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Old 08-30-2008, 02:41 PM   #1
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Driving Tips

Hello all

Our family will be going on a 15 day trip to Yellowstone, Calgary Canada, and other places along the way. Besides our camping trips with-in California, my wife and I have never driven outside the California border (except Vegas of course).

Any tips from all of you "veterans of the road", such as when to use engine breaking (what is a safe RPM and MPH for the engine while doing this), road etiquette, supplies, etc. will be appreciated.

Thanks all!

Ray and Ruby
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Old 08-31-2008, 08:11 AM   #2
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Done plenty of miles on the road, either by auto, van or motorcycle. All i can say is keep to right except to pass and try not to exceed the posted speed limit by no more than 10 over. It has always worked for me.

A Good Trip is a Safe Trip!
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Old 08-31-2008, 08:43 AM   #3
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Re: Driving Tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by surfgeek33
Any tips from all of you "veterans of the road", such as when to use engine breaking (what is a safe RPM and MPH for the engine while doing this), road etiquette, supplies, etc. will be appreciated.
As mentioned before, turn the overdrive off in mountainous or hilly terrain so that the transmission isn't "hunting". If it isn't already off, turn off the overdrive at the start of any long downgrade. On very long downgrades, I try to stay down around 55 mph or so and will downshift to second if needed to do that to avoid heating up and warping the rotors. You can easily shift to second at 55 mph.

I'd been concerned about over-revving in the past when downshifting and finally put added a tachometer to our rig. However, I discovered that between the engine computer and the sound of the engine at high revs, you don't need a tach...I just removed it recently. (On really steep downgrades such as on the east side of the Sierras on minor highways such as SR-4, I'll lock the hubs and put it in 4WD in order to use low range in order to stay off the brakes.)

We've been back to Yellowstone, Utah, etc. several times and one nice thing that you'll find is that traffic tends to run at the same speed, trucks included, unlike in California where everyone feels a need to go faster than the person in front of them, regardless of the speed of traffic. On I-80 across Nevada, get a nice stopping distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you and you'll probably follow that same car all of the way to Utah.
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Old 08-31-2008, 09:02 AM   #4
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You'll find that the SMB is about as comfortable as anything to drive across country.

Personally I always use engine braking, with the diesel it's excellent. The only time I take it out of overdrive is for engine braking, or I should say the only time I've needed to.

The "transmission hunting" is a valid reason for turning overdrive off, but I've never been in a situation where this happens. I think a lot of people turn OD off to avoid the transmission going between gears over and over before it ever happens. In other words I'd leave OD alone on the upslopes unless your tranny starts getting confused about which gear to be in.

Otherwise keep those seatbelts on (even in the back!) and enjoy the trip!
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Old 08-31-2008, 09:09 AM   #5
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Regarding supplies
We carry a soft sided ice chest (REI) that fits between the front seats. We carry all our drinks in it rather than taking space up in the refrigerator. It gives us a supply of ice at the end of the day for margaritas.
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Old 08-31-2008, 10:14 AM   #6
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We carry a soft sided ice chest (REI) that fits between the front seats. We carry all our drinks in it rather than taking space up in the refrigerator. It gives us a supply of ice at the end of the day for margaritas.
Charlie always travels in style, I must admit.

Another tip is to always be scanning for wildlife in the road through most of that country from Yellowstone to Banf. Considering the SMB's slow braking system, I keep it at 65 and below even on interstates. Deer are everywhere in Montana and cause a ton of accidents suddenly jumping into the roadway.

Headed north on I-15 along the Missouri River a couple of weekends ago, a black bear cub ran in front of our SMB, probably 50 yards ahead of us. It was no problem to slow down for me, but the cub raced across the road and leapt over the jersey barriar in front of a clutch of motorcyclists. I frantically flashed my lights to warn them of the unseen bear in my lane.

The bear safely crossed the road, but it could have ended badly for the motorcyclists, had the cub crossed a few seconds later.

Try not to travel fast at dawn and dusk and stay alert for charismatic megafauna in the roadway.
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Old 08-31-2008, 02:26 PM   #7
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Have a great trip Ray. I just got back from Yellowstone area. Take a few flash cards cause there is a lot of pictures to be took. Nice to have a backup camera too.

Just incase you don't know that on off road situations or narrow roads, the person traveling up hill has the right of way. I usually remember this by thinking how difficult it would be to have to back down a steep grade with a trailer. Just remember some don't know this. Best to get out and discuss with the other party because there are times the rule may not apply.

Get a radar detector. (check state law)

To save time get all your maps before you leave.

If possible have the numbers of repair shops in the major areas you visit before you leave home just in case. I carry a sat phone.

Look for the cheapest fuel on-line before you leave. On a recent trip it seemed like every time I fueled up I got a mile of so down the road and found fuel a dime or more cheaper.

Do you have a scan gauge? Very nice to have.

A tire plug kit is also nice to keep on board. Hope you have a compressor of some type.

I'm sure thers is more. So what route you gonna take?

Dave
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Old 08-31-2008, 08:38 PM   #8
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Thank you so much for all of your tips and suggestions. I will definitely keep all of your advice and apply them on this and future trips!

Dave,
We will most likely take the I-15 until salt lake and enter Yellowstone thru Grand Teton. Any Advice? We are still pondering on the route to Calgary. Thanks for all of your suggestions and tips as well!

Ray
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Old 09-01-2008, 05:48 PM   #9
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Dave,
If you're going all the way to Calgary, make sure you head on up to Banff and Lake Louise. It's not that much farther and the camping up there is awesome. If you do that, you can travel back down the West side of the Canadian Rockies via HWy 93 S. Super pretty! If you're into seeing the best part of the Canadian Rockies, venture up the Icefield Parkway to Jasper. Contact me if you want ideas for camping in those areas. We've spent a lot of time up there. Also, make sure you take passports and be prepared to see some cool stuff.

Marc
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Old 09-01-2008, 06:36 PM   #10
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Ray,
Let me know if you need any info on any UT campsites along I-15 as you're heading north.

There's some pretty cool stuff not too far off of 15 if you're not in a huge hurry.

safe travels!

-derek
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