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Old 06-05-2012, 11:53 PM   #1
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TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report


The following thread attempts to summarize an incredible 37 day trip to the southwest United States that my wife, my two and a half year old daughter, and I recently completed (spring 2012). Much of what follows in this trip report has been written about and photographed many times before... the content of which provided inspiration and guidance for our own adventure. A big 'thank you' to those who documented and published their adventures and experiences. You provided an invaluable resource for us to draw upon.


Our actual itinerary (which included many more night stays in hotels than what we had originally planned due to a few unanticipated circumstances). More about this as the this report matures.





Total Miles Traveled: 5,750 Miles
Total Fuel Cost: $2,125
Total Gallons of Diesel: 490


Diesel Fuel Milage Looked Something Like:



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Old 06-05-2012, 11:55 PM   #2
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April, 28 (Day 1)


Date (day): April, 28 (Day 1)
Source: North Bend, WA
Destination: Emigrant Springs State Park, OR
Travel Miles: 0
Deviation from plan: Never made it out of the driveway. I still had too much packing to do.


Projects that were just completed in time:
  • Sand ladder rack, built.
    Re-finishing (stripping and powder coating) steps, done.
    Front hitch mounted storage box, built.
    Backup camera failure, diagnosed and fixed.
    Four new tires, installed.
    Exterior detail, completed.
    RAVELCO anti-theft device, installed.
    Stereo upgrade (which included XM capability), installed.
    Second spare tire carrier stabilization project, completed.
    Shovel and pry-bar mounted externally.


Projects that I was unable to finish prior to departure:
  • Bike rack (custom build).
    Inverter repair or replace (dead with memory fault message).
    GPS waypoints added and downloaded to GPS.
    Titan Gun Safe, installed.
    Edge Evolution CTS Diesel computer, installed


I thrashed up-to, into, and beyond our original departure day (by one day). My wife was not too happy with me as she was really excited to get going. That, and spending one minute more trying to prevent our daughter from curiously unpacking everything that my wife had meticulously arranged was really wearing her out. I was now beyond out of time. The best I could do the following day was to pack any of the unfinished projects somewhere in the van, lock the house, load the passengers, and get on the road. That is exactly what I did.

I figured we could make up the one day delay by spending one less day in Moab, UT. This had the potential of having nearly zero impact as I had built in a buffer day in Moab anyway (just in case we had an unforeseen issue on the way there). As long as there were no issues before Moab, we could get back on schedule.



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Old 06-05-2012, 11:56 PM   #3
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April, 29 (Day 2)


Date (day): April, 29 (Day 2)
Source: North Bend, WA
Destination: Emigrant Springs State Park, OR
Travel Miles: 272
Resources: Reservations; Web; Park Map; Brochure

Deviation from plan: Rather than having everything ready days in advance, then waking up on departure day to a a clear, calm, serene morning; having an enjoyable family breakfast; and easing out of the neighborhood in some harmonious song; the true experience was quite the opposite. We were already a day late departing our driveway. I was still packing long after we should have been on the road and I had become a sweaty, dusty, mess. My other two travel buddies had been amped for hours and were basically climbing the walls. Tensions were running high. I threw what remaining items I had yet to stow on the floor of the van, snapped a quick departure picture, got everyone strapped in, and then tried to get the sound of the turbo to diffuse last minute passenger commentary as we barreled out of the neighborhood and on onto the highway.

Moment(s): After everyone had settled in, my wife went to try out the new stereo we had installed by a local stereo shop by pre-programming a few XM stations. XM barely worked. Turns out the stereo shop took a shortcut and placed our XM antenna on the dash of the van. This location does not (apparently) give enough unobstructed access to the sky to provide reliable reception. I have an XM radio in my truck and with the XM antenna mounted on the roof of the cab, I have never had intermittent XM reception in this same area. Reception was not just poor, it was horrible. The van had to be pointed in just the right direction, otherwise silence. 2 seconds of music, 10 seconds of dead air... over and over and over. Additionally, the Bluetooth microphone was just left hanging from my rear view mirror and the wire that connected the microphone to the radio fell out of its hiding place near the top sill of the window and just dangled in front of my face. Oh, man... I hope this was not an indication of things to come.

