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Old 06-11-2012, 02:39 AM   #41
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May, 16 (Day 19)


Date (day): May, 16 (Day 19)
Source: Mather Campground, South Rim Grand Canyon
Destination: Flaggstaff, AZ
Travel Miles: 90
Resources: (tbd)


Deviation from plan: Per my original plan, the last four nights were supposed to be camping nights - evenly distributed between boondocking and camping in a campground. I then planned for us to arrive in Flagstaff in dire need of a hotel. I figured that we could get all cleaned up, laundry done, van washed, and then maybe even enjoy a nice meal out before spending the next three consecutive days boondocking somewhere near the Overland Expo. As it turned out, we were only two days out from our last hotel stay, not four. All of the recent and unplanned hotel stays as a result of the rear brake issue was really starting to put a dent in our budget. We decided not to make any changes to our remaining itinerary at this time but we really could not afford much more in the way of unplanned events if we were going to complete this trip.


Moment(s): After checking into our hotel we proceeded to hike the requisite three blocks + many stairs to our room. It might just be me, but after the hotel staff find out that you have a small child in your group… get ready for some serious walking. Your room is likely to be as far away from the front desk and the ground floor as is possible to put you. I typically have to make at least one trip for each member in our party. And, so that I don’t have to double the amount of trips, I haul twice as much per load on each trip. Just one time I would like the hotel staff to say, “oh, and your room is right over there”. In any event, once we finally got up to our room on trip number one and opened the door, we were greeted with the smell of bleach that was so strong that - I for one - may never grow nose hairs again. The smell actually made my eyes water. Time to open all of the windows. Forty minutes later as I was making my final trip from the van to our room, the hotel staff were all standing in a line holding out paper cups full of water and cheering me on (ok, it may not have been that bad).


Once I had the van closed up for the evening… my wife and I set out to take advantage some wifi Internet access. One of the things that we had to do was to download some new content to my daughter’s iPad. This was a necessary step as our daughter figured out how to delete all of the previous content. For every download my wife tried, the Internet connection would fail some number of minutes in and she would have to start all over again. After trying (unsuccessfully) to get any content downloaded to either my daughter’s iPad or my wife’s iPad, I thought that my wife herself was going to reboot right then and there. This seemed like a great opportunity for me to jump in and save the day using a PC based tablet running a non-Apple operating system. But, after several repeated failed attempts to log into my Windows tablet the security policy enforced by my employer locked me out of logging on… rendering my tablet useless for the duration of our trip. How am I going to explain this to the two ladies looking to me to provide a solution? Outnumbered, I chose the retreat option... “OOOOOhhh ummmm…, yeah I was not able to get the Internet connection to work either dear. I would keep trying to connect using my tablet but I just remembered that I need to run back out to the van and check to see if the lug nuts are still tight. It shouldn’t take more than a couple hours.”


Takeaway(s): Mather Campground (pull through site #68) was a fine place for us to camp overnight. Even though the campground was full, we really did not get the sense that people were camping on top of us. The deer that would just cruise through the campground did not feel threatened in the least.


Sportsmobile Note(s): Nothing to report today other than the van got a proper exterior wash. I will work on the interior tomorrow.


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Old 06-11-2012, 02:46 AM   #42
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May, 17 -> 20 (Day 20 -> 23)


Date (day): May, 17 -> 20 (Day 20 -> 23)
Source: Flaggstaff, AZ
Destination: Flaggstaff, AZ
Travel Miles: 120
Resources: Overland Expo;


Deviation from plan: Thankfully, none. It has been an amazing journey up to this point. We are not trained adventurers. My real day job (my career) has nothing to do with adventure, the outdoors, or off-roading. We are not geologists or meteorologists. We are just a dad and mom traveling with our three year old daughter across and through some of the most amazing terrain the southwest had to offer. Today marks when we would officially arrive at our furthest point south on our adventure… happy, healthy, and safe. Our trip has not been without incident and we could not have carried on past Moab, UT and made it this far south to attend the Overland Expo event had it not been for the help of nearly a dozen great people as well as a few great companies (companies called out in the May, 12 post). All of us are grateful and excited to have come this far and experienced so much in the few weeks we have been traveling. We are all immeasurably richer for this experience. Now it is just time to sit still for a few days, look at other rigs, talk with lots of friendly likeminded people, get more ideas, and start day dreaming about new journeys.


