Steve & Deb's Cross-Country Adventure

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Steve

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I thought I'd move on from my "build" thread, where I've been prepping the Outback to a travel journal. (Prep thread HERE) I'd created a "planning" thread, but we rally haven't done any planning. We leave TOMORROW! :screamcat:

A quick re-cap: Our youngest daughter graduated from high school this past spring, and on September 18th, we will be taking her to Seattle for college. Heading out (from Ohio) will be a straight through Interstate trip. Coming back will be exploring as many out-of-the-way places as we can find for anywhere from two weeks to two months.

After this trip, our plans are to spend long vacations exploring the US, going to places where other folks don’t, as I hate crowds in general, and especially on vacations. We want to get to those out-of-the-way places that don’t necessarily *require* an offroad vehicle, but having one makes the trip more enjoyable, such as dirt and gravel roads, forest roads, easy trails, etc. Of course I want the ride to be comfortable getting there on the endless miles of highways, too.

We’ve been watching a TV show on The Smithsonian Channel called Aerial America. Each episode covers a different state, filmed entirely from the air. It covers historic, geological, and cultural sites, making each state more enticing than the last. I’ve watched with my tablet in my lap, looking up especially interesting sites, and bookmarking them for possible visits. I think we have close to 100 bookmarks now, so we have plenty of places to visit over the next years!

Since our westbound trip will be the quicker, less adventuresome, I don't want to take one that will go through areas we want to explore coming back. But then, our return trip will be meandering, so we might end up going through some of the same areas in both direction. I'm thinking heading out on the highlighted route, and then wander across the upper two tiers of states on our return. We don't plan to go as far south as California, Colorado, Utah, etc. this trip, as each of them could take weeks or months on their own.




Our return trip ought to be something like this: :D



Suggestions on places to visit (or avoid) are welcome. We'll be using Roadside America and Trail Damage in our planning, as well as the previously mentioned Aerial America bookmarks.

If you want to follow along on our upcoming cross-country trip, follow or like one (or all) of these social media accounts:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ExploringTheUSA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/exploringtheusa
Instagram: https://instagram.com/explore_the_usa/

I'll be posting occasional photos here on the forum, keeping you up to date.
See ya!
Steve
 
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Steve

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Steve

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We left way late on the 18th, and made it to Indiana, just short of Chicago. Saturday, we got to Des Moines, Iowa, and this evening, to Rapid City, South Dakota. We need to do 600 miles each of the next two days, so doing a quick drive-by of Mount Rushmore, in the morning, and we'll be back this way to see it better, along with everything else in the area, on our return trip.

I'll get photos when I can on here, but we've been posting on Instagram, which then gets sent to Facebook and Twitter.check over there via the links posted earlier in this thread.

Steve
 

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We left way late on the 18th, and made it to Indiana, just short of Chicago. Saturday, we got to Des Moines, Iowa, and this evening, to Rapid City, South Dakota. We need to do 600 miles each of the next two days, so doing a quick drive-by of Mount Rushmore, in the morning, and we'll be back this way to see it better, along with everything else in the area, on our return trip.

I'll get photos when I can on here, but we've been posting on Instagram, which then gets sent to Facebook and Twitter.check over there via the links posted earlier in this thread.

Steve
Awesome Steve! Glad to see you on the road! Good luck with your timing and the drive! Can't wait to see more!
 

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I've not been doing a very good job of updating my posts here. I have been posting a lot of updates on Instagram, Facebook, And Twitter. So check over there for what we've been up to for the past week or so.

What I can tell you, is that I've been driving a loaner Forester from Roy Robinson Subaru since Friday afternoon. Coming across Wyoming, we noticed a burning smell. I first thought it was oil dripping on the exhaust, but later determined that it was grease. Only place for grease to leak up front is from the CV boots. I had a schedule to meet, so kept going. Of course you know what happened later. As we got into the mountains, I started feeling vibration, or thrumming while under load. Backing off even a little and it went away, but as the final day came, even slight loading caused the problem.