Takeaway(s): The new radio was only installed two days before our true departure day and I did not have time to properly check it out. The radio never really worked properly at any time during our entire trip and was more a point of frustration than it was any amount of enjoyment. I know better, I know better, I know better…

Sportsmobile Note(s): The van ran great. However, I noticed that the van did not track down the road as well as it did before. The new tires (same as what I had before) were set to 50 PSI. Everything being equal, the van just seemed to wander more. New rubber, more van weight, ??? Something changed. One other issue was that the Hella TPMS system did not like the fact that I had a sixth tire along. The TPMS alarm would trigger every few minutes with an error that indicated it could not read the sensor from one of spares + one of the rolling tires. In some cases, three of the four rolling tires failed to communicate. The system would always read the tire pressures/temps on van startup, but one or more sensors would go off-line in a matter of minutes, thereafter. I tried to configure the device a number of times, but nothing helped. Ultimately, the alarm would sound, I would glance at the device to make sure it was a failure to read error (as opposed to tire deflating error) and I would just keep driving.


60 seconds before true departure.


10 minutes on the road, we see this helicopter working just off of the highway.


Our destination for the evening. Arrival time, 8:00pm.


Our tent campsite, in a light drizzle.






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Old 06-05-2012, 11:57 PM   #4
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April, 30 (Day 3)


Date (day): April, 30 (Day 3)
Source: Emigrant Springs State Park, OR
Destination: City of Rocks, ID
Travel Miles: 400
Resources: Camping Regulations; Info; Area Map; Campground Map; Location Map; Trail Map;

Deviation from plan: We arrived at our City of Rocks destination close to 8:00pm. We only drove around the area for 30 minutes or so before we honed in on a campsite. There were maybe a dozen or so campsites occupied out of the sixty plus sites listed on the campground map. I dont recall why we arrived so late in the evening (???) but it would have been nice to get there earlier and get a better initial look around.

Moment(s): N/A

Takeaway(s): This is an area where we would like to go back and spend a couple of days hiking amongst, on, and over the rock formations.

Sportsmobile Note(s): Our powered pop-top roof developed a new behavior where it would stop powering up half way into its raised position. If we let the top sit for ten seconds or so, then applied power again, the top raised without further fuss. This new behavior remained throughout the duration of our trip.


Started the morning drive with heavy rain (enough rainfall to completely cover the roadway).


City of Rocks, our destination for the evening.






View from our campsite in the morning.








Campsite (#38)




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Old 06-05-2012, 11:59 PM   #5
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May, 01 (Day 4)


Date (day): May, 01 (Day 4)
Source: City of Rocks, ID
Destination: Moab, UT
Travel Miles: 400
Resources: Info;

Deviation from plan: Still one day behind at this point. We should finally catch-up during our stay in Moab.

Moment(s): Everyone was really tired once we finally turned off the van for the evening in the Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn parking lot, our final destination for the day. After checking in and getting into our room, my wife needed some alone time. As such, I took our daughter outside for a walk. After a few blocks, we found a great park (Swanny City Park) where my daughter could just go nuts. She was able to slide, swing, ride, run, climb, and basically try out every piece of playground equipment. We got back to the hotel just after dark, dirty, dusty, and most importantly… worn out. This was key to getting our daughter to retire for the evening (our first hotel night of this trip) as quickly and as peacefully as possible. Initially everything was a little bit of a struggle for all of us as we were all excited, uncoordinated, restless, and unsettled. We would eventually get better on all fronts and traveling would become as second nature as anything we did at home.

