My wife and I have been thinking about getting a slightly larger camper van. The Sportsmobile that we currently have is just a bit to small for us. I came across a posting on the Sportsmobile forum about a van that would meet our needs. We had actually seen this same van at a camp out in Jackson WY several years ago and really liked it. The only issue was that it was in Georgia. about two weeks later I was on a plane to Georgia to pick it up and drive it home.
The Wednesday 6:30 A.M. flight to Atlanta went by quickly and the owner picked me up at the airport and drove me back to his house. We talked easily on the 45 minute drive back to his house. Once we got to his house I looked over the van and he showed me its camping features. As we were doing the paperwork his 12 year old son came home and I asked him to count the money. His eyes got real wide when he saw the pile of $100 dollar bills on the table. He kept asking his mom and dad if he could have a couple of them.
Once all the paperwork was done I got in the van and headed north, after a quick stop for groceries. That night I spent in Georgia at Morganton Point Recreation Area on Blue Ridge Lake in the Chattahoochee National Forest. It had been a long day but before bed I made dinner and got to know the new van.
I had designed the trip home to take seven days with stops at developed campgrounds. The campground requirements were that they were a short drive from the freeway interchanges, were on a body of water and that they have showers. I used a combination of Apple Maps, the Ultimate Campground app and the Truck and RV Fuel Stations app to layout the trip. The drive home went as planned except for one night.
Thursday morning I drove to Tennessee to visit Eric aka 86Scotty. He gave me more information about the van and showed me some of the things he did when he built out the interior. After spending a couple of hours with Eric, thanks for your time, I headed west and spent the night at Blue Heron Campground on Crab Orchard lake in Crainville IL. The campground is on the edge of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Reserve. The camp host was surprised that I stopped there. They usually only get local fishermen, not people on road trips. She was surprised to see the campground listed in the campground app.
Friday it was on to Nebraska City and the Riverview Marina and Campground on the banks of the Missouri River. While Lewis and Clark did not sleep at the park they did pass by its location. If you do not believe me you can stop there and read the sign.
The plan for Saturday night was to be at the Vedauwoo USFS Campground east of Laramie, WY. Unfortunately the campground was not yet open for the season so I headed for Laramie where I spent the night at the Petro truck stop. The Iron Skillet restaurant is right next to the truck stop and has a great buffet with five kinds of meat, a large salad bar, lots of veggies, and good looking deserts. Total cost for all you can eat was $14.00 plus drinks. The food was really good. One of the nice things about truck stops is that they have showers for the truckers. In talking with one of the attendants he recommended that I take a shower before 8:00 A.M. This would allow me to miss the trucker rush. The cost of the shower was $13.00 and included towels. The showers were clean and well maintained.
Sunday morning came early and I headed west once again. This was the most hazardous portion of the trip. The winds in Wyoming are strong and were pushing the van around. Saw lots of electronic signs along the I80 giving information on wind gust speed. On Sunday the gusts were over 50 MPH. Add to the gusts snow blowing horizontally across the road and the driving conditions were treacherous.
At one point I was going into a corner on the snow covered road when a sustained gust hit and pushed the van sideways across the road onto the edge of the breakdown lane. I was now aiming for the end of the guardrail instead of the road. I was struggling to regain control and realized that I would not be able to bring the van back onto the road and it looked like I would be skewered by the guardrail. I felt myself relax, for the impact, as the guardrail got closer and closer. I remember saying to the Mahanta, my inner spiritual guide, “this is not going to be good.” Just then the outside tires slid off the pavement onto the gravel under the snow giving me traction and control again. I narrowly missed the guardrail and got back onto the road with the van still sliding sideways. I carefully brought the van out of the skid and headed down the road. I was glad that there were no other vehicles around when this happened. Otherwise I may have hit one. After that there was more snow and wind to work my way through. The snow finely ended so I just had the wind and the gusts to deal with for the rest of the way across Wyoming. The winds seemed to die as soon as I reached the Utah border.
I spent the night as planned at the Willard Bay State Park in Perry, UT. The park is tucked in between the Great Salt Lake and I84.
Monday I headed north and the winds picked up again in northern Utah and all across Idaho. Driving the van into the wind killed my mileage. A heavy rainstorm south of Twin Falls kept me focused on the road for about 50 miles. The wipers were on high speed so I could get at least a glimpse of where the road was. Monday night was spent at Farewell Bend State Park. The park is located in Oregon on the Snake River about 30 miles from the Idaho border.
Tuesday morning dawned sunny and cold. A great day to drive home on familiar roads through the Blue Mountains and along the Columbia River.
There were lots of trucks along the way with very few cars, except within cities. Driving through Boise I decided I would much rather be in the company of trucks that personal vehicles. Trucker are more predictable that car drivers.
Canton, GA to Oregon City, OR 2,705 miles per Apple Maps
Canton, GA to Oregon City, OR 2,738 actual miles
Used 208 gallons of gas at an average price of $2.29/gal
Highest price paid for gas $2.24/gal in Oregon City
Lowest price paid $1.96/gal in Tennessee