Day 1 – Amarillo, TX

Well, prior to departure things got a little rough but in the end it all came together. In the days leading up to my departure, when I was supposed to be packing for my trip and enjoying the events of Denver Pride, I was feeling really run down. This had been going on for about a week, but was getting much worse and my allergies unbearable. I figured it may have turned into a sinus infecPride 2018 Phototion, so I went to Urgent Care to get a Z-pack to start helping things along. The day before I was to leave for a 5 week road trip I found out I had bronchitis. Less than ideal. After marching with the EY Float in the Pride Parade, I took it easy all day and tried to let my body recover. Sadly this meant missing all the other fun pride events and not packing for my trip.  Fortunately, despite feeling run down, I had the pleasure of marching with my co-workers and friends who were happy to show their support for the LGBTQ community.

Monday came and although I was improving, I was still run down and hadn’t at all started to pack. After resting all day Sunday and then only being able to operate at about half capacity, I had to do some serious catching up on Monday and, sadly, Tuesday.

Finally, around noon Tuesday, I was able to hit the road with Penny! Due to being a day behind schedule and the ease of accessibility of New Mexico, I decided to head straight to Texas. I’ll circle back to Santa Fe with friends in August with the goal of visiting Meow Wolf.

Tuesday was my first time even driving through NM, and the parts I saw were gorgeous.  Much less desert-y than I had expected.  Granted, I was only seeing a small corner of the state.  I drove 422 miles Tuesday before finally settling down in an OHV park just northwest of Amarillo. Not sure what an OHV is? I wasn’t either.  Its Off Highway Vehicle.  Dirtbikes, ATVs, and the like.  I set up camp just as the sun was setting, and there were a few ATVs whizzing around the dirt trails all around me.  I was close to a highway, so less than ideal, but was the best place around when I was ready to stop driving.

The first night in my new camper was….interesting.  I had set it up before and that all went smoothly.  What I hadn’t accounted for was the crazy winds coming from the tail end of the storm that hit Denver on Tuesday.  At one point it got so bad I was concerned the canvas of the camper was going to tear.  Given that I was in a tall medal structure higher than anything else around, on the edge of a severe thunderstorm with lots of lighting, I decided it was best for Penny and I to wait it out in the car.  I wasn’t trying to get fried my first day on the road.  After about 45 minutes the storm had passed enough that we were fine to get back in the camper.  I managed to sleep for a few more hours before starting Day 2.


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5 Weeks, 7000 Miles, 20 States

Okay, so here’s the situation.  When I was about 15 I set a goal to see all 50 states and all continents by the time I was 30.  Well, I hit the big 3-0 in September, so its time to crack down.  I’ve been able to hold over enough of my PTO that I’m able to take a 5 week vacation. to complete my goal.  This road trip will allow me to knock off the rest of the states I haven’t seen yet.  I’m fortunate enough to have already been to all continents except Africa & Antarctica.  I’m hoping to hit Africa before the end of my 30th year, and although I’m going to need a bit more time, I’d love to make it to Antarctica.

So, what do I consider seeing a state?  Not just driving through.  I need to do any 1 of the following 3 things:

  • Eat at a non-chain restaurant
  • Hike at least 2 miles
  • Sleep a night

I usually try to combine the last two, but if time is limited, there’s no better way to get to know an area than to eat and drink your way through it.  Throughout my first 29 years I’ve been lucky to have traveled a good bit of the US, leaving me with a manageable list to knock off this summer.

  • New MexicoRoad Trip Map
  • Texas
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Kentucky
  • Iowa
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Montana
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Idaho

To accomplish this, I had come up with a rough plan for a route, shown to the right.  I didn’t want to do any more than 6 hours of driving a day, and would like to average around 4.  For the most part my route sticks to states I haven’t seen, however I have to sprinkle in a few I’ve been to because I don’t yet own a flying car.  The route I selected is mostly just a rough draft.  Each day, as I drive and do more research on the upcoming state, I’ll decide where I really want to go, what I want to do, and where I want to sleep.  Overall the strategy is leave heading South first, hurrying through the most of the driving until I get of Illinois.  Some of the states, like New Mexico and Texas, I have expectations of returning to before too long.  I’m really wanting to spend time in Santa Fe to check out Meow Wolf and at some point see if all the fuss about Austin is worth it.  I’d like to spend the bulk of my time exploring the National Parks in the Midwest and Pacific North West

My game plan had initially been to get a Tepui Tent, but then I found out the rough of my car can’t support the weight.  At the last minute I ended up finding a great deal on a 1996 Coleman Laredo pop up camper.  It’s got two full size beds, a sink with a manual pump. and a stove.  Basic, but it gets the job done.  It sets up and tears down pretty quickly, so hopefully it makes my 5 weeks on the road more enjoyable.  The impact to gas mileage seems to be minimal, and it keeps me off the ground from creepy crawling things…. cause those gross me out.

Joe

 

There’s already a snag

Alright, so I started looking into buying my tent for the trip and I had finally settled on

the Autana Sky by Tepui tents.  I really like the idea of having the attached annex on the side so I could access my vehicle without going outside.  I could also zip off the floor and use the annex as my shower.  Unfortunately, it seems it weighs 150 lbs and the roof capacity of my car is only 100 lbs, and worse – it drops down to 50 lbs due to having the moon roof.  At this point I have a few options.

1 – Figure out how to make the Autana work.  I reached out to Tepui just to make sure they don’t have any tricks up their sleeves for just such an occasion.

2 – Rent a towable.  Sadly, these cost just about as much as it would be to buy a Tepui tent.  The other downside is additional tolls, the need for larger spaces when camping, change to handling of the vehicle, etc.  Below are some of the options I’ve come across so far.

3 – Build something to go in the back of my car to facilitate sleeping/living out of it for a month.  This is one definitely has its pros and cons.  I’m thinking I would build something that would slide over the folded seats to better distribute weight.  I’d build storage along the side to keep things organized, and I’d custom fit a mattress to the remaining space so I can tolerate sleeping on it for 4 weeks.  This is appealing because it doesn’t have the draw backs of the travel trailer, and it would be a fun project, however I’m then limited it what I can bring with me and what space I have to stretch out.  I’ll have to keep considering my options.

Cool Lodging Near Denver

Here are some links to places I recommend when people come into town to visit.  Many of these are suggested based upon proximity to me, more so than the mountains.

Close to Me

VRBO – Denver Tiny House – As Seen on Tiny House Nation!

AirBNB – Lake Front Apartment

VRBO – 2 Bedroom and Living Room Between Denver & Boulder (420 Friendly)

VRBO – 2bed, 1 bath – 8minutes from downtown and on all major highways to the mountains

SpringHill Suites Denver North/Westminster

Denver Marriott Westminster

DoubleTree by Hilton

The Plans Begin

Alright, so I’ve been thinking about taking this trip for quite some time.  I’ve requested the time off from work, but I haven’t gotten approval yet.  Typically we don’t require approval, but I’m requesting an entire month off, so I’ve decided to run it past HR first.  In the mean time, its time to start planning my route and what all I want to do on my trip.  Fortunately, Eric gave me a wall cling map of the US yesterday, so I’ve set that up in my kitchen and have taken a first pass at the route I’d like to take.  This is very much a work in progress, so it will likely still change quite a bit

I’ve started to think about some different aspects of the trip I’ll need to account for.

  • Food Storage
  • Food Prep
  • Bathroom
  • Bathing
  • Height of vehicle
  • Power
    • Boat Battery & Inverter
    • Solar charging

I’ve created a separate post with an ongoing packing list.