Moment(s): Too many to list. Probably the first real moment was checking in at the Dairy Springs Campground on May, 17. We were greeted by the campground host - that for reasons only he will understand - was so gruff that it was to the point of being unfriendly. We paid the fee to stay for three days as a last ditch resort - but we never returned. The next significant moment was gazing upon the Overland Expo as we approached the rally grounds. An entire bustling mobile city had been created in the midst of a giant field. Sensory o v e r l o a d. There was probably not a single vehicle or motorcycle that I could wait to get a better look at (and we had not even parked yet). The next day (and official start of the Overland Expo) was windy. More than a few vendor tents took flight during some of the wind gusts. The owner of Dynatrac conducted a front Dynatrac hub disassembly session – on our van. That evening, Dave from Aluminess produced a long, polished stone, propane fueled, fire strip that became the center point of late evening conversations. The following day my wife had back-to-back classes all day. One such class included driving a new Land Rover around the obstacle track with an instructor. My wife was all smiles when it was over. Primarily, our days were filled with classes, mingling, and observation. On the last day, I pulled out the sway-bar pins and drove our Sportsmobile around the obstacle track as well (during a Big Vehicle driving class). Little to anyone’s knowledge I had my wife and daughter with me at the time and my daughter was busy eating her lunch in her car seat as we navigated the track. We departed Expo on Sunday and headed back to Flagstaff and to the same hotel we stayed in four days ago. Once back at the hotel, we got properly cleaned up, had a nice dinner out at a local Olive Garden restaurant, and worked on laundry for the remainder of the night. It was a great way to end the first half of our southwest adventure.


Takeaway(s): We really enjoyed Expo. The diversity of vehicles, ideas, and people always kept us on our toes. The vehicles came in every shape and size. Everything from two wheels to three wheels to four wheels and more. Everyone had their idea of what compromise(s) best suited their specific situation. Solutions ranged from favoring the small, light, and nimble all of the way up to semi tractors hauling luxury living spaces and toy haulers. There were people looking to do hard core day trips to multi-week camping vacations to traveling around the world to those already living full-time on the road. It really was a good first hand education into what was available and what was possible.


Many of the classes were pretty informal and were conducted by what looked to be volunteers as well as vendors. Overall, there was a wide variety of subject matter being disseminated along with various methods attendees could absorb the information. Registered attendees had options to ask questions of panels of experts all of the way through to having their own hands-on down-and-dirty participant involvement. The range of what was provided was much appreciated.


In my estimation, the cost of Expo for our family was pretty inflated at around ~$500.00 USD for the Overland Experience Package. That was for two adults and one two year old, dry camping in a field, plus porta-potti access. Using my sense of my dollars buying power (which may be totally off base with everyone else’s) I honestly had a hard time figuring out why this venue was so costly. One thing that did come across during orientation was that Overland Expo had committed to be carbon/energy neutral (sorry, I don’t recall the exact wording). As such, part of the entry fee for each participant was directed to purchasing credits/certificates to totally offset (as an estimate) the carbon/energy footprint generated by all vehicles traveling to OX12. This was not called out in the documentation that I had available to me at the time so I don’t know if this has anything to do with the $300.00 overhead that I think is in the Overland Experience Package price. Here is what I found on the OX site:

I'm concerned about environmental impact ~ how do you mitigate that?

Quote:
We are part of the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power partnership program, purchasing EPA-certified Renewable Energy Certificates for:[*] ...[*] ...[*] ...[*] all sponsored events, including travel and impact of participants
It is what it is... I am not complaining - after all, I paid the money. The costs covered by our registration was far less interesting to me than the amount we actually paid. We did just about everything that could be done over the course of four days and I just can seem to reconcile the price/value prop. At this price point, this event was fun to do once but we will definitely consider other options before we justify this specific expense, again.


More than anything, what really made the Expo for us was that we were invited to be part of the larger Sportsmobile group. Everyone made us feel like we were part of something that was unique and interesting. While Expo had thousands of unique things to see... it was really just a few people that included us as part of the Sportsmobile conversation that really made the time spent at the event valuable and always enjoyable. All things being equal, if we had just been camping by ourselves... we very likely would not have lasted more than a couple of days. It was only because of the consideration, interest, and kindness of the people around us that this event became more than a showcase for lights, bumpers, tires, and winches. Special thanks to everyone from Sportsmobile and Aluminess that reached out and included us.


Sportsmobile Note(s): Upon our arrival on day one, I had initially parked our van way out in the middle of nowhere just in case our two year old started acting like a two year old who was stuck in a hot van. Thankfully, that scenario never materialized. We met Alan and Liz (Fresno, Sportsmobile) later in the day and they invited us to park near their display and in the same area as a dozen other Sportsmobiles. Once we put up the roof, we did not move our van for nearly four days. We were introduced to many other Sportsmobile owners and perhaps even a few future SMB customers. We were very grateful for the opportunity to hang out near the hub of Sportsmobile activity. Everyone made us feel welcome and at home and this really added to the overall event and our experience.


Vans!!!






Other overland solutions






Bikes (only a small fraction of what was actually present)


My wife, test driving a Land Rover


Our daughter, going crazy and having a great time


Throwing stones


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Old 06-11-2012, 05:14 AM   #43
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Great collage of Sportsmobiles and other vehicles. I could stare at that all day. Hopefully I will be at the overland Expo next year.
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:40 AM   #44
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

I look forward to checking this thread multiple times a day! Fantastic trip report and spectacular pictures. Your other reports of Alaska, Banff and Jasper has inspired me, my wife and 18 month old to head up there as well at the end of Aug this year.
We dirt bike in Moab every year and already i've seen pictures you took of areas i've never seen or been down there, i look forward to seeing those next year.
Thanks again for sharing!
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:48 PM   #45
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Did they put on a new caliper too? Ford had an old service bulletin out about the inner pad dragging (Sticking Piston in the caliper) but I don’t think it applied to your model year. Anyway, as I remember it, a new caliper was required to fix it properly. I’ll look and see if I can find a copy of it for you.
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Old 06-11-2012, 02:05 PM   #46
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Did you eat at the Hells Backbone? Jenn and Blake are friends of mine from way back.
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Old 06-11-2012, 02:18 PM   #47
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr


gnty - You just cant go wrong with the Banff/Jasper area. My last remaining vacation budget will be spent there again this year.