I'm sure being quite a bit overloaded, which caused the nose to be extra high causing additional misalignment for the CV joints, (As well as 8 year old boots) exacerbated the problem.

So after moving our daughter into her dorm and going through the orientation, I stopped at Roy Robinson Subaru, in Marysville, Washington for help. They diagnosed the problem right away, and had the parts in stock, so got to work on it that day. We were told that it would be finished Monday due to short tech staff on Saturday, but they called late Saturday afternoon and it was done. They had given us a loaner 2016 base Forester, and we had taken the ferry to the islands in the Puget Sound. So they told us to enjoy the weekend, and stop in anytime Monday to pick up our car.

Rachel in their service department went out of her way getting us in quickly, and getting us moving on our way in the loaner. The bad CV joints didn't delay us more than an hour. And Rachel applied a couple of coupons and saved us $160 off the bill. We picked up the Outback this afternoon (Monday), and we are currently outside of Port Townsend, Washington, getting ready to explore the Olympic Mountains and rainforests for the next few days.
 
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deeker

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It's nice when someone helps you out when you're miles from home. That can definitely put you well outside of your comfort zone. Job well done by the service dept.
I've been following on Instagram, watching the miles increase with every post. Thanks for sharing.
 

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This is an awesome idea! Have fun and drive safe. I'll be checking out the instagram page
 

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I've been following along on Instagram and enjoying seeing where you go. I live in Seattle, I hope your daughter enjoys her time here. We thought Missoula was beautiful. If you have any inclination to head that way, we highly recommend the national Bison range.
 
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Lots of pics on Facebook and Instagram.

After exploring Whidbey Island for a few day, we took the ferry across to Port Townsend. Lots of exploring through the north and west side of Olympic National Park. Hurricane Ridge, and the gravel road up to Obstruction Point, Elwha river in the park and at the mouth. It has been newly freed, with the dams removed, and is changing daily. Saw otter in the river. Up the Hoh Rainforest handsome hiking there. Too sunny and dry compared to what I was expecting.

Then we stayed in Forks (which is a big thing to Twilight fans) and visited the beaches and stacks at La Push, then up to the most NW point in the continental US, at Cape Flattery. Those were all foggy, wet, and exactly what I expected it to look like up here. 14 feet of rain a year! at Cape Flattery, we saw sea otter, sea lions, and a gray whale went by not 30 yards offshore. It was amazing!

Yesterday we drove down the coast, stopped at Rose Beach, which was beautiful, and stopped for a couple nights in Astoria, Oregon. Today saw many of the Lewis & Clark sites, as well as a maritime museum. Plus picked up a couple iPhone 6S at the local AT&T. :)

Tomorrow we head toward Portland, then either up the Columbia or down to Crater Lake National Park. Beyond that, we don't know yet.
 
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How is your journey going! It's been great to follow along!
 

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In the last report, we were On our way to Portland. We did that, visited the Pittock Mansion, and wandered around a bit. Then headed south. We went to Salem, Eugene, visited Voodoo Donuts, Hayward Field, then down to King Estate Winery and then to Roseburg, Oregon. I didn't know that's where we were going to end up, but we stayed just a couple of miles from the UCC shooting location, and Obama was going to be there the day after we left.

Then we went to Crater Lake National Park, and took our time driving the loop around the lake. On a whim, we stopped at the lodge to see if they'd had any cancellations, and to our surprise, they had one room available. These places need reservations several months ahead! We had a great time, and the stars were in abundance.

The following day, we continued around the lake, then went northeast to Bend, Oregon, where we spent some time (and money at REI.) Bend is a neat town with a big city feel out in the central Oregon semi-desert area.

Today we went to Smith Rock State Park, the mecca of rock climbing. What a spectacular place! We spent the day hiking and watching the climbers. I don't know if I ever had attachments that large to climb those sheer walls!

