I have been negligent in writing blogs and have no excuse except that we have been having a blast traveling around the country in our old Foretravel. This trip as you might or might not remember was around the perimeter of the country dipping our literary toes in the waters of the four corners of the country. We left New Hampshire the 19th of October 2008 and headed west with our newly installed solar panels and big battery pack and inverter. The last time that I made this trip was in 1984 as a participant in One Lap America. OLA was a road rally around the perimeter of the country in seven days. It was the gasoline shortage version of Cannonball Run or Gumball Rally, which were flat out high speed dashes from the east coast to the west coast, making the 3,000 plus mile trip in just over 32 hours. This trip will take us, when completed, close to 7 months.
At this point we are just north of Orlando hunkered down for two weeks. The trip thus far has been truly an experience of sights, sounds, and tastes. But first the nuts and bolts of the trip. The rig is a 1990 Foretravel with an 8.1 Detroit Diesel 225 horse and 4 speed Allison gear box. Attached to the back is a 20 foot open car trailer carrying a 2002 Subaru Outback Wagon. Yes this is the engine transmission combination that some turn their nose up at and while we are not first to the top of the mountain we get there, and at close to ten miles per gallon over the almost 10,000 miles covered so far.
The biggest mechanical problem so far as been the demise of the ice maker, but when we get home the ice maker is going to make way for more cabinet space in the kitchen area. The major modification to the rig over its as new configuration was the installation of the solar panels, 2,000 watt inverter, 1200 amp hour battery pack, and 100 amp charger. The modification was planned to reduce the use of the generator and propane and to allow the use of 110 volt appliances like the coffee pot, micro wave, and toaster without firing off the gen set.
It works! We have logged just over 10 hours of generator use in 6 months. We have boondocked and dry camped for one half of the 150 plus days that we have been on the road. We were able to survive comfortably for 7 days at a stretch on the Arizona desert without using the gen set to top off the batteries, and then it took just two hours to get through the next couple of days. Our total propane usage has been just under 100 gallons for close to one half a year. And I can say that we have not tried to conserve either propane or electricity other than take advantage of recharging batteries traveling from place to place and using the power of the sun. As right now the TV is on and both Lucy and I are on our computers. She is a writer photographer too.
Then there are the questions that we have been asked, like “how can you justify the size of your carbon foot print traveling allover like you do”? Well it is simple, we have to apologize for our carbon foot print being so small. If we were home in New Hampshire we would have burned 1,700 gallons of fuel oil so far this winter, a savings of 700 gallons. We would have use close to 300 gallons of propane, a savings of 200 gallons, and 4 cord of wood. Then there would have been the 180 gallons of diesel fuel for the snow plow truck, gas for the snow blower and the car. So our carbon foot print and expenses are about half or less than if we stayed at home, plus we have had a ball.
We also did something else a bit unique on this trip. We ate out a good deal but shunned the national chains and searched out local fare, the good, bad, and ugly. Amish cooking in Pennsylvania, beef and steaks in the mid west, Salmon in the pacific Northwest, TexMex, Shrimp and Oysters, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Ribs, and on and on. And of course we cannot forget the Made Rite Loose Meat sandwiches in the mid west. Made Rites claim to fame is that they were the first fast food chain in the country dating to the mid 1920’s. Well we tried them, once, that was enough.
We have tried state parks, federal land, commercial campgrounds, Wal-Marts, rest areas, and of course our membership at Thousand Trails. And it is going to take the rest of the year once we get home to sort it all out. The sunrises over the cascades, the sunsets over the pacific and the deserts, vistas opening up filling the windshield driving down the Pacific Coast Highway and the vast stretches that our forefathers traveled over in covered wagons on their journey west.
We will be home in a month and then comes the sorting out of the information and reliving the trip all over again. Till we pack up and do another adventure as long as I have ability to drive the rig safely.
Brad, Lucy, and the kitty kat Earl.
Man, I am so jealous! Your description of your rig and trip is something I have obsessed over for years. At the present my wife and I find ourselves without a rig due to some unfortunate circumstances. We are traveling fulltime in a van, mind you, a normal van, with no raised roof. I have converted the interior, but it wears on you over time.
Still our desire to be out on the road is so strong, we are enduring it anyways. Good for you to have pursued your travel dream!
Thanks for the comment. We are parked right now in the Thousand Trails Resort in Cleremont and will move from here a week from Sunday up to Lake Louisa State Park on route 27. The old Foretravel is the best by far of all the RV’s that we have ever owned, and also the oldest when we purchased it. This is the second time that we have been from sea to shining sea in it and its third time in Florida with us. Hope you get your dream and are able to hit the road. I finaly semi retired at 74 and a half and we are just completing a six month odessy that has been fantastic.
Brad, Lucy, and of course Earl the kitty kat.
Love to hear of “older” Foretravels going strong. We bought a low mileage 96 U295 in “o6, and we absolutely love it. Built like a tank. Still working, but hope to hit the road someday.
If what you are looking for in road food is consistency, I totaly agree with you, find a chain and stick with it. We had a different motive on this trip. Try different. Expect mediocrety, laugh at bad food like Made Right Loose Meat Sandwiches in Nebraska, be surprised at a wonderfull Oyster and Shrimp diner at Willie D’s in Galveston Texas. Eat ribs all over the country and decide which one is best, and the winner in our opinion is Oakwood Smokehouse in Leesburg Florida. Great Seafood at Chinook’s outside of Seattle Washington. Terrible Chinese food almost everywhere that advertised a Buffet. Why do it? One, collect information and two break from the ordinary. We are weird, what can I say.
happy that you are satisfied with trying small mom and pop resturants but I finally conviniced my wife to go with the chains after I saw too many times that she was not satisfied with the food served.How can you ruin a simple blt but it’s been done and usually costs more then it’s worth. With a chain you know that it will be like the last one you had even a thousand mile away. For homemade food stay at home and cook
Glad you had a good time in Key West. We will be back in NH by the middle of April and i will contact you via E mail about our Solar set up. I will be adding to the system before the next trip out next winter. We like the six months in NH and six months in warm weather at this age. Thanks for the comment.
Well Brad, I too hail from NH. I’ve been following yer blog, and am glad to see your back at it. I’m really interested in your solar setup, and I have many ???. We’re getting ready to leave Key West after about 2 1/2 months here, and it’s only rained twice. So, as you can see, solar will be very benificial for us. Oh, I forgot to mention that it was all mostly dry camping (military base). So, keep the info coming. Robbie
Thanks for the comment Bob. A year isabout right for the Round the Country trip. Six months was pushing it a bit although to this point the furthest that we have driven in one day is 350 miles. 200 to 250 is a lot. But there are many places that parking the rig and using the car to explore is the way to go. And you want a 4 wheel drive for some exploring like the Arizona desert, beaches and more. Stories from the trip will be sneaking into the blog for the next year or two probably. Good luck with your plans,
Would look forward to hear what you have to say about the trip, I have dont coast to coast over 3 month trip want to do a year around the outside like you are doing, Time,and other things hold it off just yet but will go soon as I can. Will you be writing about the whole trip or just parts? bob