Because we wanted a few days to clean up and winterize the campervan before it got too cold in Minnesota, we decided to head for home. Our route took us northeast across Kansas & north through Missouri and Iowa. Unfortunately we picked some awfully windy days. We hit a three days of crosswinds (15-30 mph with gusts to 40 mph) driving through Kansas, northern Missouri and up to Minnesota.
The Coachmen Crossfit campervan is built on the longest and tallest Transit chassis, so it it gets push around quite a bit when it’s windy. I got pretty good at watching the grass and trees on the upwind side of the road and anticipating the sudden push from the wind gusts. Certainly not a relaxing drive.
We were gone 25 days – the longest vacation or trip that I’ve ever taken. It’s been 25 years since I’ve had a a vacation or road trip longer than two weeks, making this quite a change from the roads trips we’ve taken the last 20+ years. It was long enough that our normal practice of stocking up food and clothes for most or all of the trip wouldn’t work, so we actually packed lighter than we would have for a shorter trip and relied on restocking en route. That worked out OK. We were able to come up with simple, easy to make meals that were still reasonably healthy. We figured that even though we packed comparatively light, we had far more stuff than we needed.
We drove 5000 miles and averaged 15.3 mpg, staying under 65 mph. Our route took us from Minnesota :
- To the South Dakota Badlands
- Through southern Colorado to the Great Sand Dunes
- Down into New Mexico to Rio Grande del Norte
- Across New Mexico to Goosenecks in southern Utah
- To the Page area of Northern Arizona
- Back up into the Kanab area of Utah
- To the Lake Mead area
- Back across north central Arizona and New Mexico
- Through the Oklahoma panhandle, Kansas and northern Missouri
And and back home to Minnesota.
We moved more often that I anticipated. In some cases their simply wasn’t anything interesting nearby. We felt that staying in one spot and doing nothing was less desirable than moving on to someplace that we’ve never visited. That meant moving more often.
Our route was strongly influenced by the weather. At times we would have stayed in one place longer but ended up moving to try to stay above 32F, so we didn’t have to worry about tanks freezing – even though they’d probably have been OK. I really wanted to get up to some places we’ve never seen, such as Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado route 141, the Great Salt Lake and the Great Basin in Nevada, but the with night time lows in the mid 20’s we would have had to mess around with keeping things from freezing at night.
We stayed in most often public campgrounds – National Parks, National Monuments, National Forest, BLM, and state parks. We spend one night in a city park campground and two nights in a private campground.
The Transit did OK. Nothing major broke. I bashed the generator exhaust backing into a rock, the water heater pressure release valve sprung a slow leak, and I think I have a dead solar panel. The front suspension squeaks enough to be really, really annoying – something that ‘ll have to figure out before the next trip. At times I wish it were more compact, had higher ground clearance and handled off-pavement better. Or perhaps I need to be less risk-adverse. 😁
Our goal of testing out long trips in a converted cargo van has been met. The concept works.