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Old 10-21-2007, 11:51 PM   #1
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Finally Got the Van & Initial Trip

We rented a one way mini van and headed up to Fresno last Thursday night. Friday morning we arrived at the factory to get our first look and pickup our new SMB. The design/layout actually exceeded our expectations!

As you can see, our dogs approved as well. They actually loved traveling in the van, I just need to figure out the best way to get them in and out easily.




After going through the very thorough orientation, we drove down 99 and cut across 190 into Sequoia National Forest. We spent the night at Quaking Aspen campground around 7,200 feet. It was a great spot, and I think there were only 3 other spots occupied. The weather was perfect that night.



Unfortunately, the weather wasn't so kind the next morning: windy, foggy/misty and about 40 degrees.



So we decided to pack things up and move on to a new location. The drive down towards Kearnville and Lake Isabella was beautiful.



We headed east on 178, then up into Chimney Rock Recreational Area. This is all dirt roads and very similar to the ones we typically find in Baja, maybe a little better maintained. We found a great campsite that night with not another soul that we could see or hear.



The next morning we packed up again and headed home to San Diego. The drive back was actually surreal for two reasons and neither had anything to do with our new purchase. The first was when we drove through San Bernandino on I15. The winds were amazing, and there were at least 3 different times where you could barely see more than 30 feet in front of you from all the dust and debris blowing around. We saw two 18 wheelers that had been blown over and we saw a third that was in trouble - the tires on one side were at least one foot off the ground as we drove past. You could see enormous dust clouds all over the place. Amazingly, we never encountered an accident and made it through with out any trouble.

The second was the giant smoke plume coming from the Julian area. We were driving down I15 around the Escondido area and the smoke was already enveloping this area. At this time, the fire was around 2,500 acres and spreading (approximately 5:30 pm). Tonight at 10 pm, the fire was at least 8k acres and had zero containment. Worst yet, the wind and humidity conditions are not supposed to change. The entire town of Ramona has been forced to evacuate. Our thoughts and hopes go out to all of the people that are being affected by this.

We know we will be replacing the stock wheels/tires in the near future (yes, they look kind of silly on the van). We will also be adding a solar panel sooner than later. I can't think of anything else we will be changing anytime soon. The van handled great and we couldn't be happier.

Here is a link to the photo gallery. There are a lot more photos of picking up the van and the trip home here. Hopefully it works. We Meet Our New Sportsmobile
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:54 AM   #2
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New SMB

Congrats on the new rig! And on making it through the windstorm safely!

I was so impressed when we picked up our SMB last year at this time, that I wanted to order another one just to see if planning it out would be as much fun as the first time.
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:35 AM   #3
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Congrats! I like the interior layout you chose.

You guys were gone by the time I arrived to pick up mine.

Phil
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Old 10-22-2007, 10:33 AM   #4
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Congrats on your great looking new rig! I see that your wife and the dogs love it as much as you do.

I never thought to flip up the rear half of the penthouse bed as I se you did. Great idea.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:02 PM   #5
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As for getting the dogs in and out of the van, this is what I use
http://petstep.com/
It's a little heavy and bulky.

David
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:13 PM   #6
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Congrats on your new purchase and first adventure!
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Old 10-25-2007, 08:44 PM   #7
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Thank you for sharing your story and those great pics...It's a long way from Chicago to California, I want to take my SMB there!
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Old 10-25-2007, 09:20 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone. David - we are definitely going to take a look at something along those lines, I appreciate the tip. Marty, my wife loves your van, she was born and raised in Chicago for 22+ years. Luckily she doesn't want to remodel our van quite yet in the Bear's traditional colors.
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