Takeaway(s): Traveling south on I-84 and I-15 turned out to be my least favorite part of our trip and it was by far the most congested. It was basically 140 miles of white knuckle driving between Howell, UT down to Spanish Fork, UT. Construction, stop and go traffic, tolls, unobserved speed limits, dense-packed city as far as the eye could see, and there were sections that consisted of six lanes of cement in either direction. We were able to get through this entire area in a few hours and fortunately before the evening commute started. I was totally worn out when we finally veered off onto US-6.

Sportsmobile Note(s): N/A









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Old 06-06-2012, 12:00 AM   #6
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May, 02 (Day 5)


Date (day): May, 02 (Day 5)
Source: Moab, UT
Destination: Moab, UT (Arches National Park)
Travel Miles: N/A
Resources: Info; Map;

Deviation from plan: None.

Moment(s): Today, we planned to familiarize ourselves with Arches National Park so that we could target key areas of interest on our next visit. All I can say is WOW!!!! I could barely get 200 feet in past the entrance before I wanted to start taking pictures of everything. The red rock, the cliffs, the balanced rock, the arches, the size and scope of it all... it was all just amazing. It was immediately evident that properly exploring Arches NP was going to take a few days and involve a lot of walking.

Takeaway(s): This is just one of those places where you have to visit at least once and you will need more than one day.

Sportsmobile Note(s): Weather started to warm up so we tried the air conditioning system in the van for the first time. The front A/C system for the driver and passenger only blew hot air. The Star Cool (A/C for the main cabin of the van) did only moderately better. What now? Well, it was back to having open windows for starters. Next would be to contact Moab Ford and see if they could sneak us in on short notice, check out the system, and hopefully just recharge it.














Balanced Rock










Salt Valley




Swanny City Park





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Old 06-06-2012, 12:27 AM   #7
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May, 03 (Day 6)


Date (day): May, 03 (Day 6)
Source: Moab, UT
Destination: Moab, UT (Arches National Park)
Travel Miles: N/A
Resources: Map;

Deviation from plan: None.

Moment(s): After scouting the area the day before, there were two places that I really wanted to return to. The first area was Sand Dune Arch. Sand Dune Arch is an easy short walk in loose sand. The other place I wanted to go was the off-road loop that connected Salt Valley, Tower Arch, and Balanced Rock. Well, we made it to Sand Dune Arch sure enough. We had a great time scurrying around and taking pictures. We were slightly less successful with my second objective. We did make it down Salt Valley and then turned up toward the Tower Arch access point. There was an uphill section that at one point was a rock cluster/shelf. I put the van into 4WD LR and it crawled up with little issue. After navigating down the trail for less than a mile, I was getting concerned that if the road had continued to be as narrow and as rough as what we were already encountering that we would not be able to finish in a reasonable time (which is important when the whole family is along). We found a place to turn around and then navigated back to the rock shelf. I pulled the pins out of the sway bar this time so that the tires remained on the ground. Even in 4WD LR, I still had to use max brake pressure in places so that I did not bottom out the back end (carrying my second spare tire). It was just too early in the trip to start to rip pieces off of the van. We had a few nervous moments, but my wife did an excellent job of guiding me over and around the right obstacles. We came away unscathed.

Takeaway(s): Salt Valley is 7+ miles of ridiculous washboard. I tried every speed from 1mph to 35mph to see if it would stop shaking the van to pieces. While some speeds were better than others, this gravel road was really painful to drive on.

Sportsmobile Note(s): While we are not certain, the aggressive use of the brakes during our off-road excursion today may have led to the left rear inner caliper hanging-up. This would lead to a near catastrophic brake failure later on.

Sand Dune Arch (general area)






Sand Dune Arch











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Old 06-06-2012, 05:43 AM   #8
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Great shots. Really nice. Also nice to see that I'm not the only two-spare-tire rig around. I carry one under and one on the rear.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:12 AM   #9
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Have a great time
That is a Million Dollar Plus Memory trip
Priceless!!
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:07 AM   #10
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

That is a bitch'n rig! I've now added City of Rocks as an Idaho destination.

I passed you on Lake Mary Rd on the last day of the Expo as you were leaving and I was going out for the last couple of hours to look for swag and/or deals.
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