BIGVANS - They did replace the caliper and rotor on the damaged side. Brake pads were replaced on both sides.

JoeH - We did eat food from Hells Backbone, however, we ate the food in our room. Something about our two year old being penned up in a van all day and then being given free roam of a comparatively larger space - aka our room. Sitting down and enjoying a tranquil dinner was just not in the cards that night.

Cheers,
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Old 06-11-2012, 02:32 PM   #48
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May, 21 (Day 24)


Date (day): May, 21 (Day 24)
Source: Flaggstaff, AZ
Destination: Peach Springs, AZ
Travel Miles: 135
Resources: Peach Springs Canyon; Diamond Creek


Deviation from plan: With the first half of our amazing journey in the books… I was having my doubts that the second half could live up to the first half. Time to find out. Right out of the box we had a plan change. Alan and Liz from Sportsmobile West had invited us to be part of a larger convoy of Sportsmobiles that were going to drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Access would be via the Hualapai tribal reservation located on the south rim of the Grand Canyon at Peach Springs, AZ. A permit is required to legally make the drive from Peach Springs down Diamond Creek Road. Per Wikipedia, “Diamond Creek Road provides the only vehicular access to the Colorado River between Lees Ferry, 225 miles upriver and Pierce Ferry, 52 miles downriver”. Our original plan had us driving up to the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park and staying in the North Rim Campground for three days. This little detour would cost us one day at the North Rim Campground… but it seemed well worth it. And it was!!


After meeting almost everyone in the Flagstaff WallMart parking lot bright and early in the morning we then convoyed up to Peach Springs to meet with the team leader (another SMB owner) who had stayed overnight in Peach Springs. We all proceeded to get our permits from the Hualapai Tribal Center before making the drive down the 20+ miles of graded dirt road to the shores of the Colorado. As we descended down and down and down… the temperature soared. By the time we arrived, the temperature had spiked to nearly 114 degrees (F) and then dropped slightly to 110 degrees (F) right on the river bank. For a family from the rainy side of Washington State, this was crazy hot. It took no time at all before we were sitting in the cool Colorado with an ice cold drink in hand.


Not long after we arrived, so did a tribal policeman. I don’t think that he got the memo. He sat in his running police truck and watched over us for a while before he came over and started verifying all of our permits. He said that we could not park/camp along the river overnight (for various reasons). One reason given was that the area would be crawling with rafting guides and equipment at first light. The officer retreated back to his running vehicle and watched over us for another couple of hours before he got tired and/or bored and left. Nobody in our group had any intentions of staying anywhere overnight – except the side of the river... and the closer the better. Team Aluminess even got up out of their van in the middle of the night and slept right on the river bank (which was just a precious degree cooler). I just remember dripping with sweat nearly all night long and waking to a soaking wet pillow.



Moment(s): Somehow, I ended up leading part of the convoy just after we had each purchased our permits. The directions that I remember hearing was something like “just go down the main road and look for the Diamond Creek Road cross-street”. Based on this comment, I somehow envisioned that the cross-street was at least a little ways down the main road that we were on. As I was unaware of at the time, the Diamond Creek Road cross-street was really less than two feet in front of where I was currently parked. Not noticing this small detail, I pushed forward. We (all of us) spent the next seven miles looking for the Diamond Creek cross-street before I made the command decision to turn around, go back, and look harder. Only after we had driven all of the way back to where I had led everyone astray did we notice our error. Sorry guys!


Takeaway(s): This was a great and memorable experience. The scenery/environment right down on the river was epic… and was only outdone by the terrific people that we were there with. I am normally the last one to enjoy traveling in a larger group as I am always on pins-and-needles trying to make sure that I don’t do anything to spoil anyone else’s experience. In this case, everyone was so nice that it really allowed me to just enjoy being there and soak up the whole experience.


Side note. By the looks of construction going on up and away from the river I would bet that the ability to drive down to the water’s edge and camp overnight is not something that will go on much longer (if at all). It was a great treat to have this opportunity and we would like to thank everyone involved for making this happen.



Sportsmobile Note(s): This was one of those times where having a pop-top with nearly 360 degrees of full sized, zippered and screened, windows really paid off. With all of the windows unzipped, we took advantage of each passing breeze. After having spent the past four days at the Overland Expo and seeing so many overland solutions, I (for one) was glad that our chosen solution was so configurable.






















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Old 06-11-2012, 02:34 PM   #49
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Ah, Diamond Creek. Man, the Hualapai charge and arm and a leg to drive that. The ramp is pretty dang busy in the morning.
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Old 06-11-2012, 05:34 PM   #50
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Fantastic pictures.
Great writeup, as always.

Your daughter is looking big!

Thanks.
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