Tomorrow, we're off to Mount Hood, then up to the Columbia River and east toward the gorge. We'll eventually be heading toward Yellowstone, with several stops before we get there.

I've added a lot more photos to our unedited gallery HERE, and continue to update the Google Map breadcrumb of our travels HERE

A few favorites:































 

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I gotta get my wife on board for a road trip in the Jeep when it is finished in the spring!
 

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Steve you are shooting some great pictures! You are a good photographer! I checked your Google Map and its great following aling! Thank you for sharing, it looks like you guys are having a great time! How is your Outback setup treating you? Lessons learned?
 

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It's been fun to see where you pop up when I check in on your trip. Lots of good photos.
How long could you have stayed in Yellowstone, really?
 

Steve

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Steve you are shooting some great pictures! You are a good photographer! I checked your Google Map and its great following aling! Thank you for sharing, it looks like you guys are having a great time! How is your Outback setup treating you? Lessons learned?
Thank you very much, but I'm sorely behind on reporting. Wifi in motels has been slow, so I haven't uploaded most of the photos to SmugMug yet, and I get to the motel and I'm pooped and don't write my report. Best way is still to follow on Instagram and/or Facebook.

The Outback has been wonderful since I got the CV joints replaced. MPG from Ohio to Seattle (2500+ miles) was 18.3, and now with about 5800 I'm averaging 19.4 overall, and 20.x since Seattle.

Lessons learned? Plenty, and not enough time now to write them. Foremost, is that serendipity is marvelous. We've stumbled upon some places that we'd never have found without a random stranger mentioning it, or the GPS sending us the wrong way (that's how we got to Evel Knievel's intended landing spot!) Even with no plans or schedule, you still run out of time. We've been driving *to* somewhere more than I'd like and not staying *at* somewhere as much as I'd like.

I have driven somewhere around 40 miles of non-paved roads out of ~5800. That's a pretty low percentage, and a lot less than I'd have liked. Deb has become nervous about the roads we've taken where we are several miles from the nearest paved road, no one knows we're there, and no cell signal. It all sounded good to her from the comfort of our living room, but reality is harsher than she expected. This has been a disappointment. So has the lack of late nights on these roads or really out in the boonies paved roads. Driving in pitch black conditions through mountains with the threat of a buffalo or elk stepping into the road has her extremely anxious, so we get back to town by dusk.

We've brought a lot of things we don't need or haven't used, and brought things we've wanted and can't find in the jumble in the back. I need a much better method of organizing things.

We're using an Omaha Steak foam shipping container for a pantry. We've found these are better than any plastic or steel cooler we've ever used. We're foregoing ice, and using the insulation of the cooler to temper temperature extremes, plus we are using it to store less perishable items such as fruits, juices, veggies, cheese, etc. while the dry foods are in a 6 gallon bucket intended for a port-potty. We've eaten most lunches at some breathtaking viewpoint sitting in the bag chairs with the folding table.

We have not use the awning. We've generally found shade to park in, or enjoyed the heat of these on chilly days. The two rainy days we really could have used it, we didn't, because the bag chairs are stored in the roof basket, and were soaked. So we ate in the car. That needs addressed...

Someone is getting eager to head home, and starting to skip planned stopping points. I could stay out for weeks more, but that's not going to be the case. After the Badlands area, we'll probably head directly home at a faster than leisurely pace.

I'll post more photos here sometime, I promise...
Steve
 

Steve

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It's been fun to see where you pop up when I check in on your trip. Lots of good photos.
How long could you have stayed in Yellowstone, really?
@deeker Thanks! I see you peeking in on us now and then. We spent roughly four full days in Yellowstone, and drove on about half of the roads, and walked about .01% of the hiking trails. We met a guy today who has been there 11 days, and he said he feels he has experienced the entire park, but not enough to get to thoroughly "know" the park, whatever that means. I'd have liked have stayed at least two more days just to get to most places, and would prefer four more to not feel rushed. If we could have started a couple hour earlier each day, that would have helped, but, we didn't...