the viewpoint, but we didn't go back up there.
I looked around at some properties in the Granite Dells, still kind of meh for me. Maybe somewhere upslope with acreage and a view in Prescott might work. Some of the old summercamps along Oak Creek in Cornville look ok.

I had the quesadilla at Chocolatree, with real cheese, and it wasn't bad. Nothing else on that menu looked palatable to me!
There are two roads that come off of 89A south of 525. One is not marked nor given a number but there is a cattle gate and it goes up the hill. Just after that is what is shown on the maps as a short road but it keeps on going which ties to 7518 (bill gray road) that starts right before page springs turn off to the left off 89A and loops around to the church just north of cottonwood.
I lived in Sedona for 5 years and did all of the trails in a wrangler and some in the transit. Most of the roads in the area have what looks like rough conditions but are passable if slow going. A lot of those nasty atv's kick up dust but after rental hours it is peaceful. You are allowed to stay for 10 days in one spot so in the winter people just move around. Most of AZ is forest service land so there are lots of free dispersed camping. Also AZ is open carry state not much trouble with people snooping around.
As to more acreage near Prescott there are 2 to 2.5 acre parcels in the hills to the left of 89A as you head up to Mingus. We looked there and actually put an offer in on one but backed out cause of solar lease. There is also Payson, Strawberry and Pine southeast of Camp Verde.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I saw that road up the hill! There was a 40' motorhome parked at the top with a Merikun flag on a flagpole , like it was a post office or something.
 
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